Blockchain startup Solana has big plans for a new first-of-its-kind blockchain, and now the team has a small war chest to fund those ambitious plans into fruition.
On July 30th, the company announced it raised $20 million USD in a Series A fundraising round that was led by cryptoeconomy venture stalwarts Multicoin Capital. Other recognizable investors included Blocktower Capital and Digg founder Kevin Rose.
Why Solana? The project’s builders, several being ex-Qualcomm chip design specialists, have structured the Solana blockchain with a mind toward it becoming the inaugural “web-scale blockchain.”
According to the startup’s Tuesday announcement, the platform will be able to host apps “with the computational bandwidth akin to the modern internet,” with the Solana team arguing the mature system would have the ability “to power decentralized versions of Nasdaq, Facebook, Twitter and all other existing blockchains – with room to spare.”
Scaling at the Foundation, Not Upper Layers
Current public blockchain heavyweights like Bitcoin and Ethereum have seen their respective development communities trend toward layer-two scaling solutions, e.g. the Lightning Network or state channels.
Such solutions are layered atop the these blockchains’ main chains to bring about improved transaction speeds and affordability. For its part, the Solana project takes the opposite approach in focusing on scaling the platform’s foundational layer.
The system’s builders intend for it to be able to handle throughput of around 50,000 transactions per second. Ethereum can currently process 15 transactions per second on average and the Bitcoin blockchain about half as much.
Notably, Solana will use a proof-of-stake consensus model and a Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance (pBFT) styled consensus mechanism. On the Series A reveal, Multicoin Capital managing partner and co-founder Kyle Samani hailed the project as a novel take on “layer 1” technology:
“Solana is the closest thing to the ‘world computer’ blockchain developers conceptualized in the early days of crypto […] Solana has done it differently – and is one of the most compelling layer 1 platforms we’ve evaluated to date. We’re very proud to lead this round, and we encourage developers everywhere to take a serious look at Solana.”
Solana co-founder Anatoly Yakovenko echoed Samani’s comments, noting the blockchain’s multi-threaded structure could set it apart from its main competitors:
“Every other blockchain is a single-thread processor – that is, they can only make one state update at a time. This is the single greatest challenge holding back the industry today. By architecting a system designed to support concurrent processing, and by optimizing computation for massively parallel GPUs, Solana can process 50,000 TPS across a network of 200 nodes—and it does so without creating any additional pain in terms of UX, latency, or composability for developers.”
A Brave New Blockchain World
Solana is only the latest in a series of newcomer projects looking to gain a foothold in the cryptoeconomy by attempting to do blockchain tech better than before. Algorand, Polkadot, and Cosmos are other names that come to mind.
The main question at hand? Whether these projects can mount serious challenges to Bitcoin and Ethereum or whether they will prove to be nothing more than popular alternatives for the foreseeable future.
Another added wrinkle here is that some of these upstarts, like Cosmos and Polkadot, are protocols specifically focused on blockchain interoperability, i.e. connecting networks of hitherto disparate blockchains.
Will this dynamic make these protocols increasingly dominant or instead make already entrenched blockchains like Bitcoin and Ethereum that much more entrenched?
What is clear is there is still no shortage of differing visions for how to develop the best blockchain possible. Solana is the latest stab in that direction, but it certainly won’t be the last. Alas, the game of chains continues.