Launched in 2017, Blockstack is a decentralized computing platform that aims to put users in control of their data and identity. Blockstack seeks a new infrastructure for the internet where users choose which data to share and whom to share it with. Through their platform design, applications developers can’t access user data, users can choose who stores their data, and permission rights to read or write to the data are decided by the user.
Blockstack was founded by Muneeb Ali and Ryan Shea in 2016. They developed Blockstack to be an open-source effort serving as a full-stack alternative to traditional cloud computing. This allows for a new applications layer to the traditional internet, providing a new network for decentralized applications, or dapps.
Data processing is run on a client’s computer connected to the network, rather than centralized servers hosted by application providers, this is what allows for decentralized applications. The decentralized storage system, Gaia, enables what they describe as “user-controlled private data lockers.” Users connect their “data lockers” to Blockstack’s client software, and applications write to the lockers directly. The locker acts as your storage for all the information attached to your account, or “universal ID.”
In addition to Gaia, Blockstack’s platform includes the “stacks” blockchain, smart contracts language “clarity,” an authentication protocol and developer tools (SDKs). Additionally, they incorporate the existing internet transport layer and already established communication protocols.
In early 2019, there were more than 100 applications built on Blockstack. In April of 2019, Blockstack notably filed for the SEC’s Regulation A+ crowdfunding exemption, which would allow it to raise capital through the U.S. securities market via a subsidiary, Blockstack Token LLC. Blockstack became the first company approved to raise capital via a token sale through the securities market on July 10th, 2019. Regulation A+ is an alternative to a traditional initial public offering (IPO) with fewer regulatory hurdles for companies trying to go public up to $50 million. It ultimately raised over $23 million in the token sale in September 2019, according to SEC filings.
Tokens in the Blockstack ecosystem, STX, are utility tokens that are consumed as “fuel” when users register digital assets or execute smart contracts. Notable private investments in Blockstack have come from Union Square Ventures, Winklevoss Capital, Blockchain Capital, Digital Currency Group, and Techcrunch founder Michael Arrington.