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The Stacks Ecosystem: Next Steps On The Path To Decentralization

With the Stacks ecosystem, we’ve always shared an astonishingly ambitious goal. We’re seeking to transform how individuals interact with the internet, changing the status quo. Every part of our internet interactions are owned, tracked, and controlled by corporations, to a model where users are in control. We’re building a user-owned internet.

It has always been clear to us that to reach this goal, the infrastructure underlying the Stacks ecosystem could not be controlled or significantly influenced by a single party. If it were the case that, in the long term, people relied on Blockstack PBC or some other entity to ensure the stability and development of the Stacks ecosystem, it would never reach its full potential. The ecosystem would only ever be as stable and reliable as the entity propping it up.

This is, in part, why the concept of decentralization is so critical to the growth and stability of blockchain ecosystems, and why Blockstack PBC has been working toward and devoting significant resources to ensuring the ecosystem reaches such a state.


Before delving into the exciting initiatives Blockstack PBC and various members of the Stacks ecosystem are currently pursuing, it’s important to understand that the concept of decentralization has a variety of layers. A few to consider include:

  • Technology: To what extent is the technology itself centralized? Are there parts of the technology that are owned or controlled by particular individuals or entities?
  • Governance: To what extent can an individual or single entity dictate changes to the technology and decide its future?
  • Ecosystem: To what extent do single individuals or entities hold such influence that there is little room for contribution from others?

Since the launch of Stacks 1.0 blockchain, the technology underlying the Stacks ecosystem has been decentralized. This will also be true of the Stacks 2.0 blockchain, expected to launch later this year, and is the goal for any future versions of the Stacks blockchain.

The governance of Stacks 2.0 will be dictated by the Stacks Improvement Proposal (“SIP”) process, with the power to accept or reject any proposal ultimately resting in the hands of Stacks 2.0 miners and users.

However, relative to other entities within the ecosystem, Blockstack PBC has historically played an outsized role. It has been the main researcher, developer and voice of the Stacks ecosystem. We continue to believe that for the ecosystem to reach its full potential, this needs to change. With this in mind, we’re entering an exciting new phase both for the Stacks ecosystem and Blockstack PBC the company.

Blockstack PBC

The Stacks ecosystem has gone through a series of important phases throughout its life with Blockstack PBC historically configuring itself to serve the present needs. The phases can be roughly broken into (a) initial R&D, (b) building and deploying public infrastructure, and (c) increased decentralization.

In the early days of Blockstack PBC, the company was largely focused on research and development, having spent years developing the technology that underlies the Stacks ecosystem.

Then, since the launch of Stacks 1.0 in November 2018, Blockstack PBC transitioned to a phase where the focus was on deploying this technology and building a community of independent developers who then built hundreds of decentralized apps and developer tools.

With the launch of Stacks 2.0 in the coming months, we’re entering another important phase. Stacks 2.0 is our “master design” for the Stacks blockchain — the blockchain we hoped existed when we started this process. Upon the adoption of Stacks 2.0 by independent miners, Blockstack PBC will consider its work on the development of the blockchain itself largely complete.

At that time, Blockstack PBC will cease focusing on the development of the blockchain and, instead, turn its focus to developing applications and developer tools as part of the Stacks ecosystem. This shift in focus for Blockstack PBC coupled with the initiatives described below represent critical next steps in ensuring a healthy Stacks ecosystem where no single party has too much control and where users are not dependent on any single entity for development of the blockchain.

We believe these initiatives will set the stage for the community and network to accomplish the goal of building a user-owned internet.


Blockstack PBC: Again, PBC will narrow its focus within the Stacks ecosystem, no longer leading development of the Stacks blockchain, but instead focusing further on building tools for developers. As part of this shift, Blockstack PBC will change its name, which we anticipate introducing soon. It’s important that, upon the launch of Stacks 2.0, the public understands that the company formerly known as Blockstack PBC is not synonymous with the ecosystem, technology, or community, but simply another contributor along with the other entities and individuals. We believe that changing the name to one that includes neither “block” nor “stack” will aid in this transition and prevent confusion as new people become acquainted with the Stacks ecosystem. I will continue to lead the re-branded PBC entity as CEO.

Stacks Foundation: Blockstack PBC has assisted in the formation of an independent, non-profit foundation dedicated to supporting fundamental digital rights and ensuring that core internet infrastructure remains decentralized. The Stacks Foundation supports the stability and growth of the Stacks ecosystem with a focus on developer and user education, research and development of the Stacks blockchain, and helping coordinate the protocol upgrade process to ensure stability and momentum as the technology evolves. The foundation is led by Brittany Laughlin and Jude Nelson, who left leadership and engineering positions at Blockstack PBC in May 2020 for their new roles.

Clarity Language Partnership with Algorand: As recently announced, we’ve partnered with Algorand to form an independent, open-source project to support future design and development of the Clarity Smart Contract Language, which will be a key element of Stacks 2.0.

New Internet Labs: Larry Salibra, an early community member and contributor, operates an independent entity in Hong Kong that is building independent clients for the Stacks ecosystem, such as the Can’t Be Evil sandbox and upcoming standalone browser for decentralized applications.

Asia Community Entity: A group of Stacks holders who are based out of Asia are coming together to form an independent entity focused on working with and developing the Stacks community in Asia. Xan Ditkoff, a Growth Partner at Blockstack PBC since 2017, now located in Hong Kong, will be leaving Blockstack PBC to lead this entity before August 1st, 2020.

Contribution Entity: PBC growth lead Patrick Stanley (Head of Growth) will form an independent entity for accelerating community contributions within the STX ecosystem in the coming weeks. This entity will be responsible for seeding growth of STX as a use case for an internet anchored in Bitcoin.

Independent Investment Fund: Blockstack Co-Founder Ryan Shea will soon be taking applications for funding founders within the Stacks ecosystem.

Independent App Developers: In addition to the above initiatives, the Stacks ecosystem has already seen independent developers participate in the ecosystem by building over 400 decentralized applications. We expect to continue welcoming new developers to the ecosystem and to see their continued evolution, possibly following tracks like that of Pravica (formerly Dmails), who recently raised $500,000 in a round led by 500 Startups to build a unified Web 3.0 communication suite.

Mining and Stacking: Upon the adoption of Stacks 2.0 by independent miners, there will be miners dedicated solely to mining the Stacks blockchain for the first time. We also anticipate many people and entities hosting “Stacking” nodes as an additional way to participate in the ecosystem.

All of these initiatives represent just some of the growing number of ways we expect individuals and entities can already or will soon be able to participate in the network, setting the stage for even further decentralization. A user-owned internet is not going to be created by an individual or a company. It’s being built by a growing community of people who care deeply about the future of our digital lives; we’re excited about taking these next steps on the path to decentralization.

If you are interested in getting more involved or would like to hear from representatives of the entities mentioned in this post, join the Community Town Hall on June 26th. → Register

Forward-looking statements
This communication contains forward-looking statements that are based on our beliefs and assumptions and on information currently available to us. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by the following words: “will,” “expect,” “would,” “intend,” “believe,” or other comparable terminology. These statements involve risks, uncertainties, assumptions, and other factors that may cause actual results or performance to be materially different. We cannot assure you that the forward-looking statements will prove to be accurate. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date hereof. We disclaim any obligation to update these forward-looking statements.

Muneeb Ali

Muneeb Ali

Dr. Muneeb Ali is the founder of Stacks, a decentralized network that brings apps and smart contracts to Bitcoin. He serves as the CEO of Hiro PBC, a Public Benefit Corp that builds developer tools for the Stacks blockchain. He has raised $75 million USD in funding from investors like Union Square Ventures, Y Combinator, Lux Capital, Winklevoss Capital, and others. Hiro (formerly Blockstack PBC) was featured in the CNBC's list of 100 promising startups to watch. Muneeb received his Ph.D. and Masters in Computer Science from Princeton University. His Ph.D. thesis was nominated for the ACM SIGCOMM dissertation award by Princeton University. Muneeb gives guest lectures on cloud computing at Princeton and his research publications have over 1,300 citations. He is one of the main characters in George Gilder's book Life After Google and was a technical advisor to the HBO show Silicon Valley.