Polygon CEO says L3s are taking value away from Ethereum (ETH), sparking debate

If all layer 3s merged into a single layer 2, Ethereum would lose value and its security, according to Polygon CEO Marc Boiron. Polygon CEO Marc Boiron sparked a controversy on X over the weekend by claiming that layer-3 networks are unnecessary for scaling Ethereum and exist solely to drain the mainnet of value. 

On April 1, Polygon’s CEO stated that Polygon Labs, a layer-2 scaling network for Ethereum, does not support layer 3s because they are not required to scale existing networks. “L3s exist only to take value away from Ethereum and onto the L2s on which the L3s are built,” that’s what he claimed.

Boiron’s remarks, however, were not without controversy. One respondent stated that layer-2s on Ethereum “ARE value on Ethereum,” to which Boiron partially agreed but added, “I disagree that the L2 value is Ethereum value. Simply take this to the extreme. If all L3s decided on one L2, Ethereum would collect almost no value, putting Ethereum security at risk.” “We don’t care what people do. They may create L3s on any platform, including Polygon networks,” he added. “We just aren’t trying to suck all value onto Polygon networks instead of sharing with Ethereum its fair share.”

Boiron stated that Polygon’s aim was to grow Ethereum when no one else was doing so, when the necessary technology was available, employing EVM parallelization and privacy. He claimed that “L3s are not consistent with that mission.”

Layer-3 protocols are built on top of L2s to host application-specific DApps, offering a variety of options for scaling, performance, interoperability, customisation, and cost. Orbs, Xai, zkSync Hyperchains, and the recently announced Degen Chain on Arbitrum Orbit are some of the current leaders in the L3 ecosystem and L2 network solutions. However, the sector remains limited in contrast, with only four L3 tokens registered on CoinGecko. Meanwhile, Peter Haymond, senior partnership manager at Offchain Labs, stated that there were numerous benefits to L3s that didn’t take

Some of them included the low cost of native bridging from L2 to L1, the low cost of on-chain proof, custom gas tokens, and specialised state transition algorithms. Arbitrum Foundation researcher Patrick McCorry was surprised by Boiron’s perspective, stating that “L3s seem like a no-brainer, especially when it allows the L2 to eventually become a settlement layer (i.e. executing the bridge is cheaper) and ultimately relying on Ethereum as a global ordering service + final judge of settlement.”

On March 31, Helus Labs CEO Mert Mumtaz appeared to agree with Marc Boiron in a different X post, noting that “L3s are basically centralized servers settling on other centralized servers (L2s) — controlled by multi sigs.” Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin sparked the L3 debate in late 2022, claiming that layer-3s would serve a different purpose than scalability by delivering “customized functionality.” A third layer on the blockchain makes sense only if it serves a different purpose than layer-2s, he stated at the time. 

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