Insights: Stacks Builder Priority Survey
by Foundation Team on October 20, 2022
With the Stacks Ecosystem larger than ever before, it's important we're able to set priorities based on community needs. At the Stacks Foundation, we work to surface and highlight these needs as well as point our own programming and resources at them. To do so, we surveyed the most active founders, employees, and developers from over 50 companies building on Stacks. We asked them about everything, from the most pressing technical improvements to their ideas for new resources.

In this post, we share the key insights from that feedback, outline how we’ve used the data at the Stacks Foundation for our organization’s OKRs, and share ways for you to be part of upcoming feedback sessions.

To make this easy to digest for a wide audience, we’ve simplified results into key insights. Please note, these results are non-binding and don’t represent any sort of dictated priority list for the community. These results are a tool for every contributor to reflect on as they set their own priorities and can help ensure we collectively address the needs of the community and align work in service of our mission.

3 Top Technical Improvements/Features
1
Speed and Scalability
2
Bitcoin features/deeper connection to Bitcoin
3
EVM Compatibility
4+: Mining decentralization, API/infrastructure, Identity features, Bridges, Wallet features
Commentary
These results likely come as no surprise to folks that have experienced network congestion. To help Bitcoin compete as a foundation for builders, Stacks has to be faster and handle bursts of activity much better or businesses can’t thrive. And, as Stacks is a Bitcoin layer, we were not surprised to see folks hoping to be able to do more with Bitcoin - much of the write-in data expressed some version of extending beyond ‘visibility into Bitcoin state’ to being able to ‘write’ to Bitcoin.
Work in Progress
Hiro is leading work on Subnets which is already live on testnet — you can get updates here. Subnets can enable EVM compatibility which was another priority area, although no concrete plans have been shared yet. As for the Bitcoin connection, a new Working Group has started outlining some very exciting potential solutions that would go a very long way toward deepening the Stacks to Bitcoin connection and enable new Bitcoin features.

3 Top Priority Integrations
1
EVM Compatibility
2
Stablecoin
3
Bridges
4+: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Oracles, Fireblocks, Wallet, Exchanges, Arweave, Solana, Polygon, Custody provider
Commentary
Given the nature of the industry and how many tools and services are made for the Ethereum network, EVM compatibility is in high demand. We’ve experienced our fair share of difficulties closing certain deals or partnerships, simply because it would be more challenging for a partner to support a custom integration vs. support another EVM compatible chain. When it comes to stablecoins, Stacks already has USDA but builders have expressed a desire for a larger stablecoin like USDC or USDT.
Work in Progress
Subnets could be a path to EVM-compatibility. We’re not aware of any other efforts within the community working on EVM-compatibility, but would invite anyone interested to get in contact with the grants program. As for a Stablecoin, USDC previously committed to launching on Stacks, we do not have a confirmed timeline from their team. Last, new bridges (Orbit, Allbridge, MagicBridge) are set to launch with the release of Stacks 2.1.

3 Top Needs for Founders
Naturally an ecosystem needs great folks building on it, so we asked founders where they need the most help:
1
Funding
2
Network improvements (speed)
3
Liquidity
4+: SIP-10 support, Talent, Developers, Marketing support, Industry introductions
Commentary
No surprises here, startups want more funding and a faster network for their users!
Work in Progress
Funding pipelines are growing. Stacks Ventures is planning their next fund and Trust Machines and Bitcoin Odyssey raised over a combined $300m less than a year ago to further invest in Stacks companies. We hope to see more VC activity, as well as growth in other funding models like token sales, DAOs, and NFT sales as entrepreneurs look to fight through the bear market. Speed is being addressed with Subnets and proposed upgrades at the blockchain level through the Working Groups. To support liquidity, Stacks Foundation has built a network of liquidity providers we can introduce teams to.

3 Top Needs for Developers
1
Documentation
2
Tutorials
3
Educational Resources & Better API Providers (tied)
4+: Network improvements to speed, EVM compatibility
Commentary
Stacks documentation and the overall developer onboarding experience is something we definitely need to improve and feedback here confirmed that.
Work in Progress
Last quarter, the Stacks Foundation kicked off work to make Stacks documentation easier to update. Going into Q4, we’ve allocated even more time from our direct team to work on documentation and are calling for more community contributors to support docs updates. Our focus on education continues to grow. We released several new tutorials via our partnerships with Pointer and Quicknode, with more to come. Hiro shared a tutorial by Byzantion, Fungible Systems, a Stacks Resident, dropped a new tutorial, and more proposed tutorials are on the way from a variety of sources. Existing and new tutorials will be indexed in the documentation very soon. Meanwhile, Clarity Camp trained over 100 new developers on smart contracts and we locked down the Whitelabel Clarity Residents to keep churning them out well into 2023. On the API front, the Stacks Foundation’s deal with Quicknode went live, making developers work easier as evidenced by these happy tweets here and here.


If you could add one resource to Stacks…
We intentionally left this question wide open, simply asking everyone what one resource they would add to the ecosystem if they could.

The answer was clear: More blockchain developers.

Core infrastructure improvements are capped by the number of blockchain developers. There are many ways we can, and must improve Stacks to serve founders and developers, but builders recognize we need talented blockchain developers to accelerate the shipping new blockchain improvements. Several organizations have open blockchain developer positions and the Stacks Foundation has kicked off an effort to help source qualified candidates to them as part of the Faster L1 Working Group. If you know one, contact [email protected], we offer a $5,000 referral bonus, paid in STX.

Demographics
Alright so you’ve heard the feedback from the community, here’s a little bit more about the participants:
As you can see, developer turnout wasn’t huge - this was somewhat intentional as we really went after founders and business leaders. About the same time as this survey was out, we supported Hiro with their developer survey and they’ve just shared some great data that will guide their efforts as well as inform ours.

How we're using this survey data
We’ve already put the data to use to update the Foundation’s key objectives and annual goals. Even further, we used the data to seed an ecosystem-wide conversation on priorities and a plan of action to address the most pressing needs.

As recapped by Brittany Laughlin, Executive Director at the Stacks Foundation, the survey data provided the initial prioritization discussion for the first ecosystem offsite which included builders, long-time contributors, and advisors. From this discussion, three top priorities emerged and new cross-ecosystem working groups were formed to ensure the necessary collaborative effort to reach these goals.

Another way we immediately used the data was to guide prioritization around grants in Q3. We strive to ensure that grants are focused on the things that matter the most, and that matter the most right now. With this data in hand, we were able to ensure over 80% of all grants awarded in Q3 addressed a specific need from this feedback.

Final thoughts + Get involved
Going into 2023, the community will need to continue to rally around critical projects in order to see the growth and innovation that we’re all seeking.

If you’d like to take a more active role in making Stacks everything you want it to be, please consider how you can best contribute in this quarter. There are so many ways to jump in, here are a few top of mind:
1
Take on work as part of a Stacks Grant or Residency
2
3
Look through ways to contribute, including full-time positions
4
Provide direct feedback (we’ll be conducting interviews with various stakeholder types, let us know if you’d like to join one!)
5
Help us find more amazing blockchain developers (you can introduce them by email and we offer a $5,000 referral bonus.)

Drop in your email to stay in the loop on Stacks Foundation news