Layer 2, rollups, and building onchain (with Base)

Jesse PollakNoah CitronRobert Hackett

“Layer 2” rollups are computer networks that are designed to help scale “layer 1” blockchains such as Ethereum — and they’ve been bustling with activity recently, especially since Ethereum implemented its scaling-related EIP-4844 (“Dencun”) upgrade in March. Jesse Pollak, who is Coinbase’s head of protocols and who founded and leads the popular layer 2 rollup Base, joins a16z crypto engineer Noah Citron and host Robert Hackett to discuss bottom-up vs. top-down innovation, models of leadership, software development roadmaps, and building the onchain economy.

Welcome to web3 with a16z, a show about building the next era of the internet by the team at a16z crypto, that includes me, host Robert Hackett. 

Today’s episode covers the bustling area of “layer 2” rollups, a technology for scaling “layer 1” blockchains such as Ethereum. Joining us is Jesse Pollak, who previously led engineering for Coinbase’s retail side and who now is the company’s head of protocols where he founded and leads the popular layer 2 rollup Base.

We’re also joined by Noah Citron, an engineer at a16z crypto who works on many open source projects and protocols, and who closely tracks developments in this area.

Our conversation digs into the shifting history and future of Ethereum, the arrival of upgrades like EIP-4844, experiments in futarchy, and the difference between leading — and innovating — inside companies versus within decentralized communities. We also discuss the challenges of winning developer mindshare, how to refine business metrics and measures, understanding the tangled interactions between rollups and bridges, and whether you should ever hyphenate the word “onchain.”


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