*Note: This review and score is purely based on the information disclosed by the validator service and the scoring rubric.
Last Updated: Oct 6, 2019
Staked.Us’s validator service operates across the Tezos, Livepeer, Cosmos, Loom Network, Iris, Algorand, and Thunder blockchains. Built by a team of serial entrepreneurs with backgrounds in traditional software and web services, Staked.Us differentiates itself with a focus on close relationships with investors, as well as a focus on expanding the ways in which investors can earn yield on crypto through lending services, and liquidity for market makers. Staked.Us presently offers 5-10% commission validation services, and is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
- Loom Network
Team Background (50/100)
- Full-Time/Part-Time (10/10)
- Prior Blockchain Dev/Impact (0/10)
- Systems Experience (10/10)
- Recognizability (0/10)
Current Voting Power (50/100)
- Total Staked: (5/10)
- Unique Self-Bonders: (5/10)
- Commissions: (5/10)
Historical Metrics (60/100)
- Uptime (10/10)
- Proposals (2/10)
- Legal Compliance/Insurance (+5)
- Innovations (+5)
The Staked team is comprised of three full-time employees, Tim Ogilvie (CEO), Seth Riney (CTO), and Jonathan Marcus (COO). The team all comes from a background at IAC (InterActiveCorp), and has previously started and sold software and web services companies to the likes of Mediaocean, Moo, and IAC. Brief bios of each team member follow:
Tim has spent 20 years starting and operating technology companies. Most recently, Tim founded Think Gaming, a SaaS data platform focused on mobile games. Previously, he was a pre-launch employee at two successful consumer internet companies, Interactive Search Holdings and Pronto (both sold to IAC/InterActiveCorp). He graduated from Yale University with a B.S. in Computer Science.
Prior to Staked, Seth architected large-scale big data pipelines and devops systems on AWS at a loyalty solutions provider. Seth has experience consulting on cloud security and compliance in the Financial Services/Securities industry. He graduated from Yale University with a B.S. in Astronomy & Physics
Prior to Staked, Jonathan was the founder and CEO of Goodsie and Flavors.me (sold to Moo), helped grow Vimeo from 2-to-16 FTEs as VP/General Manager, co-founded Pronto (sold to IAC/InterActiveCorp). He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in Economics.
Most of Staked.Us’ funds come from third party investors, specifically crypto hedge funds, VCs, and angels interested in generating yield in novel ways.
Staked.Us is presently the #16 validator on the Cosmos Hub by delegation with ~3.028M atoms delegated. At time of writing, this translates to approximately $20M USD, 2.11% of the voting power on the network. Ten of these delegators have delegated $100,000 USD or more. Staked.Us takes 10% commission on Cosmos delegations.
Staked.Us is the #36 validator on Tezos, with ~6.417M XTZ (~7.57M USD) under possession. These funds are spread across 178 delegates. 10% commission is taken.
Staked.Us is the #3 validator on Livepeer, with 593,847 LPT (~$4.13M USD) under possession. The company takes 5% commission on all delegations.
Staked.Us is the #91 validator on IRIS Network, with 741 IRIS staked ($50 USD). This equates to 0.0001% vote on the network. Standard 10% commission is taken on delegations.
Staked.Us has maintained 100% uptime since joining Cosmos’ active validator set. The company has voted on one of five governance proposals on the network. Outside of Cosmos, Staked has been given AAA+ efficiency on Tezos, with a three cycle payout interval, and an expected ROI of 6.68%. Staked additionally has maintained 100% uptime on IRIS Network, and is listed as “active” on livepeer at time of writing.
Staked.Us describes itself as a company “focused on generating yield for their investors”. The company prides itself of producing tools that investors may need to cover their portfolio, or expose themselves to new revenue opportunities (including lending services, staking, and market making). Present Staked.Us clients include but are not limited to: Multicoin, Pantera, FBG, DCG, and more.
Staked.Us has also shared that one of its core focuses is also to allow investors to maintain a role in governance if interested. The company informs investors of all governance protocols, and provides tools for their delegators to vote.
Once rewards hit delegators accounts, the company provides a series of tools for stake income reporting. This alleviates concerns come tax season.
Staked.Us provides all delegators with a “100% uptime SLA”. This legal document ensures that delegators are compensated for any downtime slashing penalties, courtesy of Staked.Us. Protocol-specific slashing risks like double-signing are not yet covered by this SLA.
- Failover (30/30)
- Private Peering (10/10)
- Agreements with other Validators (0/10)
- Sentry Scaling (10/10)
- Backup Strategy
Staked.Us’s validator infrastructure favours safety over liveness. Accordingly, validators will only failover if failure has been verified – whether it be through notifications from a cloud provider or other monitoring information.
Once a failure has been confirmed, all failovers ensue automatically. Staked’s Kubernetes setup allows for quick reboot.
In conjunction with standard sentry architectures (where networks support it), Staked.Us operates a highly available Kubernetes setup. This allows Staked.Us to quickly spin up new nodes when sentries go offline, and increase scalability both horizontally and vertically. The company presently operates over 1100 nodes, with private peering set up between sentries and validators.
An interesting point to note is that Staked.Us does not maintain any trusted relationships with other validators, as the company believes that other validators are in fact the most likely entities to conduct malicious activity. Instead, Staked.Us allows all nodes to accept public connections.
A simple overview of Staked’s architeture
Custom code has been developed for blockchain-level monitoring, Kubernetes setup, and HSM-validator software communication. All custom code developed by Staked.Us is closed source at the time of writing. See “Monitoring Tools”, “Sentry architecture”, and “Key Management” for more information.
Monitoring Tools (67/100)
- Network Level (10/10)
- Hardware Level (5/10)
- Paging (5/10)
Single Point of Failure (100/100)
- Multi-Cloud (10/10)
- Multi-Region (10/10)
Key Management (50/100)
- HSM Selections (5/10)
- Smart Key Management (unknown/10)
Validator Access (100/100)
- Physical/Remote (10/10)
Staked.Us uses a series of standard open-source monitoring tools (Prometheus, etc.), specifically looking at server health, logs, and more. These various tools are then integrated into a central monitoring service, which all employees are alerted from.
Staked.Us has also pointed out that it has found unique attacks that blockchain networks are particularly exposed to, including malformed rpc requests, and large JSON payloads which can cause bottlenecking of sentries and validators. The company has built custom closed-source tools for the automated detection of these events and IP blocking of malicious actors.
Single Points of Failure
Staked.Us deploys sentries and validators across a number of cloud providers, including AWS and Google Cloud. Within each provider, Staked.Us uses multiple regions, mitigating issues caused by regional downtime.
Staked.Us operates cloud-based HSMs (specifically the Microsoft Azure Dedicated HSM), and secure vaults (when HSM’s are unavailable). This allows them to set up sentries and validators on new networks rapidly, while still preventing fund loss. What is interesting to note is that Staked.Us has set up a ZK-Proof between its validator software and HSM, to validate the signatures generated by validator nodes. This ensures that each cloud provider will not need to be trusted in its signature generation.
All validators are operated by third-party cloud providers – meaning that physical access is prevented by Amazon and Google’s data center security practices. Validators are protected by: physical security layers, infrastructural layers, data layers, and geographic layers.
Staked.Us presently uses two forms of DDoS protection. One of these solutions is specifically built for high volume request handling, and another is built for blockchain specific requests (built in the form of middleware). See “monitoring tools” for more insight into the DoS protection Staked has configured.
When prompted, the Staked.Us team gave the following analysis on their current technological, operational, and organizational priorities.
- Staked.Us is focused on connecting the dots for investors to earn yield on their cryptocurrencies. This means continuing to provide staking, lending, and liquidity services.
- Staked.Us wishes to continue on its goal to support more chains than any other service. This comes with streamlined reporting tools to facilitate tax reporting across all blockchains delegators may be staked on.