DFINITY in 2021: A Year of Developer and Community Growth on the Internet Computer | by DFINITY | The Internet Computer Review | Jan, 2022

In 2016, the DFINITY Foundation began its mission to realize the “world computer” vision, which originated from the early Ethereum community. As Bitcoin emerged as digital gold and Ethereum as the global settlement layer, Web3 still needed a 100% sovereign world computer for decentralized compute and storage to realize its full potential. The founding of the Internet Computer project was an ambitious undertaking by DFINITY founder Dominic Williams, who assembled over 200 world renowned cryptographers, distributed systems engineers, and programming language experts to tackle this massive challenge to build the most powerful general-purpose blockchain for Web3 dapps.

Five years later, 2021 was a hugely eventful year, marking the Internet Computer’s Genesis milestone and public launch — which catalyzed an explosion of developer activity and community growth within the Internet Computer ecosystem.

To achieve this goal, we reimagined blockchain from the ground-up. The Internet Computer is the first blockchain to truly address the needs of unbounded scaling. It is the first to enable blockchain code to run at web speed. It is the first to enable blockchain code to serve HTTP requests, to securely serve web experiences directly to end users, and to incorporate permissionless governance into its protocols so that the network can autonomously and rapidly evolve. Other fundamental innovations include a reverse-gas model, where developers charge their canister smart contracts with cycles (aka, gas), and the Internet Identity authentication system, which allows users to anonymously interact with dapps and services running on-chain without the need to hold tokens or a cryptocurrency wallet. This new blockchain is completely unlike any other in production today.

Since its Genesis launch last May, the Internet Computer has created over 446 million blocks, onboarded 412 nodes, and increased blocks per second by 600% to 30 bps. The community has deployed more than 16,000 canister smart contracts to the blockchain, ranging from full dapps to NFTs and more. There have been over 1.8 million transactions, and nearly half a million individual wallets have been created. The total number of ICP tokens staked in the NNS DAO was 276,376,729 on December 31, 2021. The number of staked neurons in the NNS at the time that were “Not Dissolving” totaled 161,211,334.8 ICP tokens, and neurons “dissolving” totaled 115,165,394.3 ICP tokens, equaling the more accurate representation of “Total Staked”* at the end of the year.

The Total Value Locked (TVL) in the NNS DAO was $6.8B ($6,751,883,491.913 based on $24.43 USD closing price on December 31, 2021). Of these staked neurons, 38% have been staked for 8 Years and are currently in a “Not Dissolving” state. The TVL staked for at least 8 years equals $2.6B (106,197,829.7 ICP).

* The previously reported number included all ICP staked throughout the year of 2021, including now “Dissolved” neurons, which is a figure reported by the NNS as Total Staked.

The Internet Computer also boasts higher speeds than comparative layer-1 solutions, servicing update calls within 2 seconds and supporting query calls within 200 milliseconds (or 0.2 seconds). By comparison, Solana processes update calls in 17 seconds, Cardano in 2 minutes, Ethereum in 15 minutes, and Bitcoin in 40 minutes.

On May 10, in a giant leap for blockchain and the broader internet, the Internet Computer’s Mercury Genesis milestone launched the most advanced blockchain network in the world.

Over 130,000 viewers tuned into a special launch event held three days earlier, DFINITY Founder and Chief Scientist Dominic Williams and members of the Foundation’s research and development staff explained the novel cryptography and architecture that allow the Internet Computer to extend the functionality of the global internet so that it can host smart contract software, transforming it into a public world computer that empowers developers and entrepreneurs worldwide.

Genesis marked a new beginning for developers and entrepreneurs who are ready to build the Web3 future. This involved the publication of the Internet Computer’s source code and the ​​Internet Computer Interface Specification, which detailed the blockchain’s highly technical properties, as well as the open-sourcing of the ​​software development kit (SDK) for authoring Motoko-based canister smart contracts and the SDK for Rust-based canisters, which have already been used to create thousands of smart contracts on the Internet Computer.

The news media took note of the Internet Computer’s public launch. Bloomberg described the Internet Computer as an overnight crypto sensation setting out to undo the internet’s failings. “The Internet Computer debuts as cryptocurrencies are being discussed from dinner tables to Saturday Night Live,” wrote Fortune. Business Insider wrote that “the decentralized token seeks to break Big Tech’s shackles on entrepreneurship.”

Hundreds of teams are hard at work building on the Internet Computer, encompassing instant message and social media dapps, play-to-earn and GameFi, decentralized exchanges, NFTs and marketplaces, enterprise software, as well as infrastructure and metaverse projects.

Some of the many major ecosystem highlights include:

  • PokedStudios launched the Bots NFT collection in an early foray into the metaverse on the Internet Computer, with the rarest Bot netting a sale of 3,000 ICP (~$172,140) on November 10.
  • ORIGYN, a Swiss NFT project building on the Internet Computer, saw its valuation soar to $300 million following a round of investment from Paris Hilton and Wall Street veteran Bill Ackman
  • Psychedelic, a team of ConsenSys alums created a product studio DAO ranging from DeFi, NFTs, Play2Earn, dapp hosting, developer tooling, etc on the Internet Computer.
  • ICPunks released 10,000 highly anticipated NFTs in its debut drop on the Internet Computer.
  • OpenChat’s user count spiked to 80,000, with more than 640,000 messages sent over its decentralized messaging service.
  • Distrikt surpassed 70,000 user accounts and 100,000 posts (with less than $100 spent on gas).
  • Toniq reported out end of year stats related to ICP and NFTs, including $12 million in marketplace volume, 300,000 NFTs minted, with only $50 in total spent to mint all those NFTs with assets and metadata 100% on chain.

Accompanying the virtual Mercury Genesis launch event was the overseas Mercury Genesis China Roadshow, a five-city event tour leading up to the Internet Computer’s public launch. DFINITY held events in Beijing, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Chengdu, and Shanghai.

Hundreds of developers, entrepreneurs, VCs, and Internet Computer enthusiasts gathered across these major cities in China to network and see demos and talks about the Internet Computer leading up to public launch.

2021 kicked off with two virtual events. Exploring Entrepreneurship in the Open Internet Boom, in partnership with TechCrunch, featured teams behind funded companies building on the Internet Computer. The founders behind Psychedelic (formerly Fleek), OpenChat, and Distrikt, shared insights alongside Polychain Capital general partners Olaf Carlson-Wee and Teken Salimi about pitching, product ideation, hiring, fundraising, and exiting for pioneering Web3 startups.

DFINITY also partnered with Forbes to organize “How a New Internet Will Completely Reimagine Your Business Model,” a virtual event featuring talks from tech visionaries like Joseph Lubin (ConsenSys, Ethereum), Cindy Cohn (EFF), Alan Emtage (Mediapolis), and Brad Templeton (Clarinet). The talks analyzed this pivotal moment in the internet’s evolution, in which emerging decentralized technologies are equipping developers and entrepreneurs to build new business models and services, enabling them to restore an open internet and unlock a new era of opportunity — called Web3.

The Internet Computer was front and center at Shanghai International Blockchain Week in November — one of the year’s largest global blockchain conferences.

Shanghai International Blockchain Week, hosted by Wanxiang Blockchain Labs, was one of the most important installments of the year in blockchain, bringing global experts, investors, and entrepreneurs together as the open web takes shape. The event provided insight into how Chinese developers and investors are seizing the opportunity to create consumer-facing dapps that deliver unparalleled value and composability to the public.

This year’s event featured DFINITY’s Dominic Williams discussing the development of public blockchain technologies alongside Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin and Protocol Labs’ Juan Benet. But the week began with a DFINITY meetup and party around the growing Internet Computer community in China, drawing more than 400 developers, investors, and researchers, as well as representatives from gaming, social, AI, and other creative industries.

On May 25, the DFINITY Foundation announced the DFINITY Developer Grant Program to catalyze the growth of the Internet Computer ecosystem and support the building of dapps, tooling, and infrastructure on the network using canister smart contracts.

In October, the grant program reached a milestone of awarding more than 100 grants — adding them to an ecosystem of hundreds of projects that are running on the Internet Computer.

In November, based on community feedback, DFINITY introduced a second dedicated grant program focused on community growth and development. The Community Awards Program is a Foundation initiative to provide funding to artists, educators, community organizers, content creators, and developer evangelists.

Both programs are actively taking applications.

Apply for a DFINITY Developer Grant: dfinity.org/grants

Apply for a Community Grant Award: dfinity.org/community

DFINITY made a splash at NFT.NYC, the world’s largest NFT conference. DFINITY partnered with Toniq Labs to airdrop 10,000 Motoko NFTs via Stoic wallets on the Internet Computer, demonstrating the power of no gas fees for users to mint or purchase NFTs while hosting them completely on-chain on a decentralized, public blockchain.

DFINITY also organized the ICONIC art exhibit, reflecting how NFTs have become a powerful new vehicle for artists to share their creative vision.

The ICONOCLAST NFT art exhibit at Art Basel Miami Beach saw more than $100,000 worth of art sold in an event that demonstrated the first ERC721 / Internet Computer hybrid NFT model.

The lead artist behind the Bored Ape Yacht Club collection, who goes by the name of All Seeing Seneca, debuted a new collection of NFTs at the ICONOCLAST gallery at Art Basel. “Seneca’s new NFTs were minted on Ethereum but are hosted on the Internet Computer, Dfinity’s blockchain for smart contracts,” reported Decrypt.

The Internet Computer community is actively shaping the blockchain’s feature and upgrade roadmap, with robust discussion taking place within the Developer Forum. DFINITY is committing R&D resources to the Internet Computer ecosystem in the form of technical contributions. Technical upgrades are subject to community discussion, voting, and adoption via motion proposals to the Network Nervous System (NNS).

2021 saw NNS governance at work, as the community voted on numerous motion proposals. The community adopted a motion proposal to integrate Bitcoin with the Internet Computer was in September. The initiative will add smart contracts to Bitcoin through an application of Chain Key cryptography, enabling every canister smart contract on the Internet Computer to act as a Bitcoin wallet and opening up a variety of novel use cases, such as blending social applications with Bitcoin and allowing users to transfer BTC to friends via social applications like OpenChat.

The year was capped by the community’s adoption of a mega set of 25 proposals outlining R&D plans for the coming years — with DFINITY abstaining from voting. Proposals included topics like integration with Ethereum, DeFi enhancements, dapp governance, and tokenomics. These proposals have a large scope across R&D, involving deep research in cryptography, networking, distributed systems, language, virtual machines, and operating systems.

There will be many follow-up discussions and proposals on each topic when work is underway and smaller milestones and tasks are defined.

We are collectively pursuing a vision of blockchain singularity that will eventually see most of humanity’s systems and services rebuilt on blockchain technology using smart contracts. Because blockchain code transforms the nature of software, systems and services built on the Internet Computer can be reimagined, just as DeFi reimagines finance. This is the foundation of Web3.

The year to come will see proposals to the NNS that can update the network with powerful new features and functionality, including direct integrations with the Bitcoin and Ethereum networks, as well as turnkey Service Nervous Systems (DAOs) for hosted dapps and services that wish to completely decentralize, tokenize, and activate their communities in areas such funding and advocacy. Future improvements will also include HTTP/S outcalls that enable the integration of hosted dapps and services with external services running on Web2, efficiency and scaling improvements, and “people parties” that will increase community participation in governance, help Web3 social media stay clean, and allow people to run network nodes anonymously.

We are tremendously excited about the Internet Computer’s growth and development this year — and the progress that will follow in 2022.


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