Stacks is a smart contract protocol built on top of Bitcoin.
|Total supply||1.32 billion|
- Based in:
- Started in:
- Mainnet release: 1-2021
- Fka Blocktacks. And before that as Onename.
- “is a new decentralized internet where users own their data and apps run locally. A browser portal is all that’s needed to get started.”
- Under the hood, Blockstack provides a decentralized domain name system (DNS), decentralized public key distribution system, and registry for apps and user identities.
- Blockstack has taken a path in locking up tokens – it took a milestone, rather than time-based, approach.
- Blockstack's App Mining program plans on increasing developer rewards to $1M per month by May 2020, according to a blog post; Rewards will increase over 2019/20 in both Stacks and Bitcoin; Blockstack says the number of apps has grown by a factor of ten, reaching 150 total. Update As of Oct. 2019, there are almost 300 applications built on the platform with contributions from more than 100 independent developer teams. The Stacks network is still in v1, with v2 expected to launch sometime in 2020. The v2 release will introduce functionality for Blockstack's native smart contract language, called Clarity.
- "Blockstack is developing a full stack solution for decentralized applications. The focus of the platform is to replace the reliance on centralized cloud service providers and applications that require the storage of user information on these services to operate. 'With Blockstack processes run on the user’s client and data is stored individually. While the platform integrates a native blockchain the majority of computing is done on the edges, i.e. client devices. This allows Blockstack to run a scalable network that uses the blockchain only when necessary. Users are able to control their data on Blockstack thanks to a unique Blockstack ID which is recorded on the blockchain. This ID gives users the ability to independently store data in a medium of their choice and removes the need to maintain passwords for authentication. Currently, there are more than 120 applications running on the Blockstack network."
"Muneeb Ali and Ryan Shea founded Blockstack in 2013 at the Princeton Computer Science department to solve the underlying problems of current web and mobile apps. Muneeb’s Ph.D. thesis was on Blockstack. The two led their new startup through the Y Combinator accelerator in the summer of 2014, and upon completion, raised a seed round led by Union Square Ventures (USV), with participation from Naval Ravikant, SV Angel, and others.
After launching a blockchain-based decentralized identity (DID) system in 2014, the team released the initial design for the Blockstack platform in 2015. They began R&D on its peer-to-peer communication and data storage system. The R&D phase lasted through 2017 and concluded with Blockstack releasing an alpha version of its developer platform, which included a developer release of the Blockstack Browser and a decentralized storage system. By the end of 2017, the company also secured two additional funding rounds via a Series A, led by USV, with participation from Lux Capital, Digital Currency Group, and others, as well as a token offering through the Reg D framework.
Blockstack released a testnet for its blockchain (dubbed Stacks) in Q2 '18 and officially launched the Stacks v1 mainnet in October of the same year. "
Audits & Exploits
- Bug bounty program can be found [insert here].
- From Blockworks Research (18-5-2023):
"On April 19th, it was discovered that a single address was able to trick the protocol into thinking they had more STX stacked than they really did. It is unclear if this was a deliberate attack, but this allowed Bitcoin address bc1qpyjutel6d4gj50dscphjrqcp29ljtfjel7ccap to siphon over 15.5 BTC that ultimately should have flowed to honest STX stackers. Stacks was forced to revert to a proof-of-burn mechanism and unlock all stacked STX tokens. Currently, no STX stackers are earning any BTC.
sBTC will soon be introduced and relies on STX stackers to sign peg-ins/outs between BTC and Stacks. Had this bug occurred with sBTC live, all of the capital in the 'bridge' would have been at risk. The network will revert to Proof-of-Transfer on May 26th via upgrade.
Mass censoring has become commonplace in the Stacks mining process. @f2pool_official holds a ~15% share of all Bitcoin hash power. For nearly half a year, F2Pool has been ignoring other Stacks miners' transactions when they attempt to send BTC to STX stacker addresses, and replacing a low value transaction with their BTC bid. This ensures that no matter how little BTC they send to STX stackers, they are guaranteed to win because there is no other competition. F2Pool essentially pays less than $1 of BTC for $600+ of STX tokens every time they mine a block.
Again, had sBTC been live, this could have been bad. STX stackers will be charged with maintaining the sBTC:BTC peg with the primary incentive being BTC yield from miners. There is no STX slashing mechanism, so it is critical that they are always properly incentivized.
Stacks has been experiencing multi-block reorgs for the past few months. This problem is also stemming from a few large miners. The Stacks team released a statement saying the activity did not appear to be malicious. It is unclear how the Nakamoto upgrade will affect this dynamic with Fast Blocks being introduced."
"At the moment, Blockstack PBC develops and releases new network software. The company hard forks the network annually to implement "protocol-breaking changes and upgrade the network." Blockstack is working to transition to an on-chain voting strategy long term, which would empower users to determine the future direction of the protocol. The voting process would mimic its Proof-of-Burn mining mechanism, where users can cast a vote proportional to the amount of Bitcoin they burned. In theory, the network would incorporate new features if its proposal received a certain threshold of votes (e.g., 80%) that "consistently request its adoption over a given time interval."
- From Token Tuesdays (30-10-2019):
"The Blockstack token distribution currently has a wide array of different allocations for a range of participants in the Blockstack network. For the most part, this is one of the more detailed token distributions we’ve come across. However, there are some slight concerns when looking at the “big picture” of the initial token allocation. The genesis block generated 1.32B STX tokens in total. Of the 1.32B STX tokens minted, 1.16B STX (87%) will largely be distributed to the founders, the team, and the private investors. Other smaller allocations will be used to incentivize participation in the network, such as application mining (more on this later). The majority of the initial allocation will be distributed periodically over the next three years, subjecting STX to a fairly high issuance rate in the short-to-medium term.
Of the 802,374,713 STX tokens sold or distributed in the Founder’s Distribution, Equity Investor Distribution, 2018 Token Sales and 2019 Token Sales, approximately 99% of these tokens will be released from their time lock by the end of October 2021. With that in mind, the next few years of Stacks token distribution is set to undergo a moderate inflation rate as investor tokens continue to be released.
It is important to note that while only 1.32 billion STX tokens will be created at the Genesis Block, there is no pre-set limit on the number of Stacks tokens that will be released over time through mining. Once mining starts, new Stacks tokens will be released using an adaptive mint and burn mechanism. With this, the team estimates that by 2050, there will be no more than approximately 2.048 billion STX in circulation."
"In November 2017, Blockstack raised approximately $50M through a token sale using the CoinList platform. Participants in the sale received distributions based on a price of $0.12 per Blockstack token (Stack), with a total of 1.32 billion created through a genesis block. These tokens were allocated through a main sale, user sale, and creator allocation, with each group receiving 440 million tokens.
The main sale was restricted to accredited investors with additional checks to comply with know your customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) regulations. Investors deemed as “qualified” exceeded the criteria for this category with a minimum of $5 million in outside investments for individuals or $25 million for entities. Qualified investors were required to invest in a fund created specifically for investing in Stack tokens. Investors will receive tokens only if the network goes live. Those that met the accredited investor requirements, but were not deemed qualified, were required to invest in either a second fund or through a simple agreement for future tokens (SAFT). Again, no tokens will be distributed until the network is live, at which point they will vest monthly over a two year period.
Non-accredited investors were able to participate in the user sale which allowed them to sign up for a voucher system giving them the right to purchase $3,000 worth of Stack tokens once the network launches and only if the Blockstack team determines definitively that the tokens are not securities. While the majority of tokens in the user sale will be distributed using vouchers up to 20% have been reserved for giveaways.
Stack tokens set aside for the Creator allocation will be distributed to two separate groups. The first group, Blockstack PBC (The company behind Blockstack) Shareholders, received 75% of the allocated tokens (330 million) with a three year vesting period. The remaining 25% (110 million) of tokens are allocated to Blockstack’s treasury with a vesting period of seven years.
Proceeds from the token sale will be distributed to the Blockstack team based on milestones. The team immediately received 20% of the proceeds with the remaining 80% to be issued in two equal installments, subject to meeting two separate milestones. The first milestone is launching the network on or before Jan. 30, 2019 and the second is achieving one million verified users on or before Jan. 30, 2020.
On April 11, 2019, Blockstack Token LLC filed the preliminary documents for a Reg A offering with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Token LLC, which is responsible for token related activities related to the project, is seeking to sell raise a maximum of $38 million by selling up to 215 million Stacks at $0.12 and up to 62 million Stacks at $0.30. An additional allocation of up to 40 million tokens, valued at $0.30, will be set aside for app-mining rewards. Update: SEC has approved the Token Offering, the first of it's kind."
Token Mint and Burn
- From Token Tuesdays (30-10-2019):
"The Adaptive Mint and Burn mechanism is a dynamic element with the Blockstack’s monetary policy. The mechanism looks at the activity in the network and the amount of STX tokens burned in order to determine the proper block rewards. Therefore, the goal of adaptive mint and burn mechanism is to release a minimum amount of STX per block during low network activity while increasing the number of minted tokens per block when there’s higher network activity."
- From Token Tuesdays (30-10-2019):
"The Stacks Blockchain utilizes Stacks tokens (STX) to facilitate the majority of actions within the ecosystem. Within the next year, STX tokens can be used to:
- Register Digital Assets: STX is burned when a user registers a blockchain-based username, domain, or digital asset.
- Fuel Smart Contracts: STX is used to publish Clarity Smart Contracts and execute functions on these contracts.
- Pay for Transactions: STX is used to process transactions on the network. These fees are distributed to the miners who verified the transactions through Tunable Proofs.
- Block Rewards: Through an adaptive burn and mint mechanism, STX is paid out to hardware miners in the form of block rewards for securing the network."
- Whitepaper can be found [insert here].
- Two new whitepapers were released by the sBTC public working group in Q4, discussing sBTC, a “trust-minimized” two-way bitcoin peg system.
- Code can be viewed [insert here]. According to Electric Capital’s 2022 developer report, Stacks was a top 30 project for developer activity.
- Built on:
- Programming language used: Clarity, its smart contract language. From a commissioned Messari report (26-1-2023): "It allows users to know where a code will terminate before executing it, thus removing additional attack vectors that have been exploited in other popular smart contract languages."
How it works
"Stacks is a Bitcoin layer that utilizes a novel consensus mechanism, Proof-of-Transfer (PoX). Instead of miners burning BTC as a proxy for computing resources, miners commit BTC to eligible Stacks addresses that participate in consensus. PoX runs parallel to Bitcoin’s Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus, using it as a settlement layer. Metadata from newly mined Stacks blocks are anchored to every Bitcoin block, allowing users to verify the canonical Stacks chain via Bitcoin blocks. Stacks miners commit BTC in exchange for a chance to mine a Stacks block. Miners who produce new blocks are rewarded with STX block rewards (newly minted STX) and STX fees, whereas eligible Stackers receive yield denominated in BTC."
"It has a full execution environment, and any application that can be built on chains like Ethereum or Solana can be built on the Stacks layer. Transactions on Stacks settle on Bitcoin automatically every Bitcoin block.
Contracts on the Stacks layer can read and react to Bitcoin transactions, and there is ongoing work to easily move BTC in and out of the Stacks layer in a trustless way."
- From Token Tuesdays (30-10-2019):
"The computing network can largely be broken down into the following components:
- Stacks Blockchain: The foundation for the Blockstack network that enables users to register and control digital assets and smart contracts.
- Gaia: A native decentralized storage system that enables applications to interact with private data lockers (i.e. private applications).
- Blockstack Authentication: An authentication protocol for decentralized authentication that enables universal logins.
- Blockstack Libraries & SDKs: A suite of developer libraries and SDKs that allow developers to build web 3 apps as easy as cloud apps."
The Stacks blockchain is the coordination layer for the Blockstack network. It allows for the storage of user IDs and smart contract processing in addition to maintaining the native Stacks token. The first version of the blockchain used by Blockstack operated on top of the Bitcoin blockchain and recorded transactions directly to the chain using a proof-of-burn mechanism. For version two Blockstack will introduce a new chain that uses Tunable Proofs for consensus. Tunable Proofs allow the chain to use numerous inputs and assign weights to these inputs. In order to bootstrap their blockchain (ensuring that there is enough hash power from the start) Blockstack will rely on a heavier weighting to the previously used proof-of-burn model in combination with native PoW. Once there is enough hash power supporting the Stacks blockchain the weighting can shift towards native PoW. Adding efficiency to the Stacks blockchain is the Atlas Peer Network, which acts as an extended storage layer for the chain. Peers on the network attempt to store full replicas of the data allowing for less load on the Stacks chain. While many blockchains attempt to store all data directly on-chain the Stacks chain stores only hashes and relies on Atlas to store the full data.
The fundamental use case of the Stacks token on the chain is to facilitate fees for transactions or registry of digital assets like user or domain names in addition to acting as “fuel” for smart contracts. Blockstack has introduced a new smart contract language called Clarity. Clarity focuses on security, and predictability and is, therefore, non-Turing complete for single transactions and is directly interpreted by the virtual machine. Systems that compile code before it is deployed run the risk of introducing bugs that were not included in the original code. The lack of Turing completeness also enables static analysis which provides granularity on the cost and behavior of smart contracts before they are deployed.
An additional feature that enables scalability and user security is Gaia. Gaia is Blockstacks storage system that removes the need for applications to store user data and instead gives the user a choice in where to store their data their data in a private encrypted manner, be it on a cloud provider or a local server. The Stacks blockchain, along with Atlas, stores pointers that allow applications to access user data. Information is encrypted when stored and only accessible when a user provides approval via their cryptographic keys. The process of permissioning applications and retrieving data is largely invisible to users who instead interact with Blockstack’s authentication system. When a user logs into an app using their Blockstack ID the user's client manages the authentication process directly from their device removing the need for server-side verification like passwords or 0Auth. A Blockstack ID is used to interact with any application on the platform.
These various components are tied together with Blockstack’s SDK for developers and the user-facing Blockstack browser which functions as an authenticator, app browser, and ID manager."
- From their blog (3-6-2020):
"The Stacks 2.0 Testnet is moving right along with Phase 2 beginning today, codename Argon."
"Blockstack revealed Phase 3 of the Stacks 2.0 testnet (codenamed Krypton) should launch at some point this Fall. Krypton will introduce a testnet version of Proof-of-Transfer (PoX), which is Blockstack's proposed consensus mechanism for the Stacks 2.0 mainnet. The Stacks 2.0 testnet has been in Phase 2 for eleven weeks, shooting well passed its initial four-week goal."
"The average number of Stacks miners grew by 14% QoQ, growing to approximately 7.5 miners from 6.6 miners in Q3."
"The total number of Stackers fell to its lowest in 2022, reaching 168 Stackers, a 9% decline QoQ and a 24% decline YoY. By the end of Q4, there were, on average, 161 individual Stackers and 7 Stacker Pools."
"Paused its App mining program, a pilot program of paid developers to build decentralized apps using its technology, due to several challenges encountered with its execution. While the program helped grow their app numbers from 46 to 400 in a short period, it has not been enough to resolve distribution and decentralization issues. “Blockstack PBC plans to continue exploring ways in which other independent entities can use this allocation for a different, upgraded version of App Mining in 2020 and beyond,” they declared."
- From Token Tuesdays (30-10-2019):
"Blockstack’s application mining is one of the more innovative things we’ve seen implemented in a token distribution. A current dilemma with decentralized businesses is the inability to create rent-seeking applications due to the nature of open-sourced software. In the past, previous dApps on other decentralized computing networks (i.e. Ethereum) have relied on token sales that promote the creation of unnecessary, application-specific tokens. With this, Blockstack launched the Reg A App Mining Program, which issues rewards in Bitcoin (BTC) and Stacks (STX) to developers of well-reviewed applications.
Similar to how traditional PoW mining rewards contributing computing power to secure the network, the Blockstack ecosystem rewards applications being built on the network. With application mining, developers can benefit from an entirely new mechanism for bootstrapping their application without relying on private equity. Instead, every month, qualifying applications compete for a portion of the allocation. Apps are reviewed by “expert app reviewers” who were initially elected by the Blockstack PBC.
For the 40,000,000 STX allocated towards the Reg A App mining program, the rewards pool starts at $100,000 payout in STX tokens in addition to the $100k in BTC. In 2019, total monthly payouts will begin to ramp up with the total monthly payout switching to entirely Stack tokens. Ultimately by May 2020, app mining will increase to $1,000,000 in total monthly payouts entirely in STX tokens.
All qualified applications can be found on https://app.co/ which features a myriad of Blockstack applications alongside popular Ethereum applications. Application mining as shown to be rather successful with major applications raising anywhere from $10-$25k per month along with Dmail reaching nearly $100,000 in total funding in the past few months. This is just the beginning. As of now, Blockstack is distributing around ~$200,000 every month for app mining rewards. As mentioned above, this will only continue to scale up over the course of the next 6-9 months."
"It is important to note that while registering digital assets (i.e. identities) on the Stacks blockchain requires the burning of STX tokens as fuel, Blockstack PBC is currently covering the service to pay for identities on behalf of users. Through this service, anyone can get a free identity from Blockstack in the id.blockstack namespace today. As a result, it can be assumed that a fair share of the 155k+ addresses currently registered did not require the burning of STX tokens."
- Integrated with RedStone (29-4-2023)
Their Other Projects
- Can be found [Insert link here].
"Stacks’ average daily active user base grew by 76% quarter-over-quarter (QoQ), driving nearly 600,000 transactions in the quarter. The increase in users is strongly correlated to the growth in BNS names. The registration of BNS names grew by 318% QoQ from 23,000 to 97,000. Approximately 71% of these registrations in 2022 occurred in Q4. Currently, a Stacks address can only support one registered BNS name, resulting in the creation of new addresses to secure more BNS names. Similar to Ethereum Name Service (ENS), the race to register three- and four-letter names likely caused a significant spike in both active addresses and registered names in Q4. Now that all these names have been claimed, BNS activity will likely be more reflective of its fundamentals going forward.
Across the broader DeFi ecosystem, Stacks represents less than 1% of the total value locked (TVL)."
- Stacks has $11M TVL (18-10-2022)
Projects that use or built on it
- ALEX, a full-service DeFi protocol
Pro's and Con's
- Legal clarity
- Early 2023 faced multiple big issues. An address tricked the Stacks protocol into believing it had more STX tokens, stealing 15.5 BTC. Stacks reverted to a proof-of-burn mechanism, leaving no STX stackers earning BTC. The upcoming sBTC, depending on STX stackers, could be jeopardized by similar bugs. F2Pool, with a 15% Bitcoin hash power share, has been ignoring other miners' transactions, effectively winning by paying less for more STX tokens. The lack of an STX slashing mechanism means proper incentives are crucial. Multi-block reorganizations have been plaguing Stacks, largely due to a few major miners.
- Stiff competition (Ethereum)
- Unlike RSK, Stacks isn’t EVM-compatible
Team, advisors, investors, etc.
- Blockstack is now (as of 12-2019) headquartered in New York City with a globally distributed team that includes computer scientists from Princeton, Stanford, MIT, and other top universities. Blockstack PBC is the public benefit corporation at the heart of the Blockstack ecosystem.
- Blockstack has launched (21-5-2020) a non-profit to decentralize its network. An independent advisory committee will oversee the development of its blockchain.
- Muneeb Ali; co-founder of Blockstack and serves as the CEO of Blockstack PBC. "He received his PhD in distributed systems from Princeton University and gives guest lectures on cloud computing there. He was awarded a J. William Fulbright Fellowship and his PhD dissertation was nominated by Princeton for the ACM SIGCOMM dissertation award."
- Jude Nelson; lead developer
- Blockstack Token LLC is a Deleware based LLC and wholly-owned subsidiary of Blockstack PBC responsible for token related operations for the firm.
- JP Singh and Michael Freedman (Professor at Princeton)
"As of November 2019, Blockstack PBC has raised over $75 million from equity investments and token offerings -- about $23.0 million from two token offerings in 2019, $47.5 million from a token offering in 2017, and $5.1 million in equity investments. Investors in Blockstack include USV, Lux Capital, Zhen Fund, HashKey, Recruit Holding, SNZ, Digital Currency Group, Y Combinator, Foundation Capital, Winklevoss Capital, and over 4,500 other entities and individuals."
- Has investment or is part of the portofolio (8-2019) of Union Square Ventures, Blockchain Capital, DCG, Huobi Capital, YouBi Capital, Winklevoss Capital Management, zk Capital, Meltem Demirors, Michael Arrington, Qasar Younis, Lux Capital, Naval Ravikant, SV Angel and more.
- Is a sponsor of Coin Center
- Part of (9-3-2020) the portfolio of Arrington XRP Capital.