Lens Protocol was promised millions to build on ZKsync

Lens Protocol was promised millions to build on ZKsync
Stani Kulechov is the founder and CEO of Avara, an umbrella company that develops Lens Protocol. Credit: Darren Joseph
  • Lens Protocol shopped around for new protocols to build on earlier this year, a source said.
  • Dealmakers were quoted tens of millions of dollars to compete with an offer to Lens to build on ZKsync.
  • Lens announced in May that it chose ZKsync.

Lens Protocol, the decentralised social media protocol launched by Aave founder Stani Kulechov, is set to be one of the biggest winners of ZKsync’s token launch.

Representatives for ZKsync, a zero-knowledge-powered protocol, promised Lens a substantial tranche of tokens to build on the protocol, according to a source familiar with the deal.

The exact number of tokens is unclear, but those who competed with ZKsync to attract Lens to their blockchains bowed out of the bidding war once representatives for Lens said they were offered about 0.5% of the total supply of the recently launched ZK token.

At the current ZK token price of around $0.21, this would translate to $22.4 million.

Spokespeople for Matter Labs, the core developer behind ZKsync, and Avara, the umbrella company that oversees Lens, declined to comment.

Kulechov in May announced a plan to build a new version of Lens on ZKsync.

On Monday, Matter Labs, the core developer behind ZKsync, airdropped 3.6 billion tokens to about 700,000 wallets.

As part of that distribution of 3.6 billion tokens, Aave, the lending protocol founded by Kulechov, received about 8.3 million tokens, and Lens received about 5.6 million, according to a Github repository linked to from a main ZKsync account.

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That initial allocation is worth about $3 million, at current prices.

“There are a lot of projects that are ZK-native and non-ZK-native that have some sort of allocation,” Stani Kulechov, the founder and CEO of Avara, told DL News.

Kulechov said he wasn’t sure what the exact allocation for Lens was.

“It’s up to the Lens community to decide what to do with those [tokens] based on the LIP process, our Lens Improvement Proposals that anyone can create.”

Protocol bidding wars

The deal between representatives from ZKsync and Lens is part of a broader bidding process between blockchain ecosystems to attract projects to build on their networks.

Polygon Labs paid Starbucks to experiment with NFTs during the tail end of the last crypto bull run in 2022, according to CoinDesk.

Other blockchain networks, like Starkware or Manta, often offer the equivalent of millions of dollars in grants available for projects to build on top of their protocols.

While deals to sway one company to build on a new blockchain aren’t public knowledge, they are common.

“That’s the nature of the industry,” said the source familiar with the Lens deal.

Ben Weiss is a Dubai Correspondent at DL News. Got a tip? Email him at bweiss@dlnews.com.