Unstoppable Domains: A Year Later
Last year we sat down with Matt Gould & Braden Pezeshki, co-founders of Unstoppable Domains. At the time, the startup was powered by a small team of 42 alumni.
We recently caught up with Matt to learn more about how Unstoppable Domains has evolved over the past year.
What changes has your startup experienced since we interviewed you last year?
We went from 4 to now 24 people on our team. We went through a rebranding and closed a funding round of $4.3 million from Draper and Associates. What is most exciting is our software went live on the blockchain this past month. We are about to pivot our focus from building the core technology to integrating with partners but the mission at stake is the same. The initial version of the software is a big push to build our business team as we go to market. There is a huge difference between revenue and no revenue. Now we are doing hundreds of thousands a month in sales. It is pretty shocking to think you can write software at home in your living room with your friends and put it out on the internet and have that kind of reach. We are just getting started.
You’ve done a lot of firsts in the tech space with what you’re building. Can you elaborate on that more?
For the first time, blockchain technology has allowed for verifiable public asset registries. We are just starting to see the shift 10 years later of digital assets to public registries. One of the first industries we think is going to make the move from the current central registration processes to these open systems are domain names. This will bring down costs for customers, it will increase transparency and it will make for more secure computing systems.
Domains are purely digital, and they are very high in value. You can see that the domain Voice.com sold for $30 million dollars recently. Blockchain was made to allow you to train a digital asset, and the first reiteration of that was bitcoin. The true power was acting as a public accounting ledger. The value of things that are purely digital is going up a lot because people are spending 50% of their time on the internet and where people spend their time is valuable. There are a lot of other things that will become digitized. Your data, for instance, so it is transferred around in a secure fashion.
What tech events has your team been involved with over the past 12 months?
Over the past year, we have become a thought leader in the space. We have gone from attending other peoples conferences to hosting our own. By this time next year, we will be hosting a conference around blockchain domain names.
You’ve been adding people to your team. Why did you decide to recruit students from 42?
Fifty percent of our development team are 42 developers. There are three core characteristics we look for on our team. First, we look for people who care, secondly you have to be fast, and third, you have to be solid. All three are well-curated here at 42. Obviously, people have to care about code if they are willing to fly across the country and work 14 hours a day to make it through the piscine. You have to be fast at 42 because they drop you off the deep end and you have to learn how to swim. And last, you have to be okay with things breaking all the time and having to fix them. For us, there isn’t the toolset to test that. 42 helps build that personality because you are challenged by projects that test the limits of your abilities, but that is also how you improve.
So what is the next step for Unstoppable Domains?
We are currently relocating half the team to San Francisco proper. And we are going to continue to build out our development team across our core products and our business team to go out and sell our technologies to partners in the crypto ecosystem and mainstream providers as well. Also, we think we are going to start seeing the world’s first decentralized websites using our technology, probably towards the end of this year or early next year. This will serve as a complete alternative to the current system. It is a full vertical stack.
We think global free speech is a human right. It was Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights back in 1948. In the US and Europe we are super lucky we have the ability to express ourselves. We have a guy on our team who is from a country where the government is intercepting all internet traffic to make political dissent impossible. The technology we are building would make that type of censorship and control harder to pull off. What gets us up in the morning is a desire to protect human rights. We want to build secure systems that respect people’s privacy and the ability to communicate and interact with each other without the abuses of power.