A Look Back at 2021
While Manta Network started as a project in late 2020, it’s undeniable that most of our growth and progress has seen growth at its most rapid pace yet in 2021. Manta Network, which started as a passion project that addressed privacy issues that resonated with each of its founders on a personal level, has since grown into one of the leaders in the on-chain privacy space.
We couldn’t have gotten to this point without such an amazing group of core contributors and community members who have supported us throughout the entire journey. What’s most exciting about all of this is that we are just getting started. We’ve built a strong foundation with our technical progress, financial position, and strong group of contributors and community members. And this foundation creates an amazing structure for us to launch full speed into 2022.
As we mentioned, Manta Network started off as a curiosity for the founders. We all met in Cambridge, MA. Victor was studying for his Masters in Economics at Harvard, Kenny was pursuing an MBA at MIT, and Shumo was building out the smart contract systems for Algorand (which was a project that started at MIT).
As friends, we hypothesized that on-chain privacy has been a pervasive and growing problem because it was a problem for us as we thought about the future of Web 3. Without much more information than that, we decided our next steps were two-fold. First, we needed to design an architecture that supported privacy in the vision that we believed in: an inexpensive utility, which can be easily plug-and-play across various chains. Second, we needed to validate that the problem actually existed. So we set out to interview 400 different individuals and groups in the blockchain space.
The results from the interviews were eye-opening; a study to quantify the problem of privacy in the blockchain space hasn’t been done before. While users have been affected by the lack of on-chain privacy, how much of an impact it was making for blockchain wasn’t really discussed. For example, almost 75% of those respondents (3 out of 4 respondents) admitted that privacy concerns have either made them hesitate or altogether avoid making a blockchain transaction in the past. People were hesitant to use blockchain because of their privacy concerns. While privacy isn’t really a sexy topic, we realized that the problem was bigger than people realized.
On the technical side, as we started thinking through the architecture, design, and workflow of what a perfect privacy system looked like, our idea began to evolve from a high-level concern to an executable plan that can bring about a fair, decentralized solution. As one of our major decisions, we decided to launch first within the Polkadot and Kusama ecosystems for various reasons including the native layer-one interoperability, composability, and speed. As a next step, we applied for a grant from the Web 3 Foundation. It was accepted, and we got to work starting to build out the project. While we believed in our project and our ability to solve the on-chain privacy issue, we have been humbled by its growth and all of the support from the community.
Manta’s Growth in 2021
In 2020, Manta Network focused on planning. We conducted the survey to quantify the problem; we wrote and published our white paper in an e-print of IACR to announce our plans and receive public feedback for it; and we started fundraising and bringing on the most strategic investors that aligned with our vision for privacy.
In 2021, while we still continued our planning, we shifted gears to focus on positioning and executing on that positioning. 2021 has been an exciting time because it coincided with the launch of parachains on Kusama and Polkadot. Calamari Network, the Kusama canary network for Manta, obtained a parachain with a record-breaking number of unique contributors. Equally important, we got to work executing on the vision we had laid out in our white paper.
On the fundraising side, in 2021 we closed two private rounds: a seed round led by Polychain, and a strategic round led by CoinFund and ParaFi. Joining those leads included organizations like Three Arrows Capital’s investment arm, DeFiance, as well as others like Alameda, Hypersphere, Spartan, and Convergence. Individual leaders in the space including Stani (founder of Aave) and Maki (formerly Sushi) also believed in our vision and invested as well.
Apart from investors, we also actively sought out as much guidance as possible to optimize Manta’s positioning. As mentioned, we received a Web 3 Foundation grant, which helped bootstrap the project; we joined the Substrate Builders Program, which helped us get direct access to the folks at Parity; and we were accepted into the Berkeley Blockchain Xcelerator’s Program, which gave us a strong network of projects and mentors to collaborate with as we continued to build out the project.
Around this time, the Manta ecosystem started growing as well. We had introduced our ambassadors program, and many ambassadors (which we call Mantalorians) joined in to help support the project. Our organic growth on Twitter and Telegram has also been overwhelming, and it’s exciting to see so much engagement in our communications. On the project side, we grew the group of core contributors to approximately 20 individuals around the world, with an overwhelming majority of them on the engineering side (17 engineers and 3 on business operations).
With this level of support on the investor, community, and contributors side, we got to work. Undoubtedly, every core contributor to the project has been providing endless support and contributions to growing Manta Network. In the latter part of 2021, we successfully launched Dolphin Testnet, which is the private payment testnet for both Manta Network and Calamari Network. With Dolphin, we continue to roll out new features and gather community feedback. For example, we recently released the Windows signer so Windows OS users can participate in the testnet as well.
As we look back on 2021, we believe that as founders, contributors, and community members, we can all be very proud of all of the accomplishments that Manta Network has made thus far. The most exciting part about all of this is that we are only beginning, and there are so many more plans for 2022 and beyond.
Looking Forward to 2022
While the world settled down for the holidays, the Manta Network team was still hard at work pushing out its last goals for 2021. We formally released governance for Calamari Network, launched our first governance-enabled runtime upgrade vote, and pushed out the Windows Signer update for Dolphin Testnet. With all of these accomplishments checked off during the last month of 2021, we are excited for continuing our rate of progress into 2022.
Maturing Dolphin Testnet
In 2022, we are focused on bringing Dolphin Testnet to a point where it is ready for a main net launch, and subsequently launching that main net. There are still a few more steps for Dolphin that we have planned including releasing the Linux Signer and optimizing its performance even further to speed up the ZKP generation. We have other features planned to release for Dolphin as well, but it’s still a bit early to announce.
Once Dolphin is ready for launch, we will be shifting it over to main net on Calamari and Manta Network. Dolphin Testnet’s private transacting service will be known as MariPay and MantaPay on Calamari and Manta, respectively. Along with the launch, we will also begin more prioritized focus on XCM — the unique cross-chain communication feature of Polkadot and Kusama, which enables interoperability and composability for layer-one projects. By doing this, we will begin rolling out privatization for other parachain assets including $DOT and $KSM.
Thank you to our community, investors, partners, and other supporters who have been with us since before this year, and those we met along the way. We appreciate all of your patience as we continue to build and bring on-chain privacy to the Kusama and Polkadot ecosystems. Special thanks to our core contributors who have spent countless hours making this entire project possible. Thank you all, and we look forward to seeing you in 2022!
About Manta Network
Manta Network is the on-chain privacy solution for blockchain assets built from the first principle. In the short term, Manta will be a product that enables high-performance private DeFi transactions, such as FT/NFT transfer and AMM-styled swap. In the long term, Manta will be the platform for privacy-preserving blockchain applications.
Manta’s founding team comprises many US cryptocurrency veterans, professors, and scholars whose experience includes Harvard, MIT, and Algorand. The advisors of Manta include Hypersphere Ventures co-founder Jack Platts, Polychain partner Tekin Salimi, former Web3 Foundation co-founder Ashley Tyson, and Consensys’ Shuyao Kong. Manta has previously completed a million-dollar seed round of financing led by Polychain and participated by Three Arrows Capital, Multicoin, Alameda, and Hypersphere. Manta is also a grant fund recipient of Polkadot’s official Web3 Foundation. Manta also is an outstanding member of the Substrate Builder Program and the Blockchain Accelerator of the University of Berkeley.