14 Jul 2022•
4 min read
In this series, we’re going to tell you more about our trusted Guardians, the validators who keep the Wormhole network up and running. We are starting off with Everstake, one of the biggest decentralized staking providers out there.
Wormhole is a decentralized, generic message-passing protocol for blockchains that enables blockchain interoperability. Today, Wormhole is connected to 13 individual blockchains that are all “first-class citizens”, meaning they all have equal priority in the network. Wormhole isn’t built on Solana, Ethereum, Avalanche, or any other connected chain. It is its own separate network, a neutral party that sits in the middle of its connected chains.
Think of Wormhole as a “decentralized notary” that simply attests to the finalized state of connected networks. That attestation is done by the Guardians.
The Guardians secure the base messaging layer, which is permissionless and a number of applications have been built and deployed on this layer. Check out the code yourself — https://github.com/certusone/wormhole.
Wormhole’s 19 Guardians serve as validators that attest to messages they observe on the connected chains. They do so by running a full node for each chain to monitor the Wormhole Core contracts. A message can be generated by the Portal token bridge or by any application that has integrated with Wormhole on the source chain. When a supermajority (2/3) of the Guardians sign a message, it produces a VAA (Validator Action Approval) which is a combination of the message itself plus the Guardian signatures. The message is then sent to the destination chain with this promise of the message’s legitimacy. VAAs are then consumed by applications on the destination to facilitate their intended action (wrap a token, count a vote, update a price, etc).
The trust assumptions required to generate the VAA must be strong enough to ensure that the Wormhole Network can operate safely and efficiently.
Not only do Guardians validate Wormhole’s connected chains, but they also operate the Wormhole governance process.
They vote on:
⚬ which networks will be supported
⚬ what development features will be shipped into production
⚬ major strategic decisions that steer Wormhole’s roadmap
By now, you might be wondering, “Who are these mysterious actors? How can one trust them?”
Guardians are a key construct in Wormhole’s trust modeling. Because of the role they play in validating the authenticity of messages, the network trusts them to behave in an honest manner. But how can we assume they will?
Simply put: they have much more to lose than to gain.
How so? Wormhole’s Guardian set is comprised of some of the largest and longest operating staking validators in all of web3. Each Guardian, prior to their involvement with Wormhole, has built businesses with deep financial alignment to the networks for which they validate, as well as the overall health of crypto. So the underlying assumption is that, should a Guardian misbehave or collude, not only would Wormhole be impacted, but all of the validator’s supported chains would be harmed by the reputational blow. The loss in confidence from a malicious action taken by a Guardian would ultimately harm the Guardian’s reputation and result in financial repercussions in the networks where they operate.
Because Guardians play such a critical role in the Wormhole network, the importance of the quality of the independent operators cannot be overstated.
So let’s have a look at the individual Guardians — in this post, we kick it off by talking about Everstake.
Trusted by more than 625,000 users, Everstake is one of the biggest decentralized staking providers. For the past five years, the company has been using enterprise-level hardware to run over 8,000 nodes for 50 different blockchain networks, including Cardano, Solana, and Polygon.
Everstake was founded by Sergey Vasylchuk, a software engineer with 15 years of experience who has been in the blockchain industry since 2014. Sergey is also the Director of the Metaplex Foundation, the organization behind the NFT standard for Solana called Metaplex.
Everstake employs over 100 experts across the globe and has been heavily involved in the development of complex blockchain products such as Metaplex and Everlend. You can learn about the people behind Everstake and the experience they’re bringing to their product in the Team section on their website.
Everstake takes a commission from staking, with the exact percentage varying by blockchain. This commission is used to upkeep the staking server infrastructure and maintain the DevOps team. A small part percentage is spent on the development of new utilities and tools for various blockchains.
Everstake is not just acting as a main contributor to web3 technology but is also the co-initiator of Aid For Ukraine, a charitable organization raising funds from the crypto community for Ukraine’s military and humanitarian needs. The initiative is endorsed by the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine and has raised over $60 million since its launch.
In the 10 months of its existence, Wormhole, together with Guardians like Everstake, has successfully sent 1.2M+ messages. We’re looking forward to continuously upping those numbers and building the xChain world together with our trusted partners.
Interested in learning more about Everstake? Check out their socials:
Stay tuned in the coming weeks for our next edition of Wormhole Guardians!
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