The Polygon Thesis: Strategic Focus on ZK Technology as the Next Major Chapter for Polygon; $1B Treasury Allocation

We believe Ethereum is one of the most promising and revolutionary tech projects in the world, and our best bet to create a global, permissionless economy and society with equal chances for everyone.

We have been working on Ethereum scaling infrastructure since 2017. Six months ago, we announced Polygon, our new vision for scaling Ethereum and onboarding the first billion users to it. A lot has happened since then. Polygon has seen record levels of adoption, visibility, and support. In six short months, we managed to onboard most of the major Ethereum projects, attract and further expand the Ethereum community, partner with many prominent Web2 and enterprise names, investors, and much more. Importantly, due to our success, Ethereum scaling is not a “niche” Ethereum effort anymore, but a “hot” topic in the industry as a whole. By establishing itself as one of the industry’s most popular and highest valued projects, Polygon proved that there is a lot of value to be created and captured by working on these hard challenges in symbiosis with Ethereum, instead of competing with it.

We are thrilled and humbled by the success we have achieved so far, but we are at the same time absolutely aware that this is just the very beginning of the journey to one billion users. The major challenge on this path is that it is very hard to create scaling solutions that meet all the requirements that we as a community righteously set:

  • Scalability;
  • Security;
  • Decentralization;
  • Privacy etc.

We strongly believe that we are at the stage of intense innovation and experimentation when it comes to Ethereum scaling and blockchain infrastructure in general. It will obviously take at least several more years to have in place battle tested solutions and infrastructure that meet the aforementioned requirements. With that in mind, we have defined two major long-term focuses for Polygon as a project:

  1. Shipping: Innovation without implementation and validation is just an academic exercise. Although we absolutely recognize and acknowledge the value of academic research, we are primarily engineers and builders and we will always be focused on putting the technology into the hands of developers and users.
  2. Innovation: We want Polygon to become the innovation hub of Ethereum and the industry in general. We are determined to constantly challenge the status quo and push the frontiers until we have solutions that we all want and deserve.

So far we have been more focused on shipping, mainly because Ethereum desperately needed live scaling solutions. Ethereum base layer fees reached levels that made Ethereum practically unusable for most users and use cases, and we already started seeing user outflow to competing projects that decided to make problematic compromises in terms of decentralization, security, etc. We realized that something has to be done today, and thus we built and offered our Polygon PoS chain as an attempt to offer an immediate solution with an acceptable set of tradeoffs. Fortunately, the solution became very popular; we managed to keep users within the Ethereum ecosystem and even further expand it by attracting users from other ecosystems or those new to crypto. On the innovation side, we announced two new and unique solutions, Polygon SDK and Polygon Avail.

Now both Polygon and Ethereum are in a much better position, so we believe it is the right time to start focusing even more on the innovation side (without losing focus on shipping, of course)! In the past six months, Polygon has become absolutely dominant in terms of market share and adoption compared to other solutions, our treasury is very strong, our team significantly grew and improved, as well as our network and reach. We are now committing all these resources to push the frontiers of innovation and deliver solutions we all want, need, and deserve.

We are already very familiar and actively experimenting with all major innovative approaches to scale Ethereum and blockchain infrastructure in general. These efforts can generally be divided into two big groups:

  1. Fraud proof based solutions: Scaling solutions that utilize cryptoeconomy and reactive challenge/response mechanisms to guarantee the validity of transactions. Popular solutions from this group are Plasma and Optimistic Rollups
  2. Zero knowledge (ZK) proof based solutions: Scaling solutions that utilize mathematics to produce succinct proofs of transaction validity which then can be verified by anyone, including Ethereum miners, i.e. Ethereum base layer.

We already have extensive hands-on experience with the former group of solutions. Our founders and team members were actively involved in original Plasma research efforts and we designed and built one of the very few Plasma implementations that went live on the Ethereum mainnet. Even though we recognize the merits of these solutions, we came to realize their fundamental limitations, mainly regarding:

  • Scalability
  • (Formal) Security
  • Experience

We will keep encouraging and experimenting with fraud-proof-based solutions, but our major, strategic bet moving forward will be with the latter group, the ZK-based solutions.

ZK proofs, i.e. ZK cryptography is a fascinating field of cryptography that develops protocols and techniques for proving mathematical statements without revealing (most of) the underlying data, often in a very succinct way. Conceived in the mid-80s, it is only with the advent of blockchain that it has found a strong use case, introducing new ways to tackle some of the industry’s biggest challenges. Recently, we are witnessing a true Cambrian explosion of ZK protocols and approaches, each with its own merits and potential applications.

We have been actively exploring ZK cryptography for a while, and we are convinced that it will be a strategic resource in years to come and our best bet at solving big challenges we are facing and onboarding the first billion of users. Having this in mind, we are setting a goal for ourselves to become the leading ZK force in the whole industry and the biggest contributor to ZK research and development efforts.

To realize this ambitious goal, we are committing $1 billion, a significant portion of our treasury, to our ZK-related efforts. These efforts include, but are not limited to:

  • Acquiring world class ZK projects and teams;
  • Designing and developing ZK based solutions;
  • Hiring premium talent;
  • Partnering with relevant teams and projects;
  • Adoption of ZK solutions;
  • Research funding etc.

As mentioned above, we have been exploring ZK-based solutions for a while and we have done quite a lot of work in the background already. Now when our foray into this field is official, we will gradually announce everything we have accomplished so far, including (but not limited to) the teams and projects we have acquired, the solutions we will be building, strategic partners we will be working with, etc.

Polygon in its nature is a suite of solutions; we encourage experimentation instead of betting on any single solution. We will continue to follow this philosophy with our ZK effort and we will not hesitate to experiment with multiple solutions and approaches, at least until the technology matures enough and proves itself.

We are very excited about this new chapter for Polygon and we invite everyone familiar or interested in this inspiring technology to reach out to us and join us on this exciting journey.

Let’s bring the world to Ethereum!

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