We have some exciting news to share! IPFS (opens new window) and libp2p (opens new window) are officially taking big steps forward in project maturity, with independent foundations and funding structures in the Protocol Labs network!
Protocol Labs is building a better web: more open, more resilient, more efficient. Our approach has been to invent and implement new web protocols, all designed on a bedrock of content addressing and peer-to-peer networks. Since 2014, we’ve incubated many protocols and standards that are now de facto standards in Web3 and beyond, including IPFS (opens new window), libp2p (opens new window), IPLD (opens new window), CIDs, multiformats (opens new window), Drand (opens new window), and more.
Since then, IPFS has been used to organize and distribute many exabytes of data across the globe, with 250,000 public peer-to-peer nodes, and over 2.5 million daily users. It’s been used by technologists, archivists, activists, artists, scientists, and many other data communities. It has helped solve problems ranging from verifiable preservation of important historical archives to enabling communication in the face of censorship or low connectivity.
Similarly, libp2p (opens new window) grew out of the IPFS project to become the peer-to-peer networking layer of Web3. It has modular components for peer discovery, peer routing, transports, NAT traversal, and more, and 12 implementations power IPFS, Filecoin, Ethereum consensus, Polkadot, and many other L1 and L2 networks. Today, libp2p secures a total market cap of $300 billion at the networking layer.
Together, IPFS and libp2p are the de facto standards for organizing data, sharing content, and peer-to-peer networking across Web3. They’re also gaining surface area in Web2, with support or integrations available in Brave (opens new window), Opera (opens new window), Chromium (opens new window), cURL (opens new window), Unity, the Unreal Engine (opens new window), and more.
While these projects were invented and incubated at Protocol Labs, their open source communities have played major roles from the start. Brave, Cloudflare, Consensys, Fission, Number Zero, and many other individuals and teams have built new implementations and integrations, contributed to protocol design, provided public network services, and led working groups. In many ways, these projects have been working independently and openly for years.
Now, it’s time to advance that independence. By taking these steps, we aim to ensure each project’s long-term health in multiple dimensions:
- Independent Protocol Foundations. IPFS and libp2p will each have a foundation dedicated to its long-term success. IP (copyrights, trademarks, websites, etc.) will transfer from Protocol Labs, Inc. to these foundations, and continue to be dual-licensed under MIT and Apache 2.0.
- Open Protocol Governance. Some projects, like IPFS (opens new window) and libp2p (opens new window), have already established open protocol governance. Other projects will see upgrades.
- Independent engineering teams, collaborating publicly. The IPFS- and libp2p-focused engineering teams currently housed at Protocol Labs will become independent entities in the Protocol Labs network (opens new window). Led by longtime maintainers and project leaders, they will form a new entity dedicated to several popular implementations (such as Kubo (opens new window) and its underlying Boxo library (opens new window), Helia (opens new window), go-libp2p, js-libp2p, rust-libp2p, and more) and public network services (such as ProbeLab (opens new window), ipfs.io gateway, and the Amino DHT bootstrappers).
- Healthy stewardship. These projects will continue to be stewarded with an eye towards open community process, healthy academic collaboration, strong security and disclosure practices, and the Permissive License Stack (opens new window). In short, good OSS vibes.
- Community. Both IPFS and libp2p will continue to tend to digital and in-person spaces (forums, chat, documentation, virtual meetings, live events, and more) for collaborative conversation and problem-solving. This week includes 2 exciting in-person events: IPFS Connect Istanbul (opens new window), hosted by Fission, and libp2p Day 2023 (opens new window), hosted by several libp2p maintainers.
- Funding. Public goods require public funding, and the IPFS Implementations Fund (opens new window) showed us what was possible with this model in 2022-2023. Going forward, IPFS and libp2p will each have one or more public goods funds (PGFs) dedicated to technical, community, and operational contributions toward these digital public goods. Protocol Labs has made a major pledge to these PGFs, but diversified funding is an important and necessary aspect of project independence. We are excited to share more about this soon, and look forward to working with other groups to invest in the future of IPFS and libp2p.
In the coming weeks and months, we’ll share more detailed plans and information for each project’s stewardship and future. We can’t wait to work with you toward a better web.