Mar 21, 2024 - Business

Succinct raises $43 million to make cryptography easy

Illustration of an eye icon crossed out with a check mark.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Succinct, a startup building tooling for zero-knowledge proof technology, raised $43 million from Paradigm to make it easier for others to use advanced cryptography in their blockchain applications.

Why it matters: Zero-knowledge proof technology, or ZK, has been seen as a key part of the roadmap to get major blockchains, such as Ethereum, fast enough that they can onboard the masses.

The big picture: ZK allows users to do things, such as prove that someone resides in a certain city without revealing their exact address.

  • That's all well and good. But for blockchains, they also generate work that's very easy for others to check, which makes decentralization at scale much more feasible.
  • It might, for example, take a ton of work for a blockchain to verify all its transactions, but then applications that use that blockchain don't have to repeat all that work.

The challenge today, Uma Roy, Succinct's CEO and co-founder, tells Axios, is that zero knowledge proofs are really hard to use.

  • "They are a really frontier technology. It requires a lot of specialized expertise," Roy says.
  • "Before when people were trying to use zero-knowledge proofs, you had to do a lot of custom cryptography," Roy explains.

Succinct is building products that will allow developers to build in a familiar programming language and their open source tool, SP1, will take care of the cryptography.

  • The company previously raised $12 million from Paradigm, with participation from firms including Robot Ventures and Standard Crypto. This new raise brings the total to $55 million.

Between the lines: While checking the output of systems built with zero knowledge proofs is easy, "how that all gets done is much more complicated," Roy says.

  • Succinct will be building a decentralized network of provers that teams can use to handle that heavy lift.
  • This will be a marketplace for various kinds of teams to provide that kind of computation, and it will also ultimately be Succinct's chief offering. So far, Succinct has announced that crypto teams like Celestia, Wormhole, Lido, Near are using an early version of its network of provers.

The bottom line: "Anyone that wants to use ZK can now finally use it," Roy says.

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