Category: Technical Research (+ Engineering!)
Summary: The Protocol Guild itself is a collective of Ethereum’s active core protocol contributors, who have a high-impact track record of both research and implementation work related to cryptography, distributed systems and cryptoeconomic protocol design.
In this nomination, I will outline why I believe the Protocol Guild would be a worthy recipient for Namada’s inaugural RPGF program, both to reward pioneering research and implementation contributions by Guild members, and to incentivize more such contributions over the long-term.
The Protocol Guild itself is a collective of Ethereum’s active core protocol contributors, which is today comprised of 128 individuals from 23 different ecosystem teams, including;
- Client & Infrastructure teams: EthereumJS, Erigon, Geth, Hyperledger Besu, Lighthouse, Lodestar, Nethermind, Nimbus, Portal Network, Prysm, Solidity and Teku
- Research orgs: EF Research, Ipsilon, Privacy & Scaling Explorations, Robust Incentives Group and TXRX
- Coordination & Support teams: EF Security, EF Protocol Support, EF Testing, EF DevOps and Ethereum Cat Herders
These individuals are focused not only on maintaining Ethereum and the EVM as it exists today, but also on researching and implementing cutting-edge advancements which will help onboard the next wave of global users seeking the benefits of decentralized and censorship-resistant protocols. Here is some notable work that Guild members have been or are involved in;
- Seamless transition to Proof-of-Stake as Ethereum’s consensus protocol’s sybil resistance mechanism
- PoS evolutions including proposer build separation, LMD-GHOST confirmation rules and single slot finality
- EVM and execution layer improvements including light client support, new data structures (Verkle Tries) and introducing state expiry
- Boosting scaling and performance via L2 enhancements such as proto-danksharding and danksharding
- Cryptoeconomic research including multidimensional EIP-1559 and timing games in PoS
- Zero-knowledge proofs and cryptography research including advancements to elliptic curve cryptography, and integrating ZK primitives into decentralized applications
Given that the work done by Guild members is a public good, none of the above is exclusive to Ethereum itself. Nevertheless this work does in fact lend itself directly to Namada, given that an Ethereum bridge is integrated into the core Namada Protocol itself, and all Namada validators run Ethereum full nodes to enable this bridge. In this sense Namada benefits from the work that researchers, developers, and other Guild members put into maintaining the Ethereum protocol.
In addition to these architectural synergies, Guild members’ stewardship of Ethereum has also facilitated experimentation with privacy at the application level, including Tornado Cash and L2s like Aztec, helping to establish privacy norms and expectations in a way that is strongly aligned with Namada’s own values.
All the above considered, including the Protocol Guid in Namada’s RPGF program would allow Namada to reward a set of contributors with a high-impact track record of both research and implementation work related to cryptography, distributed systems and cryptoeconomic protocol design, who have simultaneously helped boost the public consciousness of the importance of privacy.
Ordinarily, any donations sent to the Protocol Guild’s address on Ethereum would trustlessly vest directly to members over 1 year (4 years after the pilot), to create long-term financial incentives for contributors and thus lead to a more stable set of contributors over time. Each member’s share of the vested funds is weighted according to the duration of their contributions to Ethereum (ranging from 9 months to 8 years, with a median of ~3 years). In the case of Namada’s RPGF, this vesting mechanic may not exist, but could perhaps be bootstrapped in other ways.
It should be noted that funding for core protocol work has historically come from a select number of entities, which only provides a fraction of the financial incentives compared to other available work (apps, L2s etc.), on a risk-adjusted basis. The Guild was created to serve as a counterbalance to this (and at worst, a funder of last resort), while providing core protocol contributors with a way to indirectly participate in the success of the broader ecosystem, and incentivize continued contributions over the long term.
For all these reasons, I believe supporting the Protocol Guild via this RPGF round would send a very strong signal of Namada’s alignment with and support of the work done by these core Ethereum protocol contributors.
I appreciate your consideration, and am around if you have any questions about the Protocol Guild or the work of its members! As for me, I am an external contributor to the Protocol Guild.