Arbitrum: The Driving Force Behind Ethereum's Ecosystem Growth, According to Pantera Capital
In the latest Pantera Capital Blockchain Letter, there's a notable prediction that the cryptocurrency market may be on the verge of a positive turn following a challenging bear market in 2022. One of the significant beneficiaries of this potential upswing is emerging to be Arbitrum, a leading layer 2 solution for Ethereum.
Pantera Capital's analysis highlights Arbitrum as a substantial player within the Ethereum ecosystem, which itself has been a dominant force across the broader crypto landscape. What's particularly striking is the assertion that Arbitrum has been responsible for driving 100% of the incremental growth in Ethereum's transaction volume this year, even as other layer 2 solutions and competitors have remained relatively stagnant.
Pantera Capital's investment approach focuses on fundamentals, and it recognizes the considerable scalability challenges that Ethereum has faced. Ethereum's limitations in terms of scalability have led to network congestion and high transaction fees. In this context, layer 2 solutions like Arbitrum are gaining prominence as they promise faster, cheaper transactions while preserving Ethereum's security features and diverse range of applications.
The key advantage of Arbitrum lies in its ability to process transactions at a speed 40 times faster and a cost 20 times cheaper than the base Ethereum layer. This efficiency has driven substantial growth in Arbitrum's adoption, distinguishing it from its peers and making it one of the fastest-expanding layer 2 solutions on Ethereum.
Pantera's analysis emphasizes that Arbitrum has consistently grown its transaction volume despite a bearish trend in the cryptocurrency market this year. The data suggests that Arbitrum has played a pivotal role in fueling the growth of the Ethereum ecosystem in 2023, contributing to the entire incremental increase.
Pantera points to Arbitrum's expanding user base as a significant factor behind its growth. As more users join the platform, developers are drawn to build new applications on Arbitrum, creating a positive feedback loop that propels its evolution. However, Pantera underscores that fundamental value investors are most interested in the potential revenue generated from this increased activity.
One unique aspect that sets Arbitrum apart is its profitability. The protocol generates revenue by collecting transaction fees on its network, bundling these transactions, and forwarding them to the Ethereum base layer. This revenue model results in a gross profit of approximately 10 cents per transaction for Arbitrum.
Pantera Capital's analysis reveals that Arbitrum is on a solid growth trajectory, with transaction volumes approaching 90 million per quarter and Q2 revenue reaching $23 million. During the same period, gross profit approached nearly $5 million, equivalent to an annualized $20 million.
Arbitrum's current market capitalization stands at $5 billion on an issued shares basis. Pantera Capital finds this valuation appealing, especially when considering Arbitrum's strong usage, revenue, and profit metrics in comparison to other layer 1 and layer 2 protocols.
From a growth and valuation perspective, Pantera predicts that Arbitrum could potentially scale to a transaction run rate of over 1 billion at a 10 cents profit per transaction in the coming year. This projection suggests roughly $100 million in earnings and, with a $5 billion market capitalization, implies a valuation of approximately 50 times forward earnings. Despite the apparent expense on an absolute basis, Pantera considers this valuation reasonable for an asset that is still experiencing triple-digit growth.
Pantera Capital's Blockchain Letter highlights Arbitrum as a rapidly evolving protocol with a well-established product-market fit, a demonstrated profitability model, and a valuation that appears reasonable considering its strong growth potential. Arbitrum's impact on Ethereum's ecosystem growth underscores the importance of layer 2 solutions in addressing scalability challenges and driving innovation within the cryptocurrency space.