In this post, we want to bring you up to speed on what is happening inside Steemit, as well as give you our perspective on the successes (and failures) of the past year, let you know what we see as our mission going forward, and provide some insight into what we have planned.
Steemit’s Vision and Mission
Through our vision of empowering entrepreneurs to tokenize the internet, our primary roles in the Steem ecosystem are providing the community with software enhancements to the Steem blockchain, modular framework applications made up of components that can be leveraged by application developers and inspiration through these platforms to entrepreneurial end-users. We believe we must build in ways that create as many opportunities — and catalyze as many amazing Steem-based entrepreneurs and communities — as possible.
With more than a dozen self-sustaining user-oriented applications (such as Busy.org, D.Tube and Uptopian.io) already integrated, Steem has more widely used applications than any other blockchain. There are more tools coming to spur adoption of Steem much faster, such as Steem’s Smart Media Tokens and Steemit’s Communities. Because of these developments, as well as the active Witnesses, community-oriented developers, and the platform’s track record - we believe there will be more than 100,000 entrepreneurs of meaningful standing building businesses on Steem within five years. Our goal is to deliver the tools and interest that crystallizes this future — one rich with opportunity for people to build their business on Steem.
2017 a year of growth
2017 was a year of growth: growth of the applications building on the Steem platform, boon of its currency STEEM, expansion of the Steem community, and development of the Steemit organization. It is exciting to see that the price of STEEM has risen by more than 5000% to over $4.00 since the $0.0691 low back in March. Steem has attracted hundreds of thousands of new members, many applications have seen 1000%+ growth, and our portion of this ecosystem, steemit.com, attracts millions of unique active visitors each month.
2017: What we did right
In 2017 (and early 2018), we dedicated massive resources to scaling — more than we had anticipated. This took a significant amount of time away from feature development, but we feel it was time well spent, because it lays the foundation for us to grow the platform significantly larger, in a way that is economically scalable for exchanges and developers.
TONS of new applications
We have seen massive growth in the number of third-party applications built on top of the Steem blockchain that are now flourishing. This includes Busy, DLive, DMania, DSound, DTube, Utopian.io, Vessel, and many more! We are very excited to see the innovation coming from our developer community, and we are looking forward to seeing a lot of new applications in the coming year.
Free image hosting
Free image hosting and an easy to use interface was added to steemit.com, so that users can quickly upload their images directly into the posting editor as they are creating their content.
Delegated Steem Power
The blockchain rules were updated to allow users to delegate Steem Power to one another. This has allowed large stakeholders to share their influence with other members of the community, so that their stake can be used by others to benefit the platform. As a result, entirely new businesses have been created that provide new opportunities for users to bootstrap their presence on Steem.
The change to allow multiple beneficiaries for a post/comment has provided a means for application developers to build on top of Steem in a way that provides a use-based revenue stream. This will be an essential feature going forward, as it will allow many new businesses to form on Steem.
The change to a linear reward distribution has ensured that the impact of each user’s vote on the rewards pool is directly proportional to their Steem Power (i.e. their stake in the platform). Users now feel more empowered, and they can see the direct correlation between the amount of Steem Power they have and the strength of their vote.
Many improvements made to the condenser/steemit.com website make it more attractive and improve the user experience. This includes a new design, multi-language support, night mode, and many other enhancements. We have many more improvements in the works (such as notifications 2.0), but a lot of the larger improvements are on hold until after Hivemind and other back-end services are ready to support them. We are happy with the progress so far, but many more changes are planned for 2018.
Steem Developer Portal
The launch of the Steem Developer Portal has laid the foundation for a centralized set of documentation, tutorials, and onboarding materials for the Steem API and core client libraries. The portal will continue to evolve in 2018 (with better everything), as we expect this to be a critical tool for fulfilling our commitment to a quality development experience.
Steem software open source
We deeply value freedom and innovation, which is why we changed the Steem license to the MIT open-source license. This gives developers and entrepreneurs in the community the freedom to use the software we create for whatever they want, which we believe will maximize innovation and growth for the platform and ecosystem.
History was made on July 16, 2017, when the first public work exclusively funded by cryptocurrency was erected in the Herbert von King Park in Brooklyn, New York.
We have made multiple updates to our sign-up process, which will improve the onboarding experience for new users while preventing abuse by bad actors. There have been a few bumps, but the trend is strongly upward for security and overall experience. Signup and login continue to be a focus, and we are actively working on further improvements.
Updated whitepaper and bluepaper
A new whitepaper was released, which is now in sync with the current version of the blockchain. We also released a new “bluepaper” designed to be a helpful guide to our protocol that is comprehensible to the widest range of people.
The steem.io website is one of the main sources of information for the Steem blockchain and STEEM currency. This was updated to ensure it presented accurate and up-to-date information. It will continue to evolve in 2018.
SteemFest2 was amazing! It was great to connect with so many great Steemians in person and discuss our plans and vision. We got a lot of valuable feedback from community members and are integrating many of the suggestions we received. The ability for so many individuals from across the world to come together and experience an event like this is something that makes Steem unique across the cryptocurrency ecosystem.
Expanded exchange listings
We are working hard to get STEEM listed on as many exchanges as possible. One example: STEEM was recently added to the fastest-growing cryptocurrency exchange, Binance.com.
Team restructure / hiring
We have spent a lot of time building an all-star team. As many of you know from working in organizations of your own, recruiting A+ people is not an easy process, and progress often has to slow before it can speed up again. We are privileged as an organization to afford A+ talent, and culturally we’ve never been more energetic and creative since setting our bar so high. We are thrilled to highlight several of our new talented team members in the “Steemit Team” section below.
Announcement of SMTs
SMTs are going to be one of the main tools that will allow entrepreneurs to interface with the Steem blockchain in a way that provides them with economic incentives for building their applications and improving the platform. SMTs will also provide a mechanism for communities to distribute token rewards to their members, with influence that is proportional to the distribution of their SMT.
2017: What we didn’t do right
We have not delivered on several of the items we included in our 2017 Roadmap. We were a young start-up that failed to know what we didn’t know. Growth of Steem surprised even us, and scaling required more resources than we had anticipated.
After gathering feedback from developers and entrepreneurs, we also made the difficult decision to switch focus mid-year to new projects like SMTs, which, while not in the roadmap, we are convinced will increase the value of the Steem blockchain to entrepreneurs by orders of magnitude.
We apologize for falling short of our stated objectives, but we believe our decisions will greatly enhance the success of our vision in the years to come.
We did a lot of work on a mobile application, but it just isn’t where we want it to be. We want to put out the best blockchain-based, component-oriented, modularly tooled products in the world. After a year in operation, steemit.com and the other amazing Steem-based applications like D.Tube, Utopian.io, DLive, etc. are the only blockchain-based applications that ordinary people use. Right now, our mobile application just is not up to snuff. We’re not abandoning it, but we are not going to release it until we are satisfied that it meets our quality standards. It may take us some time to get this right and to ensure that, ultimately, the project is a success.
We have not done a good job of keeping the community informed of our work. We apologize for this. We know we need to improve on this, and we will be making many changes to our communication strategy in 2018.
Going into 2018, we are critically focused on bolstering our core competencies in ways that enable building a sustainable and scalable organization that empowers our projects and the Steem community of users, developers, and entrepreneurs. Much of this goal begins by bringing in great people at the top, and we have assembled a world-class management team. With this team we continue to recruit more talent across product, engineering, ops, and advocacy.
Today, we are happy to introduce Harry Schmidt (@goldibex), formerly the Director of Engineering at The Information, and VP of Engineering with Casetext, as our CTO. Harry has taken on full accountability and responsibility for building the greatest engineering force possible, already having dramatically improved our engineering organization’s agility and ability to ship with regularity and precision. With that, we’ve continued to build out the engineering organization in a completely distributed manner. Distributed engineering is an underrated strategy for building companies with long-term missions, and thus far it has allowed us to recruit All-Star engineering talent no matter where they live in the world.
We also have a new CFO, Randy Baker, an industry veteran with experience serving as a CFO for a private space exploration company that counted SpaceX as one of its customers, as well as experience running his own successful start-ups.
Pon Kattera (@pkattera) is our Head of Design and Interim Head of Product. Pon has been hard at work, taking the design of steemit.com to the next level. He is working closely with Harry to ensure that our releases are developed with agility and turn out as beautiful as they are secure. (Little-known fact: Pon also attended SteemFest #1.)
Many of you may know Andrew Levine (@andrarchy), who has served as our Community Liaison. We introduce him now as our Director of Content. We have given him the authority — and the mandate — to improve our communication with the community and develop an effective content publication strategy.
It is also our pleasure to introduce Christi White as our Head of People. Christi brings a depth of experience building technology companies, and we’re thrilled with the impact she is making on our organization as we continue to build our all-star team across product, engineering, ops, and advocacy.
Our Board of Directors is more involved than ever. The Board comprises Gregory Wexler, a successful serial entrepreneur lending expertise gained from years spent in the industry; Ben (@theoretical), software architect of Steem and chief software architect of the Smart Media Tokens protocol, whose wisdom and insights are invaluable; Chris Padovano of Decentralized Legal, a pioneering legal expert in the blockchain world; and there’s me — Ned Scott, CEO of Steemit — privileged to work with such a diverse group of talents.
We have also hired several new blockchain developers, front-end developers to work on the condenser (steemit.com) website, as well as other static sites like steem.io and developers.steem.io, and back-end developers to work on our tools such as Jussi, Hivemind, and Steem Blockchain Data Services (SBDS). In addition, we are in the process of building out our content and advocacy teams.
Finally, we've developed new positions such as Developer Advocate, and have begun the process of creating an independent non-profit organization to support even more positions dedicated to supporting developers and entrepreneurs leveraging Steem and Smart Media Tokens.
What’s Coming in 2018
Right now, our top priorities are blockchain scalability (AppBase), Communities (Hivemind), effortless onboarding (sign up + Hardfork 20), and Smart Media Tokens (SMTs). So much progress has already been made, and we are working around the clock to deliver them as soon as we can.
We still can’t give a precise completion date because we recently reorganized our entire development process around agile methodology. The changes we’ve made will enable us to forecast more accurately how long it takes us to launch new features, but only after we’ve used the process for enough time.
Last year one of the mistakes we made was being far too precise in our roadmap. Priorities change, and timelines for developing software when dealing with disruptive technology is often difficult to predict. Going forward we will not be giving specific dates for changes that are not yet completed - to give ourselves the flexibility to shift priorities if necessary, and to take the time needed to deliver a quality product. We will do our best to keep you informed of our plans and priorities, so you know what to expect.
We know what big features Steemians want: communities, spam management, modular application components for simple and fast development, a great sign-up flow, Smart Media Tokens... and they want it yesterday. That’s where we’re focusing our attention. We have many other exciting projects planned too, and are reviewing all the suggestions made by the community for #roadmap2018. We look forward to updating you as these projects unfold.
Thank you so much for sticking with us through this volatile year. Steemit is nothing without you and the developers and entrepreneurs building Steem apps. We believe 2018 is going to be a benchmark year for Steem, and we are glad to have you with us on this wild ride
Ned and Team