Meet the Grantees: ECF Class of 2018 — Part II

Back in March 2018, when ECF announced the first 5 grantees in Tokyo — Reality Keys, Swingby Protocol, XLNT, ETHPrize, and Prysmatic Labs— we simultaneously started forming the fund’s organisation, its culture and how we aimed to approach future communications.

We have decided to call our grantees ECF Alumni. The term is catchy, holds a specific weight and seriousness, and works well with the tone we are aiming to set for the fund.

Yet we figured out along the way that we’re not schooling anyone — the ECF core team, founding members and more, are gaining new knowledge and lessons throughout the interview processes, analyzing applications, and getting expert feedback to assess the evaluations in the most agnostic and educated way possible.

However, we are keeping this name, but only for the sense of pride a professor feels when their brightest students graduate. Nothing less, nothing more.

We are incredibly pleased, proud, honored — and have learned a lot, as we said! — and now we’re ready to present the second batch of grantees — ECF’s 2018 alumni — sorted out by topic, for easier reading:

Developer tooling:

  • Web3j by Conor Svensson: a lightweight, highly modular, reactive, type-safe Java and Android library for Ethereum Network smart contracts and client integration. Dig web3j’s GitHub here. ($96,000 grant)

Infrastructure:

  • Denode aims to build a fully decentralized, open-source solution that simplifies access to Ethereum safely and reliably, and incentivizes users to run full nodes. This project, created by ChainSafe Systems, started at ETHBuenosAires. ChainSafe later applied for a grant to be able to develop it. With such a vast number of hackathons on the horizon, we would like to encourage the enterprising hackers who wish to continue with their projects to reach out to us. We strive to be present at most events but, even if we can’t make it to some, we are watching closely and will receive your applications with arms wide open. ($20,000 grant)
  • ECF Web 3.0 Infrastructure Fund: Together with Gitcoin, we identified a core issue within open source infrastructure maintenance and decided to contribute to increasing incentives to motivate developers to work on this. We then conducted a pilot study to test the viability of this initiative. With the initial research successfully completed and a report under construction, we are happy to announce that the results are looking very promising. Consequently, this project will be funded with $10,000 a month to support open source infrastructure bounties, under the management and leadership of Mitch Kosowski (ETHPrize). ($73,500 grant)

UX/UI:

  • Universal Logins by Alex Van De Sande: Alex has been working for and with Ethereum since the beginning. After the UX unconference post-EDCON in Toronto, May 2018, he got to work on an implementation of “universal logins” as described by ERC 1077 and 1078. Universal Logins will increase the Ethereum usability by creating a login system that uses ENS for usernames, and a client-side private keys management system to sign and send messages to a contract holding funds. ($25,000 grant)

Scalability/ Research:

  • Fourthstate is a Minimum Viable Plasma implementation by a group of students stemming from Blockchain at Berkeley, one of the most promising educational initiatives in the ecosystem. ($126,000 grant)
  • Arcadeum is a specialized State Channel library for Turn-Based Games comprised by a Solidity library (DGame.sol), and JS client library for application state management based on redux.js (DGame.js). But that’s not all for the Arcadeum team: this ambitious group is doing research on a layer-2 PoS network built on Tendermint that uses state channel architecture to build a game-specific chain requiring longer-term persistence — ArcadeumChain. ($75,000 grant)
  • Patrick McCorry is actively involved in key research projects to make state/payment channels on Ethereum faster and more secure. His collaboration and research with other key projects will lead to the Systemisation of Knowledge of current state channels research and implementations. ($100,000 grant)
  • Magmo Force-Move Games: The force-move games framework is an attempt to build the simplest possible state channel framework that’s still practical for real-world use. The framework is designed only to support turn-based games whose moves don’t depend on time or data that is external to the channel. By focussing on a restricted set of games, they are able to specify the full, on-chain dispute resolution process, handling an area of complexity that would otherwise fall to the application developers. ($100,000 grant)
  • ETHSecurity is an organization that has joined forces with SecurETH for the Security Community Unconference event, and aims to facilitate a follow-up event around Devcon4. While this may seem overlapping for some, this union arises spontaneously after the two groups received funding from ECF, and the fund is extremely thrilled for this collaboration. Most importantly, besides building community, this project is conducting a set of interviews to explore the security-focused needs within the Ethereum ecosystem. An accompanying report to propose next steps and possible pragmatic actions will be published on a Wiki that houses developer and auditor resources. To keep the community in the loop and raise further awareness, they have planned social media actions and bi-weekly community calls. ($25,000 grant)

Community:

  • Juejin Ethereum Community: all the way from Beijing, this team has been working arduously on Ethereum Community Growth in the Chinese City. If you happen to be around this side of the world, we encourage all projects to reach out to them and find out how they can help the project grow in China. Juejin also handles translations, a big stepping stone towards broader accessibility of educational materials and more awareness. ($39,500 grant)
  • SecurETH: led by Bryant Eisenbach and Rex Hygate, this fast-growing initiative is working on smart contract development guidelines. They have rapidly managed to gather all voices from the security community into a working group that will be put in motion in an event before the ETHBerlin hackathon — the Security Community Unconference. The deliverables and conclusions will be presented at ETHBerlin. Bryant and Kirill Pimenov (Parity Tech) aim to pass on the best practices stemming from the gathering to the 500 hackers participating of ETHBerlin. The team will also be writing a blog post with the insights and learnings via our ECF Review blog. ($4,100 grant)

Education:

  • Clovers Network : this is a great, but difficult project to classify. Even if we considered it under the “Education” label, it offers much more. Clovers is a game, an artwork and an educational resource based on a game of luck that results in the discovery and creation of new NFT artworks — named after the project. It is an overarching and productive educational experience at its very core. Users can learn and take part in crypto-economic mechanisms like challenge-response/counterfactual proof, commit/reveal, private key management, proof of work/proof of search, and finally bonding curves/curation markets. ($40,000 grant)

Please note that many of these projects will be considered for follow-on grants, meaning that we expect them to grow, and will re-award them with future grants to ensure their sustained development.

Now to the conclusion: Congratulations to all the projects! We are excited to witness your growth and look forward to results that contribute to building a better Ethereum. We would also like to thank our expert collaborators that have helped us evaluate the projects by giving voluntary, agnostic and objective feedback to help us analyze each proposal.

Finally, we would like to reiterate our invitation to apply for a grant, collaborate or join our community. The collective effort is what makes this ecosystem unique, and we’ll continue to strive for it.