On the 24 May 2019, Picolo Research released an independent review report on Harmony (ONE). View the full report here.
An Open Consensus for 10 billion people
Harmony is an open infrastructure adopting sharding technology to scale trust for billions of people worldwide. The platform is designed to power high volume decentralised economies, at the same time addressing several problems that are prevalent in existing projects. Harmony will be the first sharding-based PoS blockchain to launch soon.
Incorporated in 2018, with its core team in California, Harmony has the vision to create an open consensus for 10b people globally and create a radically fair economy. Utilising a sharding model, the project seeks to create a scalable blockchain that is energy efficient, powering decentralised economies of the future.
Here are several issues that the project seeks to resolve:
- Full scalability using sharding technology not just on network communication and transaction validation, but sharding the blockchain state as well
- True randomness for secured sharding
- Energy efficiency as most sharding-based blockchain utilise PoW
- Adaptive threshold PoS model to deter malicious stakers
- Fast propagation of blocks across shards
- Consistency of cross-shards transactions
Commercial & Technical Strategy
Harmony’s key innovations lie on both the protocol and network layers on the blockchain, which includes an in-state sharding model and peer-to-peer (P2P) networking features. Harmony will enable high transactional volume projects to build dApps and marketplaces for gaming, exchanges, AI sectors, etc., on their platform. They will also preserve consumer’s privacy using zero-knowledge proofs for data sharing.
Several core features of the platform include:
- In Sep 2018, Internal testnet results recorded speeds of 118,357 TPS on 41k machines across Amazon, Google and Microsoft Cloud servers.
- Efficient broadcasting with Kademlia-based routing and Erasure Code to achieve a Block-sync time of 1.36s
- Fast Byzantine Fault Tolerance (FBFT) consensus protocol improved from PBFT using BLS (Boneh-Lynn-Shacham) multi-signature.
- PoS-based full sharding scheme
- Unbiased and unpredictable node selection using Distributed Randomness Generation (DRG) coupled with Verifiable Delay Function (VDF) and Adaptive-Threshold staking system
- Shard Chain and Beacon Chain infrastructure to validate and process transactions
Harmony has tracked their milestones very closely, completing several testnet that had significant results. This adds credibility to their upcoming mainnet launch that will occur in a month.
The project compromises of a lean team of 13 employees, with combined experience in academic research, AI, blockchain, VR and compilers. They have been involved in creating some of the World’s top technology, that includes Google Map, Apple Siri, and AWS.
Stephen Tse (Founder, CEO) — 13+ years of experience, an expert in cryptographic protocol and compiler. Prior experience includes Google, Spotsetter (acquired by Apple), Apple, and Voice AI. He graduated with a PhD in Cryptographic Protocol, type theory, functional compiler from the University of Pennsylvania.
Nicolas Burtey (Co-Founder, COO) — 11+ years of experience with a background in processing VR video content. He founded Orah, a Video stitching software for VR, and worked for DxO Labs prior. He holds a Masters in Image Processing from Ecole Nationale Supérieure Louis Lumière.
Alok Kothari (Co-Founder, Engineer) — 9+ years of experience and expert on deep learning modules. Prior experiences include Apple (Siri Engineer), AdElement, and a research assistant for Carnegie Mellon University. He holds a Master’s degree in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University.
Rongjian Lan (Co-Founder, Engineer) — 9+ years of experience and Co-Chair of ABC Blockchain Foundation. Prior experiences include Google (software engineer), co-founder of Joobali, Fellow at FDA, and a research assistant at Peking University. He holds a Bachelor of Engineering from University of Science and Technology Beijing.
Garlam Won (Head of Marketing) — 8+ years of experience and currently Head of Global Partnership with ICONIZ (Blockchain VC). Was a consultant in Trindent and Deloitte, and worked in companies such as Idea Couture Inc, Ruby, Financial Street New Media, and Tip Blockchain.
Addition team members include:
- 4 Engineers
- 4 Business Development & Marketing
There are currently 4 advisors for Harmony.
Hakwan Lau (Advisor) — Professor @ University of California, specialises in neuroscience and machine learning
Ky-yuet Liu (Advisor) — Professor @ University of California, specialises in medical data, network analysis
Zi Wang (Advisor) — Founder @ Quantum Bakery, worked on Google Chrome, Google X, Andriod and Nexus prior
Bruce Huang (Advisor) — CEO @ Madailicai, prior lead engineer @ Microsoft
Several investors participated in Harmony previous rounds. Some notable ones include:
Lemniscap — An investment and advisory firm specialising in investments in emerging crypto assets and advising early stage blockchain startups. Past investments include Algorand, BitMax, Blockcloud, Carry Protocol, Cosmo Chain, Ankr, Sentinel Protocol, Spacemesh, Kava.
Consensus Capital — A fund dedicated to blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and initial investments in Internet financial service projects. Past investments include EOS, OmiseGO, Filecoin, ChainLink, Zilliqa, Fortuna, Pchain, Nebula AI, Edenchain, Dfinity, Vite, Hero Node, Essentia.
BTC12 Capital — Investing only in innovative blockchain foundation projects, DAPPs, and peripheral applications from around the world, dedicated to driving the value of the Internet new economy. Past projects include Nano, OmiseGo, Loom, Qtun, Ocean Protocol, NKN, ChainLink, POA Network, Raiden Network.
Harmony raised a total of $18.3m (seed) in prior capital raising rounds. Total token supply is fixed with ~35% allocated for all token sale rounds.
The main token functionalities of ONE are of 2 folds:
- Currency/ payment transaction — ONEs circulated on the network will be used as a unit of exchange to quantify and pay fees
- Staking/ Mining — Users will be able to earn block rewards and transaction fees in proportion to their voting shares
Harmony has a total of 12 partners that will help them grow the business. Several notable partners include:
Animoca Brands — Publicly listed gaming company working with Harmony on non-fungible gaming assets and collectables
GSVlabs — An innovation centre connecting entrepreneurs to resources they require
Hyperion — A Decentralized mapping platform that will build its map layer on Harmony
Rymedi — FDA-approved medical tracking company that will utilise Harmony infrastructure for its tracking system
Timeless — A calendar app using Harmony to build an open marketplace for its services
Community Engagement / Social Media
Harmony has quite a sizeable marketing and business development team. The project has extensive usage of social media and has 10 different language communities globally. They constantly provide updates on Twitter for the community, developed educational and newsletter content on their Medium channel. The team also announced a $1m technical bounty program to grow its developer ecosystem.
Here are the project social media statistics as per the report date:
- Telegram (English) — 12,600+ members
- Twitter — 11,500+ followers
- YouTube — 1,500+ views
- Medium — 827 Followers
- Facebook — 348 Followers
- The platform achieved 118k TPS with a block-sync time of ~1.36s
- The project adopts a robust distributed random model that decreases biases and predictability
- Energy efficient sharding infrastructure that utilises PoS versus PoW
- Rigorous testnet stages produced results that are on par or better than existing solutions
- Strong team with a well-mixed experience in various fields, members are very active on Github too
- Good deal structure with low hardcap ($5m), and a low initial market cap of $9.72m as compared to its peers
- Seed investors have 25% tokens unlocked at TGE
- Most partnerships will have a subtle impact, with the exception of Animoca and Hyperion
- The project’s desire to improve almost all weaknesses in sharding technology might prove too difficult to be realised in reality
- Improving current sharding technologies — There are several opportunities to improve current sharding solutions such as Zilliqa and QuarkChain as these platforms 1) utilises PoW to select validators, 2) have non-robust random functions, 3) not sharding the blockchain state, and 4) vulnerable to single shard attacks. With Harmony’s PoS mechanism and key innovations in state sharding, there are opportunities to improve sharding technology to another level.
- Intense competition within the sharding space, aside from Zilliqa and Quarchain, there are still others such as EOS, Dfinity and MultiVAC.
- The practical adoption of sharding technology is still very raw with established projects struggling to generate adoption and make things work
In Conclusion, Picolo Research presents a ‘Spec Buy’ and 3.5 stars rating on Harmony. The project is seeking to improve current sharding technology by implementing proprietary technologies at every layer of the blockchain network. In addition, the team has conducted several phases of testnet to determine the robustness of its platform, which produced significant results.
Overall, for the reasons listed, Picolo highlights several reasons that affirm our rating:
- Novel technology that improves current sharding solutions, and realising energy efficiency through PoS rather than PoW
- Testnet achieved 118k TPS with a block-sync time of 1.36s, a significant result as compared to other established projects
- Well-balanced team with complementing experiences
- Mainnet expected to be launched in a month
- Good deal structure with a low initial market cap ($9.72m) relative to their peers, providing upside price potential
Not withstanding the above, Picolo acknowledges several concerns of Harmony. Intense competition within the space could plague the project and dampen adoption. Furthermore, deploying the technology in the real world contains a high level of uncertainty at the moment, especially applying innovations at every layer and combining them to make it work. Also, having 25% of seed tokens unlocked at TGE could drive greater price volatility in the short-term.
In light of the preceding, Picolo Research affirms a ‘Spec Buy’ rating on Harmony.