Slumdog Billionaire: The Inspiring Journey of Polygon’s Sandeep Nailwal
Sandeep Nailwal, the founder of Polygon (formerly Matic Network), has come a long way from his humble beginnings in a Delhi slum. Born to an alcoholic father and an illiterate mother, Nailwal had always dreamt of a better life. He was determined to achieve big things and was not content with mediocrity.
In an interview with Magazine, Nailwal expressed his vision for Polygon, stating that being among the top 10 or top 15 projects in the cryptocurrency space is not enough for him. He dreams of Polygon having the same impact as Ethereum and Bitcoin, placing it among the top three projects in the industry.
The first part of this feature highlighted Nailwal’s journey from poverty to his early ventures in the cryptocurrency world. Despite facing financial difficulties, Nailwal managed to raise $5 million in a Binance initial exchange offering for Matic Network. However, the Plasma technology they were pursuing began to lose favor in the market, and the team had to rethink their strategy.
Just as Matic Network was preparing to launch its mainnet in May 2020, the world was hit by a pandemic and the March Black Thursday market crash. The project’s future seemed uncertain, but Nailwal and his team were determined to push forward. They realized they needed to expand their reach and be open to multiple blockchain technologies.
To achieve their goals, they hired Mihailo Bjelic, a long-term Ethereum community insider, to bridge the gap between the project and communities from which they felt excluded. In early 2021, Matic Network rebranded as Polygon and set its sights on becoming “Polkadot on Ethereum.” They aimed to incorporate Optimistic rollups, zero-knowledge rollups, and StarkWare-style Validiums into their Proof of Stake network.
However, they soon realized that Optimistic rollups were only an intermediate solution and would not be able to scale up to support a large number of chains in the ecosystem. This led them to bet on zero-knowledge (ZK) technology, which they believed had infinite scalability and unified liquidity. Nailwal emphasized that ZK is the endgame for blockchain scaling.
Polygon’s market cap saw significant growth throughout 2021, reaching almost $19 billion by the end of the year. This was a result of its ability to scale Ethereum and attract a large number of users. The project’s success enabled them to embark on a series of acquisitions, including the Hermez network and the Mir team of ZK-proof experts.
The acquisitions allowed Polygon to tap into the talent of other teams and collaborate on innovative solutions. This led to the development of the ZK EVM, a breakthrough in blockchain technology that was expected to be years away. The Polygon umbrella also encompassed other ZK flavors, such as Miden and Nightfall, each taking a different approach to scaling.
Having multiple teams working on different solutions gave Polygon the advantage of not having to make the same tough choices as other projects. They were able to explore various options and provide compatibility with the Ethereum Virtual Machine without sacrificing performance.
In early 2022, Polygon raised an additional $450 million in funding, further solidifying its position in the industry. The project continues to grow and innovate, with Nailwal’s unwavering determination to make Polygon one of the biggest projects in the blockchain space.
Nailwal’s inspiring journey from poverty to success serves as a reminder that with hard work and determination, anyone can overcome adversity and achieve greatness. Polygon’s story is a testament to the power of innovation and the potential of blockchain technology to transform lives and industries.