PROPOSAL: Should SushiSwap governance contribute funding to the Nomic Foundation?

Summary

  • Nomic Labs, the team behind Hardhat, has become the Nomic Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to Ethereum. Our mission is to empower developers to decentralize the world.
  • The Nomic Foundation’s work will be focused on Ethereum’s developer platform with the objective of achieving a world-class developer experience, and generally improving Ethereum’s public goods support structures.
  • Hardhat is the de facto standard developer tool used to build Ethereum software, with more than 23000 Github repositories using it and tens of thousands of active users. Prominent teams relying on it include ENS, Uniswap, Optimism, OpenZeppelin, Aave, Balancer, Chainlink, Synthetix, and many more leading teams.
  • The new foundation will expand the Hardhat suite of tools and, most importantly, build long-term infrastructure to catalyze organic growth in the Ethereum tooling ecosystem, decreasing Ethereum’s dependence on any one organization to build and maintain core development platform components.
  • Seeking $30m in total funding from the ecosystem. Donations of $15M already secured by the Ethereum Foundation, Vitalik Buterin, Coinbase, a16z, The Graph, Polygon, Chainlink, a16z, and Kaszek Ventures.
  • We’re proposing to SushiSwap to make a contribution between $500k and $1m to the Nomic Foundation to support its mission. We’d love to hear your thoughts about what’s the right amount.

Ethereum developer experience

When it comes to Ethereum, which is primarily a software development platform to build decentralized systems, developer experience is a key strategic aspect for success. Ecosystem growth requires more developers to build more software on top of Ethereum. Developer adoption and learning speed, core contributors to this growth, are critically affected by developer experience.

The rate at which the ecosystem innovates, coming up with new creations and solving difficult problems, both at the dapp layer and EVM/Solidity/Vyper layer, is also directly affected by developer productivity.

Software development platforms aren’t new, and playbooks established by the great developer experience success stories (Rust, .Net, TypeScript, etc) prove that achieving a quality developer experience requires a specialized approach paired with a long-term, big-picture strategy. The potential impact in executing a dedicated effort for Ethereum would increase the ecosystem’s pace of innovation and growth, building a powerful compounding effect over the long term for the entire industry.

The inspiration for our vision came from our experience building Hardhat, which allowed us to see how deeply challenging it is to build sophisticated Ethereum tooling. These challenges must be alleviated to bring about organic ecosystem-led improvement of developer experience that achieves world-class quality.

Nomic Foundation

Nomic Labs has been fully dedicated to Ethereum developer experience since 2019, and we’re now pivoting to a non-profit foundation formally dedicated to Ethereum. We’re aiming to build a long-lasting organization that makes Ethereum’s public goods support structures stronger by contributing to the Ethereum Foundation’s existing efforts, and reducing the ecosystem’s reliance on any one organization for development platform components.

Roadmap

Given the size and innovation pace of the ecosystem, there’s no way to foresee exactly what needs developers are going to have as things scale. However, we do know what engineering foundations the ecosystem will need in order to build its own solutions.

Our overarching engineering strategy is to empower the ecosystem to build its own specialized tools. This plan is based on four strategic pillars of the stack, each of which offers an opportunity to leverage a platform to empower the ecosystem to keep building open-source infrastructure.

For each of these pillars, we will build a platform. The four ecosystem pillars and platform opportunities we’ve identified are:

  1. Solidity
  2. EVM tooling
  3. Local development environment
  4. Ethereum connector library

The projects

Slang & Rethnet

Over the long term, these are our most important projects. Targeting the Solidity and EVM tooling pillars, Slang and Rethnet will serve as core infrastructure for the ecosystem to build new tools faster, cheaper, and better. We’re essentially building the tools that would have let us build Hardhat a lot faster. We previously published a Medium post with high-level descriptions of how both projects will complement each other.

Slang

A Solidity compiler designed as a platform for tooling development, an approach also known as compiler as a service. Its top priority will be servicing tools through domain-specific APIs. Much like .Net’s Roslyn, it will feature a compilation pipeline made of distinct reusable components with standalone APIs. A completely modular design guarantees that others can build on top of it by replacing the part of functionality they need to, and reusing everything else:

  1. Parser that is only concerned with producing trees from code. Usable on its own, for example, to create third-party formatters like Prettier plugins.
  2. Semantic analysis (binding) is concerned only with building a type system and validating the produced trees. Usable on its own, to implement third-party type checking, security/threat models, and more advanced third-party linting.
  3. Code generation. By replacing just this isolated part, the compiler can compile for different targets (e.g. non-EVM L2s).
  4. Language services. These will receive an immutable representation of the above (syntax trees, bound trees, codegen settings), and will only be tasked with answering questions. Usable on its own to expose in different IDEs (same service for VSCode, IntelliJ, Vim, etc). Reusable to extend the functionality of other editor features (task runners, testing, deployment, CI, debugging).
  5. Runtime observation APIs to support Rethnet.

All of this will be reusable to create entirely new EVM programming languages, since by replacing the parser and type system, one can get an entire high-quality toolchain working from the get-go.

Rethnet

To provide a simulated environment where developers can build and test their Ethereum software, tools need to replicate many of the components that make up a full Ethereum node implementation. This is a significant engineering effort, which given the complexity of Ethereum, represents a barrier to entry to tooling development given the depth of knowledge that is required.

Rethnet aims to make this easier by offering a native, flexible, extensible, fast, and language-agnostic EVM local development network, distributed as a Rust library, that is designed to be the underlying core in tools that provide debugging information to developers (like Hardhat, Foundry, Remix, Truffle, DappTools, etc). It will be a Rust library made to be consumed from other languages like TypeScript, Go, Python, etc as a native dependency. It will implement the baseline of essential functionality every tool should have like Solidity console.log, stack traces, and descriptive error messages, as well as implement code coverage, gas profiling, and a step debugger. At its core, it’s an implementation of an Ethereum node with a layer of EVM runtime observation to provide development features.

Building a new Hardhat, Truffle, Remix, or DappTools using Rethnet will be a much more manageable project, and Rethnet will be completely reusable for any EVM language through adapters.

Hardhat

Our flagship project targets the local development environment pillar, and it’s currently at an advanced level of progress and adoption. While Slang and Rethnet mature and catalyze organic growth in the tooling space, developers still have needs to be met, positioning Hardhat as our immediate-term solution to empower developers to keep decentralizing the world.

Hardhat is an Ethereum development environment that developers use to compile, deploy, test, and debug Ethereum software. Most importantly, it’s highly flexible, extensible, and designed to empower the community to build their own solutions. This strategy has been successful, and there’s already a valuable ecosystem of reusable plugins.

Hardhat’s roadmap is focused on becoming an extensible development environment with deep integrations across components in key areas of the tooling stack:

This roadmap leads to developers being well equipped to build powerful extensions to their workflow that increase their productivity according to their exact needs, and to then share them with the ecosystem in the form of plugins.

Hardhat will also eventually migrate to using Rethnet and Slang, increasing its feature richness, speed, and stability while enabling dogfooding at scale for our brand new building blocks.

Web3.js as a frontend platform

The OG Ethereum connector library, Web3.js, is being revitalized into a high-value project. By focusing on community and ecosystem growth, supported by an extensible architecture, it can become a great source of value, much like React represents in the front-end world, but for dapps. A website hub connecting community spaces, support spaces, educational resources, extensions, and related projects, combined with an active ecodev effort (workshops, talks, contests, and incentives), will create a source of leverage for the ecosystem. This will provide better troubleshooting, faster developer training, more reusable code, and, most importantly, the possibility of extending the library. This effort is currently spearheaded by the ChainSafe team.

Funding

The Nomic Foundation aims to benefit the entire Ethereum ecosystem, which is why we’re fundraising across multiple organizations and individuals within it.

The Ethereum Foundation is leading this round of contributions with $8M, alongside contributions from Vitalik Buterin, Coinbase, Consensys, The Graph, Polygon, Chainlink, Gnosis, a16z, a_capital, and Kaszek Ventures. These donors make up $15M, and we’re aiming to raise $15M more.

Why SushiSwap?

Generally, we think that allocating capital to the Nomic Foundation makes strategic sense for any protocol treasury that is aligned long term with the growth of Ethereum, and we’ve approached and will continue approaching several protocols.

Currently, SushiSwap uses Hardhat and is actually one of the most advanced users of it. While this is a signal of Hardhat’s value, the projects that the Nomic Foundation will deliver will create more value not just for SushiSwap, but for the entire ecosystem. We’ll provide services to the Ethereum community that will:

  1. Continue the maintenance of critical infrastructure used to build most protocols (Hardhat).
  2. Increase developer productivity for every team in the ecosystem.
  3. Accelerate developer onboarding to Ethereum, increasing the size of the experienced engineering hiring pool and making time-to-productivity shorter for new hires.
  4. Accelerate the pace of innovation and the number of products being built.
  5. Increase market volume driven by new users and new products.

We believe this grows the market for everyone, including SushiSwap, and we’d love to have the SushiSwap DAO contribute between $500k and $1m in funding to this community effort.

An ecosystem-wide effort

We’re currently seeking funding from multiple DAOs. We’ll update with the corresponding links below as we create each forum thread.

Links

Nomic Foundation Announcement

Poll

  • Sounds good, let’s contribute!
  • No, not interested (please leave feedback)

0 voters

2 Likes

@FrancoNomic - thanks for making the community aware of such a project.

I would like a bit more color here. This seems to fall into the recent blurring of lines between grants, an investment, and a donation.

Would you mind clarifying what type of “contribution” this is? Is it a donation - or is it an investment in which Sushi retains interest and ownership in the project? Your non-profit label makes me think it is the former.

It is indeed a grant donation.

In the process of righting our own ship. When things get right-ed perhaps this would make sense but think we are still in the phase of investing in our own business.

We wouldn’t have been able to scale as quickly and painlessly as we did without Hardhat, I’m a big fan of this project and team.

2 Likes
This poll is to help gain temperature check on alternative donation amounts after discussions during the previous Forum. Donations of 400k or more will receive additional Development Support directly from Nomic.
  • 1m
  • 500k
  • 300k
  • <300k

0 voters

Just got around to listening to the call from last week - got pulled offline just as it stared with some IRL stuff. Overall sounds like Hardhat is something that some (?) SushiSwap devs use. I think this is the time that we really need some clarity from team members on things to make an educated decision:

  1. What is the current health of the treasury? Really need @JiroOno to weigh in here on what we have in there, what our projected budget looks like and how much wiggle room we have to afford donating. Again, kind of hard to commit to donating a large sum of money when we dont have clarity on whether our devs are even being paid right now

  2. What team members actively use or used Hardhat to develop Sushi? Can they weigh in on its value-add?

  3. What do the current Sushi Team members think?

  4. @Tangle i think if you want a holistic poll you should have a ‘no donation’ option

Personally Im open to donating if the team members think its appropriate but without the team actually lobbying for it, the only information I have as a holder is the financial aspects of it, and right now Sushi is mid-reorg and I wouldnt feel all that right voting for a six to 7 figure donation while we still have unknown reorg costs on the horizon and payroll items to figure out. This has zero to do with the value that Hardhat provides the ecosystem. Its 100% a Sushiswap issue to me.

1 Like

I’m with you pocket, I’m not sure if this is the greatest value add for Sushi and to be honest not really sure we have the funds to support it currently. Still nothing figured out for compensation with the team, and a good bit of what we have saved up is gonna be needed for that.

Also I don’t think grants/donations should be in stables, it’s already hard enough to find stables to pay audits/bills currently. It would need to be in sushi if we were to do it at all.

1 Like

I love hardhat and have used their tools extensively in the past. There is more diversity in contract tooling these days, such as Foundry being used by Sushi engineers. Given the triage of the moment (where Nomic Foundation has already secured 3x funds currently in Sushi Ops wallet), I think it is important to recognize that while Nomic Foundation looks like something that will grow into an awesome resource, this isn’t the right time for Sushi to fund outside efforts while it sorts through funding its own teams and initiatives.

Amount seems a little over the top tbh. Especially at a time when the team is going through a re-structure with some of our devs still unpaid. If there was any understanding from Nomic, this proposal shouldn’t have even hit the forum in the first place as it takes focus off allowing the team to sort out internal issues.

I’m also curious on how you came about with the donation numbers. e.g Why was your proposal to Yearn only locked in at $400K vs our $500K - $1M

If it’s a donation you’re seeking, does the contribution amount really matter?

1 Like

We were invited by a prominent community member to make the proposal, who personally thought it made sense to fund public goods leveraged by Sushi. We weren’t aware of the internal issues going on, as we’ve been engaging multiple DAOs building on top of Ethereum, and not just Sushi. My apologies for not taking this timing aspect into account.
The amounts are in line with other contributions. We came up with rough tiers of $500k, $1m, and $5m for DAOs. Yearn people suggested 400k so that’s what we went with. The amounts have been discussed and iterated with each community.

Only when it comes to offering prioritized support ($400k & up) and listing on our list of large donors ($200k & up).

It seems like all the people who voted yes in the first poll haven’t yet voted in the second one (13 votes vs 6 votes), but this is meant to be a positive engagement to get Sushi involved with our organization and ensure that the infrastructure that powers Sushi and the rest of defi gets funded. If the community doesn’t think it’s the right time we’re happy to retract, or if the community would still like to make a smaller donation, then we’ll definitely accept it.