Hyperlane CEO Jon Kol

Where Interoperability and Modularity Meet: Hyperlane’s Jon Kol

August 28, 2023

As the co-founder and CEO of interchain communication protocol Hyperlane, Jon Kol is all-in on interoperability. 

In a conversation for the Variant Founder Fellowship cohort, he discussed the synergies between interoperability and modularity, the overlap between shared sequencers and shared security, and where permissionlessness fits into the puzzle.

Below the audio track, check out our biggest takeaways from the conversation.



A modular blockchain world means we’re growing horizontally instead of vertically.

Jon likens the growth in app-specific rollups and appchains to new islands in the ocean. Every chain must communicate with each other in order to avoid, “a user experience where for every single app, we have to hop between chains, we have to perform these bridging operations, we have to do everything we do now when we move between L1s,” Jon says. “That does certainly feel untenable.” (Hear Jon’s take on when to start thinking about multichain interoperability as a founder at 11:30.)


The ‘missing piece of the modular puzzle’ is permissionlessness.

Most interoperability protocols use what Jon calls “one-size-fits-all” security. While you can spin up an app-specific rollup relatively quickly, it takes much longer to convince an interoperability protocol operator to connect with you—if they ever do. Jon says: “I’d go so far as to say that the modular thesis without a form of permissionless interoperability is really an incoherent idea.” (At 16:25, hear Jon’s argument for context-dependent security—you wouldn’t really expect a bank to treat a $100 withdrawal the same as a $100,000 one, would you?)


Rollup interoperability is ‘intimately connected’ to shared sequencing.

When rollups communicate in a rollup-operability system, they have the option of sharing a security setting. Jon says that although the similarities are “generally obfuscated,” rollup messaging “results in a lot of the same benefits” as shared sequencing. (Find out what those benefits are at 7:45.)



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Variant is an investor in Hyperlane.