An Introduction to Mantle — AMA Recap

12/16/2218 min read

Mantleby Mantle


An Introduction to Mantle — AMA Recap

ICYMI, Mantle held its very first AMA session with Product Lead @jacobc_eth, hosted by Community Manager @DAO_Lbrian. In the spotlight: the team, the tech, and discussions about a decentralized tokenized economy.

If you didn’t manage to catch the AMA, here’s a rundown of what was discussed.

*Some sentences have been edited for clarity and brevity.

1. What is Mantle?

Mantle is a Layer 2 (L2) blockchain that’s built on top of Ethereum. It is a scaling solution for Ethereum that is being incubated and developed by the BitDAO community. There were various different proposals and questions about potentially creating a BitDAO chain earlier in the year.

To understand this in context, BitDAO is a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) that has a multi-billion dollar treasury — it is the largest treasury in the world when measured by hard assets, and the second largest when measured by all assets. This DAO is creating a number of different initiatives and it has been funding a number of different projects to accelerate web3 and the Ethereum ecosystem. And through that time, there’s been a lot of demand and questions for how we can create a strategic thread to bring these different projects together — to create cross-pollination between communities and projects that have been building in the BitDAO ecosystem and to truly continue to innovate.

Bybit’s CEO and co-founder, Ben Zhou, and I, together with some of the industry’s best thinkers such as Sreeram from EigenLayer, AFK who’s an engineer and core contributor at BitDAO, Dow Jones and Cooper Midroni, we originally threw around some ideas of a chain and wrote a proposal together. We decided to build an L2 that can solve the existing problems in scaling, and we’re uniquely positioned to solve some of the scaling challenges that Ethereum has. Since that proposal, we’ve been building a lot of different prototypes, using different kinds of rollup tech and also experimenting with some of the newest innovations in scaling that were not previously available when other L2s were created.

Mantle is an L2 network. It uses $BIT as both its governance token and gas token, where $BIT is swapped for ETH for settlement back to Ethereum. So it derives security from Ethereum. It has a number of innovations that surpass the current L2 landscape and allows us to achieve lower gas fees, faster transaction times, and to create a common thread for the data ecosystem and better incentives. We’re accelerating the development of L2s.

2. What distinguishes the Mantle network from other L2s such as Optimism, Arbitrum or sidechains like Polygon?

Sidechains and traditional L2s are the dominant choices that people have. There’re alts and L1s that are completely separate, but the challenge with sidechains is that while they have lower transaction fees, they’ve shown to have insufficient security for what people are using them for. Gaming projects, for example, only required a basic level of security, and this led to many sidechains that were created in ways that were not so secure.

The 2022 Axie Infinity hack was the largest hack in the history of the web3 ecosystem — hundreds of millions of dollars were lost and the hack caused harm to the Axie community, and also the Sky Mavis team that developed Axie. Sidechains have succeeded in getting a lot of traction, partly by having strong incentives to help encourage developers to adopt those chains. They have their own tokens and can make grants in those tokens, fund public goods and help teams adopt them, but they can’t solve the underlying security challenges of bridges and relative centralization. As a result, a lot of work has been done to transition to L2 or chains that are deriving their security from Ethereum.

They use rollups like Optimistic rollups or ZK rollups to create proofs and write back settlement to the Ethereum mainnet, so they can derive decentralization and security from it while operating on another L2. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen any L2s gain the same level of traction as sidechains like Polygon or even BSC have, and there are a few reasons for that.

The current L2 landscape doesn’t have low enough transaction fees yet to compete with sidechains, and most of existing L2s singularly use ETH as their only gas token. They have a hard time making grants, incentivizing developers and providing the same level of developer support and community that they might get with a sidechain.

And so for us in thinking about a next generation L2, we have worked to build on an approach that solves both of these issues. We are deriving security from Ethereum (via rollups) and using a modular approach to build a separate data availability layer with EigenLayer.

What this means is that we are taking the pieces of the L2 stack and breaking them into different modules that are best at performing their specific function(s). We’ve actually built multiple different prototypes that use different rollup solutions and a diversity of different tech. We have not settled yet on which rollup we are going to go forward with (to be announced soon), and in addition to the rollup, we are using Mantle DA as powered by EigenDA technology to have a separate, high-performance data availability layer that can enable multiple gigabytes of data per second.

This translates to a very significant (30-70%) reduction in gas costs. Mantle DA as powered by EigenDA technology derives its security from the Ethereum mainnet and uses a re-staking mechanism to do so. If someone on the data availability side does something malicious, they're
slashed in the same way that someone who's running a validator on L1 is also slashed. This opens up new possibilities for people that are
running validators to earn additional rewards.

It allows us to build a high-performance L2 that cuts transaction fees from what they are on traditional L2s, without compromising on decentralization or security. Many L2 projects are exploring solutions with data availability, but they’re trying to do this with more centralized solutions as a shortcut.

We’ve made some pretty amazing strides on this and have been closely working with the EigenLayer team. We’re ultimately combining the best of what’s possible in existing sidechains and L2s and creating a next generation L2 for lower fees and opening the gateways to some really amazing possibilities for the future.

3. How does EigenLayer compare to alternatives such as Celestia?

Celestia is another chain that adopts a modular chain framework and is a great one. However, it does not derive its security from the Ethereum mainnet the same way that EigenLayer does, and Celestia allows for the execution layer to be either an EVM or Cosmos chain. They’re very similar approaches, and some of the detailed differences would best be directed at the EigenLayer team.

Generally speaking, EigenLayer stands out because it is Ethereum-aligned. Other features can be developed that extend the capabilities of Ethereum beyond just the data availability layer, as EigenLayer is a system that allows for the creation of permissionless new features without having to wait for Ethereum to adopt them, but still simultaneously deriving security and decentralization from Ethereum. Mantle stands to benefit in the long term from any new features built within the EigenLayer ecosystem.

4. Why an Ethereum L2 scaling solution and not another L1 chain?

Ethereum is pretty much unparalleled when it comes to end user and developer activity, and liquidity. A number of different Layer 1s (L1s) have gotten some traction in the last two bull markets and attracted a lot of VC liquidity in the short term, but most of these have not done well in bear markets.

For our orientation, Ethereum is the most decentralized chain and has the most user activity and proven security. It just makes sense for us to be aligned with the Ethereum ecosystem and its values, where Mantle can leverage the network that Ethereum offers.

5. If we bridge funds to Mantle’s L2, how long will the funds take to arrive? What will this be like for users?

For our stated roadmap and goals, we do plan to adopt ZK rollups in the long run. However, we are still considering and do have prototypes that are built using Optimistic rollups and may start with an Optimistic rollout, and migrate to a ZK rollup at a later date. If we adopt any ZK EVM rollups, that would give us instant finality and there would be no delays in the processing of funds.

6. Will Mantle contribute to the BitDAO treasury? What are the benefits for the BitDAO community?

Mantle’s goal is to drive as much value and utility to the $BIT token as much as possible. Mantle uses $BIT for gas fees and there is no intention to introduce a new Mantle token at present. As mentioned earlier, Mantle uses $BIT as both its governance token and gas token, where $BIT is swapped for ETH for settlement back to Ethereum. For the user, we are allowing them to transact with $BIT and aligning ecosystem incentives accordingly, driving demand for the $BIT token. It empowers the overall ecosystem and ultimately enriches the BitDAO community as well.

As for benefits, we haven’t released anything specific yet, but there certainly will be an ambassador program and a handful of incentives for mainnet launch phases, and also to build a robust and fun community where everyone is invited in being a part of Mantle.

7. Who’s contributing to the building of Mantle?

Many different BitDAO Initiatives that are a part of BitDAO or the wider BitDAO ecosystem, and Windranger Labs that’s helping to accelerate the BitDAO ecosystem, are currently contributing to the building of this network. We’re seeing some contributors from Davion Labs and Bybit, and cross-collaboration with Game7 and HyperPlay.

For those interested, you can become a part of this disparate data community and take part in governance. Find out how by checking out BitDAO documentation.

8. How does Mantle plan to start onboarding projects onto the network? Will it work with existing BitDAO initiatives?

Give us a shoutout if you are interested in building Mantle. We are currently building business development and developer relations teams that will be focused on this. As for the other BitDAO Initiatives, as mentioned previously, BitDAO is working with Initiatives such as Game7 and we are in the midst of finding other ways to promote cross-pollination and cross-collaboration to drive more activity and value to the Mantle chain.

9. What benefits are there for a user on Mantle?

Our overall growth strategy is to provide a highly performant chain and the best technical solutions for both developers and end users. Our approach of having a modular chain that brings together the best pieces that have been created from L2 stacks and the scaling of the Ethereum ecosystem.

We aim to provide the best experience for developers, have developers deploy their decentralized applications (dApps) and refer their users to Mantle. We’re using the same kind of growth flywheel that’s been used by other really successful projects like Ethereum or MetaMask for Mantle — the more users it has, the more developers we’ll attract. Mantle will serve both the developers and users, and also help create the most value for both sides.

In terms of the experience of using it, we are providing a great bridging experience on a native decentralized bridge and are simultaneously looking to partner with various different bridges.

It’s also worth mentioning that chains like BSC were able to see dramatic growth because of its relationship with Binance. Having great on-ramps has proven to be a really difficult challenge for most of the L2s. With Bybit, the largest investor of BitDAO, Mantle is able to combine an L2 with on-ramps to centralized exchanges, we can really get the most liquidity and user experience possible for onboarding.

The experience is basically equivalent to any EVM chain, but you’ll be able to see dramatically lower transaction fees than you would get on a standard L2, and also resources from the great BitDAO ecosystem of dApps, builders and community.

10. What tooling and infrastructure support can a developer on Mantle expect?

We’re working really hard to offer great RPC endpoints and integrations with products like Truffle or Hard Hats. On top of that, we’re also focused on creating documentation, portals and a world class Dev Rel team.

We’re also open to further discussions and would love to hear from the community if there are any core infrastructure or tooling that are compatible with EVM chains that could be integrated on Mantle.

11. How are we building trust and fortifying the security of Mantle?

In the early days, there was no decentralized finance (DeFi) and people delegated trust to a centralized entity, but we’re now seeing progressive decentralization across the whole crypto ecosystem. Mantle is finding ways to increase the security of blockchains, while also reducing the transaction fees from where they are today, enabling more use cases to be built. We’re enabling greater scalability, performance and decentralization across a greater diversity of use cases so that applications that did not previously work on blockchain can find new life on Mantle.

And another critical point is the need for some kind of self-regulation for the space and more simplicity to the way DeFi is presented to the community via education. This is because lots of people in the space continue to have the wrong impression of DeFi, so it all boils down to education and how we can make DeFi accessible to everyone.

What Mantle is really doing is really empowering and enabling, and it is something that we can all look forward to.

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