Axelar Network is a decentralized transport layer that offers secure cross-chain messages across Web3. Developers can utilize Axelar gateway contracts to connect to EVM contracts on any chain without making modifications to their chains or UIs.  Axelar was founded in 2020 by Georgios Vlachos and Sergey Gorbunov.
Axelar is a blockchain network that connects blockchains, providing Web3 interoperability. It is secured using proof-of-stake consensus and messages are routed and translated using permissionless protocols. It can be likened to Stripe for Web3 and consists of a decentralized network of validators, secure gateway contracts, translation, routing architecture, software development kits (SDKs), and application programming interfaces (APIs) to enable composability between blockchains. The protocol also supports the cross-chain transfer of several native tokens via their wrapped ERC-20 versions, including AVAX (Avalanche), ETH (Ethereum), FTM (Fantom), GLMR (Moonbeam), and MATIC (Polygon). 
Georgios Vlachos and Sergey Gorbunov, two members of the Algorand founding team, launched the Axelar network blockchain platform in 2020. Georgios designed the Algorand consensus protocol, while Sergey led the effort to standardize BLS signatures, which was subsequently adopted as a draft in CFRG and implemented by Ethereum 2.0 and other platforms. 
“Our value proposition to the developer is that they can build on the chain that best suits their use case and background, while letting their users access anything on the decentralized web, with one click,” said co-founder Georgios Vlachos. 
A decentralized network is supported by validators responsible for maintaining the network and executing transactions. The validators run the cross-chain gateway protocol, a multi-party cryptography overlay that sits on top of Layer 1 blockchains. These validators are tasked with executing read and write operations to gateway smart contracts deployed on external chains, as well as voting and attesting to events on those chains. 
Gateway Smart Contracts
Validators monitor gateways for incoming transactions, which they read and come to a consensus on the validity of. Once an agreement is reached, they write to the destination chain's gateway to execute the cross-chain transaction. Gateways, which provide connectivity between the Axelar network and its interconnected Layer 1 blockchain, and validators, which make up the core infrastructure layer, are the core components of this system. 
APIs and SDKs are positioned on top of validators and gateways, allowing developers to access the Axelar network easily. This is the application-development layer that developers will use to facilitate interoperability between any two chains in a single hop. Axelar enables developers to lock, unlock, and transfer assets between addresses on any blockchain platform. Additionally, it can execute cross-chain application triggers and other cross-chain requests. 
AXL is the native token of the Axelar network. It is a medium for transaction fees and any other fees for network usage, paid by users to the validators that run the network. AXL is used by holders and their proxies to stake and exercise governance over proposals (such as a parameter change or protocol upgrade). 
It enables incentives to support the decentralized Proof-of-Stake consensus that secures the network and validates transactions on the chain. Validators receive AXL rewards as incentives to continue to secure the network. These incentive rewards are distributed programmatically, per rules encoded in network protocols, and are inflationary, i.e., each protocol reward increases the total token supply. 
AXL is also used to reward ecosystem builders and community contributors. 
At the Axelar genesis block, 1 billion AXL tokens in total were issued with 17% allocated to the Team, 12.5% to Company operations, 36% to Community programs, 5% to Community sale, and 29.5% to Backers. The token supply is released on linear schedules ranging from 6 months, for community sale participants, to 4 years, for team members. 
Axelar $60M Ecosystem Startup Program
In December 2022, Axelar launched a $60 million Axelar Ecosystem Startup Funding Program. The program is to accelerate the development of decentralized applications and protocols that can replace centralized exchanges (CEXs), providing onramps to blockchain-based technology for a large number of users. 
A group of blockchain investors, including Blockchange, Chorus One, Collab+Currency, Cygni, dao5, DCVC, Divergence Ventures, Dragonfly Capital, Lemniscap, Morningstar Ventures, Nima Capital, Node Capital, North Island Ventures, Rockaway Blockchain Fund, SCB 10X, and others, are committing capital to support the program. 
“Recent innovations on the decentralized Web, from digital art to novel market infrastructure, have inspired speculative fervor, but centralized services have been the beneficiaries – with disastrous results. With the Axelar Ecosystem Startup Funding Program, Axelar and its investment partners will back a new generation of Web3 startups that are poised to change that flow.” - said Sergey Gorbunov, co-founder of Axelar.
The Axelar Foundation leads the development of the Axelar Network, a decentralized interoperability network designed to connect multiple blockchain ecosystems. The Foundation works in collaboration with the community and ecosystem partners to facilitate the development of a scalable, permissionless, and open-source cross-chain communication network, protocols, and tools. The Axelar Network is intended to enable the routing and delivery of assets and information across blockchain networks with different consensus rules, smart contract languages, and unique governance mechanisms. 
Axelar Virtual Machine
On February 27, 2023, the Axelar network announced Axelar Virtual Machine, the technology that turns interoperability into a programmable layer. It enables developers to write smart contracts on Axelar while scaling their interchain deployments and “programming” the cross-chain networking layer. The Virtual Machine at the network layer is instantiated to allow developers to program interoperability across chains and compose each other’s functions. 
The Interchain Amplifier enables developers to permissionlessly set up connections to the Axelar network, gaining access to its interconnected network of chains. The Amplifier reduces the cost of developing one connection, allowing for connections to be established between new ecosystems or existing chains, potentially providing improved security, delivery, and availability. 
The Interchain Maestro offers a new approach to building on the interchain: build once, run everywhere. It is designed as a Kubernetes-like set of orchestration contracts and templates to facilitate the design, deployment, and management of dApps on multiple chains. Through its smart contracts on the Axelar network, developers have the ability to: specify the contracts to be deployed, the associated chains, and governance parameters; store confirmations and initial parameters; extend or clone contracts to additional chains; and upgrade contract code with one transaction on the Axelar network, which will deploy the upgrade to all interconnected chains. 
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