Cosmos (ATOM)

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(Redirected from Cosmos Hub)

Cosmos functions as a decentralized network of interoperable and independent blockchains. The project uses the Inter-Blockchain Communication Protocol (IBC) to allow these blockchains to readily pass tokens and data among each other. Cosmos is the primary blockchain that connects Cosmos’ customized blockchains known as Zones. It is also the first Hub that keeps up with the state of each Zone and the economic center, providing vital services to the Interchain.

Basics

"Cosmos is building the tools to connect a multiverse of blockchain projects together. Launched in April 2019, the $590 million network places interoperability at the core of its project, a blockchain that will be able to translate data from one chain to another, in any programming language and across all consensus algorithms. “The premise for Cosmos is that we are the least-maximalist-possible project,” All in Bits, Inc. core developer Sunny Aggarwal said. “We just want to connect everything together.” While concord is Cosmos’ aim, the project has been rife with internal fragmentation. All in Bits director Zaki Manian left the project and criticized its CEO Jae Kwon for focusing on a side project, while the company itself has split in two. Despite this, Cosmos has attracted the participation of about 100 validators on its proof-of-stake network, and is used by more than 80 companies and projects including Binance and the Thailand government's National ID program."

History

  • From their blog (25-9-2022):

"Inspired by the ongoing research on Proof of Stake, by the spring of 2014, Jae Kwon invented Tendermint. It was unique in that it was the first blockchain system to:

  1. Use a classical Byzantine Fault Tolerant (BFT) consensus algorithm
  2. Implement Security-Deposit-Based Proof-of-Stake (“slasher”)"

By the end of 2014, a growing community of cryptocurrency researchers had come together online in the form of the CryptoCurrency Research Group, largely convinced that Proof of Stake cryptocurrencies were the future of blockchains. They set off to build that future. Among them were Vitalik Buterin, Vlad Zamfir, Ethan Buchman, Jae Kwon, Zaki Manian, Dominic Williams, Arthur Brietman, and others. Vitalik had invented Ethereum, and Vlad had been working as a leading researcher there. Ethan worked closely with Vlad and was contributing to go-ethereum. Jae Kwon had invented Tendermint. Dominic was working on the ideas that would become Dfinity. Arthur had invented Tezos. Zaki was running a supply-chain focused blockchain startup called SkuChain at the time, and was otherwise already everywhere.

Jae Kwon had begun an initial implementation of the Tendermint software in Go around spring 2014 under his company All in Bits Inc, which did business as Tendermint Inc. He chose Go because the language was gaining popularity, especially for distributed systems projects and blockchains. What would become the main Ethereum software was also being written in Go. At the same time, Ethan was working for Eris Industries (now Monax) as the lead blockchain developer, with a mandate to bring Ethereum to enterprise, and was looking for a Proof of Stake solution to integrate with. Tendermint was the leading candidate.

In early 2015, the CCRG held a conference in Silicon Valley. It was here that Ethan and Jae, the founders of Cosmos, first met. They discussed possible attacks on Jae’s Tendermint algorithm, and shortly thereafter began closely collaborating on the Tendermint software. Ethan and Jae spent the better part of 2015 working closely on the Tendermint software. They implemented the Ethereum Virtual Machine as part of the Tendermint application state (technically the first iteration of “Ethermint”), implemented various features to make Tendermint more useful, and made various improvements to the consensus algorithm. In the second half of 2015, discussions between Jae and Eris Industries over copyright of the Tendermint codebase (which included an implementation of the Ethereum Virtual Machine), led Jae to introduce an abstraction between the Tendermint consensus engine and the application state machine it replicates, a programming interface we now know as the Application Blockchain Interface (ABCI). This interface made it possible for application logic to be completely separated from the Tendermint consensus engine, to be run in a different process, and even written in a different programming language,⁴ making Tendermint the general purpose state-machine replication engine it has become today. This allowed the components related to the Ethereum Virtual Machine, and to any cryptocurrency elements at all, to be refactored out of the Tendermint code base. In particular, at the time, ownership over the Ethereum Virtual Machine components moved to Eris Industries, and that code evolved into what is now the Hyperledger Burrow Project. By the end of the year, Ethan decided to leave Eris Industries to build a company around the Tendermint codebase with Jae. He became a formal co-founder of All in Bits Inc and served as its CTO.

After iterating through a number of designs and debating different ways to raise capital, they hit on the concept of Cosmos and wrote the Cosmos whitepaper, which proposed an “Internet of Blockchains’’, based on the Tendermint consensus engine, the ABCI application interface, and a TCP-like protocol for reliable communication between untrusting blockchain networks called the InterBlockchain Communication (IBC) protocol. Jae had written the very first specification of the IBC protocol, which was included in the whitepaper. The first blockchain in the network was to be known as the Cosmos Hub; it would be a Proof-of-Stake cryptocurrency system with a native token called ATOM that would be allocated to participants in a future fundraising event held by a to-be-created non-profit. By the end of summer 2016, Ethan and Jae received some initial funding to build Cosmos. By the end of the year, Jae and Ethan were hiring their first developers at All in Bits.

By February 2017, with the initial funds raised for Cosmos, and following the model set by Ethereum, a non-profit was established in Switzerland called the Interchain Foundation (ICF). The ICF was governed by a Foundation Council (FC) consisting initially of Jae, Ethan and a local Swiss board member named Guido Schmitz-Krummacher. In April 2017, a fundraiser was conducted for the Cosmos project. The Cosmos and Tendermint projects had already developed significant grassroots reputation and adoption over the years among early blockchain developers. AiB grew to some ~20 people over 2017. By early 2018 the Cosmos-SDK really started to take shape and the early pieces of the Cosmos Hub started to make use of it. Over the course of 2018, the testnet program grew considerably and became increasingly decentralized. By Summer 2018, there were decentralized testnet launches with over 100 validators.

  • From their blog (16-6-2021):

"What began as Jae Kwon and Ethan Buchman’s creation of what is now the Tendermint consensus algorithm has evolved into a thriving community that grew from the Fundraiser in 2017, to the current multi-entity virtual organization that powers hundreds of innovative blockchain apps and services today."

Audits & Exploits

Bugs/Exploits 

  • The founder of Cosmos explained that BNB Chain did use IBC code which caused its bridge to be exploited, but that the exploit itself would not have been possible within Cosmos and its IBC network (9-10-2022).
  • From Blockthreat (28-4-2022):

"CosmWasm patched a consensus breaking vulnerability."

  • From Blockthreat (13-4-2022):

"CosmWasm fixed a critical address normalization vulnerability which could be used to bypass verification checks after it was responsibly disclosed by Halborn."

"Cosmos patched a critical vulnerability which may have resulted in chain halting. Node operators are advised to update to the latest version."

  • Cosmos Hub developers released Gaia v4.2.0 on Mar. 25, 2021. This release a critical security vulnerability found in the Gaia v4.1 release line. The vulnerability doesn't put user funds at risk; however, it can result in a chain halt.

Hard Fork

  • On 28th May 2019 "a critical security vulnerability in the CosmosSDK was reported to the Tendermint team through security@tendermint.com. In response to this issue, we are currently coordinating a hard fork to upgrade the Cosmos mainnet, and we are reaching out to validators to ensure that they are available to respond during the network transition at block height 482100.”

Governance

  • The “percentage of voting rights” retained by the “top 10 block producers (BPs)” on Cosmos stands at 57.3% (as of 13-4-2019). And the top 20 validators own more than 70% of the voting power (27-4-2019)
  • From this piece (27-4-2019):

'The Cosmos Network has no fixed rules of membership — anyone can build a hub or a zone. Hubs are themselves sovereign blockchains built with the intention of connecting a bunch of other blockchains. Two examples are the Cosmos Hub, which was recently launched by the Tendermint team, and the Iris Hub, a Hub that plans to connect blockchains which primarily operate in China and other parts of Asia. This hub-and-zone model makes inter-chain communication more efficient, because instead of connecting to every other blockchain, each blockchain only needs to connect to a hub."

"there is no single “governance” process for the Cosmos Network. Each hub and zone has its own governance processes and there is no central set of rules that apply to the entire network of blockchains. When people talk about “governance of Cosmos”, they are referring to is the governance of the Cosmos Hub, the blockchain launched by the Tendermint team. The Cosmos Hub has a set of rules that lets anyone send a text proposal, and Atom holders are allowed to vote on it, where their votes are weighted by the number of Atoms they own. This is an example of what a proposal looks like. To learn more about the intricacies of the governance process, this blog post by Chorus One is a good primer on the governance of the Cosmos Hub."

"Validators are required to vote on all proposals. Failing to do so in a timely manner will invoke a temporary suspension of the validator identity for one week. The on-chain governance system of Cosmos can be divided into three phases:

Phase 1: Proposing

Anyone could submit proposals to the voting system. To enter the voting phase, the proposal needs to attract a minimum deposit from the proposer or other atom token holders. Phase 1 lasts maximally two weeks.

Phase 2: Voting

Atom token holders gain voting power by staking tokens in the system. The voting power is proportional to the number of staked tokens.

Voters have five options: Yea, Yea with Force, Nay, Nay with Force and Abstain.

Token delegators could cast their own votes. Otherwise, they automatically inherit the delegatee’s vote (a.k.a. liquid democracy). Phase 2 lasts two weeks.

Phase 3: Tallying

A proposal is considered passed if and only if the following two criteria are both satisfied:

  1. More than half of the voting tokens have voted Yea and Yea with Force
  2. Less than one third of the voting tokens have voted Nay with Force

The deposit staked in the proposal will be confiscated to the reserve pool if the majority of voters consider it as a spamming proposal. Otherwise, it will be returned to the original owners. Successful proposals will be implemented by validators."

Vote Delegation/Buying?

"In protocols where validators set commission rates, validators may deploy a strategy to gather voting rights through offering validation services for free (as demonstrated by the Sikka validator on the Cosmos Hub)."

This can be seen as delegation of votes, or as a form of vote buying.

Community Tax Pool

  • Seem to be funded by their self funding mechanism.
  • On-chain gov has been added (18-12-2020). Before, validators could only signal, but since this upgrade they can also vote on it and spend the treasury.

"The Cosmos Hub community tax pool had been slowly accumulating ATOMs since the launch of the mainnet to having over 340 thousand ATOMs. At the end of January 2020, the very first community spend vote was passed: Prop 23 (source)

Prop 23 stated that it would pay 5250 ATOMs to instantiate a Cosmos Governance Working Group. It passed with ~91% Yes in which 63% of the voters were validators while the other 37% of the voters were non-validating ATOM holders who overrode their validators' vote.

In Cosmos, there is a semi-liquid democracy whereby votes are by default cast by validators and individuals with voting power inherit the votes of the validators they're staked with. However, if individuals choose to cast their own votes, they can override their validators' votes, which is what we have seen happen with this proposal. Because of this governance feature, Cosmos governance differentiates itself from representative democracies as seen in DPOS protocols like EOS."

Cosmos Community Contributor Grants

"This is a retroactive grant awarded to people who have done exceptional work throughout the process of bootstrapping the Cosmos community since 2019 and—for some—even earlier. While this blog post outlines recipients of a “grant”, know that there was no explicit “grant program” that was in place for applications to be processed. These Community Contributors neither asked for funds nor applied for any such grants. They were simply chosen because they each took the initiative to build their respective communities out of passion for the project. All we did was take note."

Chosen by who? It seems by Tendermint itself.

"As of this past weekend, on February 23 2020, all of the recipients have been onboarded as vendors to All in Bits Inc (dba Tendermint Inc), where each vendor received between $1000-$3000 USD in Q1. With that, ambassadors are now able to kick off and get reimbursed for future meetups in regions all over the world for the next 12 months. In total, there were 27 Community Contributors who we recognize as stellar stewards of the network."

Token

Launch

Token allocation

Utility

Token Details

"Users pay gas fee in “atom” (the native token of Cosmos). 2% of the gas fee flows to a reserve pool. The fund accumulated in the pool is saved for system upgrades and is determined by the Cosmos governance system."

This could be looked at as a self funding mechanism.

"The rest of the gas fee, together with newly minted atom tokens in each block, is distributed to validators in proportion to the percentage of atom tokens they stake in the system. The more atom tokens staked, the higher reward received. Validators run full nodes and secure the Cosmos network by collecting, assembling and broadcasting transactions according to the Tendermint consensus protocol.

Cosmos sets atom token inflation rate between 7–20%. High inflation rate, i.e. high block rewards, dilutes the wealth of the atom token holders who do not stake their tokens and thus incentivizes them to stake their tokens in the system. The inflation rate is automatically adjusted so that the percentage of staked token attains the target of 66.7%. Specifically, when the staking ratio is lower than the target, the inflation rate is raised so that atom token holders are more encouraged to stake their tokens. Vice versa."

Stablecoin

Tech

  • Whitepaper can be found [insert here].
  • Code can be viewed [insert here].
  • Built on: Tendermint Core
  • Programming language used:

Transaction Details

How it works

  • Uses a Bonded Proof-of-Stake protocol (BPoS).
  • "In Bonded Proof-of-Stake protocols (BPoS) such as Cosmos or IRISnet, both the validator and its delegators are directly punished.” As noted in Bakerz blog, slashing can occur in cases where there’s a “liveness fault” detected on Cosmos or IRISnet. This occurs when the “validator node does not participate in the network consensus for a long time and misses several blocks.”
  • “In some protocols,” Bakerz noted, the “validator can also be jailed, a process prohibiting [them] from re-entering the networks for a certain period of time.” Meanwhile, in BPoS) protocols such as Cosmos and IRISnet, the “delegators are also at risk of punishment,” so POS Bakerz recommended that users “carefully choose [their] validator.”
  • From Bankless (

"The project is a framework for building custom-tailored independent blockchains that are interoperable with all other Cosmos-powered blockchains. Dapps don’t directly deploy onto Cosmos as they would on an L1 per se, rather they deploy as “appchains” — i.e. application-specific blockchains — or onto blockchains that have been deployed via the Cosmos framework. These chains are underpinned by the Tendermint Core consensus engine. The first blockchain deployed on the Cosmos network is the Cosmos Hub. The “Hub” name derives from the fact that Cosmos powers two fundamental kinds of blockchains, Hubs and Zones. In Ethereum terms, a Hub is roughly analogous to a beacon chain, while a Zone is roughly analogous to a shard chain. Simply put, Hubs function to interconnect Zones. As such, Cosmos Hub is not only the first blockchain on the Cosmos network, but it’s also the project’s first and foundational Hub, technically speaking.

Zooming in further, Cosmos Hub is a proof-of-stake (PoS) blockchain secured and governed by ATOM token holders. So while the Cosmos network is best understood as an L0, Cosmos Hub is more directly comparable to, and usable as, L1 infrastructure."

Upgrades

  • From their blog (8-4-2022):

"After successfully having upgraded to Theta on Testnet in March, we’re getting ready to upgrade on Mainnet on April 12th at block height 10085397. The Theta upgrade represents the first big step toward Interchain Accounts by enabling the Cosmos Hub to act as a host chain. After the upgrade, other blockchains with Interchain Accounts enabled will be able to execute two significant actions: 1. Create and control accounts on the Cosmos Hub and 2. Perform Cosmos Hub native transactions.

The second half of this story, scheduled for the Rho upgrade, allows the Cosmos Hub to also be a controller chain. When connected to other host chains, this would allow the Cosmos Hub to perform transactions natively on other chains. For example: if another blockchain enabled Interchain Accounts and became a host chain, the Cosmos Hub community could vote to interact with that chain and perform a predefined set of transactions. Previously, a community would have to elect a group to manage a multi-signature wallet and trust they would act fairly on the community’s behalf. Through batched messages sent using Interchain Accounts, transactions like swapping, staking, voting, and any other type of action native to that chain could be executed directly by the community without ever needing to appoint and trust a third party group. This allows the Cosmos Hub community to expose themselves to the entire Interchain in a completely decentralised fashion.

Also included in the Rho upgrade is Groups, which together with Interchain Accounts allows DAOs to natively interact with other Interchain Accounts enabled chains. With Groups, DAOs who manage funds across multiple blockchains will be able to do so while only having to interface with the Cosmos Hub."

"The Cosmos Hub Vega upgrade was successfully executed. The upgrade contains several new features, including authz and feegrant modules, packet-forward-middleware and IBC as a standalone module."

"Full details of the Vega upgrade can be found here, but essentially, the upgrade includes various versioning updates to ensure the security of the core components that the Cosmos Hub relies on, like Cosmos SDK, Tendermint Core, and IBC. The updates will also serve to avoid consensus errors, and improve efficiency through features like fee and voting delegation. The Vega upgrade is essential to enhance the performance of the Cosmos Hub and ensure that future upgrades occur seamlessly."

"Cosmos’s Inter-Blockchain Communication (IBC) protocol, released last Thursday as part of the network’s so-called Stargate upgrade, enables token and data transfer across Cosmos-based blockchains. With the launch, Cosmos goal of creating a universe of interconnected blockchains can now become a reality. Over $6B in value, of which $2.8B comes from the Terra blockchain, can now move freely across chains built with the Cosmos SDK, according to Tendermint, core contributor to the Cosmos Network."

Staking

"The system starts with 100 validators and targets 300 validators in 10 years. Those who stake the most atom tokens in the system become validators. Those whose staked atom tokens are outnumbered by new entrants, lose their validator status, a.k.a. Liquid PoS. Apart from their self-staked atom tokens, validators could also offer staking service to atom token holders and attract their delegated atom tokens. In other words, atom token holders could delegate their tokens to validators and share gas revenue and block rewards with validators without running a full node. In return, validators could charge a certain commission for the staking service."

Validator Stats

100,000 $ATOM delegators

330,000 $ATOM accounts

Cosmos Hub

  • The Cosmos Network has no fixed rules of membership — anyone can build a hub or a zone. Hubs are themselves sovereign blockchains built with the intention of connecting a bunch of other blockchains. Two examples are the Cosmos Hub, which was recently launched by the Tendermint team, and the Iris Hub

Interoperability

IBC

"IBC (Inter-Blockchain Communication) is the interoperability protocol for communicating arbitrary data between arbitrary state machines (blockchains). While in the future any blockchain with finality can implement IBC and join the Cosmos network, the only production ready implementation is as a set of Cosmos-SDK modules. IBC is trust-minimised, as though two IBC enabled chains require a third party relayer, it only needs to relay 1) signatures of the source chain’s validators attesting to the block header, and 2) a merkle proof which, together with the block header, proves a certain tx exists in the source chain’s block. Neither of these can be forged.

We see IBC’s trust assumptions as a huge advantage. Most bridges work by introducing one or multiple different stakeholder groups sitting between two chains and relaying messages, creating additional trust assumptions and attack vectors. IBC only requires trust in the chains being connected. Given cross-chain messaging is at the heart of the cross-chain architecture we’re exploring, ensuring the bridge is trust-minimised is a key consideration for us.

IBC provides more functionality than just message passing. Interchain Accounts is a new feature that allows blockchains to control an account on another chain via IBC. With IA, multi-chain UX gets drastically simplified. Instead of opening many accounts across chains, moving tokens between them, paying fees in different denominations, users will be able to use dApps across different chains from a single account. For a cross-chain project, this feature would allow for example governance on a central chain to control smart contracts on connected chains. There’s also Interchain Queries, which allow one chain to query the state of another. These features are however still immature and not quite ready for production usage, but once ready will significantly broaden the design space for cross-chain applications."

"“At its core, IBC is a method of securely exchanging data between two independent (sovereign) blockchains. This means that any two blockchains that support IBC can send communication back and forth in a permissionless manner,”

"Cosmos uses a cross chain protocol called Inter-Blockchain Communication (IBC). The current implementation of Cosmos uses the Hub to pass tokens between zones. However, Cosmos does have a new specification for passing arbitrary data. Nonetheless, as chains do not share state, receiving chains must trust the security of a message's origin."

The Peg Zone, or Bridge Space

"ChainSafe announced yesterday that it's launching ChainBridge, which will function as one of the several 2-way peg zones between not only Cosmos and Ethereum but for many other related blockchains. This peg zone model builds from the initial Peggy architecture that we laid out for Cosmos in early 2018. Many dev shop projects have since picked up the torch on building these chain bridges. ChainSafe's ChainBridge is one of many Cosmos <> Ethereum 1.0 bridges that will coming down the pipeline soon.

Althea is launching their version of the peg zone, or 'Peggy', and they are "optimistic" about deploying one in the near future (full story here).

And that's not all there is for the bridging economy. Swish Labs is coming out with their own version of Peggy, giving this cross-chain network at least 3 bridges to start with by the end of 2020. If one were to analogize these peg zones to toll roads, then this multi-bridge system gives the user many different IBC options and fee models."

Bitcoin Peg

"Chjango Unchained (Tendermint), Matt Luongo (Keep Network), Matt Bell (Nomic), and James Pestwich (Summa and recently joined Celo) discussed Bitcoin pegs — what is currently available and the future of Bitcoin pegging at ‘Cosmos Unchained: Bitcoin Peggy Showdown’ virtual event."

Polkadot Bridge

"The Interchain Foundation (ICF), the non-profit organization that helps fund Cosmos ecosystem development, recently funded development group cdot to build an IBC Substrate pallet, which will serve as a bridge between Polkadot and Cosmos. cdot has also joined forces with Chorus One and Informal Systems to form the Substrate IBC Working Group. These three development teams will work to coordinate their individual efforts to bridge the Polkadot and Cosmos ecosystems."

Plasm

Plasm has its testnet live for a bridge between Secret Network, Polkadot and Cosmos (13-4-2021).

Blockchain States

  • From this piece describing the difference between Cosmos and Polkadot (27-4-2019). On blockchain states:

"In the Cosmos Network, instead of using a local/global model for security, every blockchain is independent and secures itself. Each blockchain runs its own consensus and the validators of each blockchain are responsible for securing that blockchain alone. The network uses a hub-and-zone model for interoperability, where zones (independent blockchains) can “send tokens” to other zones by routing through a hub (also an independent blockchain). This protocol is called the IBC (Inter-Blockchain Communication), which is a protocol for sending messages between chains to represent token transfers. The IBC protocol is a work in progress, starting with token transfers and eventually any type of message passing between blockchains."

and on the consensus mechanism;

"each blockchain in the Cosmos Network can use any consensus algorithm that adheres to a certain specification known as the ABCIspec. This specification is created to standardize communication between chains. Right now, only the Tendermint algorithm fits this spec, but there are other efforts to create other consensus algorithms that fit this specification. At a high-level, the Tendermint algorithm works by having every validator talk to each other to approve/reject any single block, creating finality on a per-block level. The algorithm is fast and has been stress-tested in a live environment with 200 validators and 6-second block times during Game of Stakes. The Cosmos team also provides a software development kit with the Tendermint algorithm being usable out-of-the-box. This blog post is a good primer on consensus algorithms, and the features of Tendermint that make it useful.

The biggest downside of Tendermint is that it has a high communication overhead between validators. This means that while it could work fairly fast with ~200 validators, it will be much slower with 2000 validators. However, the trade-off here is that you get safety in asynchrony. This means that in a network partition, instead of having 2 different histories of transactions which will eventually merge (and 1 history will get discarded in the process), the network will halt instead. This is important because if you see a transaction that is “finalized”, it will never be reversed even in the worst network conditions."

Teams that work on the Cosmos Tech

Agoric:

"the ICF has funded Agoric with service contracts to help design and implement the IBC protocol to be sufficiently general to satisfy both Cosmos and Agoric use-cases."

Regen:

"Beyond the investment, the ICF has also been engaged with Regen in service agreements since late 2018 to develop modules for, and improvements to, the Cosmos-SDK. While the initial focus was geared specifically towards the ecological regeneration use case, the scope has significantly expanded over time, to the point that the Regen team is now a core contributor to the Cosmos-SDK. To wit, they have been developing substantial improvements like the on-chain upgrade module, the account sub-key system, and the replacement of Amino with Protobuf, and they’ve played a leading role in the CosmWasm project, which is bringing WASM-based smart-contracts to the Cosmos-SDK. These improvements significantly benefit both their specific application and Cosmos at large. Much of this work has been led by Regen’s CTO, Aaron Craelius, who has become deeply familiar with the Cosmos-SDK, and by their lead developer, Ethan Frey, who built the first prototypes of the Cosmos-SDK at All in Bits in 2017."

Lunie:

"the ICF has engaged Lunie with service contracts to improve the Lunie wallet experience, to maintain it across Cosmos Hub upgrades, and to develop a browser extension and mobile application to complement the web-app, all of which are now available. They worked closely with Juan Leni and the Ledger team to improve the UX of the Ledger Nano app, and have written tutorials about how staking and governance work on the Cosmos Hub. A significant amount of time also went towards maintenance fixes due to breaking changes in Cosmos Hub upgrades. Hopefully, with help from things like the new upgrade module developed by Regen, this overhead will be reduced in the future."

Figment:

"Figment was an active participant in the Cosmos testnet program in 2018 and was one of the “Never Jailed” winners in the Cosmos Game of Stakes. They also built Hubble, the Cosmos staking explorer. In late 2018, leading up to the Game of Stakes, the ICF engaged them with a service agreement to open source Hubble and to add some features to ensure that it was easy to access information during the Game of Stakes.

Most recently, the ICF engaged Figment to build open-source income reporting tools for staking rewards for current and previous versions of the Cosmos Hub, so that everyone can get the necessary information to satisfy their reporting requirements.

While only a small amount of Figment’s funding has come from the ICF, they have taken a significant leadership role in the Cosmos Hub community and governance process. They’ve published many articles about the Cosmos ecosystem and technology, and are quite active in the community and development channels. Their Community Analyst, Gavin Birch, has been a leading evangelist for the Cosmos governance process and has played a seminal role in drafting governance proposals and marshalling support for Cosmos Hub upgrades. This work was done independently by Figment, establishing them as a community leader, and the network has benefited significantly from it. It’s amazing to see independent entities step up to leadership roles to help marshal the decentralized network forward.

In early 2020, Gavin’s role in governance was recognized formally by the on-chain governance mechanism. With the latest Cosmos Hub 3 upgrade, spending from the community pool became possible by passing a governance proposal. The network voted to pay Figment Networks for Gavin’s work to form a Governance Working Group intended to lower the barrier for high-quality governance proposals, to help organize participation in the governance process, and to develop resources and best practices documentation for future governance proposals. We’re excited to see such important work being funded autonomously by the Cosmos Hub’s native economics itself, without any influence or funding from the Interchain Foundation."

Chorus One:

"Brian, Meher, and the Chorus One team have been huge contributors to the Cosmos ecosystem over the years, with a focus on protocol analysis and community growth. They provided significant early feedback on the economics of the Proof of Stake design, and have published many articles about the Cosmos protocols and community. Chorus One is currently validating on Cosmos-based networks and other Proof-of-Stake blockchains."

Others:

"These include teams from IrisNetBHarvestForboleBinanceCommercioPersistenceCertus OneCosmostation, and so many more, all of whom have made major contributions to the core Cosmos software, protocols, tools, and/or community. Some of these teams are mentioned explicitly in reviews of the funding program, or in the ICF’s official funding program repository, but many others have never received funding from the ICF, and yet continue to make major contributions to the ecosystem."

  • From this blog (29-6-2020):

"Althea will receive funding from ICF to productionize Peggy, the software that enables Ethereum peg zones. The team will focus on building the Cosmos SDK application for moving assets on and off Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) based Proof of Work chains. Peggy will enable an anti-fragile array of interchain routes with certain features and security assumptions being operated by various entities.

Confio received funding from ICF to support its work on the CosmWasm WebAssembly smart contract module for the Cosmos SDK. This will further support features such as a Javascript light client and a new Cosmos Javascript suite, CosmJS.

Oracle Method

Privacy Method

"The Zcash Foundation plans to utilize this functionality, allowing Cosmos users to send and receive private and anonymous transactions."

Their Other Projects

NFTs and Metadata

"The ICF announced the formation of a new technical working group with a mission to develop Interchain Standards for Non-Fungible Tokens and Metadata."

Roadmap

"At the Cosmoverse conference in Columbia this week, the Cosmos team released a white paper setting out a three-year roadmap of changes that radically overhauls the Cosmos ecosystem.

  1. The first is Interchain Security which lets other Cosmos appchains “rent” security from Cosmos Hub (current staked value of $2.6M) for a fee, of which 25% is paid to ATOM stakers. This enables smaller Cosmos IBC appchains with a low marketcap to better guard against whale validator attacks without sacrificing decentralization of its own validator network.
  2. The second is liquid staking, which enables the rehypothecation of staked ATOM tokens across Cosmos IBC, something ATOM stakers on the Cosmos Hub currently lack. ATOM’s current monetary policy is similar to pre-Merge ETH; it dynamically adjusts based on demand and supply of staking. ATOM inflation increases when staking is low, and decreases when staking is high. This will change into a deflationary direction over 36 months.
  3. The third is the Interchain Scheduler, a cross-chain marketplace MEV (maximal extractable value) solution set to launch in January 2023. Just like Ethereum, Cosmos suffers from MEV problems. Osmosis alone has leaked more than $6.7 million to arbitrage bots in value since its genesis in June 2021. The Interchain Scheduler will allow appchains to formally sell a portion of their blockspace in the form of (tradable) tokenized NFTs. The point here is to better allow users to execute block transactions in a trust-minimized manner. Unlike Flashbots that solves Ethereum’s MEV problems on a transparent off-chain market, the Interchain Scheduler brings these on-chain.
  4. The fourth is the Interchain Allocator, which is an unnecessarily technical way to say that Cosmos Hub’s treasury funds will be used to invest and fund new Cosmos chains through on-chain agreements. Stakers can lock up their ATOM in DAOs, granting them voting power over the DAO and be rewarded by Cosmos Hub funding if these DAOs succeed. The basic idea here is that Cosmos Hub will be a Big Player aligning incentives between ATOM holders and DAOs to create public goods, akin to Gitcoin in the Ethereum ecosystem.

All of these core changes, if passed in a governance vote, will pivot Cosmos away from its current “equal playing field” state where ATOM lacks value accrual toward a direction that positions ATOM as the center of the ecosystem."

  • Says it has completed its 2016 roadmap and has released its new roadmap (16-6-2021):

"In the Cosmos Hub Roadmap 2.0, we’ll be enhancing Cosmos Hub functionality by focusing on key areas like liquidity, economic security, usability, and participation

With interchain staking, validators on a parent chain that choose to validate on a baby chain will be slashable on the parent chain. This means that validators that are already trusted with securing the Cosmos Hub will also be able to provide security to new chains, earning even more rewards for securing baby chains and being subject to penalties for misbehavior."

  • Is again saying IBC is super near (16-12-2020) and is also giving a Tendermint Core roadmap:

"Goal 1: Increase the number of people who can make substantive contributions to Tendermint Core

Goal 2: Ship features and fixes which help Tendermint Core retain its market-leading position

Goal 3: Improve the developer- and user-experience for projects that use Tendermint Core

Goal 4: Expand and curate the number of technologies that can be integrated with Tendermint Core"

It also went on saying that 98% of the Cosmos roadmap is complete.

"Be on the lookout for the biggest launch to come to the Cosmos Hub since mainnet launch itself: Stargate. Stargate, to the uninitiated, is the name of a major software upgrade that contains several significant milestones, namely:

  1. Inter-Blockchain Communication—*The* IBC that was first specified in the Cosmos whitepaper that the industry has been anticipating with bated breath (need I say more?)
  2. Protobuf migration—Up until Stargate, the Cosmos stack relied on an artisanal serialization format called Amino, compared to Ethereum's use of RLP. While Amino optimized for correctness, the migration to Protobuf would optimize for performance, giving all Cosmos SDK-based blockchains a ~100x boost when they make the upgrade.
  3. State sync—This feature allows new nodes to sync to the blockchain tip 200x faster than they currently can.
  4. Tendermint lite clients—Tendermint lite clients are to trusted Cosmos (PoS) lightweight nodes as BIP 37 Simplified Payment Verification (SPV) nodes are to trust-minimized Bitcoin (PoW) light nodes. The operative distinction is in the trusted versus the trust-minimized dichotomy. Put simply, while a SPV node would not need to trust the full node that getting its data from, a Tendermint lite client _would_ need to trust the validator set that it's getting its data from. With the inclusion of this feature and the feature outlined in #1 (IBC), this implies that Cosmos would have completed the delivery of all of its promised outcomes that were specified in the original whitepaper. Tendermint's lite client design is arguably the most viable way of implementing all BFT-based Proof-of-Stake lite nodes. I fully anticipate the rest of the PoS ecosystem to ultimately converge on this design. More about Tendermint lite clients here.
  5. Chain upgrade module—This automates the process of software upgrades after Cosmos governance votes them in. The current state of upgrades on the Cosmos Hub are painfully manual and difficult to scale without this new feature. A loose timeline for the Stargate upgrade sets us up for an end of July start. Read an in-depth outline about the Stargate upgrade here."

"IBC is nearing production-readiness and is being stress-tested in a testnet environment.

There are currently 8 separate Cosmos SDK-based testnets (e.g. Dokia, Ping IBC, Iris, etc.) that have established IBC connections to each other's testnets and are transporting IBC messages to one another across chains. 

Game of Zones (GoZ): Incentivized testnets were a thing pioneered by Cosmos in 2018. Game of Stakes (GoS) was the first of its kind which subsequently spurred the creation of at least 11 other incentivized testnets since its inception, including that of Cardano, Solana, Near, Oasis, Irisnet, Celo, Matic, Icon, Lino, Coda, and Nucypher, to name a few."

Usage

"Despite a constant flow of new wallets created with non-zero balances, the vast majority of them are being created on centralized exchanges. 17,217 new wallets were made between Oct 9 and Dec 8, 2020. 40% of all accounts created in the past 6 months were done on Binance. And between Binance and Coinbase, the two largest ATOM onramps, that’s 65.5% of all new accounts created. This tells us that the demographic of most new stakers are composed of speculators, not developers or project enthusiasts; if it were the latter, then new account generation would start at the non-custodial wallet level, which is not at all what the data reflects."

Projects that use or built on it

"The Zcash Foundation plans to utilize this functionality, allowing Cosmos users to send and receive private and anonymous transactions."

  • From their blog (16-6-2021):

"Now, more than 30 enterprise-grade public chains comprise the Cosmos, including Binance Coin, Terra, Crypto.com, Cosmos Hub, and OKB, as well as more than 240 apps and services. Together, they represent a market capitalization that totals more than $75 billion."

Blockchains that are built using Tendermint and components of the Cosmos SDK, and should be connected at some point with the main Cosmos Hub:

There are over a hundred different DApps (28-5-2020). Some of them are:

 Pros and Cons

Pros

  • In 2022 there are now 48 active zones, up from 8 a year ago (IBC went live at the beginning of 2021)

Cons

  • Very high inflation rate (new roadmap on 2022 tries to counter this)
  • IBC has a few limitations, namely that tokens are “path dependent”, and thus IBC is likely to adopt a hub & spoke model around major “Hubs”.
  • Interoperability seems not to need a protocol layer in between. Ethereum and REN are an example of bridging blockchains.
  • From this blog (27-4-2019):

"Staking period (21 days) is way too short. Speculators could vote for proposals that are in favor of short-run interests.

The current voting design does not scale as the system grows. As the ecosystem grows, proposals on different topics will be initiated more frequently. It is neither efficient nor fair to require all validators to vote on every proposal.

The voting design is susceptible to ambushes at the end of the voting period."

"Trust the Transaction: Assume that if a transaction has been received, it must be valid. In Cosmos, for example, a transaction that is copied to the main hub is considered irreversible.  They keep track of the total number of tokens in each economy so you cannot create new ones but you could theoretically create invalid transfers between parties (eg steal tokens from other parties)."

Competition

Difference with Polkadot

"Substrate and Cumulus are SDKs for the creation of parachain-compatible blockchains provided by the Polkadot team. To be a parachain, one is not required to be built using Substrate/Cumulus, nor are Substrate-created chains forced to be parachains. However, only parachains can be interoperable with one another. Since there are a max number of parachain slots, chains can only become parachains by successfully bidding for a lease via an auction process. This means that the cost of interoperability is a sacrifice of sovereignty to Polkadot governance, which could in theory revoke its parachain status at any time. By contrast, the Cosmos approach is to provide opt-in interoperability modules without requiring any connection to the hub chain."

  • Substrate vs Cosmos SDK, from this piece (27-4-2019)

"Both Polkadot and Cosmos offer a software development kit, called Substrate and the Cosmos SDK respectively. They are both intended to make it easy for developers to start building their own chains, and include various modules out-of-the-box, such as governance modules (voting systems), staking modules, authentication modules, and so on. The main difference between the two is that the Cosmos SDK supports Go, whereas Substrate supports any language that compiles to WASM (Web Assembly), giving more flexibility to developers."

  • "In conclusion, (...) the biggest advantages of Polkadot over Cosmos are the following:
  1. Application developers do not need to bootstrap their own security
  2. If they can solve data availability, interchain messaging under shared security is easier
  3. They seem to be more ambitious with Substrate (WASM, more consensus algorithms & modules out-of-the-box)
  4. Focus on arbitrary message passing better for cross-parachain contract calls. (Still unsure of use case today)
  5. Seems to have more developers building version 1.0

Conversely, the advantages of Cosmos compared to Polkadot are the following:

  1. Cosmos is live. Polkadot is not. (27-4-2019)
  2. Polkadot has a restrictive & possibly expensive parachain membership process
  3. More customizability is better for specific projects (e.g, Binance)
  4. Evil validators of parachains could spread corruption throughout entire network. Cosmos restricts corruption to only within the zone & corresponding assets
  5. Cosmos SDK used by many projects already
  6. Focus on asset transfers simpler & easier to get right. Proven use case today."
  • Another comparison between the two projects can be found on the Cosmos forum.

Cosmos vs. Ethereum 2.0

"With interoperability proving to be a big focus area for blockchain in 2020, Cosmos could be seen as having an edge over Ethereum 2.0. Billy Rennekamp, grants manager at the Interchain Foundation, told Cointelegraph how interoperability benefits Ethereum 2.0 as much as any other platform: “The ultimate vision is that there should be a large and diverse ecosystem of blockchains, including Ethereum 2.0 that remain composable via Inter-Blockchain Communication (IBC) and together form an Internet of Blockchains, or Interchain. If Eth2.0 utilizes IBC for their cross-shard communication, they will be able to use it for cross-chain communication as well.” According to Ethan Buchman, co-founder of Cosmos and CEO of Informal Systems, the classic BFT is arguably the most straightforward and flexible approach to reaching consensus. He told Cointelegraph: “Tendermint’s design decouples the BFT consensus engine from the Proof of Stake economics, allowing more experimentation in the economic details. In contrast, the ETH2.0 consensus is tightly integrated with the rest of the ETH2.0 stack.”"

Coin Distribution 

"Cosmic whales are afloat in the Cosmos. With a newly launched block explorer, we're now capturing data that shows that 67% of all ATOMs in circulation are held in just 63 addresses. This is a very small number of whales, considering there were more than 1000 participants in the public fundraiser that concluded in 2017. The address with the largest holding has 8.6% of all ATOMs! (Source)"

  • Voting power distribution can be checked here (28-7-2020). 30% is in the hands of 'core business staking companies', 20% in the hands of VC's, 10% in the hands of Tendermint.
  • From Our Network (2-10-2020):

"Binance became the #1 validator on Cosmos Hub with 7.27% of voting power. Community members are noticing a consolidation of voting power among centralized crypto exchanges and top validators. (Source: Cosmo Scan)"

Stakers

  • Stake.fish is a Staker and is *the* largest (7-7-2020) Cosmos validator with 6.86% of the voting power in the entire network.
  • A good overview of validators can be viewed here (28-7-2020).

Team, Funding, Partners

Team

  • The founding team broke up into several companies, all still working on Cosmos and Tendermint (10-8-2020):

"Kwon continues to spearhead Tendermint’s work on software development, as does Manian’s startup, Iqlusion, and a few other companies like Althea and Chainsafe. Plus, the non-profit created a startup in Berlin, Interchain GmbH, now staffed by former Tendermint technologists working on the same goals as 2019. “The whole engineering team working on the consensus algorithm moved over to Interchain GmBH when it started,” said Tess Rinearson, VP of engineering at Interchain GmbH. “The transition was very smooth.”

“Interchain Berlin is perhaps the most focused team on the core infrastructure of Cosmos. At the moment, they don’t have any other business interests,” Manian added. “Other teams are working on Cosmos technology but for specific customers who either have launched Cosmos chains or are planning to.”  For example, Iqlusion generates revenue by running Cosmos validators and also offering software development services unrelated to the blockchain industry. Kwon is still president of the foundation and CTO at Tendermint, while Cosmos veteran Peng Zhong has taken the reins as Tendermint’s new CEO."

  • Many of the team members are said to be sort of closet Bitcoin maximalists.
  • Jae Kwon, the founder of Tendermint has a twitter account called @BitcoinJaesus. Later in 2020, he stepped down as CEO to continue working on his project called Virgo. In 2022, Jae is working on his project called gno.land.
  • Ethan Buchman; co-founder. Later in 2019, he stepped down as CTO and started working on Informal Systems. He also acts as the President of Interchain Foundation.
  • A third co-founder, Dustin Byington, was also brought on to All in Bits Inc to lead finance and operations, though he would part ways with the company soon after in 2016.
  • Zaki Manian, former director of Tendermint Lab, now founder Iqlusion.
  • Awa Sun Yin; researcher at Cosmos (co-founder at Cryptium Labs)
  • Christopher Goes; a protocol developer & researcher at Tendermint/Cosmos (co-founder at Cryptium Labs)
  • Chjango Unchained; Architect of the Cosmos community
  • Peng Zhong; Peng joined Tendermint as one of the first employees in late 2015 as Chief Design Officer. Peng is the CEO of Ignite (Formerly Tendermint) as of 2022.
  • Zarko Milosevic; Zarko joined Tendermint as Research Scientist in 2017. He left Tendermint in 2018. Later he joined Interchain Foundation as Senior Research Scientist. Zarko is the CTO of Informal Systems.
  • From Our Network #21 (15-5-2020):

"From 1 to 4 teams: What was once a single-celled 'organism', the Cosmos core development team has divided into multiple 'organisms'. In other words, the Tendermint team multiplied last March into these distinct teams with distinct responsibilities:

  1. Tendermint Inc is responsible for the Cosmos SDK and ecosystem development of Cosmos.
  2. Interchain Foundation manages grants to teams building infrastructure towards the Cosmos vision.
  3. Interchain GmbH maintains Tendermint Core and leads the development of Interblockchain Communication (IBC), the flagship chain-agnostic protocol for communicating value and data across blockchains.
  4. Iqlusion is responsible for running Game of Zones."

Partners

Investors

  • Gets it's funding from it's curator Interchain.
  • Is part of the portfolio (9-3-2020) of 1confirmation. Of Cosmos’ investors, 1confirmation has replied (2-2020) to CoinDesk about the Jae Kwon controversy, noting internal tensions can be “a positive signal.”

Interchain Foundation

Basics

Funding

“The Interchain Foundation (ICF) raised $17 million in April 2017 to shepherd the development of the Cosmos network. "We initiated a hedging strategy to roughly hold half the crypto in fiat,” ICF Technical Director Ethan “Bucky” Buchman told CoinDesk. “But it took us a while to start liquidating, and in a year or two, it appreciated very significantly. In our bank accounts we have more than the original raise."

“To date, we still have over 1,400 BTC, over 50,000 ETH and just over 20 million ATOMs in the treasury,” ICF director Arianne Flemming told CoinDesk.

At today’s prices, that’s worth over $104 million. And that’s even after the nonprofit deployed $25 million in capital to fund over 50 projects, Flemming said."

"All in Bits [which leads to Tendermint] has been the largest recipient of funding in its service as an anchor in the Cosmos"

Team, partners, etc.

Team (as of 9-2019)

  • Jae Kwon; ex president / CEO, Stepped down and stayed as member of Interchain, as part of decentralization (30-1-2020)
  • Ethan Buchman; president (4-2022)
  • Pascal Schmid; council member
  • Arianne Flemming; "Arianne is Managing Director at the Interchain Foundation. She plays a key role in the day-to-day running of the ICF and its strategic direction. She believes that value should be shared among those who create it. She did her Masters in Finance at Princeton, but decided the trading floor wasn’t for her."
  • Billy Rennekamp; grants manager at the Interchain Foundation

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