Supernova: An Explosive Vision for the Future of Secret Network

Secret Network
August 12, 2021

Hello to the Secret community! Please read this important post closely for a look ahead at the immediate and longer-term future for Secret Network – a platform we’re building into a critical privacy-first pillar of the decentralized web.

For those I haven’t personally met, my name is Guy Zyskind, and I’m the founder and CEO of Enigma – one of the core development teams behind Secret Network.

Since its genesis block a year and a half ago in February 2020, Secret Network has quietly but consistently hit milestone after milestone. In September 2020, Secret became the first network to have privacy-preserving smart contracts launch on mainnet, helping pave the way for the incredible growth of our application ecosystem to date. This introduced what we called programmable privacy: a massive evolution for decentralized applications that finally gives users and developers control of how data is used and shared, instead of making everything public by default.

It’s been one year since Secret Network pioneered private smart contracts. Now it’s finally time to take another explosive step forward with Supernova – a major network upgrade that establishes Secret as the cross-chain privacy-first platform for Web3, enabling hundreds of new unique use cases for DeFi, NFTs, and beyond. We’ve already signaled the Supernova upgrade on-chain, and the proposal has passed unanimously (with over 60M SCRT in voting power)!

Supernova introduces our IBC integration, finally connecting Secret Network with blockchains across the Cosmos ecosystem (in addition to our bridges to Ethereum, BSC, Monero, Terra, Polkadot, and more!). IBC allows SCRT to be used in cross-chain Cosmos applications (such as Osmosis & Gravity DEX) and provides our privacy features to the entire Cosmos ecosystem. This further cements our position as the data privacy hub for the decentralized web and unlocks our next phases of growth and adoption.

Beyond IBC, Supernova will also introduce a number of major network improvements, including additional modules that should greatly simplify network upgrades and workflows for companies that want to integrate Secret Network seamlessly in consumer-oriented applications. We’ll also add support for interchain accounts and bring new CosmWasm improvements to our runtime. Alongside the Supernova upgrade will come new Secret applications launching on mainnet, new partners and collaborators, and millions of new possibilities for users and developers.

We expect the Supernova upgrade to finally be ready for mainnet deployment on November 9th, with a number of exciting testnet milestones along the way that will enable node operators and developers to get hands on with the newest version of Secret Network. Of course, our pace of ecosystem development will not slow in the meantime! You can expect a number of new product announcements, developer tooling improvements, marketing initiatives, Secret Agent opportunities, and more as we approach this explosive turning point.

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We’ll have more development updates on Supernova and our path to mainnet deployment very shortly. In the remainder of this post, I’d like to share with you my personal vision for the network, how things have unfolded to date across the Secret ecosystem, and what we can expect to see in the near and not so near future.

The Start of Secrets

Before we dive deeper into those details, let’s take a short trip down memory lane.

I founded Enigma in 2015 with a simple vision in mind – maximize the potential of blockchain technology. Blockchains are amazing, opening up the ability to build decentralized applications that require no trust. However, to really be useful, they need to also provide data privacy. Unlike traditional web/mobile applications, which keep sensitive data in the backend of a single entity (a bad model by itself), everything on the blockchain is public by default. This makes building serious applications impossible – users should not be privy to any data but their own.

In many cases, lack of privacy equals limited functionality. For example, games often require hiding state data until a key point is reached. Could you imagine a game of poker where everybody sees each other’s hand? In other cases, a lack of privacy leads to extracting billions of value in unintended and often unfair ways, as is the case with MEV and front-running.

After several years of research and development work, I finally saw this vision turn into a reality with the launch of Secret Network, on which Enigma (alongside others) has been hard at work on for the past two years. Not many people know this, but we’ve deliberately split development into three initial phases: (1) Launching and securing the network; (2) Building Secret Contracts functionality; (3) Developing initial Secret Applications to drive early growth. Inside our ecosystem, those three phases were well understood and have now been mostly concluded (of course, not including future improvements and additions). That makes this a very timely post as we aggressively move forward to the next phase of development: maximizing the value and breadth of our application ecosystem.

So to understand where we’re going and what our long-term vision is, it’s important to understand where we are. We are already the first and only privacy-preserving decentralized smart contract platform in existence. We’ve seen many hundreds of millions of dollars flow into our network from other chains and into privacy-preserving assets in the past several months. We currently have dozens of developers actively working on building amazing applications – everything from an encrypted email platform with private payments (in SCRT) built-in, a decentralized data marketplace, a private-by-default stablecoin, and many, many more.

It is now time to explore the next frontier.

Scaling Secret

Our long-term vision is to become the cross-chain privacy platform of web3, which means that we want to bring the privacy benefits that Secret enjoys internally to all chains and platforms in the decentralized web. In practice, this means that we’re now transitioning from the initial phases of building to a mindset of scaling up. There are several areas we need to scale to achieve our vision, including:

  1. Developers, applications and end users (across DeFi, NFTs, and more)
  2. Overall volume and value secured by Secret Network (via bridges + native assets)
  3. Applications on other networks using Secret’s privacy capabilities

The first area measures how much native activity is created (and generally stays) in Secret. The second focuses on assets coming into Secret. The third area essentially describes the ‘endgame’, in which Secret’s private computations are used to augment other chain’s Smart Contracts (for example, imagine making applications like Uniswap on Ethereum front-running resistant using Secret).

The first two areas are our immediate priority. Instead of dozens of developers building on our network, we want to see hundreds (and then thousands) joining our ecosystem in the next year. The Secret Network Grant Program has been picking up significantly, with many applications currently being built. Enigma in particular is spending a lot of resources in technically assisting these projects get off the ground. With recent grants such as Polar and Griptape.js, we expect the development learning curve to decrease significantly and lead to a large inflow of new Secret super-coders, and subsequently a huge expansion in applications and end users.

While attracting developers has a goal of building many Secret applications (breadth), in order to bring in large quantities of active volume into Secret, we believe in focusing on a small number of high impact applications (depth). This is very much the approach that our good friends from Terra are taking (beginning with Terraswap, Mirror and Anchor) and a strategy Enigma and others in the Secret ecosystem believe is deeply effective.

Our introduction of SecretSwap, equipped with a large network of bridges (many live and more incoming), was the first step in that direction. The Ethereum bridge alone has secured over $150M TVL and moved $600M+ volume in cross-chain assets. Our concrete goal is to try to bring in numbers which are at least 5x-10x those amounts. Reaching ~$1B of TVL and billions in assets on the move, would likely propel Secret to new heights.

As we achieve those numbers, our goal is to begin development of the third area, our ‘endgame’: putting the power of Secret in the hands of any smart contract developer in the Interchain. This requires quite a bit of work, turning our network into a seamless platform that developers can integrate into their smart contracts in other chains (e.g., Ethereum, BSC, Polygon). This would allow developers to use Secret as an API (or even a Secret Oracle of sorts), meaning they could run specific functionalities requiring sensitive data on Secret and then chain the results into a smart contract in whatever chain they choose. The use-cases of this approach are endless: Secret encrypted Oracles, truly permissionless Randomness Oracles, Secret NFTs for every chain, and many many more powerful and never-yet-realized applications.

So What Now?

The past year proved that Secret Network is functional and powerful. The next few years will prove that you can’t build without Secret. Privacy is essential to the security and the growth of Web3 beyond its early stages of adoption. Specifically, users and developers require “programmable privacy”: the ability to choose which data is public and which data is private, to whom, and under which circumstances, even in a permissionless environment.

The importance of privacy is often misunderstood, but it is essential to understand the point. None of this vision is about building a world where everything is private from everyone all of the time. It’s not about creating silos, or hiding yourself, or staying out of sight. By introducing programmable privacy, we seek to destroy data silos, empower users, and free people around the world to pursue growth and experiment – letting them use and build never-before-possible permissionless applications.

We believe protecting privacy is what allows people to truly express themselves and find freedom in their own identities without fear. Isn’t that the mission of building Web3?

This can be your mission too. Become a Secret Agent, build Secret Apps, run Secret Nodes, and help create and secure the privacy platform for the decentralized web.

Secret Network welcomes you fully. And there’s never been a more explosive moment to start building alongside us.

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Secret Network – Secret Network
Secret Network is a blockchain-based, open-source protocol that lets anyone perform computations on encrypted data, bringing privacy to smart contracts and public blockchains.

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Announcing the Secret Network Grant Program
Secret Network is growing fast – now you can grow with us. Come build Secret Apps, network improvements, and ecosystem tools, and receive grants for your efforts!

Onwards and Upwards!