01/January/2020

Pocket Year In Review

It’s the start of a new decade, and now is as good a time as any to reflect on what we’ve accomplished to date. Having been deep down the rabbit hole in this space since I bought my first bitcoin in 2013 on Coinbase, I’ve been through tremendous personal growth, and have seen our team and the industry as a whole go through an incredible journey.

Summing up 2019 in one sentence:

2019 is the year where the theoretical became practical and Pocket’s software was used in production environments for the first time, validating our ideas and insights that we had as far back as 2016.

As with all marketplaces, like Pocket, the most difficult piece is bootstrapping them from zero. On top of that, we decided to build a blockchain to power this marketplace. This forced us to answer a critical question early on — do we build out the core technology first, or do we pursue growing the potential customer base with the product?

We decided to go against what most blockchains have done historically — we launched Minimum Viable Pocket (MVP). This has proven to be the right choice. We found the ideal middle ground where we were able to build out a trusted, yet decentralized network to prove out our core thesis — that there is a core group of developers who truly value decentralized infrastructure.

You’ll follow a consistent theme in our growth this year. Speaking to our users, fast iteration and low-risk experiments that continually give us more data points in the right direction. We believe that protocols and blockchains, while much more than products, need to be able to solve real-world problems to reach true adoption. We’ve stayed lean while kept with the same vision since 2016 — building a protocol that incentivizes people to run full nodes for any blockchain.

I will keep the following brief, but in summation, 2019 was a year fully focused on the product and its users.

Minimum Viable Pocket (MVP)

Launching MVP was by far the most important decision we made in 2019. It gave us the opportunity to test the market while continuing to build the core protocol in the background. We entered 2019 with just our whitepaper, and by April 15th, 2019 we launched MVP with:

  • 3 nodes
  • 1 application
  • Support for 2 blockchains

The last 8 months have given us insights into our own product and market that if we hadn’t decided to launch MVP, would not have gotten until the launch of the live protocol itself. Quiknode and Nodesmith, two incredibly high-quality infrastructure partners launched with us on day 1. Monster Chase, arguably the most complete sample application ever made, gave us critical feedback on the core SDK. After receiving our first grant from AION in December, we launched with support for ETH and AION, with Monster Chase being one of the first and most complete games built on the platform.

Since then, we’ve:

  • Grown from 7k API requests a day in July to over 3.5M a day in 6 months
  • Had over 100 blockchain developers register a Dev ID
  • Had over 10 node operations run Pocket to support this growth
  • Support for 15+ blockchains
  • Earned a grant for integrating Tezos SDK’s

We have had a laser focus on proving out that projects are willing to trust and use decentralized infrastructure. Our growth in our primary KPI, API requests has proven that out, through integrations with some of the most impactful projects in the space such as MyEtherWallet, Terminal, Saturn Network, Nifty Wallet and Portis to name a few.

A critical piece of our thesis is that we believe there will be hundreds or thousands of blockchains governing our lives in the future, and Pocket will become the default provider for all of them. This thesis has proven out through the various grants we’ve received from AION and Tezos, along with other, smaller blockchains like Fuse and Lightstreams independently signing up for Pocket to avoid running the infrastructure themselves. Pocket allows these new chains to focus on building their product, and not have another concern of running infrastructure for the users and developers.

We have continued to aggressively add new blockchains, further proving out that Pocket becomes more valuable as we support new chains by being one interface to access all of them.

The questions, “Do developers want this?” and “Do blockchains want this?” have been answered with a resounding yes.

Pocket Core Protocol

In the background, we continued to make strides on the full protocol. In December the first blocks have been mined (!!) in our internal testnet. Having first started thinking about Pocket in 2016, I cannot overstate how big of a milestone this is for us. This is a true zero to one moment in preparing for the launch of the Pocket protocol.

In working through building the protocol, we ended up forking the Cosmos SDK in order to support Pocket’s unique architecture. Due to being a Proof of Stake protocol with no on-chain delegation, we added these capabilities, enabling a much larger design space for projects building on Tendermint. Extremely excited for our engineering team to be releasing more information on this over the next few months.

Community

In open-source protocols, one of the most important and defensible moats they can have is community caring about the project. We have seen consistent and growing support from talented projects and individuals all throughout 2019. All who have gone through the extra mile of implementing Pocket themselves or have meaningfully pushed the conversation of our shared vision forward.

Vanity metrics for our primary channels in Twitter, Discord, and Telegram have all consistently continued increasing. We launched Decentralized Infrastructure Solutions (DIS) as an independent brand, with the aim of positioning ourselves around the center of the infrastructure space with incredible success. Activity on our Discord has seen a marked increase over the last 90 days, particularly on the #support channel for developers using Pocket.

We have laid a strong foundation leading into the new decade on this front and am incredibly proud of the marketing and operations team having executed wonderfully on these fronts.

Looking forward

As we say internally, the launch of Pocket Network will be our opportunity to be at the starting line. We have a firm date for our public testnet launch on February 11th. Our mainnet launch is tentatively scheduled for May the 4th (be with you).

A successful 2020 will result in:

  • Impact on the order of thousands in Node counts for dozens of protocols
  • Billions of daily API requests running through Pocket
  • A smooth, transparent governance process for the DAO and monetary policy

Focusing on these three goals will bring all of the second-order successes as a result. Our team is executing at an exponential pace, and I couldn’t be more proud, excited and thankful to be going into the new decade with everyone.

-Michael O’Rourke