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$1 Million NMR Giveaway

Numerai is funding teams building on Erasure

Max Novendstern
May 28, 2019 · 5 min read

In October, Numerai announced Erasure, a protocol for building trusted, unstoppable data markets. In March, we announced an $11 million raise to make it happen. We’re announcing lots more this quarter. Starting with this: we’re launching the Numerai Grants Program, $1 million in NMR to support teams building on top of Erasure.

Erasure Vision

Recapping the Erasure plot

“A very advanced form of lie detector that measures contractions of the iris muscles…” — Blade Runner’s Voight-Kampff Test of Humanity

Erasure powers markets for information, by leveraging the core trust models of crypto — staking, time-stamping, and public-key identities.

On Erasure, you can upload encrypted data, stake it with cryptocurrency, then sell it to a buyer. The buyer trusts you because your past is etched into the blockchain, your stake can be burned if your claims are false, and because the purchase is handled atomically via smart contracts.

Erasure started with finance. What if we took everything Numerai’s learned about crowdsourcing ideas for trades, and built a platform for anyone to build a market for themselves? I joined the project because, after a stint at a hedge fund in Connecticut and a payments app outside Somaliland, I saw Erasure as part of a defining, generation-long effort: to extend market infrastructure to the frontier. Erasure answers the question of how to drive more capital into Ethiopia, or into fusion startups. Build a marketplace for diligence.

But as we built, the vision expanded. Markets with both high trust and high privacy can empower whistleblowers. Richard tweeted: “The next Snowden will use Erasure.” We started to see Erasure as part of another grand, generational project: to make the Web more trusted. Fake news is a signal problem of our time, and it’s getting worse. Imagine a Web where skin-in-the-game is de rigueur, where activity is logged on permanent but anonymized identities, where communication is peer-to-peer. It’s a Web we want. Drop Erasure into your next site.

Grants ⇋ NMR

Grants in the context of NMR 2.0

Erasure wants a great developer community. Numerai wants NMR to be the best token in the world. The Grants Program serves both.

In December, we announced our plan to fix all the bad things with NMR.

Good tokens have constrained supply. So we committed to burn most of the NMR we had the right to mint (reducing total supply by ~50%). Good tokens are secure. So we committed to shutting down contract upgradability (so the rules never change).

Good tokens are widely used. Erasure will help here — majorly. It will expand the usefulness of NMR from Numerai’s tournament, for only Numerai’s data scientists, to a theoretically unbounded set of finance tournaments, media sites, and apps of other kinds.

Good tokens, finally, are widely held. This is where the Grants Program comes in. Tokens are subject to classic network effects. Getting them into engaged holders’ hands mean new transaction possibilities, more global incentive alignment, and less discretionary market power for whales. NMR should be held by the community, not by Numerai, in the long run. We believe this strongly.

Let’s be quantitative. Below is NMR’s current state, then ideal state. We get there via a contract upgrade in the immediate term, and Erasure in the long term. The token on the right, simply put, is the one we’d prefer to hold. We expect it’s the same for you.

The best way to get NMR to the community is to give it to the community. But we’ll do this carefully. New supply in circulation should generate lasting value, and offsetting demand. This is why we love grants. A great way to build value for NMR is to give NMR to builders. There’s a precedent close to home. NMR wasn’t launched with an ICO. We gave it to our best data scientists. The strategy worked. So we’re doing it again.

How to Apply

How does Numerai’s Grants Program work?

We’re looking for people with charismatic ideas about the future. If you have them, we’ll support you.

The grants process is direct:

  1. Send us your concept for an app powered by Erasure to Write as much detail as you can. Tell us your budget.
  2. If we’re intrigued, we’ll chat. We’ll give you suggestions. We’ll introduce you to our protocol team.
  3. Once we get a final plan, including milestones for releasing funds and technical specs, if everyone is excited, we’ll roll.

App Concepts

What can be built on Erasure?

We love the idea of new trading tournaments built on Erasure. We love the idea of media sites with Erasure baked in. Or surprise us.


“How can a Marriott spin-off be an exciting market inefficiency and the chaotic development of half the planet not be?” — What Would Ben Graham Do Now?

Imagine a world where every hedge fund ran their own tournament. They’d pull the backend data direct from Erasure. Their frontend would be an oracle for calculating reputation. They’d put up a bounty for signals and call on the community to submit.

Some tournaments we’d love to fund:

  • One specialized entirely in Tesla (or another widely-followed company), calling for predictions across its financial statements.
  • One specialized in a fast-growing frontier country stock market, like Kenya’s, helping developed-world funds move money to it from abroad.
  • One specialized in crypto, both quant and discretionary.


“Time’s up on 10,000 years of recorded history. This is coming. This is real.” — Steve Bannon on #MeToo

Imagine a world where every company had an open bounty for information on corporate crimes. The site is native to Tor, and because it’s on Erasure, its backend is as censorship resistant as the blockchain. Or imagine a social media site where people staked cash on their claims. You burn scambots to the ground, and the $TSLAQ fintwit folks have to put money where their mouths are.

Some apps we’d love to fund:

  • Bounties to whistleblow crimes, corporate and otherwise.
  • A Twitter UX, but with a tip jar and a burn lever.
  • A browser plugin, that puts money at stake on real Twitter from Chrome.


Or surprise us. Drop Erasure into a remote work platform to align incentives. Build a decentralized bug bounty system leveraging Erasure’s anonymity. We’d love a React package that makes it easy for an Erasure modal to pop up anywhere.


“The enhancement of agency — this theme, this is the ground on which the right and the left can meet” — Roberto Unger to Peter Thiel

What’s the connecting thread? The ultimate goal, to my mind, is redistribution: get capital into the hands of people who know scarce truths. You can be a teenager in Nairobi with a Juypter install, competing in a crowdsourced signal tournament. You can be a janitor at a bank in London, who’s witnessed fraud. Or you can be an AI. We’re building systems of moving money where truth is the sole objective function. Join us.


A new kind of hedge fund built by a network of data…

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