Accelerating Ethereum Together: Eigen Labs ∞ a16z crypto

We founded Eigen Labs in 2021 with the mission to empower open innovation across the blockchain infrastructure stack via building the EigenLayer protocol. EigenLayer provides blockchain developers with access to the highly crypto-economically secure and decentralized network that powers Ethereum, which enables them to more easily launch new protocols and applications with strong assurances of reliability and scalability. This supercharges the entire crypto ecosystem with both a higher quantity and quality of use cases, which ultimately delivers to end users safer and more useful crypto products, while supporting decentralization.

A canonical example of a service built on EigenLayer that benefits from renting crypto-economic security and decentralized validators from the Ethereum network is EigenDA. EigenDA is a secure and decentralized data availability layer that enables Ethereum developers to achieve high transaction speeds and low transaction costs that have never before been possible on Ethereum. EigenDA is only one example of a new EigenLayer-powered protocol that is bringing previously impossible use cases to reality. Many developers are actively creating new categories of protocols that will launch on EigenLayer – these protocols range across infrastructure verticals including cross-chain messaging, transaction ordering, off-chain data access, AI inference, fully homomorphic encryption, secret sharing, secure hardware enclave networks, and more.

We are thrilled to be partners with this incredible community of developers in the EigenLayer ecosystem. They are eager to experiment and build on Ethereum without the security and decentralization barriers that have gated them in the past. We are all here in the shared interest of maximizing open innovation for the benefit of the future of crypto. To further empower this mission we are excited to announce that Eigen Labs, the core development team contributing to EigenLayer and EigenDA, has raised $100 million from a16z crypto.

There are many reasons we are excited to partner with a16z crypto, but here are a few of the foundational ones:

Commitment to research, including open source and public goods contributions:

a16z crypto’s research team is led by widely recognized and highly regarded researchers such as Tim Roughgarden and Dan Boneh. At Eigen Labs, our DNA is rooted in academic research, with founder Sreeram Kannan previously teaching at the University of Washington and leading the UW Blockchain Lab. We believe that a focus on quality research best enables us to achieve our mission. 

Moreover, a16z crypto has demonstrated a commitment to open source contributions: for example, a16z crypto research often makes its work public, and a16z crypto engineers have made important contributions to the industry such as Helios (an Ethereum light client) and in the field of formal verification. 

Long-term engagement and support across the crypto industry stack:

a16z has been committing funds to the crypto industry for a long time, and began publishing its perspective on Bitcoin and Coinbase as early as 2013. In the decade-plus since then, a16z has continued to be a supporter of the industry in a number of important ways. In addition, a16z is advocating for a positive technological future with policymakers and regulators, and supporting American Dynamism.

This long-term commitment to the industry, and forward-thinking work to bridge industry and government, captures much of why we are excited to work with a16z crypto: we are also dedicated to long-termism; we are focused on doing things the right way; we would like to serve our industry as an example of trust, safety, integrity, and respect.

The definition of “Eigen”:

The name “Eigen Labs'' derives from the German word Eigen, which means “your own”. We chose this name because we believe that by making crypto-economic trust programmable and accessible to all, we can empower builders to more easily and smoothly launch their “own” protocols and applications, thereby enabling more stepping stones towards open innovation.

By chance, Chris Dixon, founder and managing partner of a16z crypto, recently released a book with his thesis on the future of blockchains: Read Write Own. This synergy, as well, could not be ignored!

Our mission is to maximize open innovation in blockchain infrastructure. This mission has a beginning, but no end. We consider ourselves players in an infinite sum, infinite horizon game. We are pleased to join with a16z crypto on this mission. The future is bold, and yet to be written. We’re excited to make it your eigen