Unstoppable AMA #1

Text Version Ft. Co-Founders Brad Kam and Matthew Gould

May 14, 2019 · 19 min read
Unstoppable AMA #1

Matt: Hi everyone, I’m Matthew Gould, CEO of Unstoppable Domains.

Brad: I’m Brad, co-founder of Unstoppable Domains.

Matt: Very excited to have everyone here today for the AMA. Thanks for submitting your questions. This is our first time doing this, so bear with us. We have a list of questions here that we’re going to go through. Brad and I are each going to pick some out that we’re going to answer. We’re going to try to wrap this up in 20, 25 minutes. So Brad, I believe you have the first question. I’m going to let you go ahead and take that one, and we’ll get moving.

Brad: All right. So what can blockchain domains be used for in the future? This is from Lang. So, you know about cryptocurrency payments, but everything that a traditional domain name can do, a blockchain domain will eventually be able to do as well. So that’s the big picture.

Matt: Perfect. All right. So I’ve got a question here and it’s from Satoshi, and John, and Matthew. Satoshi, thanks for joining us. Glad to hear you’re in the audience. And this is a question we get a lot, it’s how will subdomains work? And the big answer here is it’s very flexible, so the way it works is you can delegate a subdomain and the full control of that domain using a smart contract. You can put whatever rules you want into that smart contract. So you’ll be able to transfer your name and then they’ll have specific rules around how subdomains can function and users can verify that by looking at the on-chain smart contract. So basically, the sky’s the limit, and but for the user, for us, what we’re going to enable is going to be basic subdomain management, maybe to help manage multiple accounts and a few other ideas we think are interesting. And we’re going to try to lead by example on how subdomains can extend the functionality. Our focus will not originally start off on allowing easy resale of subdomains or any of those advanced features, although this is possible in the future as we roll out more business tools for management.

Matt: So, the next question here is from Hashoshi. I hope I pronounced that correctly. And it’s if Unstoppable’s IP it’s blocked or removed, how will this solve anything for censorship? And how is Unstoppable protecting user info and preventing censorship? So importantly here, I want to point out that your domain name is actually going to be on the blockchain. So once it’s deployed on-chain, then anyone can look up that information by just reading directly from the blockchain itself. And you have the private key on your account so no one can stop that from happening. So even if our website gets taken down, this won’t affect the lookup of your domain name on-chain. Obviously, it will reduce the user experience and you won’t have all the tools to manage your domain while our site is down, but nothing will happen on your end. And as long as you save your private key, you will be able to manage it directly, interacting with the blockchain.

Matt: Next question also from Hashoshi and it says, what’s stopping someone from manually updating the entry with your address? Effectively a man-in-the-middle, so it routes crypto to their address rather than yours. Again, the record is on the blockchain, so as long as you read directly from your own local node, or, you know, blockchain node, or one that you run, for instance, there’s no way for anyone to man-in-the-middle you, that’s kind of the whole point. For developers out there you’ll know that there are a lot of API services like Infura for instance for Ethereum to do lookups and a lot of applications depend on these types of API services. I would say, in general, they’ve proven that they’re pretty secure on their API models but for the really paranoid, you can always look up directly on chain to ensure that you’re not getting a man-in-the-middle attack. Cool. So, Brad, I think you’re up.

Brad: So how would you rate the pre-acceptance adoption from wallet providers of .zil so far? From Satoshi. So far, we have one partner, Moonlet, which we have publicly announced already. We have more announcements coming soon but in general, I would say that we’ve had lots of initial interest from all partners, so we’ll have more announcements in that, in that area. All right.

Brad: So why do you want to build more extensions? From Amonga. The biggest reason is that we’re not certain that everyone in the world is going to want to use the same extension. If you look at the traditional world, there is .com which is the biggest but there are still several, a few, major domain extensions with slightly different communities around them and slightly different uses. So that’s the main reason.

Matt: Cool. So we got the next question here from Morpheus. He says, will there’d be hardware wallet integration to be able to hold your private keys offline? So I think there’s a little confusion here. I just want to say like you will actually, absolutely be able to hold your keys offline. You can just transfer the domain name into your offline wallet. You can actually transfer that directly into a hardware wallet that you own. So that you absolutely can do. When you speak of wallet integration, I think you may be also speaking to naming resolution. So a lot of hardware wallets, for instance, Ledger or Trezor have software that you use to interact with the wallet. And we are, of course, looking to integrate with those wallets in order to help to look up to. So when you’re using their actual software, you’ll be able to interact with the names. So but yes to be clear, you will definitely to be able to move your names to your hardware wallet if you would like.

Matt: How will the management of domains work? So just wrote a really good blog post about this. We put this up there. Please check out our Medium talking about how domain name management will work. And it’s a noncustodial smart contract escrow, it is basically what we’re running. And then, we’re also rolling out an optional mobile backup. And you may have noticed when you log on to the website that you can generate a key, so as we get closer to launch, we’ll have some more information about exactly, you know, how that works or how you should manage your keys there. Once we’ve deployed up on the smart contract, they’re (the domains) going to be transferred over to that private key that you’ve generated on your end. And then once they’re owned by that private key, we can’t do anything to that domain without your permission. And the name itself will be inside of a smart contract that you’ll control with your private key, that you’ll be generating on-site using a brainwallet type methodology. And additionally, we’ll have a mobile backup app that can act as a secondary key that you’ll be able to enable. So all right, Brad you’re up.

Brad: Can we have an email address connected toward .zil domain? This is from DB link here. So we are going to enable a contact field so this would allow you to make it really easy to provide contact information of people to say buy your domain for example. Getting an email to route to your .zil domain would be a longer-term thing for us, and something like integrating with the current mailing system would be something that we would be looking towards in the longer term, but not in the short-term. In the short-term, we want to integrate with decentralized messaging apps.

Brad: So it was mentioned that the next extension that will be offered to current .zil owners first. Will we have to pay the same amount for the next ones or will we have discounts? Lila. So this is going to work is, is you will have store credit in the amount… in the same amount that you spent on .zil domains. So for example, if you spent $100 on .zil domains, you’ll get $100 of credit towards the new extension. Also, early buyers will get first access. They’ll essentially get first access on the domains that they bought in pre-order. And they will also get a 50% discount off of those domains.

Matt: I think an important thing to mention there is that auction names that are bought in the auction will always go to auction. So these additional privileges apply to pre-sales orders only, just to be clear there.

Brad: So I hear the comparison of the .com bubble, how is this different? I get that it’s on a blockchain but what’s to stop it from going the way of Pets.com? What’s the difference between .com and blockchain domains? This is from Jesse. So the biggest difference is that these domains are on a blockchain and not in a centralized database. The way it works in the current domain world is there’s one centralized registry, and then there are permissioned writers to that registry like GoDaddy and Google Domains. And they have the ability to move your domain and they also have the ability to take your domain. That’s the biggest difference is that this is a censorship-resistant system, and they also work in payments.

Matt: Next question here I have is from Hassoun and Tim and they asked, how can I sell my domain? Can you explain how reselling will work? So to start off here, I want to say, when we started our project, we were actually focused on mostly on end-user adoption and we hadn’t considered a lot of these issues around resale. But we have gotten a lot of community feedback saying that guys are very interested in having a way to do this. So what we came up with internally is we’re going to build a simple listing service. You can think of this just like, you know, any type of housing listing service. So you’ll be able to list your name up for sale and set your price and also your contact information, you put in a secondary email address like Brad mentioned earlier for your name. And we imagine the way that it could work is, you know, it’s like your name .zil. If someone searches for that, and then it will say like, “hey this domain is for sale from a third party seller, you know, for 10 bucks or whatever,” and they click through on the link. And there are two options here, we’re looking at having it so that they can actually just buy it directly in a smart contract so they’ll just send money to the smart contract directly and then they own it, or if you want to be able to negotiate back and forth, we’ll have contact information and they’ll reach out to you directly so that you guys can negotiate the sale. And we’ll also provide some information for users around how they should conclude a sale with a smart contract itself. So if you negotiate something off-chain like you have email thread back and forth, you agree on a sale price, you could put the domain name into a smart contract with a set price. They could only be bought by that user, right, so that you’ll be able to have like a smart escrow for that domain name sale. So those are the minimum feature set that we’re looking to get out as soon as possible. Brad, you’re up.

Brad: Can you provide details on tools needed to build websites on .zil domains? Justin. Yes, this is a big question. The way this is going to work, you will be able to build websites and store content on the current systems that you use. You could store your content on Amazon Web Services or you could also store your content on your own servers. But we’re also going to create tools to make it easy for you to build websites on decentralized storage systems like IPFS. So that’s a feature that will be coming later on in the year, and it’ll be very simple websites.

Matt: All right. Next up, we got another question from Satoshi. He says, can you provide information on how the auction will work? So the Google search term, you can put in here, is it’s a continuous percent increment variable time highest bid auction. And there’s a whole lot of auction theory out there but basically what that means is every time there’s a bid, the following bid has to be at least X percent above the previous bid. And then, whenever there’s a new bid, we also add a little bit of time on the end of the auction. And if you think about why we’d want to do that? Crypto is global so we’re trying to fix the increment for both the time and the percentage to increase so that people have enough time to react as, you know, if someone wants to try to buy it like 3 AM in the morning, we’re trying to think about, you know, how much the increment could be so that other people have time to react on that name and setting up alerts around that and so forth. So just as an example, if the initial bid is 100 bucks, the second bid will have to be 105. And then when the second person bids 105, it will add let’s just say 15 minutes onto the end of the auction block, auction time. And then, the bid after that will have to be 110.50, right. And then, that will add more time to it. And all of these values will be calculated on chain in ZIL, right, because the auction will be done on the Zilliqa blockchain and the payments will be in ZIL. But the increments will be a percentage and we’ll also do the conversion on our site so people have a relative idea of what they’re paying. So that’s the auction. Brad, did I miss anything there that you think I should point out before I go? Okay, good. All right.

Matt: Next is from Thomas. He says, how will you deal with hackers that use .zil domains to publish copyright material or illegal content? So great question and I will just say the content will not be censored, right, that’s the number one thing to say here. However, we are going to offer some filtering tools on the second layer for the commercial web, right. So if you just think about it’s like parental controls your own personal version of the Internet. And the reason we chose to go this way is we feel it’s really important that the base level does not have any back doors, and this is just a security view that we have as a team. It’s much more secure, the protocol layer is solid. And so if you put some pointing on your website up and it’s pointing to some decentralized content, they can’t be taken down. If someone reads directly from the blockchain, they’ll be able to look and see and go find that content. For the commercial web, however, we have to remember there are people running businesses here and if they want to be able to filter this content, we’ll provide some tools for them to do that. So for instance, if you’re just looking around to go to an e-commerce store online and you’re using a browser extension, you type in like mattstore.zil, blah, blah, blah, and then I have to have some illegal content on there or something that is copyrighted or has been flagged, the browser extension can simply say, “hey, you know, we don’t resolve this content because it is a violation of our internal policies as a business.” And then, of course, there’ll be open source tools that people will publish I’m sure that won’t have those sensors but this is much more choice for the user. All right. Next up, I think Brad you have the next one here.

Brad: Yeah. So what is the relation between .zil and Zilliqa? And what happens if Zilliqa fails? From Mike and Joe. So .zil is a project that is built in partnership with the Zilliqa foundation and managed by us, by Unstoppable Domains. And in the event that Zilliqa did fail, we would simply migrate to whatever blockchain made sense. We think this is certainly unlikely but it would be doable if we needed to.

Brad: How will .zil not become diluted with the addition of a new extension? Ray. So the current domain market supports 1,500 extensions and we think that this market can support two. In fact, we would be surprised if the entire world wound up using the same one. But our main goal here is to build a valuable domain extension. So we are aligned in that we don’t want it, we don’t want .zil to be diluted. We’re trying to build the biggest and most valuable extensions.

Matt: All right. The next one, I got another question here from Satoshi and it says, can you discuss privacy features that may be added to blockchain domains? So I’m not exactly sure which privacy features you’re referring to because there’s a lot but I would say, first of all, you own the key to your domain name and that’s the most important because you have the key and you decide how it gets pointed. As long as you have that key in your wallet, there’s nothing anyone can do to take that from you. Another one that people bring up and you may be talking about this, it’s key rotation. So for instance, for Bitcoin addresses, we’re looking at ways to enable key rotation with your name so that every time someone looks that up, they would get a new key that they could send it to. This way it’s harder to see all transactions going to your domain name. Once we have key rotation, obviously you’re going to have to have some way to combine transactions or maybe you want to figure out some way to like kind of disguise all the payments coming in to name. So we’re looking at some services to do that as well. Most likely some… those features will be third-party apps that you’ll be able to plug in through our website. That’s what we’re looking at right now for privacy and there’s more to come.

Matt: Next one up, I have from Ory. Hi Ory. He says, hello Unstoppable team, I would like to know if you intend to develop a system of verification of payment? Could we send money by mistaking a letter and sending to another existing domain? So great question. This is actually the larger topic of phishing that we talked about internally. And we are going to provide tools to help reduce phishing risk, for instance, on the libraries themselves. When you do name lookups, will point out very basic stuff for a violation like if it looks like a simple misspelling or if it has like a hidden character or something like that, we’ll take a look. We’ve also been contacted by other service providers in the space who already do this. There’s a couple out there, I can remember one coral protocol that we’ve talked with before. But there are several other interesting ones out there and they actually already provide this service by flagging these addresses. So you could imagine a future when you do a search, if you pull up a name, we could, you know, show a little alert there from one of our partners and so like, hey you know, this partner has identified that this name is potentially at risk. So yes, that’s how that will work for both phishing and also reputation badge.

Matt: The next one is from Igor. Hi Igor. It says, will renting a domain be possible? So yes, it is entirely possible. I mentioned this earlier, we are considering rolling out a suite of products for businesses that would enable more advanced management features like renting subdomains, etc., and we’re just trying to gauge community interest and figure out the type of feature sets you guys would need. Just so everyone in the community is clear, our next two big things on the roadmap are Fiat onboarding, right, and privacy tools over the summer. And then if you look further into fall it is websites, so these are where the majority of our focus is going to be. However, the suite of advanced management tools for businesses is something we’re considering. We’re also considering adding additional functionality into the mobile backup app to enable like two or three keys for domain names for security.

Matt: Next one is from Steven. He says, why is the minimum payout for the affiliate program is $600? This is an extremely high payout threshold. So, Steven, we agree. The short answer, the reason why we originally set it up was because of US tax forms and we actually just deployed a store credit system to address this, and we’re updating that now. Actually, a few users are currently using store credit so they’re providing us feedback here before we roll it out to everybody. So you’ll be able to convert your affiliate credits directly into store credits if you want to use them immediately. And then, we’re going to be shifting the affiliate program to apply only because when we look to our users, only 0.001% of our users are affiliates, and, you know, the other 99.99% are, you know, people looking maybe to do referrals. So we’re looking at a referral program, so we’ll have store credit. And then in that case, there will be no $600 threshold for payout. And again, the reason why that was initially the case is because in the US we have to fill out forms, when we do these affiliate payouts and that’s the point at which as a business it made sense for us do to those extra steps. So thanks Steve for asking and I hope that store credit is going to be a solution to your current problem.

Brad: All right. So I saw on YouTube the video saying that you are not so unstoppable and that’s a greenmail scam, should I be concerned? DBlinkio. No, so we’ve been hearing some, you know, a series of wild claims apparently on various YouTube videos but the biggest thing to keep in mind is that we just announced in a blog post that we will be ending renewal fees entirely. So all .zil domains will be… you will pay one time and you will own them forever. But no, not a scam. You own them forever.

Matt: And no renewal fees. Love it.

Brad: All right. I came across a video of a competing blockchain namespace which offers domains in extension such as .bit, .coin, .eth, etc. Their FAQ sections mentioned some same comments I’ve seen in your videos about needing extensions of your content. However, they do not seem to offer the feature consolidating wallet addresses which Unstoppable Domains is building. How else would you differentiate .zil domains from your competitor? So the first thing I would point out is that our system is cryptocurrency agnostic, meaning that you can attach all of your cryptocurrency addresses to one domain. That is extremely unique. Most of the other systems that have come before specifically like for example .eth, the way it works is that you can use your Ethereum address only. We don’t think that is the main use case. The main use case is that somebody wants to receive Bitcoin. Ethereum, maybe Litecoin, maybe a few others, whatever their community wants to pay them in, they would want to support that. So you wouldn’t want to just have one. That’s the biggest thing. Two other areas to call out are around all of the tools. So one of the reasons why we started this company in the first place was because there were no tools for blockchain domains, and it was really just sort of all promise around how to make, how to make this stuff work. So UnstoppableDomains.com is a place where you can buy domains easily, where you can configure domains and wherein the near future you’ll be able to build on uncensorable websites and manage all of those tools. So that’s another really big thing is that we’re building the tools to make all this stuff useful. And the last thing is is that we have an API library for wallets and other apps to resolve blockchain domains. So we’re taking this sort of holistic approach to the ecosystem and saying, okay there’s really three parts here. There’s launching a new domain extension. There’s having a place for people to buy and configure domains. And there’s making sure that the wallets and the apps in the community are supporting blockchain domains. So we’re working on all three.

Matt: Cool. All right. So the next one is from Rohini and I’m excited about this question. He says, are you planning on creating a phone app? So the answer is absolutely and I’ve actually got it here on my phone that we’re testing. So we’re working on this right now and this is our mobile backup app. So it’s important, we’re not creating a wallet, that’s not what we’re into but we are creating a backup app for mobile phones. It’s going to be iPhone first and then Android shortly thereafter. And what you’ll be able to do is create a secondary key for your name. So I mentioned earlier that you’re going to have control over your private keys, it’s going to be on a smart contract that allows you to do the functionality for setting your name up, and in that smart contract function we’re also going to give you a function that’ll allow you to set a backup key using your private key from your primary account. And then, that can be generated on your phone app, it’s totally separate. And why did we do this? It’s because the first user request we got when we started doing this was, “hey, what happens if I lose my key? Am I totally screwed? Did I lose my name?” And it would be terrible if you lost your name like if I lost matthewgould.zil and then I could never get it back again, that would be a horrible outcome. And so, we think that this is a much better solution because now with your phone which is completely secure, we were able to offer a secondary option. So if you lose your primary key, you use your backup key to restore your account, then, you can reset your primary key. And if you lose your backup like you lose your phone, you can use your primary key to create a new backup. So you have at least two copies. This is the first step in the direction that we’re going to make to make things a little bit more manageable for teams. With the back-up app, you can 2 of 3 key management or 3 of 5 if you want to run a business on a decentralized website. Cool. Brad, you’re up.

Brad: Yeah. So what happens to our domains if Unstoppable Domains ceases to exist? From Jeff and Joe. So you will still own them. The only thing that you’re going to lose would be the UI, our app to interact with domains but you can still interact directly with a smart contract, everything is open-source. If Unstoppable Domains were to disappear, you would still have your blockchain domains.

Matt: All right. Cool. I think that was the last set of questions that we had set out here to answer. Thank you guys so much for submitting questions to our AMA. This is our first attempt, and we’re happy to do more of these, assuming we get great feedback. And thanks again for participating.

Brad: Thanks, everybody!

Matt: Bye guys!

Have a question? Submit it here for AMA #2: https://unstoppabledomains.typeform.com/to/meVOuL

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