Umbra Receives MolochDAO Grant

August 12, 2021 / Ben DiFrancesco

We are grateful and excited to announce that Umbra has received a grant from MolochDAO. Since we launched the stealth address protocol to the Ethereum mainnet in June, we’ve been learning from our early adopters and making small improvements to the system around the edges. This grant will enable us to accelerate the work of pushing Umbra forward.


A Quick Note on Treasury Management

Before diving into how we intend to use the funding from MolochDAO, we want to share quick note on how we’ll be approaching these treasury funds. The grant was for 47 ETH, valued at $100,000 USD at the time the proposal was submitted to the DAO. After claiming the funds, we sold half the ETH for RAI. We intend to use this RAI as our stable “runway” to continue working on the protocol, and won’t sell more ETH until this exhausting the RAI first.

If you’re not familiar with RAI, you should consider learning about it. The short story is this: while it’s designed to hold a stable value, it’s not pegged to another currency. In light of the recent shenanigans in the US Senate— and the clear signals being sent that US regulators are scrutinizing dollar pegged stablecoins— we believe more DeFi projects and DAOs should hold at least some RAI when stability is required. RAI comes with its own risks, of course, but the value of governance minimized, crypo-native stability is becoming clearer everyday.

Funding Uses

With that out of the way, here’s a short update on how we plan to use the funds provided by Moloch. Our focus will be on four main areas:

  1. Privacy-Improving Integrations

  2. Scaling Network Deployments

  3. User Experience Improvements

  4. Developer Documentation

Let’s dive a bit deeper into each of these.

Privacy-Improving Integrations

Reaping the privacy benefits of stealth addresses requires good hygiene when moving funds out of the stealth address that received the funds.

Umbra already has some affordances for making this easier, such as gasless token withdrawals via meta transactions. Through post withdrawal integrations, we can make privacy hygiene seamless for Umbra users.

Scaling Network Deployments

Umbra is useful for payments, but smaller payments have been largely priced out of mainnet by high gas fees. Luckily, Umbra can work well across any L2 or sidechain that is EVM compatible.

Some L2 chains require little-to-no contract modifications, while others would require larger accommodations. Regardless, multi-chain support will require significant work to the frontend and relayer services.

In the coming weeks, we’ll lay the groundwork for easily supporting many networks. With that in place, we’ll begin adding support for the networks themselves, starting with Polygon, and expanding to a number of others in the near future.

User Experience Improvements

We’ve been collecting feedback from beta testers and early users, and we see some opportunities for UX wins.

In particular, it became clear during our testing that the way Umbra works, and the nature of the privacy protections it provides, is not always immediately intuitive to users. We think this is totally normal as a new protocol, but we also see lots of opportunities to surface clues for our users in the frontend.

Another opportunity for improvement is in the setup process, and the way in which Umbra integrates with name services like ENS and CNS. We’ve spec’d out a new approach that will make the whole process simpler and more intuitive for users, and plan to implement this as well.

Developer Documentation

As a permissionless, composable protocol, Umbra can be integrated with other services by third party developers. We’re hoping to attract wallet creators, dApp builders, and DeFi developers to integrate Umbra and expand its reach. Solid third party developer docs will be critical for this, as will codifying Umbra as a standard for the Ethereum community. Creating these will be another focus for us with this funding.

Thank You

We want to close by extending a sincere thank you to the members of MolochDAO for their support. In particular, we want to thank Trent Van Epps for championing Umbra with the Moloch members, and Yalda Mousavinia for guiding the proposal administratively.

We hope to make Umbra a core privacy tool embedded in the Ethereum ecosystem. This grant will help us move closer to that goal. There’s lots of work to do. Onward!