Ex-Meta crypto head expects crypto winter to drag through 2024
David Marcus, founder of Bitcoin (BTC) payments firm Lightspark, disappointed crypto bulls hoping for a quick crypto market recovery, as he predicted that the bear cycle will likely last through 2024. In a blog post on Dec. 30, Marcus, who was the co-creator of Meta’s scrapped crypto project Diem, wrote:
“We won’t exit this “crypto winter” in 2023, and probably not in 2024 either.”
He added that the crypto market requires a “couple of years” to get over the “abuse of unscrupulous players” and for appropriate regulations to kick in. Additionally, Marcus said that investor trust, which was severely shaken by the series of rapid high-profile bankruptcies, will also need a few years to rebuild.
The crypto firms that collapsed in 2022 include hedge fund Three Arrows Capital (3AC), lenders Voyager Digital and Celsius Network, and the most recent, FTX, followed by lender BlockFi. The collapse of these firms impacted millions of users, who collectively lost at least $10 billion.
Marcus called the “rapid house-of-cards style collapse” of the crypto firms a repeat of the “ugliness of the earlier years of Wall Street’s greed.” Specifically, the downfall of FTX, Marcus noted, added a “very unnecessary dose of drama” to an already awful year.
On an optimistic note, however, Marcus added:
“… ultimately I believe this [long crypto bear market] will prove to be a beneficial reset for legitimate industry players over the long run.”
Marcus’ prediction of a persisting crypto winter suggests Bitcoin may not see a bull run during its next halving, which is expected to occur in 2024. Historically, BTC has enjoyed a bull run through its halving years — 2012, 2016, and 2020.
Irrespective of whether the crypto market recovers before 2024 or not, Marcus said that the “years of greed” will make way for “real-world applications.” He noted:
“The years of creating a token out of thin air and making millions are over. The music has stopped.”
The crypto market is returning to the normalcy of creating “real value and solving real-world problems,” Marcus wrote. This would lead to an increase in innovation in 2023, especially in payments, asset securitization, decentralized finance (DeFi), zero-knowledge (ZK) applications such as proof of reserves, and layer 1 scaling solutions, Marcus expects. He added that 2023 might also bring a renewed focus on the Bitcoin network.
Additionally, Marcus expects that 2023 will be when the Bitcoin Lightning Network shows promise as the “world’s most effective open, interoperable, cheap, real-time payments protocol.” However, Marcus warned that this prediction might be self-serving as his firm Lightspark, backed by a16z crypto and Paradigm, works to extend the utility of Bitcoin through the Lightning network.
Broader market predictions for 2023
Marcus expects the ongoing debate on free speech, sparked by Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover, will increase in 2023. Marcus wrote that different groups would continue to fight to define free speech and argue about what content should or should not be moderated.
Discussing the broader economy, Marcus said that interest rates will continue to rise through the first half of 2023. He wrote that bAs a result, borrowing will become more expensive, and companies without a clear path to profitability will continue to struggle to raise capital.
Marcus warned that rising interest rates would “tame” inflation, but the risks of a “full-on recession” will be very high. Furthermore, tech layoffs will continue in 2023, Marcus said, as companies figure out ways for leaner and more efficient operations.
On the regulation front, Marcus expects the uncertainty to continue through the following year. He noted:
“We need clarity and new regulation for digital assets / crypto, guidelines for social media companies when it comes to content moderation, and guardrails for AI [artificial intelligence] innovation. Sadly, I’ve become increasingly skeptical of our ability to reach consensus on legislative or regulatory approaches that achieve the right balance in these areas.”
As the regulators mull over options and procrastinate legislation, the onus will be on the industry leaders to “do what they believe is right in the vacuum left by our deadlocked legislative system,” Marcus wrote.
Lastly, Marcus said that technology will continue at the forefront of solving “humanity’s biggest problems.” For instance, Bitcoin mining, often criticized for being environmentally damaging, is proving critics wrong by regulating demand across power grids and capturing methane. It is also quickening the pace of renewable energy adoption, Marcus said.
2023 will be a year for builders in crypto
The crumbling of firms believed to be at the forefront of the crypto market’s growth hurt trust, stability, and value, feeding fodder to the crypto critics in 2022. But the destruction has kicked out speculators and created an opportunity to build anew, Marcus wrote, adding:
“We will come out of this era stronger and better, but it’ll take patience and resolve. There’s little doubt in my mind that the next few years will continue to be challenging, but for those who find the will to press on, these will be incredibly rewarding and fulfilling years.”
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