VeradiVerdict - Issue #211
Unstoppable Domains is an NFT domain name provider and web3 identity platform working to create user-owned digital identity for every person on the planet. Pantera recently led Unstoppable’s $65M Series A round at a $1B valuation alongside Mayfield, Gaingels, Alchemy Ventures, Redbeard Ventures, and more.
Identity ownership and management has been an increasingly relevant part of the crypto scene, especially as web3 becomes much more social, collaborative, and expressive. Comprehensive tooling around identity in themes such as privacy, social, and infrastructure have become necessary and in response, many protocols have surfaced to provide data management, on-chain identity profiles, wallet-to-wallet chat, and collateralization mechanisms around identity. For example, solving existing issues with token-gating and verification tools are popularizing through protocols like Unlock and Backdrop. On the consumer side, networks like Lens Protocol and Gallery (as well as infrastructure like Cyberconnect) are enabling social interactions through curation and community building on-chain. Disco, Privy and Orange Protocol are tackling identity privacy and reputation through different mechanisms including decentralized identifiers (DIDs) and verifiable credentials. As companies continually arise in the space, it’s important to consider some of web2’s flaws around identity management and data privacy. Direct ownership and control over one’s identity is one of the core theses of web3, and Unstoppable Domains is unlocking this by providing web3-native usernames for individuals to navigate, transact, and communicate across the decentralized web.
A domain name is an NFT composed of a word of the user’s choice plus an ending like “.x,” “.nft”, or “.crypto.” A user’s domain name lives on the blockchain and acts as a universal username stored in the owner’s crypto wallet that can be attached to other on-chain data. Unstoppable customers have already registered 2.5M+ domain names, 1M of which have been minted on Polygon. Domain name use cases include:
Sending and receiving transactions with your domain name instead of a long, confusing, and typo-prone wallet address. It’s common for users to send tiny test transactions because of how cryptic and easy-to-mess-up current wallet addresses are, and using a domain name eliminates this need (275+ coins and tokens are currently supported across multiple blockchains, with many more on the way)
Using your domain name for identity management and navigating web3 (e.g. logging into apps)
Hosting your own website with your domain name (Unstoppable offers pre-made website templates with tutorials on how to build one and quickly publish it to IPFS)
Unstoppable is continually expanding the utility of its domains, both for those who are very cryptonative and for people just entering the ecosystem.
Domain search interface on Unstoppable. Source: Unstoppable Domains
Domain name prices range from just $5 up to hundreds of thousands of dollars: lengthy names are usually cheaper, while shorter, common names are more expensive. Unstoppable’s product appeals to a wide market: those new to crypto can start off with purchasing a domain name as a kind of introduction to web3, while cryptonative users can enhance their transaction and navigation experience through purchasing a domain. Because the NFT domain is fairly cost-flexible and can be used in so many different ways (with even more use cases on the way), a broad user base is attracted to Unstoppable’s products. Users don’t have to be particularly cryptonative to transact on UD - domain names can be purchased with crypto, credit card, or PayPal. Furthermore, once a user purchases a domain name, it’s theirs forever – the platform has no renewal fees, unlike .com or .eth domains. Unstoppable Domains customers also don’t pay minting fees or gas fees – the only charge is the domain name itself. Unstoppable has generated over $80M in sales since their launch in late 2019.
With a domain name, a user’s transacting experience is much more seamless. Source: Unstoppable Domains
On the partnership side, Unstoppable is a force – the company is working with over 330 protocols and projects including Brave, blockchain.com, Polygon, and 1inch. For example, Ramp just integrated UD so their members can use their domain names when buying tokens. Today, users can log in to more than 210 platforms using their Unstoppable domain. By partnering with Unstoppable, protocols support their users’ identity management, reduce errors/lost funds, get early access to UD’s new developments, and help build brand awareness through UD’s strong community.
UD has a strong network of integrations – with many more in the pipeline. Source: UD
Unstoppable has also built out comprehensive developer infrastructure and guides to make integration as seamless as possible. Some applications of these tools include:
Integrating sending/receiving crypto payments with an Unstoppable domain
Integrating logging in/authenticating on an application with an Unstoppable domain
Resolution service APIs/libraries that allow applications to fetch/resolve UD data
As applications increasingly look to make their user experience as intuitive and easy as possible, integrating UD will be an obvious step.
Many different kinds of applications, from fiat on ramps to oracles, use UD in unique ways. Source: Unstoppable Domains
The Unstoppable team has incredible experience in scaling startups, developing product, and designing performant software across a number of companies. Core leaders include:
Matthew Gould (co-founder and CEO) – extensive expertise in both software development and founding companies, formerly in product at Talkable.
Bogdan Gusiev (co-founder and CTO) – previously co-founder and CTO at Talkable and has full stack development experience, particularly in startups.
Bradley Kam (co-founder and Head of Business Development) – founded Talkable alongside Gusiev.
Braden Pezeshki – co-founder and full stack engineer at Unstoppable Domains.
Sandy Carter (SVP for Business Development and partnerships lead) – former VP of public sector partnerships at Amazon AWS, with extensive Silicon Valley experience spanning companies including IBM and a startup she founded, Silicon Blitz.
Ray Utech (VP of Finance) – previously CFO/COO at Iconic Ventures.
… and many more individuals passionate about building the future of identity in web3.
The UD team is also working on other important projects outside of their username product. They pioneered Unstoppable Women of Web3 (WoW3), a project focused on making web3 accessible through education and networking. WoW3 already has 120+ partners across crypto and web3 verticals from blockchain infrastructure to social protocols. In addition, UD is passionate about crypto literacy and education and has a learning hub on their website as well as an active podcast and blog.
Most recently, Unstoppable launched its iOS mobile app, where users can mint and manage their domain names directly from their smartphones. The company is also working with Blue Studios to develop a non-custodial family-oriented crypto wallet.
As Unstoppable aims to reach 100M domain names minted, there’s certainly no shortage of use cases in the crypto space and beyond. Domain names have significant applications in web3 gaming and metaverses for universal logins, communication, and in-game transactions. Another interesting area is the creator economy, where proof of identity is important for token-gated communities and artist-fan interactions. In the education sector, universities are beginning to work with Unstoppable for students to store certifications, diplomas, and course completion certifications in their domain names. Domains may also be able to store healthcare data to streamline the doctor-patient relationship and consolidate medical data in one accessible place.
We’re excited about what else the Unstoppable team has in the pipeline: rapidly expanding partnerships, building out new product features (like reverse revolution), and innovating on use cases for domain names and beyond. As this interoperable infrastructure is developed and launched, identity management and autonomy is increasingly put back into the hands of those whose data it actually is.
You can find me at paul.nft.
- Paul Veradittakit
Pantera Capital Puerto Rico Management, LP and its affiliates (“Pantera”) makes investments in crypto assets and in blockchain-related companies. Pantera and/or its affiliates or personnel may be an investor in, or have relationships or other business arrangements related to, certain instruments, companies and/or projects discussed herein. This article does not contain any advertisement for Pantera’s investment advisory services, or any other services or products, whether provided by Pantera or otherwise. The information and opinions presented in this article are solely those of Paul Veradittakit, and do not represent investment, legal, tax, financial, or any other form of, advice or recommendations. Neither Pantera nor Mr. Veradittakit is acting, or purports to act, as an investment adviser or in a fiduciary capacity with respect to any recipient of this paper. Information contained in this document is believed to be reliable, but no representation is made regarding such information’s fairness, correctness, accuracy, reasonableness or completeness. There is no obligation to update this document or to otherwise notify a reader if any matter stated statement or information contained here changes or subsequently is shown to be inaccurate. Nothing contained herein constitutes any representation or warranty as to future performance of any financial instrument or company. Opinions included here incorporate subjective judgments or may be based on incomplete information. This document does not constitute or contain an offer to sell or a solicitation to buy any securities or a recommendation to enter into any transaction, and no reliance should be placed on this document in making investment decisions.
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Hi, I’m Paul Veradittakit, a Partner at Pantera Capital, one of the oldest and largest institutional investors focused on investing in blockchain companies and cryptocurrencies. I’ve been in the industry since 2014, and the firm invests in equity, early stage token projects, and liquid cryptocurrencies on exchanges. I focus on early-stage investments and share my thoughts on what’s going on in the industry in this weekly newsletter.