On January 16th, we had an AMA session with Unstoppable Domains, a company that builds domains on blockchain to simplify cryptocurrency payments and build censorship-resistant websites, in our Telegram Chat. The team members present on the discussion with our community were Brad Kam (Founder & Head of Biz Dev), Katerina Furtak (Head of Operations) and Matias Dorta (Community Manager).
Here are the essential points of the AMA session:
Please welcome Brad (B), Katerina (K), Matias (M) and the questions from our Telegram chat members (Q).
Q: Can you tell us about your team and how Unstoppable Domains started?
B: We have been crypto-enthusiasts since 2012 and lived in a crypto hacker house in San Francisco. Many crypto companies were based there and we always knew we would start a crypto company eventually. Once smart contracts started becoming more usable in 2017, we decided it was time to decentralize the internet.
Q: What is the background of the Unstoppable Domains team? Do you think it is competent enough to run Unstoppable Domains for the long-term?
B: Myself and Matt are both software entrepreneurs. Previously, we ran a Y Combinator-backed startup called Talkable, which is a successful SaaS company. Our CTO Braden didn’t go to college. Instead, he was a top student at an elite coding program called 42. He’s spent the past 3 years developing on Ethereum. Our head of Engineering, Bogdan Gusiev, also worked with us at Talkable. Much of the team has worked together previously for many years.
Q: What is Unstoppable Domain’s relation with ICANN?
B: We are separate from ICANN and traditional DNS. We have no direct relationship. We are creating an alternative that we think is much better.
Q: How many active users are currently registered at Unstoppable Domains?
B: It is around 25,000 so far.
Q: How many domains are sold so far? What is the difference between .crypto and .zil? Are you planning to add other extensions besides .zil and .crypto?
B: Around 220,000 domains have been sold so far. .crypto is on Ethereum and .zil is on Zilliqa. The domains have the same features except that .crypto has better integrations because it’s on Ethereum and .zil has much cheaper transactions because it’s on Zilliqa.
Q: How are you better than other domain providers like GoDaddy WordPress?
B: Theirs is easily censorable. The hosting service of GoDaddy WordPress can take down your website in less than 1 minute if they choose and they do.
Q: What problems does your technology solve for users in the cryptocurrency space?
B: Simplifying crypto payments and launching uncensorable websites are the problems our technology solved. The first problem is something everyone in crypto faces. The second problem is something everyone in the world faces. The internet is being censored all over the world like tech companies taking down stuff to restrictive governments preventing freedom of speech in the first place.
Q: What is a protected and non-protected blockchain domain? Is the protected one more secure and private than the non-protected one?
B: A protected domain is one already associated with a major brand. These are companies like Google or even individuals like Taylor Swift. We made these domains unregistrable except by these companies or individuals to prevent squatting. If we didn’t do this, the domain extension would likely not be adopted by major browsers, etc.
Q: What would happen to my blockchain domain if Unstoppable Domains closes its company?
B: Nothing. It’s on the Ethereum blockchain. You could keep on using it even if we are gone.
Q: Why are blockchain domains so expensive?
B: Domains start at $40 and it is a one-time fee. You own it for life. That’s the equivalent of paying for a .com for 3 years. Sounds cheap now?
Q: What are the main challenges with blockchain domains currently?
B: The biggest challenges are with making them easy to use. The internet has spent 25 years building tools for end-users. Blockchain domains are new, which means there’s a lot to build before they become easy.
Q: How does a blockchain domain replace a cryptocurrency address with a human-readable name?
B: Domains are ERC-721 tokens like Cryptokitties. You store them in your wallet and control them with a private key. You can use that private key to sign messages writing your crypto addresses to the blockchain. Only you can do this. Wallets like Atomic Wallet read the blockchain when you type brad.crypto into the send field and find your crypto address. This can work for sending any cryptocurrency.
Q: How many different cryptocurrencies will I be able to use with my wallet using a blockchain domain?
B: Right now, it is over 100 cryptocurrencies. Eventually, it should work for every cryptocurrency. It is a universal payment address for all cryptocurrencies.
Q: Does this not kill anonymity for Bitcoin?
B: Bitcoin isn’t anonymous. It’s pseudo-anonymous. I would recommend not buying a domain that’s your first and last name if you’re concerned about anonymity. Also, you can use the domain with Monero or Zcash payments if your goal is true privacy.
Q: Can I transfer my .crypto domain to another person?
B: You can transfer the ownership. You can send it around just like a cryptocurrency.
Q: How are Unstoppable Domains protecting user info and preventing censorship?
B: We don’t have any user info other than an email address to create an account. The domains prevent censorship. No one can stop you from putting up a website.
Q: How do you connect a blockchain domain to a website?
B: All you need to do is launch a website on IPFS, take the hash and add it to your domain. Once this information is on the blockchain, I can type it into a browser that supports blockchain domains and see your website. It will work just like typing in a .com.
Q: What are the potentials of blockchain domains for B2B Sphere?
B: These are launching new decentralized websites and getting visitors. Just like in the 1990s when the internet was getting started, the first successful decentralized websites will get traffic and be boosted by early adopters. So many people are excited to try a decentralized web.
Q: How can I sell my domain? Can you explain how reselling works?
B: Selling domains is as simple as transferring a domain. You can use open-sea to make this easier.
Q: What would be the approximate cost of premium domains? Which types of payment methods do you accept?
B: You can pay with a credit card, Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, etc. Premium domains start at $80 and go up. The very top domains will be auctioned. We will be releasing a batch of premium domains soon so stay tuned in our Telegram group.
Q: Can you list some of the advantages of Unstoppable Domains to attract developers? How will it attract dApps developers from other blockchains?
B: We are already integrating with wallets from nearly every chain because domains work for paying in any crypto. The thing that should attract developers is all of the opportunity to build tools like browsers, browser extensions, IPFS website builders, decentralized web search engines, etc. We need to build an entirely new internet. The opportunity is massive.
Q: What are the benefits of blockchain domains in decentralized storage?
B: Having a website that only you can put up or take down. All over the world, free speech is censored through domain and website takedowns. Websites were taken down in Catalonia, China, Russia, Turkey, etc., all for saying things that anyone in the world should be able to say. This is the biggest problem facing the internet and the world today. Decentralized websites can solve this.
Q: How do you use the right to close domains used for fraud, impersonation, and phishing scams?
B: There is no way to turn off a domain no matter what someone is using it for. However, there are apps that could identify such domains and share warnings.
Q: How will Unstoppable Domains prevent a website from being censored?
B: Domains are stored in the wallet of users. A traditional domain is stored by GoDaddy. Content is on decentralized storage meaning copies of it are on hundreds of different people’s computers instead of on Amazon servers.
Q: Why do Unstoppable Domains prefer to sell and give customers full ownership of domains instead of lending it and having customers pay for it every year like ENS?
B: It is because leasing is not full ownership. There’s still a centralization risk there. What if ENS decides to raise prices in the future? You could no longer be able to afford and maintain your website. Price raising is even an attack vector. This happened recently with .org. Other ERC-721 tokens don’t work this way. Why not let users own their assets completely?
Q: Do you think we will see an easy-for-all way to build sites using WordPress or Wix available for free linking .crypto or .zil domains with IPFS hosting possible in the next few years?
B: Absolutely. We are building templates and integrations so that building on the decentralized web will be as easy as the regular web. This is completely doable but will take some time to make it easy. That means there are tons of opportunities for decentralized web builders and another new tech to launch.
Q: What is your long-term vision about the industry which Unstoppable Domains are working at? Are you afraid that someday there will be another project with more innovative technology than Unstoppable Domains?
B: We are building tech to enable free speech around the world. This is a really big problem and a big market. We are not worried about other entrants. We hope more people start working on this. The domain industry is $50B+ and the hosting industry is $200B per year. The real competition is .com and AWS. Let’s decentralize them!
Q: Is any browser ready to work on .zil and .crypto domains support in the near future?
B: Yes. Browser announcements are coming soon. Please stay tuned.
We were glad to host Unstoppable Domains on our Telegram. Thanks to the team and all the members of the session!