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Blockstack PBC Is Becoming Hiro, Celebrating its Cypherpunk Roots and Developer Community

The change to Hiro will mark a renewed focus on developer tools for the user-owned internet on Bitcoin, while more clearly delineating the company and ecosystem.

“When Hiro first saw this place, ten years ago, the monorail hadn’t been written yet; he and his buddies had to write car and motorcycle software in order to get around. They would take their software out and race it in the black desert of the electronic night.” – Neal Stephenson (Snow Crash, 1992)

Almost 30 years ago, Neil Stephenson gave us a vision of the metaverse, an internet where individuals manifested their destiny through code. But the internet as we know it now, inextricable from our daily lives, desperately needs saving. It has to be returned to those it was meant to serve and who make it valuable—its users. To get there it needs heroes and heroines; empowered developers that can break the grip of a handful of giants and take us toward an open model based on individual ownership.

Blockstack PBC will soon become Hiro Systems PBC, or just Hiro (pronounced he·ro), and our primary focus will narrow to providing developers the tools they need to build this new internet on Bitcoin. This change comes as our work on the Stacks 2.0 public infrastructure winds down and the Stacks ecosystem continues to decentralize and grow. The Blockstack PBC, soon Hiro, team has long believed that developers are the key to our mission and upon Stacks 2.0 launch, we’re excited to focus on their needs as they build apps and smart contracts on Stacks 2.0.

The change to Hiro is both a signal of our commitment to developers, as well as a practical change designed to push focus previously often put on Blockstack PBC, to the Stacks ecosystem. The two have often been conflated and we want to take this opportunity to clearly communicate Hiro’s narrower developer focus while indicating that we, just as with the other independent entities, are one organization within the broader Stacks ecosystem. We believe this change will boost the Stacks ecosystem by making its landscape and mission easier to understand, particularly for newcomers.

Why Hiro?

For one, Hiro is an ode to our company history. The excerpt from Snow Crash above was used by our co-founder, Muneeb Ali, in his original thesis that led to Blockstack. The hero of Snow Crash is a katana wielding coder named ‘Hiro’ Protagonist. Developers are the hero of our story as a company and this new name embeds that notion further in our culture.

Hiro also connects us to broader themes like cryptography, privacy, digital ownership, and others that are central to Neal Stephenson’s writing. As a bunch of cypherpunks at heart, these ideas and values have historically served as a rallying cry for the Stacks community (with Neal even joining us at the last summit). Works like Snow Crash and Cryptonomicon help us more clearly envision our mission and allow us to share vocabulary and culture as we work to build a user-owned internet.

But I love Blockstack!

And we do too! We’ll always be fond of it and grateful for where it has taken us, but a rigorous process that included arriving at the Hiro name made it clear that this move will be in the best long-term interest of the broader Stacks mission. ‘Blockstack’ will always have a special place when they tell the story of how the user-owned internet was built on Bitcoin.

What’s next?

Over the next few weeks, you’ll see changes start to happen on Blockstack properties, with some pieces taking longer than others. In places that are specific to the PBC, we’ll begin updating to the Hiro brand. For ecosystem-level places, such as the community site, forum, and some others, we’re excited to support their transition to the beautiful new Stacks ecosystem brand. We’re committed to being as minimally disruptive as we make these changes and there are quite a few things we’re still working out exactly how we’ll handle. If you have any questions, please take a look at this FAQ or reach out.

We’re so thankful that what was once the mission of a few has become the mission of many and are excited to continue it with you as Hiro Systems.

Muneeb Ali

Mitchell Cuevas

Mitchell is Blockstack PBC’s Head of Growth. He previously led Marketing at UP Global (Startup Weekend, Startup Digest, Startup Week) before joining the Product team at Techstars. He curates the Martech Digest, advises at Cove Group, and runs ScreenChecker.