Kakarot ZK-EVM Launches Testnet, Paving The Way For EVM-Compatibility On Starknet

Kakarot Labs is backed by StarkWare and Vitalik Buterin.

By: Samuel Haig Loading...

Kakarot ZK-EVM Launches Testnet, Paving The Way For EVM-Compatibility On Starknet

Starknet, the seventh-largest Layer 2 network by TVL, will soon enjoy EVM-compatibility, opening the floodgates to established DeFi protocols within the Ethereum ecosystem.

On May 22, Kakarot Labs launched the public mainnet phase for its modular Cairo-based zero-knowledge Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). The move sets the stage for Starknet's ecosystem to become EVM-compatible, with the popular Layer 2 leveraging the Cairo programming language and facilitating smart contract execution via its bespoke CairoVM.

“Kakarot is essentially an Ethereum execution engine built with Cairo,” said Elias Tazartes, CEO and co-founder of Kakarot Labs. “In time, this engine will be integrated into Starknet appchains, thus allowing any ZK-rollup that uses the Cairo stack to be EVM compatible.”

The Kakarot ZK-EVM was first created in October 2022 through a joint development effort from the StarkWare Exploration Team and the open-source Starknet developer community.

In June 2023, Kakarot Labs announced a pre-seed investment round featuring participation from StarkWare, the team behind Starknet, and Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum’s chief scientist.


While Starknet currently ranks as the seventh-largest Layer 2 with more than $1 billion in total value locked (TVL), according to L2beat, the lion’s share of its TVL was achieved through its long-anticipated STARK airdrop on Feb. 20.

The drop was the largest in the history of web3, with the project distributing $2.1 billion worth of tokens at a $30 billion fully diluted valuation per STARK’s initial trading price. The drop also catapulted Starknet’s TVL more than 550% to $1.22 billion from $187 million overnight.

However, Starknet’s modest pre-airdrop TVL illustrates the barriers posed to the network's growth by its lack of EVM-compatibility, with its TVL having sluggishly risen from $56 million in May 2023 to $187 million in February.

By contrast, many EVM-compatible L2s have quickly garnered momentum by enabling established protocols leveraging Solidity — Ethereum’s primary coding language — to easily migrate onto new networks.

“Today, developers looking to build on the Starknet Stack faced the challenge of learning Cairo, the programming language developed especially for STARK cryptography, distinct from Solidity, the mainstay language of Ethereum,” Kakarot Labs said. “The introduction of Kakarot zkEVM will eliminate this barrier by enabling developers to use Solidity, thereby fostering a more inclusive environment within the ecosystem.”

Kakarot’s public whitelist phase is the first of three test network deployments, with the project set to follow up with a public whitelist and permissionless public testnet launches.

The project said its testnet deployments will allow developers to experiment. familiar tooling such as MetaMask and Foundry within a Cairo-based setting. “By participating in this phase, developers can test and optimize new protocol changes and the latest advancements in crypto user experiences,” Kakarot said.