Coinbase’s layer-2 blockchain Base plans for 2023 mainnet launch

Chain Reaction
174 Episodes • Last Episode: March 29, 2024

Welcome back to Chain Reaction, a podcast that interviews newsmakers in crypto to better understand the tech behind the hype and the people working to build a decentralized future.

For this week’s episode, Jacquelyn interviewed Jesse Pollak, the lead for Base and head of protocols at Coinbase. Base is an Ethereum-focused layer 2 blockchain launched by Coinbase in February. Pollak previously led all retail engineering at Coinbase, including building Coinbase, Coinbase Pro and Coinbase Wallet. In a past life, Pollak started Clef, a 2FA mobile app, and was an engineer at BuzzFeed.

The platform has been live in testnet, which is a test phase of the blockchain network, since late February. It isn’t sharing “official timelines,” but Pollak disclosed exclusively to TechCrunch that Base is planning for its mainnet launch in 2023. Mainnet is the fully live version of a blockchain on the main network (hence the name: mainnet).

“It’s coming soon, we’re working hard on it,” Pollak said. “It’s our number one priority alongside decentralization goals and the rest of the year is really about making sure we get there as quickly as possible.”

Base’s vision is to bring a million builders and a billion users on-chain through “easy to use” products on its platform, Pollak said.

Coinbase has been building in the crypto economy for more than a decade, but Base hopes to derive some of that value for itself and plans to help products and activities expand on-chain over the next decade. “I think less about Base passing Coinbase and more about how Base plus Coinbase over the next decade are going to work together to bring those million developers [and] billions of users on-chain,” Pollak said.

A number of crypto businesses, platforms, marketplaces and infrastructure firms have committed to building on Base, including: Blockdaemon, Chainlink, Etherscan, Quicknode, Aave, Animoca Brands, Dune, Nansen, Magic Eden, Pyth, Rainbow Wallet, Ribbon Finance, The Graph, Wormhole and Gelato, to name a handful.

The near-term plan is to get Base to mainnet and decentralize it, Pollak said. Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong told Pollak, “We can’t not decentralize this. We have to live up to that value and to that ethos.”

Base hopes to become decentralized from Coinbase within “months or years” rather than a decade, Pollak said. The process of becoming decentralized “is not a forever timeline,” but rather a question of “how do we make progress on this today,” Pollak added. “When I wake up every morning and say p zero, how do we decentralize?”

Of course, we talked a lot about Base on the podcast and where it’s headed in the future, as well as how regulation could affect the blockchain.

We also dove into:

  • Developers growing internationally
  • Community benefits building on Base
  • Blockchain inspiration
  • Base’s performance to date
  • Advice for developers

The article mentioned during the episode can be found here.

Chain Reaction comes out every other Thursday at 12:00 p.m. PT, so be sure to subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite pod platform to keep up with the latest in web3 and crypto.

Chain Reaction

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Jacquelyn Melinek

Senior Reporter, Crypto

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