Ed Felten, the co-founder and Chief Scientist of Offchain Labs, which developed Arbitrum, a Layer 2 network designed to enhance Ethereum's scalability and address fee-related challenges, brings a robust wealth of expertise to the forefront. Having assumed the role of Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer at the White House and boasting an illustrious 28-year tenure as a professor of computer science and public international affairs at Princeton University, Felten's journey bears profound significance.
Research achievements in computer science
Felten's narrative commences with his attainment of a physics degree from the esteemed Caltech. He involved as a staff programmer in Caltech's parallel supercomputer project during the period of 1986 to 1989. After that, at the University of Washington, his doctoral thesis ventured into the realm of automated protocol development for facilitating communication between parallel processors.
A pivotal juncture arrived in 1993 when Felten joined the faculty of Princeton University's computer science department as an assistant professor, subsequently ascending to the rank of associate professor in 1999, and culminating in his appointment as a full professor in 2003. From 1995 to 2021, His research endeavors have woven an intricate tapestry, exploring the equilibrium between offense and defense, and the interplay of technology and policy. His initiatives encompass a spectrum, ranging from uncovering diverse avenues of system vulnerabilities to fortifying cybersecurity technologies, including Java program security, logic-based access control systems, privacy-preserving communications, resilience against- DoS attacks, and password management systems.
A noteworthy phase between 1995 and 2005 witnessed Felten's authorship of papers that unveiled vulnerabilities within specific commercial systems. He pioneered the concept of "responsible disclosure," advocating the communication of discovered vulnerabilities to respective companies before public exposure. Yet, this ethical stance was not without its challenges; certain entities even resorted to legal threats in response to such vulnerability disclosures.
Subsequently, Felten's purview expanded beyond the confines of technical policy, extending into the domains of copyright law, personal data protection, security-oriented user interfaces, and broader policy-related issues within the sphere of cybersecurity.
Giving birth to Offchain Labs
In September 2018, Felten embarked on a transformative journey, co-founding Offchain Labs alongside Steven Goldfeder and Harry Kalodner. This pioneering endeavor birthed Offchain Labs, a dedicated entity focused on crafting Arbitrum, an Optimistic Rollup solution for Ethereum. Optimistic Rollup refers to the technology of batching transactions processed outside Ethereum and uploading them to a Rollup contract. The culmination of Felten's collaboration with his co-founders, nurtured during his Princeton University tenure, bore fruit in the form of Arbitrum's core technology, formally unveiled through a seminal paper in 2018.
In April 2019, Offchain Labs secured a seed funding round, amassing $3.7 million in investments led by Pantera Capital, and including participation from Coinbase Ventures. Bolstering this momentum, a series B funding round conducted in August 2021 propelled Offchain Labs to raise a substantial $120 million. This fundraising drive was helmed by Lightspeed Venture Partners, with notable participation from Polychain Capital, Pantera Capital, Alameda Research, and prominent investor Mark Cuban.
“The on-chain costs, in ethereum gas costs, increase as the storage in your decentralized application gets bigger and the amount of code that needs to be executed gets bigger. This limits the complexity and sophistication of the games you can have. So Offchain is taking an experimental approach to solve this issue.”
— Former Obama Tech Officer Raises $3.7M for Blockchain SaaS Startup, (paraphrased and excerpt)
Arbitrum orchestrates the operation of two pivotal Layer 2 networks: Arbitrum One, a versatile Ethereum Layer 2 solution, and Arbitrum Nova, meticulously tailored for gaming and decentralized social applications. Notably, Arbitrum One is celebrated for its cost-effective fee structure and takes the mantle in promoting prominent perpetual trading protocols like GMX, thereby solidifying its stance within the expansive Ethereum ecosystem. Conversely, Arbitrum Nova carves its unique niche as a dedicated chain fostering the establishment of community points for platforms such as Reddit, thereby catalyzing an amplified sphere of influence.