ICO Analysis: Marlin Protocol

Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) play a lead role in today’s internet. They provide high availability and low latency by distributing content through a network of proxy servers and data centers. Every day more and more smartphones and other devices log on to the web to stream from sites like Netflix and YouTube. Most streamers won’t ever think about just how difficult a process it was to bring them their programs. Every piece of content that is viewed is widely replicated and cached for load balancing using sophisticated algorithms before it is instantly delivered to them upon request.

Typically, the content seen on a web page is stored on a server. Viewers of said content, who are close to this server geographically, will not have any problem instantly viewing content. However, when a website viewer is far away from this server, or traffic is high, the result is long buffering times. Increasing demand for streaming is quickly becoming a problem. And with VR, AR, and live 4k videos right around the corner, the current infrastructure needs an upgrade.

“Marlin is a decentralized CDN solution which enables processing, storage, and delivery of content at low cost by utilizing the spare bandwidth and hard drive space of internet users in exchange for network’s native LIN tokens. Blockchains and smart contracts are used to decentralize accounting and payments while also enabling trustless Quality of Service(QoS) checks. The decentralized, peer accelerated infrastructure eliminates risk, lowers congestion and brings supply closer to demand by utilizing idle resources which are only one or few hops away from the end-user.”

Existing CDNs are centralized and monopolized by a handful of web giants such as Amazon, Rackspace, and Akamai. These big players are not incentivized to build PoPs in unfrequented areas, and the smaller players are being blocked out, resulting in low-quality service, an sometimes no internet all-together in certain third world countries.

Marlin Protocol solves this problem, lowering the need for physical servers by utilizing the network itself as an alternative. This decreases the upfront costs significantly as well as the physical distance between users. They will decentralize CDNs by providing a peer-to-peer content delivery network that would rely on a two-tiered network of master nodes and relay nodes to reduce latency and ensure high availability. Reducing costs of CDNs by up to 90%.

The Marlin network is designed with the following objectives in mind:

  • Complete decentralization.
  • Reliability
  • High Availability
  • Low latency
  • High throughput
  • Horizontal scaling
  • Configurable security
  • Low storage overhead.

According to the team:

“Here at Marlin Protocol, we believe a decentralized CDN powered by the blockchain is the all-encompassing solution for all parties involved. By leveraging unused bandwidth within a secure, P2P (peer-to-peer) network, both ISPs and publishers benefit in addition to consumers, regardless of the regions or situations they were born into. Additionally, to incentivize optimal participation, Marlin allows for users to monetize their unused storage and bandwidth. This facilitates more nodes to participate in the network, enhancing page loading times for all users involved thanks to blockchain technology and its network effects.”

This project is extremely technical. There are two types of blockchain nodes used to perform several checks on serving nodes such as Proof of Availability, and Augmented Proof of Storage-Time to track any fraudulent behavior and ensure network’s quality of service.

To read about this, as well as all the other specifics, we recommend checking out the whitepaper.

Token

LIN token is the primary transactional currency in the Marlin ecosystem.

There are multiple ways in which LIN tokens can be used and thus flow amongst stakeholders.

  1. Website owners can use LIN to avail CDN services to speed up and secure their website.
  2. Dapps using Marlin can use LIN tokens within their ecosystem to engage users.
  3. Streamers can use tokens to pay transcoders for transcoding their VOD and live streams.
  4. Advertisers can sponsor publishers using LIN o get their ads inserted into the stream.
  5. Viewers can pay publishers for premium content or even subscribe to video streaming services using LIN tokens.
  6. Viewers can gift video streamers using LIN tokens.
  7. Viewers can win LINs in exchange of Proof of Viewership puzzles embedded in video segments.
  8. Activities such as login, sharing, subscribing, commenting, referring can be rewarded by partner news, video, music and social media apps.

The project has a multiphase token generation event:

  • Phase 1 – Private sale and TGE (token generation event): 35% of the tokens released for fundraising.
  • Phase 2 – The second phase of the TGE starts with the launch of their mainnet. Masternodes will be awarded minted LIN tokens (known as network rewards based on their PoST proof hashes and service certificates). Three billion tokens will be awarded in the first four years. The remaining 30% would be allocated over the following six years.

The token distribution is as follows:

  • 5 % Partners
  • 15% presales
  • 20% ICO
  • 30% Network Rewards
  • 10% Team
  • 20% Reserve

Use of proceeds:

  • 6% Legal
  • 11% Partnerships
  • 23% Sales and marketing
  • 45% R &D
  • 9% Operations
  • 6% misc

In terms of staking, Marlin’s storage network is split into two kinds of nodes. Master and relay nodes are required to stake tokens to join the Marlin network and have requests redirected to them. As the load on the Marlin network increases, it will become profitable for new nodes to join the network to deliver content. As a result, increasing amount of tokens will be locked for staking. Learn about all the specifics starting on page 8 of the whitepaper.

Team

Most of this extremely young team recently graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology and Stanford.

Siddhartha Dutta (CEO), formerly the core developer for #26 ranked Zilliqa. also has history as a software engineer for Microsoft (5 months).

Prateesh Goyal (Co-founder) is an MIT Doctor of Philosophy.

Pratyaksh Sharma (CTO ) obtained a Master’s from Stanford 2018, interned for Facebook and Pinterest for four months and has experience at the python software foundation.

The team has six developers and six advisors, all of which look solid and capable.

Verdict

Existing CDNs are centralized with high upfront costs. Marlin Protocol says they can deliver a CDN that can bring down the costs of those services by 90% (from 17 cents per GB to 1.5 cents per GB), without compromising on quality and reliability. On top of that, Marlin is a marketplace with transcoders, advertisers and several other services built right into the network. Media streamers, software enterprises and video game companies can benefit from Marlin’s cheap delivery solutions. Next generation Dapps that don’t wish to rely on existing centralized infrastructure will benefit from decentralized storage, CDN services and advertising solutions provided by Marlin.

Risks

  • Inflation could be a problem for short and long-term prices. -0.5
  • Hard cap is 40 million and they are only selling 35% of the tokens. That’s going to make it really challenging for contributors to see any short-term returns. -2
  • Team is not very experienced. -0.5
  • There are concerns regarding Marlin not being able to accommodate mobile devices as relay nodes, which is a big problem in countries that lack traditional hardware and use mobile devices instead. The team has acknowledged this problem and are researching for workarounds. -1

Growth Potential

  • The whitepaper is good. Forty-two very detailed pages definitely written by people who know what they’re doing. It passes the test. +3
  • The masternode system is the key to this project’s success. If enough talented techies set up proper nodes to make the ecosystem run right, and then build a large community around themselves, the skys the limit.+2
  • Dapps: If Marlin succeeds in providing the necessary backbone, Dapps will surely use this platform. +3
  • Pretty legit looking early partnerships with Clip India, Gamedex, Wistia, Bitriver, Cincopa and Server Global. +2

Disposition

It’s still very early in this project. There are a few question marks, but overall this looks solid. We arrive at a score of 6/10. The score would be higher if the hard cap wasn’t so high.

Investment Details

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Author:
Joshua Larson is also known as the "Bullshit Man" for his ability to spot it a mile away. Avid ICO researcher and contributor. Former professional poker player/backer. Spent 10 years analyzing hand history, stats, and player data. Discovered blockchain in late 2016, and never looked back. He now uses his analysis skills to investigate ICOs full time. What a perfect match, because in today's crazy world of ICOs, information, passion, and diligence = dollar bills!