Explore the latest trends and insights for ecosystem growth

Get the highlights and key moments from Gitcoin's Ecosystem Growth Summit


Grants enable a new paradigm of growth opportunities

In early March 2024, Gitcoin held the inaugural Ecosystem Growth Summit. The one-day event, held in Denver, was dedicated to fostering innovation and collaboration on topics related to ecosystem growth within the EVM.


Take a look at our highlights from all of the sessions at Gitcoin's Ecosystem Growth Summit, held early March in Denver.

Grants as a Growth Vehicle

with Meg Lister, Kevin Owocki

Gitcoin 2.0
Democratic Capital Allocation
DAO Empowerment
Decentralized Funding
Web3 Innovation
Community Driven Development

Gitcoin 2.0: Pioneering New Paths in Capital Allocation
As web3 ecosystem leaders and community members, you stand at the forefront of a transformative journey in capital allocation that promises to redefine how we support and scale our communities. The collaborative tools and democratic funding mechanisms introduced by Gitcoin 2.0 offer unprecedented opportunities to foster innovation, support public goods, and cultivate a vibrant, sustainable ecosystem. Embrace these advancements to fuel your projects and champion a more inclusive, transparent, and empowered future for the web3 landscape.


Introduction of Gitcoin 2.0

Gitcoin 2.0 represents a significant evolution from its predecessor, introducing a suite of advanced tools for capital allocation within the Ethereum ecosystem and beyond.

Diverse Funding Mechanisms

Gitcoin 2.0 expands beyond quadratic funding to include a variety of funding models, such as direct grants, milestone-based payouts, and retroactive public goods funding, offering a multifaceted approach to capital allocation.

Decentralization and Innovation

The new version emphasizes decentralization, aiming to innovate the process of capital allocation by utilizing blockchain technology to facilitate transparent, precise, and scalable funding mechanisms.

Support for DAOs

Gitcoin 2.0 is designed to assist decentralized autonomous organizations in effectively allocating capital to nurture ecosystem growth, emphasizing that well-allocated grants can serve as a competitive advantage.

Democratic Capital Allocation

Emphasizing democratic principles, Gitcoin 2.0 aims to empower community members to have a say in funding decisions, promoting a more inclusive and representative allocation process.

Strategic Collaboration

Gitcoin 2.0 encourages collaboration within the web3 community, integrating successful mechanisms from other projects and innovators to enrich its capital allocation toolkit and foster a more interconnected ecosystem.


"The future of capital allocation, we think, is democratic, transparent, accessible, powerful, and it's going to evolve deeply over time."

Kevin Owocki

"For every million dollars given in grants, there are 13 full-time developers who are still associated with that project today."


"If your ecosystem is doing 90 percent direct grants through a centralized capital allocator, you may want to look at more anti-fragile, democratic, and credibly neutral ways of allocating capital."

Kevin Owocki

"We've been giving out grants for nearly five years now, and we've spent two years imagining and building this system and the tools to enable this next generation of capital allocation."


Effective Grant Programs

with Meg Lister, Krzysztof Urbański, Coltron, Eugene Leventhal

Strategic Grant Allocation
Impact Measurement
Accountability in Funding
Sustainable Ecosystem Growth
Diversifying Funding Sources
Targeted Funding

Championing Transparency and Accountability in Web3 Funding
As stewards of the web3 ethos, it is incumbent upon us to champion transparency, accountability, and inclusivity in our funding mechanisms, ensuring they not only fuel immediate advancements but also lay the groundwork for resilient, self-sustaining ecosystems. 


Strategic Funding Allocation

Emphasize the need for grant programs to strategically allocate funds, focusing on initiatives that drive meaningful ecosystem growth and align with long-term objectives.

Defining and Measuring Growth

Establish clear criteria for defining growth within ecosystems and implement robust mechanisms for measuring the impact of grant-funded projects, ensuring they contribute to the ecosystem's advancement.

Balancing Support and Accountability

Highlight the balance between providing financial support to grantees and maintaining a level of accountability, ensuring funds are utilized effectively and objectives are met.

Sustainability and Self-Sufficiency

Stress the importance of nurturing projects and entities towards financial sustainability and reduced reliance on grant funding, fostering long-term resilience within the ecosystem.

Leveraging Community Insights

Advocate for leveraging the insights and feedback from the community to inform grant-making decisions, ensuring that funding aligns with the needs and priorities of the ecosystem.

Adaptive and Evolving Programs

Recommend that grant programs remain adaptive and open to evolution, incorporating learnings and feedback to continuously improve their impact and relevance in supporting ecosystem growth.

Diversification of Funding Sources

Encourage the exploration and adoption of diverse funding mechanisms beyond grants, providing a more stable financial foundation for ecosystem entities and projects.


"It's crucial upfront to clearly define the target users, understand their reasons for engagement, and consider how this initiative can serve as the seed for prolonged interactions that foster meaningful connections."

Eugene Leventhal

"We can put all of these complicated systems together and measure impact 5,000 different ways. But grants are only as good as the builders that they're actually funding."

Meg Lister

"I also think that from the grant side, there's a lack of developing the projects they fund and adding tools to help them. It's about helping these projects leave the nest and grow. I'd like to see more support beyond just giving money; it's about fostering a community and broader relationships to help these projects become profitable or develop revenue streams."


"We can't lose this fight again... we need to as a community figure out ways of making open source and public goods sustainable."

Krzysztof Urbański

Venture Funding

with Curtis Spencer, Jeff Ren

Data-Driven Investments
Bitcoin Ecosystem Evolution
Developer Community
Token Utility
Fundraising Objectives
Market Cycle Adaptation
Emerging Technologies

Developer Engagement as a Key to Crypto Growth and Innovation
The discussion emphasized the necessity of a robust developer community, noting that a strong, engaged developer base is essential for the sustained growth and innovation of crypto projects.  By nurturing and investing in talent and collaborative networks, projects can fuel technological advancements and ensure long-term viability.


Data-Driven Investment Decisions

The significance of thorough, data-backed analyses in guiding investment choices in the crypto sector cannot be overstated, ensuring decisions are well-informed and strategically sound.

Adaptation to Market Cycles

Recognizing and adapting investment strategies to align with the cyclical nature of the crypto market can significantly enhance the effectiveness and sustainability of investments.

Bitcoin Ecosystem Evolution

The maturing Bitcoin ecosystem presents new investment avenues and opportunities, signifying its continued relevance and potential for innovation within the broader crypto market.

Clear Fundraising Objectives

Crypto startups should approach fundraising with clear, well-defined objectives, articulating specific needs and expectations from potential investors beyond just capital.

Token Utility and Investment

Understanding and articulating the utility of tokens within a project is essential, as it impacts investor interest, project valuation, and long-term viability.

Engagement with Emerging Technologies

Staying abreast of and engaging with emerging technologies and trends within the crypto space is imperative for investors and founders alike, ensuring they remain competitive and innovative.


"We focus on five major sectors... there's a lot of infrastructure and scalability build out that needs to happen... The next sector that we're really excited about is security and dev tools... The next sector, I'd say, is NFT marketplaces, creator economy."

Curtis Spencer

"Crypto founders are built a little different... it's really hard to get it right. And it's more like, does the founder have this resilience to build in this 24/7, somewhat adversarial, market... it's part software innovation, but part societal movement and religion even."

Curtis Spencer

"Yeah, in the crypto project, web3 project, more often than not, things are built around the tokens itself, especially the incentive programs. And when you get to that stage, it's inevitable that you need to think about the utility of your tokens and how it is going to work or address the growth or the eventual kind of business case."

Jeff Ren

"Don't raise when you see the market changes… this is getting up, why don't we go out and raise, right? I want you to know, we would love to see the projects come with a need…plan ahead and have a very clear ask: why now and what you need."

Jeff Ren

Building Strong Communities

with James Kiernan, Toady Hawk, Shreyas, 0xTangle, Prof Werder

Core Alignment
Adaptive Strategies
Incentive Structures
Intrinsic Motivation
Education and Engagement

The Bedrock of Community Building - Core Alignment
One of the most critical highlights from the conversation is the emphasis on core alignment within community building. Establishing a core group of contributors who share a deep alignment with the community's mission and values is fundamental to fostering a robust and engaging community. This core group acts as the backbone of the community, driving its growth, culture, and resilience.


Strategic Adaptability

Communities must remain agile, adapting strategies to the fast-evolving landscape of crypto and decentralized ecosystems, ensuring they stay relevant and effective.

Learning from Failures

Embracing lessons learned from past initiatives that did not succeed is crucial. Understanding and analyzing these failures can guide better strategies and prevent future missteps.

Incentive Alignment

Incentives should be structured to promote meaningful contributions and deter opportunistic behavior. Impact-based rewards are more effective in fostering genuine engagement and value creation.

Importance of Intrinsic Motivation

Beyond extrinsic rewards, fostering intrinsic motivation among community members can lead to more sustainable and passionate engagement, enhancing the community's overall vibrancy and resilience.

Utilization of Onchain Tools

Leveraging onchain tools can provide structure, transparency, and accountability within communities, facilitating better management and engagement.

Educational Emphasis

Providing education and resources to community members, especially newcomers, is vital for their empowerment and the community's long-term sustainability, ensuring informed participation and contribution.


"It's way more important to have quality than quantity, so having a group of five people could really empower and attract thousands more to watch and see what to contribute with."


"Just being there so people know where to find you is just a huge part of building a community."

Toady Hawk

"If you have a strong mission that people align with, you find that minimum viable community that is aligned with your mission to start out."

Prof Werder

"Maybe you can have people that are coming and going that are part of the public side of it, but to have a really focused kind of core, having 150 people that are part of an in-real-life community is pretty massive."


Leveraging Airdrops for Community Engagement

with Jeremy, Rok, Callum Gladstone, Dawson Botsford

Evolution of Airdrops
Community Engagement
Strategic Airdrop Design
Protocol Loyalty
Regulatory Challenges
Continuous Airdrops
Identity and Reputation

Strategic Airdrops: Driving Community Engagement and Growth
The future of airdrops is set to become more strategic, focusing on deepening community engagement and supporting sustainable project growth. Embracing sophisticated identity and reputation systems will refine airdrop effectiveness, ensuring rewards reach genuine participants. Innovating beyond traditional models, the industry is poised to leverage airdrops not just as promotional tools but as integral elements that drive user acquisition, retention, and long-term loyalty to blockchain protocols.


Evolution of Airdrops

Airdrops have progressed from simple community rewards to advanced strategies designed to prevent exploitation and promote authentic engagement, demonstrating their strategic importance in user acquisition and retention.

Balancing Reward Distribution

There's a critical need to strike a balance in airdrop distribution to ensure both significant stakeholders and the broader community are adequately incentivized, maintaining fairness and widespread participation.

Protocol Loyalty and User Behavior

Airdrops can significantly influence protocol loyalty and user behavior, acting as powerful mechanisms to attract and retain users, thereby enhancing network effects and protocol adoption.

Regulatory Challenges

Navigating the regulatory landscape is crucial, as compliance challenges can impact the structure and implementation of airdrop campaigns, particularly in jurisdictions with stringent regulations.

Ongoing Airdrop Campaigns

The concept of continuous airdrop campaigns was discussed as a potential strategy to maintain engagement and reward ongoing participation, indicating an evolving approach to user incentives.

Identity and Reputation Systems

Incorporating identity and reputation systems in the airdrop process can enhance the effectiveness and fairness of distributions, targeting genuine users and reducing the impact of malicious actors.


"But you know, comparing that (Uniswap Airdrop) to the next three to six months after that, as an airdrop designer, as a team, you had to be a lot more careful about how you design that airdrop to not capture those Sybil attackers."

Callum Gladstone

"Airdrop Farmers are more a volume thing rather than a size thing. It really starts your grassroots stuff. Ultimately, they're very strong and positive, especially knowing you're probably going to get some token dumped on, but that's just part of it. You go in knowing that."


"I think the idea of adding something like a Gitcoin passport at the claim part of the process seems like a pretty good idea. I mean, why not as an app developer, as a protocol developer, if you're going to try to weed out a bit more of the Sybil attackers."

Dawson Botsford

The State of DevRel

with Maria Shen, Austin Griffith

Developer Onboarding
Multi-Chain Development
Incentivization Strategies
Blockchain Innovation
Educational Initiatives

Growth, Diversification, and Global Impact of Ethereum's Developer Ecosystem
The Ethereum developer ecosystem is on a trajectory of sustained growth and diversification. Educational initiatives are key in nurturing a deep and skilled developer pool, enhancing the platform's innovative capacity. The shift towards multi-chain development heralds a future of increased interoperability and collaboration across blockchain networks. With a globally distributed developer base, Ethereum stands to benefit from diverse insights and innovations, reinforcing its leadership in the blockchain space.


Experience Level Insights

Data reveals that developers with varying levels of experience are contributing significantly, with a steady increase in seasoned developers who provide the bulk of code contributions.

Educational Initiatives

Initiatives like Speedrun Ethereum and ScaffoldEth are pivotal in onboarding and educating developers, accelerating their journey and fostering a deeper integration into the Ethereum ecosystem.

Multi-Chain Development

The discussion underscores a substantial shift towards multi-chain development, indicating a broadening scope of developer interests and a move toward a more interconnected blockchain environment.

Global Developer Distribution

The Ethereum developer community is highlighted as being geographically diverse, with a significant portion of developers based outside North America, emphasizing the global appeal and reach of Ethereum.

Developer Incentivization

The conversation touches on innovative ways to incentivize developers, suggesting that such incentives play a crucial role in attracting and retaining talent within the ecosystem.

Personal Motivation

Insights into personal motivations for building on Ethereum reveal a strong alignment with the platform's ethos and potential, highlighting a passionate and committed developer community.


"Developers who have been in crypto for two plus years have grown at a rate of 52 percent per year for the past five years, which is astonishing."

Maria Shen

"In 2023, we had over 47,000 new developers enter crypto, which is despite what was a pretty brutal bear market is still more developers than we had in 2018."

Maria Shen

"We funded 150 people last year, and we did that using custom streaming smart contracts that allow people to withdraw from the smart contract and turn in what they're working on. And we kind of challenge them to do what they think is best for the ecosystem, and when they do some work, they turn it in and withdraw from their stream."

Austin Griffith

"One huge thing is just that everything is permissionless here. If you're coming in and asking, you know someone who owns a repo, what you should be working on, you're doing it wrong. You have full access to all of this stuff. You should get in and look at the issues and find something that you could tackle and just go do it."

Austin Griffith

Token Design and Token Models

with Sid, Ken Deeter, DJ, Aiham

Thoughtful Token Design
Incentive Strategies
DeFi Growth
User Behavior Alignment
Speculative Behavior Mitigation
Protocol Sustainability

Strategic Token Design and Incentives
The conversation highlights the critical role of thoughtful token design and incentive strategies in blockchain and DeFi ecosystems. Panel experts emphasized the importance of aligning incentives with long-term user engagement and protocol sustainability rather than short-term gains. They discussed various distribution methods like liquidity mining and airdrops and explored the potential of 'points' as an innovative incentive mechanism. 


Aligning Incentives with Long-Term Engagement

Incentive strategies should focus on fostering long-term user engagement and contribution rather than merely attracting short-term speculative interest.

Variety in Distribution Methods

Diverse methods such as liquidity mining and airdrops have their distinct impacts on user behavior and protocol growth, necessitating a strategic approach to their implementation.

Innovation in Incentives

The exploration of 'points' as an innovative incentive mechanism showcases the industry's move towards more nuanced and potentially more effective user engagement strategies.

Importance of User Behavior Alignment

Ensuring that incentive mechanisms are in harmony with desired user behaviors is essential for the protocol's enduring success and resilience.

Mitigating Speculative Behavior

Thoughtfully designed tokenomics can help mitigate speculative behavior that could be detrimental to the protocol's long-term viability.

Protocol Sustainability

The ultimate goal of token design and incentive strategies should be to ensure the sustainability and healthy evolution of the DeFi ecosystem.


"We launched a buyback of a program to fund some incentives, and I think that really helped build traction in some of the markets at times when yield or the expected yield was not so high. I think really we built what we call a core user base because of that."


"There's this whole space of incentive marketing and incentive expectation setting that needs a lot of research. I would say that RPGF is one example of this, where, in the beginning, people would not build for RPGF because that wasn't the expectation. But now, when we have these incentive expectations, people are, in the latest rounds, building for RPGF, and I think that's huge."


"It's interesting to see, I think we had an organic explosion, a sort of multi-agent exploration of the design space last time. Some of the things actually did work, and when you promise future rewards and you create a game of accruing status or ownership into a network, that creates a very different behavior than a very front-loaded emission."

Ken Deeter

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