‘ZK embodies integrity, privacy and magic’: Matter Labs

Matter Labs CEO Alex Gluchowski says firm’s new ‘ZK credo’ is not just rhetoric


Fer Gregory/Shutterstock modified by Blockworks


The team at Matter Labs, developers of Ethereum layer-2 rollup zkSync published a “ZK Credo” document on its GitHub page Friday, outlining a vision for the “Internet of Value.”

It’s “a sort of manifesto,” CEO Alex Gluchowski told Blockworks. “A set of guiding principles that we see necessary for blockchain networks to embody.”

According to the document, zero-knowledge proof technology will be needed and specifically, on Ethereum, which “comes closest to realizing the vision,” according to the document.

“It’s not rhetoric,” Gluchowski said. “We’re coming with a very specific set of principles with very strict definitions as a North star for our community to judge are we on the right track or not.”

Most of the principles are familiar to all advocates of decentralized public blockchains, such as trustlessness, security, reliability and censorship-resistance.

But some are still aspirational for Ethereum, such as privacy, scalability — or what zkSync calls “hyperscalability” — accessibility, especially relative to centralized alternatives, and sovereignty.

This last criteria, sovereignty, may be underappreciated. The ZK Credo calls it “a moral obligation” defined as the property that “any group of users, even a minority, must have the right to exit — i.e., fork away from the network, while taking their assets with them at a minimal cost.”

To explain, the document draws a parallel to Web2 and the history of the internet as “a cautionary tale.”

“Its inception promised decentralization, but over time user data and traffic fell into the control of a few tech giants, shaping the digital landscape to their advantage,” the document says.

A similar, albeit more platform specific, vision statement from Polygon last week referred to a notion of the “value layer” as “the missing piece of an Internet that serves users, not gate-keepers, rent-seekers or middle-men.”

One criticism sometimes leveled against Ethereum is that it has the potential to be co-opted by powerful interests, such as a major stablecoin issuer or dominant liquid staking protocol. Ethereum co-found Vitalik Buterin recently mused on the risk of overreliance on the community’s social consensus decision-making.

But Gluchowski downplays such fears.

“I think people underestimate the power of the community,” he said, citing the events of Circle’s USDC losing its peg to the dollar in March as a prime example.

“All the rest of DeFi continued working fine — everything was still operational,” Gluchowski said. “We saw that the Ethereum systems — decentralized systems — turned out to be inherently much more resilient than this, allegedly, very powerful entity.”

Gluchowski, who grew up in Ukraine and immigrated to Germany as an adult, recently described to The Defiant how his interest in technology and freedom and their role in building a prosperous society, attracted him to Ethereum.

“If the community commits to forking away if the core principles of the decentralized networks — of the internet of value — are compromised, and there is a strong credible commitment to this, no one will attempt to compromise these principles,” he told Blockworks.

“The users will say, we’re going to exit no matter what.”

ZKSync pitches its statement of principles as non-exclusive, belonging to “the entire Web3 ecosystem.”

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