Looking Back to Move Forward
NavCoin has always been a community driven project. Launched in 2014 from the ashes of the abandoned Summercoin project, it was born again by devoted volunteers from the community and given a new direction and purpose. This start put NavCoin on a unique course which affords it to operate with its only agenda being to uphold the values for which it stands. NavCoin is not run by a company. It doesn’t answer to shareholders or a board of directors. It has no special corporate interests. It can’t be censored or co-opted and its direction rests solely on the shoulders of the group of willing participants who are involved in the project at any given moment.
When I first joined the project I was working a full-time job as web developer at an advertising agency. I did whatever I could to contribute in the evenings and weekends, learning as I went. Despite having just lived through the Mt. Gox crash of 2014 and watching the whole industry nearly burn to the ground, I spent every moment I could working on this project because I firmly believed in the fundamentals of Blockchain and of NavCoin.
Not only did I spend every spare waking moment working on NavCoin, I invested every dollar I saved from my wages into the cryptocurrencies which I believed would some day change the world.
For years we toiled away without pay, adding features, building services and promoting NavCoin, simply because we believed in what it was trying to accomplish. As is common with open-source volunteer projects, developers and community members came and went. By the end of 2016 nearly all of the original contributors had moved on to other projects, besides me and a few other steadfast community members.
As the industry’s valuation started to grow I found myself in a position where it was possible for me to spend less time working my day job and more time focusing on NavCoin. At the beginning of 2017 I was able to finish my contract work and focus full time on NavCoin and my new blockchain engineering startup Encrypt S.
As 2017 progressed I was able to hire people to work with me at Encrypt S, and my company became the most prominent sponsor of NavCoin Core and NavCoin related projects within the community.
It’s important to understand that even though Encrypt S was now paying employees to work on NavCoin, NavCoin firmly remains a community project and Encrypt S by way of my personal investments, philanthropically sponsored developers to contribute to NavCoin. A fact which felt like it got lost in the overwhelming noise created by the ICO craze of 2017. A time when billions of dollars were raised by crowdfunding and cryptocurrencies began operating more like corporate entities than open-source communities.
Over the last two years Encrypt S has been working tirelessly in plain sight and behind the scenes to ensure that NavCoin, like Bitcoin, is strong enough to weather any storm which comes its way. From our industry observations and specialist legal advice, the best things we could do was to further encourage decentralisation of development, increase utility / usability, remove any central points of failure, and make a clear division between the NavCoin protocol and any layer two products and services.
To these ends we rebuilt the NavCoin website in a way that means anyone can edit, update and maintain it through GitHub. We refocused the main NavCoin website to be about the protocol and created NavHub to house information about all great projects and services that operate on top of the NavCoin protocol.
We spent nearly a year developing and testing the NavCoin Community Fund which incentivises people to participate in the decentralised development and promotion of NavCoin.
We worked with US Securities Lawyers to prepare legal documents that analyse the history and current state of NavCoin and give an opinion whether or not NAV should be considered Securities under US law.
We retired the old NavTech Private Payment Platform and funded research of the ZeroCT protocol to replace it with an on-chain private transactions that don’t require mixing servers to be maintained.
We continued to drive wider adoption of NavCoin as a payment option throughout New Zealand and around the world.
We built development tools, wrote guides and articles, produced videos and education sessions, offered our assistance and generally did our best to educate and elevate the community to the point of becoming self sufficient and competent contributors to the NavCoin project.
All this while building and maintaining a lot of other great projects like NavPay, NavPi, Open Alias, and of course, continually improving the NavCoin protocol.
Often this mission to fortify NavCoin meant that we had to press pause other higher visibility projects for the sake of undertaking this foundational work as it arose. Some projects became de-prioritised and some completely shelved. Our reasoning being that ensuring the longevity of the NavCoin project overrides any other obligation we might have no matter how unpopular. It’s part of our duty as NavCoin Core contributors as laid out in the NavCoin Core manifesto.
While making NavCoin more resilient is a never ending task, we are very happy with where the project is currently. It is in the best shape it has ever been in and we couldn’t have got here without the unconditional love, support, help and involvement of the entire community.
I’m sure that everyone is aware of the pressure the current bear market has been putting on funding for all blockchain projects big and small. Even some industry’s big players like ConsenSys, Huobi and Bitmain have had to downsize their operations in recent months. Since NavCoin never raised any investment capital and Encrypt S is fully self funded through my own personal investments, my ability to self fund a full team 10+ of NavCoin Core contributors has been dwindling lately.
Over the last 6 months Encrypt S has been slowly downsizing the number of NavCoin Core contributors it sponsors while also seeking investment and revenue streams to help reinvigorate our involvement with NavCoin. So far we have been unsuccessful in securing investment and I’ve recently had to discontinue even more of our NavCoin Core sponsorships.
While I’m disappointed that Encrypt S must now operate at minimal capacity while we continue to seek capital, it is by no means the end of NavCoin, or even the end of the involvement in this project by the people who were previously employed by Encrypt S.
Myself and Alex are of course wholeheartedly committed to NavCoin and will continue to work on new developments and innovations for the NavCoin protocol and eco-system.
Matt, Rowan and Paul are all keen to keep up involvement and contribution as time allows around the edges of their contract roles.
Carter and Laura’s work has come to a natural end as they’ve finished the design and UX work we needed to keep moving forward with Kauri and Valence.
The NavCoin Core interns we’ve had over their summer holiday are starting back at University next week, which means they will be focusing on their studies, but will continue to contribute to the project as time allows.
Most importantly though, NavCoin is not just made up of the NavCoin Core members who were sponsored by Encrypt S. It’s a community and a movement which is stronger than ever. We have other developers within the community like Sakdeniz and Prodpeak who also spend their own time and money building websites and applications for this project. We have visual artists like Beekart, event coordinators like Spiritar, regional advocates like Nio and Chasethechaser, the heroes and moderators who are always willing to greet other community members with a smile, and we have each and every one of you.
If you have been part of this community for a while and always thought you would like to get involved, now is the time to show your support for this unique community project. Figure out what you bring to the table and put forward a community fund proposal for your effort.
Over the coming weeks, we will transition some of responsibilities Encrypt S had to other NavCoin community members and we will also be putting in Community Fund proposals to help fund some of the activities which Encrypt S had been sponsoring.
Alex will continue working on the ZeroCT implementation which is now sponsored by his Community Fund proposal. Myself, Alex B and Matt will continue to finish the first release of the NavDroid StakeBox in the coming weeks. Andreas and Hayden are putting the finishing touches on their Community Fund interface in NavCoin Core and are looking at what they can start to work on next. Possibly a Ledger integration or the Cold Staking interface for NavCoin Core.
The next priority for Encrypt S is to building some revenue generating products like NavShopper and the NavCoin ATM to help the business income subsidise NavCoin Core sponsorships. Once we have some of these smaller products launched, we will then restart the Kauri Companion project which will be one of our major focuses for this year.
We have also of course been working to secure investment into the Valence Platform to start the alpha build. It’s a big project which will take considerable time and resources to complete, so we are continuing to reach out to investor networks as we work towards securing funding for the project before starting the build in earnest.
It has been an amazing journey so far and we’re only just getting started. I now have this challenge at my feet of turning the knowledge, skills and networks we have built over the last five years into viable businesses. Ultimately the goal being to make Encrypt S less dependent on my own personal finances and less susceptible to the whims of the markets so we can steadily continue contributing as much as possible to NavCoin and Valence alongside the rest of the community.
I am looking forward to this next phase for Encrypt S. It means I will be going back to writing more code which for me is rewarding and productive. Even though it is somewhat of a new beginning for Encrypt S, I have been here before. It is pretty much how it was for the first few years for NavCoin, but this time NavCoin and its community is much stronger.
We can do this,