Weekly updates from the best cryptocurrency projects, direct from the founding teams.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Proof of Work #37

Hi from Boston. An interesting thing about the crypto space is the number of projects building things that will create a lot of value, but might capture none of it. DYdX, Dharma, and 0x fall into this bucket. The first two, dYdX and Dharma, are creating trustless ways to loan cryptoassets. Neither have a token, and neither have any obvious way to make money as a pure result of people using their infrastructure. However, both are starting to see some real use, and I am fairly confident the usage will increase as scalability concerns are addressed and the demand for low counterparty-risk tooling increases. Did their investors make a mistake by investing in something that feels more like FOSS than a venture bet?

I think there’s one world in which the teams building protocols are best positioned to also build the semi-centralized infrastructure atop these protocols that does make money. This might look similar to how other FOSS projects have monetized, only it’s perhaps even easier because these protocols are “closer to money” than something like RedHat and so they can make profits by actually being the exchanges on top of the protocol, and not just via consulting. However, there’s another world in which the teams that build the hybrid infrastructure atop the decentralized protocols look very different than the teams who built the protocols themselves. It’s a pretty different skillset, and a new team might have more momentum and founder-market fit. I think people who are expressing certainty on either side of this bet are being overconfident—Our fund didn’t invest in this type of protocol because we’re worried about the 2nd scenario, but I’m very ready to kick myself in a few years if it turns out the 1st scenario is more prevalent.

The situation is a bit thornier for projects that do have tokens which don’t obviously capture value. 0x Protocol falls into this bucket for me. At the moment, the value proposition for ZRX is somewhat esoteric. It’s theoretically used as a governance mechanism for avoiding contentious forks. If this is indeed valuable in the sense that it captures value, it’s certainly difficult to value in the sense of determining a number of satoshis that a ZRX token is worth. It’s possible that ZRX ends up not being very valuable, but that relayers built atop the 0x protocol become widely used and make a lot of money. However, it’s also possible that the 0x team (which in my estimation is one of the absolute best in the industry) pivots to a more value-accretive model for the token. They’ve expressed their unwillingness to do this in a way that harms the usefulness of the protocol itself, which makes sense because doing that would probably just result in relayers unceremoniously forking the token out. That said, there may be a way to have the ZRX token accrue value in a way that relayers are amenable to, and if there is, the 0x team will figure out it.

I hope the takeaway from these ramblings isn’t “no one knows” but rather “don’t be too sure.” Tech VCs have been making huge amounts of money for years by having more patience than your average person for products that are very useful but aren’t obviously monetizable, and that might be what happens here. Or, a big sector of the crypto market might end up creating a huge amount of value for other people, and not capture any of it themselves. From a user perspective, either scenario is great.

Bitcoin & Friends

Daniel from Grin

Izaak from Coda

  • Deployed geographically-distributed, multinode testnet and continued work on integration testing.

  • Implemented the Groth-Maller SNARK verifier in pure OCaml which compiles to Javascript and runs in-browser, bringing us one step closer to full-node level security with minuscule resource requirements.

  • Created a REST API for the Coda daemon, simplifying dashboard construction, testing, and reporting for our internal testnet.

Jimmy on Bitcoin

JZ from Decred

Johnny from Stellar

  • The Stellar Network has been successfully upgraded to protocol version 10.

  • Stellar nodes now need to be running stellar-core version 10.0.0; the release notes are located on Github. This is mainly a stability update, with a lot of fixes to issues that could cause a node to hang or become unstable. Additionally some new features for private load testing have been implemented.

  • Horizon, Stellar's client-facing RESTful API server, has also been upgraded to 0.14.0; the upgrade is necessary in order to interact with protocol version 10. The release notes are also located on Github.

Privacy coins

Paige & Zooko from Zcash

Diego and Riccardo from Monero

Smart contracting platforms

Evan from Ethereum

Martin from Tezos

Zaki from Cosmos

  • Tendermint v0.24 was released. When the validator set changes, the previous validator set commits to validator set change and then the change is activated on the next block. This simplifies the efficient light client proofs that make IBC and trustless mobile clients possibles.

  • Tendermint also now providers a secure monotonic time source we called BFT Time in consensus.

  • Our YubiHSM Rust library now supports directly connecting to the YubiHSM via USB. This allows us to support ARM and other architectures that Yubico's closed source HTTP connection does not support. This would be useful to anyone who want to build YubiHSM support into a lightning node or Tezos baker.

  • Finally we've released some more product overviews of the Cosmos SDK , a general toolkit for build DApp specific blockchains. This includes a new product page, and some slide decks (see here and here).

Kate and Dean from Agoric

  • To let people know where we’ll be headed and where we will be speaking, we’ve created a new upcoming events page on our website. Check back after events for links to recordings and slides!

  • As part of SF Blockchain week, we will be doing an overview of the Agoric platform and approach to smart contracts at the SF Cryptocurrency Devs meetup on October 10th at 7pm in San Francisco. Additionally, Dean will be giving a talk during Epicenter (Oct 8th 2:20PM - 2:45PM) on “Authority in Smart Contracts” and the problems of identity-based access control in smart contracts.

Financial Infrastructure

Antonio from dYdX

  • Added an exchange wrapper for 0x V2 (#439). This allows our protocol to use 0x V2 orders to open and close positions.

  • Added 0x V2 support to our backend services and frontend app.

  • Implemented an optimized version of openzeppelin's ReentrancyGuard contract (#443)

  • Work trialed a technical recruiter candidate. We're hiring for engineering, design and recruiting roles in SF!

Brendan and Nadav from Dharma

Coulter from MakerDAO

  • Maker has a new website! All new designs, a new Dai page, and new voting UI. We're still working out some of the kinks, but feedback is welcome! 

  • Speaking of a new voting UI, we put it to use for the first time last week. MKR holders held a Governance Vote for our Foundation Proposal. A walkthrough of how the process works can be found here. We encourage all MKR holders to read and join us for the next vote! 

  • Needslist integrated Dai with a "Donate with Dai" button (built by Request Network!) to aid in Hurricane Florence relief and beyond. We're honored to help streamline aid in conjunction with our other partners at Project BiFrost

  • Totle integrated OasisDEX into their platform, adding more liquidity for their users. 

Phil from MARKET Protocol

Robert from Compound

  • Added new public APIs for surfacing historical market data.

  • Added logging-based metrics and alerting for protocol admin functions, APIs and web pages in preparation for public launch.

  • Modified PriceOracle contract to handle gracefully an edge case error instead of reverting, as identified by formal verification of the contract.

Layer two and interoperability

Tieshun from Namebase

  • Shipped Firefox version of the Namebase Handshake extension 

  • Shipped mobile + desktop redesign to our private beta users. People not in our private beta can request access here.

Tom from 0x

  • No Update (ed note: team has been on retreat, expect more next week)

Dong Mo from Celer

  • Research: We co-organized State Channel Researchers Call #1 

  • Backend Technology: We implemented reliable on-chain event watcher and monitoring service, added service to check if a peer has connected to Celer, implemented cPay-related mobile interfaces, finalized design of cApp-related mobile interfaces, fixed various bugs in the backend. 

  • Mobile Technology: We designed and implemented new cPay UI, tested and integrated off-chain onboarding APIs, developed cOS SDK sample apps for Android and iOS, implemented transaction fee management for on-chain wallet, implemented cGomoku UI.

Alexandra from Parity Technologies

Application infrastructure

Doug from Livepeer

Ryan from FOAM

  • Launched the FOAM Map interface for the point of interest TCR over 2,000 points have been added by Cartographers within the first week. The Map is hosted at map.foam.space.

  • Launched our bounty partnership with GitCoin to fund issues on the FOAM Ethereum Functional Programming Developer stack. These bounties are sponsored by a grant from the Ethereum Community Fund and are listed here.

David from Sia

Other

Ari from Decentraland

  • Last week, we released version 0.13.2 of the Marketplace, which includes several bug fixes. See details here.

  • We’ve been working on version 2.0 of our Marketplace smart contract, and are now auditing the new contract with Level-K.

  • We’re also adding support for LAND Estates in the CLI and Client, building a new in-world UI for chat and user profile views, and making performance improvements in the Client rendering engine.

Sam from OpenBazaar

  • OpenBazaar version 2.2.5 has been released. The release is primarily a bug fix release focused on the server side.

  • Work on the multi-wallet feature continues; the server side APIs are completed and testing and integration into mobile and desktop clients continues.

  • We're released a tool that allows users to create a widget for their OpenBazaar store to display on other sites.

Demi from Zeppelin

  • No Update

🥚Easter egg for anyone who read to the bottom🥚

The president of Venezuela, a country currently experiencing over one million percent inflation and widespread hunger, was spotted happily chowing down on a steak and smoking cigars at an instagram-famous restaurant. Meanwhile, LocalBitcoins volume continues to skyrocket…

Weekly updates from the best cryptocurrency projects, direct from the founding teams.