The Graph is a decentralized query protocol for indexing and organizing data from blockchains and storage networks. The Graph operates a hosted service that deploys subgraphs for Web3 and DeFi applications built on multi-chains such as Ethereum, IPFS, POA, Celo, Polygon, Polkadot, and more.
In October 2020, prior to its mainnet's launch, the team announced the creation of The Graph Foundation, an independent organizational structure that will support the vibrance and diversity of The Graph’s ecosystem. Eva Beylin was also announced as the director of The Graph Foundation.
On December 17, 2020, The Graph announced its mainnet launch. The price of The Graph (GRT) token soared more than 425% on Coinbase Pro in three days following its mainnet launch. Trading volumes also spiked from $880 million to $2.8 billion during that period. GRT reached a market cap of over $929 million in four days following the launch. The mainnet launch also came with the deployment of The Graph Network contracts on Ethereum mainnet, the deployment of the GRT contract, the distribution of GRT tokens to stakeholders, and the launch of The Bug Bounty Program.
On February 18, 2021, The Graph announced its further expansion to additional projects by integrating the Polkadot, NEAR, Solana, and Celo Layer 1 Blockchains, opening Web3 opportunities to a wider ecosystem.
As of March 2022, The Graph has deployed over 22,000 subgraphs and has over 2,000 curators, 7000 delegators, and 160 indexers.
The idea of The Graph was born in late 2017 and introduced in the summer of 2018 by Yaniv Tal, Jannis Pohlmann, and Brandon Ramirez. The three of them had previously collaborated on a number of startup projects focused on software development. They wanted to make it easier for developers to build sophisticated software. In 2017 the trio was introduced to Ethereum which quickly sparked their interest and made them start building dApps.
Since January 2019, The Graph has been providing a hosted service with more than 2,900 subgraphs for Web3 and DeFi apps. The idea of the Graph ecosystem was conceived and developed by Graph Protocol Incorporation, which was later renamed Edge & Node. Further in 2020, The Graph Foundation was also founded to support the diverse network and the various network participants.
Speaking about its launch, Project Lead and Co-founder of The Graph, Yaniv Tal says:
It's surreal that after years of hard work, our vision for a global decentralized indexing and API layer for Web3 has become real. We really believe in decentralization and the launch of The Graph Network is a major milestone for enabling humans to cooperate and organize in a decentralized way. The Graph is already being used by so many great projects in DeFi and Web3 and with this new network, the crypto community can work together with powerful incentives to take on the traditional tech and financial sectors, to create better systems for allocating resources and creating economic opportunity.
The first prototype of The Graph was built by its founders in late 2017. In January 2019, the team launched their Hosted Service and Graph Explorer. The team also announced seven launch partners: Dharma, Compound, Uniswap, Ethereum Name Service, Origin Protocol, Decentraland, and Livepeer. All these protocols became available on The Graph for third-party developers to access.
As of July 2020, The Graph has grown from seven launch partners to hundreds of applications including Synthetix, Uniswap, Gnosis, Aragon, Livepeer, Melonport AG, Decentraland, and more. These applications are querying data from open APIs built on the Graph, called subgraphs, that define how to index data like trade orders, DEX liquidity, and user balances. The Graph hosted service processed 50 million queries per day and boasted over 750 million queries in May 2020, up 45% from April 2020.
On July 27, 2020, The Graph team announced the launch of Mission Control, the Graph’s incentivized testnet. Mission Control is a competition where Indexers can operate nodes, complete missions, and contribute to improving the Graph Network ahead of the mainnet launch. Over 15 node operators, including Figment Networks, Staking Facilities, Certus One, Staked, Chorus One, and Bloq, entered the mission control center by pre-registering for the testnet.
The Graph learns what and how to index Ethereum data based on subgraph descriptions, known as the subgraph manifest. The subgraph description defines the smart contracts of interest for a subgraph, the events in those contracts to pay attention to, and how to map event data to data that The Graph will store in its database. Once a user has written a subgraph manifest, they use Graph CLI to store the definition in IPFS and tell the hosted service to start indexing data for that subgraph. 
On September 17, 2020, The Graph announced the launch of its Curator Program. Preregistered curators on The Graph Network included CoinGecko, CoinMarketCap, Messari, Delphi Digital, Zapper, Synthetix, Pool Together, LivePeer, mStable, and Balancer. The program made it easy for curators to easily track the DeFi markets on Ethereum and always be on the lookout for new market data that is useful for their users.
On December 17, 2020, The Graph announced the launch of its mainnet. Soon after the Graph network went live Coinbase Pro and Binance announced support for the Ethereum token. Coinbase Pro also noted that it had started accepting inbound orders for GRT tokens and that it would start trading the following week due to the availability of sufficient liquidity. A number of other cryptocurrency exchanges added GRT to their list of offerings. Aside from Coinbase Pro and Binance, KuCoin, OKEx, and Kraken are the other exchanges allowing trading of the GRT token.
In three days since the launch, the price of The Graph token (GRT) more than doubled from $0.26 to $0.61. Volumes too spiked from $880 million to $2.8 billion. With the wide exposure of GRT on cryptocurrency exchanges, the price of the token exploded, rising more than 49% in 24 hours and giving The Graph a market value in excess of $750 million.
On February 16, 2021, The Graph announced the support for Polygon, a side chain for Ethereum on The Graph’s hosted service. This commenced The Graph’s expansion from applications on Ethereum to Layer 2 scaling solutions that now include side chains, as well as indexing and querying to Polygon to make it easier for developers to build dApps on Polygon.
On February 18, 2021, The Graph announced that in addition to Ethereum and IPFS, they have integrated the Polkadot, NEAR, Solana, and Celo Layer 1 Blockchains as additional supports to the protocol, opening Web3 opportunities to a wider ecosystem. Third-party developers on these chains also became eligible for The Graph Foundation grants.
On June 7, 2021, The Graph Foundation announced that Arbitrum had integrated with The Graph and is live on the hosted service. The integration is a continuation of The Graph's expansion efforts to scale Web3.
On June 18, 2021, The Graph announced its partnership with Optimism, an Ethereum L2 scaling solution that uses optimistic rollups to achieve lower fees, latency, and greater throughput while providing a world-class developer and user experience. The Graph will provide indexing and querying services to developers building on the Optimistic Ethereum L2 to help Ethereum scale.
On October 26, 2021, it was announced that the NEAR network had joined The Graph’s hosted service. The integration has enabled developers to build subgraphs on the NEAR network using The Graph, allowing web3 infrastructure to support even more dApps. The integration utilizes StreamingFast’s Firehose interface, which is extendable to any blockchain.
There are three main products of The Graph. This includes Graph Explorer, Subgraph Studio, and Hosted Service.
Launched in January 2019, Graph Explorer makes it possible for developers to discover all the data being indexed on The Graph and pull it into their dApps. Graph Explorer was launched with the following features:
- playground for discovering available data using introspection and running queries
- logs for viewing processed events and errors
- atomic updates with 0-downtime deployments
- dashboard for viewing your subgraphs and managing access tokens
- version switcher for toggling between the pending and current versions while a subgraph is being synced
- GitHub authentication with support for individual and organization accounts.
The Subgraph Studio is a place where users can build and create subgraphs, add metadata, and publish them to the new decentralized Explorer. Users can test their subgraphs before they are published and can also restrict their API keys to specific domains to allow only certain indexers to query from their API keys. The studio has the following features:
- Creation of subgraphs through the Studio UI
- Deployment of subgraphs using the CLI
- Publishing subgraphs with the Studio UI
- Test-running in the playground
- Integration in staging using the query URL
- Creation and management of API keys for specific subgraphs
The hosted service will be shutting down in Q1 2023 and this is to enable all web3 applications to retrieve blockchain data in a truly decentralized way. The Graph Foundation has outlined a plan and three-phase schedule to sunset the hosted service, taking another massive step into the decentralized network.
- Phase 1: Cease new subgraph deployments to the hosted service Q3 2022
- Phase 2: Stop all upgrades from hosted service accounts Q4 2022
- Phase 3: Fully phase out hosted service Subgraphs End of Q1 2023
- Consumers: Consumers pay Indexers for queries. These will typically be end users but could also be web services or middleware that integrate with the Graph.
- Indexers: Indexers are the node operators of the Graph. They are motivated by earning financial rewards.
- Curators: Curators use GRT to signal what subgraphs are valuable to index. These will typically be developers but they could also be end-users supporting a service they rely upon or a persona that is purely financially motivated.
- Delegators: Delegators put GRT at stake on behalf of an Indexer in order to earn a portion of inflation rewards and fees, without having to personally run a Graph Node. They are financially motivated.
- Fishermen: Fishermen secure the network by checking if query responses are accurate. Fishermen are altruistically motivated, and for that reason, the Graph will initially operate a fisherman service for the network.
- Arbitrators: Arbitrators determine whether Indexers should be slashed or not during dispute resolution. They may be financially or altruistically motivated.
Graph Token (GRT)
GRT is an ERC-20 token on the Ethereum blockchain, used to allocate resources in the network. Active Indexers, Curators, and Delegators can earn income from the network proportional to the amount of work they perform and their GRT stake. Total GRT supply at mainnet launch was 10 billion tokens, and new token issuance in the form of indexing rewards will begin at 3% annually and is subject to future independent technical governance.
Alongside the successful mainnet launch, the GRT token was quick to be listed across the world’s largest exchanges from December 17th, 2020. The Graph's market value increased to well over $1 billion in just 3 days as a result of the GRT token's quick listings on exchanges like Coinbase Pro, Binance, KuCoin, and OKEx, among others. According to Santiment, there was a lot of hype surrounding the launch of the GRT coin, with "GRT" trending higher on social media than Elon Musk.
The Graph (GRT) Token was introduced to support the functioning of the query market. Graph Tokens have two primary uses in the protocol:
- Indexer Staking. Indexers deposit Graph Tokens to be discoverable in the query market and to provide economic security for the work they are performing.
- Curator Signaling. Curators deposit Graph Tokens in a curation market, where they are rewarded for correctly predicting which subgraphs will be valuable to the network.
Consumers will be able to pay for queries in ETH or DAI. Payments will be settled, however, in GRT to ensure a common unit of account across the protocol.
GRT Public Sale
On October 28, 2020, the Graph Foundation announced a successful public sale of $12 million GRT tokens to the community. During the sale, 4% of the total token supply (400 million tokens) was distributed to over 4,500 people from over 90 countries who successfully passed KYC compliance, from more than 90 countries outside of the United States. These O.G.’s (Original Graphers) were the initial GRT community members at the Graph’s mainnet launch. The following countries were represented at the GRT sale: Vietnam, China, India, and Great Britain. Individuals that hold GRT were able to participate in the Graph Network as Indexers, Curators, or Delegators by providing their services to decentralized applications.
The GRT Sale was constructed with three phases to optimize distribution to contributing community members and to mitigate the risk of a gas war. In order to accommodate as many participants as possible and prevent bots or huge purchasers from scooping up the deal, each participant was given a specific purchasing cap. Participants in the sale had to successfully complete KYC and fill out a registration form describing their familiarity with the Graph, interest in DeFi (Decentralized Finance) and Web3, and readiness to contribute to the network. Phases and individual caps were assigned between $1,000 and $5,000 USD equivalent based on responses to these questions and previous contributions.
14,000 people registered for the sale successfully. During Phase 1, 300 million GRT tokens were distributed, and registrants had 24 hours to buy as much as they could afford. Following the conclusion of Phase 1, all further registrants were eligible to take part in Phase 2, during which 100 million GRT tokens were set aside for purchase. There were no tokens left for Phase 3 because of the intense demand, which caused those tokens to sell out in around 11 minutes. As a result, the sale finished early.
The Graph's sale was the first of its kind. The Graph Foundation decided to host the sale entirely on Ethereum. The GRT Sale dApp was built using a subgraph and integrated with MetaMask and WalletConnect.
On January 22, 2022, The Graph Foundation announced that it had secured $50 million through a strategic GRT sale from its treasury in order to aggressively recruit the best brains in web3. The sale will help The Graph's progress toward enabling truly verifiable indexing and querying, as well as expand the protocol to meet the needs of subgraph developers. This funding will support grants for core development work, protocol R&D, and provide a launchpad for the Foundation's strategic initiatives, which are overseen by The Graph Council.
The Graph AdvocatesDAO
On April 5, 2022, The Graph AdvocatesDAO went live. The Graph AdvocatesDAO is the community governing body that is in charge of managing community grants as well as participation in and contributions to the Graph Advocates Program. The Graph Council gave the DAO a grant for $250,000 worth of GRT to seed the treasury along with 20 members who were a part of the first batch of the Advocates Program. The DAO treasury is anticipated to be used, in addition to community grants, to pay DAO members who contribute to the DAO itself and to pay for Advocates' expenses.
The DAO oversees the operations and growth of the Advocates Program, including screening advocate applications and providing support for initiatives like event planning and translation. The DAO accepts applications from active Advocates who successfully participate in the Advocates Program. Since the Advocates Program's first cohort was announced, more than 2,500 people have applied from over 70 countries, including Argentina, Nigeria, Germany, China, Canada, and India.
The DAO will also be The Graph ecosystem’s first step in expanding decentralized oversight of grants programs. Since the launch of the network, community grants have been overseen by The Graph Foundation and Council with over $1M in community grants distributed in 2021. Community grants will now be run by The Graph AdvocatesDAO.
On June 30, 2020, the Graph closed $5 million in a Simple Agreement for Future Tokens (SAFT) with participation from Multicoin Capital and DTC Capital as well as strategic crypto funds including Framework Ventures, ParaFi Capital, Coinbase Ventures, Digital Currency Group, CoinIX, and Tally Capital. A $2.5 million seed round led by Multicoin earlier in January 2019 brought the company's total investment to $7.5 million. The additional funds were used to develop and launch The Graph's decentralized network.
Speaking on the seed round, Multicoin partner Kyle Samani said:
Virtually everyone in the web3 development community has come to recognize how important and underserved this layer of the web3 stack really is. The Graph has emerged as the market leader, with dozens of teams using the service in closed beta right now.
- On March 30, 2021, The Grant Council announced that over $5 million had been allocated to grants, ecosystem contributors, and bounties to grow The Graph. Over $2.6M was awarded to grantees in Wave 1 and $3M was budgeted for Ecosystem Contributors for that year.
- On June 17, 2021, The Graph announced its partnership with StreamingFast as a core protocol developer and a $60 million Core Dev Grant that will open up a new frontier of collaborative innovation where corporations and communities work together to create a radically more open Internet.
- On July 13, 2021, The Graph Foundation announced that they were distributing over $2.8M to grantees focusing on protocol R&D, tooling building subgraphs and dapps, community building, and security audits.
- On October 14, 2021, The Graph Foundation announced the Wave 3 distribution of over $1.5M to grantees to continue building out The Graph protocol, support dApps building on The Graph, and grow the community.
- On December 15, 2021, The Graph Foundation announced that The Guild had been awarded a $48 million grant to contribute to subgraph and protocol R&D.
- On January 27, 2022, The Graph Foundation announced that it had distributed over $1.7M to over 30 grantees to continue improving on The Graph protocol, support dApps building with subgraphs, and grow the community.
- On April 19, 2022, The Graph Foundation announced the allocation of $1.25 million to a diverse group of over 30 grantees to continue the evolution of the ecosystem by improving the protocol, supporting dApps building on The Graph, creating new tools, and growing the community.
- On July 28, 2022, The Graph Foundation announced a Wave 6 grant of nearly $1 million towards protocol improvements, providing support to dApps building with subgraphs, creating new tools, and growing the community
The Graph Partners
The Graph is backed up by a number of projects such as:
- ParaFi Capital
- DTC Capital
- Coinbase Ventures
- Digital Group Currency
- 122 West
- Tally Capital
- South Park Commons
- JD Capital
- Reciprocal Ventures
Some of The Graph Foundation team members include:
- Eva Beylin - Director
- David Lutterkort - Software Engineer
- Jackson Blazensky - Protocol Researcher
- Yaniv Tal - Project Lead
- Lucas Frommelt - Content Specialist
- Matt Schwinden - Head of Talent
- Oliver Zerhusen - Ecosystem Manager