Smart contracts are great. They are a transparent way to conduct business and other operations without human interference. Human intent can be agreed upon and expressed once, and acted upon forever. We can imagine situations where smart contracts won’t work as well as their legacy models, of course, like overbilling situations or exceptions to policies that require human finesse. Nevertheless, the full benefit of smart contracts won’t be felt by society at large until it becomes overtly hard to do them wrong. Because smart contracts are a power tool where most people are accustomed to using hand tools, and mistakes are easy to overlook or make. Compounding the complexity is the potential for exterior security vulnerabilities to make smart contracts vulnerable.
What’s required then is a system, or many systems (more likely), which make it very easy for humans to write valid smart contracts and very hard for them to write dangerous ones. Etherparty is another effort in this direction, though hardly the first. In fact, several ICOs have been aimed at lowering the technical debt incurred in entering the world of smart contracts. At heart, several ICO’s products have essentially been graphically-friendly templates that allow the user to generate smart contracts, and their smart contracts generally require some interaction with the sub-network’s token system. Aragon and several others do this for business, but a more direct comparison can be drawn between Etherparty and BlockCAT.
Etherparty bills itself as “a platform that will enable anyone to write smart contracts across multiple blockchains.” BlockCAT essentially wants to be the same thing, calling itself “smart contracts for everyone” and letting you know that “you shouldn’t have to be an expert to use smart contracts.” We feel that, actually, in the grand scheme of things, many more than just these two will be necessary. So a lack of novelty in the concept of consumerizing smart contract authorship is not going to be a major drawback in our assessment of Etherparty. While we run the clear risk of joining the cavalcade of people much too early pronouncing the arrival of the blockchain revolution, we do think that such a revolution is going to require easier tools for participation, and that those who provide them stand to make a few fortunes.
Since we have a clear understanding of what Etherparty is doing (Wix or Geocities model of Smart Contracts), our overview should focus more on their design intentions, or things that it will product to make itself stand out.
Here are a few things we noted:
- Differentiating from BlockCAT, they intend for smart contracts to be able to be used on any blockchain that supports smart contracts.
- Etherparty users won’t have to sync with the Ethereum network to execute their contracts.
- A tiered subscription model keeps the system in constant income.
- An enterprise solution to compete with Aragon and others will be offered; it will use the same FUEL tokens.
- Human arbitrators can be allowed access to Etherparty-generated smart contracts. While this point is listed under “flexibility,” we hope that they can also be flexibily forced to remain under the terms of the contract, or else some types of businesses will not be interested.
Etherparty’s design calls for as much user-friendliness as possible. Their mock-ups are certainly attractive:
Thus far, we’re having trouble objecting to much in the concept except its timing. Mass adoption plays are probably still early, although we must note that Coinbase.com has seen heavy, heavy pick-up in recent months. That’s to say they may be less early than the author suspects.
Etherparty Token and Function
A subscription-based platform is the perfect use of a token – the value of access to that platform then helps determine the speculative value of it, giving analysts and traders a clear baseline to navigate from. Etherparty’s platform will have 1 billion tokens with access to it. When tokens are used in the platform, they are then recycled and put for sale again. Etherparty will offer a method for users to acquire them, and just like any other ERC20 token, people will be able to trade and buy them on exchanges as well. The price provided by Etherparty will be a critical instrument in determining futures on FUEL tokens.
1 billion tokens are being issued in total, with 400 million already having been sold in a pre-sale. Another 400 million are going to be sold over a maximum of four weeks beginning September 15th. 100 million are held back by Etherparty to issue out as bounties and such, while half that figure are going to be kept for the team themselves. However, the 15% of tokens just mentioned will be locked for 6 months following the ICO – don’t put a lot of stock in this, as it doesn’t matter – six months is a short enough time to do nothing of consequence, but it does keep the tokens off market, which at least ensures that the market can play itself out correctly.
On his own website, Kevin Hobbs describes himself as:
a dynamic, outgoing individual with the skill and experience to get to the meat of the issue and provide solid strategies and problem solving methods to achieve and supercede sales, business development and overall organizational company goals. A proven ability to build sales pipelines, establish new business and satisfy customers and partners with outstanding service. Proficient in building departments at dynamic high-growth startups and fulfilling sales targets within small, entrepreneurial companies as well as large established organizations. A strategic thinker with a proactive, creative and collaborative approach. A true leader and team player with B2B and B2C experience.
Based in Vancouver, Canada, Hobbs has previously worked in stock trading, including as a corporate trader for FIRMA FOREX. He spent five years between 2010 and 2015 overseeing the operations of an oil rig (no joke.) Then in late 2015, Hobbs joined Vanbex, his primary pusuit.
The Vanbex Group delivers strategic business consulting and marketing activities for early stage and venture backed companies in the Blockchain industry.
Hobbs wrote on the Ethereum DAO fiasco last year, saying:
So while the inner workings of The DAO as a crowdfunding vehicle is automated, the collective of minds and the decisions afforded to them are not — and so the picture of inefficiency, indecisiveness and lack of top-end leadership begins to paint itself. […] It’s not necessarily a chaotic system, there is order set by the governing contract (DAO 1.0). […] But from an objective position, someone who has no vested interest or stake in the Ethereum-based crowdfunding vehicle, it seems a decentralized organism lacks something so pivotal to success in business — to entrepreneurship — especially early on, that is, a central guiding force.
It seems the central guiding force that Hobbs found for this problem he elucidiated was Etherparty, which allows for human arbitration to occur and provides significant guidance on how that should be done in its whitepaper.
Yet, listed as the founder is Lisa Cheng, also founder of Vanbex. Her name conflicts with a world famous body builder and a professor in Norway, but we quickly found this video of her speaking about her work at Vanbex:
She lists some previous credits to Vanbex and Etherparty on her personal website, and also notes there that she was building websites on Lycos.com as early as age 15. (Notable and mildly ironic given her present pursuit in Etherparty – wouldn’t it be great if making smart contracts was as easy as making websites on Lycos was?)
She previously worked in sales for SAP and ADP, and also spent a few months working at Mastercoin, “a non-profit supporting the development and innovation of Bitcoin technology.” Perhaps most importantly, she spent 3 months working for the Big E, Ethereum proper, in communications. This is notable because she likely retains connections from that time in her career.
A winner both short and long-term? We think it’s possible. Etherparty are cognizant of the reality that the next unicorns will be those who focus on blockchain adoption. Their work through Vanbex puts them deeply in touch with many parts of the industry. We think they will develop an initial userbase quickly and that the company will thrive.
All of that said, a billion tokens requires a lot of demand in order to maintain a decent price. The rate that investors reading this review will get starts at 0.00033 Eth and rises to almost twice that by the end of the sale, supposing that tokens don’t simply sell out in the first week at the lowest price. The final rate is about 24 cents and the initial rate is about 12 cents each. If we take a median between the two, 16 cents, and multiply that by the number of tokens that will be in the breeze – 850 million – we have a network valuation of around $136 million.
With 1 billion tokens, every dollar on the token requires a billion dollar valuation of the network as a whole. While we can definitely see this happening, it makes the actual business prospect associated with the tokens … interesting. If to conduct the same operation one day costs someone a wildly different amount than the following day, problems could arise. We assume that Etherparty will incorporate a price-fixing mechanism that prevents actual customers from suffering at the greedy hands of speculators – they must be allowed to speculate as wildly as they want while the token should still be usable on the platform itself.
- Subscription model is great for revenue, but always makes Etherparty vulnerable to other models. Whole system is built around subscription model, or else the tokens lose their value, so this is important to be wary of. -2
- Mass adoption target makes the task much bigger. -1
- While we like the recycling of tokens and having a ticket vendor at the front provided by Etherparty, we worry that 1 billion tokens outstanding will permanently depress the value of an individual token, or in any case slow down the progress of that all-important “last price” metric. As such, for the short-term traders, we have to deduct another point.
- Even the worst idea in easy-to-use smart contracts should get one point, so let’s start there. +1
- Targeting all blockchains instead of just Ethereum puts Etherparty in a more competitive and attractive position than BlockCAT, one of their key competitors. +2
- Identifying ease of use and mass adoption as primary growth areas will yield greater results than projects which focus inwardly, wanting to service existing blockchain companies and users. +2
- Team exudes confidence and knowledgability. While we didn’t mention him in the team section, lead architect Kevin Onn has three decades of programming experience. We hope this translates to him successfully picking a great team to build the project. +3
- Founder Cheng’s connections to the Ethereum world will be valuable moving forward. +0.5
Due to the high supply of tokens here, short-term traders who engage will have to be laser-sighted on their profit goals. Opening somewhere over 12 cents each, before they’re actually in demand for use, the tokens probably still have some room to grow on exchanges following their listing. Long-term, we think they will see higher than $1 when demand for their utility has grown enough – although by such a time there will be many avenues for that demand to explore.
All of this being the case, this author’s subjective disposition on Etherparty is that it’s a 4.5/10 for short-term traders looking to ride the wave (it will likely crest quickly) and a 5.5 for those who have a tolerance for locking funds away for a significant amount of time, understanding that society itself is shifting in ways that will create unprecedented demand for this token and all things like it.
The FUEL token sale begins September 15th at 10AM Pacific time. You can sign up for updates via https://ico.etherparty.io/ but we feel this just opens you up to phishing attempts. Your best bet is to check that website and https://twitter.com/vanbexk for any changes on September 15th.