- Ben Edgington is a lead product owner at Ethereum software company, ConsenSys.
- As a developer, he says the upgrade is like “swapping out the engine mid-flight” on a plane.
- Edgington has been working roughly 15-hour days ahead of the upgrade, which is slated for mid-September.
In an industry known for high turnover and volatility — one accustomed to both teenage tourist investors and FOMO capital allocators — Ethereum developer Ben Edgington has a different approach to crypto.
Edgington, the founder and product lead of the open-source Ethereum consensus client Teku, has been working on the blockchain’s highly anticipated upgrade, the Merge, for the past 4.5 years. For a space that’s only about 15 years old, that’s practically an eon.
From roughly 7 am to 10 pm each day, it’s “heads down” and focusing on Ethereum’s network. Edgington spends half his time working on Teku for Ethereum software company ConsenSys, and the other half on a technical book he’s writing on the smart-contract network’s series of upgrades.
“Every day is different. This is the joy of being in crypto, right? Every week is an adventure, every day is a drama,” he told Insider, noting that two hours of his work day is also spent on Twitter. “Everything is crypto from start to finish in one way or another.”
Edgington, who says he’s even older than Ethereum cofounder Vitalik Buterin’s dad, has been working on the upgrade long before the mainstream hype of celebrity and corporate crypto partnerships. Even prior to the launch of other now-popular layer-1 blockchains like Solana and years before Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX, he has dreamed of having “a seat at the table in participating in the development of Ethereum’s protocol.”
“We believe we are building infrastructure that will underpin decentralized projects for perhaps decades to come,” he said. “Building it right is critically important so that’s the inspiring thing, the idea that we’re building a global infrastructure that others will build incredible applications on top of.”
From Wall Street to digital asset hedge funds, many are looking ahead to the Merge as a time to capitalize on potential bullishness and high-return trades. Edgington says that’s “absolutely not our goal as devs.”
“I’m not really interested in price speculation. I’ve personally been working on this thing for years. Crypto has been through a bunch of ups and downs,” he said. “The goal is technical and environmental. Price is decoupled from that for me.”
The Merge is ‘swapping out the engine in mid-flight’
It’s the third most-important event in crypto’s history, he says, notched directly after the invention of bitcoin and ethereum.
Slated for mid-September, the upgrade will be the “most ambitious thing that’s ever been done” in the industry.
The upgrade is “fundamentally reengineering a chain which has hundreds of billions of dollars of value so we are swapping out the engine mid-flight.”
“The full infrastructure of Ethereum moves over onto this Proof of Stake platform so that’s all of the DeFi activities, all of the NFT activities, everything that is happening on Ethereum,” he added. “That’s hundreds of billions of dollars worth of activity.”
Another way it’s notched its relevance, Edgington says, is the upgrade’s environmental impact on the network. The Merge, which brings Ethereum from the energy-intensive Proof of Work to Proof of Stake model, is billed as a way to cut its energy usage by 99%.
“Ethereum emits almost a megaton of carbon dioxide…which I find appalling,” he said. “Putting an end to that, for me, is huge and has always been a big driver.”
From an economic perspective, he says that the upgrade could also double staking revenue. This will allow certain users to earn more passive income by contributing to Ethereum’s network, while making it more secure and keeping their tokens.
“What does it mean for stakers? Basically, it means increased reward for staking,” he said. “They become eligible for transaction revenue and MEV, which is miner extractable value. It can be extracted from blocks by reordering transactions.”
Edgington says his work is not over after the Merge, however, and that he certainly will not stop building on Ethereum’s network anytime soon.
“I want to emphasize that this is just a start, right? We’ve had this concept for a long time, and it’s got many moving parts to it,” he said. “This is decade-long program of improvements and upgrades to the protocol. Maybe then we can retire. I mean, at least I’m hoping to.”