*Update 1.18.19 – A previous version of this article incorrectly stated in the estimated timeline for merged mining that it will be open publicly in August. This has been amended to reflect a more accurate date of April 2019. At this point, merged-mining will be open to the public.
After consulting with our new community manager and collecting feedback, we have put together four of the most prominent questions that have been raised regarding the future of Elastos. Our Co-Founder, Rong Chen, took the time to sit down and address each in detail. We look forward to providing continued transparency and communication.
1) Marketing: Can you provide an explanation of Elastos’ marketing philosophy? Who makes marketing decisions and what is your strategy?
A marketing philosophy can be described as the “how and why” of marketing. To me, what deserves more attention is the “what.” Only after understanding what Elastos is can we begin to consider how we are to present it to the public. What we are building at Elastos is an infrastructure that will evolve in its definition as it is built upon. I know many in the community want to compare the marketing of other projects to Elastos, but I believe what we are doing is best for our project and that our project is unique in this space and cannot be compared easily. We are doing something very different.
I am an expert in the OS ecosystem business and I know it requires a highly refined and esoteric skillset. It is not as straightforward as other projects and ventures. Some have asked to hire a CEO at Elastos, but I do not believe in this approach because we are not selling a simple product. There are two broad classes of companies in this space: security companies and utility companies. For security products (potato chips, phones, cars), clear marketing playbooks and CEO objectives are easily formulated. But for a public utility company (water, electricity, internet), marketing is best conducted by partners and end users – in other words, ecosystem participants. This is why we have devoted such great efforts to the inception of Cyber Republic. What we are building at Elastos is an infrastructure, an invisible framework of possibilities that ensures security and individual ownership rights – that is our utility- a safer and better internet.
The first web was started at the University of Illinois Lab, where the Mosaic browser was developed. I was there as one of the first grad programmers, and I can tell you that building a new internet infrastructure takes time. Still, time is of the essence; we are at the forefront of a race to develop the first modern internet, and we believe we are ahead of the competition and this is why we have prioritized finishing our tech. Though I see value in marketing, I know well that we need to first show what this new internet can do; we need to show the world our version of Mosaic. In our token sale, ELA token holders didn’t invest in the Elastos Core team, as they hold no shares for future dividends. Instead, they invested in the gold standard of the new smart web – the Elastos infrastructure. While Mosaic and Netscape disappeared only a few years after 1995, the web lived on. Therefore, as the Elastos SmartWeb lives on, ELA will last with or without the Elastos Foundation or the Elastos Core team. Thus, until our public utility is finished, our focus will remain on data-driven and technical marketing targeted at developers so that we can make our platform as robust as possible. We also plan on participating in some hackathons, developer summits and conferences.
When our technical utility is complete, we can begin to assess opportunities to create new strategies with external organizations or teams. I believe that each project can market themselves and thus market Elastos and I envision that teams will form in Cyber Republic that we will be able to help fund. No one markets water or electricity, they market products built around them. I see Cyber Republic as filling the role of a city council board where we will need to go to them for oversight and management and funding to allow our utility to succeed.
As for the decision making process, I take responsibility for the marketing philosophy and for the decisions of our strategic marketing initiatives. Though many others in the Elastos Foundation are responsible for executing various elements of our strategic marketing initiatives, all of us wear many different hats, and none is solely and directly responsible for strategic marketing. The Elastos Board and I delegate our primary marketing initiatives and I see to it that they are permeated throughout the organization. I also want to make it clear that Donnie Bullers is not in charge of marketing. Like most Elastos employees, Donnie has worn many hats and has done a great job in various areas. However, as we head into 2019, Donnie will focus on where his expertise and background are: in finance and operations.
2) Merged-Mining: Why is merged-mining not yet open to the public? Are technical issues holding back public exposure, or are there other relevant factors involved?
I would first like to confirm that our merged-mining operation is not being held up by technical issues. We are progressing rapidly in setting up a highly sophisticated hybrid consensus algorithm and I am pleased with our progress. In order to address why merged-mining is not available to the public, it is important to first outline the steps that remain in front of us. As most of you know, in our fully decentralized AuxPoW X DPoS consensus model, merged-miners create blocks, and democratically elected DPoS nodes – 12 of which are allocated to Cyber Republic representatives – provide a final sign-off to validate each one. At the moment, we are still yet to elect our 108 DPoS nodes and equip them with the proper hardware. Once we have accomplished this goal, we will be prepared to make available merged-mining open to the public. I have put together a rough timeline below that I, our developers, and the rest of our organization can stand behind:
→ January: Hardware needs to be prepared for 108 nodes
→ February: Supernode Elections begin. In these elections, 96 of the 108 Supernodes will be elected.
→ March: The 96 elected Supernodes will be equipped with the necessary hardware and prepared for their roles.
→ April: DPoS will begin running and Supernodes will sign off on blocks. The 12 Cyber Republic Supernodes will be managed internally at this stage, as we prepare for Cyber Republic Supernode Elections.
→ June: Cyber Republic Supernode Elections begin.
→ August: With the Cyber Republic Supernode Elections complete, our highly sophisticated hybrid consensus algorithm will be fully operational and decentralized. At this stage, merged-mining will open to the public.
3) US Team: How are you growing and transforming the Elastos Foundation and its role in the North American region? Concerning Elastos’ presence in the West, what are the project’s goals regarding the expansion of its team and platform?
I want to emphasize that Elastos is not a Chinese project; it is a global project. To me, the domain of the internet must be a borderless space. Elastos aspires to ensure that every individual has full access to the smart economy of the future. In order to make real this vision, we aim to create a powerful global platform without a geographic center. Even the small teams employed under the Elastos Foundation and Cyber Republic will not necessarily have an official office. Furthermore, it is our goal to continue to decentralize the geography of our DPoS nodes and Merged-Miners alike.
While some new team members may be added, the ultimate goal is for the Foundation to become smaller and to have the majority of its operations absorbed by Cyber Republic. However, at this early stage in our development, the Elastos North American team will continue to play an important role in supporting the Elastos core development teams and their technical developments, especially in the first half of 2019. By August 2019, when our hybrid consensus algorithm is complete and merged-mining is made publicly available, the 16 million ELA reserved for Cyber Republic will be transferred, and the Elastos Foundation’s role will begin its decline. While the Cyber Republic Secretariat and Elastos Foundation will both continue to hire a small team for things like PR and minor partnership relations, both will do so with the aim of remaining small, passing on their responsibilities, and paving the way for true decentralization. I am excited to envision the many teams and proposals that will begin to fill our platform, so that we can begin to outsource the shaping of our ecosystem to its most trusted owners: end users.
4) Financials: Does the Elastos Foundation have sufficient funding to complete the development of the Elastos infrastructure beyond the beta version and on to full release?
Yes, we absolutely do. Our funds and resources have been managed with tremendous responsibility and care. At present, we have enough funds to provide a runway in excess of 2 years for the Elastos Foundation. In my eyes, this is more than sufficient, given its gradually diminishing role in our ecosystem and project development process.
We are in the process of preparing to have an audit to be conducted in Q1 that will both reflect our commitment to transparency and confirm the reserves we have set aside to ensure the completion of our infrastructure and the population of our ecosystem. To understand our needs and the role our funds will play in the development of the Elastos infrastructure, I have provided the following development timeline below:
Calendar Year 2019: Our efforts will be centered on the technical development of our infrastructure and decentralized hybrid consensus algorithm. We will continue forward with some basic partnerships with DApps that see value in our platform and seek to explore its value offering. During this year, the Elastos Foundation will play an important role in raising awareness as to the rapid development and gradual outward expansion of our platform.
Calendar Year 2020: The whole smart new web will be officially operational in its initial form. At this stage, it will be our prime initiative to populate a strong Elastos ecosystem and explore full partnership synergies. We will also have the proper development tools set in place to make for an appealing environment for developers.
Calendar Year 2021: The Elastos ecosystem matures into an infrastructure composed of and operated by its community members. The community will shape the ecosystem in a distributed fashion from within Cyber Republic. At this stage, the Elastos Foundation’s role will be greatly diminished, if it plays any at all.