PNF's Ecosystem Thesis for Pocket: How we become Unstoppable

Research shows that DAOs “without a strategy tend to be directionless, as attention and time become increasingly divided”. [1] Intuiting this in advance, part of our role at PNF is to

Clearly, having a thesis and a prioritisation framework that builds on assumptions around the future is important. So, why didn’t we maintain a public thesis for the Pocket ecosystem from the start? Yes, PNF is responsible for stewarding the DAO towards delivering more impact, but first, we needed to deliver on what we set out in our very first DNA post:

So before talking about our hypotheses for Pocket’s future success and setting our priorities to get there, we must start by reminding ourselves why we are here in the first place and build on the foundations provided by our DNA.

Pocket’s DNA :dna:

Pocket’s purpose is to provide Unstoppable Open Data to enable a future where the world’s most important digital infrastructure is governed by its users. In seeking to serve this purpose and fulfil this vision, Pocket’s day-to-day mission is to empower developers with open access to the most reliable, performant, and cost-effective data infrastructure [2]

So, what do we know from these statements? We know that:

  • We care about Open Data that is Unstoppable

Access to Web3 (Open Data) should not be gated by any one entity that can extract rent, sell our data or restrict access. Furthermore, we care about removing single points of failure so that our core internet infrastructure is as reliable and redundant as possible.

  • We care about a future where users own and govern the infrastructure they rely on every day

Pocket’s governance must be representative of its key stakeholders. We must remain credibly neutral as a protocol and avoid Pocket ever becoming co-opted by any individual, entity, or particular interest group.

  • We care about providing world-class infrastructure that is the most reliable, performant, and cost-effective

These are ultimately the factors described in the RPC trilemma - reliability (availability, redundancy, integrity), performance (latency, QoS), and cost - as this is what customers of RPC services care about. [3] Unless developers use Pocket, our efforts toward our purpose and vision are moot.

How can we use our DNA as a lens to make decisions? :bulb:

The reason Pocket needs decentralisation is so that Pocket can provide Unstoppable Open Data and ensure that the protocol is owned and governed by its users. This is core to Pocket’s purpose. Unpacking this further, we can see the value Pocket derives from decentralisation.

Decentralising Pocket’s

  • supply side: ensures sufficient node diversity and redundancy to maintain 100% uptime;
  • demand side: ensures that there is no single point of failure for accessing or selling Pocket’s service; fosters a coopetition dynamic that optimizes the quality of service; increases the overall reach of the network through the creation of specialised gateways that can tailor their offering towards different customer types and needs;
  • governance: ensures that Pocket remains credibly neutral and representative of its key stakeholders, and ultimately so that the underlying protocol will continue to run as designed and remain open to anyone who wants to use or build on it without having the rules shift under their feet; and
  • capital markets: ensure that access to Pocket’s supply side remains as permissionless as possible and that nodes can freely and easily sell their rewards for doing work in the network, and similarly that applications and gateways can acquire the $POKT they need to stake in the network and access its throughput.

Furthermore, picking up on Olshansky’s description of the RPC Trilemma and how Pocket solves it, decentralisation helps Pocket lean into its unique networked marketplace architecture and enables Pocket to deliver a RPC service that is genuinely more reliable, performant and cheaper than any other competitor.

Another way of summarising the takeaways so far is that we want to build up the capacities of our ecosystem so that Pocket becomes a Sovereign Cryptonetwork:

… communities thrive when there is great trust in the system, and the way to develop that trust is through continuous decentralization across all elements of cryptonetwork sovereignty… To be sovereign, a cryptonetwork must… be sufficiently decentralized across four dimensions: supply, demand, governance and capital market infrastructure… the world’s largest and most successful networks will be those that are the most sovereign, as they will have the easiest time convincing miners, users and investors to commit their time, work and money to their growth.

Joel Monegro - Sovereign Cryptonetworks, 2019 [4]

Only when we decentralise Pocket’s supply, demand, governance, and capital markets can we successfully deliver on Pocket’s purpose.

Putting all of this together, our thesis for Pocket is that by leaning into decentralisation via Pocket’s community, Pocket can become a sovereign cryptonetwork and, ultimately, the default infrastructure provider for the open internet.

Consequently, investing in the capacities of our community to drive value for the Pocket ecosystem is the highest impact investment we can make.

Our North Star, Big Hairy Audacious Goals, and Success Metrics for Pocket Network :star:

To make our thesis practical, we need some goals and targets. And using the startup adage that “you make what you measure”, we believe protocol revenue is the North Star metric we should all be driving towards.

As per the recent DNA post:

While we can use protocol revenue as a lagging metric to understand the success of our efforts. Getting there is a multi-faceted complex problem that touches all aspects of Pocket’s ecosystem, so we need to align on what are the most impactful investments of our time and money in pursuit of protocol revenue. In other words, what objectives do we need to set for ourselves to deliver massive amounts of protocol revenue? And what projects should we decide on to achieve them?

In thinking about the most impactful goals for Pocket, we used the concept of BHAGs - Big Hairy Audacious Goals. As per Jim Collins: “The best BHAGs require both building for the long term AND exuding a relentless sense of urgency: What do we need to do today, with monomaniacal focus, and tomorrow, and the next day, to defy the probabilities and ultimately achieve our BHAG?” [5]

The following five BHAGs sum up our objectives for the ecosystem, the priority “keystone” projects to be stewarded by PNF, and an accompanying set of metrics to ensure we hold each other accountable to our goals.

We want together with the community to align on the right metrics for these BHAGs, as everything we do as a community for the foreseeable future should focus on work that improves these metrics and drives towards achieving these goals. Consequently, you will see any metric below that needs to be defined further with an * beside it.

BHAG Dimensions Metrics Keystone Projects Additional Projects
v1 is the most successful new protocol launch ever All (Supply, Demand, Governance, Capital Markets) North Star: Permissionless and Scalable protocol, Secondary Metrics: Contributor coefficient*, Customization to enable L2 businesses* v1 protocol development and launch v1 economics R&D, v1 governance R&D, RAD2, See all marketing and PR-related initiatives under BHAG #3
Pocket has $1B of annual protocol revenue Demand North Star: Protocol Revenue, Secondary Metrics: Nakamoto coefficient of relay control Decentralising our Demand (supporting the launch of at least one other gateway prior to v1 launch), The Road to Revenue (activating and scaling demand-side fees) Bootstrap a DAO-powered DevRel function
Pocket has the most trusted infrastructure brand in crypto Demand, Capital Markets North Star: Customer NPS*, Secondary Metrics: Positive media impressions*, Qualitative trust survey Establish a PNF marketing function that serves the whole ecosystem (hire a Head of Marketing, take ownership of all official channels, onboard a Tier 1 PR firm) Revamp Pocket’s brand, design and website
Pocket has the healthiest culture and governance of any DAO Governance North Star: Culture - Community NPS (Pride, Promote, Stay), Governance - Nakomoto Coefficient (control protocol, halt protocol, control DAO), Secondary Metrics: The proportion of proposals from non-PNI and PNF members*, Runway of Pocket’s DAO based on annualised burn over the last 3 months DNA, GROW, Creds Community Moderators Program, Ambassadors and Regional Community Hubs Programs, Upgrades of community channels (Discourse & Discord)
Pocket has the institutional financial rails expected of a blue-chip token Capital Markets North Star: 2% Depth, Secondary Metrics: # Tier 1 exchanges, Market cap* wPOKT Tier 1 exchange listing, Messari quarterly research reports

Next steps :zap:

If you want to dive deeper into the extensive analysis and supporting information as to how we chose these BHAGs, metrics, and keystone projects, please click through to this document, which charts where Pocket is now, how it compares to the competition, and where we need to improve in relation to each of the key “Sovereign Cryptonetwork” dimensions of decentralised supply, demand, governance and capital markets. [6]

And if you want to just get to work. Your immediate takeaways should be:

  1. Our thesis gives us all confidence that decentralisation for Pocket is not just a nice to have. It is our key sustainable advantage. So we need to lean into it.

  2. The BHAGs highlight the areas we need to work on delivering value towards over the next 12 months:

    • V1 launch
    • Protocol revenue
    • Pocket’s brand
    • Healthy culture and governance
    • Utility and liquidity of POKT
  3. And the metrics are the numbers we all need to focus on improving, with protocol revenue being the key north star metric.

We can only become a sovereign cryptonetwork by everyone in the community participating and taking ownership of a particular goal or initiative that drives value to the ecosystem.

This is why we have been incubating the many new mechanisms within GROW, so that there are many different ways to contribute to delivering impact towards our stated metrics, regardless of whether that is by opening a Socket, suggesting IDEAS, or responding to a Pocket Open Priority (POP). So please, get those creative juices flowing and start thinking about the ways that you can help drive Pocket to deliver on our shared, ambitious goals.

@b3n will be sharing more information about a new alignment mechanism for work and a feedback cycle for the DAO that should help align everyone in thinking about how their work is focused on driving a specific metric related to a particular BHAG.

And in parallel, think about how you can live and reinforce our collective DNA:

Pocket’s most likely path to achieving true sustainable competitive advantages over the competition and to building a moat is via its community. As in a world of open source, creating skin-in-the-game for your community is the true modern lock-in effect as you can’t fork integrations, the know-how of the most diverse and battle-tested node runners, customer relationships, your brand, trust in how you maintain your code, how functional and productive your DAO is, your culture of collaboration and innovation, or even a token’s liquidity.

By scaling through our community, we have unlimited potential.

This is how we become unstoppable.


  1. The Collective DAO Archives - presentation at ETH Denver by Justine from the Optimism Foundation - Collective DAO Archives Presentation.pdf - Google Drive
  2. Project DNA thread - What is our Pocket DNA? - #13 by b3n
  3. Presentation by Olshansky at ETH Denver about the RPC trilemma - Pocket Network Protocol: Solving a Trilemma in Disguise with Daniel Olshansky - YouTube and blog post - Building Better RPC Service: What is the RPC Trilemma?
  4. Joel Monegro, Sovereign Cryptonetworks - Sovereign Cryptonetworks — Placeholder
  5. Jim Collins, BHAG - Jim Collins - Concepts - BHAG
  6. Supporting analysis for all BHAGs, metrics and keystone projects - PNF thesis: Supporting analysis for BHAGs, metrics and keystone projects - Google Docs

Very interesting , I find the attached document very informative and a must read!