It's a truism that most blockchain projects don't actually need a blockchain. Coda took it to heart. 

The protocol that "replaces the blockchain with an easily verifiable proof" is welcoming interested users to apply for its token program, Genesis. O(1) Labs, the company behind the protocol, has designated 6.7% of the tokens for founding members, who it says will be able to earn real tokens by participating on the testnet. They'll then be able to stake those tokens when the mainnet goes live, which is scheduled for some point this year.

Coda has attracted a cornucopia of venture capital investors interested in its technology. Fred Ehrsam, formerly of Coinbase and now with Paradigm, is in. So is tech legend Naval Ravikant. Dragonfly, Polychain Capital, and Dekrypt Capital are all on board, too.

You might have to be Naval to understand the actual technology. Coda calls itself "the world's lightest blockchain." With each new transaction, it uses recursive zk-SNARKs to spread the joyful news about the state of the blockchain across the network. Users need only to download a zk-SNARK to verify everything is valid, which allows the size of user nodes to remain at a fixed size of 22 KB. That's a massive improvement over other blockchains, which often measure in the terabytes and have no set limit. 

The near-instantaneous ability of Coda's nodes (what it calls "block producers") to share the state of the blockchain means scalability issues faced by Bitcoin and Ethereum are solved, says Coda. What's more, since users don't need to sync the entire history of the blockchain, there's theoretically a lower barrier to entry.

The specifics of Coda's economic system are laid out in a new white paper, also released today. Coda is hoping its Genesis program attracts 1,000 engaged founding members. They'll be tasked with "completing challenges on the testnet to help strengthen and harden the network." They'll also translate documents, moderate forums, hold meetups, and report bugs. They'll have so much experience using the testnet that Coda thinks they'll be ready to stake tokens come mainnet launch.

Those interested in being founding members can't buy their way in. They'll be selected instead, though Coda has not stipulated how. (The testnet is already available to beta users.) Coda CTO Izaak Meckler said in today's announcement, “The Genesis program allows us to build a community of engaged members who are helping to set the rules of the ecosystem. Such engagement is essential for constructing an infrastructure that serves the needs of its members.”

We’ll let you know if Genesis leads to an exodus from other blockchains.