Blockstack is a decentralized alternative to basic web protocols and services, such as DNS and HTTP, that enables blockchains to integrate with existing cloud storage networks. Blockstack’s multi-layer protocol is currently built on top of Bitcoin which it uses as a base blockchain. Core services offered through Blockstack include BNS, a blockchain-based alternative to DNS, Atlas, a network protocol for data transfer and encryption, Clarity, a decidable and interpreted smart contracting language, and Gaia, a network of hash-pointer-storing hubs that maps user data locations. Blockstack’s founders participated in Y Combinator in 2014 and secured investment from Union Square Ventures and Naval Ravikant before the decision to launch a meta token on Ethereum in order to incentivize network participation and raise funds. In September 2019, the project raised a further $23 million in an SEC-regulated token sale. A public alpha of the Blockstack browser was released in Q4 2017 with a DApp store, App.co, released in Q2 2018.
The Atlas Peer Network is a protocol that replaces HTTP for data transfer and encryption. Gaia is a high-performance distributed storage system featuring a network of hubs storing hash pointers mapping the locations of users data, such as hashes of data stored in AWS of Microsoft Azure. The Blockchain Name Service removes the central intermediaries the internet has thus far required to hold a comprehensive registry. BNS associates blockchain addresses to human-readable names, which are globally unique and owned by the person with the associated ECDSA private key. Blockstack developed Clarity as a Turing-incomplete language that is decidable and interpreted, meaning that developers know precisely how code will run before it is executed, theoretically increasing security and reducing the attack surface of contracts. Blockstack introduced the abstraction of a virtualchain in their whitepaper as a means to separate complicated logic from data storage on the Blockstack base blockchain. Bitcoin functions as Blockstack’s base blockchain and stores the BNS. Most operation types on the network, such as retrieving and reading data, need not interface with the base blockchain, helping Blockstack to scale. Other operations, like registering a name or changing its information, will require transactions on the base blockchain with any associated costs. The project is currently preparing for its transition to the new Stacks 2.0 blockchain and as of now, the team plans to use a novel mining protocol, called Proof of Transfer (PoX) that will leverage the security of the Bitcoin blockchain.
Originally, the Blockstack initiative was funded by VCs before a sale of Stack Tokens (STX) was conducted to raise funds and incentivize network participation. STX is used as a means of payment for services on the network, for voting in governance decisions, and as a reward for contributing to the network. STX can be spent to register names and applications on Blockstack. Associating costs to network operations helps prevent spam and reflects domain names’ scarcity. The stacks token also entitles holders to a say in key governance decisions moving forward.
During the Blockstack token sale, a maximum of 440 million tokens were up for sale. The remaining tokens were generated and distributed in three different “mining” processes. The total supply of STX is expected to reach 4.7 billion in ~10 years.