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Ethereum upgrades and corresponding price actions: Everything investors need to know

Ethereum Upgrades

Key Takeaways

  • Ethereum will soon adopt Proof-of-Stake, which will change how the network verifies transactions.
  • The DAO Fork, Byzantium, the London Fork, and the Beacon chain upgrade were some of the most critical Ethereum upgrades initiated over the past six years.
  • A price surge followed every major upgrade—either in the short- or long-term

If you have any plans about buying or selling Ether, we urge you to hit pause until the end of this article. Because Ethereum is undergoing what is being touted as a historic upgrade—called the Merge—soon (hopefully on 15/16 September 2022). And this article is here to help you look into the past to understand how ETH prices have moved before and after significant ecosystem upgrades like the Merge.

We hope that the lessons you take away will help you plan or reassess your next move.

Why discussing Ethereum makes sense

The Merge is expected to be a watershed moment in the history of crypto. With the Proof-of-Work blockchain transforming into a Proof-of-Stake one, Ethereum’s future looks promising.

But wait, isn’t Ethereum still down by 67% from its all-time high of $4,891.70?

It is. Because inflation, talk of a recession, and interest rate hikes have battered the crypto market, and ETH has had to bear a lot of the brunt.

But the dip hasn’t made the Merge less desirable, and there seems to be little reason to worry. Why do we think that? Because every time there has been an upgrade, the prices have moved a fair bit. And with the Merge, price movements like the current one aren’t unexpected.

Tracking Ethereum’s price moves

Back in 2015, ETH was at its lowest, $0.42. Six years later, in November 2021, it’s at $4,900—registering over 11,00,000% gains over that time. A mind-blowing number, right?

However, price movements haven’t followed a linear path during these six years. While investors were always very excited about ETH, drastic price moves were recorded every time there was an upgrade for Ethereum.

Upgrade 1: The DAO Fork

The details

In July 2016, a standard smart contract hack became the reason for what is now known as the DAO upgrade (hard fork). Almost 85% of the voters believed that a change in protocol was necessary to make Ethereum more secure. This fork is why we have two Ethereum ecosystems now: Ethereum Classic (the old one) and Ethereum.

Time Frame: May 2016

Starting Price: $9.30

Pre-Upgrade Price Post-Upgrade Price
Week 1 $11.03 $12.97
Week 2 $14.40 $11.12
Week 4 $14.29 $11.76

How did the price move before and after the upgrade?

As is visible in the table above, prices moved a lot and peaked one month before the DAO fork. As the date approached, ETH started losing some gains, showing that the ETH community doesn’t take delays well. Also, as the DAO fork was an ideological divide, ETH didn’t peak immediately after the fork.

It took Ethereum (the new chain) at least eight months to get its groove back, and in early 2017 it started peaking, with $19.33 levels registered in early March.

Upgrade 2: Byzantium

The details

This upgrade was initiated back in October 2017 to accommodate off-chain scaling solutions on top of Ethereum’s ecosystem. The Byzantium fork is the reason you see Ethereum-based scaling platforms like Polygon thrive.

Time Frame: July 2017

Starting price: $157.36

Pre-Upgrade Price Post-Upgrade Price
Week 1 $338.76 $297.92
Week 2 $264.31 $307.91
Week 4 $288.75 $410.17

How did the price move before and after the upgrade?

Quite visibly, ETH peaked by almost 80% when the news of an off-chain scaling solution coming to the ecosystem was confirmed (Week 4 pre-upgrade). The delay caused a price dip (during Week 2 pre-update), and immediately after Byzantium came to be, there was some profit booking, pushing the price down by almost 10% (comparing Week 1 before the upgrade and the same week after it).

However, four weeks into the upgrade, the prices skyrocketed to $410—a 175% up move as compared to the July 2017 levels.

Upgrade 3: Beacon Chain

The details

A stepping stone to the Proof-of-Stake ecosystem, the Altair Beacon Chain upgrade was initiated back in December 2020, keeping Merge-specific preparation and Ethereum’s long-term vision in mind. The upgrade brought with it a coordination mechanism to introduce staking to Ethereum.

Time Frame: August 2020

Starting Price: $385.20

Pre-Upgrade Price Post-Upgrade Price
Week 1 $357.44 $365.59
Week 2 $384.36 $377.44
Week 4 $385.67 $450

How did the price move before and after the upgrade?

Price action around the Beacon Chain upgrade is most exciting. As the upgrade was to pave the way for an eventual shift to PoS, it met with a few roadblocks and negative sentiments—pushing the prices down to almost 8% (between Week 4 and Week 1 of pre-upgrade).

However, once the Beacon Chain came into existence, the sentiments were positive. After the upgrade, ETH started steady with 3% gains in Week 1, 6% gains in Week 2, and almost 30% gains in Week 4.

Upgrade 4: The London Fork

The details

Ethereum is supposed to be an inflationary crypto asset with an unlimited supply. However, back in August 2021, the London Upgrade or the EIP-1559 protocol was introduced, allowing the ecosystem to burn tokens. This update was aimed at reducing the gas fee and making Ethereum net deflationary in the long run.

Time Frame: April 2021

Starting price: $2,330

Pre-Upgrade Price Post-Upgrade Price
Week 1 $2,610 $3,164
Week 2 $1,895 $3,286
Week 4 $2,274 $3,834

How did the price move before and after the upgrade?

The Ethereum community expected a burn protocol to be launched back in April 2021. Which is why the price peaked in May 2021, reaching almost $4,000. This indicates that the upgrade was making waves weeks before it actually happened.

However, once the London fork was active, the prices started taking an upward turn, going all the way up to the May 2021 levels in four weeks.

What did we learn?

Here are some of our inferences:

  1. Prices usually respond positively right after an upgrade is announced.
  2. Regardless of the time frame, every major upgrade is followed by a price boost.
  3. Ideological divides or upgrades often get mixed price-based reviews, but the net movement is always higher—even if it is a week or ten weeks after the upgrade.
  4. Delays in upgrades can quickly cause investors to lose interest, though.

What to expect from the ETH Merge?

Each of the upgrades discussed so far resulted in a net-positive price move for ETH, regardless of market sentiments. So, if history is anything to go by, despite 2022’s bearish market, we can expect the Merge to kickstart a positive trend—as long as there aren’t any more delays.

We do know that the Ropsten, Sepolia, and Goerli testnet merges were successful, making us hopeful of a successful final merge. However, if one does factor in the history and the current price action, the ETH investor community could very well be getting more active post upgrade.


Each Ethereum upgrade is aimed at making the ecosystem more robust, secure, environmentally sustainable, and profitable. The Merge plans to do all of this at once. That’s what makes it potentially one of the largest events in crypto history—possibly even on par with Bitcoin’s hard fork.

And yes, the market is bearish for now, but this might just be a temporary effect—something that historical price movements have shown.

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