Founding date: January 2018

Description:

StarkWare Industries, headquartered in Nentanya, Israel, commercializes STARK, the zero-knowledge proof protocol. zk-STARKs are an upgraded version of zk-SNARKs, the general-purpose succinct zero knowledge proof technology that can be used for all sorts of usecases ranging from verifiable computation to privacy-preserving cryptocurrency. The difference between the two is that STARKs are “transparent”, which means that it eliminates one of the primary weaknesses of SNARKs, the reliance on a trusted setup. They also come with much simpler cryptographic assumptions, avoiding the need for elliptic curves, pairings and the knowledge-of-exponent assumption and instead relying purely on hashes and information theory; this also means that they are secure even against attackers with quantum computers. The STARK technology will allow StarkWare to improve the scalability and privacy issues of current blockchains.

 

Additionally, StarkWare will develop a full proof stack: software and hardware to support fast and reliable generation and verification of computational integrity proofs for general computations.

 

 

Market size:

The global encryption software market size was USD 3.97 Billion in 2017. It is expected to reach USD 12.96 Billion in 2022 at a CAGR of 27.4%.

 

Blockchain-focused competitors:

By proposing an upgraded version of zk-SNARKs, StarkWare’s only real competitor in the blockchain space would be Zcash, the first blockchain to implement zk-SNARKs in the core of their privacy feature.

 

Traditional competitors:

Symantec Endpoint Encryption, Microsoft BitLocker Drive Encryption, Invisible Secrets.

 

Funding history:

StarkWare previously raised $6M in a Seed Round that ended in January 2018. They recently concluded a Series A led by Paradigm where they raised $30M.

 

Investors:

Paradigm, Intel Capital, Sequoia, Atomico, DCVC, Wing, Consensys, Coinbase Ventures, Multicoin Capital, Collaborative Fund, Scalar Capital, Semantic Ventures, Pantera, Floodgate, Naval Ravikant and Vitalik Buterin.

 

Synergies with investors:

Two of the main investors, Matt Huang from Paradigm and Fred Ehrsam from Coinbase, are on StarkWare’s board of directors. Also, Vitalik Buterin is working with StarkWare in order to develop zk-STARK as it may help Ethereum scale (sharding) with transparent privacy. He has also published 3 tutorials explaining what zk-STARKs are and what they could be used for.

 

Additionally, DCVC, who invested in the Series A, also invested in Oasis Labs, a privacy-first cloud computing platform on blockchain technology. A partnership between them and StarkWare could be facilitated by DCVC if needed. Also, Consensys, Coinbase Ventures, Multicoin Capital and Pantera Capital are all venture capital firms focused on blockchain-based projects, so this opens StarkWare to a wide network of projects with whom they could build a partnership.

Full time employees:

StarkWare Team

Leadership bios of StarkWare:

 

Eli Ben Sasson – Co-Founder; Chief Scientist in the East
Eli has been passionate about the theory (“moon math”) and realization of transparent computational integrity since 2001, when he was a post-doctoral researcher at MIT and Harvard University, after completing his PhD in CS at the Hebrew University.

 

He is a Professor of Computer Science at Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, which he joined in 2005, a co-inventor of the Zerocash decentralized anonymous payment system and a founding scientist of the Zcash company.

 

Alessandro Chiesa – Co-Founder; Chief Scientist in the West
Alessandro is a faculty member in Computer Science at UC Berkeley. His research spans the areas of complexity theory, cryptography, and security, and focuses on the theoretical foundations and practical implementations of zero knowledge proofs that are short and easy to verify. He is a co-inventor of the Zerocash protocol, and is an author of libsnark, the leading open-source library for succinct zero knowledge proofs. Alessandro is a founding scientist of the Zcash company. He received BSc degrees in CS and in Math, and a PhD in CS, from MIT.

 

Uri Kolodny – Co-Founder; CEO
He has a BSc (Magna cum Laude) in CS from the Hebrew University, and an MBA from MIT Sloan. Uri is a serial entrepreneur, who has co-founded several technology companies, among them OmniGuide (an MIT spinoff developing optical fibers for endoscopic surgery), and Mondria (developer of tools for visualization of big data). Previously, Uri also served as an EIR with two Israeli VC firms, and as an analyst at McKinsey.

 

Michael Riabzev – Co-Founder; Chief Architect
He is a PhD candidate in CS at the Technion Israel Institute for Technology, where he focused on the development of practical systems for computational integrity in zero-knowledge, culminating in the development and implementation of the zk-STARK system. Michael has a BSc in Math (cum Laude) and an MSc in CS, both from the Technion. He has 14 years of software development experience, including at Intel and IBM Research Labs. Michael has worked on hardware acceleration, cryptographic algorithms, GPGPU, SDN, web development, and more.

 

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This document is intended for informational purposes only. The views expressed in this document are not, and should not be construed as, investment advice or recommendations.