The Protocol: Bitcoin Halving Spectacular, With Runes, 'Epic Sat,' Stacks Nakamoto

Unlike the last Bitcoin halving, a ho-hum affair where Covid-locked-down gawkers had little choice but to tune into livestreamed watch parties, the upcoming Bitcoin halving comes with project launches, competitions and IRL celebrations in Denver and Costa Rica.

AccessTimeIconApr 17, 2024 at 6:49 p.m. UTC
Updated Apr 17, 2024 at 6:54 p.m. UTC
10 Years of Decentralizing the Future
May 29-31, 2024 - Austin, TexasThe biggest and most established global event for everything crypto, blockchain and Web3.Register Now

It's hard not to draw parallels between the general mood across parts of the planet last week, when people were jockeying to glimpse the solar eclipse, and the excitement building this week in the Bitcoin community, as the blockchain's quadrennial halving approaches. Based on the latest estimates, the halving would arrive sometime in the next few days, possibly on the very meme-y date of April 20. That's according to the Bitcoin halving countdown clock, on the website of the hashrate marketplace NiceHash.

Conversely, it's hard not to draw a sharp contrast between this Bitcoin halving and the one that took place four years ago, in May 2020, just as the Covid lockdowns were hitting and people were stuck at home with little else to do but stay up late for the livestreamed geek-outs. (Remember when Zoom was just becoming a household word?) This time around, IRL halving celebrations are planned in places like Denver and Costa Rica.

Another aspect that feels quite different: the host of project launches and strangely lucrative on-chain competitions timed to take place right at the moment of the halving – to some degree a reflection of the "building-on-Bitcoin" trend sparked by last year's release of the Ordinals protocol and unveiling of Robin Linus's BitVM. This week's halving could get weird. Or goofy. Or maybe just awkwardly technical. A list of our preview stories can be found below, in Network News. Happy halving.

Also this week:

  • Solana's patch, Vitalik's privacy plea, rare "Satoshi-era" bitcoin.
  • Crypto VC firms are obsessing over DePIN, our Lyllah Ledesma writes.
  • Top picks from the past week's Protocol Village column: AO Ventures, Kraken, Suku, Internet Computer Protocol, Layer N.
  • $135M of blockchain project fundraisings: Nebra, Berachain, Puffer, Crypto Valley Exchange, Mayan Finance.
Protocol podcast: Rootrock

Network news

HALVING, A BALL: Please see below our previews of the various launches and competitions timed to coincide with the Bitcoin halving. Barely any of this stuff existed four years ago, when the last halving took place. There's also some market predictions:

Note: A roundup of CoinDesk's Bitcoin halving coverage can be found here on our extra-special landing page.

SOL PATCH: Developers behind the Solana blockchain pushed out a software update to help address its struggles with network congestion over recent months.

PECTRA = PRAGUE + ELECTRA. Developers behind Ethereum, fresh off this year's Dencun upgrade, are homing in on the blockchain's next big upgrade – named "Pectra," a portmanteau of "Prague" (the Czech capital) and "Electra" (a star), in accordance with the naming convention for these things. Last week the developers signaled that Pectra is "likely to include Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) 3074, a proposed set of code changes for improving the user experience (UX) of Ethereum wallets," our Margaux Nijkerk reported.

RARE 'SATOSHI ERA' BITCOIN: An early crypto miner moved 50 bitcoin (BTC) today after 14 years of leaving the holdings untouched, data shows, joining the rare instances where bitcoin from the “Satoshi era” have been transferred, as reported by our Shaurya Malwa. The holdings, worth over $3 million, were transferred to two wallets, and some of transfers were eventually sent to the crypto exchange Coinbase (COIN), analysis tool Lookonchain said in an X post.

"Privacy is normal," Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin wrote on X, after Wu Blockchain noted that he transferred 100 ETH (about $325,000) to Railgun, an on-chain system for private DeFi transactions on Ethereum and Ethereum-compatible blockchains. (Possible translation: Mind your own beeswax.)

Senior crypto engineer salaries typically range from $187,000 to $236,000 at U.S.-based companies, or $137,000 to $186,000 at international-based companies, according to a compensation report released last week by the crypto investment firm Dragonfly.

L2s LAYER ON: High-profile crypto projects keep launching their own layer-2 chains.

acceleration in the number of layer-2 chains launched each quarter,

Chart shows an acceleration in the number of layer-2 chains launched each quarter, from the just-released "On-Chain Report Q1 2024" by QuickNode and Artemis, citing data from L2Beat (L2Beat/QuickNode/Artemis)

Protocol Village

Top picks of the past week from our Protocol Village column, highlighting key blockchain tech upgrades and news.

Community Labs CEO Tate Berenbaum

Community Labs CEO Tate Berenbaum (Community Labs)

Tate Berenbaum, who reportedly raised $30 million while still a teenager for crypto startup Community Labs, has launched of AO Ventures, a 10-week incubator program dedicated to fostering development on Arweave and AO, according to a message from Berenbaum: "Over $35 million in capital has already been committed to the investment pool. The program will start in April and culminate in a Demo Day in June."

FIRST ON COINDESK: Kraken, the second-biggest U.S.-based crypto exchange, has developed its own wallet, catching up to its rival Coinbase in the product arena and joining a saturated field that also includes major players like MetaMask, Ledger and Trezor. The new self-custodial “Kraken Wallet" is being releasing Wednesday and will be available to both Kraken users and non-users, CoinDesk is first to report. The wallet will initially support eight blockchains including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Solana, Optimism, Base, Arbitrum, Polygon and Dogecoin.

Suku, a provider of Web3 tools, in collaboration with Alchemy and Privy, has launched SukuPay, "a simple, free and fully non-custodial global money transfer solution," according to the team: "Leveraging account abstraction, SukuPay removes the need for initial setup like creating a wallet or remembering a seed phrase, while still providing a non-custodial experience. With just a phone number, users can effortlessly send and receive funds without any fees. It's built on the efficient Polygon PoS network and utilizes the USDC stablecoin."

The team behind Internet Computer Protocol (ICP) said that the implementation of threshold-Schnorr will allow to etch Runes, trade BRC-20 tokens and "unleash the full potential of Bitcoin-based DeFi and Web3," with ICP "primed to become Bitcoin layer zero," according to a message.

Layer N, a layer-2 network on Ethereum, has launched its testnet, following a $5 million funding round supported by Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund. Designed as a network of rollups with a unified communication and liquidity layer, Layer N aims to optimize the execution layer for numerous applications while maintaining user-friendly experiences.


'DePIN' Is Venture Capitalists' Latest Crypto Obsession. Can It Match the Hype?

So much of the cryptocurrency industry lives in the ether, figuratively or literally: data moving around blockchains, lines moving up or down on price graphs and other largely intangible things.

But a hot emerging trend that has venture capitalists salivating promises a direct tie to the real world: running infrastructure with blockchains. Projects like the Helium protocol, which drives a wireless network with a token-powered ecosystem, or Filecoin's data-storage platform.

The not-so-catchy term for all this is decentralized physical infrastructure networks, which usually gets shortened as DePIN. A catchy amount of money has already been invested, a sign venture capital firms see potential. According to a report, the top DePIN projects have raised more than $1 billion combined.

Money Center


Universal proof aggregation protocol

Schematic of Nebra's "universal proof aggregation" protocol (Nebra)

Nebra, a research and development organization dedicated to the privacy and scaling of blockchain technology through zero-knowledge proofs (ZKPs), has raised $4.5 million in a combined pre-seed/seed round led by Nascent and Bankless Ventures, with the participation of many notable angels such as Tim Beiko from Ethereum Foundation, Kartik Talwar from ETHGlobal, Nick White from Celestia, Sandy Peng and Haichen Shen from Scroll.

Blockchain platform Berachain closed oversubscribed Series B funding round, securing $100 million, according to the team: "Framework Ventures, one of the earliest VC firms to enter the DeFi space, and Brevan Howard Digital’s Abu Dhabi branch co-led the round.

Liquid restaking protocol Puffer has raised $18 million in a Series A funding round, led by Brevan Howard Digital and Electric Capital.

Mayan Finance, a cross-chain swap auction protocol on Solana, has raised $3 million in a seed round, led by 6MV and Borderless.

Crypto Valley Exchange (CVEX), a DeFi protocol set to offer crypto futures and options trading, announced it has raised $7 million across pre-seed and seed fundraising rounds.

Mayan Finance, a cross-chain swap auction protocol on Solana, has raised $3 million in a seed round, led by 6MV and Borderless.

Data and Tokens


April 18-19: Token2049, Dubai.

April 20 (estimate): Next Bitcoin halving.

May 9-10: Bitcoin Asia, Hong Kong.

May 29-31: Consensus, Austin Texas.

May 29-31: Bitcoin Seoul.

June 11-13: Apex, the XRP Ledger Developer Summit, Amsterdam.

July 8-11: EthCC, Brussels.

July 25-27: Bitcoin 2024, Nashville.

Aug. 19-21: Web3 Summit, Berlin.

Sept. 19-21: Solana Breakpoint, Singapore.

Sept. 1-7: Korea Blockchain Week, Seoul.

Sept. 30-Oct. 2: Messari Mainnet, New York.

Oct. 9-11: Permissionless, Salt Lake City.

Oct. 21-22: Cosmoverse, Dubai.

Oct. 23-24: Cardano Summit, Dubai.

Oct. 30-31: Chainlink SmartCon, Hong Kong

Nov 12-14: Devcon 7, Bangkok.

Feb. 19-20, 2025: ConsensusHK, Hong Kong

Edited by Bradley Keoun.


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.

Bradley Keoun

Bradley Keoun is the managing editor of CoinDesk's Tech & Protocols team. He owns less than $1,000 each of several cryptocurrencies.

Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk's longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to to register and buy your pass now.