Coinbase's New Layer 2 Blockchain, Base, Has Rocky Rollout

The much-anticipated protocol struggled to process user transactions, then became the target of some Twitter shade for changing some terms of a contribution pledge on the fly.

AccessTimeIconFeb 24, 2023 at 12:11 a.m. UTC
Updated Feb 24, 2023 at 6:39 p.m. UTC

The debut of Coinbase's new layer 2 blockchain, Base, proved anything but smooth as Thursday’s testnet rollout racked up user complaints and jabs on Twitter.

The new Ethereum-focused protocol forms an integral part of Coinbase's strategy to steer its business into the developer space – especially critical after a slowdown in its exchange traffic and disappointing quarterly earnings reports.

But just hours after Base's debut the network was already experiencing problems, and users flooded social media to complain about the network's functionality.

"Base's bridge is off to a rough start. Every single transaction reverting and the bridge contract is unverified so nobody can figure out what's going on," Twitter user @0xfoobar wrote alongside a screenshot of a transaction list from Etherscan, in which transactions appear to have been reverted.

The testnet's operational glitches were caused by an issue with Coinbase's wallets, which incorrectly estimated the amount of gas, or fees, required to execute users' transactions, according to Coinbase.

As a result, users paid less gas than needed to execute their transactions, which prompted Base to revert those transactions instead of processing them.

"The bridge contracts bump up gas usage under load, which wallets weren't properly estimating," Coinbase software engineer Roberto Bayardo explained on Twitter some hours after the launch. "Hardcoded a higher gas limit."

A sudden rush of users may have overwhelmed the protocol and also been to blame for issues during the testnet's launch day, according to Bayardo.

"There are still some other limits that could still get hit – people (& bots?) are bridging like mad it seems," Bayardo tweeted.

Adjusting on the fly

Additional scrutiny came after the Base team softened a pledge on its website to donate 20% of sequencer revenue to “funding public goods.” Screenshots of the page were posted by Twitter user @tier10k.

Hours after the timestamp on the screenshots, the website was updated to state that Base will contribute an undisclosed percentage, or a "portion of sequencer revenue," to public goods.

A Coinbase representative said the 20% figure was removed from Base's website as it works with the Optimism Collective to finalize the amount of revenue that will be allocated to public goods.

"Initially, we included a percentage to that revenue amount, but we are in the process of finalizing that percentage, and therefore have removed the specific number from our website until it is established," the representative said.


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Elizabeth Napolitano

Elizabeth Napolitano was a news reporter at CoinDesk.