So far, no major news organization has reported extensively on Ether’s rising market cap yet, but they will shortly.
Something interesting happened over the past week – the going rate for a single Ether is now trading at a height of $14, more than double the price from just seven days before, and 14x from when it started trading last year at under $1. Its market cap broke a billion dollars Friday night, and for comparison it’s still about $200 million less than the publicly traded company Shake Shack, the In-n-Out knockoff of the East. But what sets this rise from the cryptocurrency bitcoin, or one of its many clones is that the price is not the main attraction.
The draw to Ethereum (its “currency” is Ether) is that it’s a platform for distributed applications. Using the same underpinning as bitcoin, a blockchain, data is appended only, is not easily susceptible to manipulation, and is distributed. But because Ethereum is a computing platform (running the Ethereum Virtual Machine) and the language used to program it is Turing complete, anything that can be computed, can also be computed on the Ethereum platform. Instead of a running ledger of who owns what and how much, you now have applications running that cannot be taken down (easily), and that can be trusted to do some day to day serious things. The term “Smart Contracts” in relation to Ethereum is a bit of a term of art, (as a real contract is only a legally enforceable promise in court), but you can see how enforcement is potentially a non-issue when conditions are triggered on the platform. Units of Ether is what is used to keep the applications running.
Not as Much Baggage / No Expectation Baggage
Bitcoin has baggage.
It has hacker and drug baggage from its use on dark web marketplaces and for processing cryptolocker attacks that have been sweeping folks. It also has expectation baggage of performing as money, particularly the layperson’s understanding of how money is supposed to function in society.
By positioning itself as a distributed computing platform, and evangelizing itself as something everyday people can program on, Ethereum keeps its options open as to what it can and will do in the coming years. To note, you can actually write up your own cryptocurrency that runs on the Ethereum network. Pretty cool huh?
Try it Yourself
Ethereum is under Homestead release, and the project website has several tutorials that can help get people started on writing their own applications.