ICO Analysis: Algorand

For any blockchain project out there, it is of the utmost importance to reach consensus as quickly and efficiently as possible. Many different ideas are thrown out to solve this critical issue and by its unique features and a team of renowned academics, Algorand proposes a new Byzantine Agreement as a solution for scalability, long transaction times and high energy consumption which perhaps is the main source of criticism towards proof of work coins like Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Key features Algorand offers are as follows.

  • New blocks in two phases: In Algorand blocks are created in two phases. In Phase 1, a user gets selected randomly with the proportional probability to the number of tokens he or she has. This is broadcasted to all users and the selected user proposes a new block of valid transactions. In Phase 2, a group of users is selected in the same way as in Phase 1. This is broadcasted to all users as well and the group verifies the block.
  • Random lottery: The selection of proposers and verifiers is conducted by a random internal and fast lottery which ensures that every user has an equal saying on block creation. By a mechanism called secret self-selection, each user plays a private lottery and at the end, no one else knows whether he or she wins or loses. If he or she wins, the “winning ticket” proves that he or she is selected, and others can verify this.
  • No fork ever: In traditional blockchains whenever a dispute over a major proposal emerges, the discussion of a hard-fork starts. If no consensus over the proposed changes is reached, then the blockchain forks and at the end, there are two blockchains with a community divided into two camps. For instance, Bitcoin has a quite long history of hard forks, the most known one being Bitcoin’s forking to Bitcoin Cash. In Algorand proposals are posted on the blockchain and voted by platform users to be accepted or rejected. If accepted, the change is implemented. This means that Algorand cannot practically fork.
  • Minimal computational work: As a very small number of users are selected to be proposers and verifiers to create blocks, the amount of computation required is way too low compared to Bitcoin and Ethereum.
  • High throughput: The network has 125x of Bitcoin’s transaction speed, can confirm them in less than a minute and none to the little difficulty to scale is detected.
  • Two kinds of consensus: Thanks to Algorand’s new Byzantine Agreement, along with the final consensus, a tentative consensus is possible as well. Once a user reaches final consensus, other users have to follow him or her in this round. This ensures that there is only one chain reaching to the final block. On the other hand, tentative consensus occurs when others reach a non-finalized consensus. Only when following blocks reach final consensus, transactions from this block will be confirmed.
  • Honesty: As long as honest platform users have most of the money, transaction neutrality will be ensured as the block proposer will not exclude transactions from his or her block and verifiers will verify this honestly proposed block.

Token

As Algorand is a payment protocol, ALG tokens will be used for transactions between peers. Any information on token metrics is not released yet.

Team

Silvio Micali: Micali is a professor at MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory since 1983, a co-inventor of zero-knowledge proofs and the co-winner of the Turing award.

Naveed Ihsanullah: Ihsanullah has worked as a principal software engineer at Compuware, a computer software company and as a senior engineering manager at Mozilla before he joined to Algorand as the head of engineering.

Nickolai Zeldovich: Zeldovich is a professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT.

David Shoots: Shoots is a principal software engineer at Microsoft.

Jamie Goldstein: Goldstein was a general partner at North Bridge Venture Partner for eighteen years. After leaving North Bridge, he co-founded Pillar Companies, a venture capital company.

Advisors

Andrew Lo: Lo is a world-class finance expert. Prior to becoming a professor at Sloan School of Management, MIT he was a former governor at Boston Stock Exchange. He also conducts research at reputable organizations such as the National Bureau of Economic Research and New York Federal Reserve Board’s Financial Advisory Roundtable.

Christian Catalini: Catalini is a professor at MIT Sloan School of Management since 2014. He also founded MIT Cryptoeconomics Lab in 2017.

Shafi Goldwasser: Goldwasser is a professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT. She is the recipient of many respectable awards such as the Turing Award, the Gödel Prize and the Franklin Medal.

Naval Ravikant: Ravikant is the founder and the chairman of AngelList.

Jill Carlson: Carlson was the strategy lead at Chain, a company focusing on cryptographic ledger systems, which has been acquired by Lightyear very recently.

Verdict

Below is a breakdown of the risks and growth potential of Algorand.

Risks

  • The absence of a non-technical white-paper is a concern for people who are not tech-savvy. (-1)
  • Although the project has been around for some considerable time, no token metrics are released yet which makes it hard to measure the project’s worth as an investment. (-2)
  • Block creation depends on the platform users’ honesty to some degree which is a source of concern. Yet since the team is full of all-star academics, it is not hard to conceive that in the case of an emergency some temporary or permanent measure can be taken swiftly and easily. (-1)

Growth Potential

  • Great academic team with many prestigious awards. (+3)
  • Testnet was launched on July 20th. (+3.5)
  • Technical features are groundbreaking. (+4)

Disposition

Algorand proposes a new consensus mechanism to solve problems of scalability, low transaction speed and high energy consumption which mainstream blockchains such as Bitcoin and Ethereum meet. By these features such as block creation in two phases and random lottery to choose creators and verifiers, the project is superior to many of its counterparts. As no information on token metrics is released as of September 14th, it is hard to make any guess on potential returns on investment. As there is no white-paper easily readable and understandable by people who are not tech-savvy, the project might not reach the majority of the cryptocurrency community. The presence of a test-net before ICO is definitely something we do not see often these days, and this is certainly a huge plus. Some concerns might exist regarding the network’s security, especially its seeming reliance on users’ honesty, but such an all-star team seems capable of much more than solving such issues. Algorand receives a 6/10.

Investment Details

  • Type: ERC20 – Utility
  • Symbol: ALG
  • Platform: Ethereum
  • Crowdsale: Unspecified
  • Minimum Investment: Unspecified
  • Price: Unspecified
  • Hard Cap: Unspecified
  • Payments Accepted: Unspecified
  • Restricted from Participating: Unspecified

For More Information

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