Aleo is a pioneering developer platform enabling users to build private, scalable, and cost-effective applications. Through zero-knowledge cryptography, it moves smart contract execution off-chain, resulting in decentralized applications that are private and can handle thousands of transactions per second. Aleo combines the flexibility of Ethereum with a more efficient architecture, reducing the need for miners to re-run every transaction, focusing solely on verification.


The Aleo project was officially established in 2019 by Howard Wu, Michael Beller, Collin Chin and Raymond Chu. The team is made up of world-class cryptographers, engineers, designers and operators from companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook, as well as research universities like UC Berkeley, Johns Hopkins, NYU and Cornell.

Howard Wu, the core founder of Aleo, received a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics and a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of California, Berkeley. At Berkeley, Howard also helped found one of the top university blockchain clubs. After graduation, Howard worked at Google for a year, working on distributed systems, Aleo-ASIC, Maxsayss or ZKtaoma, but was soon drawn back to Berkeley to pursue a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science, focusing on zero-knowledge proofs.

He has contributed to cryptographic libraries used in Ethereum and Zcash, worked closely with a number of prominent scholars from Berkeley, Cornell, and other institutions on zero-knowledge proof research, and co-wrote the seminal paper “ zexe: Implementation Decentralized Private Computing ” and is the managing partner of Dekrypt Capital.

Inflation & Mining Rewards

In addition to the initial allocation of tokens, which will be distributed among the Aleo team, early supporters, and community members, a portion will be reserved for broader distribution following the mainnet launch. The aim of this expanded distribution is to further decentralize governance and elevate the open-source community’s standards while adhering to relevant legal frameworks.

Early adopters of the network will benefit from Aleo’s inflationary schedule, which is designed to enhance network security rapidly. To achieve this, we have implemented a relatively higher initial inflation rate, followed by two subsequent halvings within the first decade. This approach ensures both network security and economic stability.

Distribution & Decentralization

The distribution pattern will evolve as additional Aleo credits are generated over time. Refer to Table 3 (below) for a breakdown of Aleo credit distribution based on the provided block rewards. Please note that this representation solely considers the impact of inflation and does not factor in any potential actions by initial holders who might choose to sell their tokens. Consequently, the actual token distribution is likely to be more extensive than the simplified illustration provided

Aleo’s choice to employ a proof-of-work variant, as opposed to alternative consensus mechanisms such as proof-of-stake, offers a distinct advantage in terms of wider token distribution, particularly during the early phases of network development. Right from the outset, the Aleo network will operate without heavy reliance on the Aleo core team, emphasizing decentralized control. This approach follows a well-established path that other blockchain platforms have successfully taken to achieve scalability and robust network security.

It’s important to note that our model deviates slightly yet significantly from conventional proof-of-work systems. In a proof-of-*necessary-*work framework like Proof-of-Succinct Work, the generated proofs serve as genuinely useful computations rather than arbitrary puzzles designed solely for selecting winning miners. Consequently, the incremental energy consumption associated with mining activities in this context is significantly reduced, as the work performed is inherently required for validating state changes. Even in the absence of a blockchain, this work would remain essential. Stay tuned for a forthcoming post where we’ll delve deeper into the concept of necessary work.


Q1: Maybe first of all, for those who are not familiar with Aleo, how would you describe the project in a few sentences and what are you trying to achieve?

Aleo’s goal is to reboot the internet by delivering a secure and more personalized experience powered by zero-knowledge technology. When I say Web, I mean web2 and web3. I like to think of web2 as the information network and web3 as the value network.

We seek to achieve this by building a new private and programmable layer 1 blockchain. Aleo leverages zero-knowledge cryptography and off-chain computation to enable scalable and private decentralized applications. Users execute transactions locally, and computations are compressed into zero-knowledge proofs. This is published to the chain along with the results of the calculation, and nodes can verify the proof to convince themselves that the calculation was completed correctly. All this means is that inputs and outputs are private — they can only be made public if the user wishes.

Privacy by default contrasts with Ethereum or Bitcoin, where all interactions are public. Additionally, Aleo supports universal programmability, which means you can build more advanced applications, such as identity solutions, beyond simple asset transfers in Zcash and other existing privacy-focused chains.

Q2: Your background is very different from many others in the field, you served in the U.S. Army and Special Forces for ten years before entering the crypto field — what sparked your interest in crypto?

In 2015, we worked with Syrian rebels, primarily training them to fight the Assad regime and ISIS. Many of them are refugees who were not only forced to flee their country, but also left behind vast amounts of wealth — including real estate and bank account savings that cannot be accessed outside Syria. So I see people losing everything, most of them who have followed the rules their entire lives.

I learned about Bitcoin around the same time and initially viewed it as an investment. It wasn’t until I came back from that deployment and reflected on those experiences, as well as my previous experiences in the Middle East, that it dawned on me: Bitcoin is a bank account in your head, and you don’t have to trust anyone to access it. You can take it anywhere and use it, as long as you remember the mnemonic phrase or password and start over again. For me, that was the moment I was inspired to get into this field and work on this transformative technology.

Q3: Before joining Aleo about 3 years ago, you were working at A16Z — what was the transition from investor to operator like?

At A16Z, I had the opportunity to work with some great people and learn about many different companies in the field. One person I met through A16Z is Howard, the co-founder of Aleo. That was the beginning of the conversation that led me to Aleo, the first non-founder employee to join them. So I look back on my time with A16Z with great joy and am glad they became an investor in Aleo, but ultimately investing is its own world and requires specific skills. I wanted to be an operator from the beginning.

So this transition was actually quite natural because that was the original plan. I felt strongly about Aleo’s use case and wanted to implement the change myself and be involved in day-to-day operations rather than be a sponsor of the change. I’m happy with how I ended up.