January 29th saw Blockstack – the crypto industry startup that seeks to build a decentralized, user-centric Web – make a big announcement: that it had garnered 1 million “verified users.” In doing so, the startup unlocked some $6.8 million that it previously raised from investors.
“This self-imposed requirement was our way to introduce investor protection and signal that we’re building for the long-term in a disciplined manner. The decision as to whether a Milestone is met is determined by an independent Advisory Board,” the company wrote. “On January 16th, that Advisory Board unanimously determined that Milestone 2 had been achieved, and on January 29th, we filed a Form 1-U with the SEC disclosing the achievement.”
It was an announcement that drew big plaudits in some quarters; as Messari noted in its write-up of the announcement, the event presented “a notable milestone for any network, especially as numerous projects flood the market with new offerings and compete to win attention among an already thin user base.”
But the announcement drew scrutiny as well (including, full disclosure, from my colleagues here at The Block), primarily centered around the question of whether those one million verified users represent actual human beings – and how, exactly, Blockstack reached such a conclusion.
I reached out to Blockstack in an effort to learn more about the process behind the milestone determination. Here’s what their representative initially sent me:
“Verification varies from app to app, and partner to partner, as they are independent. However, the Blockstack registration and authentication tool offers baked-in protection for spam registration, rate-limiting by IP, and more. Further, user acquisition campaigns by Blockstack PBC involved additional verification and/or KYC processes. For example, through Blockchain.com, only ‘Gold Level’