A knockout for open-source privacy.
The Genesis of Grants
The Ethereum Foundation’s thoughtful approach to scaling the Ethereum ecosystem has been more impactful than most realize. One of Ethereum’s most powerful qualities, alongside censorship-resistance, is the permissionless nature of interacting with, and building on top of, the Ethereum protocol. The EF’s role as a helpful, non-controlling steward of the ecosystem has enabled impactful projects to come from outside the EF in true open-source fashion.
Would Uniswap have grown to reach over $1 trillion (trillion! with a ‘t’!) volume if development had been led ‘in-house’ at the Ethereum Foundation? Could the CryptoPunks, CryptoKitties, and Bored Apes communities have reached the mainstream, including a Super Bowl appearance and community membership by the likes of Justin Bieber and Jay Z, if it was Vitalik himself promoting those projects as his own?
An Ethereum Community, Made Private
Anyone can build their own application on Ethereum’s decentralized infrastructure and develop a project that wins the hearts and minds of hundreds of thousands of individuals. That’s the beauty of open-source software — you can be a quiet introvert in Bangalore, a head of family in Buenos Aires, or a middle-aged woman in Kyoto, and your opportunities are the same.
The EF’s influence obviously stretches far and wide, especially at the protocol and social layers. But at the application layer, the EF’s willingness to enable a broader ecosystem of quirky misfits and brilliant engineers has made all the difference in the success of the Ethereum ecosystem so far. As we launch the second wave of the Aztec Grants Program, emulating the ethos of the Ethereum Foundation is our benchmark.
This second wave of the Aztec Grants program is about doing just that — funding smart, ambitious people chasing after big ideas, and getting out of their way. Our first grants wave was about developing the connections (figuratively and literally) between our Aztec Connect SDK and the L1 protocols that enable new use cases for privacy on L2. Together with our first wave grantees, we’ve accomplished that.
Now, with the second wave of our grant program, it’s all about putting fuel to the fire. We want to fund a wide expanse of projects that benefit the Aztec ecosystem — not just Aztec Connect bridges (although we’ll keep funding those too!), but also Aztec-native applications like an airdrop campaign manager, a private donations frontend, and a standalone wallet.
We’ve got a list of RFPs that will continuously get updated, but if there’s a compelling idea not listed in the RFPs, we’ll fund that too. And for those grantees looking to play around in Noir, our newly-announced language, we’re even funding a handful of testers and builders interested in working on implementations of cryptographic primitives.
Wave one was about getting the Aztec network ready for builders — wave two is about giving builders the resources they need. For teams that need additional assistance, we’re not just offering financial support. We’ve got an awesome team across DevRel and Engineering to help you work with Aztec Connect, our SDK, or Noir, the universal zk language that the big brains on our Cryptography team are building. And we want to make it as easy as possible for builders to innovate at the application layer of Ethereum by embedding privacy into new use cases.
Consider the space of ideas that native privacy enables:
At the ETHBogota hackathon alone, we saw builders tinker on:
One team even hacked on a disinformation project, inspired by Trisha Datta and Dan Boneh’s recent paper on using zero-knowledge proofs to fight disinformation. All in just 36 hours. On our grants page, we list some grant ideas to get started with, but we don’t want to be too prescriptive.
Whether you’re building a standalone application, a dev tool for Noir, educational materials for developers, or just a cool side project, we want to fund projects that contribute to the broader Aztec ecosystem.
Apply to Join the Fight!
If you have an idea for a project, apply for a grant on our short application page, and let’s figure out how to get you any support you need to get it built.
One thing is for sure; the next Hayden Adams won’t come from inside Aztec’s offices, but from the ecosystem of spirited developers that choose to build on the cutting edge of zero-knowledge cryptography and scaling solutions that Aztec’s open-source software provides.
We’re excited to see what you build.