Tracy is a deputy managing editor at CoinDesk. She owns BTC, ETH, MINA, ENS, various stablecoins, and some NFTs.
Jump Crypto is trying to revamp a core part of Solana’s infrastructure, seeking to boost the throughput and reliability of a network that’s been plagued by frequent outages and slowdowns.
The cryptocurrency arm of Chicago-based TradFi giant Jump Trading Group is building a new validator client, which is software that helps secure a blockchain. Additionally, Jump Crypto will “propose significant upgrades to Solana’s open-source core software,” according to a statement released Tuesday.
For Wall Street and other conventional finance firms like Jump, Solana turned into a key focus last year given that – unlike Ethereum and other blockchains used in decentralized finance (DeFi) – it was viewed as being able to keep pace of the incredibly fast pace of trading in older markets like stocks and derivatives. But the hype wasn’t always realized, with Solana breaking down in several high-profile incidents. Meanwhile, newer blockchains threaten Solana’s market share.
“Jump has unparalleled experience with over 20 years of scaling networks and building highly performant software systems,” Dan Albert, executive director of the Solana Foundation, said in the statement. “Their contributions to the Solana Network will improve mission-critical systems, helping the network scale to billions of users.”
Kevin Bowers, chief science officer at Jump Trading, will oversee the project. Through an initiative called Firedancer, Jump Crypto will build the validator client using the C++ programming language, which has a long history in the quantitative trading circles where Jump roams.
Jump Crypto’s statement Tuesday says the initiative is an “important step in the network’s continued decentralization.”
Jump Crypto has firsthand experience with the dangers of a project’s well-being resting too much on a single company’s shoulders. It’s a driving force behind Wormhole, a cross-blockchain bridge that got hacked earlier this year. Jump Crypto coughed up money to cover losses from the $320 million exploit.
Jump Crypto also expanded Wormhole onto the Terra blockchain last October. Months later, Terra’s UST stablecoin depegged in dramatic fashion, a blow that sent Terra’s LUNA token plummeting and users fleeing the network.
In the past year, the company has expanded beyond its pure trading roots, venturing into building key pieces of infrastructure for Solana and other popular layer 1 blockchains. The company, which emerged from the Chicago trading pits, has been at the forefront of electronic trading for more than two decades. It’s among the firms that built up the infrastructure of markets like stocks and derivatives so that they operate – literally – at the speed of light.
Jump Crypto’s involvement in this Solana overhaul comes at an uncertain time for the once-hot blockchain. It suffered a major outage in June that rendered it unusable for over four hours, as well as a $5 million hack affecting thousands of user wallets earlier in August.
Solana’s SOL token is down 75% this year, trading relatively flat in recent months even as ether, the token for competing blockchain Ethereum, has more than doubled from its lows.
But it appears Jump is doubling down on Solana, even though it’s also a major backer of hot new “Solana-killer” blockchain Aptos.
“I’m excited for Jump’s engineers to bring a new perspective to the network and help improve network resiliency and efficiency,” Solana co-founder Anatoly Yakovenko said in the statement.