Horizen: The ‘blockchain of blockchains’ that wants Ethereum’s throne

In an industry littered with buzzwords and tech gobbledygook, the term “blockchain of blockchains” might still be enough to raise eyebrows. After all, wrapping one’s head around the intricacies of a single blockchain is already pretty difficult for most people. Coping with two might be overkill.

But Rob Viglione persists in using the phrase to describe his platform, Horizen. And he adds “commissionless,” “generalizable,” and “decoupled consensus” to the mix. 

Those terms, however, obfuscate and deter from other notable facts about the platform. For one, Horizen is positioning itself as a competitor to the world’s second-most valuable blockchain, Ethereum, and aims to solve the problems that beset Ethereum

Horizen’s native cryptocurrency, Zen, has also attracted considerable interest from corporate bigwigs in the crypto ecosystem. Investment firm Grayscale and Digital Currency Group (DCG) are among corporates interested in mining Zen. Earlier this year, Horizen raised $4 million in a seed round led by Digital Currency Group, and Grayscale has also purchased $6.3 million worth of Zen tokens to form a Zen Investment Trust for accredited investors, setting up the cryptocurrency for mainstream spotlight.   

A concept similar to Ethereum 

Moneyed interests within the industry evidently see something in this would-be competitor to Ethereum. And the concept of Horizen isn’t really as complicated as it might initially sound.

A “blockchain of blockchains” system consists of a single mainchain and multiple sidechains, as  Viglione explained it in an interview with Decrypt. The sidechains are independent chains in that they have their own consensus systems and functionalities. “You don’t have to ask permission from our team, write anything to our protocol, or on any other sidechain implementation,” said Viglione, adding that the mainchain is “entirely agnostic” to the functioning of other chains.

To be sure, the design is not…

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