Last Updated: April 19, 2024

Optimism (OP) is a layer-two blockchain on top of Ethereum that seeks to cut down settlement times and lower transaction costs. Optimism benefits from the security of the Ethereum mainnet and helps scale the Ethereum ecosystem by using optimistic rollups: transactions are “trustlessly” recorded on Optimism but ultimately secured on Ethereum. 

Optimism (OP) is also the native token of the blockchain. 


Optimism was founded in 2019 by Jinglan Wang, Karl Floersch and Kevin H and designed around four core tenets of simplicity, pragmatism, sustainability, and optimism

Optimism is now led by the Optimism Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to growing the Optimism ecosystem. Similar to Ethereum, Optimism aims to become a fully decentralized public good that is not profit-oriented.

Optimism aims to create an ecosystem, where value is generated for its three constituencies:

  • Token holders receive value through the productive re-deployment of sequencer revenue.
  • Contributors and builders receive value from retroactive public goods funding.
  • Users and community members receive value from ongoing airdrops and project incentives.


Optimistic rollups were launched in 2019, the Open Mainnet launched in December 2021, and the OP governance token was launched via a community airdrop on May 31, 2023.

How does it work?

Optimism’s design process is built around the idea of long-term sustainability and not taking shortcuts to scalability. Optimism uses “optimistic rollups”, a data compression technique that collects batches of Ethereum transactions, rolls them up into a single transaction on Optimism’s own blockchain, then sends a single, rolled-up transaction back to the Ethereum blockchain. These rollups are called “optimistic” because the network assumes that they are all valid. If they’re not, validators can contest transactions for up to a week after they’ve been processed.

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