Steve Newcomb is a Silicon Valley veteran with a long list of achievements. He built software for trading energy in the 90s, was a pioneer in adding email to phones, and helped create the back end of the Bing search engine under Peter Thiel’s mentorship. Today, he heads up development for Berlin-based Matter Labs, which is building scaling solutions for Ethereum.
“I was very much a skeptic” when it came to cryptocurrency and blockchain, explains Newcomb, zkSync’s chief product officer. He adds that it took two years of study before he understood the topic and the benefits to his satisfaction.
Calculating that Ethereum had a 65% market share of the layer-1 market, Newcomb was convinced that it held the greatest promise in becoming the de facto “world computer.” But he describes blockchain as being slow and cumbersome today as the internet was 25 years ago, so he set to work scaling it up to one day to become as fast as Web2 is now.
Newcomb developed the back end of Bing with investment from Peter Thiel. Source: Telegram
Layer 2s to the rescue
As a veteran of the dot-com era, Newcomb sees the current state of the blockchain environment — not just Ethereum — as similar to that of the internet in 1995, when the World Wide Web’s 25,000 websites could be accessed by average dial-up speeds of less than 30 kilobits per second.
“It’s slow as molasses. Our very well-known ‘Ethereum internet computer’ that claims to have the power to change the world runs at a grand total of 15 transactions per second, and we have 4,000 legitimate projects on Ethereum — very, very similar to 1995.”
Just 10 years later in 2005, websites numbered over 100 million, and speeds had increased at least thirtyfold. “We had SSL, we had HTTPS by then — that little lock icon appeared in our browser. Amazon happened, Google happened,” he lists. Today, in 2022, there are over 1 billion sites, and speeds over 200 megabits are common even on mobile devices far superior to anything Nokia engineers could have even dreamed of 20 years ago.
Just like the advent of SSL and…