• The company will use the capital to grow the team and its products, including its Ethereum Virtual Machine application
  • Espresso plans to create bridges between Ethereum and other major chains so the line between layer-1 and layer-2 can be “blurred,” its co-founder and CEO told Blockworks

A scaling and privacy solution for Web3 applications, Espresso Systems, is making its debut to the public with a $32 million funding round.

“Scaling and privacy solutions are both evolving at a rapid pace, and we are excited to contribute to the progress,” Ben Fisch, co-founder and CEO at Espresso Systems, said to Blockworks. 

The investment was led by Greylock Partners and Electric Capital with participation from Sequoia Capital, Blockchain Capital and Slow Ventures. Other groups backing Espresso Systems include Polychain Capital, Alameda Research, Coinbase Ventures, Gemini Frontier Fund, Paxos and Terraform Labs.

Espresso is developing layer-1 blockchain infrastructure that will provide low-fee transactions through its integration of a proof-of-stake consensus protocol with a zero-knowledge (ZK) rollup mechanism, which can use ZK proofs to bundle transactions and lower resources to process them.

ZK-proof technology is among the leading candidates to scale the Ethereum blockchain through solutions such as StarkWare and zkSync. Espresso intends to keep interoperability at the core of its plans, for example, by creating bridges between Ethereum and other major chains so the line between layer-1 and layer-2 can be “blurred” and benefit from its scaling and privacy properties in the future, Fisch said. 

The company will use the funding to grow the team and its products. Its first product to be released is an Ethereum Virtual Machine application, known as Configurable Asset Privacy for Ethereum (CAPE). It would enable creators of digital assets, such as ERC-20 tokens on Ethereum, to add a privacy-mode switch to their assets so transactions can be seen by select parties, Fisch said. 

“For example, a stablecoin provider could offer their users the option to hide their stablecoin transactions from public view in a way that still enables the provider to meet their reporting and risk management needs,” Fisch noted.

In general, scaling has already been a necessity for many Web3 applications as transaction demand has driven up prices on networks, Fisch said. But as traffic migrates to more scalable platforms that interoperate with ecosystems, such as Ethereum, fees for Web3 applications should drop, too, he added. 

Separately, Electric Capital, one of the co-leads for Espresso’s funding round, raised a $1 billion fund last week to invest in decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), non-fungible tokens (NFTs), decentralized finance (DeFi) and decentralized infrastructure and accessibility into Web3. This investment is symbolic of the venture capital firms’ commitment to the last point, as decentralized infrastructure ramps up across the crypto ecosystem. 

“Existing solutions make tradeoffs when it comes to decentralization, and we are excited to push the industry forward with an approach that achieves both low-fees as well as the properties of decentralization this industry is founded upon,” Fisch said.

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  • Jacquelyn Melinek is a New York-based reporter covering funding, decentralized finance (DeFi) and decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs). She previously reported on energy markets for S&P Global Platts and Bloomberg News and is published in over 65 news outlets. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in Media and Journalism. Contact Jacquelyn via email at [email protected]