Mar 14, 2024

Staff ZK Cryptographer

$175,000 - $270,000 yearly
  • PL VS
Full time Cryptography Research

Job Description


We are seeking a world-class Staff ZK Cryptographer to bring to our research team the expertise in proof systems and, in particular, in zero-knowledge (ZK) proof systems and verifiable computation (VC) proof systems. This role involves research and development of ZK/VC proof systems for integration with InterPlanetary Consensus (IPC), a novel recursive, fractal-like approach for scaling-out blockchains and decentralized systems, blending scalability, security and decentralization.

We believe IPC has most of the ingredients to enable web3 to deliver on the promise of decentralized consumer-grade apps like real-time games, collaboration, AI, and more. But we're missing one: ZK/VC succinct proofs in strategic interfaces and system processes, to strengthen the security guarantees of the whole stack, whilst retaining customization abilities. We're looking for someone to take this challenge on and round out the whole product.

We are looking for candidates who are hands-on experts in the field of ZK/VC cryptography design and who are well-informed in systems engineering and distributed/decentralized computing, including topics such as consensus scalability and data availability.

If you have a track record of developing cryptographic systems’ solutions such as ZK-rollups or Validiums and would like to join a fully decentralized team building an up-and-coming scalability solution, we would love to hear from you!

Key Responsibilities

  • Design cryptographic protocols and solutions for integration of ZK/VC proof systems into a blockchain scalability solution based on the Wasm-based Filecoin Virtual Machine (FVM) execution engine.
  • Co-own, with Engineering & Product, a roadmap for incremental production deployment of ZK/VC proof systems.
  • Lead collaboration of the in-house R&D team with external teams working on the development of proof circuits.
  • Lead the design of end-to-end cryptographic systems solutions.
  • Collaborate with team members to support platform development from a cryptographic perspective.
  • Conduct detailed code reviews for contributions that involve sensitive cryptographic elements.

You may be a fit for this role if you have…

  • Strong and proven experience in developing cryptographic proof systems and their integration into production software.
  • Previous experience designing ZK/VC proof systems (e.g., SNARKs, STARKs) and/or deploying them in production.
  • In-depth knowledge of the relevant scalability-space approaches such as L2 ZK rollups and Validiums.
  • Deep knowledge of blockchain design and architecture.
  • Exceptional interpersonal skills to collaborate effectively with team members and external partners.
  • Ability to work in a “fire-and-forget” manner.
  • Attention to detail, ensuring precision in code development and protocol design.
  • Ability to think strategically and act decisively, balancing immediate needs with long-term goals.
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills.
  • Some prior experience writing Rust code.


  • MSc (ideally PhD) in Cryptography.
  • Experience leading R&D teams and projects.
  • Deep understanding of cryptographic proof systems, zero-knowledge cryptography, elliptic curve cryptography, and symmetric cryptography
  • Strong background in other aspects of blockchain cryptography and distributed/decentralized systems, and in particular multi/threshold-signature schemes for blockchains, blockchain consensus, state-machine-replication, and different VM execution engines.
  • Strong knowledge of Rust and affinity to coding.
  • Experience working in a remote-first environment, focusing on open, honest and transparent communication.
  • Experience contributing to open-source codebases / decentralized projects.

What we offer

  • Remote-first policy: Join our globally distributed team providing with flexibility of working remotely from anywhere in the world
  • Competitive compensation package: Approximate base salary for this role will vary between $175,000 and $270,000 per year in addition to competitive startup equity and benefits, ensuring that you have direct ownership in our success.
  • Cutting-Edge Research and Development: Work at the forefront of cryptographic and blockchain innovation, contributing to projects that redefine the scalability and security of decentralized systems.
  • Commitment to open-source and decentralization ethos: Our team who is deeply rooted in open-source values offers you the chance to contribute to groundbreaking projects and collaborate with leading minds across the globe.
  • Collaborative and Inclusive Culture: Engage with a supportive, diverse, and inclusive team, fostering an environment where every voice is heard and valued.
  • High impact: Contribute to a project with the potential to build the future of decentralized web and onboard billions of users to decentralized systems, transforming industries like cloud computing, AI, gaming, and social media.

About the team

InterPlanetary Consensus (IPC) is a newly incubated team within Protocol Labs (PL) that is planning to spin off from PL over the next few months and be a standalone startup. IPC is a pioneering technology for decentralized scaling of blockchain systems and bridges the gap between web2's (cloud) performance and its developer experience and web3's decentralized ethos.

The goal of IPC is to become a foundational tech stack for planetary-scale web3 networks, enabling onboarding of billions of users and unlocking previously unattainable decentralized cloud, AI, gaming and social media applications. Our R&D approach is based on novel recursive, fractal-like approach to scaling, dynamic subnets and highly-customizable execution runtimes.

IPC is a part of Protocol Labs Network, comprising over 450 open-source teams, projects, and organizations. IPC is built by creators of Protocol Labs, Filecoin and IPFS.

PL VS is an equal opportunity employer.

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