This move by a16z signals the firm’s intent to actively partake in the development of some of the core tech that power the companies it backs with its venture dollars.
In line with this, it introduced ‘Lasso’ and ’Jolt’ on Thursday, which are essentially a pair of open-source software projects that are based on the Succinct Non-interactive Arguments of Knowledge, or SNARKs.
ZK protocols are designed in a way that allows one party to verify the truth of a statement to another party without disclosing anything beyond the fact. The technology is very essential to ZK-rollups, a prevalent Layer 2 scaling solution within the blockchain domain.
Meanwhile, it may seem that this move by a16z signals the firm’s intent to actively partake in the development of some of the core tech that powers the companies it backs with its venture dollars. And on a broader scale, might also be an indicator that venture firms are beginning to exert more control over the companies they fund.
Lasso and Jolt in Details
According to a16z research papers, the two new tools are a far more effective approach to SNARK. That is in the sense that they are faster and more easily understandable for developers.
Lasso, which is a16z’s main innovation, proposes a “lookup argument” method to speed up ZK systems. About Lasso, the team wrote in a statement:
“Lasso introduces a streamlined approach to verifying SNARKs, avoiding tedious hand-optimized circuits by performing lookups against massive structured tables.”
The team has released code for Lasso under an open-source license. And that means that outside developers may also use it in their own projects.
Jolt, on the other hand, introduces a type of zero-knowledge virtual machine (zkVM) that uses Lasso. As of press time, Jolt is still just a research paper. However, a16z confirms that it has forward plans to also release a version of it in code soon. That is, also under an open-source license.
What Does Andreessen Horowitz Aim to Achieve with Its New Tools?
It is a known fact that most of the companies in a16z’s portfolio rely on ZK tech. So, by directly contributing to this technology, the firm is ultimately helping its clients to be successful. More so, open-source contributions undoubtedly boost its reputation, especially among developers and builders. Therefore, with the new tools, a16z may have put itself in an advantaged position over its counterparts when it comes to leading deals.