- Initial technical hurdles impacted PGN’s early growth
- PGN is part of the Optimism Superchain, a network of L2s working together
- Our alliance with OP Labs provides vital technical support and resource that can accelerate our technical development
PGN launched 6 months ago with an innovative and ambitious goal of creating durable and recurring funding for public goods. As one of the first small players to launch an L2 on the OP Stack, we have admittedly encountered technical challenges due to the inherent novelty and complexity involved in operationalizing decentralized compute environments. While these technical challenges have hindered our ability to grow at the pace and scale we envisioned, our commitment to the original goal remains steadfast.
We also feel it is worthwhile and productive to share more transparently on what it really takes to launch an L2. We are confident that as L2 technology matures, and as our ecosystem grows, the original vision of growing the pie of available public goods funding is still possible.
It is easy to take for granted how well developed the Ethereum ecosystem is, with new platforms and improvements being added regularly. Today’s Ethereum is a very functional place for a crypto native person, with multiple wallet, exchange, block explorer and security solutions available. When building an L2 from scratch, each of these technical integrations must be identified and built independently, based on the focus of that specific L2.
The process for integrating with various technical dependency providers can be broken down into three main approaches:
- Decentralized Providers: This usually involves drafting a detailed proposal on their forum that highlights the advantages of integrating PGN. Then, we rally community support and gather votes to ensure our network gets added.
- Traditional Teams: The focus here is on building relationships. This typically involves communicating directly with providers to explain PGN’s advantages and offering technical support for integration.
- Self-integration: In some instances, we can directly add our network and submit a pull request. However, more often than not, getting our pull request merged hinges on the integration partner’s willingness to include our network. This also doesn’t guarantee that our network will be incorporated into the frontend UI.
Understandably, providers often want to see evidence of significant activity on our network to justify the effort required for integration. Some may request upfront capital to cover deployment and maintenance costs.
PGN has no external (venture) funding pumping our network activity.
As a public good itself, this was an intentional part of PGN’s strategy. We prioritize allocating sequencer fees towards public goods instead of venture capitalists. However, bootstrapping an L2 with a small team and a limited budget is challenging. This constraint has limited our ability to integrate with various service providers as we have to strategize which technical dependencies we prioritize.
Initially, we underestimated the extent of technical dependencies and integrations needed for an ecosystem-ready L2 network. This resulted in technical obstacles, most notably the lack of a Safe UI, which significantly slowed down our deployment with ecosystem partners. Without the necessary technical dependencies in place, the pace of our ecosystem growth was delayed.
Once we overcome these initial technical hurdles and achieve ecosystem readiness, we can confidently move forward with the next phase of PGN’s development. At a high level, we aim to focus on expanding alliance partnerships, integrating dApps, and growing transaction volume. (More details on this to come in future discussion posts).
We launched in a state where PGN was not fully ecosystem-ready. We lost momentum in the process. So, the big question still remains… When will we get the flywheel moving?!
Despite our initial challenges, being part of Optimism’s Superchain ecosystem provides us with a vital lifeline. We’re not a siloed L2. PGN is still in its infancy but being one of the early adopters in the Superchain ecosystem gives us a unique advantage; we get to work directly with OP Labs, Base, Test in Prod, and other Optimism core contributors, shaping the future of how these chains can effectively interact and function together.
Since meeting in person at DevConnect, we’ve gone deep in our relationship with extremely helpful individuals on the OP Labs team and across the Optimism Collective. We have been closely working with them to overcome these technical barriers and develop our overall strategy. This includes weekly meetings where we discuss and address broader L2 strategy and identify areas where we need technical support. We have received valuable feedback regarding bridging, stablecoins, and areas within our ecosystem that require further attention. Additionally, they are helping to support the development of crucial components of our technical dependencies, such as the Safe UI, which was a major obstacle for our partners before they could build on our network. (More details on that to come soon!)
PGN’s success advances the success of the Superchain ecosystem. The grander vision is a network of chains, each with an individual market and value prop, that share bridging, decentralized governance, upgrades, a communication layer and more—all built on the OP Stack.
The ultimate goal is to merge OP Mainnet and other L2s built on the OP Stack (such as Base, Zora, PGN, and others into a single unified network of chains. Learn more about it here. This paves the way for a more scalable and decentralized web.
In a truly decentralized web, more players should be able to create an L2 and benefit from sequencer fees, with governance over their allocation within their ecosystem. Not just players that have a lot of upfront venture capital where fees benefit early investors.
Yes, bootstrapping an L2 in the current ecosystem is incredibly challenging. However, creating this opportunity is crucial for the overall L2 and Superchain ecosystem, which itself is vital to a thriving on chain future. PGN’s experiences and transparency as a public good itself serve as valuable learning opportunities for the Optimism Collective, allowing them to design better support mechanisms for the L2 Superchain ecosystem.
We will explore the Optimism Superchain and PGN’s role within this broader narrative and movement in a future post. Stay tuned!
The Superchain ecosystem is still early. Many of the anticipated benefits, such as interchain interoperability and standardization, are yet to be fully realized.
For example, Grant Stack is exploring multi-chain checkout solutions. In a future where Superchain interoperability tooling is more abundant, multichain checkout across PGN, Base, and OP Mainnet would be effortless, offering dApps a plug-and-play solution.
Another example is span batches, a technique developed for the OP Stack specificallyto efficiently aggregate and compress transaction data, significantly reducing data size and lowering costs for PGN. Research from Test in Prod indicates that, during the GG18 event, the use of span batches could have slashed PGN’s L1 costs by 50% to 90%. This is planned to be implemented as part of the Optimism Delta hard fork if it passes a governance vote scheduled for January - in which case it would be rolled out around mid to late February. You can read more about it here [https://x.com/testinprod_io/status/1723367847483646175?s=20] and I’ll continue to update as I learn more.
Though PGN is still in its initial development stage, with technical hurdles still to tackle, we are part of a larger movement. PGN is not a siloed L2; we are deeply integrated within the Optimism ecosystem and supported by its powerful network.
Our mission is important. The future is leaning towards a world with multiple L2s, and PGN is not an outlier in this trend. While the current landscape is crowded with L2s, leading to fractured UX challenges, the need for horizontal scalability requires multiple chains. The current user experience pain points surrounding L2s primarily stem from the incomplete development of interoperability solutions - but these challenges are being actively addressed, and acceleration toward solutions will only come from a willing commitment to engage in the challenges.
It’s important that we lay down the groundwork. By building the necessary infrastructure now, more communities can create and support their own L2 ecosystems, ensuring that sequencer fee control isn’t just in the hands of those with the most resources.
PGN is an ambitious experiment. We acknowledge that bootstrapping an L2 is a challenging task, and PGN’s struggles highlight the need for improved support. While we faced many blockers, it’s an important problem to try and solve. We are learning and sharing valuable lessons along the way and contributing to a future where public goods receive the sustainable funding they deserve.
If you believe in our mission, the most helpful thing you can do is contribute to and advocate for the development of core infrastructure on PGN.