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Are you ready to dive into the exciting world of zero-knowledge projects?
These cutting-edge technologies have the potential to revolutionize the crypto ecosystem and even shape the future of the world as we know it. Many experts in the field believe that when zero-knowledge rollups (ZKRs) are fully operational at scale, we will see a significant technological advance. While we may still be a few years away from this reality, the applications of a fully compatible ZKR-enabled blockchain are just around the corner. In this article, I’ll explore the recent developments in the world of ZKRs, examine the current players in the space, and provide a timeline for what they’re working on and when we can expect to see their projects come to fruition.
But first, let’s address a key question: what exactly are zero-knowledge projects and why are they so important? Simply put, these technologies allow users to prove the authenticity of a statement without revealing any additional information. This has numerous potential applications, from improved privacy and security to increased scalability.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the major players in the zero-knowledge space. One company at the forefront of this technology is StarkWare, whose work on ZKRs has garnered significant attention in recent months. Another key player is zkSync, which has also made significant strides in this field. While there are many technical differences between these two protocols, both are working towards the common goal of bringing the benefits of zero-knowledge technology to the mainstream.
So, when can we expect to see these projects come to fruition? While it’s difficult to say for certain, it’s clear that we are moving closer and closer to a world powered by zero-knowledge technology. Keep an eye on the developments of StarkWare and zkSync, as they are likely to be at the forefront of this exciting shift.
ZK Tech: Revolutionizing Blockchain Transactions with Privacy and Scalability
Zero-knowledge technology, or ZK, is a game-changer when it comes to scaling blockchain technology. Rollup scaling, of which ZK rollups (ZKRs) are a part, aims to reduce fees on blockchains and make it possible to scale to millions or even billions of users. While optimistic rollups using fraud proofs are already being used for scaling (such as with Arbitrum and Optimism), ZKRs using off-chain computation are believed to be the best bet for the future. In fact, Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum, has stated that “in the medium to long term ZK rollups will win out in all cases as ZK-SNARK technology improves.”
So, what makes ZKRs so special? For one, they offer the same benefits as optimistic rollups but also give users the option of privacy and increased scalability. As explained by EthHub, “ZK reduces the computing and storage resources for validating the block by reducing the amount of data held in a transaction; zero knowledge of the entire data is needed.” In other words, ZK technology allows users to prove that they own or know something without revealing any information about what that thing is or how much of it they have.
There is a growing demand for privacy-enabled transactions, particularly in the wake of financial deplatforming and economic sanctions related to recent global events. It’s no surprise, then, that there is a lot of excitement surrounding the potential of ZK technology. With the potential to revolutionize the way we transact and protect our privacy, ZKRs are definitely worth keeping an eye on.
Venture Capital into ZK Tech
- StarkWare, a leading player in the ZK space, reportedly raised $100 million at a $6 billion valuation, following a previous round of funding in November 2021 in which it raised $50 million at a $2 billion valuation. StarkWare’s StarkNet platform is set to launch on February 22nd and will move to community control “in the second half of the year.”
- Immutable X, another major player in the ZK space, raised $200 million at a $2.5 billion valuation. The company also announced a partnership with GameStop to build an NFT marketplace and a $100 million fund for their ecosystem.
- Aleo, a ZK-based blockchain, raised $200 million at a $1.45 billion valuation on February 7th.
- Matter Labs, the developer of zkSync, raised $50 million in November 2021 and made their zkEVM available to the public on Ethereum’s testnet on February 22nd. Matter Labs and BitDAO also announced a $200 million DAO to continue expanding and building core infrastructure for the zkSync ecosystem.
- Polygon, a blockchain platform, acquired ZK rollup startup Mir Protocol for $400 million. This follows the company’s acquisition of Hermez Network for $250 million in August 2021, bringing their total spending on ZK rollup protocols to $650 million. Polygon also raised $450 million in a recent funding round to expand its ETH scaling and ZK tech operations.
- Espresso, a ZK-enabled L1 blockchain, announced $32 million in funding and emerged from stealth on March 6th.
- Aztec Network raised $17 million in a series A round in December 2021.
- Argent, an ETH DeFi mobile wallet, launched a zkSync-powered L2 wallet with over 500,000 people on the waitlist.
These are just a few examples of the exciting developments happening in the world of zero-knowledge technology. It’s clear that this space is rapidly expanding and attracting significant investment, and we can expect to see even more progress in the coming months and years.
Overview : Key Players
There are several key players in the zero-knowledge (ZK) space, each working on their own projects and technologies. Here’s a brief overview of some of the current players:
StarkWare: This company builds StarkNet and StarkEx, both of which use ZK technology. StarkNet, a ZK rollup using ZK-STARKs, was launched on the Ethereum mainnet in November 2021 and has been steadily releasing updates and new features. StarkNet Alpha, the latest version of the platform, was announced on February 23rd and is now ready for application building and transactions. StarkEx, a scalability engine built with the Cairo programming language, has been in production on mainnet since June 2020 and is currently being used by DeversiFi, Immutable X, dYdX, and Sorare. It’s worth noting that Immutable X is powered by StarkEx.
zkSync: Developed by Matter Labs, zkSync is a ZK rollup using ZK-SNARKs that has been live since June 2020. On February 22nd, zkSync announced that zkSync 2.0 was live and included the first EVM-compatible ZK rollup on Ethereum’s testnet. The platform aims to offer a low-fee, highly scalable layer-2 environment for developers to build and deploy decentralized applications using Solidity, Ethereum’s native programming language.
Immutable X: This platform, which uses StarkWare’s StarkEx, is focused on gaming and NFTs. It aims to offer zero gas fees, instant trades, and carbon-neutral NFTs for marketplaces, games, and applications. Some of the products built on top of Immutable X include Gods Unchained, Illuvium ($ILV), and TikTok’s Top Moments collections. In February 2021, GameStop announced that it would be building its NFT marketplace on top of Immutable X, along with a $100 million fund dedicated to supporting game development in their ecosystem.
Polygon: This blockchain platform is working on three separate ZK rollup scaling initiatives: Polygon Miden, Polygon Zero, and Polygon Hermez. Polygon Miden is a STARK-based ZK rollup with support for arbitrary smart contracts, while Polygon Zero offers rollup and validium modes for higher throughput and lower fees. Polygon Hermez is an open-source ZK rollup optimized for secure, low-cost, and usable token transfers. While it’s not clear when these projects will be completed, Polygon has stated that it is committed to scaling Ethereum through ZK-enabled technologies and has allocated $1 billion of its treasury to the sector.
Aleo: This ZK-based blockchain raised $200 million at a $1.45 billion valuation on February 7th. Details about the platform’s specific offerings and timeline are currently limited.
Aztec Protocol: This platform raised $17 million in a series A round in December 2021. It aims to offer confidential transactions and smart contracts on Ethereum using zero-knowledge proofs.
Espresso: This ZK-enabled L1 blockchain announced $32 million in funding and emerged from stealth on March 6th. It is not yet clear what specific products or services the platform will offer.
Zero-knowledge (ZK) technology is at the forefront of cryptographic innovation, paving the way for global, 24/7, cheap, private transactions. The two leading players in the industry are zkSync and StarkWare (StarkEx/StarkNet), both of which have announced plans to release tokens in the near future. Demand for these tokens is expected to be high, as evidenced by the companies’ recent funding rounds and valuations. As these protocols (and other L2 solutions) incentivize users and liquidity to migrate, we may see a shift towards L2 adoption on a larger scale. While it will likely be several months before we see the impact of this on a small scale, and several years before it becomes widespread, ZK technology has the potential to significantly change the blockchain industry going forward.
For more information on the technical and practical applications of ZK technology, I recommend checking out the following resources:
Source : Polygon Medium