Today is a very special day for the entire Pocket team and its global community: our Mainnet has turned two! It was on this day in 2020 that Pocket’s Mainnet went live, jump starting an evolution of decentralized infrastructure. Since then, we’ve been checking off a number of goals and milestones, with plenty more to come.
By zooming out and examining how it started and how it’s going, we can gain a better understanding of what got Pocket to this point, and what Pocket must do to serve the next 50 blockchains and millions of Web3 users.
It All Starts With an Idea
Pocket Network was conceived in response to the problems with centralized infrastructure. It has always seemed paradoxical that decentralized networks should be operating on the backs of centralized RPC providers with consolidated points of failure and the power to censor or degrade service at the flick of a switch. Not only is such a system unsafe for users, but it is not conducive to many of the general principles that guide the Web3 space.
Identifying the problem to be solved was the relatively easy part. Developing the solution took significant R&D, testing, refinement, and iteration. We got there, however, and since launching in 2020 Pocket Network has kept on iterating and powering forward to new milestones.
As the saying goes, a journey of 1,000 miles starts with a single step. Pocket started out with just 300 nodes to its name, but by June 2022 the network had been bootstrapped to nearly 50,000 nodes (a count that is now being reasonably reduced via Pocket DAO governance in order to lower network costs). And nodes aren’t the only metric to gauge Pocket’s growth.
This year, we doubled the size of our international team, and brought that team together with our community to hold the inaugural Infracon event. Around 50 members of the core team and about 200 community members gathered in the Dominican Republic to hear panel discussions and keynotes like “Decentralize All the Things” and “Believing in the Supranational.”
In May 2021, Pocket Network was handling 5 or 6 million relays per day, and just warming up for exponential growth. That figure now stands at about 1 billion relays per day, showcasing Pocket’s ability to operate at scale without missing a beat.
“When we released Pocket Network to the world, we expected the decentralized infrastructure landscape to change for the better,” reflects CTO Luis Ramon Correa de Leon, “but the growth and adoption from the industry has been astonishing.” According to the Pocket co-founder, this “highlights our thesis that multiple blockchains are going to be seamlessly integrated into society, and that they all share the same need for a decentralized, permissionless infrastructure system to match the applications being built on Web3.”
Our Community is Growing With Us
One of the most exciting developments in our 2-year Mainnet life has been the way in which our community has been enabled to actively contribute in different ways, have their voices heard, and be an impactful part of the evolution of the Pocket protocol.
On one hand, our node runners and validators are the ones who make it possible to deliver fast, censorship-resistant, and reliable RPC endpoints that can’t be stopped. But node runners aren’t the only part of our community. As macro conditions have evolved and the number of Pocket nodes has increased, bringing commensurate growth of the Pocket community, the need for effective governance has intensified.
On that note, as we celebrate our 2nd Mainnet birthday, we’ve grown from a handful of active Pocket DAO voters all the way to more than 40 voters today. This is more than double the number of voters we had just a few months ago, and is a fantastic sign of increased community engagement.
As Jack Laing, Pocket Network Chief Governance Officer, put it:
“When Pocket Network launched on mainnet 2 years ago we had a handful of active community members, only a single node provider, a DAO yet to launch, and a single core team of builders. As we celebrate our 2nd birthday, we’ve seen hundreds of community members travel around the world for our first ever Infracon, we’ve onboarded dozens of node providers and staking pools, our DAO has grown to 43 voting members and counting, and we have several builders working alongside the core team on key projects. It has been a thrill to witness Pocket Network become such a thriving ecosystem and to see community members step up as owners and leaders in every sense. Seeing the strength of our community and the wisdom of our DAO gives me unbounded faith that we’ll achieve our supranational vision.”
These Pocket DAO voters have been extremely busy of late, passing two key proposals (PIP-22 and PUP-19) for restructuring node incentives, encouraging node consolidation, and bringing down network costs. As Pocket Network CEO and co-founder Michael O’Rourke acknowledged, these were arguably “the most impactful proposals to be passed by Pocket DAO in our short two-year history,” marking “a meaningful shift in how everyone needs to think about node running, and representing part of the evolution into a more efficient network moving into V1 of Pocket Network.” Two early birthday presents indeed!
Where Do We Go From Here?
Today Pocket Network is serving the data needs of over 50 blockchains, and thousands of dapps and developers, and we’re on track to hit our goal of 100 supported chains before the year is out. Our community continues to build their own projects around the Pocket ecosystem, often collaborating with the Pocket DAO to do so. Plus, the new TriForce initiative, which is providing POKT incentives to our community members to launch, support, and grow relay traffic from new blockchains, is firing up its engines and will be a huge part of our future plans.
So where do we go next? The upcoming 12 months will be pivotal for Pocket Network and for Web3 in general. At a time when issues concerning data ownership, censorship, and privacy are under the spotlight, the need for unstoppable and highly performant decentralized infrastructure is greater than ever.
The celebration of Pocket’s second Mainnet birthday will see us double down our resolve to launch V1 of Pocket Network. This will be the biggest upgrade in Pocket’s short history, including four optimized modules aimed at even further boosting quality of service for Web3 developers (Utility, Consensus, Peer-to-Peer, and Persistence modules).
We’ll also be seeing the implementation and positive network effects of the two major proposals recently passed by Pocket DAO (PIP-22 and PUP-19), along with a serious expansion of TriForce efforts to onboard more chains and involve more community members.
As Michael O’Rourke acknowledged: “Institutions aren’t built overnight. We are learning to scale the protocol and the DAO, while aligning around the same incentives in building the most unstoppable infrastructure provider in the world. We’re working on bringing together so many different types of stakeholders under one roof, in a world that has people being pulled in many other directions. This is what it means to build an institution and, two years in, we have a long way to go.”
For all the upcoming Pocket milestones, we’re grateful to have you along with us. Here’s to the next 50 blockchains supported…the next class of Web3 developers decentralizing their dapps…the next billion data relays serviced…the next wave of new DAO voters and contributors guiding our protocol…and all the birthdays to come alongside our fantastic community.