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VeradiVerdict - Issue #179
Mysten Labs is a new web3 infrastructure company building out a myriad of services to enhance the scalability and programmability of modern blockchain infrastructure, with the ultimate goal of accelerating the adoption and development of decentralized technologies. The team both partners with existing blockchain platforms to augment their infrastructure and builds out independent, novel decentralized networks & services around specific, emergent use cases.
In terms of scalability, Mysten has already built out two core innovations:
Narwhal: a high-performance transaction mempool that increases transaction throughput by separating the task of transaction dissemination from transaction ordering
Tusk: an asynchronous consensus protocol which, in conjunction with Narwhal, has been shown to achieve a preliminary throughput of more than 160,000 transactions per second (tps).
In terms of programmability, Mysten is integrating its highly-expressive, type-safe Move programming language with a number of blockchains to popularize a secure lingua franca for cross-platform smart contract development.
The team has already announced partnerships with the Celo and Sommelier networks to integrate Narwhal, Tusk, and Move with their networks, with the goal of enabling both blockchains to achieve unparalleled throughput of more than 100,000 tps.
Mysten is also building out an independent blockchain specifically geared to support highly-composable, dynamic NFTs. The new blockchain will offer unparalleled scalability, using Byzantine consistent broadcasting, and integrated storage for NFT assets, and intuitive programmability around a variety of NFT functions, including mutating NFTs, atomically transacting multiple NFTs, and custom NFT structure and metadata.
Previously, the Mysten team led the Novi Research team at Meta (formerly Facebook), where they built out a variety of groundbreaking technologies, including the Diem blockchain, the Move programming language, and several cryptographic primitives to enhance blockchain scalability and usability. The team has been backed by Andreesen Horowitz, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Electric Capital, Coinbase Ventures, and more.
Ultimately, by building out the next generation of robust, highly-usable web3 infrastructure, Mysten greatly advances the scalability and programmability of the modern crypto ecosystem, paving the way towards a more composable, scalable, and decentralized Internet than ever before.
Critical to the explosion of web2 applications (including websites and mobile apps) was the development and adoption of highly sophisticated, robust, and usable infrastructure layers for application development. Infrastructural components like cloud service providers made it easier than ever for developers to create custom, fast web applications and for users to effortlessly engage with these apps from their personal devices. Programming frameworks like React or software development kits (SDKs) greatly reduced the knowledge barrier for building web services, allowing more people to develop applications around specific use cases than ever before. Internet-wide protocols, such as the Domain Name System (DNS), gave rise to a universal method for publishing and engaging with online resources, ultimately helping the Internet connect billions of people.
The modern landscape of web3 is limited by a lack of sophisticated infrastructure to support widespread dapp development and usage. Scalability woes like high transaction fees and slow transaction speeds present major barriers of entry to new users of decentralized applications. Unintuitive and unfamiliar paradigms for smart contract development give rise to several unknown vulnerabilities that make developers reluctant to build decentralized applications and present immense risks to users’ assets and data online. In order for web3 to realize similar degrees of adoption to web2, it is incredible for the crypto ecosystem to build out more sophisticated core infrastructure to support massively-scalable applications, better dapp development frameworks, and wider functionality around emergent use cases.
What is Mysten Labs?
Mysten Labs is a new web3 infrastructure company building out a myriad of services to accelerate the development and adoption of decentralized technologies.
Mysten is currently targeting two key gaps in existing blockchain infrastructure:
scalability, including low transaction throughput, high dapp latency, and limited on-chain storage
programmability, including niche, unintuitive languages for smart contract development and limited tooling for smart contract verification and guaranteeing safe contract execution
The team is both partnering with existing blockchain platforms to enhance their technical capabilities along these fronts and building out highly efficient, usable decentralized networks & services of their own.
Who’s behind the project?
The Mysten founding team previously led Novi Research, the crypto R&D arm of Meta (formerly Facebook). At Novi, the team built out a variety of highly-innovative, mission-critical projects including the Diem blockchain, the Move programming language, high-performance consensus algorithms, techniques for verifiable smart contract execution, and cryptographic proofs of solvency. Beyond this groundbreaking work, the team’s experience spans several leading technology and financial firms including Apple, Microsoft, and J.P. Morgan.
The Mystean team has also raised over $36 million in Series A funding from Andreesen Horowitz, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Electric Capital, Coinbase Ventures, and more.
How is Mysten enhancing the infrastructure of existing blockchain platforms?
On the scalability front, Mysten is developing two key innovations:
Narwhal: a high-performance transaction mempool that increases transaction throughput by separating the task of transaction dissemination, or sending transactions to all nodes on the network, from the task of transaction ordering. Most blockchains conflate these tasks into a single, monolithic protocol, which bottlenecks the speed at which a network can process transactions (i.e. throughput) by the speed at which the network can achieve agreement on transaction order (i.e. consensus). By having a transaction dissemination protocol (Narwhal) that is independent from and parallelizable with the consensus protocol, a blockchain can greatly improve its transaction throughput and reduce its latency for applications. Importantly, Narwhal can be integrated with any BFT consensus protocol, meaning it can enhance the transaction throughput of a great many existing blockchain platforms.
Tusk: a fully asynchronous consensus protocol that can be composed with Narwhal to maintain high performance, even when network faults occur. Without diving into too much of the technical complexity, Tusk employs shared randomness across all nodes on the network to allow each node to determine the total order of transactions without any extra communication.
When composed with a partially-synchronous consensus algorithm like HotStuff, Narwhal enables blockchains to achieve a throughput of over 130,000 transactions per second (tps); when composing Narwhal with Tusk, a blockchain can achieve a throughput of over 160,000 tps. That greatly outperforms Bitcoin’s 7 tps, Ethereum’s 15 tps, and Solana’s peak of 65,000 tps.
On the programmability front, Mysten is working to integrate the Move programming language with several existing blockchains to surface a safe, cross-platform lingua franca for smart contract development. Move, which was originally developed for the Diem blockchain, uses a highly-sophisticated type system to guarantee that resources (i.e. program values) can never be copied or implicitly discarded, but only moved between storage locations. This ultimately results in safer contract execution. The language is also highly expressive, enabling it to support a myriad of use cases across DeFi and beyond. Through the growing adoption of Move, developers can more easily share contracts, tooling, and expertise across blockchains with distinct architectures.
Mysten has already announced partnerships to bring these scalability and programmability improvements to the Sommelier (a transaction co-processor for Ethereum) and Celo (a mobile-first, EVM-compatible network) blockchains. The combination of Narwhal, Tusk, and Move on these blockchains will enhance their transaction throughput to more than 100,000 tps and will allow developers to more easily leverage each blockchain’s unique features, such as Sommelier’s highly-functional, bi-directional Ethereum bridge and Celo’s ultralight client for resource-limited devices like mobile phones.
What independent platforms is the team building out?
Mysten is also building out a novel, massively scalable blockchain designed specifically to support highly-composable, dynamic NFTs. Most existing blockchain infrastructure for NFTs today simply add verifiable ownership to generally static digital objects, such as jpeg images, limiting how digital ownership and non-fungibility can be more broadly leveraged in web3 applications. Though more complex use cases around NFTs are beginning to emerge, especially in gaming, the use of such NFTs is often restricted by the dapp that houses them due to poor composability; for instance, in-game NFT assets can rarely be composed across distinct games. Moreover, despite the relatively simple functionality of most NFT-centric applications today, NFT platforms are still limited by several technical weaknesses, including high minting fees, limited transaction throughput, poor programmability, inability to model complex objects, and lack of on-chain storage for larger assets.
Mysten’s NFT-centric blockchain will offer unparalleled scalability by combining an NFT ledger, for low-cost, high-throughput issuing of NFTs, with integrated storage capabilities for NFTs and bridges to other L1 blockchains. Specifically, the blockchain will leverage Byzantine consistent broadcast (where a single node broadcasts to all other nodes, instead of a consensus algorithm where multiple nodes broadcast to each other) to allow for trivial sharding, enabling efficient horizontal scaling. The new blockchain will also use the Move programming language to support a rich set of NFT operations, including mutating NFTs, locking NFTs for dapp-specific use, and transactions that atomically operate on multiple NFTs, as well as custom NFT structure and metadata to support highly-specific, emergent use cases. Together, these scalability and programmability improvements allow developers to build highly-scalable and -customizable NFT applications with greater ease and efficiency than ever before. The team plans to launch the network later this year.
Though Mysten’s development efforts have primarily focused on this independent NFT-centric blockchain thus far, the team is eager to work with the web3 community to further identify and remedy gaps in existing blockchain infrastructure. If you’re a web3 builder or user with ideas or concerns, you can engage with the Mysten team via their Twitter or Discord.
Through infrastructural innovations like Narwhal and Tusk, Mysten enables blockchains to support unparalleled levels of transaction throughput––allowing existing dapps to scale considerably faster and reducing several barriers to entry (namely high latency and fees) for new crypto users. With the growing adoption of its robust, type-safe programming language Move, Mysten also supports safer dapp development with a universal framework, allowing developers to more easily build and share secure smart contract applications across distinct blockchain ecosystems. Additionally, with its novel blockchain designed specifically for highly-composable and -custom NFT functionality, as well as future developments in collaboration with the web3 community, the Mysten team will greatly advance the technical capabilities and adoption of many under-resourced use cases within web3 today.
All in all, by building out the next generation of robust, highly-usable web3 infrastructure, Mysten greatly advances the scalability and programmability of the modern crypto ecosystem, paving the way towards a more composable, scalable, and decentralized Internet than ever before.
- Paul Veradittakit
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Hi, I’m Paul Veradittakit, a Partner at Pantera Capital, one of the oldest and largest institutional investors focused on investing in blockchain companies and cryptocurrencies. I’ve been in the industry since 2014, and the firm invests in equity, early stage token projects, and liquid cryptocurrencies on exchanges. I focus on early-stage investments and share my thoughts on what’s going on in the industry in this weekly newsletter.