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The Graph Foundation awarded a $60 million grant to StreamingFast to get it to join its ecosystem for indexing the decentralized internet for search purposes.
It’s the closest thing to an acquisition in the decentralized web business, but it doesn’t quite count as one. Under the deal, StreamingFast will join as a core developer in The Graph’s ecosystem. But StreamingFast will retain ownership over its brand and personnel, and it will become a core protocol developer and open source contributor in The Graph’s ecosystem.
StreamingFast will work alongside Edge & Node, a software development company dedicated to the advancement of the decentralized Internet. Tegan Kline, the cofounder of Edge & Node, explained how this works to me in an interview.
“The big news is really that $60 million core development grant,” Kline said.
Indexing the blockchain
The Graph Foundation believes that the internet will move to the blockchain and will need its own search service, like a Google for blockchain, which is the transparent and secure digital ledger behind technologies such as cryptocurrencies. So it has begun the work of indexing the blockchain and all of the transactions recorded on the ledger. That will enable it to create a search engine that people can use to search through the blockchain data, which is a matter of public record.
“The Graph is really like the Google of blockchains. The Graph indexes all of the blockchain data, and serves that data,” Kline said. “So it’s how developers access data and serve it to their users, just like how Google set out to index the web back in the day. The Graph is doing that only for the blockchain data. And we believe that blockchains are the future of the Internet. So that will become all of the world’s data.”
StreamingFast has a team dedicated to working on the decentralized web, and The Graph wants that team’s help. So it made the grant so that StreamingFast will focus on a common open-source protocol. All of StreamingFast’s relevant application programming interface (API) products will also be migrated to The Graph, which will help improve indexing performance and augment the network’s back-end querying services. The Graph Foundation has purchased a portion of StreamingFast’s intellectual property and will open-source it as well.
This grant is the first of its kind, enabling an experienced development team to become dedicated to working on an open source protocol, said Kline. The deal represents a way for companies like StreamingFast and decentralized communities like The Graph to work closely together. The joint work should help improve the performance in getting query results.
“It’s just a grant, as opposed to one centralized company taking control of another centralized company, and then kind of bringing them in to destroy competition,” Kline said. “Instead, it’s like allowing them in, in an autonomous way, so that they have that choice. They’re not doing that because of contracts. And because of money, they’re actually making that choice to join this different movement. So it is very similar to an acquisition, without the red tape.”
Speeding query performance
StreamingFast will start effective immediately by supporting The Graph as it continues its multi-blockchain expansion. StreamingFast engineers and project managers will also work on subgraph development, support for new Layer 1 protocols, core protocol development, indexing and performance improvements, contributing to the governance process, development tooling and education.
“We truly believe that protocols will eat the world and today’s announcement exemplifies this,” CEO Marc-Antoine Ross said in an email to VentureBeat. “We launched the company three years ago with the vision to build a traditional SaaS model but soon realized the powerful coordination and incentive mechanisms of protocols and Web3. With this core dev grant, we are paving the way for an alternative path for traditional VC-backed businesses operating in Web3.”
The decentralized web and Web3 represent a chance to reboot the internet. The plan is to enable peer-to-peer transactions without a middleman so that decentralized applications can simply run on the blockchain. Fans of decentralized note that the centralization of the web led to companies acquiring our personal data and then selling it for advertising revenue.
“That’s the centralized web. That’s what it incentivizes. And so that’s what it has become,” Kline said. “But that’s not why the internet was created. So with The Graph, we’re focusing on kind of creating a new internet that allows for individuals to be empowered. And it removes that gatekeeping, and makes this data open in a public good that everyone can benefit from and build with. And that’s kind of the vision and future that they’re now joining into.”
The StreamingFast team has deep experience in building indexing solutions for high-speed blockchains, with a particular focus on Ethereum, Solana, Flow, Polkadot, Cosmos, Polygon, Binance Smart Chain, Optimism, Arbitrum, and other high-throughput protocols. The team’s core infrastructure excels at indexing blockchains in real-time, which unlocks new possibilities for streaming applications, dashboards and explorers, and better analytics tools on The Graph. StreamingFast is committed to five years of work with The Graph.
The Graph launched its mainnet in December of 2020. The Graph Foundation subsequently announced the first core developer, Edge & Node, shortly after that. StreamingFast represents the second development team to join the project full-time, which demonstrates the power that decentralized networks have to attract talent, interest, and resources around them.
In April, The Graph’s hosted service processed 20 billion queries, representing 20 times growth in less than a year, starting from a billion queries in June 2020. The Graph is currently migrating usage from the hosted service to the decentralized network, with 10 decentralized apps already beginning migration.
There is still work to be done, but The Graph hopes to be part of the infrastructure to make it all happen.
The Graph was born three years ago, and it’s becoming more real every day. The decentralized network, or mainnet, launched in December of last year. The subgraphs for the developers launched about two years ago. And in the month of May there were 25 billion queries alone. To date, The Graph hosted service has done over 130 billion queries.
“This shows you all the innovation that is happening in Web3,” Kline said.
The Graph Foundation has five people, and Edge & Node has 35. On The Graph network there are 150 different indexers and 7,000 delegators. The community itself is much larger.
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