Research Report

Blockchain Upgrade as a Coordination Game

Widely-used governance systems may not perform well in blockchain settings due to the possibility of hard forks


Industry Insight


Platform design at the intersection of computer science and economics.

Join Prysm Group Founding Economist Dr. Stephanie Hurder as she presents Blockchain Upgrade as a Coordination Game at Blockchain at Berkeley and Dekrypt Capital’s Crypto Economics Security Conference (CESC) and learn why bespoke governance design is essential for successful blockchain platforms.

Click Play to Watch —»

Leading Education


Introduction to Cryptoeconomics

BrightTalk hosts Prysm Group Founding Economist Dr. Cathy Barrera to discuss cryptoeconomics: what is it and why does it matter, and how can it be applied in the blockchain ecosystem?

Learn More —»


Blockchain Governance: Challenges & Opportunity

Forbes staff writer Michael del Castillo sits down with economists Dr. Cathy Barrera and Prof. Oliver Hart to discuss contract incompleteness and its effect on structuring agreements over time.

Watch Video—»

Executive Education

Blockchain Technologies: Innovation & Application

Developed with industry expertise provided by Prysm Group, MIT Sloan’s Executive Course focuses on developing the next startup and corporate leaders of blockchain solutions.

View Course —»

Market Research


MIT Cryptoeconomics Lab

MIT Cryptoeconomics Lab is the first academic research initiative in the blockchain and crypto space bridging the fields of economics, computer science, and business. With Prysm Group Founding Economist, Dr. Cathy Barrera, serving as Lead Contributor, academic economists are taking notice of the industry and beginning to study it with their own analytical tools and expertise. The research coming out of the MIT Cryptoeconomics Lab has been commended for generating important findings relevant to ventures in this space.

Learn More —»


The Blockchain Effect: Network Effects without Market Power Costs

Dr. Cathy Barrera explores the reduction in the cost of networking resulting from the implementation of blockchain technology and how it disentangles the benefits from network effects from the detrimental impact of market power.

Learn More —»


Hidden Costs of Verification

As blockchain technology does not reduce the costs of verification equally for all types of transactions, it is important to distinguish between practical applications which can be executed using today’s technology and those for which we must still develop workable solutions.

Learn More —»

Client Services

Economics by Design

Prysm Group is a blockchain economics and governance design firm led by PhD-level economists from the world’s top universities. Taking a first-principles approach, Prysm Group uses the tools of contract theory, game theory, market design, and social choice theory to design customized solutions for distributed ledger technology and blockchain-based projects. With a specialized focus, Prysm Group’s areas of expertise include community governance, consensus governance, foundational tokenomics, incentive design, and platform design.


Prysm Group solves complex design requirements by utilizing well-defined processes customized to achieve the unique goals of its clients, including:

  • Government & Policy Groups
  • Blockchain & Cryptocurrency Startups
  • Venture Capital & Private Equity Funds
  • Corporate Enterprises & Financial Institutions
  • Technology Incubators & Accelerators

Prysm Group provides value to projects and organizations from conception to ongoing governance, with primary deliverables including:

  • Blue Paper
  • Economic Audit
  • Economic Design

Dr. Cathy class=

Dr. Cathy Barrera

Dr. Cathy Barrera is a Partner and Founding Economist of Prysm Group, a firm that specializes in economic and governance design for distributed ledger companies, institutions, and governments. She is a frequent keynote speaker, panelist and writer, addressing various topics at the intersection of blockchain and economics. She is a Collaborator of the MIT Cryptoeconomics Lab and is an industry expert for MIT’s executive education course, Blockchain Technologies: Business Innovation and Application.

Dr. Barrera was previously tenure-track faculty at the S.C. Johnson School of Management at Cornell University, and has appeared as a seminar speaker or guest lecturer at schools including Harvard, MIT, NYU, Fordham, Cornell Tech, University of Toronto, and University of Southern California. Prior to co-founding Prysm Group, Dr. Barrera was the Chief Economist at ZipRecruiter.

Dr. Barrera received her BA from Northwestern University, where she majored in Communication Studies, Economics and Mathematics. She holds an MSc in Applicable Mathematics from the London School of Economics and a PhD in Business Economics from Harvard University, where she studied under Nobel Laureate Oliver Hart.

Dr. Stephanie class=

Dr. Stephanie Hurder

Dr. Stephanie Hurder is a Partner and Founding Economist of Prysm Group, a firm that specializes in economic and governance design for distributed ledger companies, institutions, and governments. She is a frequent keynote speaker and panelist at industry and academic blockchain events. Recent and upcoming appearances include SXSW, the Stanford Blockchain Conference, CESC @ UC Berkeley, P2PFISY @ the Federal Reserve of Cleveland, the University of Southern California, and Security Token Academy. She is a frequent writer on blockchain and economics and a contributor to the MIT Cryptoeconomics Lab blog.

Prior to co-founding Prysm Group, Dr. Hurder held research positions at MIT Sloan and Merrill Lynch, and appeared as a seminar speaker or guest lecturer at schools including Harvard, MIT, Northwestern, the University of Michigan, and Washington University in St. Louis. While a management consultant at the Boston Consulting Group, Dr. Hurder was selected as an Ambassador to the BCG Henderson Institute and co-authored multiple publications on organizational effectiveness and design.

Dr. Hurder holds an AB in Mathematics Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude, an AM in Economics, and a PhD in Business Economics from Harvard University, where she studied under Claudia Goldin and Nobel Laureate Al Roth.

Board of Senior Advisors

Prof. Oliver class=

Prof. Oliver Hart

Prof. Oliver Hart is the Andrew E. Furer Professor of Economics at Harvard University, where he has taught since 1993. Prof. Hart is the 2016 co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his work on contract theory. His work focuses on contract theory, the theory of the firm, corporate finance, and law and economics centering on the roles that ownership structure and contractual arrangements play in the governance and boundaries of corporations. Prof. Hart is a Fellow of the Econometric Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the British Academy, and the American Finance Association, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and has several honorary degrees. He has been president of the American Law and Economics Association and a vice president of the American Economic Association. He holds a BA in Mathematics from King’s College, an MA in Economics from the University of Warwick, and a PhD in Economics from Princeton University.

Dr. Preston class=

Dr. Preston McAfee

Dr. Preston McAfee most recently served as the Chief Economist of Microsoft from 2014 through 2018. Dr. McAfee is the co-recipient of a Golden Goose award in 2014 for his research on auction design. His work focuses on focuses on auctions, bundling, contracting, and mechanism design in the intercept between microeconomics and computer science leading initiatives straddling social science, computer science, and business strategy. Dr. McAfee was previously Chief Economist of Yahoo, Research Director at Google, and the J. Stanley Johnson Professor of Business, Economics, and Management at Caltech. He is Founding Co-Editor of the ACM journal Transactions of Economics and Computation, a former Co-Editor of the American Economic Review, and a Fellow of the Econometric Society, and holds numerous honorary degrees. He has served as a consultant to the US Department of Justice, the FTC, and the FCC. Dr. McAfee holds a BA in Economics from the University of Florida, an MS in both Economics and Mathematics and a PhD in Economics from Purdue University.

Stay in Touch

Sign up for our monthly newsletter

Stay current research, trends, and gain competitive industry insight and analysis.