What is Manta Network? A Project Overview

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Nearly a month after its token debut, Manta Network has soared to the 12th position among projects with the highest total value locked. With its current TVL of $494.2 million, it has outpaced Base, Cardano, and zkSync Era. Let’s explore what Manta Network is and why it has garnered such interest.
Manta Network is a modular ecosystem designed for the development of privacy-focused applications. It integrates two distinct blockchains, linked through the Manta Pacific Bridge, ensuring compatibility. This dual-network setup allows for the delegation of certain functionalities to one network while different tasks are handled by the other.

Manta consists of two main networks:

  • Manta Pacific. An EVM-compatible L2 blockchain, leveraging Celestia's modularity for data availability and zk-SNARK technology for securing transaction privacy.
  • Manta Atlantic. A Layer 1 blockchain within the Polkadot ecosystem, facilitating the creation of zk-NFTs, staking, and private verifications.

Such an architecture renders the blockchain appealing for both users, who benefit from a cost-effective method for anonymous transactions, and developers, who receive a scalable platform for building privacy-centric applications using zk-SNARK technology.
The Architecture of Manta Pacific and Manta Atlantic. Source: docs.manta.network

The Architecture of Manta Pacific and Manta Atlantic. Source: docs.manta.network

zk-SNARK allows Manta users to authenticate information against specific criteria without disclosing the information's details. 

For instance, during a standard DEX interaction, a user reveals to the smart contract the amount of tokens for exchange. However, the contract also gains access to the user's transaction history, current balance, and wallet creation date, among other details.

Manta circumvents this privacy issue with zk-SNARK, enabling the smart contract to verify the presence of the required token amount in a user's balance without exposing any additional information.

Manta Pacific is notable for being the first L2 blockchain to adopt Celestia, showcasing a commitment to modular data availability. This modularity ensures enhanced scalability and minimized transaction fees.
Our successful transition to Celestia’s modular DA (data availability) will help us onboard the next generation of users and cultivate the most active on-chain ecosystem on the market,
stated Kenny Li, co-founder and core contributor for Manta Network.
On the other hand, Manta Atlantic is recognized as the fastest zk-Layer 1 network on Polkadot, introducing the zkAddress system. This system partially obscures user information, including the generation of non-transferable or sellable SBTs (Soulbound Tokens), along with various on-chain and off-chain data.

MANTA Tokenomics

Even though the Initial Coin Offering (ICO) took place in November 2021, it wasn't until January 18, 2024, that the Manta Network officially launched its native network token, MANTA. 

Functional uses of the MANTA token:

  1. Fees. A certain portion of MANTA is taken as a fee for using the network. Of these fees, 72% are allocated towards the development of ecosystem projects, 18% go into DAO storage, and 10% are distributed among block producers.
  2. Governance. MANTA holders gain the right to participate in voting on future updates, partnerships, and project development decisions.
  3. Security. Given that Manta Network is a Proof-of-Stake blockchain, tokens are used as stakes for participating in transaction validation.

The total MANTA supply is capped at 1 billion tokens, to be distributed across 11 categories as follows:

  • Airdrop: 5.6%
  • New Paradigm (second airdrop): 6.5%
  • Binance Launchpool: 3%
  • Public sales: 8%
  • Private funding round: 12.94%
  • Strategic investors: 6.17%
  • Institutional investors: 5%
  • Ecosystem/community: 21.19%
  • Foundation: 13.5%
  • Team: 10%
  • Advisors: 8.1%

At the Token Generation Event (TGE), 251 million MANTA were allocated for the airdrop and New Paradigm, public sale, advisors, the ecosystem, and the community.

Despite the majority of TGE tokens being held by market participants likely to sell, the price found support among buyers, increasing by 70% in the week following the start of trading.

Moving forward, the distribution of tokens will occur linearly across other categories. This vesting process means that the maximum supply of MANTA will only be fully available on the market by September 2030. 
The Token Vesting Schedule. Source: docs.manta.network

The Token Vesting Schedule. Source: docs.manta.network

It's significant to note that over half of all MANTA tokens are in the hands of the community. This creates a potential risk of mass selling, which could adversely affect the asset's price. 

Kenny Li, a co-founder of the project, highlighted in his remarks that it's the users, rather than the investors, who truly drive the project's progress.
Who are we going to interact with on a daily basis? We don't interact with the funds, but we do interact with our community. Who we interact with during the testnet is again the community,
Kenny explained.
Reflecting this philosophy, the project has rewarded early network participants, making it easier for them to engage with the Manta blockchain after the Token Generation Event (TGE). The team prioritized distributing tokens through an airdrop (56 million MANTA) over listings on centralized exchanges (30 million MANTA).

Funding and the Project Team

Manta Network successfully completed three rounds of funding and an ICO, amassing $60.4 million. The split between funds raised from public sales and investments from funds was 48% to 52%.

Over 30 funds have invested in the project, among them four Tier-1 funds: Polychain Capital, The Spartan Group, Binance Labs, and Multicoin Capital.
Tier 1 and Tier 2 Funds that Invested in Manta Network. Source: cryptorank.io

Tier 1 and Tier 2 Funds that Invested in Manta Network. Source: cryptorank.io

Manta Network was founded by a trio of main founders, including Shumo Chu, formerly a scientific researcher at Algorand; Victor Ji, who previously served as the Chair of Harvard Kennedy School Blockchain PIC; and Kenny Li, an entrepreneur with a decade's experience in scaling startups.

Li is frequently featured in the media, participates in AMA sessions, and gives comments and interviews. As of February 2024, his account on X (previously Twitter) boasts nearly 42,000 followers, with some of his recent posts attracting over 50,000 views.

Final Words

Manta Network stands as the inaugural second-layer blockchain to employ zero-knowledge technology with its token already in circulation. It counts zkSync and Starknet among its nearest competitors.

Over a span of three years from its first investment round in February 2021 to the launch of its mainnet and token generation in January 2024, Manta Network has positioned itself as a pioneer in its field. It is poised to influence the future direction of similar technological solutions.

Vlad Vovk
Writes about DeFi and cryptocurrencies from a technological perspective.