Bitcoin (BTC) is speedily moving away from its age-old narrative of being a “store of value” as emerging solutions accelerate the network’s expansion into previously uncharted territories.
While dozens of second and third-generation blockchains have aggressively expanded their use-cases, especially regarding programmability, the Bitcoin community has always been conservative about implementing significant changes to its core.
This reality changed with the launch of Stacks – a layer-1 smart contract solution for the Bitcoin network. Effectively, Stacks provides the necessary infrastructure that enables smart contract functionality on the Bitcoin network without requiring changes to the mainnet.
It implements a novel consensus mechanism called Proof-of-transfer (PoX) between two independent chains, Stacks 2.0 and Bitcoin in this case, allowing developers to build a wide range of decentralized applications (dApps) and protocols without compromising Bitcoin’s core features.
With Stacks, the Bitcoin network has started expanding into the DeFi and NFT markets. Although this expansion has just begun, the Stacks ecosystem is now home to numerous dApps, each leveraging the security, stability, and liquidity of the Bitcoin network alongside the fast throughput, scalability, and cost-effectiveness of Stacks.
It’s hardly been a year since the Bitcoin network entered the DeFi market, and the total value locked (TVL) in the Stacks-Bitcoin DeFi ecosystem has already exceeded $20 million. To help elevate these numbers and accelerate the growth and expansion of the Bitcoin network, Stacks founder Muneeb Ali and Princeton University’s computer science professor J.P. Singh launched a new venture, Trust Machines, in early 2022.
Trust Machines, currently under development, aims to cultivate the largest possible Bitcoin ecosystem. The initiative kicked off right after the launch of the Stacks mainnet to create new utilities for BTC by empowering legions of developers to build on and utilize the liquidity, security, stability, and decentralization of the Bitcoin network. The team at Trust Machines aims to “make Bitcoin’s $1T value-productive by contributing to the innovation flywheel”.
Accelerating Bitcoin’s Dominance Across New Verticals
Put, Trust Machines will build Bitcoin-powered dApps and protocols, and it will also invest in and incubate projects and developers building on the Bitcoin network. For now, Trust Machines is supporting the developmental work of several projects, such as a fully decentralized Bitcoin lending application, a decentralized social application, an NFT marketplace for Bitcoin NFTs, and a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) tooling.
Muneeb has been building in the Bitcoin space since 2013, spearheading several Bitcoin-focused initiatives like Stacks, Hiro Systems, and Trust Machines. Although under development, Trust Machines has already collected $150 million of initial funding from a consortium of venture capitalists and angel investors, including Breyer Capital, Digital Currency Group, GoldenTree, Hivemind, and Union Square Ventures, and many more.
Early backers of Trust Machines resonate with Muneeb’s thesis of Bitcoin being “far more than just a store of value”. They realize the transformative power of “decentralized trust” – something only the Bitcoin network can provide. Trust Machines intends to utilize BTC’s liquidity and the network’s core features to transform BTC into a productive asset. Part of this effort involves expanding the legacy network presence in the “smart contract” arena, creating a new way for participants to build additional value for the broader ecosystem.
Over the last couple of months, Trust Machines has added several well-known names to its team, which is a clear indication that the work behind the curtains is in full swing. In April 2022, Bitcoin rewards app Lolli’s former Head of Communications Aubrey Strobel was onboarded to Trust Machines as a Marketing and Communications Advisor. During the same period, Binance US former Head of Exchange Rena Shah joined Trust Machines as the Head of Strategy and Operations.
Adding to the organization’s talent acquisition strategy, Trust Machines recruited three new all-star members to its growing team in June. Manas Mohapatra, who previously led several high-profile roles in Twitter, ViacomCBS, and BNY Mellon, has been enlisted as Trust Machines General Counsel alongside Reddit’s former staff software engineer Igor Sylvester, who has linked up with the platform’s engineering team. Additionally, Asif Hirji, a highly-regarded investor and founder with deep experience in cryptocurrencies, was invited to Trust Machines as an advisor. Asif has held several high-profile positions in Coinbase, Ameritrade, a16z, and TPG, among others.
According to the Trust Machines team, capital raised to date will be allocated towards building Bitcoin-based applications and funding the development of the underlying technology to unleash the true potential of Bitcoin as the final settlement layer. Taking a page from the progress of existing initiatives, Trust Machines will expand upon the success of Stacks and other Bitcoin-based solutions, adding more programmability to the legacy chain. A portion of the funds will also be used to recruit Bitcoin Core developers to accelerate research and development of scalability and functionality layers for Bitcoin.