EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The blockchain ecosystem is experiencing a shortage of developers, and companies are looking for ways to attract them. A unique approach that could help alleviate this issue is to rely on JavaScript, a very popular programming language. Agoric is one such project that supports JavaScript and thus is uniquely positioned to tap into the market of millions of JavaScript developers.

Agoric offers developers the option to build smart contracts in JavaScript and employs the Tendermint consensus mechanism. Its ecosystem includes the following elements:

  • The tech stack comprising four endpoints and three protocols
  • The IST token
  • The BLD token
  • The BLDer DAO
  • Object-Capability security
  • The Inter Protocol and its products

The network’s native tokens, $BLD and $IST, provide several utilities to the holders. $BLD’s supply is finite, and the token is expected to be inflationary for the first three years. $IST is a decentralized stable token.

The project is located in the United States, a country with the most significant number of crypto investors, trading platforms, exchanges, investment funds, and crypto mining firms.

The project’s executive team has a technical and managerial background. Partnerships and industry-leading backers further strengthen the team.

The project has launched its Mainnet. There are several additional milestones planned to be reached over time. It will be interesting to see how Agoric penetrates the highly competitive smart-contract platforms market.

Our researchers gave Agoric a final rating of C. The breakdown of this rating is available at the end of this report.

 

PRODUCT & COMPANY DESCRIPTION

Introduction to Agoric

Agoric is a Proof-of-Stake, Layer 1 public blockchain designed to enable developers to build smart contracts in JavaScript swiftly. Agoric can potentially bring many developers to the DeFi frontier with Agoric’s smart contract platform since JavaScript is a widely-used programming language.

The Agoric public blockchain is designed to alleviate novel risks posed by decentralized financial systems built upon Proof-of-Stake consensus. It is foreseen that the Agoric programming model will make possible the formation of a cryptoeconomic standard library (ref. 1).

The mission is to offer a secure smart contracts framework to the whole blockchain ecosystem. With secure smart contracts, the team envisions widespread, unprecedented forms of global cooperation and entrepreneurs building fundamentally new businesses empowered by digital assets (ref. 2).

The platform’s notable features include:

  • Reliance on JavaScript, with extra features added on top.
  • A multi-layered security model.
  • A composable token standard.
  • A cryptocurrency-backed decentralized stable token.

The Agoric chain consists of three tightly-interrelated systems:

 

 

The three systems work together to establish a dynamic cryptoeconomy, where economic activity stabilizes, secures, and rewards participants in the network (ref. 3).

The tech stack of Agoric consists of four endpoints and three protocols. The four endpoints are:

  • Zoe: Zoe is the smart contract framework used in Agoric. It can be used to run code on-chain, mint new digital assets, and credibly trade assets. Smart contracts can be written using JavaScript, and the framework handles transaction elements like escrowing, safety, and payout-liveness guarantees so that users can get back what they offered or get what they wanted from a transaction (ref. 4). Zoe relies on the Electronic Rights Transfer Protocol, the token standard of Agoric (ref. 5). An introduction to Zoe, featuring an example, can be found here.
  • Digital assets: Digital assets are bearer rights, either fungible or non-fungible, that can be exclusively exercised or transferred.
  • Endo: Endo is intertwined with Hardened Javascript, in which, by default, whatever programs share is tamper-proof, and programs can present hardened interfaces for cooperation. Endo runs guest programs in Hardened JavaScript and communicates with a CapTP object-to-object message-passing protocol. Learn more about Hardened Javascript here.
  • Tendermint: Tendermint is a Byzantine Fault Tolerance (BFT) consensus engine. Tendermint and the Inter-Blockchain Communication protocol (IBC) are the leading technologies of the Cosmos ecosystem, enabling the internet of blockchains (ref. 6).

The three protocols are:

  • Electronic Rights Transfer Protocol (ERTP): The ERTP, Agoric’s token standard for digital assets, is handled in JavaScript. Using ERTP, users can create a wide variety of digital assets, which are transferred similarly and have the same security properties (ref. 7). A guide with a fuller explanation of concepts is available here.
  • CapTP: CapTP is the capability transport protocol, enabling the writing of distributed code that runs across chains and computers. It makes it possible for objects on one computer to send messages to objects on another computer securely.
  • IBC: IBC, a layered protocol for Inter-Blockchain Communication, makes it possible for messages to be sent from one blockchain to another using intermediary relayers (ref. 8).

 

Illustration of the Agoric’s tech stack. Source: Agoric

 

The Agoric ecosystem also includes the following elements:

 

 

Agoric has published a whitepaper outlining essential topics relevant to the project, like an overview of the tokens and the technology stack of Agoric. The paper is reasonably detailed and most suited to an audience with some DLT/blockchain understanding level. Information about tokenomics can be found on CoinList and the staking website.

There is also the Inter Protocol Whitepaper that explains the ecosystem of the IST token.

In addition, the project is also inspired by other foundational papers published in 1988. These foundational papers, co-authored by one of the co-founders of Agoric, introduce the concept of software agents creating and participating in a market for computational resources and digital assets. The papers are listed here.

Agoric’s Mainnet went live on November 1, 2021. It was the first phase in the Mainnet launch, and this was also when $BLD, the staking token, went live on a public ledger (ref. 10). The Mainnet is supposed to go through three more phases in Q2 2022, Q3 2022, and Q4 2022 (ref. 11). At the moment, 100 active validators are operating on the network (ref. 12). The block explorer is available here.

Success Factors

There are several success factors for the project. These factors are listed below: 

  • The project is developer-friendly due to its use of a familiar tech stack, e.g., JavaScript.
  • A sizeable potential market as evidenced by the evolving Cosmos blockchain ecosystem.
  • A team with a solid technical background.
  • Financial backing by venture capital firms.

 

MARKET CONDITIONS AND COMPETITION

Market Conditions

The smart contract platforms market is currently worth about $306 billion (ref. 13). This market is dominated by the Ethereum chain, with a dominance of ~59%. The competition between smart contract platforms is very intense.

The trading volume and market cap of the Cosmos’ native token $ATOM have been on a downward trend since around January 2022. In one year, the market cap of $ATOM has decreased by 29.66% (ref. 14).

 

The trading volume and market cap of ATOM. Source: Footprint Analytics

 

The token has lost 80.2% of its value from the all-time high of $44.45 on January 17, 2022 (ref. 15).

 

Cosmos to USD chart. Source: Coinmarketcap (as of June 8, 2022)

 

This year, the activity of dApps has reached its lowest point as 2.22 million daily Unique Active Wallets connected to dApps in May. It is a 5% decrease month-over-month. However, it still represents a 32% increase compared to May 2021 (ref. 16).

Competition

Daml has been mentioned as a competitor to Agoric. Daml is helping developers to create, deploy, and run multi-party applications on a distributed ledger in a couple of days (ref. 17).

Last year, the CEO of Tendermint, the Cosmos Blockchain leading developer, said there would be about 200 blockchains connected via IBC (ref. 18). Agoric’s reliance on the Tendermint consensus mechanism and IBC puts it in competition with other projects operating in the Cosmos ecosystem, including Binance Smart Chain (ref. 19). At the moment, the Cosmos ecosystem tracker lists 265 apps and services (ref. 19).

 

Cosmos ecosystem as of March 17, 2021. Source: Coin98 Insights

 

CosmWasm allows users to build a blockchain with smart contract support using the Cosmos SDK (ref. 20).

Kadena is touted as the only platform that offers builders a complete decentralized infrastructure that supports blockchain and smart contract deployment (ref. 21).

Juno, a public blockchain in the Cosmos ecosystem, aims to offer an environment for deploying interoperable smart contracts (ref. 22).

HyperLedger Foundation provides Burrow, a full-blown blockchain and smart contract framework for running permissioned networks (ref. 23).

That said, at a much broader level, Agoric’s competition goes beyond the Cosmos ecosystem to include most smart contract platforms on the market, including well-known players like Ethereum and NEAR.

 

How is the project different from its competitors?

 

The features differentiating Agoric from the competition are:

  • JavaScript support: Agoric enables developers to build smart contracts in JavaScript. It is expected that this feature minimizes the technical barriers to entry. CosmWasm instead supports Rust, while Kadena uses Pact. 
  • A decentralized stable token protocol: In contrast to other projects within the Cosmos ecosystem, Agoric has its decentralized stable token – $IST. It has been claimed that the IST protocol is the first of its kind in the Cosmos ecosystem.

 

TECHNOLOGY REVIEW

Product

Agoric is described as being an open-source development company. There is an open invitation for native crypto developers, DeFi entrepreneurs, and the JavaScript community to build pieces of infrastructure using components of Agoric. The GitHub instance is available here.

  • The Inter Protocol: The Inter Protocol brings stable properties to IST. Fees in the protocol are paid in $IST. Part is distributed to users staking $BLD, Agoric’s staking token, and part goes into a reserve providing extra stability to the Inter Protocol. $BLD holders exert sovereign governance over the protocol by having the ability to elect a technical-economic committee for managing the Inter Protocol and proposing changes, for example, regarding which cryptocurrencies ought to be used as collateral for $IST (ref. 24).
  • Three arbitrage mechanisms: The stability is achieved with three market-based arbitrage mechanisms working together to maintain parity with the US dollar. The mechanisms work at different speeds, utilize different assets, and track from a narrow to a wide parity band to accentuate the opportunities for arbitrage to carry $IST again to parity if there is a divergence from the dollar. The arbitrage mechanisms are:
    • The Parity Stability Module: offered for high-quality stablecoins like $USDC. This module is a high-frequency smart contract providing timely arbitrage opportunities and low-cost opportunities when $IST is trading away from parity with the US dollar.
    • Vaults: smart contracts in which users lock up cryptoassets as collateral and mint $IST. Every user deploys their vaults according to collateral type. A minting fee is charged, and an interest rate is settled upon exit when the vault is closed. Users are repaying $IST plus interest and fees to retrieve their assets.
    • ISTstake: an alternative method to mint $IST available to those staking the BLD token. Unlike minting $IST via a vault, liquidation does not apply to locked-up $BLD. In addition, ISTstake can provide liquidation protection for vaults (ref. 25).

Three arbitrage mechanisms. Source: The Inter Protocol Whitepaper

  • Reserve Pool: The Reserve Pool is constituted by a pool of cryptocurrency assets held by the Inter Protocol as ‘protocol controlled value’ and plays two essential roles. First, the Reserve Pool provides liquidity to Kinetic, Agoric’s native Automated Market Maker (AMM), for liquidation. Second, the Reserve Pool provides an emergency fund for covering protocol debt in the case of a major liquidation (ref. 26).
  • Five levels of economic protection: The IST protocol employs five levels of economic protection to ensure that $IST remains 100%-backed in the event of a steep drop in the price of its collateral. The five levels are:
    1. The vault over-collateralization
    2. Liquidation
    3. Reserve pool
    4. $IST fees
    5. $BLD issuance

The first defense is vault over-collateralization. If vaults drop below the liquidation threshold, the Inter Protocol on Kinetic will liquidate the vault’s collateral. The Reserve Pool covers any remaining shortfall. If a shortfall remains, additional fees going into the Reserve Pool would be used as an additional backstop. In extreme cases, the BLDer DAO can decide upon issuing new BLD tokens to bolster outstanding $IST (ref. 26).

  • Kinetic: Kinetic is the native AMM that supports the Inter Protocol by offering a market to liquidate vaults of users. Beyond Kinetic’s role in the Inter Protocol, it will also help the trading of assets brought via IBC to the Agoric chain or launched on Agoric (ref. 27).

A more thorough explanation of the Inter Protocol ecosystem is available here.

Blockchain

The Agoric blockchain is initially launching as part of the Cosmos ecosystem. It is built on the Tendermint consensus engine and also features dynamic IBC. IBC was co-developed by Agoric, letting the programming model of Agoric operate across blockchains.

In addition, IBC provides users of the Agoric blockchain access to the assets, protocols, and liquidity based in the Cosmos ecosystem and beyond. Projects are underway to connect via IBC to Polkadot and peg assets from Bitcoin, Zcash, and Ethereum. With a bridge provided by IBC, it is possible to bring external financial assets onto the Agoric blockchain to participate in DeFi protocols, collateralize loans, stake, and participate in trade and related transactions. IBC also makes Agoric smart contracts and assets available to other blockchains.

The Agoric blockchain supports the exchange and creation of a wide range of digital assets while providing safety guarantees, composition, ease of programming, and interoperability between blockchains. As a result, it has been described as an ideal platform for a wide variety of DeFi use cases, from sophisticated derivatives markets to automated market-makers.

Regarding scalability, the Tendermint consensus engine has fast throughput and finality. In Tendermint, a transaction immediately reaches finality once included in a block (ref. 28).

Consensus Mechanism

The Agoric blockchain is built on Tendermint, a Byzantine Fault Tolerance consensus engine (ref. 1). Tendermint tolerates up to ⅓ of machines failing arbitrarily. This also includes explicitly malicious behavior (ref. 29).

Security Audit

The available information on the roadmap indicates that a security audit kickoff happened in Q3 2021. In the summer of 2021, the Agoric and MetaMask teams kicked off a collaborative bug hunting exercise centered around a deep examination of hardened JavaScript, the base of Agoric smart contracts. There were no critical vulnerabilities found in this exercise (ref. 30). The report is available here.

There are also bug bounty programs available on Gitcoin and HackerOne.

 

ROADMAP

The homepage of the project lists a shortened version of the roadmap. The more detailed version of the roadmap is regularly updated.

 

Shortened roadmap. Source: Agoric

 

TEAM

The team section of Agoric’s website lists 23 employees skilled in computer science and software engineering, marketing, research, product management, partnerships, and security. Some of the team members’ previous accomplishments include inventing Miller columns and architecting the brokerage information system for Schwab’s active traders. The team members have also gained business experience working for firms like Morgan Stanley and Google.

Mark S. Miller (ref. 31), Chief Scientist, is a pioneer of market-based secure distributed computing and smart contracts, the principal designer of the E and Dr. SES distributed persistent object-capability programming languages, inventor of Miller Columns, an architect of the Xanadu hypertext publishing system, a representative to the EcmaScript committee, a former Google research scientist and member of the WebAssembly (Wasm) group, and a senior fellow of the Foresight Institute.

Dean Tribble (ref. 32), CEO, co-designed the negotiation process and contract for the first smart contracting system, AMiX, and architected the brokerage information system for Schwab’s active traders.

Michael Jablon (ref. 33), COO, has 25+ years of strategic leadership experience.

Bill Tulloh (ref. 34), Economist, has served as a product manager and director of business development at various software companies.

Advisors

The team section does not list any advisors. However, the CEO has confirmed on Telegram that Naval Ravikant is an advisor to the project (ref. 35). There is a 3% token allocation for advisors. The project’s CoinList page has disclosed a seven-member advisory panel.

 

Advisors to Agoric. Source: CoinList

 

General Comments on the Team & Advisors

The project is built by an experienced executive team with a technical and managerial background. Agoric is hiring for various roles (e.g., a Senior Software Engineer, Partner Advocate DeFi, and Product Manager). These ongoing hiring steps would assist the project in bridging gaps in required skills.

During our review period, we did not find evidence that the team members have taken part in any previous or current illegal projects or projects that were controversial.

 

LEGAL AND COMPLIANCE SPECIFICS

Jurisdiction

Agoric is operating under the legal name ‘Agoric Systems Operating Company’ (ref. 2). The corporate record indicates that ‘Agoric Systems Operating Company’ is incorporated in Delaware (ref. 36).

In the United States, the regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies is evolving despite existing differences in viewpoints and any overlap between agencies. For example, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) often views many cryptocurrencies as securities, while the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) calls Bitcoin a commodity, and the Treasury calls it a currency. On a positive note, the United States is home to the most significant number of crypto investors, trading platforms, exchanges, investment funds, and crypto mining firms. The President’s Working Group and the Financial Stability Oversight Council will have essential roles in developing a future regulatory framework to straighten out the regulatory differences and clarify confusion about definitions and jurisdiction (ref. 37).

Partnerships

In 2019, Agoric and the Interchain Foundation announced a collaboration agreement to improve cross-chain interoperability for the Cosmos blockchain. The result of that collaboration was the delivery of the aforementioned IBC protocol.

Agoric has also teamed up with Chainlink to grow Agoric’s smart contract capabilities, build Agoric’s developer tooling, and ensure that dApps have access to the data from Chainlink (ref. 38).

 

Partners helping to secure the Agoric’s ecosystem. Source: Agoric

 

Diverse industry-leading backers have also backed Agoric.

 

Backers of Agoric. Source: Agoric

Legal Advisors

The project has not appointed legal advisors or team members responsible for legal matters.

KYC & AML

Participants in the incentivized testnet had to undergo the KYC/AML review process through Veriff.

Anyone who intended to participate in the sale of tokens must undergo KYC/AML checks.

Token Classification

$BLD and $IST are utility tokens.

The BLD token utilities are:

  • Staking.
  • Voting.

The IST token utility is:

  • Settling fees in the Inter Protocol.

 

TOKEN OFFERING

The total supply of $BLD is expected to be 1.25 billion; however, it is subject to governance approval. The circulating supply is also subject to governance approval. However, the initial token distribution is supposed to be 1 billion.

 

Estimated BLD tokens circulating by month. Source: Agoric

 

Agoric’s public token sale was conducted on CoinList. There were two sales options, and the fixed sale price per token for Option-1 and Option-2 were $0.80 and $0.65, respectively. The project raised ~$52.25 million in the public token sale. However, the team has not clearly stated how these funds will be used.

18.6% of the tokens will be distributed to the core contributors, and 12.5% will be distributed to operations.

The project raised funds from several investors, including a $32 million raise in a Private Sale (ref. 39).

 

 

TOKENOMICS

The BLD token supply is finite but subject to governance approval. The token is expected to be inflationary for the first three years.

The amount of $IST minted is less than the value of $ATOM backing it. If the price of $ATOM falls, the $IST supply will be reduced by liquidation.

Supply and Demand Dynamics

Token Supply

 

  • Staking rewards: For helping to secure the Agoric blockchain and ecosystem, $BLD stakers and validators will be rewarded with newly issued $BLD tokens.
  • Token unlock and vesting: Different token holder categories are subject to varying cliff and unlock timelines. It is essential to watch the timelines for such unlocking and vesting.

 

Token Demand

 

  • Staking: Users will be incentivized to stake $BLD due to the reward system in place.  
  • Utility: $BLD and $IST have several utilities in the Agoric ecosystem. For instance, $BLD can be staked, while $IST is used to settle fees.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA AND VIRALITY

The project is active on Twitter with 33.4k followers. The channel has witnessed an increase in the number of followers; on February 7, it had 27.3k followers.

Discord is the most accessible and popular channel to communicate with the team. Some team members actively participate in community discussions on varying topics about the project. The Discord server has about 14.5k members (ref. 40). It is understood that the Telegram group is less popular and has fewer interactions. The Telegram group has 8k members (ref. 41). Both channels have witnessed an increase in the number of followers; on February 7, the channels had 13.3k and 7.8k members, respectively.

Agoric has 1.1k followers on LinkedIn (ref. 42). The channel has witnessed an increase in the number of followers; on February 6, the account had only 658 followers. It is noticed that LinkedIn is very infrequently updated. The project is not present on Facebook.

The project has a YouTube channel with 1k subscribers and 231 uploaded videos. 

Several reviews exist about the project, e.g.:

RISKS TO THE PROJECT

The following list of risks is not an exhaustive one. Some risks may be minor or not materialize.

  • Malfunction: The tokens and any network interacting with the tokens might malfunction or function in an unintended or unexpected manner, potentially resulting in the loss of tokens.
  • Security weaknesses: The project’s technology infrastructure may or may not have unknown bugs or security weaknesses, which may interfere with the use or cause the loss of the tokens.
  • The volatility of digital assets: In general, volatility in the values of digital assets can be significant, and indirectly, a decrease in the value of digital assets could have a material and adverse effect on the value of the tokens. Additionally, the network’s stable token relies on collateral quality to maintain its peg to the US dollar.
  • Unmet expectations: The project might undergo significant changes, and user and market expectations regarding the functionality and form of the network and the tokens may not be met. This could negatively affect the value of tokens.
  • Regulatory/Legal Risks: The occurrence of regulatory inquiries or regulatory actions could restrict or limit the project’s progress. Moreover, evolving laws and regulations or new laws and regulations in the United States or elsewhere may negatively affect the project. The project’s ability to comply or not comply with these new laws or regulations could have financial or reputational risks involved. Moreover, any investor lawsuits could also be detrimental to the project’s future.

 

RATINGS

Everything you see in this report is the aggregate result of an extensive research process carried out by a distributed team of researchers and crypto enthusiasts around the world. The process consists of 60 questions divided into three phases. Researchers are called to answer these questions about a project, while providing links or screenshots as evidence to support their answers. For every answer, they also provide a rating from zero to ten. The average of their ratings is detailed below.

 

Our researchers gave Agoric a final rating of C.

 

DISCLAIMER

This Report is for informational purposes only and/or all or any of its content thereof, should not, may not and will not be taken to constitute, either as a whole or in part, any investment advice or recommendation or similar, regulated, or authorized advice, and D-Core by producing, disseminating, giving away, or making available this Report does not, should not, may not and will not be taken to advise on investments, or carry out any similar activity, or any regulated activity or any other authorized activity. D-Core is not authorized by the Financial Conduct Authority or by any other competent EU or elsewhere or otherwise competent authority to carry out any regulated activities and/or any activities within the scope of these authorities’ competence. 

D-Core excludes and disclaims all liability and/or responsibility whatsoever and/or howsoever caused, arising out of any actions, or omissions taken, or made by any authorized and/or other recipient of this Report in reliance on, or arising out of, or in connection with any or all content of this Report. Any authorized and/or other recipient of this Report acknowledges, accepts and agrees that they carry out their own independent research and act in their own sole risk in reading or using any or all information contained in this Report. In any event, recipients of this Report are urged to seek professional advice before making any potential investment decision in relation to the project described herein. Any authorized and/or other recipient of this Report accepts this Disclaimer in full. For the avoidance of doubt, this Disclaimer is binding against any recipient of this Report whatsoever.

 

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