The Generalist - The Way of Cosmos

The “internet of blockchains” believes tomorrow’s builders will prioritize specialization and sovereignty. It’s gaining momentum.  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

Friends,

Over the past six months, I’ve been hearing one crypto name at an increasing frequency: Cosmos.

The blockchain ecosystem is attracting impressive teams and becoming the home for a host of interesting startups. Many talented investors that predicted big winners of the last cycle are spending considerable time on Cosmos.

About two and a half months ago, I began to dig in. I’ve had the chance to interview many of the ecosystem’s most influential builders and get a sense of Cosmos’ momentum and its drivers.

One of my goals in writing The Generalist is to surface interesting ideas, companies, and crypto projects before they hit the mainstream. While there’s still a lot for Cosmos to figure out, it’s a network I think is worth studying closely and keeping an eye on over the coming years.

To learn why Cosmos may be primed for a breakout, jump in.


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The Way of Cosmos

Actionable insights

If you only have a few minutes to spare, here's what investors, operators, and founders should know about Cosmos.

  • Cosmos is a constellation of blockchains. Though often called the “internet of blockchains,” Cosmos is perhaps best thought of as a federation of city-states. Each city (an “appchain”) has a distinct identity, but it may connect to others through shared infrastructure.
  • Appchains have benefits and drawbacks. Building on Cosmos comes with clear advantages, including customizability, sovereignty, and predictable resource usage. However, there are tradeoffs. Versus a monolith like Ethereum, developing on Cosmos may be more expensive and complicated.
  • Terra’s implosion may have helped Cosmos. When Terra collapsed in May, many feared Cosmos would suffer. After all, Terra was the ecosystem’s highest-profile project. Instead, Cosmos appears to have absorbed much of the talent Terra shed, strengthening the broader network. It has also attracted significant projects like dYdX.
  • New initiatives hope to improve security within Cosmos. One knock against Cosmos’ appchain structure is that it forces builders to bootstrap their own validator set. This can be a costly task that may undermine security. Announcements at the Cosmoverse conference suggest this will be addressed through an initiative entitled “ATOM 2.0.”
  • Cosmos’ ultimate goal is to be forgotten. Great infrastructure becomes so ubiquitous consumers scarcely think about it. For example, few modern internet users spend much time thinking of underlying protocols like TCP/IP. Cosmos’ ultimate mission is to become so fundamental to the blockchain world that it disappears.

***

Sometimes, how you build matters as much as what you build.

No matter how bold your ambitions, you cannot make a ship out of sand. Or a soup spoon from sugar. We may occasionally defy expectations, twisting the laws of biology or physics into surprising shapes. Mostly though, the available materials – and how you use them – impact the viability of your aspirations.

Cosmos is focused on the how. Though promising projects are emerging, the ecosystem is most notable for the methods that have allowed its constellation of blockchains to bloom. A cluster of mechanisms and software programs, “hubs” and “zones,” foundations and counsels, bewilder an interstellar tourist, as do alien terms like “CosmWasm” and “Tendermint.” Beneath this frenzy, though, there is a deep-seated sense that unites and synchronizes – a coherence on a philosophical level. “Cosmos isn’t one specific blockchain,” Billy Rennekamp, lead of Cosmos Hub, said. “It’s a new way of thinking about making blockchains successful for mass adoption.”

In today’s piece, we will mostly stay above the technical detail. Others have done this better than I can, and like the galaxies above our heads, it is easy to get lost in any number of infinities. Instead, we’ll focus on the Way of Cosmos: the technologies it offers, the new constructions this enables, and the differentiated perspective it advances. In particular, we’ll cover the following:

  1. Explaining Cosmos. Cosmos' abundance of different entities and technologies makes it a little tricky to understand. We’ll use the metaphor of a city to outline how the ecosystem works.
  2. A philosophical debate. Will crypto projects coalesce around one monolithic blockchain, or is the future multichain? Cosmos is at the heart of this conversation. As we’ll discuss, no solution is perfect, with each having distinct tradeoffs.
  3. Growing momentum. Cosmos is picking up speed. Despite Terra’s demise, Cosmos seems to have grown stronger, attracting large projects like dYdX and newer builders.
  4. Big changes. The recent Cosmoverse conference showcased impactful initiatives that should improve security and liquidity within the ecosystem. Native token ATOM may also finally have a reliable way to accrue value.

In a meme

​​​​For the pictorially inclined, here's the whole piece — all 4,500 words of it — in a single meme.


Puzzler

​​​All guesses are welcome and clues are given to anyone that would like one. Just respond to this email for a hint.

What five-letter word stays the same when you take away the first, third, and last letter?

A popular puzzler last time around prompted a slew of correct answers. Jim W was first to the buzzer, followed by Joshua K, Drew M, Yan S, Kamil S, Krishna N, Tim S, SM, Neil P, Manas E, Adam N, Jugal S, Shayon C, Jorge T, Robert H, Ankit J, Thomas K, Adam H, Brian W, Toby O, Kelly O, Prashanth C, Lovish S, Xavier L, Derrick W, and Andrew S. All deduced the right response to this conundrum:

I’m lighter than what I’m made of. More of me is hidden than is seen. What am I?

The answer? An iceberg.

Wishing you all a lovely rest of the day wherever you are in the world.

Until next time,

Mario

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