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24 August 2022
6 min read

History of StarkWare

Welcome to Part 3 of our Back to Basics series. Today we'll take a closer look at StarkWare, its founders, StarkNet's road to decentralization, and the projects fueling the ecosystem's growth.

History of Starkware

Building tech to make crypto mainstream, StarkWare has become a formidable force in Layer 2 scaling and is a favorite for projects trying to overcome congestion and high gas fees without compromising on the tenets of decentralization and security.

StarkWare's Vision: 'Bring massive scalability to Ethereum while preserving L1 security, permissionless interactions, and decentralization.'

But have you wondered about the people behind the leading scaling solution within Ethereum? Well, you are not alone.

Let's begin from the start.

StarkWare was founded in 2018 and is building scaling solutions for Ethereum using ZK -STARK validity proofs. Invented by StarkWare, ZK STARK stands for Zero-Knowledge Scalable Transparent Arguments of Knowledge.

The team is made of world-class cryptographers and scientists and was founded by four guys; Eli Ben-Sasson, Uri Koldony, Michael Raibzev, and Alessandro Chiesa.

StarkWare founders

Now that we know the people behind StarkWare's commitment to innovation, let's examine how the company's technology sets it apart from other L2 chains.

The following diagram shows the architecture of StarkWare and how it works.

StarkWare Architecture
Source: StarkWare

As outlined in the blog titled Exploring Zero Knowledge: StarkWare by pseduotheos, the StarkWare stack consists of several key features:

Shared Prover (SHARP)

  • Generates the proofs and hands off to the Verifier
  • Saves costs by bundling computations of multiple dApps into a single proof

Verifier (existing on L1)

Verifies SHARP proofs as valid. If so, the hash is stored in a fact registry. Applications either interface with StarkEx (in the case of enterprise and permissioned applications) or the SHARP directly (in the case of StarkNet applications).

StarkWare Solutions

StarkWare Solutions

Let's get down to basics.

StarkNet

  1. StarkNet is a permissionless decentralized blockchain that operates as an L2 on the Ethereum network.
  2. It executes transactions and relays the transaction data to the Ethereum mainnet in batches via StarkNet's cryptographic proof called STARKS.
  3. Offers unlimited scalability without compromising security
  4. You can write, deploy and interact with other smart contracts like Ethereum but with unlimited scalability.

StarkEx

  1. StarkEx is a Layer 2 sca1lability engine that is tailor-made to be used by protocols.
  2. Key Projects under StarkEx are Sorare and rhino.fi, dYdX, and Immutable X.
StarkWare Architecture
StarkEx Dashboard
  1. StarkEx can be used in 3 data availability modes
  • a. dApps can choose to roll up their data on-chain in the zkRollup mode
  • b. Process it off-chain in an option called Validium
  • c. Use a hybrid of the two called Volition.

You might be wondering, What is Volition?

What is Volition?

The Difference between StarkNet and StarkEx

StarkNet is a ZK Rollup that allows anyone to deploy their contract without permission, whereas StarkEx is a permissioned version of StarkNet, which is tailored to be used by protocols.

Cairo

  1. Cairo is the in-house language developed by the StarkWare team
  2. Cairo powers StarkEx, and the native smart contract language for StarkNet
  3. It's the first production-grade Turing complete for creating provable programs for general computation.
  4. Cairo supports a higher degree of computation than Solidity

Solidity vs. Cairo

Solidity vs. Cairo

@bitpactum has also discussed building on Cairo and its advantages and disadvantages in the blog Behind the Scenes at ZKX.

Cairo

If you're developing on StarkNet, you should follow this account @cairopractice

Why StarkWare > Other ZK Rollups?

DeFi is betting on ZK Rollup Technology, and players like @0xPolygonHermez, @zksync, and @loopringorg are in the game along with StarkWare.

What set's them apart?

The answer is simple: Viability of its solutions.

What is Volition?

The StarkNet Story so far

The StarkNet Story so far

The StarkNet Ecosystem is rapidly expanding, with projects built across categories including DeFi, DAO, NFT, GameFi, Wallet, and Infrastructure.

Development

  1. 2021 June: Launched its Testnet
  2. 2021 November: StarkNet Alpha
  3. 2022 April: The first version of the StarkNet Bridge was launched this year.

You can also refer to the ecosystem numbers below.

Ecosystem Numbers

Some of the key projects in the ecosystem are:

  1. Bridges: Kubri , Orbiter Finance, and Suez
  2. Wallet: Argent X and Braavos
  3. Payments: Banxa and Curve Zero
  4. DeFi: ZKX, zkLend, StarkSwap, JediSwap, Magnety and others
  5. GameFi: ArgentX, Dope Wars, Exothium, IBetyou, and Loot Realms

Source: StarkNet Ecosystem

StarkNet's Road to Decentralization

On July 13th,2022, StarkWare announced StarkNet's plan for decentralization. It involves a native token and a new foundation.

As outlined in their medium blog, the token will be required for

  1. Governance
  2. Payment of Transaction fees on StarkNet
  3. Participation in StarkNet's consensus mechanism

You can check out the official announcement by StarkWare on their Twitter and the community's reception in the tweet below.

StarkWare Announcement

StarkWare also outlined the design of the StarkNet Token, its minting schedule, and the expected timeline below.

StarkWare Timeline

The StarkNet Foundation will be dedicated to furthering StarkNet's goals of decentralization: liveness, censorship-resistance, transparency, and creativity.

Don't miss reading the blog — A Decentralization and Governance Proposal for StarkNet.

A Decentralization and Governance Proposal for StarkNet

In an interview with Bankless at EthCC, Eli and Uri also discussed StarkNet's token, the exploding zkEVM ecosystem, and StarkWare's future plans.

Interview with Bankless at EthCC, Eli and Uri

Recent Fundraising

StarkWare has raised a whopping $273m in funding over seven rounds. Their latest round was on May 25th, 2022.

StarkWare Funding

On a final note, like Odin said, "Stark's spirit is immortal," and the community is the real core of the StarkWare ecosystem.

Odin's Tweet

About ZKX

ZKX is a permissionless protocol for derivatives built on StarkNet, with a decentralized order book and a unique way to offer complex financial instruments as swaps. The protocol is powered by a DAO and will provide an elevated trading experience with gamified leaderboards and unique liquid governance. ZKX's mission is to democratize access to global yields through its offerings to anyone, anywhere.

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