Avail raises $27M, readies entrance into modular narrative

Celestia had the first mover advantage. EigenDA has staked ether. What sets Avail apart?


helen_g/Shutterstock and Adobe modified by Blockworks


Ethereum’s roadmap for scaling employs a combination of specialized infrastructure components for disparate steps in the life of a blockchain transaction: execution, transaction ordering, data availability, settlement and consensus, as opposed to an all-in-one solution.

In short, modular vs. integrated.

A chief impediment is the potential degradation of the user experience in the process, as applications run across multiple chains that don’t necessarily talk to each other in anything like real-time.

Avail, known primarily as a provider of data availability (DA) — as the name suggests — has been quietly working on a more holistic suite of solutions to this burgeoning interoperability problem.

Read more: For Ethereum rollups, dealing with data remains a bottleneck

The project announced a $27 million seed funding round on Monday, led by prominent investors Founders Fund and Dragonfly, alongside SevenX, Figment, Nomad Capital and various angel investors.

The funding will help Avail move beyond DA to encompass two other primary products that it calls Nexus and Fusion. 

Together, this “Avail Trinity” is intended to address issues of fragmentation and pave the way for a more integrated experience across modular ecosystems.

Founded by Anurag Arjun and Prabal Banerjee — both formerly part of Polygon — Avail’s Nexus is a conceptual cousin of Polygon’s aggregation layer (or AggLayer), zkSync’s Hyperchains and Starknet’s layer-3s, all of which are aimed at providing cross-chain interoperability.

Read more: Polygon zkEVM prover reaches Type 1 status

Cross-rollup proofs

Nexus serves as a hub for proof aggregation — to provide verification of various rollups through a zero-knowledge proof-based coordination mechanism.

“There will be a lot of rollups that use their respective stacks but are connected to each other in some way or the other,” Arjun told Blockworks.

Anurag Arjun and Prabal Banerjee. Source: Avail

Right now, the hypothetical user experience within an ecosystem like zkEVM chains using Polygon’s CDK is generally considered good. But according to Arjun, “once the user falls outside of the ecosystem, then they’ve got a very subpar experience.”

Arjun argued that while all the major zk rollup teams are talented and well funded, they are also extremely competitive, which may make it difficult to sit down together and focus on the interoperability pain points between their various ecosystems — or what Polygon co-founder Jordi Baylina calls “constellations.”

Nexus can orchestrate such a solution as an independent third party.

“It doesn’t matter that they use Avail,” Arjun said. “This is not like a standard that we are imposing on these stacks, it’s essentially more like a permissionless play.”

Avail doesn’t compete with these teams on the execution front; it’s a rollup service provider, not a rollup builder.

And it’s not limited to EVM-based rollups either. Avail plans to support other execution layers rollups as they gain traction.

Differentiating DA solutions

Avail runs its own consensus protocol to provide data availability with some novel properties. For instance, it is designed with data availability sampling (DAS) based on validity proofs.

In contrast, EigenDA will not offer DAS, making it more challenging to detect a data withholding attack, Arjun said.

Celestia’s DAS implementation uses fraud proofs, so that even once its light client verification solution is live, reaching true finality can take hours as the network must accommodate a fraud proof challenge window.

Avail’s proofs are generated almost as soon as a block is finalized, giving overall finality in about 40 seconds, Arjun explained.

Avail’s testing shows the computing resources for proof generation are not a bottleneck: A block storing even 300 times the data that Ethereum mainnet will after the Dencun upgrade takes just three seconds to generate a proof.

Therefore, it won’t get in the way of building dapps that are composable across rollups.

“You take proofs from various rollups and then aggregate them into one proof on an intermediate settlement layer,” he said.

That could be a specialized chain like Dymension, but Avail Nexus will also post to Ethereum.

Another proposed solution, coincidentally also called “Nexus” but unrelated to Avail, would use Ethereum as a go-between.

Read more: zkLink’s Nexus wants to solve liquidity fragmentation between ZK ecosystems

Securing chains with Fusion

Avail necessarily will have its own token — its nominated proof-of-stake consensus mechanism depends on it. But the security of chains using Avail may not be limited to the economic stake of its native asset.

That’s where Fusion comes in. In theory, Avail Fusion looks to borrow security from existing crypto assets like bitcoin and ether, inspired by EigenLayer, and the concept of Mesh security from Osmosis, Arjun said.

This is likely to become a trend, with teams like Babylon focused on employing the economic weight of BTC to help secure proof-of-stake chains and let bitcoin holders earn a yield in the process.

Taken together, components of the modular Ethereum stack aim to provide a scalable, secure and interoperable foundation for future Web3 dapps in the multi-chain world. And ideally, users won’t have to worry about any of it.

“This is more inspired from how apps on the internet really evolved over the years,” Arjun said. “It’s going to follow that paradigm in the sense that there are going to be a lot of rollups asynchronously communing with each other whenever required.”

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