Revisiting the “what” and the “why” of our offer
What value does Holo offer its participants? This question arises more frequently and becomes more important as the Holo ICO progresses. We’ve written about our Ethical ICO before, and the fact that we’re actually offering community rather than coins. The barrage of folks asking us how they can make money on our ICO and the actual offerings we’ve been fielding from crypto-big whigs has inspired a mini-revival in thinking about value, currency, investment, and stakeholders.
Currency and Value
Don’t be mistaken: the founders of Holo are rare birds in the crypto-world. Why? They have been DESIGNING CURRENCIES since the dotcom bubble. I typically think that projects, especially run-of-the-mill token-based ICOs, are formed by brilliant technologists. Absolutely brilliant. But are they currency designers who have successfully designed, advised, and implemented numerous targeted and municipal currencies all over the world? Do they know how to design for value stability? Do they know how to choose between the formulaic token economics they know will make them and their buddies a quick buck, and dynamic models that will better serve the delivery of their product? The answer is no. Actually, it’s “hell no”.
In a (2013) article inspired by his anthropological investigations on the elusive notion of “value”, David Graeber uses the hard-hitting, altogether necessary title “It is value that brings universes into being”. Value is not a quick return on investment. That is money. Value is tethered to our imaginations, and so in a certain way is what we have to lean on if we want to heed the call to use our imaginations to envision better futures. Livable futures. To be blunt, the Holo/Holochain crew are the people from whom I learned to distinguish between money and value. A distinction so crucial to our becoming-post-capitalist world comes from decades of work in the Metacurrency group, and it bears mentioning that much of the team has been consistently working toward creating a Post-Monetary world of Regenerative Economies.
Forms of Impact and Non-Monetary Wealth
I’m a fan of the MetaImpact Framework that cites four types of impact: clear, high, wide, and deep. I’ll focus on clear impact and high impact, since we boast plenty about our deep and wide impact, which pertain to social, cultural, spiritual, psychological, and knowledge-based impact. We grow our community, develop culture around the Holochain vision, share knowledge related to app development and economies of solidarity, and our >1500 person community begins to relate to each other as harbingers of a more equitable digital world. Quotes like the following from one enthusiast, Jon Paprocki, say it better:
…It is already clear that the friendships I’ve made in the short time I’ve been in this sphere will be lifelong and priceless. The alignment in knowledge seeking and values are deeper than any technological project…My honest opinion after spending the past 3 months or so learning about it and talking to many people, as well as having observed the crypto sector since 2010 and generally thinking that most ideas were incremental and that we were still missing something very important, is that this project will be the one to really change the world. They found the missing piece to make distributed computing an unstoppable capitalism-destroying society-elevating juggernaut.
Understandably, we want to make as visible as possible the many different forms of capital our project stands to generate— much like blockchain-based projects that leverage social impact bonds, like ixo. A participant shouldn’t expect anything less from a project that is avowedly not-for-profit but for the good of our societies. So, let’s stick with clear and high impact to demonstrate that projects like this, with clear social and spiritual value, nevertheless dance in interesting ways with more traditional measures.
Clear Impact and Concrete Community
Clear impact measures change in stakeholder performance, using things like skill assessments, analytics, and various KPIs. Health and human capital arise from this type of impact, and aim toward the betterment of physical wellbeing, skills, and behaviors of people — human capital is more relevant for us at this stage of the game.
If you’re looking for objective metrics of our performance, let the first display of clear impact come from our crowdsale which included the sale of crucial pieces of the ecosystem to 1,323 backers from 57 countries, we grew a committed ecosystem to form the basis of our ICO mechanics.
When I think the combination of health and human capital, I think community. And the last thing I’d want is for this word to become a soft, fuzzy, buzzy marketing term. To us, community is people we keep in touch with. People we co-host events with. Folks to whom we’ve offered hackathons, developer trainings, and app design consultations. A large part of the reason Holo’s team is a bustling > 30 person tribe-like entity is because we are holding all of these relationships. Rest assured, maintaining a community is no easy feat. We’ve found it to be nearly antithetical to simply selling a coin in now-traditional fashion.
Why? Community over hype involves being careful about promises, refusing to favor big investors over others, and building a strong base for longevity and adoption. After all, Holo exists in large part to make it possible for thousands and thousands of eventual Holochain apps to reach adoption and ease-of-use for end-users. Just as speculators are both ideologically captured and functionally enabled by the dream of decentralization, our invested community members rely on an inter-subjective narrative that participants both believe in and tangibly benefit from. And, because of our faithfulness to our words, and commitment to long-term viability, a get rich quick narrative will inevitably exclude most…leaving the delicate faith in the network to disintegrate.
High Impact and Global Sustainability
High Impact measures change in stakeholder systems (e.g., supply chains, cash flow, customer engagement). Manufactured, natural, and financial impact come into play here, and relate to the exterior aspects of social and natural systems. If you’re looking for systemic criteria to track organizational and market dynamics, let the first display of high impact come from our benchmarking estimations and architecture that decreases energy expenditure of blockchain by a factor of a million.
You’d think that social impact ICOs like ours would be a perfect fit for blockchain enthusiasts who advocate for the principles of transparency and disintermediation. Nevertheless, as Rochelle Olviga points out, social impact ICOs require tireless education…educating traditional impact investors on the crypto-space and educating crypto-folk on impact investing. And this is without counting the education of hoards of newbies, developers who are actively learning Holochain and using its app-scaffolding engine. If we weren’t a pedagogical bunch, we’d probably be exhausted by now.
We join an estimated total of 440 blockchain projects for social impact. A rough estimate shows that only 11.4% or 50 of these projects are tokenized or are preparing for ICO. Clearly, there are many blockchain projects for social good that have found it difficult or unnecessary to do an ICO at all. Many opt for more traditional forms of funding. Bold as it may be, we want to start another new trend. Why should we keep these spaces separate — money for money’s sake, and money for social good? As tough as it is to break new ground, we’re happy to flaunt our post-blockchain tech, whose energy efficiency knocks the socks off of other distributed ledger technology. When your product combines energy-efficiency with ultra-cheap scalability, it makes sense to appeal to the (falsely dichotomized) eco-sensitive and the business-minded alike.
With the 2030 deadline and US$2.5 trillion annual budget set for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), there is an urgency to take action. An executable road map for reaching these goals includes many mentions of Holochain as its cryptographic fabric, thanks to the collaboration between Cameron Burgess, Astrid Scholz, Arthur Wood, Audrey Selian, and our own Jean M Russell. Likewise, Holochain has been called upon by the Reporting 3.0 team whose “Blockchain for Sustainability” panel was successfully Holo’d by yours truly.
As for financial impact? In my mind, the most important thing to recognize about the value of participating in Holo is that you are taking part in the creation of a new asset class. It is this asset-backed currency, Holo fuel, and its infrastructural value to future asset-backed currencies, that brings the real zing. It’s tough for folks to understand that what you get from our ICO is not an ETH based token, but a currency that gets stronger as ETH gets less and less reliable. Let’s not forget that asset-backed, value-stable cryptocurrencies have the potential to create a reliable backbone for useful exchanges in the face of failing monetary institutions and crumbling governmental organizations. But that’s a pretty heady topic for another post.
Moreover, the bigger our raise, the more apps developers stand to benefit. Since we’re building an App Ecosystem irrespective of whether or not we’re rolling in money by the end of the ICO, our raise goes mainly toward financing and incubation. Contra to exploitative hackathons and the dark underside of open-source, our concern is to take care of the needs of our first developers and marketers.
Conclusion: Who Invests in Holo?
Primarily? Our employees, who have been fostering this vision from anywhere between ten years and ten weeks. After all, 25% of the tokens minted during the ICO go to those of us who have been at it full time — not only as payout from the project, but also for funding the creation of basic apps and continuing the work of growing out the ecosystem. Following them, we have backers who are not at all anonymous, but very active in the community. Most of these backers are the very designers, engineers, and social activists who have already been backing us with their time and their enthusiasm.
We view ourselves as joyfully disrupting both the centralized architecture of the current web and the irresponsible facets of the decentralized, blockchain-based net. Where the first is concerned, I can’t express enough the fact that the Cambridge Analytica uproar is simply business as usual in the sense of squeezing value from public spaces for the twinned purposes of capitalization and manipulation (that is often, but not exclusively, to the detriment of the lives of those whose attention and sociality is capitalized).
If you find it valuable to society to be able to create public, digital spaces that nevertheless have programmed rules and regulations to avoid the particular abuses to which we are accustomed (platforms that are addictive by design, digital neo-feudalism, a decentralized alternative that has developed businesses, ICOs, 81% of which are scams), then invest in this world! The human and infrastructural components of a decentralized Internet, while not glamorous (one might even say this is the dirty work), is what Holo’s ICO offers.
Participating in Holo can be viewed as a long-term investment in a carefully tended ecosystem of hosts, developers, and users. Where proofs-of-concept validate the technical side of products without speaking to the business model or user experience, and minimum viable products already signify real users and market traction, the case of Holo is unique. Sure, we have proof-of-concept apps. Yes, we’ve had positive feedback from developers new to coding on Holochain. Most importantly, though, is the crowd — digital tools are valuable when there’s a crowd large enough to co-create them, and, really, a crowd to connect with, period.
Many larger investors whose pockets are as deep as their love for ICOs are still limited by our mechanics of max 10% daily supply per person. Some don’t care about our intentionally low cap, either, but they turn away because we have no vesting (this article explains why, but frankly, it just doesn’t apply). Another unusual bit is that we have no early discounts, no pre-sale, no pre-ICO…nada. This is bound to be a shame for the 50, 80, or even 100% discounts that crypto-investors are used to receiving as compensation for the legal/regulatory risks they are asked to take. Alternately, we minimize the legal risks, push for crowd diversity, and try to keep people on a reasonably equal playing field starting out for maximal accessibility and experimental capacity…
Are you a Holo investor, too? Check out our Telegram channel to engage with us. Feel free to tag me, @emalinus, to connect, or to give a shout about your ideas as we move through the rest of our ICO and beyond!