BlockVenture Q3 2020 Update

Previous Updates
This is the initial application for BlockVenture and they will use this area for updating the Standing Parties regarding their contributions to the Factom ecosystem. The following are their answers to the application questions:

Provide an overview of your entity or company.
BlockVenture Coalition - www.blockventure.com

The BlockVenture Coalition is a research driven alliance of 41 universities and 44 funds.
Our main goal is to be the bridge between universities (students, professors, and researchers) and the blockchain industry.

Bios for your workers who will be working on Factom
Name: Tyler Wellener
Info: Tyler Wellener
Grad from Carnegie Mellon University, Economics & Statistics
ex-Deloitte
ex-Struck Capital Crypto ($75m crypto fund)

Name: Philip Forte
Info: Philip Forte
Grad from Carnegie Mellon University, Business + Statistics
ex-PNC Institutional Asset Management
ex-CMU Blockchain group President & Founder

Name: Cole Petersen
Info: Cole Petersen
Currently attending UCI
Author at NewsBTC (#2 Crypto news site), CryptoSlate, EthereumWorldNews
Incoming President of Blockchain @ UCI

Is your company currently incorporated?
Yes

If you are incorporated, what is your legal structure. e.g. Inc, LLC, etc?
LLC

If you are not incorporated, when do you plan to do so and what legal structure will you use?
N/A

Are any shareholders with a 10% or higher stake in any way involved with an existing Authority Node Operator. If so, please state who and describe the relationship.
N/A

Explain what proactive approach you will take to manage the financial aspects of your business
Quarterly accounting & taxes (Barz Gowie Amon and Fulz, LLC)
Payroll (ADP)
Sensitivity models

What is your motivation for becoming an ANO?
Met David from Factomize and was introduced to the project. Meeting a lot of entrepreneurs that we can push to integrate Factom or get involved with the grant pool. Looking to drive value to the Factom protocol!

What vision do you have of the future of Factom?
We think Factom has an interesting opportunity to position itself as a leader in the blockchain space. We plan to do our part by securing value-add integrations and creating visibility with university initiatives.

What is your commitment to the Factom protocol; what have you brought to the table already?
Running a mainnet server. Have lined up 4 introductions to entrepreneurs (CEOs at different companies) who want to see how they can get started and integrate Factom.

Last year we met 385 companies through our dealflow pipelines. So far in 2020, we have been meeting 4-5 new startups per day. Lots of growth potential on the business side.

What is your future commitment to the Factom protocol; what will you bring in the future?
University / researcher initiatives
Go-to market with projects / entrepreneurs
Exchange listing assistance. Have quotes from several exchanges already. We’re also advisors to IDEX.

Are you running servers on Testnet?
No

If you are running servers on Testnet, approximately when did this start?
2020-03-08

How many servers do you plan to run on Testnet?
0

For mainnet server 1, what country will the server be located in, what city, and what data center or VPS provider/region will you utilize?
US - NYC, NY
Digital Ocean

For mainnet server 2, what country will the server be located in, what city, and what data center or VPS provider/region will you utilize?
N/A

Are your mainnet servers currently online?
Yes

Confirm that, if elected ANO, your servers will adhere to the minimum specifications (level 1) described in Doc 202.
Agree

Do you intend to surpass the minimum specifications (level 1) listed in Doc 202? If yes, describe the specifications of your servers in detail.
4 cores
8 GB memory
SSD
160GB disk
Who on your team are able to admin the servers?
Tyler & Philip

How many combined years of experience do you have of running production servers?
4

Describe production servers you have managed.
SmartFox for 1.5 years
Node infra for IDEX (exchange), Pocket Network (API Layer), Swarm Fund (STO platform)

Have you run any servers for any other protocol, if so, which?
Node infra for IDEX (exchange), Pocket Network (API Layer), Swarm Fund (STO platform)

Have you run follower nodes outside of the Authority Set on testnet?
No

How will the team administer the Authority Nodes?
VPS

How would you handle an unscheduled restart of an Authority Node?
Follow best practices from the most technical members of the ANO

How are you going to make sure your Authority Nodes operate securely?
SSH, 2FA, offline key management

How are you going to make sure you respond quickly to unscheduled downtime?
Team members are in 2 different time zones, giving us different working hours.
Everyone is in the discord and community with notifications on

Could you describe how you would see your ideal Authority Node infrastructure?
We run off a reliable (99.9% uptime) VPS with a static IP, checking in to make sure everything’s running smoothly

What is the planned availability of the maintenance team?
We’re doing this full time, will be able to provide help as needed

What efficiency will you operate at?
65%
Summary:

We applied on March 16th to become an ANO - so this report will outline some of our notable contributions in the last ~3 weeks. Moving forward, this report will be done on a quarterly basis.

After having conversations with many of the ANOs, we’ve learned quite a bit about where we’ll be able to drive the most value to Factom. Although we can’t hold a candle to many of the technical parties in the ecosystem, we believe we can drive substantial value on the business development front. This is where we will focus the majority of our efforts moving forward.


Business:

We released our first article, thanks to our team member Cole Petersen, on EthereumWorldNews. You can find this here:

https://ethereumworldnews.com/factom-based-pegnet-sees-massive-adoption/

This article ranked on the front page of Google for the search term “Factom” and also ranked for a short amount of time for the term “PegNet”:


Getting more Factom usage is crucial to spur protocol adoption, and in turn, price appreciation. Primarily, we see B2B integration as a way of bringing attention and usage to the platform.

We’ve made the following introductions thus far to different ANOs:
  • OKex: Head of listings was a former Pegnet miner. He’s interested to see if a listing conversation makes sense. Intro made to David Johnston & Anton from DeFacto.
  • Cudo: They're building a distributed computing platform that's already live (with 100k users). Currently onboarding several large enterprises such as AMD, Sony Playstation, and Ericsson. Also going live with a white label solution with access to 15m users. Intro made to David Johnston.
  • Qredo: They’re building an interesting layer2 custody network (built using multiparty computation). It effectively removes the need for private keys & private key management ($20b problem). Intro made to Valentin from Factomatic.
  • Pocket Network: They’re a venture backed startup building a middleware protocol that can guarantee 100% uptime and cheaper infra costs by 5-10x than existing centralized solutions. Currently being implemented into many of the large projects in the space with 566% MoM API call growth (from Tezos, Solana, Rootstock, ICON, Aragon, and more). Intro made to Niels Klomp from BIF.

Technical:

We’re currently running two testnet servers and one mainnet server, with plans to get both mainnet servers live if we’re elected. We’re happy to elaborate on the specs of these if anyone’s interested.

Big thanks to different ANOs for helping us get these up and running. In particular we’d like to thank Alex from Factoshi, Anton from DeFacto, and Nate from Consensus Networks.

You can find our server names here: https://fct.tools/


Other:

  • We reached out to our contact who’s head of listings at Binance regarding Factom. Have not yet heard back.
  • Spent a solid amount of time learning about the ecosystem & the responsibilities of becoming an ANO. We’ve tried to schedule calls with many of the ANOs, and if we have not spoken yet, let’s get something scheduled!
  • As we get acclimated we expect to more precisely determine where we can best provide value to the protocol. Preliminary ideas we’ve discussed internally are token economics and marketing efforts.
  • We plan to run at least one article each quarter on a top blockchain news site regarding key events taking place within the Factom ecosystem. Feel free to contact us if you have any topic you feel is noteworthy.

Let us know if you have any questions. Looking forward to getting to know all of you better!

-BlockVenture Team
Hi all - we're excited to have received standing and to (soon) become official members of the ANO set. We wanted to take time to address some outstanding constructive feedback from a few members that we have spoken to (specifically surrounding setting goals). In particular, we wanted to outline some specific areas of value that the BlockVenture team will be pushing for this quarter.

1) Exchange Listings & Liquidity - We've seen some community feedback in the Discord that this is interesting to some members. We think in order for Factom to take the next step, we will need to be recognized and listed on some of the top exchanges in the world. We've already connected Factom with OKex. We'll be working to see how Factom can also collaborate with larger exchanges and get organic listings to avoid listing fees, if we can. We’ve seen successful Binance listings come after Binance DEX listings and strong traction. This is one possibility we could explore (minting a Factoid token on BNB chain).

In one conversation we had, the idea of an ERC-20 Factoid token was discussed. We'd like to bring this to the forefront (if it hasn't been presented already). If we collectively decide this is something interesting, as current advisors to IDEX (#1 ETH DEX), we could help navigate a listing there.

We're also exploring the opportunity of working with Qredo, which is another startup we are colleagues with. They are working on a solution right now that will be going live in July, and we think Factom could leverage their approach to get deeper liquidity across many global exchanges (who have already integrated Qredo). This is still a work in progress, but stay tuned.

2) Token Economics - We saw a proposal by Paul Snow in the forums recently. We've been thinking about this initiative ourselves too. We'd like to at least explore some of the other mechanisms that top projects have successfully implemented, and see where Factom can continue to innovate. We also have relationships with professional firms, who may be willing to present a few options if we decide to outsource the task to remove any biases.

3) B2B Partnerships - We have a steady inflow of new startups every quarter through our venture network. We can commit to ~10 new startup intros per quarter that would be relevant to build on Factom. We view this as an important goal, so that Factom is in front of top entrepreneurs and they're getting to see the value the protocol has to offer.

4) Media - We've already published an article on Ethereum World News, and we will continue to publish ~1 article per quarter on a major news site.

5) Marketing - We intend to get more involved in the Factom Marketing Working Group. We can see ourselves making contributions here via the media component above. We also intend to compile a competitive analysis of where we see the market headed from our startup dealflow, and what features we can add on the tech side to remain competitive (similar to a roadmap).

6) Technology - We intend to run 2 testnet nodes and 2 mainnet nodes for our time being an ANO. We don’t foresee a situation where we take them down. We pledge to also follow best practices to maintain uptime.

Thank you to everyone who provided feedback on our app. We will continue to push forward as we learn more about the onboarding process and will iterate on our strategy as we learn more about the ecosystem.

-The BlockVenture Team
Hello everyone. We’ll be lowering our efficiency to 40% in line with other ANOs. Effective immediately, we’re kicking off a few time-intensive BlockVenture initiatives around the following:

1- Governance (ANO participation and accountability)

2- Marketing (increasing the visibility of Factom - protocol and token)

3- Business development (protocol usage).

Some of these initiatives (especially on the marketing end) will require capital expenditure on our behalf, hence why we need to lower our efficiency.

We’ll be posting regular weekly updates and will contact many ANOs along several of these lines.
Q2 2020 was a busy quarter for BlockVenture’s involvement within the Factom ecosystem.

Now that we’ve had nearly 2 full quarters as an ANO, we feel that we have a much better understanding for where Factom (as a protocol and ecosystem) currently stands, and have a better understanding of how we can best contribute going forward.

Below we will highlight our observations regarding where Factom currently stands and where we think it should go next, how we have contributed over the past few months, and what we will be doing in Q3.

Key Observations

To highlight a few key observations we’ve had regarding the shortcomings within the ecosystem as well as within the ANO governance system. Primarily, we feel that the ecosystem could benefit greatly from a few key changes:

  1. Clearly defined governance structure — we believe that the ANO structure as it stands is disjointed. We feel that there should be a formal governance structure in addition to the current ANO structure, with leadership roles like a CEO, CTO, etc. We’ve wanted to play a bigger role in this, but were not accepted into the Governance Committee (for no clear reasons).
  2. A better approach to exchange listings — Because our exchange relationships are a key facet of our value, we believe we can proactively help guide future listing proceedings, but we have been rejected from joining the Exchange Working Group (for no clear reasons).
  3. Minimum required standing should be raised — as we have noted multiple times, we believe that the minimum required standing for ANOs should be raised. This way, it will be easier for inactive ANOs to be voted out.

Our Q2 Accomplishments

  1. Factom Podcast — this quarter we recorded two podcasts with Colin Campbel and Paul Snow. If you haven’t already watched them, you can find them by navigating to this link. We have more podcasts with ANOs in the pipeline and think it's a great way to better connect the community with the individuals helping to govern the network.
  2. Website committee involvement — one of our goals at the start of the quarter was to create a “community portal” that aggregates all the useful information (articles, podcasts, guides, etc) regarding Factom and related applications. After discussing this idea on the Factomize forum and privately with other ANOs, the general consensus was that our efforts could be better directed towards helping the Website Committee. Our associate Cole Petersen has since joined the committee and has been actively involved. Although we joined towards the tail-end of the new official website’s creation, we hope to be able to contribute more in the months ahead.
  3. Creation of a “Token Economics” official committee — we are currently in the process of creating a proposal for the creation of a Token Economics Committee that will be solely focused on helping to bolster FCT’s underlying strength. We will be looking at market-making activities and some alternative methods for bolstering its trading volume, momentum, and attractiveness to investors. We believe this is imperative, as the crypto market is starting to flash some signs of strength, and we want to be sure FCT doesn’t miss out on any gains that come about as a result of any potential market-wide uptrend.
  4. As all ANOs are obligated to, we have been actively participating in all governance activities (votes, proposals, grants, etc.)
  5. As noted previously, we have tried to contribute on other fronts as well (re: the Governance Committee and the Exchange Working Group), but our hands have been tied on these fronts.

Q3 Goals

In the quarter ahead, we will be focused on these activities:

  1. Factom Podcast — we will continue producing/conducting podcasts with other ANOs and key figures in the Factom ecosystem.
  2. As noted above, we have been working on a proposal for the formation of a Token Economics Committee and will be putting that forth and getting going with that this quarter. The formation and execution of this committee will be time and energy-intensive, and we expect it to be one of our main focuses in Q3.
  3. We will continue participating actively within the Website Committee and helping however we can on this front.
  4. Despite not being accepted into the Governance Committee, we will still be putting forward some proposals with some alterations to the current structure, and can (hopefully) help implement some of those if they are passed.

Please feel free to reach out with any questions, concerns, or constructive feedback!

Best,
The BlockVenture Team
Current Update: BlockVenture Q3 2020 Update
Throughout the past quarter, BlockVenture’s team has narrowed their involvement within the Factom ecosystem primarily to outward-facing initiatives like the Factom Podcast and daily governance activities.

Per our last quarterly update, we had the goal of creating a Tokenomic Committee to help manage and execute tasks that could help relieve some of the pressure that has been placed on FCT’s price. Unfortunately, this idea was not met with too much interest from the other ANOs, hence why we chose to participate in the Tokenomics Working Group instead.

As many of you know, we had put forth a grant proposal to ramp up the Factom Podcast — something that we believe could provide serious value to the existing FCT community and for prospective members. Although our grant did not pass, we would still like to move forward with our plan, but on a smaller scale (taking into consideration much of the concerns of the other Factom ANOs).

Per the original proposal:

We believe that the reach of this podcast could extend beyond just the Factom community and maintain its Factom branding while also covering topics that bring in outside parties. The BlockVenture Coalition’s weekly podcasts have been met with great reception from within the Factom community and have been a great way to spread information to community members who may not be following all the forums and Discord discussions.

Our goal with receiving this grant is to fund the purchase of better quality equipment to enhance the podcast and to bring in “A-list” industry insiders (some of whom require incentives) to discuss certain non-Factom topics.

These topics (and having big names involved) will generate massive viewership and work as a marketing vehicle for Factom.

Now, as we stated in the grant proposal, there are costs associated with executing this, and because we didn’t receive the 15,000 FCT grant we were looking for, we are going to have to drop our efficiency to 10%.

This drop will allow us to buy the equipment needed and bring on guests, although it doesn’t amount to nearly as much as the grant. It’ll allow us to execute & test the viability of this mission at a lesser scale.

In some ways, this method is more beneficial for the community because it gives us the ability to end the podcast (or scale it down and raise our efficiency) if it is not seeing decent growth or not being well-received by the other ANOs.

We’re committed to providing value to Factom and wanted to keep our efficiency somewhat high, but with FCT trading at $1.00, this is really the only way in which we can push this initiative forward.

In summary, we’re lowering our efficiency to compensate for our increased time producing, editing, and performing meaningful reach out for the podcast. We expect the quality of the podcast and the returns for the community to increase from this effort as well. Like everything, this is an efficiency adjustment that can be re-evaluated down the road.

- The BlockVenture Team
 
Thanks for the update.

I have 2 concerns:

1. If most standing parties haven’t approved the grant, why do you think that they will approve lowering efficiency for the same purpose?

2. Do you feel that 10% efficiency is justified comparing to other ANOs? If Blockventure operates at 10%, I feel that De Facto should be operating at -25%. It’s not possible possible of course, and I don’t want to lower the ANO efficiency bar we have already. So, despite I like what you’re doing for the protocol, I don’t feel that I will support your announced efficiency drop.
 
This drop will allow us to buy the equipment needed and bring on guests, although it doesn’t amount to nearly as much as the grant. It’ll allow us to execute & test the viability of this mission at a lesser scale.
This drop equates to a couple hundred dollars a month. I don't see how you can realistically execute and test the viability of anything that remotely comes close to your grant proposal because you'll have to save up for six months to buy the equipment and another six months to pay off an interesting guest.

What we're probably looking at with this is 'more of the same but with slightly better audio'. Which I don't think parties will support, even though your podcast efforts are of course appreciated. Yes, the drop equates to a pretty low difference in $, but efficiency also has a cohesive function. See Anton's post above on how that cohesion takes a hit.

Do you mind expanding on how you want to scale down your plans and still make it work?
 
We're hopeful that the Factom community will be understanding given we're trying to lead essentially the only external facing marketing for the protocol. We should at least be able to have minimal working features for a podcast if we're going to be interviewing external influencers (with 500K+ followers) on behalf of Factom.

While we haven’t been in this ecosystem as long as everyone else, we still very much agree our contributions to the protocol pale in comparison to guys like you @Anton. We do think you get comped for some of this work (De Facto received 47,500 FCT from just this last grant period, although much of it was for liquidity pools etc).

When our grant failed, we were pretty shocked. It's pretty abundantly clear how little ANOs value our attempts to bring in external visibility. If the community votes us out over a couple hundred dollars as we're in the process of bringing in multiple guaranteed influencers, we figure it'd be for the best.

We ask you guys to reconsider, and support Factom’s only external marketing initiative.
 
Hey WB & Anton - it was just Thanksgiving in the US so apologies for the delay. We've discussed and provided a reply below.

YouTube Studio (analytics software) looks at 3 main metrics to assess channel growth.

1) Channel Views - 637 currently
2) Watch time (hours) - 69.5 hours spent watching by viewers
3) Subscribers - 22 currently

We can measurably expect to double the first two metrics and reach 100 subscribers in the next two months. As we've stated before, we're the only outward facing community initiative within the Factom community right now.

Would love to have you both on in the coming months to discuss Factom and get some more visibility!
 
Hey @BlockVenture
I just noticed that Factom related podcasts are hidden from your channel. They also didn’t appear in youtube search by any keywords “factom”, “factom podcast”, etc.

And there is completely no activity and traction, the same 22 subscribers after 2 months passed since your efficiency lowering.
 

Attachments

I don’t really understand guys. You lowered efficiency 2 months ago for the single reason — to improve podcast, while nothing was done (otherwise you would notice that videos are not shown, if you opened youtube channel once).


@Anton Ilzheev - we were actually going to record one tomorrow. Would you like to join as a special guest?
Were actually going to record podcast tomorrow with me, and ask me in the late evening before the date?

I was telling my concerns about lowering your efficiency 2 months ago, and I still think it’s not justified, especially after nothing was done.
 
I think this has progressed along the lines I sketched two months ago.

The elephant in the room here is that you also knew this from the start, but were so annoyed over the failed grant proposal and ANO judgment that you wanted to make a statement.

If you're keeping the efficiency, though, some tips:

1. Prepare more. I've listened to a few episodes and they lack detail. Anything Factom-related really just gets glossed over very quickly and doesn't tell the listener anything. Research and preparation are very important, but you're not even reading some of the important on-going discussions.
2. Reach out to other projects. We're in a governance squabble right now. We're also discussing tokenomics. What do THEY think? How would THEIR project handle it? What can Factom learn?
 
Hey @WB - appreciate the constructive feedback. We took that into account and made this latest episode solely on governance & tokeneconomics! You can find it here:

@Anton - we'd love to have you on the next one if the other one was too late of notice. Would be a great channel to tell the community about your ANO, like others have done (Cube3, FederateThis, etc.) Please let us know if you've changed your mind! Happy to work around your schedule.
 
  • Like
Reactions: WB
Top