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a16zCrypto Unveils Plans for ‘Magi’ a Rollup Client for Optimism

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a16zCrypto, the crypto and Web3-focused unit of venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz on Wednesday finally revealed the specifics of its almost production-ready offering teased earlier this week on Twitter. Noah Citron, an engineering partner at the VC giant firm, alluded to the potential blockchain infrastructure plans in a Tuesday tweet featuring a zoomed orange image and the caption “coming soon” and the orange dot emoji. a16zCrypto CTO Eddy Lazzarin joined in the fun, posting separately, “We need more TUIs and data dense displays […] What's the best Rust (or Crab) TUI framework?” on Twitter around the same time.

New client for OP Stack: Motivation and future plans

In a Wednesday blog post, Citron confirmed development of an Optimism-based project dubbed ‘Magi' and shared details, including progress t. a16zCrypto expects to complete building the OP stack rollup client it has been working on in a few months' time. Magi, written in Rust, will serve as the consensus client (analogous to the traditional execution/consensus split of Ethereum), forwarding new blocks to the execution end. Clients – in the context of blockchain – refer to software programs that are used to implement specifications and communication protocols to create connections with other clients in a network. Ethereum clients verify data against the protocol rules and secure the network.

“Magi performs the same core functionality as the reference implementation (op-node) and works alongside an execution node (such as op-geth) to sync to any OP Stack chain, including Optimism and Base.”

The forthcoming client for the open-source development stack that powers Optimism adds to a growing list of a16z's indirect contributions towards Ethereum scaling. The private venture capital firm based in Silicon Valley is one of the major backers of Optimism, having previously led a $25 million Series A round for the Ethereum Layer 2 scaling solution. AH Capital cited “an exceptional team, carefully designed developer experience, major scaling benefits, years of research and testing, and full composability” as compelling reasons to approach and back the project. a16z also participated in the Series B raise in March 2022, co-leading the $150 million funding round alongside Paradigm.

To learn more about Optimism, check out our Investing in Optimism guide.

Citron hailed the Rust-based project as a faster alternative and drop-in replacement to op-node, the only existing rollup client maintained by OP Labs. The announcement post also invited suggestions from the community on improving the final product. Remarking on the inspiration behind the offering, Citron cited the need to advance diversity (contributes to overall network security and resilience) in the fast-growing L2 ecosystem. In addition to drawing more people into the ecosystem, the offering will benefit OP Stack in the long run.

“Client diversity is needed on both the execution and consensus sides, but most of the development has so far been focused on execution clients.”

The news of the scaling product saw Optimism’s OP token reverse a dip from early Wednesday's broad market sell-off, briefly rising from $2.55 to $2.70. In the last few hours, the OP token has retreated and was last seen hovering at $2.60 in the morning US hours.

OP/USD price chart. Source: TradingView

Optimism is one of the leading Ethereum layer-2 scaling networks, only ranking behind Arbitrum in total value locked (TVL).

To learn more about Arbitrum, check out our Investing in Arbitrum guide.

Notably, the revelation of a16z's Optimism-based layer two offering resembles that of Coinbase's Base L2 project teased by a blue circle ahead of its February launch.  Several teams have been actively exploring scaling approaches leveraging layer-two and layer-one networks. In February, modular blockchain platform Dymension announced a layer two network of sorts on Cosmos' interoperable-blockchains empowering ecosystem.

Dymension's network of modular blockchains was initially designed for the Ethereum blockchain but will be integrated with the Cosmos network and its Inter-Blockchain Communication (IBC) protocol. The integration will make them the first to run as a layer-2 network within the Cosmos ecosystem. Along with the announcement, the blockchain scaling solutions provider communicated the completion of a $6.7 million raise through a private funding round led by venture capital firms Big Brain Holdings and Stratos.

The public testnet for Dymension's Rollup Development Kit (RDK) launched on February 15, with plans for the mainnet release reported to be underway. The RDK facilitates the deployment of efficient and performant EVM-compatible rollups for developers. Rollups operate as client-facing blockchains (similar to traditional web applications) that batch transactions on layer-2 blockchains and send them to layer-1 backend chains for improved security and scalability. The public testnet rollups from Dymension will log data on Celestia (a modular consensus and data blockchain) and the Dymension Hub to provide a highly efficient, user-friendly, and cost-effective solution for the deployment and interaction with rollups.

To learn more about Cosmos, check out our Investing in Cosmos guide.

Sam is a financial content specialist with a keen interest in the blockchain space. He has worked with several firms and media outlets in the Finance and Cybersecurity fields.