Polkadot is a project which has emerged from the Blockchain world, and was designed to do something increasingly important.
In effect, Polkadot is the interchange and translator between multiple blockchains that developers using the Ethereum blockchain have been looking for in order to build a wealth of new projects and infrastructure.
As companies develop their own side-chains, they needed, somehow, to link these projects to Ethereum’s public blockchain. The question was, how? This is where Polkadot comes in. Now, for example, a bank could fork Ethereum, customize aspects of it and then use Polkadot to connect it to it with Ethereum’s public blockchain.
For the technically minded among you, a relay chain sits at the centre of the Polkadot protocol. Next, developers build ‘para-chains’ on top of it, thus linking into this relay chain. This is different to a ‘bridge chain’, which is not built on Polkadot. Polkadot means you can link public and private blockchains.
And there are many other uses. Some say it has the potential to fundamentally change Ethereum, and for the better. One wag even have observed that it’s “the last gasp of Cryptarchy before legacy institutions attempt to co-opt cryptocurrency.” Make of that what you will.
As of the weekend, Polkadot launched first the private sale for its token sale, and then on Sunday, its public sale. In this private round, it raised $83m Swiss Francs. As of Tuesday lunchtime in Europe, that, plus the public round had raised the equivalent of $140m in Ethereum (over 429,000 Eth). The sale is ongoing.
Ryan Zurrer, a partner in Polychain Capital, one of the private investors told TechCrunch: “Polkadot is a crucial infrastructure element of Gav Wood’s vision for Web3 and represents the most technically ambitious endeavor we have ever seen in blockchain. Realistically, only the deep and extraordinarily talented team from Parity, led by Jutta Steiner, have the technical chops to pull something like this off.”
Beyond the “ICO hype” aspects of this story, Polkadot is a critically important technology that will help address mainstream blockchain adoption by tackling a couple big issues: interoperability, scalability, and shared security. The light paper has more details on the functionality behind Polkadot, and it’s importance for the growth of the blockchain space.
Although Polkadot founder Gavin Wood commented thus on a public forum seen by Techcrunch: “Ethereum supercharged experimentation and (so far) let us explore the high-value ETH-for-share-in-a-project (“ICO”) contractual exchange. Polkadot is all about extending the generality and efficiency of that by introducing new state-transition engines, and by allowing them to be securely interoperable without having to do all the usual faff of building a secure blockchain. In my mind, it’s all about having a “creative commons” on which people can build the social experiments of the 21st Century; it should be as free as possible in both senses of the word.”
Seperately, I asked him what he think might be the biggest ideas to emerge from Polkadot. He said: “A substrate of trust-freedom underpinning the economic activity between people, business and organsations; changing the landscape of bureaucracy, trade and industry as much as Google, Facebook and Wikipedia changed the landscape on which the telephones, libraries and the post office operated.”
So, no small ask. But if the predictions about blockchain technology come true, Polkadot has a clear shot at having this level of impact.
Here’s a little more on all this: