StarkWare CEO Says Community Concerns ‘Will be Dealt With in The Future’

Starknet’s airdrop announcement garnered controversy, and it's community's voice was heard

By: André Beganski

February 15, 2024

While the announcement of Starknet’s upcoming airdrop was met with mixed reactions this week, StarkWare Co-Founder and CEO Eli Ben-Sasson said the layer-2 network’s stewards are acutely focussed on addressing feedback from the community and in it for the long-haul.

“The only thing we see as far as the horizon is that we are supporting Starknet,” he said in a Thursday interview with Coinage. “To the extent we can modify and address some things that we're not happy with in this case … those will be dealt with in the future.”

On Wednesday, the Starknet Foundation unveiled plans to airdrop 728 million STRK, the network’s native token, to up to 1.3 million digital wallets on Feb. 20. Rewarding the network’s users and contributors, as well as open-source developers outside of Web3, the move was met with some pushback due to its eligibility requirements. On top of that, April 15 was flagged on X as a date where the project’s developers and investors can start trading 1.3 billion STRK.

In light of the criticism, Ben-Sasson said that a lot of thought went into Starknet’s path toward decentralization and “multiple people worked for many months” on the initial airdrop. The Starknet Foundation’s plan was crafted in a way that prevented bots from gaming the system, Ben-Sasson said, which could be part of the problem in hindsight.

“The criteria that we used maybe could have been tweaked and then some people would have been happier,” he said. “But we did put significant efforts into trying to [exclude bots], and we did try to give Provisions to meaningful users.”

For people who feel they may have missed out on Starknet’s initial airdrop, Ben-Sasson emphasized that “this is the first phase of Provisions” and there will be “a lot more in terms of community programs.” For those concerned about the prospect of developers and investors selling STRK tokens, Ben-Sasson said the Israeli firm with over 150 employees isn’t going anywhere and encouraged people to research the project themselves.

“People out there, do your research and learn about the projects, their DNA, where they come from, [and] how long they've been around,” he said. “Based on that, decide whether you should be concerned or not about the [STRK tokens] unlocking in two months.”

As public ledgers that strive to maintain an immutable record of all transactions, Ben-Sasson said integrity is core to blockchains, adding that he likes to refer to the technology as “integrity webs” because of blockchains’ focus on transparency and soundness. As a noted researcher in the field of zero knowledge proofs, elements of Ben-Sasson’s work is reflected in several layer-2 networks that tap the technology to scale Ethereum.

Previously describing Starknet as “Ethereum’s solution to Solana” on X, Ben-Sasson said that Starknet parallels Solana with its “performance and modern programming language for smart contracts.” According to data from L2 Beat, activity on Starknet pushed the network to an average of 10.21 transactions per second (TPS) on Nov. 26. According to StarkWare’s website, however, Starknet’s highest daily TPS has clocked in at 22 at some point.

While Starknet’s total value locked (TVL) of $185 million trails layer-2 leaders like Arbirtrum and Optimism, over the past year, Starknet has seen notable growth in terms of TVL, increasing from $7.3 million a year ago to $185 million, as of this writing, according to data from L2 Beat. TVL can be a useful tool for gauging the total value of assets deposited into a DeFi protocol, Ben-Sasson said it’s not among the criteria StarkWare is currently focussed on.

Several network’s have used StarkWare’s technology to handle transactions at scale. With TVLs of $303 million and $287 million, respectively, the DeFi protocol dYdX and gaming-focussed blockchain Immutable X are built using the StarkEx scalability engine.

That’s part of the reason why Starknet’s initial airdrop rewarded open-source developers from projects that aren’t related to Web3. In a press release, the Starknet Foundation, which Ben-Sasson sits on the board of, described the measure as a “new precedent in inclusivity.”

“The metric we're most focused on is having meaningful development by developers,” he said. “We're looking at developers building significant projects and the capacity of the network to support usage, which will start very soon with Provisions claiming.”

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