Substratum Team is Losing it’s Vision and Community
Why this once great idea has undergone a massive split in community
Let’s talk about it.
Substratum is a highly* ambitious project aiming to decentralize the web. It offers 3 main products that will complete the entire ecosystem. SubstratumNODE & SubstratumHOST will be the main core products allowing users to run a node and host and serve requests on the new decentralized web. Both are taking on multi billion dollar industries and are a very profitable venture with the entire web hosting services market estimated to reach $154 billion by 2022.
The additional products that compile the ecosystem, Cryptopay and the new Amplify exchange are still in development. Cryptopay was an original idea presented in the whitepaper, which will allow for the payment of goods and services, micro transaction payments from serving requests and provide a crypto to fiat gateway. There are many competitors some well more equipped in this field such as Coinbase Commerce to handle something like Cryptopay who already have the network effects and adoption to make this successful. It remains a concern as to how a smaller startup will make this work, we’ll get into that much later.
Amplify, the decentralized exchange which was recently announced will make up the third product to the ecosystem. Through Amplify, there will be a new token issued $AMPX, where it will be used as a fundraising mechanism for the tokensale and traded within the platform allowing for reduced fees with trades as well. I find this concerning to not use your native token as a fundraising mechanism, this shows a lack of confidence in its future generally. However I digress, the earning potential for Substratum node hosts will become much greater according to the team and a Reddit moderator within Substratum Network subreddit.
It has been said publicly as well by the team and Reddit moderators that the addition of a new token $AMPX will provide more value for the Sub token by driving users to the platform. Could it be the next google?
I tend to be on the opposing side of this claim as you can’t have a new token providing value for the first. A logical conclusion is that the addition of a new token will devalue the original token in an investor confidence perspective. People seem to confuse this psychological valuation as that is the largest driving factor to price, a new token will dilute the value of the original sub token. Period.
We will go deep into the project, it’s products, team, it’s community and much more finding the true vision of the Substratum ecosystem. I mean it must be exciting as even the moderator at a accredited investors event in Singapore liked it!
It has been and clear evident within the community that the recent announcement of another ICO wasn’t taken too well. While Mr. Justin Tabb the humble and admirable CEO and Cofounder of Substratum has been traveling the seas to Singapore, the community has became infuriated and its concerns are only ever so growing. One would think that there may perhpas be something wrong when concerns start to pop up left and right.
In this post a few days ago which reached #1 on r/cryptocurrency, a very thoughtful and insightful article was done drawing out major concerns on the Vision and focus of the company. Community backlash was so strong that the post became gilded twice with Reddit Gold. Meaning that it will be preserved in /r/cryptocurrency’s history. This requires a Reddit member to pay 4 dollars out of their pocket to gild the post. Considering this happened twice, that’s 8 dollars. In other words, someone thought it was worth more to spend 8 dollars on digital Reddit gold with no intrinsic value than buy 57 Substratum tokens at the time of the article. Truly remarkable.
In this post, a Reddit user started raising concerns about the recent announcement and new ico upcoming for the $AMPX token. It should be noted that community consensus ranked this as a top post and lots of community members were in agreement. What ensued was several damage control posts by community moderators spreading their “unbiased” passion on the project. Not that these same moderators hold several tokens and are not motivated to preach the sub gospel..
Telegram admin BWOLF of Substratum network community using damage control to suppress a trending article on reddit:
We can see there is clear confusion and anger amongst the community on this decision to have a second ico not even after a full year of the Substratum ICO. For the reasoning behind this Mr. Tab the CEO of Substratum released an update video shortly after the backlash on September 2nd. Linked below following a brief analysis of what is being said.
Justin Tabb, CEO of Substratum:
In order to deliver this in its own way, what we’ve done is basically come at the decentralized exchange from a different angle. In order to do that we need our own blockchain which will operate with a proof-of-stake consensus algorithm, and basically in order to do that we need our blockchain with our own coin, right?
You already have your own token. It’s called SUB, and more info about it can be found on CoinMarketCap here. At the moment, AMPX (the proposed new coin) and SUB are technically equivalent — they are both ERC-20 tokens. If the AMPX ERC-20 token can be migrated to a native blockchain, so can the SUB ERC-20 token via a 1:1 token swap off the Ethereum protocol. EOS, TRON, and ICON have all performed token swaps to their respective mainnets, so what makes SUB special in this respect?
The answer is “nothing”. There is no technical reason why SUB cannot be the native token on Substratum’s decentralized exchange, and the only reason for AMPX’s existence is to serve as a convenient fundraising vehicle for a second ICO before the original products promised in the whitepaper have even been finished
What we’re introducing is a NEW product, and for that it requires a NEW token, right? And so as part of that it will bring greater earning opportunities to people who run Substratum nodes in two ways. Number one, it’s going to greatly increase the traffic that runs over SubstratumNODE because that’s the way the decentralized exchange is going to communicate. Number two, if Substratum nodes want to, they can basically authenticate transactions on the Amplify blockchain, on the Amplify BridgeChain is what we’re calling it because it’s bridging a decentralized and distributed exchange, and so they can do that through a Substratum node, so it brings greater earning potential.
I digress. Mr. Tab is asking us if it requires a new token? I understand the incentivization model proposed here, but what I don’t understand is why a secondary token needs to be created out of thin air. The only reason AMPX has a forced and technically non-exclusive use case on the DEX is that its existence only came about due to the need for a second ICO fundraiser.
These comments stuck out to me the most and if you watch the video in its entirety no notice is given to the reddit and community backlash that have transpired. Oh well I guess, I sure wouldn’t want to be CEO of a company talking about it at a exclusive event while a article is trending on reddit but I suppose I’m in the minority.
*Full credit is given in this analysis and audio translation to @DecryptoBL over at https://decrypto.net/
It seems there is a present lack of community moderation concerns regarding the recent announcement. Several community members have came forward stating their confusion of the companies direction, which are valid opinions. All end with the same result, a permanent ban. We can also see a growing decline in telegram users as bans are ever so growing with those who don’t follow the “Substratumville” status quo.
One user on the substratum discord took it even as far to writing a personal letter to the CMO of Substratum, Christian Pope on these recent developments.
Christian responded to this stating a detailed response will be given in several videos, however not addressing the letter in its entirety as he doesn’t “speak for Mr. Justin Tabb”. A picture shown below details this conversation.
While this is understandable and good to know the questions will be answered, community sentiment towards the project has not stop growing with more concerns and reddit posts being made each day. It’s pretty bad when a community member goes out of his way to write a letter to the team and CMO anyways.. You don’t see that all the time. Very concerning to say the least.
Within the community however, the administration team and mods remain at large very positive despite seeing the recent transgressions. Around this point with several articles arising and questioning of the team one would begin to wonder that something is truly going on here that can’t be positive for investors. We see moderators continously preach the substratum gospel as if it is their meal ticket and the success is dependent on their well being. While remaining completely oblivious to the traction and gravity of the situation. Below are a few examples of damage control made on the original trending article on r/cryptocurrency.
Over the course of the year, the Substratum community management seems to be heavily focused on banning members. We can see this in several instances and it’s not a rare commodity by any means. It has continuously been criticized as being very aggressive and “trigger happy” towards users who don’t follow the Substratumville status quo. Here is an example of a fellow community member who raised concerns regarding the direction of the Company and it’s recent decision to have another ICO.
This was a screenshot sent to me by a close friend who is a long time supporter of the project. In this comment he presented a logical and rational concern but was deemed as “Fud” towards the project and was immediately banned by telegram administrator Zach Felds. This act of ban now and question later is unacceptable for a cryptocurrency project claiming to be “one of the most transparent” in the blockchain space.
“Most Transparent team in crypto”: https://twitter.com/drchristianpope/status/1034096861546733569?s=21
A community that actively silences people is just a echo chamber of positivity, where an alternate reality is formed and logic and reason can become misconstrued as “Fud”. This is exactly what we see within the Substratum Community telegram channel and it’s rather frightening. There should be an instilling of logic and contribution in the form of meaningful discussion. There will be people who don’t agree to everything, but that’s completely normal and it seems that this is not tolerated within any of the community channels.
As if a split in community and complete fear for the projects advancement moving forward isn’t enough.. The executives of the project have the audacity in hard times to show unprofessional conduct towards any opposing and factual arguments. Justin Tabb, CEO of Substratum made a comment in the main substratum telegram community asking moderators to “Ban his ass” referring to the author of the trending article that went viral on reddit. This is very unprofessional coming from an executive of a project aiming to fight censorship. Quite comical and ironic they are having moderators censor their community from opposing claims.
The response was due to this tweet that a user made while talking about his article to a twitter personality.
As if bashing community members and telling mods to “Ban his ass” is not enough.. Mr. Tabb has a history of hype and trying to rally his community of permanent residents in Substratumville. In one post he gave personal price predictions for the $SUB token, creating an imaginary narrative many residents within Substratum land follow to this day.
He also has a well established history of tweeting about $SUB token price throughout the year the project has been around.
It should be clear this is not normal for a CEO to do. He should be more focused on accomplishments and development of the network. Any promotion if any should be community members adding value to the ecosystem, publishing articles or an act that involves them going out of their way to spread positivity about the ecosystem. When there isn’t anything positive to write about however, we see damage control posts and several brigades on people with questions. Then in the social media channels a ban usually results within minutes. It’s a toxic mentality and very cultlike which I’ve grown to detest.
It is clear and evident that a deep sense of fear is ensuing within the executive team at Substratum as they feel threatened by the author. However, these type of comments made especially by the CEO of a multi million dollar cryptocurrency project are unacceptable and very unprofessional. There lies freedom of speech and press, which is a constitutional right and it’s ironic to see a company fighting censorship beginning to have its moderators censor information.
In case Mr. Tabb is unaware that others may have opposing views and can freely share them here is a link to the First Amendment of The Constitution. While we aren’t dealing with Congress, it’s rather scary to see an executive go after and censor “non believers” and logical, rational thinking people. Mr. Tabb is an American and the basic principles that are the foundation for the country he resides in and are god given rights to every American citizen, one would think those same principles would be practiced within journalism and widely supported by a American in general. However, this doesn’t seem to be the case in this instance within the Substratum community.
First Amendment of the Constitution: https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/first_amendment
What does a strong community look like?
A strong community allows for opposing arguments and concerns to be presented to add value to the community and reach new milestones and possible solutions to problems. The community should willingly create new content and voice their concerns openly, adding meaningful discussion and allow all these things to come together and create a positive image around their social media channels.
Within the Substratum community however, not only is this type of discussion not welcomed it is completely disregarded as “Fud”. Rather than writing articles and contributing with healthy discussion, price is discussed and any non positive comments are attacked with damage control brigades from moderators as I have shown earlier on. This is unhealthy for the project and very toxic.
Substratum ICO, Office and Original Vision
Substratum launched their ICO for their initial funding on August 14th and this lasted until September 17th of 2017. Their intial goal of $45 million was not met and ended up closing with $13,800,000 in funding from investors across the world. The initial token price for ICO investors was 1sub=$0.0817 or 3000 sub per ETH, with a 15% bonus on tokens for those contributing in the first week.
In total according to the whitepaper contributions made were 17,778.25 ETH, raised 154.6736 BTC , raised 232,105.45 XRP, raised 602.1433 BCH and raised 865.9953 LTC Raised. These totals were set to be allocated accordingly
- Ethereum (25%)
- BitCoin (25%)
- USDT (25%)
- USD Fiat (25%)
*It should be noted that the orginal bitcoin wallet for the crowdsale is nearly depleted and there have been suspicious activities going on within the ETH crowd sale wallet as of late (I will go much more in depth on this later).
The use of funds was to be dedicated in the following ways:
- Product Development: 60%
- Product Awareness: 30%
- Network Infrastructure: 10%
Crowdsale Wallet: https://etherscan.io/address/0xaf518d65f84e4695a4da0450ec02c1248f56b668
Substratum Office building
After initial funding was complete the team bought a office and established a headquarters for the project in the old town of Delaware, Ohio. I was unable to find the exact purchase date of the property, but it was an existing building that was built in circa 1850 and has been renovated over the years accustoming a retail space and setting. The address of the property is 23 N Union St, Delaware, OH 43015. You can still visit it today as there are workers and people there throughout the day.
The property itself has 3,240 square feet and before it was acquired by the team was listed for lease here: http://www.loopnet.com/Listing/23-N-Union-St-Delaware-OH/4550801/
Given the median for price per square foot of homes in Delaware, Ohio is about $134, this suggests this office was a costly venture totaling around $500,000. Which suggests that it is being rented out or leased. However, I could not confirm this.
*This value may be slightly more if including commercial property values and the various renovations and design that have taken place since the purchase.
Here are several photos of the office and it’s initial announcement to the public below.
Vision & Products
The original vision of the Substratum Network project was to build a decentralized web. Substratum NODE and Substratum HOST makeup and compromise the core ecosystem. Through these 2 products which work hand to hand to one another, users can run a node and browse the web freely in its entirety regardless of geographic location and restrictions. They are also incentivized to run a node and host on the new decentralized web through its earning potential in the form of traffic requests served and hosting payments. These figures still have not been calculated to this day, but it has been said that holding larger quantities of sub, geographic location and CPU would calculate higher earnings.
However, as of late with recent updates and a second ICO upcoming for an “related” project I think the team is putting off their original vision for this company. This is also clear and evident when lead developer Dan Weibe posted a tweet “Substratum host, which is really still off for the future” and half of the developers working on it will mitigate and work on the new project, the Amplify Dex.
It should be noted however the original idea of the project was intriguing and one of the most fascinating use cases of blockchain technology. However, I do not see why throwing the core products in the back burner and designating half of your dev team to mitigate and work on a new exchange is logical. It seems the focus and vision is being changed and learned as they go. On another note, it’s equally disturbing seeing the lead developer asking questions about how the great firewall of China can be worked around and “How do they do it?”. If anyone should know it would be a team that is actively working on stopping and creating a solution to global internet censorship. Truly remarkable.
Cryptopay was also in the original vision as well and whitepaper. I think a more appropriate name could have been given such as Substratumpay but perhaps I’m in the minority. Cryptopay aims to be a solution for crypto to fiat conversion and be a real time payment processor for merchants wishing to use the service. Also, the team seeks to utilize this service for node payments and hosting micro transactions. Through this businesses will not have to hold bitcoin as with its immense volatility, it can cause the business to lose money if they accept a purchase in the form of BTC and it tanks in price moments later. What’s being imposed is a real time instant crypto to fiat settlement, that will greatly enable merchants to accept cryptocurrency as a means of payments for everyday goods and services.
However, they are getting into stiff competition with giants like Coinbase commerce who will enable this service and will be completely feeless. It should be noted as well that Coinbase is already on the route to “Creating an open financial system for the world”. They have the top and massive network effects and liquidity to make this become a true success and a useful feature to their platform. They will likely use this tool as a free one, allowing businesses to convert crypto to fiat real time and instant, utilizing their exchange and driving in more volume. It remains a serious concern in my opinion, how a small startup can compete with a giant like Coinbase.
The Amplify Exchange or “Product 3” has been said to be the decentralized exchange that the team is adding to the Substratum ecosystem. We now have much more information regarding this and how it works. Through Amplify, the team will assign half of its current dev team working on Substratum Node and Host to mitigate to this new product. There will be a tokensale and SUB will not be accepted, rather BTC and ETH. These two things are quite concerning and do not make much sense.
In a recent update, a little while since I first started working on this article the team has came out with a new video regarding how Amplify works.
Justin goes to explain how Amplify will be a bridge chain and the team will utilize and build their own blockchain for it. It will be a multilayered distributed exchange and a decentralized exchange all in one. How can this be possible? How can Amplify be a truly decentralized exchange if funds have to be sent to a centralized source?
Here is the definition of a decentralized system in case Mr. Tabb is unaware as it seems he does not fully understand and grasp how it works. “A decentralized system is one which requires multiple parties to make their own independent decisions”. In such a decentralized system, there is no single centralized authority that makes decisions on behalf of all the parties.
This is rather odd and very concerning coming from the CEO who is apparently clueless on tech. This is clearly a distributed exchange with a little twist. Certainly not a decentralized exchange! Justin is just trying to convince nontechnical people with UX and UI. I would love to see more technical details with a usecase diagram and much more documented details.
The Team and Community
The history of the project and its team’s past experience is rather shrouded in mystery. While we see transparency we can’t glean and make light of some of the claims such as the past company CEO, Justin Tabb worked at. In his biography which can be accessible down below he makes a claim saying his old company he founded and was in charge of OverridePro had noteable clients including but not limited to HP, Apple and many others. It is hard to validate these claims as the old site to said company is no longer available now that he is a full time CEO of Substratum. However, giving him the benefit of the doubt if any work was done with these companies it was likely minimal and done for some small unknown department in Apple or HP etc.. I don’t wish to speak falsely of Mr. Tabb but this remains a unknown and we just have to go with what’s being told.
We're a tight-knit group with experience across multiple industries and a singular passion for helping change the world.…substratum.net
*Also it should be noted that since this claim has been made and regarding his past experience at OverridePro… It seems they forgot to update their web hosting on their site. Linked below:
Bluehost - Top rated web hosting provider - Free 1 click installs For blogs, shopping carts, and more. Get a free domain…overridepro.com
The team’s motto is “We’re rooted in technology”. The founding Substratum team originated from OverridePro which was a web development company with experience working with larger brands that embrace technology.
The other members of the core team have very extensive backgrounds and years of experience within the software industry. At first glance looks pretty nice and appealing however there are a few abnormalities and people who could be better fits perhaps in another setting. I’m talking to you Justin and Christian.
Criminal Records & Red Flags
There are quite a wide selection of red flags and criminal records for the CEO of the project, Justin Tabb. He has 2 charges listed. One being a purchase of Cannabis while on Probation. Seems it took someone a while to learn and they took the hard way into learning from ones mistakes. I don’t fault him there but there is another charge listed as burglary while on probation. Of all things to do on probation why would someone buy cannabis and burglarize a residence. Adventures of a very well misspent youth. Here are the records linked below:
He also provided a response to this charge publicly which was rather well, I’ll leave you up to decide that. This was made to the YouTube video Vincent Briatore put out detailing red flags he saw within Substratum.
Justin Tabb’s response to the video:
Apparently this video really struck a chord with Justin. Here is another red flag that is presented regarding the overly hyped CNN documentary.
This was changed several times and ultimately to this day has still not came out. It was changed from CNN to Fox. Then, it got changed to being a feature on the Success Files with Rob Lowe. What we got instead was a 30 second infomercial that had the wrong website address for the project. Very disappointing and wrong on the teams part to make such a simple mistake.
Then we had the coinbase announcement “hack”. The twitter page was “hacked” for 14 minutes and what ensued was a massive pump and dump. There have been some suggestions that this was an inside job as there was an outgoing transaction of 145 ETH that was obfuscated leading to several large buy orders. But, I digress.
The Team’s official response was given here:
Also, we saw several past mentions of John Mcafee promoting the coin many times. This led to more pump and dumps in price and Mcafee is a known figure who is paid to promote tokens. The Sub Team refuses to say they paid for this but why would Mcafee promote it so heavily?
As I have highlighted earlier regarding unprofessional character the Substratum CEO is obsessed with price. This is a huge red flag and no CEO should posting things like this.
Lastly, it is apparent that Mr. Justin Tabb is clueless about tech in this post he tries to articulate what a open source project is and goes on to say: “We don’t do anything half ass”. Remarkable.
There is an extremely large amount of cultism within this project that make its community toxic. This is not apparent to the moderators within it as their undying faith and ultimate meal ticket lies within the project. You cannot ask logical questions and state concerns without getting banned. You show frustration? Instant ban. This is unhealthy and severely detrimental for a project that is trying to become a pioneer in this space, creating a truly censorship resistant and allowing for information to travel freely through the decentralized web. It’s also quite ironic a project trying to fight censorship is censoring its members, but I digress. Linked below are several instances of cultism and a lack of understanding from moderators and community members living within Substratumville.
Substratum moderator Bwolf, ignoring a concern which is rather logical regarding the teams allocation of members working on each project. Seems to be a blind faith mentality that is being imposed here, unwilling to lose the tiniest bit of trust of this project. That will get you rekt in life and is very unhealthy, never place trust in others completely and wholeheartedly especially when tens of thousands of dollars are on the line.
Here I was accused by a Substratum moderator of having two twitter accounts when another community member was expressing concerns. Which I don’t lol… It’s rather strange seeing the moderation team’s reaction to others who have concerns. They seem to think the audience is rather small that is not confident about the project and say that I am creating another account to “fud”. Quite comical, I can assure you my account listed @wbm_97 is #TheRealWill.
Telegram admin Bwolf attacks one post that is expressing concern for the upcoming AMPX ico. This was a valid point by Brian, where he showed concerns about the ico not accepting $SUB but rather ETH and BTC. Why would you not accept your native token? Generally that shows a strong sense of a lack of trust in its value. Bwolf entered a tweetstorm with the post making 11 different ones, praising the true sub gospel.
I am by no means calling this project a scam. I do however think there could be some team members that are better suited to work in a centralized setting. Justin’s remarks and lack of professionalism, tweeting about price and censoring members is very disturbing. Christian Pope, who said publicly he was going to hire a marketing team and begin writing more articles has not done either of these two things. Brian Li, who has written a few articles has a higher SEO rating than any other Substratum article put out. When someone goes to search AMPX ICO on google they will find Brian’s article and images of Justin telling a mod to “Ban his ass”. It’s clear Christian Pope is not good at his job and was hired on likely as being friends with Justin. I have not seen any clear indication of what exactly he does so I feel confident in that claim.
On a more general note, Substratum’s goals are constantly evolving before a release of ICO #2. I would feel 100% positive about this if they released Node V1 and a Crypto pay beta, however this is not the case and there is nothing to showcase going into ICO #2. There’s also the whole thing with them not accepting the sub token for the ICO. This shows a lack of trust in the token as only BTC and ETH will be accepted. It is clear and evident that the Substratum team is losing focus and vision for this project moving forward.
Disclaimer: I am no longer invested in the SUB token, I sold this at 50 cents and started feeling concerned with constant promises and lack of things getting done. However, I still have been a long time supporter of the project and you can see from my past articles written about it. These concerns and a second ICO with nothing to showcase is baffling to me. As each day goes by Justin continuously puts up more videos to deal with the PR disaster they experienced only a few days ago. I’m not calling this project a scam, but do your own due diligence and if you agree with my points make a decision 👋🏼
@wbm_97 via twitter
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