Forget 2018. That shit is history.
Bitcoin hasn’t yet made me financially independent or allowed me to quit my job and travel to the far ends of the world on my yacht. I haven’t bought any gold lambos or reserved my spot on the Virgin Galactic…yet. In fact I work harder than I did before I knew about Bitcoin, I make less money than I did years ago, I wake up in a cold sweat many nights worrying about things, and I sift through hate tweets and emails on a daily basis. There is one thing though that Bitcoin has brought me that is priceless: the freedom to work on something I truly believe in on a daily basis.
2018 was one of the most challenging years not only for me personally but also for our project OpenBazaar and my business OB1. The OpenBazaar team made some really difficult decisions that dramatically affected our year. I’m not really sure yet if they will pay off positively or negatively, but we feel strongly about the direction we’re heading and I’m optimistic that 2019 will be a huge one for us.
At the beginning of 2018 we were racing towards doing our own token and sale, trying to catch a headwind from the ICO craze, and felt we could successfully bring a utility token to market. With the mindshare of OpenBazaar we thought we could raise a good amount of money that would secure funding into the future. Our fellow USV portfolio companies Protocol Labs raised $257M in their sale. Blockstack raised $52.8M. Kik raised $100M. The list goes on and on if you include our other investors’ portfolios. We felt good about our chances and then we didn’t do a sale OR deliver a token! The market has dried up and we’re probably one of the only companies across the board who didn’t manage to cash grab.
What the fuck happened?
What happened was my team and I spent the whole year heads down working `buidling` OpenBazaar and growing our team with some truly great people so that we could accomplish our mission of free trade in a way that didn’t sacrifice our vision or violate our belief system. We still plan to incorporate a token into our future planning and have been working on it for a while now. You can see our code at https://github.com/OpenBazaar/smart-contracts and we’ve completed our first audit with OpenZeppelin and will be publishing the results of that audit soon. Details of how the token will be distributed and incorporated into the OpenBazaar stack will also be revealed in the near future so stay tuned.
Secondly this year after fees went crazy during the huge boom at the end of 2017 we immediately made a decision to move from a purely Bitcoin focused platform to a currency agnostic (as much as possible) so that we could expand the currencies available for free trade. We took a massive amount of crap from the community for pursuing this. Maximalists called us shitcoiners, shitcoiners called us ignorant for continuing to support maximalists. It seemed like the majority of the crypto community just wanted a punching bag and not a more flexible free and open source software solution. Regardless we soldiered on and are on the precipice of an entire infrastructure and architecture upgrade from our old wallet to a new wallet that supports many currencies and is expandable. This has been a massive undertaking, but one we feel will enable some really powerful benefits in the future.
The current wallet for Bitcoin is actually three separate wallets: Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Zcash. This means when a new user opens up an OpenBazaar store she must choose one of these currencies to accept and is then locked into that currency for its entire existence. If you want to accept BCH or ZEC you need to clone your entire store and run a whole other instance of OpenBazaar. Once version 2.3 is released users will now be able to accept all three currencies as well as Litecoin (and ETH soon after) in the same store, all on one instance. This is huge. Now you can buy and sell in all those currencies easily, swap between altcoins and those currencies using our crypto trading feature, and send and receive those coins all in the same wallet and the best thing of all is there are absolutely no OpenBazaar fees whatsoever.
We also want to publicize the fact that our new wallet can be used for other applications and services outside of OpenBazaar and is completely open sourced for others to use at their whim. You can find the code here: https://github.com/OpenBazaar/multiwallet. I’m hoping we can publish more information about how to leverage this great piece of software for new projects in the near future.
OB1 is currently working on some other exciting things for release this year, some not revealed and others like web-based OpenBazaar, which is already in progress. For years now we’ve heard how much better OpenBazaar would be if it could be used directly in the browser and not through some stupid desktop application. When we began this journey we knew the technology wasn’t there to support OpenBazaar in the way we wanted to via web. In fact we’re still struggling 4 years later to determine how feasible it is, but we are making great progress towards this exact solution. This year we hope to bring a truly decentralized web-based version of OpenBazaar to a release. All of our hard work is always building towards a better future for the network and we’ve spent a lot of time, money, and effort trying to get there.
I know that many people criticize OB1 and OpenBazaar for failing to deliver the promise we made in early 2014, but it’s been four years and I can honestly say I haven’t felt better about our prospects for success than ever before. Have we suffered from post-hype syndrome lost some of our public lustre? Fuck yes. All of the things you expect from being hot and than not have come true. Investor sentiment down (or plain absent), internal questions about direction, pivot proposals, and more have added noise to the already busy year. One thing hasn’t waned though, and that’s our team’s drive for excellence.
The leadership and team at OB1 and all of the contributors to OpenBazaar continue to persist through bear and bull markets to bring free trade to the world. We’ve brought on several amazing and talented team members who have made OB1 stronger than ever. We’re building amazing scalable search infrastructure for monitoring the network, improving and expanding our work with Protocol Labs on IPFS and libp2p technology, and there is much more to come.
If you thought OpenBazaar was just a failed Bitcoin project think again. OpenBazaar is free trade. OpenBazaar is a state of mind. It evolves as the world does. We embrace change and innovation. We are inclusive and not exclusive. We invite diversity of opinion. Our team consists of maximalists, agnostics, and even some who are skeptical of the whole idea and just find the challenge fascinating. We may not all agree on everything or even much at all, but we should all be able to agree on one thing and that is we want to see everyone on the planet be more free and be more successful, regardless of their membership in the lucky sperm club.
I look forward to surprising and delighting you in the next year. Hang on tight, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.