As Valid points readers will recall, CoinDesk installed its own Ethereum validator in 2020, affectionately nicknamed “Zelda”, to witness the blockchain’s historic shift from proof-ofwork to proof of stake consensus mechanisms. This is the same mechanism used by Bitcoin. The goal was to observe and report.

This transition was completed last week when Ethereum’s Shanghai Upgrade (aka shapella), went live. It enabled the first ever withdrawals from blockchain’s staking mechanisms.

We followed the original plan and took the necessary steps to close our validator, redeeming our initial deposit ( ETH), which was worth $15,000 in 2020. Zelda also received extra ETH for her efforts to keep the blockchain running smoothly.

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One of the most important lessons learned was how long validators can wait to withdraw ETH if the exit queue is backed up. CoinDesk’s Director of Engineering C. Spencer Beggs estimates that it could take up to a week for our withdrawal request to be processed.

We’ve also learned that, in conjunction with traders and investors on digital asset markets, the Shanghai upgrade was quite bullish for ether’s price. It wasn’t the brutal sell-off some analysts warned would happen. Our intention was not to speculate on ETH’s price, but after a rally that has taken the second largest cryptocurrency to a 11-month high of above $2,100 our original principal now is worth almost $70,000.

CoinDesk has promised to donate the profits from its validator rewards, which totaled 3.65618 Ethereum (roughly $7,600) during this roughly 30-month-long experiment.

Valid Points is closing down now that the validator project has concluded. Valid Points was launched several years ago with a focus on Ethereum and a wider range of projects related to it. Don’t worry, the newsletter will continue. Valid Points will officially become The Protocol next week. The Protocol will be focusing on blockchain and crypto technology more generally. Your subscription will be carried over.

We would like to thank the former CoinDesk journalists Christine Kim and Will Foxley, as well as all other journalists that have contributed to this newsletter over the years. Beggs deserves a special shout out for his heroic efforts in figuring out how to accomplish all of this, and overseeing the technical aspects with such competence.


This is a walk-through that explains the steps Beggs used to shut down his Ethereum validator, and redeem the staked ether on the blockchain.

This screenshot shows the status of our validator at the beginning of the process. It was taken by the validator tracking app Beaconcha.in. The yellow triangle with an exclamation point indicates that the validator has not yet updated the withdrawal keys.

CoinDesk lifetime statistics (Beaconcha.in).

Beggs made the decision to leave on Friday, 14 April. This was two days after Shanghai’s upgrade had been completed. Yes, we admit that we attended the watch parties.

He used the Ethereum “staking deposit CLI” – the official management service for generating the cryptographic keys used on the proof-of-stake blockchain – to generate a signed message known as, “BLSToExecutionChange.” This message is a command that informs the blockchain that we wanted to update our validator’s withdrawal address, which hadn’t been possible prior to the Shanghai upgrade.

The beacon node will then receive the message.

Beggs stated, “I sent the message to our beacon and the beacon sent it directly to the blockchain.”

Beggs estimated that this step would take between two and three days based on this Ethereum Foundation Q&A on staking withdraws.

After just one hour, the status update from Beaconcha.in had already been processed:

(Beaconcha.in)

Beggs, with the updated withdrawal credentials, logged into our server using Lighthouse (which runs our validator client and beacon client) and sent the request to leave.

He said, “You only need to type in a command.”

The server has responded as follows:

(CoinDesk/Lighthouse)

The screen is full of information, but the last few lines are crucial. They estimate that our withdrawal would be processed at Ethereum blockchain epoch 194,506. At the time we were at epoch 196,946.

The script stated: “Exit the epoch approximately 838.656 seconds.”

Beggs explained, “I did the math and converted that into days.” It came out to 9.7 days.

Beaconcha.in estimates that the withdrawal will take place on April 25 at 7:34 pm UTC and the exit on April 24 at 4:16 pm UTC.

Beggs says that Zelda is still validating, attesting and working until the end.

Beggs, when asked about any lessons learned during the winding-down process, says that he is glad (or fortunate) to have taken detailed notes from the beginning.

“I was sweating bullets there for a second because I thought I did something very wrong, because when I tried to generate the ‘BLSToExecutionChange’ message, my keys and my previous withdraw credentials didn’t match,” Beggs recalled.

He looked back at the documentation he had created for the project, to remind him how to generate the keys using the original seed phrase and validator’s index. He was able figure it out with the help of his previous self (from two years ago).

Beggs stated in an interview with Zoom that “finally it came out the right way and generated.” “I’m so glad I wrote it all down.”


Sage D. Young is the author of this report.

Christie Harkin is the editor.