HomeEthereumCross-chain universal app states could reduce EVM development by 90%

Cross-chain universal app states could reduce EVM development by 90%


Siddharth Lalwani is on a mission to redefine the blockchain ecosystem with Skate, a universal application layer integrated with EigenLayer that enables apps to run seamlessly across thousands of chains with a single, unified state. As the Co-Founder and CEO of Range Protocol, the company behind Skate, Siddharth brings deep expertise in web3 infrastructure and DeFi from his experience at leading firms like Altonomy, Point72, Bybit, Certik, and Citigroup.

In this exclusive interview, Siddharth shares his vision for solving the challenges of application fragmentation and liquidity silos that plague the current multi-chain landscape. He explains how Skate’s innovative approach of embedding interoperability into the core application logic can streamline development, enhance user experiences, and unlock the true potential of a modular web3 future.

With support from major players like Polygon, Manta, Axelar, and more, Skate is poised to shape the next evolution of blockchain app development. Read on for an illuminating discussion with one of the leading minds at the forefront of this exciting frontier.

Skate is supported by the likes of Polygon, Manta, and Pendle. Beyond the obvious vote of confidence, what specific expertise and synergies does this group bring to Range Protocol and the development of Skate?

Each of these titans brings a wealth of technical knowledge and experience in blockchain fundamentals, smart contract development and scalability solutions. With Polygon and Manta, developers in each scalable ecosystem can benefit from Skate as a solution to embed cross-chain interoperability at the application level from the get-go and eradicate the expensive burden of cost for liquidity bootstraps. This approach allows for more users to proliferate across various ecosystems. With Skate’s pre confirmation layer secured as an EigenLayer actively validated services (AVS), it can help dApps with sufficient trust minimised assumptions and bring exponential use cases in the realm of restaking. Pendle also plays a crucial role in controlling LRT tokens, which are integral to the governance and operational mechanics of the Eigenlayer, further strengthening Skate’s infrastructure for decentralised finance applications.

Through strategic partnerships with these prominent web3 projects, we of course benefit from their network effects — gaining access to networks, communities and resources — to accelerate adoption of Skate and expansion of credibility within the DeFi community.

While Skate aims to unify application development across chains, there’s potential for disruption to current ecosystems. How do you balance innovation with the risk of destabilising existing systems?

Rather than seeking to override existing systems, prioritising interoperability ensures that Skate can coexist harmoniously within established ecosystems. The spirit of coopetition (competitive cooperation), is intrinsically interwoven into the fabric of blockchain. By facilitating seamless interaction between different chains in real-time through intent-centric execution and leveraging EigenLayer for accelerated finality, Skate enhances rather than disrupts existing infrastructure. 

Skate is simply making it easier for multi-chain deployment. The wider web3 ecosystem is unified in its goal to create an interconnected tapestry of tokenised economies. This doesn’t replace the underlying utility of application development in various virtual machine (VM) environments — that in itself requires significant resources and tools like software development kits, operating systems and the like. The key lies in alleviating the resource burden for developers of dApps and blockchains so they can focus on building expressivity, instead of focusing efforts on backwards compatibility, to benefit all players in the web3 value chain.

What are the potential risks associated with Skate’s implementation across diverse blockchain environments?

When apps integrate Skate, they can run on all chains with one single state — allowing them to interact with users on 1000s of chains. Also known as the Universal Application Scope, it ensures that the application logic is maintained as a unified state on Skate, while assets remain on their native chains. This ensures foundational needs of builders and users are met efficiently, allowing each chain to focus on creating value-added services and laying the building blocks for a modular future. 

As with any form of interoperability, there are risks involved when it comes to cross chain communication. We are designing the infrastructure such that certain whitelisted players take on interoperability risks to provide faster finalities, which significantly reduces  attack vectors. Aside from that, our vision is to have EVM apps run across EVM and non-EVM chains with one global state, like a liquidity pool running on Ethereum and Solana with one state. This may introduce new smart contract risks to have a common intent standard in between them. We will be undergoing multiple audits prior and following our mainnet launch.

Given the attention and success of EigenLayer and its recent launch, how does Skate use EigenLayer’s product suite (AVS, DA), especially in the context of this unique multi-chain approach?

Skate is currently at its testnet phase and has two major components, a customised Optimism Bedrock hub chain and Pull based state oracle running as an AVS. Any application leveraging Skate will have its state and app logic reside on Skate. For users interacting, they can sign intents across any of the supported chains and get the efficiency of the global application state across all the chains. Mainnet is expected to be live by the end of Q2 2024. When Skate’s Universal Application Scope eventually goes live on EigenLayer mainnet, we expect it to enhance functionality and efficiency as application executions happen in real time with faster finality, enabling different integral legos like AMMs, lending markets, NFT marketplaces and such.

With the ambitious scope of Skate, could you discuss any practical challenges or limitations you’ve encountered when trying to integrate with existing blockchain infrastructures? How did these challenges inform your approach?

Skate faces several practical challenges when integrating with diverse blockchain infrastructures. Firstly, establishing a common standard, such as a unified signature protocol between different ecosystems like Solana and Ethereum, is crucial. This requires aligning various technical specifications and governance models, which can be complex due to the distinct architectures of each blockchain.

Secondly, achieving faster finalities while managing blockchain reorganisations (reorgs) presents a significant challenge. Reorgs necessitate a robust mechanism to ensure that transactions remain valid and consistent across chains. Skate is actively refining its strategies to handle reorgs effectively, striving to enhance the robustness and reliability of cross-chain interactions.

Can you provide an example of a scenario where Skate might not be the ideal solution? How do you manage expectations around the platform’s capabilities?

A potential scenario could be when dApps require deep integration into a specific blockchain that might not be easily adaptable by Skate. If a dApp relies heavily on a particular blockchain’s consensus mechanisms or native tokenomics, Skate’s generalised approach might not fully accommodate the intricacies required by dApps. In such cases, it would make more sense to build and deploy the dApp directly rather than use Skate as an intermediary layer.

Interoperability introduces complex security challenges, especially when operating across thousands of chains. What specific security measures are integrated into Skate to address these vulnerabilities?

Skate addresses the inherent security challenges of interoperability through a multi-layered approach:

  • EigenLayer AVS: Skate utilises EigenLayer to enhance security and ensure that applications operate correctly across different chains. This layer acts as a pre-confirmation mechanism, providing faster finalities with high economic trust.
  • Whitelisted Intermediaries: To mitigate risks in cross-chain communications, Skate employs whitelisted intermediaries that are responsible for managing pre-confirmation interoperability functionalities. These intermediaries are rigorously vetted and required to meet high security standards to minimise potential vulnerabilities.
  • Extensive Auditing: Continuous auditing processes are implemented, involving multiple security audits and code reviews from both internal teams and external security firms. This helps identify and address potential vulnerabilities in Skate’s infrastructure and maintains the integrity of its cross-chain operations.

Have there been any compromises or trade-offs in terms of security to achieve the high level of interoperability that Skate promises?

While striving for high interoperability, Skate does face inherent trade-offs:

  • Speed vs. Security: The need for fast finalities across chains may sometimes conflict with the thoroughness required for optimal security. To address this, Skate utilises whitelisted intermediaries to provide faster finalities, while pulling all stops to maintain robust security protocols.
  • Global State Risks: Maintaining a global state across both EVM and non-EVM chains introduces new smart contract risks. Common intent standards between these diverse environments must be carefully managed to prevent vulnerabilities.

Skate proposes to change how developers engage with blockchain technology. What are the economic implications for developers, particularly those invested in the current multi-chain ecosystem?

Given that Skate allows developers to work across 1000s of chains, this grants developers access to an infinite web3 user pool. They can leverage Skate to tap into the liquidity and user base of multiple chains, enhancing the economic potential of their applications.

The current multi-chain ecosystem is plagued by fragmentation, with applications and users scattered across different blockchain networks. Skate’s unified approach to application development can help reduce fragmentation by consolidating development efforts and fostering a more cohesive ecosystem, eventually leading to stronger economies of scale for developers.

How do you plan to incentivize adoption among developers who might be skeptical or comfortable with existing platforms?

We aim to redefine the blockchain ecosystem through a global scope of applications. Taking inspiration from groundbreaking strides made through the Optimism Collective, the Skate Stewards initiative lays the foundation for a network that champions specialisation. By harmonising key applications and solutions across diverse blockchain technologies, Skate aims to eliminate redundant processes and enable each chain to leverage on each other’s strengths. 

Incentive programs such as grants, bounties, developer rewards or token incentives for building and deploying applications on Skate, will be introduced to those contributing to platform development, or promoting adoption within the developer community. Such programs encourage experimentation and drive engagement among developers.

What criticisms or skeptical feedback have you received about Skate so far? How do you respond to these critiques?

One of the nuanced criticisms of Skate concerns how it can compete with native apps, which often benefit from preferential incentives and a deeply entrenched community specific to their respective chains. In response, Skate acknowledges the strengths of native applications but emphasises the added value it brings to these ecosystems through interoperability. Skate aims to enhance the reach and functionality of native apps by connecting them to a broader network of chains and communities. This not only exposes native applications to new users and markets but also allows them to participate in a larger, interconnected token economy, potentially multiplying their growth opportunities and incentives.

Another concern is that requiring all executions (on any participating chain) to also execute on the Skatechain might create a bottleneck, especially as the number of interactions scales up. Critics worry that this could limit scalability and efficiency, centralising too much processing and decision-making within the Skate infrastructure. In addressing this critique, Skate points to its architectural and technological strategies designed to mitigate such risks. These include the use of advanced consensus mechanisms, scaling solutions like sharding or layer 2 technologies, and the possibility of offloading certain types of processing to sidechains or specialised nodes within the network. Skate is continuously evolving its technology to ensure that it can handle increasing loads without becoming a central point of failure or inefficiency.

Looking forward, how will Skate adapt if the initial assumptions about market needs or technological feasibility don’t hold true?

The inception of Skate arose from recognising user experience constraints and challenges encountered by crypto-natives seeking to seamlessly move and utilise assets across different blockchain networks. Currently, 90% of development efforts on EVM chains is spent solely on forking apps that work on Ethereum on a new EVM chain. This is clearly an inefficient model. If not Skate, some protocol will eventually solve that. As the landscape of modular blockchains across thousands of chains continues to evolve, we are committed to staying adaptable and responsive to shifts in market demands. Our goal is to continually bridge gaps across this diverse ecosystem, ensuring that blockchain technology remains accessible and user-friendly for an ever-changing environment.

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