Aptos is reaching “a different phase” in its journey as it battles for attention in a packed field of Layer 1 blockchains, according to co-founder and chief technology officer Avery Ching.
When Aptos emerged from stealth early last year, near the peak of the crypto bull market, it entered an already crowded market of blockchains and scaling solutions. Yet it still managed to make a mark thanks to its developer friendly programming language, credentialed founding team — and buckets of cash raised from top investors such as Andreessen Horowitz and Tiger Global.
The chain struck a chord with developers, particularly those disenchanted with the Solana ecosystem and its Rust programming language.
When it came time to launch Aptos on mainnet, the buzz of the bull market had waned but the rivalry between chains remained. Founders and users are now faced with a never-ending selection of blockchains and scaling solutions from established players such as Ethereum, Solana, Polygon and Cosmos to highly anticipated newcomers like Sei, Sui and Shardeum.
“Our perspective in this space is really how do we not make that the users' problem?” Ching said. “Users shouldn't have to spend all their time researching the latest and greatest technology and where the ecosystem is. You [should] just have great products in front of you.”
Aptos faces a “dual mandate” to make this happen. It needs to continue pushing the technology to its limits, while also growing the ecosystem, Ching said.
Aptos's secret sauce
Aptos’s secret sauce is its use of Move, an open-source programming language that was originally developed by Meta’s Novi team.
Move can make transactions faster and cheaper by offering novel parallel execution methods, the ability to complete tasks at the same time. It also enables increased security through use of a resource model where assets can be subject to restrictions, meaning, for instance, that they cannot be copied or accidentally destroyed. This helps avoid some of the common smart contract attacks that occur on existing blockchains.
The language, however, is a point of contention between Aptos and competitor chain Sui — which was also founded by ex-Meta employees and secured similarly large bags of cash from investors. This rivalry even results in the occasional tit-for-tat over who developed Move.
Mysten Labs co-founders Sam Blackshear and Evan Cheng are the lead names in the Move whitepaper. Cheng also led research and development for Meta's Novi wallet initiative for three years. The Aptos team, on the other hand, have been contributing actively to the language in recent years.
"If you look at all-time commits history of Move, six of the seven top contributors are working at Aptos," Ching said. "We can argue about who created Move or not but I don’t think it’s very useful. Honestly, no one argues about who created Rust or C++.”
The rivalry intensified this week when Blackshear said on Twitter that Aptos had played a role in removing key Sui contributors from participating in a Move ecosystem conference hosted by Pontem Network. Ching declined to comment on this.
Moving Aptos forward
In its quest to break from the Layer 1 pack, Aptos plans to up the ante this year. It has two developer-focused improvements in the works: resource groups, which will enable further storage savings, and Move objects, which will build on the resource groups and make the code more composable.
Composability means the code can easily be broken into components that can be modified and re-used in a variety of ways. This is a familiar concept to programmers who are used to coding in object-oriented programming languages like Java and Python, which structure code into classes and objects to enable reusability and readability. Sui's variant of Move also implements an object model for composability.
“If you think more about how object-oriented programming for things like Java really helped it to reach large numbers of programmers with the ease of use and ease of data modelling. I would say the same thing is true for the notion of objects in Move and specifically how we implement them in Aptos in a very efficient way,” Ching said.
The startup has also introduced “paranoid mode” to provide additional security assurance for developers working on Move.
“When you use Google or Amazon, you don't think about what cloud provider they are using or what's the underlying database that stores your purchases,” Ching said. “That’s I think the world we need to get too.”
Improvements to Move are only one part of the puzzle. Aptos still needs to get people actively engaging with the chain — and is doubling down on investments and partnerships to achieve this. It has already kicked off a hackathon world tour starting in South Korea and launched an accelerator program with Outlier Ventures in California.
“Our hope would be that you'd see [partnerships] speed up a bit,” Ching said. “We are in great discussions with a lot of different areas of interest for us. Our top focuses are fourfold: gaming, social, finance broadly and then also in the space of media, sports and entertainment.”
Building web3's Meta
As it grows, Aptos Labs recently made an equity investment in popular Indian social media app Chingari. The web3 TikTok rival will also make Aptos its preferred Layer 1 blockchain.
“That’s a super exciting space for us,” Ching said. “Much of our team has come from Meta and I was at Meta for 10 years myself and seeing the growth of Meta during that time period and scaling infrastructure and product to support billions of users, we would love to see that repeat of upskilling happening in the web3 space for social.”
“Of course, for a totally different generation, totally different products and hopefully taking more advantage of the core features of what blockchain can do,” he added.
This is just one of the types of mass market applications the Aptos team hope to see as they kick off their world tour and accelerator projects.
“Our chain offers pretty unique properties in terms of being extraordinarily high throughput, very low latency, great developer experience with Move and we believe that those are key differentiators in terms of why people can actually build towards that future where you have tens of millions or hundreds of millions of users,” Ching said.
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