NFT minting platform Zora has launched Zora Network, an Ethereum layer-2 scaling network. The network aims to improve the user experience on Zora by reducing Ethereum gas fees.
The project was unveiled in May through a mysterious website, claiming it to be “Pure internet. Free and valuable. Resonance and connection. Open and shared. Independence and expansion. For all creation.”
The network is built on the tech stack of Optimism, another layer 2 scaling solution. Secured by the Ethereum blockchain, it has garnered support from over 35 platforms. These include Web3 app toolkit Thirdweb and wallet provider Rainbow.
Zora CEO and co-founder Jacob Horne claims that gas prices are a “significant pain point” for both collectors and creators.
“Over the past six months, we’ve been reaching the upper limit of Ethereum mainnet,” said Horne. “We’ve had 880,000 collectors and millions of NFTs minted, and have found that gas price is a systemic inhibitor to adoption.”
Gas fees are paid by users to execute transactions on the Ethereum network. They can vary significantly based on network traffic and the complexity of transactions. Therefore, the cost of minting NFTs could vary between $1 and more than $500.
The NFTs sold on Zora’s homepage can be purchased for less than $10 or even minted for free. However, Ethereum network gas fees could increase the total transaction cost. Even more so during peak moments.
Zora’s layer-2 network was designed to alleviate the burden of gas fees. Horne claimed that the network makes minting 25 times cheaper.
A layer-2 scaling network is a third-party integration on a Layer-1 blockchain protocol. Layer-2 scaling solutions aim to improve the main protocol’s scalability and efficiency.
Layer-1 networks refer to blockchains such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. Layer-2 protocols are built on top of these blockchains. They make the blockchain ecosystem more scalable by making the base network less congested.
Horne maintained that “art and media” had always needed a layer-2 network like Zora Network.
“[Layer 2 networks] have been around for a year now—mainnet Optimism has existed, Arbitrum has existed—but have skewed towards DeFi and a financial use case,” he said.
“I think the ecosystem and the market is ready for a network that’s purpose-built for art and media, and really leaning into all the interesting experimental things you can do when you have a network like that.”
Zora was founded in 2020 by three former Coinbase employees. The platform allowed musicians and artists to sell digital tokens linked to physical artifacts. It has since evolved into an open-source protocol that allows users to establish their own NFT marketplace.
In May 2022, Zora raised $50 million in a funding round led by Haun Ventures, valuing the company at $600 million. Zora calls itself the Shopify and WordPress for NFTs and the emerging Web3 economy. As of June, the platform boasts approximately 130,000 users.
The platform has hosted several noteworthy NFT drops. These include the sale of Doge meme NFTs for $4 million. In April, Zora also released a print magazine with a limited print run of 2,500 copies, redeemable through an NFT purchase. Each print was priced at approximately $150.
Zora now aims to establish a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO). This community is expected to raise funds by offering governance tokens for sale.
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