ETH Staking Startup ssv.network Raises $10M as Ethereum ‘Merge’ Inches Closer

Project leads say they want to “mitigate” the biggest vulnerabilities in centralized staking.

Feb 8, 2022 at 3:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Feb 8, 2022 at 4:04 p.m. UTC

Danny is CoinDesk's deputy business editor. He owns BTC, ETH and SOL.

Ethereum’s shift to a staking-based consensus mechanism has highlighted the influence centralized providers might wield over the decentralized network. In turn, developers are racing to build infrastructure that might avert such an outcome after the network’s so-called “merge.”

Ssv.network, one such effort, said Tuesday that it had amassed $10 million to fund development of decentralized staking infrastructure. Its focus is on deploying “secret shared validators” that fragment control of the network’s validators between multiple nodes.

At the time of writing, ssv.network’s testnet touted 2,661 operators and 7,954 validators with 254,528 ETH staked. Their collective effort powers an open-source network that project backers claim will “mitigate” the biggest vulnerabilities in centralized staking.

For example, client concentration continues to be an issue on the Beacon Chain, with over 68% of validators running Prsym as their consensus client. Large staking pools like Coinbase and Kraken have inadvertently increased client concentration and left the proof-of-stake chain susceptible to potential chain splits, correlated slashing and finality issues down the road.

“SSV fits into what we call layer zero, which is basically what secures Ethereum,” core contributor Alon Muroch said in an interview. “I think it’s very important that a lot of people care about it, because they want to keep Ethereum decentralized.”

It also gets at some of the less-visible realities of the Eth 2 staking landscape. It’s easy enough to see that big fish like Kraken and Coinbase represent a considerable percentage of staked ETH. Less prominent is the fact that validator client Prysm has around 70% market share.

Still, the biggest fish aren’t missing the boat. Coinbase, Lukka and OKX are among ssv.network’s backers, as is Digital Currency Group (CoinDesk’s parent company).


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