What a difference a year makes.
At this time last year, I was knee-deep in issues like net neutrality, privacy, and GDPR. Little did I know then that just 12 months later, I would be working in the world of blockchain and cryptocurrency, helping usher this technology into the mainstream.
Yet, here we are, closing out 2019 and I’ve spent the better half of the year learning about the potential of blockchain and the tremendous work already underway by developers and partners building on the Stellar Network, talking with stakeholders around the world about the regulatory future of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency, and growing our team to support, partner with, and advocate for the ever-growing and diversifying Stellar ecosystem. I’m ending this year more encouraged than ever that we’re on the right path to achieve our mission of creating a more inclusive global financial system.
And while it’s clearly been a big year for me personally, it’s been a momentous year for SDF. I am so proud to share what we’ve accomplished.
We’ve grown our team and capacity. SDF has grown fivefold - up from 11 to 56 employees. That means greater capacity to continue our work to develop this technology to match its potential, to grow our visibility and intensify our policy and legal outreach efforts, and to build more tools for our community to leverage the network. In just the last few months, we’ve rounded out our executive team with new hires Jason Chlipala as COO, Candace Kelly as General Counsel, Jordan Edelstein as CMO, and Lauren Thorbjornsen as head of Communications and PR. We’ve got a team ready to grow our impact in 2020!
We’ve been vocal on the regulatory agenda. We joined in the policy discussion around how to regulate cryptocurrency and blockchain. Here in the United States, we engaged with Congress as well as regulators who are grappling with new legislation and enforcement efforts. Internationally, our efforts to advance the policy agenda spanned multiple continents, speaking with regulators directly and also supporting our partners in their efforts to educate their local regulators.
We’ve updated stellar.org to reflect who we are. Since our website is one of the best ways we have to make a good impression on the world, we’ve spent a lot of time this year redesigning the site so it better tells the story of who we are and what we’re about. That entails clearer messaging, easier developer tools, and simpler documentation. We’ll be rolling out additional updates to the look and content early next year so our site further represents just how cool Stellar is!
We’ve expanded our ecosystem. At the beginning of the year, there were 2,418,306 Stellar accounts. As of this writing, there are 4,189,431. That growth comes as more and more businesses build on Stellar, and as those businesses find better ways to work together to reach customers, and to offer them the financial services they need.
What’s that look like in practice? StellarX now lists six USD anchors; the largest of which, AnchorUSD, has issued almost a million dollars worth of assets distributed across about 8,000 accounts. Because of ecosystem standards refined this year, customers can redeem those tokens, and many others, for money in the bank in a matter of seconds.
We’ve built a stronger community. Blockchain and cryptocurrency may operate in the virtual world, but we met our community in-person at the first-ever Stellar conference, Meridian. With industry-leading thinkers and developers, we descended upon Mexico City with over 380 people from 40+ countries.
We’ve focused on targeted distribution. More than 20B lumens are out in the world! And we spent a good part of the year rethinking how we distribute XLM in the year ahead in support of our Ecosystem and Use Cases - you can read all about our account structure and our new mandate here.
We’ve ensured the strength and maturity of our technology. The Stellar network has never been as strong or decentralized as it is today. That’s because we spent a lot of this year encouraging key organizations to set up validators, and helping them organize so they can sustain the network independent of the SDF. This group of Tier 1 validators is mature enough at this point that we could turn off our nodes and the network would keep going! After two protocol releases (11 and 12) focused on improving capacity and transaction pricing, we’ve also ensured our network is fairer and more usable.
All of this has set SDF up to have a big year, a big decade that starts with 2020. We’re in a strategic position to deliver on our top priorities—from ensuring the robustness and usability of Stellar, being the blockchain people know and trust, and fostering real, sustainable Stellar use-cases. All that ultimately drives us closer to our organization’s goal to set a global payment standard. That’s our daily goal, our quarterly goal, our only goal for 2020.
I’m optimistic that in a year’s time, the story of 2020 will be an exciting one that sets the tone for the rest of the new decade.