Key Takeaways from Pocket’s State of the Union
Last week’s State of the Union was an opportunity for Pocket’s core team to come together with key community members, investors, and other stakeholders to discuss not only where Pocket has been over the last year, but also what’s to come in the next year and beyond.
The SOTU, which took place in-person in Tampa, brought a number of updates across different teams:
- Pocket DAO
as well as presentations from community members on some of the most important issues in Pocket’s ecosystem.
There was a lot to unpack from the full day of presentations - here are some of the key takeaways from the Pocket team and the community.
Pocket Has Achieved Growth Across a Number of Vectors
Over the past 12 months, Pocket achieved remarkable growth in terms of daily relays serviced - from 50 million per day to well over 1 billion. At the same time, the number of supported chains also skyrocketed, from 5 to about 50, and an altruist network was solidified to provide critical support. With this growth in supported chains and serviced relays, awareness of Pocket Network has been expanding, and the team has been laying the foundation for servicing many more applications and chains.
Simultaneously, the Pocket DAO has grown to become one of the most engaged and active of any DAOs, with a growing voter base that is now approaching 60. The DAO is retaining more active voters, and is also seeing the number of community generated proposals increasing relative to the number of PNI submitted proposals.
To go along with this growth, the Pocket Network team has also rapidly expanded, from 20 to around 70. As the team has grown, there has also been a reorganization into several distinct teams:
- Supply (node runners)
- Demand (applications/developers)
Together, these teams have contributed to a number of key initiatives, including an overhaul of the Pocket Portal, and this reorganization has helped to sharpen the focus across the entire PNI team. This structure will help to prime Pocket for the next year of growth.
Quality of Service and Optimization Have Been Focal Points of 2022, and Will Continue on Into 2023
2022 has also brought a sharp focus on Quality of Service across Pocket’s protocol. With regards to one key measure of QoS, latency, Pocket has consistently achieved a low latency around 200ms across its supported chains and in different regions around the globe.
There have also been a number of key changes and updates (some led by the PNI core team, and others by key community members) that have brought optimizations across different aspects of the protocol:
- Stake-weighted rewards: incentivizing the consolidation of nodes in order to reduce total network costs.
- Non-custodial staking: optimizing security for third-party node hosting and enabling the pooling of rewards into a single account.
- LeanPocket: reduction of node running costs by 98-99%, developed by the Thunderhead and PoktFund teams in collaboration with the PNI core team.
- GeoMesh: a multi-region service layer, developed by POKTscan, allowing service nodes to serve multiple geographic zones simultaneously.
- Persistence replacement: reducing disk usage and improving block storage and processing times.
The SOTU also highlighted several key research areas that the team is looking into for 2023 and beyond:
- Peer Discovery: RainTree compatible algorithms for dynamic peers
- VDF and ZK: Deterministic vs. Probabilistic proofs for volume metrics
- Light Clients: Application infra, interoperability, decentralizing proofs w/proxies
- BFT Validation: Forensics (Proof of Fault), Practical Async DKG (thresholds; randomness)
Even on the Pocket DAO front, there are a number of ways to bring optimizations to the contribution process, particularly when it comes to making the submission of proposals easier. Going forward, some points of focus for the DAO will include:
- Experimentation with different identity tools and verifiable credentials to better establish reputation
- Improved documentation
- A pre-proposal category focused on gathering feedback
- Different governance flows for different proposal types
- Improved onboarding processes
- Improved support
With Growth Comes Challenges
Of course, rapid growth brings all different kinds of challenges, and part of our SOTU involved addressing those challenges and discussing different paths forward.
With regards to the PNI team, some of the key challenges involve scaling the team, prioritizing workflows and projects, effective communication, and becoming more nimble.
When it comes to the actual Pocket protocol, challenges persist around wrangling network costs, mitigating any vulnerabilities in the Validator set, and bolstering data and support.
On the community side, challenges that were highlighted include managing sentiment and non-constructive interactions, and improving transparency from PNI to the community.
Finally, related to the Pocket DAO, the key challenges to address involve optimizing DAO processes (as alluded to above), automating verification and claiming of votes, and making resource allocation more efficient and effective.
These are some of the highest priority challenges that Pocket (in tandem with the community) will be focused on going forward.
New Objectives Have Come Into Focus, and the Roadmap Continues to Evolve
Pocket is currently striving towards several key objectives:
- Make the economy sustainable
- Scale through the community
- Make Pocket unstoppable (through improved transparency and threat detection/defense)
- 10 billion paid relays
To achieve these goals on the roadmap, a shift towards a “Gateway as a Service” (GaaS) model will play an important role. GaaS was a hot topic throughout the SOTU - this model will essentially create a marketplace and opportunities for others to build on Pocket, and will decentralize access to Pocket’s service at the UI level by offering metered enterprise APIs. You can think of this as a shift from a B2C model (targeting developers directly) to more of a B2B2C model (targeting enterprise clients whose users are developers). This is all part of Pocket’s overarching aim to provide hyper-efficient infrastructure - nodes, gateways, and back-end setups - that lower the barriers of entry into the Pocket ecosystem, and increase paid demand for Pocket’s service.
Beyond GaaS specifically, several other priorities are coming into focus on the roadmap:
- Shipping v1 to improve decentralization, censorship resistance, and on-chain quality of service
- QoS enhancements
- Becoming more interface agnostic and growing beyond JSON-RPC to support gRPC, REST, WebSockets, etc.
- Decentralizing the altruist network
Demand and Revenue Opportunities
- Indexing as a Service
- MEV on public RPCs
- Validator services for partner chains
- Decentralized Infrastructure Services such as a node pooling marketplace, a fully automated node running toolkit, and more
- Subnets as a Service
- Increased support for capital markets partnerships and integrations
User Experience and Added Functionality
- Portal enhancements, such as self-staking and access management
- Consolidation of different Pocket websites
- Wallet and Explorer relaunches
- Ledger integration
- Open source tooling
- PIP-26: Foundation for the Future (transitioning the governance team from PNI to the Pocket Network Foundation)
- Clarify governance structure and processes in the DAO
- Scale the community through bolstered content platforms, regional hubs, and better defined contributor paths
These takeaways are just scratching the surface of all the discussions that took place throughout the SOTU. Check out the slide deck for more details on these talks!
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