How Much Is An Ethereum Coin


‘Brand sure Ethereum wins’ — Steve Newcomb reveals zkSync’south prime directive

by Elias Ahonen
ten min
December 28, 2022

Journeys Steve Newcomb

Silicon Valley veteran Steve Newcomb is on a mission to scale Ethereum to 10 meg transactions per second with zk-Rollups. History suggests you shouldn’t bet against him.





Steve Newcomb is a Silicon Valley veteran with a long listing of achievements. He congenital software for trading free energy in the 90s, was a pioneer in calculation email to phones, and helped create the back end of the Bing search engine nether Peter Thiel’southward mentorship. Today, he heads upward evolution for Berlin-based Matter Labs, which is building scaling solutions for Ethereum.

“I was very much a skeptic” when it came to cryptocurrency and blockchain, explains Newcomb, zkSync’southward main product officeholder. He adds that it took two years of study before he understood the topic and the benefits to his satisfaction.

Calculating that Ethereum had a 65% market share of the layer-1 market place, Newcomb was convinced that information technology held the greatest promise in becoming the de facto “earth computer.” But he describes blockchain as existence slow and cumbersome today as the internet was 25 years ago, so he set to work scaling it upward to one day to become every bit fast equally Web2 is now.

Steve Newcomb worked on Bing under Peter Theil
Newcomb developed the back end of Bing with investment from Peter Thiel. Source: Telegram

Layer 2s to the rescue

As a veteran of the dot-com era, Newcomb sees the electric current state of the blockchain environment — not just Ethereum — as similar to that of the cyberspace in 1995, when the World Wide Web’s 25,000 websites could be accessed past average punch-up speeds of less than thirty kilobits per second.

“It’southward slow as molasses. Our very well-known ‘Ethereum internet computer’ that claims to accept the power to modify the world runs at a grand total of fifteen transactions per second, and nosotros take four,000 legitimate projects on Ethereum — very, very similar to 1995.”

Only 10 years after in 2005, websites numbered over 100 million, and speeds had increased at least thirtyfold. “We had SSL, nosotros had HTTPS by and then — that little lock icon appeared in our browser. Amazon happened, Google happened,” he lists. Today, in 2022, there are over 1 billion sites, and speeds over 200 megabits are mutual even on mobile devices far superior to annihilation Nokia engineers could have even dreamed of 20 years ago.

But similar the advent of SSL and HTTPS, which made the internet secure — assuasive for online shopping and the safety manual of private data — Newcomb is convinced that “the layer 2s that make crypto secure are where 10x moments are happening.”

Also read: Attack of the zkEVMs! Crypto’south 10x moment

He identifies five types of layer-2 solutions: land channels (Raiden Network, Perun), plasma (Plasma Cash, Plasma MVP), sidechains (Skale, Gnosis, Loom), Optimistic Rollups (Arbitrum, Optimism, Boba), and zero-knowledge rollups (Scroll, Matter). Newcomb has some strong opinions to share.

Scaling Ethereum means creating the space for a massive increase in traffic
Scaling Ethereum ways creating the space for a massive increment in traffic. Source: Pexels

“If you call up that the goal of layer 2s is to scale Ethereum while maintaining its decentralization and security, sidechains practise not achieve this. They have far less security than Ethereum does, because their functional concatenation is not on Ethereum’southward chain,” he states matter-of-factly.

He feels similarly about state channels and plasma, arguing that “they just literally don’t check the boxes.” This leaves but Optimistic Rollups and zk-Rollups in Newcomb’s good graces. His passion comes across as a rather assertive, mayhap unfair, dismissal of a significant portion of the layer-2 landscape — only allow’south save that discussion for a future article.

“My mission is to make sure that Ethereum wins. I desire it to exist the start that gets it to become from fifteen to one,000 or 10 million transactions per 2nd. I want to exist in the room when it happens.”

Serial founder

No stranger to technology, Newcomb has fond memories from the 70s when at six years old he would solder motherboards with his father, who “worked for an bureau I can’t name.” He describes a desire from an early age to be part of history, which propelled him in his career. In his view, 1 should find out what they retrieve the most of import thing happening is, and then participate in that thing in whatever way they can. Cellphones were the first of these yard phenomena.

“When I fix out on my career, I asked myself: Is this something that’due south going to affect millions of people? Is it a big deal? Can I add together value in some way?”

In 2000, Newcomb founded LoudFire, a company that aimed to build consoles that would control smart homes, which he describes as an apple-polishing failure — “except that nosotros realized how to take e-mail from a calculator and put it on your Nokia telephone,” which was a revolutionary combination of ii previously separate technologies. Naturally, the firm was sold to Nokia in 2002, which was the pre-iPhone juggernaut dominating the mobile phone industry at the fourth dimension.

In 2008, he founded Powerset, a natural language search engine that was essentially sold to become a cardinal component of Microsoft’s Bing. He recalls pitching the project to investor Thiel by having him type a search then asking him to select whether Google’s results or those from Newcomb’s solution were amend. “He chose us lxx% over Google,” Newcomb recalls, later which he promptly had $800,000 in the banking company and a new mentor.

“Two of my junior engineers carve up off to create a small company called GitHub,” he remarks.

Steve Newcomb’s current profile pic
Newcomb’southward current profile pic. Source: Telegram

Jingles and resumes

Newcomb describes himself as having been something of a troublemaker growing up, applying to Salisbury University in Maryland on the basis that it was close to a embankment where he could spend his days “mostly ignoring school” while majoring in accounting.

In the 1980s, he wrote an algorithm to automatically generate the scripts for used automobile dealerships’ TV and radio commercials with “cheesy music and some cheesy sales guy,” charging thousands a pop. His second business concern while in university was finer a pre-internet version of LinkedIn, charging students to distribute their resumes to other universities across the region via a organisation of interconnected printers.

Upon graduating, Newcomb joined the energy company Statoil in 1993, reasoning that it seemed like an important industry to go into, as the U.S. government had just deregulated the energy markets. At simply 21, he says he was trading $600 million worth of energy deals per year, and he learned to lawmaking in Object Pascal on the side in order to make his task easier past automation and easier command.

As the visitor began using his software to trade billions in annual book, Newcomb says he realized the truthful power of coding and fell in dearest with software, eventually being promoted to head of engineering for North America. In 1998, he joined Proxicom, where he led the production of trading systems for the energy sector. By 1999, he was responsible for AT&T’due south net and streaming video strategy.

Likewise read:

Ethereum is eating the globe — ‘You only need one internet’

The impenetrable door

With his history as witness, Newcomb does not think modest. For him, the stop game of Ethereum is security and then perfect that no quantum estimator can break it and decentralization so expert that no nation-state tin can stop it — in other words, a “private internet computer that cannot be hacked past any computer or stopped by any nation-country.”

“I want people to empathise that this is more important than technology; this is possibly every bit of import every bit what comes after capitalism and republic,” he says. He elaborates that when a new technology comes along, it unremarkably replaces an incumbent, as when iPhone replaced Nokia.

“What is the incumbent that blockchain replaces? If you call up about it, it’south regime.”

If that’s true, there is a drastic need for adults in the room, and Newcomb quips that he is finally one-time plenty to exist considered i. “Imagine we built a door that tin can never be knocked downward. What would people do in their homes?” he asks, describing the encryption of Ethereum as an impenetrable door behind which people can trade and collaborate freely in such a way that no government, establishment or authority can reach them — a blockchain that runs on its ain and is almost free to employ.

“If you take a individual blockchain and people make up one’s mind to practice business on it, then governments no longer have a way to tax people and governments are gone.” Well, perhaps. History is being made one way or another, and Newcomb is doing his best to exist part of it.

Some big names have agreed to port over to zkSync’s mainnet
Some big names have agreed to port over to zkSync’s mainnet. Source: zkSync

Ranking rollups

Then, what are these rollups to brainstorm with, and why are they meliorate, according to Newcomb?

Co-ordinate to Ledger Academy:

“Rollups ‘coil upwardly’ or compile a bunch of transactions and turn them into one single data and submit it to the Ethereum mainnet. They take the transactions out of the mainnet and process them off-chain, convert them into one unmarried piece of data, and submit them back to the Ethereum mainnet. This is why rollups are also called ‘off-chain scaling solutions.’”

In that location are two primary types: Optimistic Rollups and zk-Rollups.

Co-ordinate to Newcomb, Optimistic Rollups, as used past Optimism and Arbitrum, ultimately depend on a sophisticated game theory, which finer allows anybody to use the blockchain. “And then, afterward the fact, they check to make sure that there is no fraud.”

With this organisation, “you lot could be peradventure 99.999% sure there’s no fraud, but you can’t be 100%. It’s the very all-time game theory we take, and it does scale Ethereum by a factor of seven, peradventure up to 10.” Though he concedes that it passes as a scaling solution, Newcomb expresses concerns about settlement times at increased levels of scaling, describing the process as increasingly “hairier” and saying that he “couldn’t understand how it scales across the original 10x.”

Zk-Rollups, on the other mitt, “bank check for fraud using mathematics — something called a ZK proof that isn’t 99.999% accurate. It does non utilize game theory. It is literally mathematically perfect.” There are competing zk-Rollup layer 2s from ConsenSys, StarkNet and Polygon.

Clearly, they are Newcomb’s preferred solution, one that he says was previously thought to be too expensive and 10 years away from effective implementation — but “we’ve solved those things much faster than anyone predicted.”

“Zk-Rollups, for me, represented both scale and security combined at unlimited calibration. Nosotros theoretically could get up to millions of transactions per second, making this a real net figurer, and we could practice so while perfectly maintaining security.”

Zk-Rollups are not a singular projection simply a technical solution being worked on by various separate teams. Of these, Newcomb lists his top three (working on EVM-compatible solutions): Matter, Scroll and Polygon. He considers Affair, which he works for, to be nine to 12 months alee of Scroll and Polygon, with other solutions being roughly one to two years backside — a view he has arrived at via a v-point list of “magic ingredients” he believes are needed for a ZK solution to be adopted.

Newcomb is very keen on the five points he believes makes zkSync the best scaling solution
Newcomb is very keen on the five points he believes make zkSync the best scaling solution. Source: zkSync

5 points

Firstly, an L2 solution should be “full general purpose,” meaning that any DApp or smart contract tin be built to interact with it, as opposed to accommodating only special use cases such every bit NFTs.

Secondly, the solution should exist EVM-uniform, pregnant that like with BNB Chain, Polygon, Solana and Avalanche, Ethereum projects tin can exist easily ported over. Bitcoin, Monero, Litecoin, Cardano and XRP Ledger are totally different and are examples of non-EVM compatible chains.

Thirdly, the solution should back up Solidity, the programming linguistic communication used to develop smart contracts on Ethereum. “Supporting JavaScript for the web equals supporting Solidity for crypto,” Newcomb reasons.

Fourthly, a ZK-proof solution needs to exist open-source, “or the community of crypto volition become riled up against you lot, as it would non fit the ethos.”

Lastly, Newcomb emphasizes that in that location must be a program for tokenization that benefits the ecosystem: “2-thirds of your tokens should exist dedicated to the benefit of the ecosystem, not to the benefit of the shareholders of the original visitor building the layer-2 solution.”

“The actual best instance is that ZK becomes a standard. That’s why we open up-sourced it, so that information technology tin get a public skilful. Our hope in the time to come is that there are no other protocols — it is just the protocol.”

Whatsoever layer-2 solution(south) end up taking center phase in the coming years, what Newcomb looks forrad to most is the public nature of progress that is inherent to blockchain every bit opposed to previous eras of technological development. “Engineers used to see things privately and talk nigh them after. We get to see progress alive on-chain.”





Elias Ahonen is a Finnish-Canadian writer based in Dubai who has worked effectually the world operating a small blockchain consultancy later on buying his first Bitcoins in 2013. His book ‘Blockland’ (link below) tells the story of the industry. He holds an MA in International & Comparative Constabulary whose thesis deals with NFT & metaverse regulation.


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