I recently attended the #B1June event in Washington, DC. After some time to reflect, I wanted to share some impressions and takeaways with you.
Being a free market advocate, Washington, DC isn’t exactly my favorite place to visit. That said, I appreciate the reasoning behind hosting Block.One’s inaugural event in the nation’s capital. When you have a $4B war chest and disrupting the status quo, you’ve got to play by the rules. I appreciate B1’s willingness to abide by the strict (and completely over burdensome) regulatory requirements, even if means that products are more slowly released. Building freedom and creating wealth is a tricky sea to navigate in the current low interest rate and fiat flooded economy. Making friends, or at least not enemies, in DC is a smart move. Congrats Brendan Blumer and team.
Before jumping in to the specifics, I’d like to reflect on the event itself. I had the pleasure to attend the London Hackathon and was *very* impressed. Being my first hackathon and B1 event in general, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the level of professionalism and attention to detail was obvious. So you can imagine I was quite excited to see the B1June event.
The venue was professionally branded and the open bar and appetizers were high quality and plentiful. The swag bags were amazing and I felt very taken care of. While the recommended dress code was “smart casual” it could have easily been cocktail attire. Large, interactive screens were everywhere displaying the B1 priority landscape and explaining their focus. One of the screens had was a scrolling timeline of tweets which used #B1June. It really gave the “community” vibe. Well done.
The presentation itself felt a bit short (~26 minutes), but very “Apple-like”. Brendan even wore a long-sleeve black shirt which you couldn’t help but be just a bit nostalgic towards Steve Jobs on stage blowing people’s minds.
Although everything was heavily scripted, there was flow to it and didn’t seem too awkward and kept a rhythm. Dan Larimer looked healthy and passionate with plenty of focus and determination. Entrepreneurs who build, learn, iterate and build again carry a level of pride that you can feel.
Ok, let’s get into the details of the presentation.
Coinbase — Banking, Liquidity and Education
The day before the event, we were treated with news that Coinbase.com had decided to include the EOS token in its retail product. While this type of news used to cause a 20% pamp in the token price, the excitement was much more subdued and thankfully so.
Fiat access and liquidity are essential to the health of any economy, especially an emerging blockchain-based digital token economy. Although many crypto supporters wish the legacy banking institutions dead, there are still very much a necessary part of capital flow and Coinbase seems to be a big fan of EOS and B1. It’s now possible to buy and own the EOS native token in Coinbase Pro, Coinbase Custody and their Coinbase retail product. EOS now has very strong support from one of the largest and most well-respected exchanges in the world. This is great news even if slightly underappreciated at the time.
Coinbase also created a short educational course targeted towards developers. It offers free EOS for taking and completing the course, but much of my excitement for it waned as I found it too technical for casual, retail users. I hope they create a non-technical facing educational course with the same EOS token reward incentive structure.
Overall, the Coinbase announcement was a little underwhelming since the news was already released the previous day. Nonetheless its remains a VERY integral and financially foundational building block to support a large digital economy. It’s bridges to the fiat banking world will make building much easier for EOS teams.
Yubico Partnership — Simple and Secure 2FA Hardware Authenticators
If you don’t already know, Yubico is the company which sells the leading hardware 2FA (two factor authentication). I’ve been using their compact USB hardware key manager for several years which adds additional security for Windows login as well as protecting my Lastpass, Facebook, Twitter and Google accounts. As the Yubico team mentioned on stage, a study was recently released and concluded that hardware 2FA solutions were the only proven way to prevent remote hacking, whereas other methods (SMS, email, Google Authenticator, Authy, etc) were all compromised to some extent. Let’s just say that they are very secure.
Hardware wallets aren’t a new thing in the blockchain and crypto space. Teams such as Trezor, Ledger and the upcoming Metro wallet from EOS New York are all competitors in the same space.
Dan Larimer correctly points out that in the future most users may never see their private keys, which I believe is true and a very good thing. Many (mostly Bitcoin Maximalists) believe the opposite and that all users should become familiar with and manage all their private keys. While ideal, this doesn’t seem to resonate with the user’s actual desires and doesn’t end up as best practice.
I can remember talk of Yubikey support in EOS ~1.4 or so, but it hadn’t caught much attention since. A professional partnership between B1 and Yubico as well as tight integration to allow for the Yubikey to manage EOS keys and directly allow users to sign transactions as simple as pressing a button on a USB key will add both simplification and security for end users. Two things desperately missing from most blockchain user experience.
I couldn’t close this section without mentioning WebAuthn. It’s basically a new authentication standard currently being adopted and many believe it will soon become very popular. The Yubikey partnership is expected to eventually allow EOS token holders the ability to sign for their blockchain transactions by pressing the button and using the Yubikey. I grabbed the following information from this blog post and I highly recommend you read it. Looks like multisig may become a lot more user friendly soon.
What’s WebAuthn All About?
Two-factor authentication (2FA) is something everyone likely is becoming increasingly familiar with. In security, authentication requires one or more of the following:
- Something you know, like a password.
- Something you have, like a cryptographic token or officially issued ID card.
- Something you are, like a person with a specific fingerprint or retinal pattern.
EOS 2.0 and EOS VM — Developed for EOS Smart Contracts
Dan retook the stage to get a bit nerdy for us nerds in the crowd. He explained how EOS 2.0 and the new purpose built EOS VM would increase the processing speed of EOSIO by another 6x, bringing it to a total of 12x faster since launching only a year ago. Until now, EOS used a general purpose built WASM Virtual Machine which had much slower execution speeds. With EOS VM, Smart Contracts would run much quicker and require less resources. Of course this is great news for developers and could carry quite a bit of significance as blockchain developers understand the growing completeness of the EOSIO dev environment. Dan is obviously making large strides to lure Ethereum developers into the EOS ecosystem. Game on.
Voice.com — Blockchain Social Media and Identity Layer
Since I interviewed a founding member of Steemit Inc back in the Summer of 2016, I had been obsessed with the idea that there was finally a blockchain that “ran in the background”. Most users of the Steem blockchain hadn’t a clue about the technical mechanics of how the Steem blockchain worked and I remained impressed throughout 2017 until Dan left and much of the vision and development ceased. That said, I’ve been looking forward to “Steem 2.0” and all the improvements that I was sure Dan would have figured out in the next iteration.
I’ll quickly include an example of such an iterative improvement included in Voice vs Steem. A common user-facing issue that Voice will solve is the need for resources management by end-users. This was an issue in Steem and many users would reach rate limits and basically be unable to use the platform. Voice.com will utilize the resource delegation feature which is expected to be released in EOS 1.8.
When Voice.com was announced, the crowd erupted. The day before, BlockOne purchased $35M USD worth of RAM on the EOS public network and it became clear that they were launching Voice on it rather than a sidechain! Such a relief to everyone who wondered if Dan’s previous statements of deploying on a sidechain would negatively impact the perceived value of the EOS token. Our fears were laid to rest as Brendan and Dan explained the vision and purpose of the new Voice blockchain application.
We hear daily outcries around current, centralized social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Most daily users never realize financial value for their attention and content. It’s very one-sided and the amount of personal information stored on each of these platforms is mind-blowing. Everything is tracked and we have very little control over our data or any way to see financial rewards.
Voice was surprising although reflecting back it’s quite similar to Steem with some very unique gamification added. Basically, every verified user of Voice will receive “voice” tokens each day (stupid government regulations allowing). Think of it as a “forever airdrop”, but only for users who were willing to submit their personal information and identify themselves and a real human (not a bot or a business).
When verified, you will be awarded a certain amount of “voice” every day in the form of a token. This token can be used to add support to blog posts and comments which you feel carry value and deserve more attention. If you love articles about B1June recap, then you could “voice it” and push it towards the top of the page. Not too different than making it to the front page of Reddit or basically paying to rank on the front page of Google.
Please allow me to explain the gamification approach a bit. This is just my understanding and is subject to change as Voice.com is released over the coming months.
Here’s a scenario:
Ashe posts an article on Voice.com detailing the perspective of “building freedom”. Since Ashe isn’t an influencer nor does he have a large reader base, the post has a difficult time gaining traction. Ashe decides to spend some of his Voice tokens in order to increase the visibility of the post which gets it in front of many more readers. Being towards the top of the page brings more eyes to the content.
Now that the post has readers, some find a lot of value and want to add “voice” to it by spending their Voice tokens. This continues to push the post further up the page/community and more views are found. The gamification is that each time someone re-voices the post, a few things happen.
- The user who just voiced the blog post will pay 130% of the previous Voice amount.
- The original author (Ashe) will receive a small cut (approx ⅓) of the newly added Voice tokens.
- The most recent person who voiced the post will be reimbursed + ⅓ of the additional voice tokens.
- The remaining third of voice tokens are burned creating a deflationary effect which will partially offset the the constantly inflating supply.
This cycle repeats until the very last person voices the post during a 24h period. After the time’s up, users will not be allowed to voice the post further. The last person to voice it will not see their tokens returned, but will have the pleasure of seeing their account name as the last person to add voice to a topic they feel is valuable.
The idea, says Dan Larimer, came from the early game on EOS called Pixel Master where pixels on a canvas could be bought and re-bought and only the last purchaser would not be reimbursed. It’s very interesting to say the least and BlockOne has effectively offered a platform where everyone is awarded voice everyday and has the option to use it to support people and ideas they deem valuable and important. I can hear the phrase now…”On Voice.com everyone gets a voice”.
I should also mention that “voicing” isn’t the only way to show support for a particular post or comment. Users will be able to “up-vote” without using voice tokens, but the details for this remain to be seen. There’s wasn’t much information around up-voting vs voicing, but Dan has mentioned that the number of users and amount of engagement will help determine both the inflation of new voice tokens and also their distribution. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
A common criticism of Voice is that users are required to verify their account or otherwise known as KYC (Know Your Client). This is a phrase commonly used in the banking industry (I know it all too well) and triggers many crypto/blockchain faithful. We must remember that the Voice.com platform is completely voluntary and no one is required to participate. Eventually the software will be open sourced and everyone is welcome to alter it and deploy their own iteration without KYC if they identify market demand.
That said, I don’t know about you but I’m tired of anonymous accounts and trolls on social media. They are everywhere, spouting their hate and vile without much recourse. On Voice, their mindless nonsense either:
- Won’t exist because they will never identify themselves thus won’t join.
- Will get lost in other more meaningful discussions which have attracted more support via Voice tokens being spent/burned.
When you risk losing your capital due to supporting a nasty comment that others aren’t willing to spend Voice tokens on, people may actually think about what they say online and we’ll find out how much actual support such ideas have when there’s a marketplace for opinions. Go ahead and voice that troll comment, but know that someone may not voice it after you and you’re out those tokens and the associated wealth.
Also, the “Identity Layer” that will be built and available to other dApps could be a game changer. Even though I’m a strong supporter of privacy, I also see a lot of opportunity to own your digital identity and offer it to others who you want to interact with or otherwise do business with. It’s a bit of a Trojan horse that many outside of EOS (as well within) don’t quite yet grasp.
After letting the B1June announcements sit with me for a week, I reflect back with a lot of appreciation. A very young company with a lot of talent and probably more money than they ever thought they’d control. All eyes were on them and any mistake would have been called out in the crypto media channels. Dan and Brendan did a great job and didn’t leave the door open for the FUDsters. Didn’t promise the moon, but showed their focus on strategic partnerships, fundamental blockchain building blocks, keeping their eyes focused on the end user and re-confirming their commitment to the EOS community by deploying on the EOS public blockchain.