I am an optimist. Even when faced with the hardest of challenges I always say Future is bright! And yet it is time to share some hard truths with you people. Our fundraising program is not as successful as we hoped it to be. As it is right now, unless we raise more money this month we will go bankrupt as of August, 1st.
September 2019 Update. Since this article was published our HODL program has really picked up steam and we were able to successfully raise funds. As you can tell, it's now September and we're still up and running :) We've since launched a tremendous amount of new features, such as revamped UI, multiple trading bots, and are now both top-1 DEX on Ethereum Classic network and top-10 DEX on Ethereum chain.
Almost two years ago we've decided to build a new kind of business following in Satoshi Nakamoto's footsteps. Our core values are
- Do not sellout. By now you've surely noticed that we're no ordinary engineers. With our skillset we could have easily taken VC money, built a pseudo-decentralized product like EOS or TRON, and sold it to poor suckers on binance. This short term play is not worth it. If crypto is to ever gain value, it will be because we took it from central bankers and surveillance capitalists. In order to do that we need to commit to 100% decentralization, immutability and privacy.
- Be transparent. Who doesn't like a little bit of simplicity in our lives? Do you know how your smartphone works? Do you care? No, and for the most part it's cool. Unfortunately, there is no simple way for decentralized financial system to succeed. We are blessed with the gift of knowledge and we must share it. We have published hundreds of blog posts, forum posts, code repositories, tweets - helping thousands of people to learn more about money, about technology and about decentralization. We share this knowledge in the hope that you will spend time and effort to read and learn.
- Don't be greedy. Of course we would have loved to raise millions of dollars in an ICO - it would allow us to play on equal terms against venture backed startups. But we knew that what we need is not ten large donations from the wealthy, but tens of thousands of smaller contributions from real people. We've always been reasonable with what we asked for and were upfront with what we are going to use the money for.
- Do the right thing. No matter how tempting it may be to give up and run away we know we must continue on our path. I'm sure those familiar with Saturn Network noticed that we are one of the very few unique projects that have people's interests in mind.
We would have been much richer if we took the money we raised last year and HODL'ed. Today we have delivered the products for everyone's financial freedom, but we have nothing left to HODL. We're broke.
Giving up is not an option
Of course, giving up is not an option, but changes need to be made. I'll briefly discuss the reasons for our current situation in the remainder of this blog post. I'll talk about the upcoming changes in future announcements.
Insanity Is Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Again and Expecting Different Results.
Frankly speaking, there is only one reason for our financial misfortune. It is the very same reason why Mark Zuckerberg is one of the wealthiest people in the world. And it is called attention. As the world rapidly became digital our attention, our time stopped belonging to us. Our attention is exclusively sold to the highest bidder on the free online services like Facebook, Twitter, Google etc. And it takes funding to play this game, more funding than we anticipated.
We spent two years doing cutting edge R&D and building products that are safe, secure and are a joy to use, while our competition was profitably exit scamming their users (despite having an amazing team page with 10/10 linkedin profiles) and making shitty projects like crypto signals, dice games and quickly abandoned ponzi schemes.
If you zoom in on what makes or breaks an internet business, the answer becomes even clearer: traffic. If there is not a lot of people on your website you cannot offer a big scale service. So we ended up in a catch-22 situation. Without capital we are unable to buy the traffic. Without traffic we are unable to grow the business to make money.
We publicly announced existence of our team in summer 2017. We saw the blatant market manipulation that was going on on centralized exchanges and set out a mission to put an end to it by making a fully on-chain DEX. We announced our decentralized exchange before the words DEX even existed, in September 2017. At that time only EtherDelta and 0x existed, but we knew that the way these DEX's are built is fundamentally broken from market transparency point of view.
But we couldn't really do it at the time. Not because we are bad at coding, but simply because the infrastructure didn't exist yet. We spent almost a full year building out the infrastructure for the current version of Saturn Network that you enjoy using so much today without even thinking how much engineering genius went into its design. This infrastructure is also product agnostic, and it's more of a complete toolkit for building scalable on-chain dApps. We look forward to making it available to the world soon.
There will be no sustained growth of cryptocurrencies if everybody doesn't reinvest part of their earnings into companies and teams that build infrastructure that makes everybody 100x safer and more productive.
People who got mad rich in the bull run of 2017 quickly forgot why they bought crypto in the first place. Their minds got clouded with the big USD value attached to their crypto holdings and they just wanted to keep maxing it out, investing in shit vaporware projects like EOS, Tezos and NEM. No wonder most of them lost it all when the bear market arrived.
Foundations are no better - they sit on massive amounts of money and throw it at their managers and conferences in fancy hotels. One of the richest crypto foundations is, of course, the Ethereum Foundation. Since being formed it has mostly been a net negative presence in the ecosystem, having facilitated the DAO bailout & the corresponding broken promise of Code is Law (mostly because its members have never heard of methods like formal verification that allow one to write bug free code instead of the burning shitpile that is Solidity).
Ethereum really still survived and kept its market dominance only due to the work of one very energetic individual - Vitalik Buterin. But even he is not omnipotent. Centralized exchanges should burn in hell he said. Well, how about doing something to help independent devs, like you yourself were, succeed and work together on taking power away from the corrupt establishment? Instead, he bent over backwards in front of influential VCs and pseudo-intellectual academics, chasing status (which is a zero-sum game) over community wealth (which is a positive-sum game that enriches everyone). Not many remember, but for the longest time Vitalik was a partner at Fenbushi Capital and was acting as advisor to projects of questionable integrity and technical competence in 2017. Luckily he grew up and stopped doing it rather quickly, but not before he initiated the bubble that hurt so many.
Isn't it funny that ETH Foundation, the organization behind the chain that promotes itself as one that has smart contracts that will change the world, will not work with you or provide funding for your work unless you sign a PAPER CONTRACT with them that's checked by their lawyers? 🤣
The only foundation/team that invests in the infrastructure the right way that we are aware of is Cardano's Emurgo and IOHK, and sooner than later you will see the result of this continued investment.
Not only their foundations, but the frontman of the operation, Charles Hoskinson, is one of the few people in the whole industry who's got balls to do the right thing and change the world for the better instead of chasing fake friends and applying for honorary PhDs.
Even though our project has nothing to do with Cardano at this time, Charles Hoskinson regularly comes to hangout in our telegram. Meanwhile, people in the most popular ETC telegram get banned for mentioning any dApp or token by its retarded admin "CowOperate". I got banned there too for explaining how our DEX works. And while Charles has invested considerable amount of social capital and hard earned cash into ETC (mantis node client, daedalus wallet, technical consulting) he gets nothing but hatred and weird demands from the community. Alienating our teams may be the worst thing that can happen to ETC.
Turns out it is very profitable to sell centralization disguised as decentralization. What are our favorite websites for discovering the decentralized web? Coinmarketcap and Binance! Let's leave Binance alone for the purpose of this discussion. CZ is a great businessman and will no doubt go down in history of business (and possibly to jail too, but that's another story).
Coinmarketcap though, the website you check 10 times a day to see how your HODLing is doing, is now so popular and rich that they no longer give a flying fuck about the whole decentralization thing.
If Satoshi sent an email to Coinmarketcap to ask them to list Bitcoin they wouldn't even reply.
Effectively, coinmarketcap is the traffic gatekeeper. If your cryptocurrency project is not listed there it might as well have never existed for the majority of people. They (CMC) keep saying how nice they are, how thoughtful, how volume isn't a requirement anymore, but it's all empty words. Unless you personally know people from CMC or pay them a listing fee that will make Justin Sun cry they won't list you.
The best thing you can do is stop using coinmarketcap yourself and make sure all your friends stop too. Instead, look towards using products created by companies that support decentralization as best they can, such as Delta, CoinPaprika and CoinGecko.
Here's a hot take for you. CoinMarketCap can't list Saturn exchange despite it being not only a superior DEX, but also the only DEX on their top-20 coin $ETC. They did list Pirate Chain (ticker ARRR) however. Is this decentralization that you deserve?
Speaking of ETC, we knew early on that we need to support a multitude of chains. Trustless, uncensorable value exchange is so crucial to financial freedom of the world that it should not be limited to only one platform. ETC closely aligns with our values - it is like Bitcoin, but with smart contracts. At the time when we launched our DEX on Ethereum Classic they didn't even have a single dApp wallet. We're happy that we were the first of many and that the network is growing.
However, the major stakeholders behind ETC are simply not interested in supporting a project like ours. ETCLabs, for example, is assembling their second cohort of startups, but I guarantee you that they're never going to respond to our application - because they know we won't sell out. You know that ETC Coop & ETC Labs have the same owner - DCG (digital currency group)? DCG was one of the early crypto investors and are quite big into mining. How big?
About this big. Notice the large block of unknown transactions. These are either p2p ETC payments (which I'd estimate are 1% of the red part of the pie) or deposits & internal organization of centralized exchanges. Not saying that all of this mining activity is DCG, but mining and exchange listing is the only thing that concerns them, and the only way they are interested in making money.
Without dApps, $ETC is just a slower version of $BTC that is vulnerable to 51% attack.
Effectively, more than 80% of ETC usage is mining ETC and selling it on Binance. Dapps such as Saturn Network exchange and the various tokens that we helped create account for about 1% of network usage on a good day. The good news is that gastoken mining is taking up almost 10% of all processed transactions - using the miner that we developed and gave to the community for free.
Please don't interpret this message as crybaby Neuron just bitter that ETC Labs didn't choose him. It is clear to me, and eventually will be clear to everyone, that they either don’t understand the business or a criminally negligent (have alternative interests in mind). When we offered to open source Saturn Wallet, the best and safest desktop wallet and dApp browser for ETC, ETH and tokens on both chains, and donate it to ETC Labs so they can run it under their brand (to cut our expenses on maintenance and to help the new organization establish legitimacy and finally have a product that they offer to the chain's users) - we got no follow up email like it’s some fucking spam.
Would YOU ignore a proposal when a smaller business is willing to give you a gift of product that must be a vital part of your roadmap? I remind you that this is the same organization that tried to hijack ETC github and upcoming ETC hard fork process. They say We are the official ETC dev team. Well I for one question their leadership. I'd rather die than be led by a blind, or even worse a lying leader.
We're very grateful for the chance to work with the great individuals (employees) of ETC-related organizations, but the owners of such organizations don't care about decentralization - only their bottom line. As they sit in their nice offices in NYC skyscrapers they can't even hear about any of the dApps being developed or needed.
Special thanks go out to Kevin Lord of IOHK, better known as Classic Kevin, who does a tremendous amount of work being the unbiased voice of ETC on the social media, Donal McIntyre aka TokenHash, former head of BizDev at ETCDev, who is the most vigilant voice for decentralization and immutability among the public figures despite being treated like shit by DFG and organizations that it controls, to Chris Seberino, who keeps making the amazing Let's Talk ETC youtube series despite having less than 100 views and almost no comments on his episodes, and Dean Pappas, who just started running an ETC podcast on youtube (he doesn't know who he is working for yet, but he is just a good person being misled by honest-looking DFG). We all work for you and we need your support, and we're getting so little of it.
Wake the fuck up, people!
Let's summarize. Our product is extremely complicated and elegant. It is making something that wasn't possible before possible, and is structured in a way that is designed to make this foundational piece of finance owned by the people, not by a corporation.
We don't want to make easy and boring products like centralized coin swappers like changenow or simpleswap or scam webpages claiming Zero-Knowledge IoT support with Warren Buffett, IEO now! This is not good enough for us, and frankly is not good enough for you either. We proposed a product and set up an iterative funding plan. You supported us and we believed you!
We believed that we got all the love and support because you too want to be free. But it seems that all you care about is making 10x by hodling a shitcoin or two on Binance, and we were just another shitcoin in your portfolio.
Unless you show some action, unless you get more vocal, there will be no change. Building a people-focused project takes sacrifice. We are making ours. Are you making yours?