Despite red water market conditions, Blockstack announced on December 13, 2018, that they had “unlocked” $25 million in resources to continue their blockchain development. In a company blog post, co-founder Muneeb Ali described the necessity of an advisory board, reviewed the firm’s milestones, and explained how the newly released funds would be put to use.
Building a Fully Decentralized Internet
Similar to some other blockchain startups in the web 3.0 ecosystem, Blockstack is looking to decentralize the application layer of the Internet. They provide some developer-facing tools that allow builders to enable secure authentication and identity verification. One of the most recent renditions of these ambitions has been the Blockstack’s open source browser. At Consensus 2017 in New York, the co-founders explained that:
“Developers can build apps on this new internet by downloading the Blockstack Mac or Linux app (Windows coming soon) and by using nothing more than existing browsers like Chrome or Safari or Firefox.”
To fund the continued development of their browser and Stacks blockchain, the startup generated a reported $50 million in a token sale which concluded on December 5, 2017. Union Square Ventures, Winklevoss Capital, Digital Currency Group, Kevin Rose, and a handful of other accredited investors all participated in the funding round.
In a clever move to avoid stagnation and improve productivity, the team also established a series of specific milestones, which, once achieved, would incrementally unlock portions of the accrued funding. The Blockstack Token Sale Mechanics Paper reported that “Token LLC will only use 20 [percent] of the initial Fund investment amount, [as] operational capital until Milestone 1 is reached.”
This first checkpoint was defined as fully developing the Blockstack token and successfully deploying these tokens on the network before January 30, 2018, deadline. The genesis block was launched on October 30, 2018, but recurrent stability testing demanded further consideration before an independent advisory board could determine the technology’s success.
The launch of the “Stacks blockchain v1,” enabled two technical features: The registration of smart contracts and the distribution of Stacks tokens. At that time, Jude Nelson, an engineering partner at Blockstack PBC, wrote:
“This version of the Stacks blockchain lays the foundation for the implementation of future functionality, that we anticipate will be introduced as part of hard forks in 2019 or later.”
The board finally met on November 14, 2018, and unlocked the remaining 40 percent of funds according to the Token Sale Mechanics Paper. The team of advisors is made up of seven individuals which include Arvind Narayanan, Arianna Simpson, Catherine Tucker, Charlie Saravia, Koen Langendoen, Rodolfo Gonzalez, and Zavain Dar.
More information regarding Blockstacks’ milestone-based funding mechanism and governance structure can be found here.
Next Steps and Future Development
The second checkpoint will be to reach one million users on the deployed Blockstack network before January 30, 2020. If achieved, and approved by advisors, another 60 percent of the initial investment amount will be released. In the meantime, any operational costs that arrive between now and Blockstack’s App Mining program will ideally cover the 2020 deadline.
As outlined by BTCManager in November 2018, the program offers incentives to app developers who build useful Blockstack-based utilities for users in the community. The viability of the app is determined by app reviewers in which Democracy Earth, a blockchain startup looking to reinvent current political models, and Product Hunt, a product-sharing platform that lets users discover emerging technologies, are the first judges. At the time of press, the top apps are as follows: Graphite, Stealthy, Afari, Coins, and Misthos. The Graphite team earns a monthly reward of $5,000 (1.517 BTC) for earning the top spot.