“This milestone marks the deployment of our end-to-end zkRollup, with all of its components, on the mainnet.”
So said zkSync last Friday with all the other competing projects criticizing it for claiming to be the first zkEVM on the mainnet as it is a very restrictive launch.
The actual launch is expected sometime next year, possibly early next year, it’s still just the beginning, because then developers and users will have to analyze it, review it, wait to see what breaks, see them all bicker and tear apart pointing out the pros and cons, then maybe use it.
Welcome to the Unforgiving Frontier, where the price is…well, Ethereum itself, efficiently providing broadband to today’s slow, clumsy, and expensive public blockchain.
Away from these front lines, it seems like nothing is really happening in crypto. In fact, Bitcoiners see so little movement that they have focused on statistics and fiat data, like interest rates that matter for debt, but not for BTC.
In Ethereum there is a bit more activity, but not on the surface. Instead, the business is entrenched deep in whisper rooms with VC teams, armies of code, and their non-marketers, effectively albeit politely at war.
If you look at this, Arbitrum has won and its only real competitor is Optimism. The rest are so far behind that even a fork of optimism, Métis, ranks above them.
zkSync or Starknet are an afterthought, and Polygon’s zkEVM is so low in the rankings that it doesn’t even fit in the screenshot.
Yet all of the projects mentioned know full well that the race hasn’t even started, the real race where some kind of consensus is formed on which project best meets the requirement of releasing open source code without permission.
This is another kind of Mesari classification. Arbitrum and Optimism here are not even mentioned because they are not based on zk. Neither can be entirely dismissed at this point, however, it is anyone’s guess at this point how the L2s will develop once the protocol layer is developed.
Due to network effects and given that these networks are not interoperable – they all have a smart contract that you have to deposit their smart contracts not talking to each other, even though theoretically they could – you might think that one of these networks will be the network, much like eth is the network.
However, if demand and utility reach a certain scale, niche networks can still be… well, comparable to apps like Facebook.
However, when it comes to basic eth functionality and scaling it, you need a network that has the qualities of eth as much as possible.
Open source code is therefore necessary, especially in such a competitive environment. Solidity support is naturally relevant for developers. EVM compatibility is something much more technical with Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin identifying four types. This allows us to split the above into zkSync and Straknet, the oldest of the four and therefore with less core compatibility, and Scroll with Polygon which are “closer” to the core layer.
Finally, we can have Stark or Snark. The latter requires a ceremony where trusted participants, like Buterin, must destroy the key and as long as one of them has done so, then the network is secure, if at least one of them does not. did not, then they can steal everything.
This usually comes with a video to prove it was done, and if there is no alternative, the network can be considered safe as long as the ceremony went well – indicated by the most important of the attendees, then the more likely.
Stark doesn’t need this ceremony, ruthless as it may be to simplify that much, snark is a bit older technology than stark.
It’s in a very rapidly changing field of cryptography that didn’t even exist a decade ago, and is now attracting huge talent, as well as money, firstly because of the invention crypto and more now that they could provide a solution to scaling Ethereum.
And that’s a really big deal, Ethereum scaling. With it, all stocks will of course be crypto in due course, all bonds, all finances because you can automate it and because you remove the cheating humans blackmailing Congress with bailouts.
To a certain extent, everything has its limits, but finance in particular will be very different in two or three decades if Ethereum evolves. If it doesn’t, it will still apply, but to a very small part of finance, rather than almost all of it, or it will apply much more centrally where you have centralized interoperators of these island networks.
Currently, these are all island networks. A Uniswap smart contract on any of these networks, launched or not, does not have the same liquidity or pools as the current Uniswap network. Such a launch is more of a return to day 1 for all dapps.
This makes the user adoption cost and the developer adoption cost very high. That’s why there are still base layers being released, the battle of code and ideas still raging because no one can really say right now which blockchain and/or public solution can take over the huge financial market.
And obviously, some – if not most of the concerned public – might well think that the finance upgrade won’t happen at all, but they’re probably not coding all that.
Instead, we could head to the stage of viewing it as inevitable in light of the benefits – although just as paper is still in use, finance too old – and therefore as insane as it may seem, the price in about a generation or two for public scaling blockchains is $100 trillion.
Which means which project wins here and which project gets adopted, within and across blockchains, matters.
And while every project naturally wants to gain some benefit, positive or negative, each project must be judged objectively for true adoption to happen.
As things stand, things are far too fluid to pick one at this point, and if anyone thinks they’ve won, they’re probably wrong.
Instead, it may and probably is that there is room for more participants, and it is unlikely that any team will be late because at this stage and for at least a year or two, there are no network effects, and there probably won’t be any soon.
In Ethereum alone, the market cap is $200 billion for eth, plus all other tokens which are typically 50% or $100 billion. Then the bitcoin part, or the crypto part, and then you have the larger market.
$5 billion, i.e. a single market capitalization token. At $50 billion, we might get somewhere, but Arbitrum and Optimism have yet to decentralize their sequencer. The rest still have to be launched properly in a usable way, then go through all of Nakamoto’s tests, gradually growing preferably slowly until it’s generally perceived as safe.
In the meantime, there will probably always be something to point out that isn’t perfect, with no project being Stark-based, Open Source, and Solidity all at the same time.
Polygon may be the closest, but there’s the question of whether starks are actually more expensive, and therefore how much they scale, projects likely to let us all know as it progresses what’s wrong not with any solution.
Any solution that wants to be taken seriously has to be forkable, and so tokenomics are an afterthought when evaluating projects because unless they have satisfying tokenomics, they will just be forked to deliver.
Rather the hard part is evaluating the design, and even harder than deciding if a project will be the project, or if neither will be good enough to be the project, because the project will likely be the base layer naturally.
Doing all of this is not rocket science, but the closest thing to it in crypto. However, it is important to note that the incentive is not there to cut corners in any meaningful sense, as the market has not rewarded – or crowned – those who did.
Which means a solution can be broader than crypto, and while some say centralization is the natural state, the separation of powers and nature rewards the economies that have best implemented such doctrine, show the contrary very clearly, at least as far as the affairs of Men are concerned.
So giving real incentives to protocol coders to make the right choices, and also to dapp coders, even though arguably none of them know the “right” choice in isolation, but all together should.
This means that there is not necessarily a race as such, more both a need and a desire to have, hopefully, the right and preferably fast solution.
It also means there isn’t quite a “war” going on, but this field has of course become fiercely competitive in part because it has a certain energy where we’re all trying to get somewhere with each other. thus being an important player or contributor.
So let’s hope that any competition is combined with cooperation, because their goals are ultimately the same.
The greatest risk for any of these projects is to be perceived as not being objective, as failure is unlikely anytime soon and therefore the only way there can be failure is to be perceived. as not working for eth, but for itself.
It’s a delicate balance, with all of these projects taking significant risks in digging into the frontier, so we have to leave some leeway and be understanding – to a reasonable extent – because we believe they all contribute to what perhaps now should be called cryptographic rocket science. .
Good luck to the explorers. May at least one of you come back with gold.