When it comes to technology, never say never

Brian Hoffman
4 min readDec 5, 2017

Today we revealed updated plans for OpenBazaar as a project. No doubt many of you will have questions, be confused or angry, or be extremely excited. I’ve decided to post a few answers to questions here in advance to reference and save myself some time when they get repeated.

  1. Will users of OpenBazaar be required to use the new token?
    No. The token may at some point be enabled as an optional payment method on the network to purchase goods and services, but is intended to serve as the system for a secondary discovery layer on top of the core protocol at first.
  2. Why isn’t the token called OB Wans?
    I would prefer not to have to fight Disney over the legality of a token name.
  3. Weren’t you completely opposed to doing an ICO/token and even gone on podcasts to talk about the madness?
    Yes. As a project that prides ourselves on being extremely principled in terms of doing what’s right for the project and our users we fully intend to ensure that this token is taken seriously and creates intrinsic value within OpenBazaar by its addition. We debated internally for a long time before accepting venture capital funding and have done so for many months prior to announcing this news.
  4. Why are you choosing to build your token on Ethereum?
    As OpenBazaar makes the transition from a purely Bitcoin-based marketplace to one that works across multiple blockchains we feel that beginning to diligently evaluate smart contracts integration within our network is a prudent decision. Whether you believe that Ethereum is scalable or not (see Crypto Kitties), it is obvious that smart contracts will get better and more pervasive over time. Scaling is a huge issue we’re still very concerned about, but with so many efforts underway to address it via layer 2 or sharding or whatever it ends up being, we believe the situation will get better with time.
  5. Will there be a sale? How many coins? How much for a coin? Will there be a pre-sale?
    Not releasing more information about this at this time. It is more important at this time to refine and solidify the planning for the token and work to ensure that the intended benefits are realized and that the user experience post-integration will be top-notch just as we treat our other functionality. We will distribute more information once it’s finalized.
  6. What changed your mind in terms of tokens?
    Very early on in my experience with Bitcoin I have never had more than a limited exposure to altcoins, but saw them as almost a distraction to the more important work going on in Bitcoin. As the years have passed, and as OpenBazaar becomes more diverse in terms of the currencies and communities it supports, I have realized there is real (perhaps nascent) economic activity occurring on some of these other chains. This is not a bet the farm decision to switch entirely to an altcoin or rewrite the platform in Solidity. Having a native OpenBazaar token is one way to provide a more compelling reason for not just merchants to participate on the network but also for users and curators. Traveling the world I met so many people who asked if we would create a token so they could somehow invest in OpenBazaar. I still feel that the best way to invest in OpenBazaar is to use it, but the token we will deliver is yet another way that participants can earn digital currency by making the network better.
  7. Are you guys sellouts?
    I’m not sure what you the reader would define as a sellout exactly, but I do know that we have one of the hardest working teams in the space and have continued to focus on building great software and a healthy community. We’ve got amazing investors on board already and have responsibly taken their investments and returned value to the community. We see this as one of the steps to further decentralize OpenBazaar and make sure that our company OB1 is just one part of the overall network. Ultimately making OpenBazaar successful is more about the users than it is about us.

I welcome any and all feedback negative or positive about this change in position and hope that you will find our roadmap exciting and promising. Changing the way others think about decentralized trade sometimes requires introspection and updates in direction.