Back to the list

Time to declare EVM the winner? Not yet, says Helius CEO Mumtaz

source-logo  blockworks.co 17 October 2023 18:14, UTC

Apple versus Android. Windows versus UNIX. They’re examples of classic tech rivalries that in many ways, Mert Mumtaz says, resemble the blockchain clash between the integrated ecosystem of Solana and the modular world of Ethereum.

And in any free market tech rivalry Mumtaz can recall from the past, the leader didn’t retain total market superiority in the long term.

“I have never seen a piece of technology that has been 95% of the market — and people are betting on it to keep growing in the next five to ten years, in terms of relative market share.”

“Even Windows didn’t have that dominance for long,” he says.

Yet, he says on the Lightspeed podcast (Spotify/Apple), people seem to think that the EVM, or Ethereum Virtual Machine, is going to retain its 95% dominance over rivals into perpetuity.

The Helius CEO is betting “with a hundred percent conviction” that EVM competitors like the Solana Virtual Machine (SVM) and MoveVM are “extremely under-indexed on — and the market is asymmetric.”

“It’s not going to be the case that 5% of the market is SVM and Move combined, and then 95% is EVM perpetually, over a ten-year time horizon,” he says. “That’s just never happened.”

Not time to declare victory just yet

Mumtaz says that he sees the SVM in particular rising in popularity, with a broad range of developments taking place, including work from entities like Eclipse, Firedancer and even Visa.

Read more: Solana offers solutions to banking’s ‘bizarre inefficiencies,’ says Mumtaz

“These things are slowly sneaking up on you until one day you’re going to be like, ‘Wait a minute. There’s actually a lot of stuff happening here. What happened?’”

Mumtaz claims that the SVM and MoveVM are “objectively better pieces of technology than the EVM” and now, he says, “they’re getting distribution through the modular thesis of blockchains, as well.”

Read more: Eclipse takes a ‘best of all worlds’ approach to solve scalability trilemma

The market also tends to overlook the fact, according to Mumtaz, that “integrated” chains like Solana are still, in many ways, effectively modular.

“They have different components with different core teams internally working on them. It’s just all integrated into a single message bus,” he says. “It’s still modular. It’s just, they don’t outsource certain stuff.”

As has always been the case in the history of software, both integrated and modular-focused approaches must face some trade-offs, he says. “Integrated technologies throughout history have shown very high degrees of success,” he says. “So have some modular stacks, as well. So that’s to say, they both work.”

Mumtaz criticizes the narrative that layer-2s have already “won” as the chosen blockchain scaling solution. “What have they won? We have like, five users on-chain,” he chuckles.

“I’m not sure it’s time to declare victory. Let’s just keep working on it.”

Mumtaz explains that a “weird irony” of Solana is that, as a global state machine, it is capable of supporting “different use cases that are not composable.”

“Maybe there’s different communities that form within there, which actually might help you with modularity in the end.” He mentions the example of state compression, a Solana innovation that emerged from concerns around the high costs of NFT minting.

He says the state compression technology is “a core piece of infrastructure that basically is enshrined onto the RPC spec itself.” Innovations like state compression can be added to the chain quickly because the system is more integrated, Mumtaz says. “The communications overhead is less.”

Mumtaz says that some modular proponents criticize SVM for its purported inability to “innovate in parallel with different parts of the stack.”

“I know this to not be the case,” he says, “Helius is an infrastructure company — and we work with other teams who are doing exactly that.”