The future of scalable blockchain tech just received another boon as O(1) Labs, the builders of the “tiny blockchain in your browser” project Coda Protocol, have successfully completed a new $15 million USD funding round.
Coda, whose nimble ledger leverages zk-SNARK cryptographic proofs in order to significantly compact the size of its chain, is focused around opening up blockchain to the masses by letting users run full nodes right from inside a browser — a dynamic that’s a far cry away from the time and hardware needed to download traditional blockchains.
O(1) Labs launched the protocol last spring as its inaugural enterprise. At the time, cryptoverse mainstays like Polychain Capital and Fred Ehrsam participated in the startup’s first funding round, which raised $3.5 million.
Now, the venture has raised almost five times that amount from firms like Coinbase Ventures in its latest fundraising series. The fresh war chest will help Coda’s builders accelerate and optimize the project’s roadmap for the foreseeable future.
On the news, O(1) Labs’s CEO Evan Shapiro outlined how the goal with Coda was to advance a different kind of blockchain — one that is highly accessible and highly dynamic because it is so streamlined and scalable:
“[Coda] substitutes the traditional blockchain for a tiny, portable cryptographic proof, about the size of a few tweets. This means that anyone can get the same level of security as a standard blockchain with a tiny fraction of the requirements. Full verification of the chain is available to any device, and participating in consensus is highly accessible. And even better, as the proof is constant sized, using Coda stays inclusive and decentralized even at millions of users, thousands of transactions per second, and with decades of history.”
Shapiro also later highlighted the new kinds of applications that a lightweight blockchain could power, as the chief executive stressed how developer-friendly such a system would be:
“Developers will be able to reach users simply by dropping in a
<script>tag into their frontend and writing a few lines of code, without requiring users to download extensions or trust any third parties. By taking advantage of this, developers will be able to build new websites and applications impossible in today’s world. A social network can prove it’s treating your data and privacy with respect. New kinds of games can be built leveraging the capabilities of a cryptocurrency. Communities can organize and make decisions with fully verifiable elections.”
Indeed, zk-SNARKs Aren’t Just For Privacy
In the cryptoverse, zk-SNARKs have typically been embraced for their privacy possibilities to date, for example in ZCash’s software.
However, zk-SNARKs can be just as pivotal with regard to blockchain scaling because of their ability to drastically compress data.
Ethereum co-creator Vitalik Buterin noted as much last fall when he published a research post that outlined how zk-SNARKs could be used to boost Ethereum’s on-chain transaction throughput capabilities to 500 transactions per second — up from 15 per second at present. That rise would mark an increase in performance by more than 3,200 percent.
Per Buterin, the pivot would entail using the privacy and scaling tech to “mass-validate transactions” via a staking system based on relayers and transactors.
In this context, shifting to zk-SNARKs wouldn’t be an end-all scaling solution for Ethereum, but the possible turn could provide an on-chain means to significantly scale the project’s blockchain while the Ethereum community continues to work on second-layer scaling solutions like Plasma, Casper, and sharding.
In the mean time, Coda Protocol has beaten Ethereum to the punch as far as already embracing zk-SNARKs goes. But you can bet that if Ethereum does embrace the tech, a domino effect would likely ensue as other smaller projects followed suit.