Uri Kolodny StarkWare CEO Co-Founder Starknet

GRTiQ Podcast: 152 Uri Kolodny

Today I am speaking with Uri Kolodny, Co-Founder at StarkWare, the pioneering team behind Starknet, a Layer 2 solution designed to tackle Ethereum’s scalability challenges. Starknet is a Validity Rollup that offers boundless scalability while upholding Ethereum’s security and decentralization principles.

It’s important to note that Uri has been serving as StarkWare’s CEO, though he recently shared his decision to step down from this role, as mentioned in his public statement on social media and other platforms. I’d like to clarify that this interview with Uri was conducted prior to his announcement. During our conversation, Uri displayed remarkable kindness and thoughtfulness, and I extend my best wishes to him and his family during this time.

My motivation for this interview stems from the fact that, much like last week’s conversation with Maarten Henseksns at Astar, Starknet is actively pursuing support on The Graph Network through the Chain Integration Process. Similar to Astar, support for Starknet is expected sometime soon!

This interview proved to be both insightful and enjoyable. Uri’s brilliance shines through as we explore topics such as entrepreneurship, the significance of Layer 2 solutions, an in-depth understanding of Starknet and its distinctive features, and, of course, the eagerly anticipated integration with The Graph.

The GRTiQ Podcast owns the copyright in and to all content, including transcripts and images, of the GRTiQ Podcast, with all rights reserved, as well our right of publicity. You are free to share and/or reference the information contained herein, including show transcripts (500-word maximum) in any media articles, personal websites, in other non-commercial articles or blog posts, or on a on-commercial personal social media account, so long as you include proper attribution (i.e., “The GRTiQ Podcast”) and link back to the appropriate URL (i.e., GRTiQ.com/podcast[episode]). We do not authorized anyone to copy any portion of the podcast content or to use the GRTiQ or GRTiQ Podcast name, image, or likeness, for any commercial purpose or use, including without limitation inclusion in any books, e-books or audiobooks, book summaries or synopses, or on any commercial websites or social media sites that either offers or promotes your products or services, or anyone else’s products or services. The content of GRTiQ Podcasts are for informational purposes only and do not constitute tax, legal, or investment advice.



We use software and some light editing to transcribe podcast episodes.  Any errors, typos, or other mistakes in the show transcripts are the responsibility of GRTiQ Podcast and not our guest(s). We review and update show notes regularly, and we appreciate suggested edits – email: iQ at GRTiQ dot COM. The GRTiQ Podcast owns the copyright in and to all content, including transcripts and images, of the GRTiQ Podcast, with all rights reserved, as well our right of publicity. You are free to share and/or reference the information contained herein, including show transcripts (500-word maximum) in any media articles, personal websites, in other non-commercial articles or blog posts, or on a on-commercial personal social media account, so long as you include proper attribution (i.e., “The GRTiQ Podcast”) and link back to the appropriate URL (i.e., GRTiQ.com/podcast[episode]).

The following podcast is for informational purposes only. The contents of this podcast do not constitute tax, legal, or investment advice. Take responsibility for your own decisions, consult with the proper professionals, and do your own research.

Uri Kolodny (00:18):

And that was very clear to us that the decentralized Indexer is a very powerful and useful concept for developers on Starknet.

Nick (00:57):

Welcome to the GRTiQ Podcast. Today, I’m speaking with Uri Kolodny, co-founder at StarkWare, the innovative team that, among other things, is behind Starknet an L2 that seeks to address Ethereum scalability limitations. Starknet is a validity rollup that provides unlimited scale while retaining Ethereum security and decentralization.


Uri’s been serving as StarkWare CEO, but recently announced that he’s stepping down from that position. You can read Uri’s statement on stepping down on social media and other places, but I want to note that this interview with Uri was recorded before he made the announcement and I was unaware that he was stepping down.


I also want to note that during our recording, Uri was incredibly kind and thoughtful. He’s clearly a brilliant man and I want to send best wishes and heartfelt thoughts to him and his family during what seems to be a very difficult time.


Similar to last week’s interview with Martin Henskens at Astar, I wanted to speak with Uri because Starknet is pursuing support on The Graph Network via the chain integration process. And similar to Astar support for Starknet is expected sometime soon.


This was a super fun interview and like I said, Uri is truly brilliant. He talks about his views on entrepreneurship, L2, what Starknet is and how it’s different. And then we discuss a little bit about why Starknet pursued integration with The Graph.


As always, we start the discussion talking about Uri’s educational background.

Uri Kolodny (02:25):

So I have an undergrad in computer science from way back in the mid ’90s from the Hebrew U, and after that, after a couple of years in industry as a software engineer, I actually went to business school at MIT Sloan. So that’s my formal education I guess.

Nick (02:45):

In looking back over your professional background, you’re the quintessential entrepreneur. You’ve been involved in a lot of entrepreneurial ventures. Where does this passion or interest for entrepreneurship come from?

Uri Kolodny (02:55):

Oh, I have no idea. My dad is… Both my parents are academics, as is my sister and my brother-in-laws and so I’m surrounded by academics.


Why I decided that this is the thing I have to do, I don’t know. Somehow, it was very clear to me fairly early on while still in undergrad, it was clear to me. My wife, then at the time, my girlfriend, I told her that it’s obvious to me that this is what I want to do, and she looked at me baffled and said, “You’ve never done this. Why is it so clear to you?” I don’t know.


And it does take a huge toll on me over the years, and yet it’s what I’ve been doing over the past 25 years. A bit of a riddle, frankly. I don’t know.


There’s something about the creation of… I think that the dimension that most interests me is this creation of an organization, of a culture within an organization of trying to attract talented people and making sure that they’re happy and content and engaged. I think that’s the thing that repeatedly brings me joy. When it doesn’t work, it brings me a fair bit of pain, but I try and live for those moments of joy.

Nick (04:20):

And in looking at that background, it spans traditional industry web2. Clearly, we’re speaking today because you are in web3 now. Talk about why you decided to pivot out of traditional industry and web2 and pursue entrepreneurial opportunities in web3. What was that kind of inflection point for you?

Uri Kolodny (04:42):

So I’ve met over the past six, seven years a lot of people in that blockchain space who have all been… This is proof of my dad’s joke and I’ve already told this joke before, but that I’ve been mining Bitcoin since the late 1920s and… I’m nothing like that. I came into the space late 2017.


Just so happens that I have a very close and old friend by the name of Eli Ben Sasson, who is a co-founder of ZCash, and of course, now a co-founder and the president of StarkWare and StarkWare commercializes the Stark zero knowledge proof protocol that Eli co-invented while a university professor at Technion.


And a few years back, Eli came to me and said, “Let’s start a company around this stuff.” I knew exceedingly little about blockchains. I took a week. I read the Bitcoin paper, which I thought was, I still do think, a beautiful piece of thinking and something that will help us all. And in that sense… I don’t think I can say that about too many texts written in the past, say, 20 years. And I listened to…


I told this to Ed Felten when I met him for the first time, Ed Felten, co-founder of Arbitrum, that I took a Coursera class that he and a few of his students put together about blockchains. And the whole thing seemed quite magical to me.


Zero knowledge proofs I knew of from backyard undergrad days at the time. Those were still highly inefficient constructs from a computational perspective, but still magical conceptually.


And so when Eli said, “Let’s do this.” I mostly follow my smart friends. So that’s how I came into this space.

Nick (06:40):

At the time, did you frame this as professional risk or professional adventure? There was still an emerging industry there and I imagine there was inherent risk, but how were you thinking about it?

Uri Kolodny (06:52):

I don’t really think in these terms. I don’t know if it’s for lack of imagination or just… I don’t know what it is.


My first startup back in 2000, my co-founder published a theoretical paper in science and we started the company based on that.


Now, it wasn’t that I didn’t really stop to think about what risks this presents and to check that something so theoretical couldn’t be any further from a commercial application, otherwise the editor of science would say, “Go publish this in some applicative journal. This is not for us.”


And here… With StarkWare, once again, my thought processes… And it’s funny because when people ask me about that, I tell them this and they don’t really believe me because they assume that there’s a structured, methodical, analytical process. There may well be, but for me these are very much decisions driven by my gut.


So I very quickly decide if people are to my liking and my opinion of their talent and creativity and then I just follow my instinct.


But with Eli, it was easy because I’ve known him since we were 18 years old and we are far older than that at this point.

Nick (08:08):

Well, I have a lot more questions about Starknet and the origins of StarkWare. We’ll get to those in just a moment. But I am curious about as you venture into web3 and given all your prior entrepreneurial experience, how was being an entrepreneur or launching a startup in web3 different from all those prior experiences?

Uri Kolodny (08:27):

Well, we’ve been fortunate to raise funding at the right time since late 2017. So fundraising was noticeably simpler than in my previous iterations. And that’s something that if you’ve raised money a bunch of times, you learned to greatly appreciate that riding the right waves is very, very important for the success of a company. Not only in terms of getting sufficient resources and peace of mind to plan not in six months increments, but in longer horizons and plan aggressively, but also just in terms of the overall governance, the corporate structure of the thing and how easy is it to guide the ship where you want it to go because I’ve had other experiences in my entrepreneurial career. So that’s one very significant difference.


The other difference is… I guess the first thing I noticed in the fall of 2017, Eli organized this blockchain conference and Vitalik was there and Zooko was there, and Arthur Breitman and Peter Van Valkenburgh who I’ve had the joy of working with closely for a good while now, and a whole bunch of folks were there.


And the one thing that struck me was that there were these academic giants in the auditorium sitting in close proximity to people who don’t have an undergrad and they’re having a conversation. They’re having a genuine conversation about ideas and methods and technical approaches and what to build and what makes sense. And that’s democratization of ideas and of talent, there was something very, very appealing about that.


I put a lot of stock in proper form of education and I think that it matters a ton, but there are always exceptions to the rule and the blockchain space seems to have attracted an inordinate number of people who are exception to that rule.


And so having a culture that allows this talent to percolate to the surface and lead, that’s a very powerful thing. It’s a very attractive characteristic of an ecosystem.

Nick (10:53):

I’ve had a prior guest on the podcast before that referenced this idea as permissionless entrepreneurship and it resonates in a lot of the different interviews that I’ve had.

Uri Kolodny (11:02):

Yeah. Yeah, yeah. But I got to say the other side of that coin is that I’ve never been in an industry with this, say, hit rate in terms of people showing up to pre-scheduled calls. In every other industry I’ve been in, people show up 99.9% of the time. In the blockchain space, somehow…


I don’t know what it is about his face. I’m not looking for some Prussian levels of discipline, etc.


But that casual aspect of it is the other side of that coin. So… Anyway.

Nick (11:43):

In addition to the background in entrepreneurship itself, you are also an angel investor and I’m curious, how has working as an angel investor changed your perspective or your approach to business and management? Has it informed it?

Uri Kolodny (11:58):

No. I haven’t made a lot of investments to date in the blockchain space. I’ve essentially made one and immediately after I realized that just in terms of my responsibilities at StarkWare, investing in the space makes it fairly impossible to then walk into the room and have an opinion about that product space, etc., because you’re immediately suspect by your own team of having… And I concluded very quickly that… That was the last time I did that.


But we at StarkWare, we invest some mostly to support people who build on our infrastructure and we think are strong and talented teams. And I’ve made some personal investments, mostly following friends and people I know who’ve done more homework and just I put my trust in them, once again, a gut-based decision, and I’m an exceedingly hands-off investor meaning if people want to come and talk and ask questions, I’m always happy to chat over coffee or Zoom. But otherwise, I…


Let me put it this way. I try and conduct myself as an investor same way that I want to be treated as an entrepreneur, meaning I’ll raise my hand if I need help, otherwise I don’t really need you guys rubbernecking, looking over my shoulder and asking what’s this and what’s that.

Nick (13:26):

If we put all the experiences you’ve personally had as well as meeting with other entrepreneurs and just your observations generally, and we put all that into a bucket, what would you say are the two or three qualities that make an entrepreneur successful?

Uri Kolodny (13:40):

I think that the ability to repeatedly fail is something that most entrepreneurs have to come to terms with, and there’s a self-selection in the process, those who can’t handle it. So this ability to repeatedly fail and take on risk is I think really a must for entrepreneurs.


The other thing is this very odd and hard to define, I can’t even call it balance, but this oscillation between listening exceedingly carefully the feedback that you get and being able to completely ignore feedback you get. And now the question is what do you listen carefully to and what do you completely ignore. Of course, that matters a lot and that should not be determined with a flip of a coin.


But that’s something that over the years I’ve come to appreciate that you need this ability. It’s not even something you can say, “I’m going to listen to everything Alice has to say and I’m going to ignore Bob completely.” As you continue, you realize that you trust Bob a lot on topic X and on topic Y, in fact, you completely can disregard his opinion. And that ability and that intuition I think is very important for entrepreneurs.

Nick (15:14):

Inevitably, there are listeners of this episode, the podcast who are early stage entrepreneurs. They have an idea, maybe they’re currently working in web2, or maybe they’re just getting started in web3, but they have an idea they want to get started, they want to be an entrepreneur. What’s your advice to them? What’s the one or two lessons you’ve learned that can really jumpstart somebody who wants to start that path?

Uri Kolodny (15:37):

So the one thing that I’ve learned through good examples and through some counter examples is it really matters who your co-founders are.


And first of all, I’ll state the obvious word, at least the obvious for me. You better have co-founders.


I think that the number of people who can start a company on their own, those guys are like superheroes, very strange superheroes like aliens to me. I don’t understand the mental composition of someone who can go through this rollercoaster ride by themselves. So when I meet people, I always assume they’re not one of those aliens. Maybe they are, but I assume they’re not. And my two cents and often my last two cents because I don’t have much wisdom beyond that to [inaudible 00:16:28] is to say, find the best co-founder you can find.


And what often people do, which I think is mistaken, is they either rush through this process, meaning I met you at some mixer and you want to start a company and I want to start a company, and okay, let’s go, and that’s a little risky.


And the other thing is that I think they tend to place too much value on those people’s current knowledge. And I often think of this in terms of physics. They place a lot of value on current speed as opposed to acceleration.


So if we’re going to start a company in the insurance business, then it really matters to me that my co-founder is an expert on the insurance business. And I think that’s a mistake.


I think the most important thing is that person and I that we work well together, that person is the smartest person I know or the hardest working person I know, and whatever they don’t know about the insurance industry or the blockchain space or whatever it is, they’ll know soon enough meaning they accelerate really quickly. In three months’ time, they’ll be fairly intelligent about it and in a year, they’ll be experts. And that’s what matters.


And young people somehow assume that they should actually opt for the other side of their… That they should go for the experience and the whys and the subject matter experts. And I think that’s a mistake.

Nick (19:04):

Do you think we underestimate the element of luck when it comes to entrepreneurship, that we put too much emphasis on hard work and like you said, knowledge or familiarity when at the end of the day, maybe luck accounts for the vast majority of who makes it and who doesn’t?

Uri Kolodny (19:22):

So when you say luck… Let me put it this way. I’ve seen an astonishing number of people, including myself, multiple times over put every bit of their talent and sweats and energy and emotional and attention and all of it into a venture and fail miserably. I’ve seen that an astonishing number of times. And I’ve also seen them succeed.


I don’t think I’ve seen too many times complete clowns make it to the top, but maybe following the front page of Forbes may be a good way to pick those guys out of the crowd, they end up with no admission of wrongdoing or with some admission of wrongdoing. But I digress.


I think there’s a lot of luck that goes into it, and I think the talented entrepreneurs know how to maximize those opportunities and how to pick those out of what seems like a random pile of opportunities.

Nick (20:40):

Well, Uri, as I mentioned earlier, part of the reason we’re speaking today is because at the time of this recording, support for Starknet is being added at The Graph protocol and as part of the GRTiQ Podcast series, we’re speaking with different members of the chains to get a better sense of who they are and how this integration will look for The Graph protocol and your community as well.


If you don’t mind, and you’ve referenced it a little bit here already, can you take us back in time to the origins of StarkWare and where the ideas and seeds for everything that we’re talking about today began?

Uri Kolodny (21:14):



So in late 2017, Eli and I with Alessandro Chiesa and Michael Riabzev, we decided to start StarkWare. And Eli and Alessandro were founding scientists of ZCash. So they were experts on zero knowledge proof systems.


And it was quickly apparent to us that we don’t want to compete with ZCash in the privacy space just because of… Just not to crowd ZCash and not put undue tension on personal relationships and mutual respect. And so we said, “What else can we do useful with this kind of stuff?” And we fairly quickly came to the conclusion that scaling is an interesting problem, scaling blockchains using proof systems to essentially compress computation and data and use that to scale blockchains.


And so we set out to do that with StarkWare and started out with StarkEx, which was, still is a SaaS offering. And there we built custom logic built into this compression engine.


And this has been used to date by a whole bunch of projects. Many hundreds of millions of transactions settled that way over a trillion. I’d say trillion people here, B, but it’s T as in Tom, trillion or dollars settled through this. And we’ve actually managed to reduce the gas per transaction for the transactions processed by StarEx by three to four orders of magnitude, so between a thousand or 700x and 20,000x.


And those are fairly astonishing numbers in any industry in engineering or in economics, you don’t see that kind of thing. You see that when you see step functions in technology and the introduction of proof systems and the blockchains are essentially exactly that step function at this point of discontinuity. So that was StarkEx.


And after a few months of having StarkEx out in the field and hearing customers ask for all sorts of features and the ability to serve an ever-changing business logic, we said translating this business logic to mathematical representation to these sets of polynomials, that’s too hard of subtask and too dangerous in the sense that there’s a handful of mathematicians at StarkWare who can do that translation.


And it’s dangerous because you may end up hoping that you’ve translated statement A to its mathematical representation, but maybe in the process you’ve modified it a bit and you end up proving statement A prime. And that’s very dangerous from a security perspective.


And so a couple of our engineers at StarkWare, Lior Goldberg and Shahar Papini came up with this beautiful idea to invent a programming language, a domain specific language that would allow you to allow developers to code in high level language. Cairo today is a Rust, like a high level, very ergonomic language and bury the whole zero knowledge proof stuff under the hood.


And so we first put that under the hood for StarkEx, but shortly thereafter we said, “Hold on a second. Instead of us being the gatekeepers determining what logic would be baked into StarEx, etc., what we need is an open permissionless network that would allow anyone to deploy smart card charts and implement their logic with Cairo.” And so Starknet was born.


The Starknet virtual machine itself is written in Cairo, so state transitions for this blockchain are proven by the Stark groups, and then developers can deploy applications on top of this blockchain that are also written in Cairo.

Nick (25:09):

So the original thesis, if I have it right, for StarkWare was scaling blockchain. And out of that came some of the things you just discussed there. Has the thesis for StarkWare itself shifted over the years?

Uri Kolodny (25:22):

Surprisingly enough, it hasn’t changed. That’s actually the first time I think about that because the vast majority of startups that I know of that I’ve been involved with six years into it are doing something fairly different from what they set out to do.


And looking back at our first pitches, I think we said we want to scale blockchains, and that’s what we ended up doing.


So in that regard… And we formed a close relationship with the Ethereum ecosystem and the Ethereum Foundation back in 2018. They gave us a very generous grant and in return developed some very efficient zero knowledge proof code that they specified. And from that point on, it was clear to us that what we want to do is build on top of Ethereum and help it scale and help build this ecosystem.

Nick (26:18):

I want to ask you this general question about scalability. It comes up all the time when I’m speaking with different members of different ecosystems, and it seems like it was an early on concern for the space in general is how do we scale blockchains. And here we are all these years later and we’re still talking about it. Is this an issue that persists into the future? This is something that is always a going concern, or at some point, do we “solve this?”

Uri Kolodny (26:43):

Oh, I don’t think it ever gets solved because people are greedy and they want more, and application developers are greedy and they want more. So if you reduce the cost per transaction from X to 0.1x, they say, “Terrific.” Now there’s a whole set of applications that come into play, but if you bring this down to 0.01x, “Oh my God, I can build astonishing things that will reach not a hundred people, not a thousand people, not a million people, but a billion people.” We’ve seen this with other infrastructure right now, wireless bandwidth, etc.


When people started with the wireless phones, no one thought that my daughter and my kids would be watching videos of kittens on their phone in high res, and here we go. There’s a need… And these networks need to support that.


So I don’t think scaling is ever going to get solved, and there’s always going to be demand for more, cheaper, faster, better.

Nick (27:41):

When you go back in your mind to the launch of Starknet, and for the sake of listeners, we are talking about a couple different entities here, but Starknet is the chain that will be provided support on The Graph Network, and StarkWare is the organization that launched it. When you go back in time, was there ever a debate or a consideration of this L1, L2 type of approach? And again, this might be a super naïve question because I’m not technical, but was that something that was discussed?

Uri Kolodny (28:09):

Not really.


The way you scale with validity proofs or often referred to zero knowledge proofs is that those need to be verified on the base layer and that base layer, the main attribute it offers is security and the immutability of that layer, meaning if you’re verifying your proofs and then recording the new state on the blockchain that isn’t very secure and you haven’t done much.


And it was very clear from very early on that Ethereum in this regard far outperforms anyone else other than Bitcoin of course. But Bitcoin famously… Well, they do not support general computation and specifically do not allow at the current time for the verification of Stark proofs. And so Ethereum, it was.


Now there was also a very vibrant community of developers around Ethereum. And in that sense, we felt that we fit right in. And so it was a very natural place to build for us.

Nick (29:15):

If you go back to the early days and to where we are now and then forecast out into the future, what’s yours or the team’s vision for the future of L2s? This is becoming something difficult for me, as I said as a non-technical person, to wrap my mind around because I can’t tell if we’re heading towards a proliferation of L2s or a consolidation. How do you think about these things?

Uri Kolodny (29:39):

I don’t think we’re headed for a consolidation. We’ve taken a certain direction where, for example, we’ve made an informed decision not to build what is referred to as a zkEVM, meaning not to build a layer 2 that is EVM compatible. We decided early on there are obvious risks to not doing that. There are many advantages to taking a fresh step at this layer 2.


Other teams have taken a similar approach, for example, the wonderful Aztec team and the Miden team at Polygon. There are a bunch of teams who have taken that approach.


And I think that’s a very interesting and important direction to explore, meaning Ethereum was born and serves a certain function. Layer 2s were born and serve a different function. And the question is, given the different function, what are the interesting things that people should explore in building those environments and building on top of those environments?


And I think that the most important thing from an ecosystem’s perspective is that we keep an open mind and experiment extensively in that regard, experiment with different data availability modes and with different programming languages and with different computational paradigms and with different proof systems and… All these things are very important.


And the one thing that I fear in this regard is… Well, the blockchain communities have some religious aspects to them in terms of some people expressed fairly ferocious views on what is allowed and what is not allowed. And we’ve seen that in Bitcoin from the early days. Unfortunately, I think we see that elsewhere as well.


We try and be very practical about things and eager to experiment and eager to keep an open mind. And I think it’s very important for the adoption ecosystem to keep that open mind.


So one team that in this regard I think have done exceedingly well in terms of keeping calm and exploring and not adhering to any religious views imposed on them from the outside is the Solana team. They’ve basically said, “Guys, we’re going to try something different.” And they have. And I deeply respect that.


And I think it’s very important that a bunch of teams do that and it’s very important that they’re offered a fair hearing and be received with… Embraced by the ecosystem as opposed to being considered outliers that should somehow be disciplined in the process.


So that is certainly something which I think is very important. Ethereum is not even a decade old. And I think there’s still a lot to explore and a lot to improve and that requires a lot of talent, but it also requires a culture which permits exploration and innovation.

Nick (32:46):

So, Uri, you mentioned there that in your vision won’t be a consolidation of L2s. Imagine for a moment that you’re instructing an introductory course to blockchain L1, L2 technology. What are the ways in which someone should note in their mind L2s can differentiate from one another? At what levels or in what ways is Starknet different from people in that competitive set, if you will?

Uri Kolodny (33:14):

So the primary division that people make in this context is between optimistic rollups and validity rollups. We belong to the latter, Starknet.


And optimistic rollups basically allow to scale based on [inaudible 00:33:34] of economic incentives and the assumption that those will provide… Those are sufficient forces to ensure that computations are done “off chain,” meaning not on a base layer and done correctly. And if not, people will be penalized economically. And that is their incentive where nodes will be penalized financially and that will be their incentive. So in that family, of course, there’s Arbitrum and Optimism and a bunch of others.


Validity rollups or validity proofs or ZK rollups, that’s a family of protocols that make use of approved systems basically say, “We will allow to scale by relying on math,” meaning we will use math to condense computation data. And by conducting a chunky computation off chain and relying on the blockchain itself merely to verify that computation, we will allow layer 2s to progress their state and offer a scaling solution.


So that’s the basic division between optimistic rollups and validity. I think that’s the important one.


Then there is a flatter distinction between that relates to what I said earlier between call it EVM compatible rollups and those that aren’t. And Starknet is not an EVM compatible layer2 as I mentioned.


So the basic division is between optimistic rollups and validity rollups and Starknet of course belongs to validity rollups. And then within layer 2s, you can slice it a different way, which is EVM compatible layer 2s and those that are not. Starknet is not EVM compatible.


This was an explicit decision that we made early on. We concluded that there are many benefits to starting afresh, starting with a new environment that the EVM was built for Ethereum for those needs. And if we want verifiable computation, then Starknet is in fact the right environment to build that.


So let go of some of the constraints imposed by the EVM and in the process offer all sorts of massive innovation like native account abstraction, which is something that I’m happy to talk about at great length and often force people to listen to me talk about in great length. So fortunately, they’re married to me so…


No. But seriously, Starknet in this regard presented an opportunity to start afresh and build all sorts of things differently and hopefully better from the ground up.

Nick (36:20):

Let’s now shift a little bit to the news that brought us together, which is this integration with The Graph. So can you take us back in time to when this idea of using something like The Graph protocol became a consideration set for Starknet?

Uri Kolodny (36:39):

I think we met Yaniv and Tegan a few years back and it was very clear to us that this decentralized Indexer is a very powerful and useful concept for developers on Starknet.


Starknet from day one has been focused on offering developers the right tools and the best tools that we can envision. There were challenges there related to our EVM compatibility, and this is…


There’s a whole bunch of integration efforts with existing infrastructure in the context of layer 2 where you can basically say, “By choosing not to go for EVM compatibility, you’ve taken on… You’re climbing on a higher mountain.” And it’s just that the task is more complex and more resources are required. And often with the different projects that we’ve interfaced with, naturally, for them, it’s a greater challenge on their end as well. And so we’ve seen that time and time again.


We fortunately have both the patience and the resources to drive these things. And even more importantly, we have the community of builders who not only understand the need but know how to solve the problem.


And in this context, Jonathan Lei, who’s a member of the zkLend protocol building on Starknet and really a Starknet OG, he’s the guy who’s been driving bringing The Graph to Starknet. He’s a powerhouse. He’s one of those 10x or a 100x developers who can make anything happen.


And so in this regard, I think in a few months’ time, the Starknet ecosystem is going to hugely benefit from his talent and power and tenacity because of the integration with The Graph.

Nick (38:41):

Uri, if you had to just describe from your perspective the benefits of an integration with The Graph to builders, to those that are building within Starknet, what are the one or two points that are top of mind for you?

Uri Kolodny (38:55):

I think The Graph at the end of the day makes accessing data, prior data, prior computations much cheaper, much faster at a larger scale. I think that’s been the premise of these indexed data sets on The Graph from day one. And I think it’s just a very important building block to bring into the Starknet ecosystem.

Nick (39:17):

Well, Uri, I want to thank you for your time and I know we’re coming up on time here.

Uri Kolodny (39:21):

I’m glad. Thank you for having me.

Nick (39:22):

I would be remiss if I didn’t ask someone like you the GRTiQ 10 and for your benefit, these are 10 questions I ask each guest of the podcast every week. It certainly helps listeners get to know the guests a little bit better, but of course it prompts listeners to learn something new, try something different, or achieve more in their own life. So Uri, are you ready for the GRTiQ 10?

Uri Kolodny (39:42):

I guess so.

Nick (39:53):

What book or article has had the greatest impact on your life?

Uri Kolodny (39:58):

I think Peanuts has had profound… I was first exposed to it when I was eight. We have the complete works. I have four kids ranging from the age of 22 to eight. We recite this, we referenced it multiple times a day. It’s a cornerstone of our existence for my family. So it’s astonishing how relevant something like that can be… Decades after it was written, a different culture and different country. So for me, a very profound thing.

Nick (40:36):

Amazing. And how about this one? Is there a movie or a TV show that you would recommend everybody should watch?

Uri Kolodny (40:42):

So a lot of them. I loved… Well, this isn’t unique in any way. The Wire I thought was an astonishing thing. And then a few years back I watched The Leftovers. I’m not one for dystopian stuff at all. I’ve not read… I read a lot of fiction and I’ve not read a single sci-fi book in my life. But The Leftovers, I don’t know, somehow really had a huge impact on me. I’ve been thinking about that show a lot over the years. So I think it’s worth watching.

Nick (41:15):

If you could only listen to one music album for the rest of your life, which one would you choose?

Uri Kolodny (41:19):

So Spotify actually says that I have a very diverse and eclectic taste. They just sent me the summary for 2023, so I am not sure how to answer that.


There are things that I’ve been listening to since I was a teenager like Neil Young or Rickie Lee Jones. The fact that I still listen to those several decades later, I guess qualifies as the rest of my life. Yeah.

Nick (41:47):

What’s the best advice someone’s ever given to you?

Uri Kolodny (41:50):

Oh, I get that advice multiple times a week from a lot of people around me who I love and I think love me. And they say know how to turn off and when to turn off. I’m horrible at it and it’s taken a very significant toll on me emotionally over the years, but still sage advice.

Nick (42:13):

What’s one thing you’ve learned in your life that you don’t think most other people know or have learned quite yet?

Uri Kolodny (42:21):

And I think crypto Twitter, and Twitter in general exacerbate this problem, but I think that… So there’s this saying after all that’s been said and done, a lot more was said than done. And I think that’s very true, and a lot of people forget that very frequently and they should remind themselves of that, certainly when they read crypto Twitter.

Nick (42:43):

What’s the best life hack you’ve discovered for yourself?

Uri Kolodny (42:46):

Life hack… So there was this YouTube show, this crazy Russian hacker he called himself and he showed how to cut a watermelon with a cord. I never thought that was a very useful life hack, but he presented that as one.


I think we know how to skim through a lot of text and with all DMs and Telegram and Slack and all that stuff, that’s a useful skill. So knowing when to only marginally focus I think is useful.

Nick (43:20):

Based on your own life experiences and observations, what’s the one habit or characteristic that you think best explains how or why people find success in life?

Uri Kolodny (43:32):

I think it’s a combination of two things. I think it’s working extremely hard, unfortunately. And the other is trying to work with the most talented people that you can possibly find. And I think that if you do these two things, you’re improving your odds. And it’s fun.

Nick (43:58):

And Uri, the final three questions are complete the sentence type questions.


The first one is complete the sentence. The thing that most excites me about web3 is…

Uri Kolodny (44:07):

So I alluded to this earlier. I think this democratization of access to technology and access to information and this shifting of the needle away from the centralized, powerful entities in the direction of individuals.


And I’m saying shifting of the needle because I’m not as naïve as to think that the centralized entities are going away, but they need to be weakened and individuals need to be empowered, and I think the blockchain space hopefully will one day bring us there.

Nick (44:39):

And how about this sentence?


If you’re on X formerly Twitter, then you should be following…

Uri Kolodny (44:45):

Yeah. I think you shouldn’t be on X much, but if you are, so there’s this writer, Hanif Kureishi wrote beautiful fiction, and I follow him on Twitter and he was severely injured beginning of 2023. And he writes these heartbreaking accounts, very touching accounts of his life. He’s actually stopped tweeting, but he keeps blogging about it. So that’s in life in general.


In the crypto space, I greatly enjoy reading what Eric Wall has to say. He’s a very clear thinker and he’s superb personality on Twitter in terms of always having the perfect tone. And he is always calm and measured and happy to engage in all sorts of… He’s an excellent shit poster.

Nick (45:40):

And the last question, complete this sentence. I’m happiest when…

Uri Kolodny (45:45):

So I love cooking and when I cook for my family on weekends, serving them the meal and then… I don’t fish for compliments, I hunt them down. So getting everyone to admit that that’s the best dish they’ve ever had, I take great joy in that. There’s something very primal about feeding your family. It’s just insane joy.

Nick (46:21):

Uri, I want to thank you so much for taking time to join the GRTiQ Podcast and for listeners that want to learn more about you, learn more about what’s going on at Starknet, what’s the best way for them to stay in touch?

Uri Kolodny (46:32):

Thank you, Nick.


So contrary to my advice about spending time on Twitter. Follow the Starknet handle on Twitter, follow StarkWare on Twitter. Read the Starknet book or learn… Study the Starknet book and the Cairo book, and follow a bunch of the base camps and workshops and hacker houses organized by the Starknet Foundation. I think all those are wonderful resources to jump into the ecosystem.


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DISCLOSURE: GRTIQ is not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any other way connected with The Graph, or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates.  This material has been prepared for information purposes only, and it is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, tax, legal, financial, or investment advice. The content for this material is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The Graph token holders should do their own research regarding individual Indexers and the risks, including objectives, charges, and expenses, associated with the purchase of GRT or the delegation of GRT.