Evmos Looks to Get Back on Track After Failed Launch

A bug-ridden launch for the EVM-compatible chain allowing for transactions between Ethereum and Cosmos has led to community backlash, but the Evmos team is hoping to bounce back.

AccessTimeIconMar 11, 2022 at 9:08 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 12, 2022 at 2:06 p.m. UTC

Andrew Thurman was a tech reporter at CoinDesk with a focus on DeFi.

Numerous bugs and false starts have tarnished the luster on one of the most eagerly anticipated chain launches in recent memory, but the team responsible is hoping to right the ship.

Last Wednesday, Evmos – an EVM-compatible chain allowing for cross-blockchain transactions between Ethereum and Cosmos – launched their mainnet featuring an ambitious token airdrop and token-economic structure.

The launch was riddled with bugs, however, with many users reporting problems due to the unusually large number of hardware and software wallet integrations that the chain can theoretically support.

Additionally, two days after the launch of the chain, a “critical security vulnerability” forced the Evmos team to rush a fix that validators failed to properly implement, ultimately leading to a chain pause on Saturday.

Evmos – which Zaki Manian, former director at Cosmos developer Tendermint Labs, noted in an interview with CoinDesk is entirely community-funded and a largely community-run effort – still has an opportunity to recapture the excitement with a functional second launch, Manian argued.

“I suspect the momentum story is the same. My sense of things, observing the repos and being part of the triage groups, this is still exactly what Cosmos needs,” Manian said.

Gradual breakdown

Even before the full chain failure, Evmos’ launch was plagued with problems related to the unusually high number of integrations the team needed to facilitate.

“We have a few user experience bugs that got in the way of the airdrop and the launch. And there were users that were following incorrect guides for claiming, and their funds got stuck – that was on us because we should have been preparing for users using [blockchain wallets] Kepler and Ledger,” said Evmos founder Frederico Kunze Küllmer in an interview with CoinDesk.

The primary problem reared its head shortly before the weekend, however.

“On Friday afternoon, I got a message from the core IBC team at Interchain saying that there was a potential vulnerability in the code, and that we should not create LP pools on Osmosis because of this vulnerability,” said Kunze Küllmer.

The team was working on upgrades to the UI bugs at the time and initially assumed that the vulnerability was related to these comparatively minor issues.

The next day, however, when the IBC team sent over additional information, Kunze Küllmer recognized it as a “critical security vulnerability” that would require a planned upgrade with network validators.

The team developed a fix and distributed the upgrade to validators on Sunday, but the implementation of the upgrade failed, causing the current chain freeze. According to a postmortem, the validators and the team collectively decided to halt efforts to restart the chain on Monday.

“I think we underestimated the importance of testing against all of these tools. We’re trying to create this unique user experience, bringing Ethereum into Cosmos and Cosmos into Ethereum, and because of this we had a larger surface area to cover – not just the chain having multiple bugs, but for the tools being ready to handle both ecosystems at the same time,” said Kunze Küllmer.

Market reaction

Prior to the failed launch, Evmos was widely anticipated to be a success, even in currently adverse market conditions.

As a result, the social media backlash to the botched start has been harsh.

However, among the Cosmos developer community, there have been signs of optimism.

“To non-Cosmos people, this looks like a mess. To Cosmos people, this was a near miss,” Manian said. “This was an opportunity to dive in and see what was actually going on, what was built and how this thing was actually supposed to work, and I think most people’s response has been, ‘Oh, this was 95% there.‘”

Indeed, in spite of the airdrop claim failures and chain halt, there is reportedly a thriving OTC market for Evmos tokens.

Kunze Küllmer told CoinDesk that the team has been “shocked” by the amount of interest in the currently useless asset.

The market is even playing into a key decision the team now faces: whether or not to restart the Evmos chain from scratch, or attempt to salvage the chain history.

The team is currently analyzing legal liabilities as well as performing forensics on whether or not the existing history has any bugs or flaws, and the expectation of economic finality from traders is playing into the decision making process.

“It’s not the ethos of a blockchain – the immutability of code-as-law. It’s also going to affect OTC trading, the history of transactions that weren’t able to claim. We’re outlining all the pros and cons right now,” said Kunze Küllmer.

In the end, however, there’s a risk current traders will be left in the lurch.

“There’s 45,000 EVMOS sitting on Cosmos right now – if they reset the chain state, owners will have a cool collector’s item, Evmos Classic,” Manian quipped.

Next steps

Currently the team is working through a lengthy list of remediation items outlined in the disclosure blog post.

Additionally, Kunze Küllmer said that one current focus is creating guides for complex Cosmos chain upgrades “to ensure no other teams across the ecosystem suffer this again.”

Kunze Küllmer also said that he believes a successful relaunch can recapture the initial excitement percolating around Evmos, and Manian likewise said that the product still fulfills a major need in the Cosmos ecosystem.

“This is almost there – we have a lot of confidence this is the thing that Cosmos wants, which is an EVM on Cosmos,” Manian said. “The number of teams that have tried to climb this mountain and given up – in some senses this project is five years old, and we believe Evmos is going to be the team that conquers this mountain.”

While Kunze Küllmer declined to venture a possible timeline for the relaunch of the chain, Manian said that it could come as early as next week.

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Andrew Thurman was a tech reporter at CoinDesk with a focus on DeFi.

CoinDesk - Unknown

Andrew Thurman was a tech reporter at CoinDesk with a focus on DeFi.