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CSO Role Announcement

· 4 min read
Ash Schap

I am excited to announce that I have taken a new role as the Chief Strategy Officer of RISC Zero.

RISC Zero is focused on bringing the magic of Zero Knowledge Proofs to blockchains to unlock the potential of Web3 through scaling. We have built a ZKVM around the RISC-V instruction set architecture. This means the RISC Zero ZKVM can support any language that can be compiled to RISC-V, including Rust, C++, and (soon) Go. To our knowledge, this means it is the first and only ZKVM in the Web3 space that does not require developers to adopt a custom or unfamiliar language.

For those of you that know me, this may come as a surprise. I have been an Ethereum maximalist for a long time. I started my crypto journey doing business development for MakerDao, and my most recent role was Head of Growth for Uniswap, the largest and most widely used Dapp on Ethereum.

I love Ethereum. I am so proud of what we, as a community, have built. Today it is possible for users around the world to access powerful financial infrastructure in a decentralized, permissionless way. The NFT space empowers creators every day to experiment with new forms of art and new ways of engaging with their fans and collectors. There is so much that is happening on Ethereum that is groundbreaking, cutting edge and truly inspiring to watch.

But Ethereum has not yet scaled. And that has been painful at times. I started my career in crypto so optimistic that we could bring the power of smart contracts to everyone on earth, lowering the barrier to entry to Web3 and providing cheap, reliable, safe financial tools to everyone in the world who may have a need for them. But today, only the wealthy can afford to interact with Ethereum Layer 1. I didn't help build MakerDao and Uniswap so that only whales could use it. So as I took time off after leaving Uniswap last September, I started to look around and really dig into the technical forefront of the scaling question.

Layer 2 solutions like Optimism are paving the way here, and I am very excited to see the application layer maturing as those solutions gain adoption. But as I learned more about how Layer 2 works, I realized that we will never be able to build sophisticated web applications of today's Web2 without a substantial increase in throughput. Existing Layer 2 solutions will allow Web3 to grow faster and allow for the creation of more advanced applications that are far more affordable for users. But there is a cap on that throughput. As the complexity of dapps increase, that throughput will begin to max out. The only way to realistically scale blockchains is to abandon linear state and begin to experiment with parallel execution.

Zero-Knowledge Proofs can take us one step closer to that reality. My team at RISC Zero is working on a lot of clever math that makes me extremely optimistic that we can reliably scale in a parallel way without sacrificing decentralization or security, while also adding optionality for private transactions.

Our first product will be a Devnet built using Tendermint consensus, the goal being to get something into the hands of developers quickly so that we can better understand what challenges they face in building with ZKPs. Longer term, we have a lot of options on how we will deploy our products. My personal hope is that we can create an interoperable blockchain that demonstrates the power of this technology while also deploying as a Layer 2 on top of several other L1s including Ethereum and maybe even Bitcoin. Our plan is to open source everything, so my hope is that this tech will be a resource for any blockchain that needs it.

I have often said that I think I will probably spend the rest of my career trying to make the dream of global borderless money a reality. Right now this feels like the next step in that journey. I am excited to be going deeper in the stack! The magic of ZKPs has totally captured my imagination, and I searched the industry really thoroughly for the team with the right set of technical skills and the right set of ideological objectives to take this tech to the next level. RISC Zero is that team, and I could not be more thrilled to be starting this new chapter.

If you are interested in joining us, check out our careers page here:

If you want to learn more about how Zero Knowlege works, here are some resources:

And for more on RISC Zero, check these out: