The Stellar Development Foundation (SDF) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to create equitable access to the global financial system. Founded in 2014, the Foundation helps shepherd and maintain Stellar’s codebase, supports the technical and business communities around Stellar, and provides thought leadership to regulators and other stakeholders. In all, we’re a global company, more than 80 people strong, working to make Stellar the global payment standard. The Stellar technology is SDF’s means to achieve its mission.
SDF has no shareholders, no dividends, and no profit motive. The Foundation is funded by lumens generated at Stellar’s inception, and the Foundation’s current lumen holdings can be viewed below. All of the lumens held by the Foundation will eventually be used to enhance and promote Stellar and to pay taxes as we do so.
This page details the ledger addresses holding those funds and how those funds will contribute to Stellar’s success. Anyone can observe our progress towards our goals, more or less in real time, using the links provided. In addition, we’ll provide a quarterly public accounting and audit for all of our programs, as well as periodic updates where appropriate.
SDF Program Areas and Budgets
Total: 12B XLM
SDF uses lumens from the Direct Development fund to directly develop and advocate for Stellar. On Nov 5, 2019, when this mandate was first announced, 12 billion lumens were allocated to this fund and 3 billion were released for use through 2020. These funds are escrowed and unlocked 3 billion per year, beginning in 2021.
The Foundation’s primary responsibilities are to:
- lead development of both Stellar Core and Horizon
- formulate policy around Stellar and blockchain generally, and engage with regulators and policy-makers
- cultivate the network’s technology and business ecosystems
- foster Stellar’s community of individual network participants
- promote the Stellar technology to new participants and markets
In order to fund the above efforts (and other development or operational needs that may arise,) SDF will sell its lumens using public exchanges like Kraken, Coinbase, and Bitstamp and through direct sales. The cash we generate pays for employee salaries, as well as for things like rent, overhead, travel, and server costs.
In addition to cash salaries, most SDF employees also receive lumen-denominated grants drawn from this fund as well.
Total: 2B XLM
SDF is committed to making Stellar an attractive place to build. We do this through the Direct Development work detailed above, but we also provide monetary support to teams and projects that are independently strengthening the Stellar ecosystem. Our ecosystem work is focused on two main areas: supporting developers and supporting the issuance of more currency tokens on the network.
Here are the addresses and funds dedicated to those initiatives:
Developer Support lumens go to hackathons, meetups, and other important developer-community initiatives. Developer Support also funds two larger grant initiatives:
SDF’s Infrastructure Grant program supports projects that provide crucial network utility. There is no way to apply for this program. Instead, we allow projects to emerge and prove their value organically. The SDF ecosystem team reviews the Stellar ecosystem, asking of each major project:
- Is this project an application or service that helps Stellar grow?
- Has the project proven its value?
- Is the team ambitious and dedicated to the long-term success of the network?
If the answer to these questions is yes, the project is considered for a grant, and we reach out for more information.
Grants are paid out every quarter and before each distribution, SDF reviews roadmaps with each project to ensure the recipients continue to drive the ecosystem forward.
Research and Development Grants
To encourage innovation, SDF offers Research and Development Grants that support the creation of minimum viable products and proofs of concept aimed at improving liquidity, increasing throughput, or otherwise extending the capabilities of the network to meet ecosystem needs. R&D grants go to qualified teams with proven capability to define benchmarks, conduct experiments, deliver results, and explain them to the world at large.
Anyone can submit a proposal by following the steps outlined on the application page. Periodically, the SDF R&D grants committee will evaluate applications, and follow up with those that meet current standards and fulfill current ecosystem needs. When evaluating a proposal, the grants committee will ask:
- Does the experiment have real potential to improve liquidity, increase network throughput, or add key functionality to Stellar?
- Is it well scoped?
- Will it deliver measurable results?
- Does the team behind the proposal have a proven track record of reliability?
Unlike the other grant programs run by SDF, the Community Fund gives the broader Stellar community the opportunity to vote on which projects deserve XLM grants. The Community Fund is also unique in that any project can apply. The explanation of the Fund is here, along with information about how and when to apply and vote.
The Currency Support funds go to teams that issue redeemable, fully-backed currency stablecoins on Stellar and/or offer deposit-withdrawal endpoints for the network because deep, varied currency markets are an essential part of Stellar’s future. The funds here also support market-making efforts for essential tokens on the Stellar DEX.
Currency grants are decided by asking:
- What currencies does the network need most?
- What projects are most likely to provide stable, long-term endpoints for those currencies?
- What projects are compliant with relevant regulations?
There is no application; we find promising enterprises and engage with them.
Total: 10B XLM
SDF is committed to identifying and fostering sustainable Stellar use-cases. We do this in two primary ways. Here are the dedicated ledger addresses and their balances:
From time to time, SDF will create or acquire business units and products to fill gaps we perceive in the ecosystem. The New Products funds are for those efforts. We will focus on enhancing, rather than supplanting, existing projects, and we’re committed to building with open-source ideals in mind. When deciding whether to build or acquire a product, important considerations will include:
- Will the product create value for many other Stellar-based projects?
- Could SDF fill the gap in the ecosystem by other means?
- Will the development process help the SDF team better support current or future Stellar projects?
Our Vibrant mobile app is an example of such a project. It launched in 2020, and its ongoing operations will come from this fund.
The Stellar Enterprise Fund is a venture-style fund for growing the network. The XLM in this account will not be distributed as grants. They’ll be used instead to either acquire or invest in businesses that have potential for the Stellar ecosystem. Some of these businesses may not yet be building on Stellar but would bring substantial benefit to the ecosystem and to their own business if they were brought to the network. Any proceeds from investments will be cycled back into the Fund.
Lumens might be directly invested into projects or lumens might be sold for currency to invest. Similar to other programs, there is no public application for the Enterprise Fund. SDF will sources its own candidates, asking:
- Is the management team experienced, knowledgeable, and focused?
- Is blockchain a central component of the company’s business model and value?
- What value could the company bring to the Stellar ecosystem?
- What value could Stellar in turn bring to the company?
- Does the company have a connection to SDF’s mission?
- Is the company’s market large and meaningful for Stellar?
SDF is committed to bringing new individual users to the Stellar ecosystem. Without users, the apps, tokens, companies, and projects created by the above efforts will fail. Here are the funds set aside for growing Stellar’s user base:
The In-App Distributions pool is the successor of Stellar’s original airdrop programs. The XLM in this account will fund user acquisition for Stellar-built apps and services that have already shown traction in the marketplace. Distributions could be through airdrops, as a “matching funds” type of flow, as an off-set for fees incurred by the user or by the project, or in other creative ways. The goal of this fund is to put more lumens into the hands of real users through the apps they’re already using. SDF will source its own candidates, asking:
- Is the project already gaining traction?
- Does the project have a connection to SDF’s mission?
- Will increased success of the project directly and positively impact the Stellar ecosystem?
- How will an in-app distribution magnify the project’s existing marketing efforts?
- Does the project have its own marketing team that could implement a co-created plan?
- Does the project have a developed internal ecosystem, so that distributions will be used in-app, rather than offloaded to external exchanges and wallets?
The funds from Marketing Support will provide marketing, PR, and communications for the Stellar network itself and for the projects building on Stellar. We may use third-parties, or may choose to do the marketing work ourselves. Projects will be considered for marketing support using many of the criteria outlined above for other programs.
Tracking our progress
SDF’s Mandate includes all of the lumens held by SDF. For clarity, and to put the various SDF wallets in one simple table, here are all the mandate funds:
As we said when we first announced this framework in November 2019, we intend to use or disperse most of these lumens within ten years. Ideally sooner. Along the way, we’re committed to fulfilling our mandate with as much transparency, clarity, and energy as we can. Expect a detailed accounting of our progress each quarter, but of course you can always follow along on the ledger.
Anyone who wants a complete accounting for all lumens in existence should visit our Lumen Supply Metrics guide for detailed explanations of major lumen metrics, as well as instructions on how to calculate supply details from the ground-up using Stellar’s APIs.