THE ICONIST: BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING ICON
Written by Robin J. Wolf | Jul 12, 2019
There may be plenty of reasons to vote for Paradigm Citadel for P-Rep.
But don’t take our word for it. Or theirs. And especially not the Internet’s.
“The only thing we’d like to ask of voters is that when they decide for whom to vote, they should fundamentally research them as we do every single day,” says David Kavazi, one of the co-founders of the Moscow-based crypto investment fund and development team. “If you don’t do your homework, if you don’t do your own research, you’ll always be wrong if you base your opinion on people from the Internet.”
ANALYSIS, ANALYSIS, ANALYSIS
David Kavazi, Alex Falko and Viktor Smirnov founded the Paradigm Fund in 2013 to invest in crypto. The three had been founding startups since their university days — some successful, some not.
One day, however, they were sitting around surfing the Internet when they came upon an interview with Bitcoin evangelist Andreas Antonopoulos. With backgrounds in the history of economic thought, the trio really liked what Antonopoulos was selling. “It was like a thunderstorm,” says David.“It just clicked. We just understood that blockchain was everything, that it would disturb every single industry there is.”
The Paradigm team runs two projects. The first is the investment fund, which employs about 20 people. Most focus on analytics. The Paradigm Fund produces between 600 and 700 pages of fresh information about companies of interest a week, including interviews with company personnel. They’ve been conducting deep analysis of over 60 companies for the past year or two, including ICON, about which they publish bi-weekly reports on Medium and Twitter. David boasts, “Right now, Paradigm produces some of the most cited reports and analytics in the crypto industry.”
As its second project, the team is creating Paradigm Citadel, an interface for decentralized finance. Some 10 programmers have been tasked with creating a single space where even the technically disinclined can take part in the decentralized network process, including staking, voting and debating, with just a few clicks of the mouse.
“First we wanted to create a staking service,” recalls David. “But then we thought there’s no interface for decentralized finance at all. People have to deal with all these different networks, programs and applications. And that’s very difficult.”
Paradigm began its involvement with ICON in 2017. Viktor Smirnov recalls that until the beginning of that year, the team had focused its attention almost entirely on Bitcoin and Ethereum. But the ICO boom suggested there was more to the crypto space than those two platforms. They started researching other projects and came across ICON.
Viktor says, “The first thing we noticed was that Don Tapscott was advising them.”
David adds, “How did he even get to know them? We were like, wow.”
David recalls ICON’s ICO. At the time, Paradigm was trying to decide what to do with the USD $15,000 that remained in its portfolio. There were two projects conducting ICOs, one of which was ICON. The Paradigm team tried to figure out which one was best.
“We sat around all night modeling the math in ICON’s white paper,” he says. “All our white boards are covered in numbers, and we’re just sitting around, our brains are breaking. And we decided we didn’t understand sh*t about the math of ICON, and we would put only 100 bucks on it.”
Those 100 bucks went a long way, though. While the other ICO climbed 50 percent during the bull run, ICON climbed 120 fold — a record investment for Paradigm. Viktor says, “ICON was the fastest return we’ve had.”
The Paradigm team likes how ICON works closely with governments and businesses to create the products they need. “Most companies are like, ‘We’re a product for DApps. Come and build on us’,” says Viktor. “That does not work. But ICON has a different attitude. And that’s what we like.”
OPENING ICON TO THE MASSES
Given how closely the Paradigm Fund has kept an eye on ICON, it was only natural that the team would run for P-Rep. “We have a lot of analysts who follow companies everyday as if they work for them,”says Viktor. “Since the first day ICON announced that it was going to have P-Reps, we decided OK, we have to do that.”
The team ultimately hopes to make Paradigm Citadel part of ICON’s infrastructure. That could make joining the ICON ecosystem a less intimidating experience for non-geeks. David explains, “The thing our service does is make onboarding of different kinds of people — people who want to invest or people who want to build infrastructure — much easier.” With just a click or two, you can create or validate, or participate in debates on the direction of the network.
Viktor says Paradigm’s analytics, when combined with its Citadel service, make it perfect for ICON, especially when you consider its staking system
“The interesting thing about PoS and DPoS is that you have to attract investors not just one time,” he says.“You have to have retention. You have to catch the person’s attention and keep it. That’s why we’ve been making reports on ICON for a very long time. We think that combined, our analytics ability and our service will be the best option for people to come to the ICON ecosystem and stay within it.”
David says you learn some things when you’ve been following 60 or so companies for two or three years, things that could be very useful to ICON and its community. “We’re like this Big Brother of the crypto industry,” he says. “We see everything, we know everything. We know how people create their projects, how they evolve, what triggers investors to buy them. We could be the biggest friends and advisors to the ICON community. And we can help everyone build infrastructure thoughtfully and thoroughly.”
“We see what others do and they don’t.”
Viktor admits, however, that his team has yet to talk closely with those developing tools for ICON. This, he says, is the next phase of its election campaign. “Every crypto network should differ from the others,” he says. “We do not want the next Ethereum here with ICON. We know that ICON will be something else, something different. And as it is something different, different tools will need to be developed.”
“So what we will do is connect with people from ICON in the following month to discuss what analytic tools should be built to distinguish ICON from other networks because there will be interoperability,” he adds.“There will be identity systems. So we are ready to help make ICON comprehensible to investors by building those things. And our capabilities allow us to do that.”
Robin has been writing professionally in Korea for nearly 20 years. Based in Seoul, he became interested in blockchain because of a fascination with futurism. He has interviewed multiple members of the ICON team and is constantly improving his knowledge of everything crypto and blockchain.