ICO Update: Polkadot

Polkadot’s crowdsale opened just six days ago, but has already generated a staggering $140 million. For investors who missed the boat, there’s still time to get in on the Dutch Auction.

Polkadot is a blockchain technology that its developers call a “heterogeneous multi-chain.” The goal of the project is to overcome the flaws plaguing present-day blockchain architectures (think: extensibility and scalability). The technology makes it easier for blockchains to facilitate accurate transactions that are both anonymous and valid. Essentially, it allows independent blockchains to exchange important information effortlessly.

We reviewed Polkadot’s dizzying whitepaper with keen interest to fully understand what the platform is and how it operates. The 21-page document is one of the most technical to grace the ICO market. This is actually a good thing, as it raises the standard for investors when they go to evaluate initial coin offerings.

Instead of offering an overly simplistic account of Polkadot, we let genius developer Dr. Gavin Wood do the talking. From Polkadot.io:

[Polkadot] consists of many parachains with potentially differing characteristics which can make it easier to achieve anonymity or formal verification. Transactions can be spread out across the chains, allowing many more to be processed in the same period of time. Polkadot ensures that each of these blockchains remains secure and that any dealings between them are faithfully executed. Specialised parachains called bridges can be created to link independent chains.

The blockchain community has known for some time there’s a strong need for cross-chain communication. Polkadot essentially provides a creative commons platform that will allow various blockchains to interact with each other (thank you for the explanation, Stephen Tual). Polkadot will enable these different chains to share value as well as data across existing or future parachains.

Perhaps mainstream investors didn’t see the point of Polkadot 11 months ago when the team released the whitepaper. The growth and widespread adoption of blockchain technology since has likely changed their mind. At least, that’s what we gather from the hugely successful capital raise.

Polkadot promises to deliver pooled security for all parachains, as well as communication between them. These are exchanged on every block, and also enable data and tokens to be delivered.

The Token

Polkadot is offering 5 million native DOT tokens via capped crowd sale. This means that the sale will close once a certain amount of ETH has been raised. Unlike other capped raises, the DOT cap is dynamic and changes over time. In other words, DOT prices start high and decrease over time. The speed at which the price declines is fast at first and then more slowly. Early adopters (i.e. in the first hour) received 15% bonus DOTs for their efforts.

The initial cap is set very high to make it virtually impossible for any one person or entity to buy all the tokens. The funds will go toward the development of a new protocol enabling cross-chain communication.

More than half of the 5 million DOT tokens are available. Check here for the latest update.

If you’re an investor, DOT serves three main purposes: governance over the network, operation and bonding. DOTs will carry out vital functions across the Polkadot network, enabling holders to participate in the operation of the system. This includes acting as validator, nominator or fisherman – terms that are described in the FAQ.

The Team

Gavin Wood is the brains behind DOT, but he also has a team of 30 developers with backgrounds in systems programming, cryptography and distributed systems. The development crew also consists of Parity Technologies, which created the most advanced Ethereum client and wallet application for developers.

Wood’s various teams are part of the WEB3 Foundation, a nonprofit organization that was set up to advance the field of decentralized web protocols via cryptography.

When it comes to blockchain expertise and experience, very few organizations come close to what Gavin Wood’s crew is doing. This explains why so many people support their grand vision.

Verdict

Backers of the Polkadot project have a lot to be excited about. That’s because they are investing in an idea, and are happy to see it through over the next two years until the token is released. However, this does not discount the real risks facing the project – risks that the developers have spelled out explicitly.

Risks

  • As the Polkadot team mentions in its FAQ, regulatory treatment of ICOs is uncertain. Governments have already shown hostility toward ICOs, and there’s no way to know for sure how DOTs will be classified from legal and regulatory perspectives. -2
  • Lack of liquidity is another risk that the founders have identified. The Polkadot team will not develop or support any infrastructure that allows for DOTs to be traded. As such, there may not be a secondary market for the token. -2
  • As a proof of concept, there’s a two-year lock-in period before. For some investors, this timetable might not work. -1
  • Unlike bitcoin, there is no upper limit on the total supply of DOTs. This means it is inflationary in nature. Although some crypto enthusiasts might write this off as a negative, the whole purpose of DOT is to encourage participation. In other words, the Polkadot token was designed specifically for this purpose. -1 

Growth Potential

  • Polkadot promises to develop a system that interconnects various chains, thus addressing the challenges of scalability and interoperability. Suffice it to say, this protocol would be a game changer if it succeeds. Think Ethereum big. +5
  • Wood’s team is crazy good, and his success with Ethereum and Parity could very well make Polkadot an important component of the digital currency market. +5
  • The Dutch Auction has proven to be a resounding success, with DOT already becoming one of the biggest ICOs of the year (and by extension, ever). Clearly, savvy investors are paying attention. +2

Disposition

With the benefit of hindsight, the author assigns Polkadot a score of 6 out of 10. Note that this score only applies to investors who are willing to donate two years of their time for a potentially large return.

To be perfectly honest, I am a believer in the project and can certainly justify a higher score. But the two-year lock-in period, combined with the vague economic value, forces the author to temper his expectations – at least for now.

That being said, investing in ideas can be a powerful thing, provided you don’t bet the farm. It’s difficult for any blockchain enthusiast not to love Dr Wood’s vision. Read below:

We envision a Web where our identity and our data is our own – safely secured from any central authority. Our aim is to reshape the existing internet structure into what we are calling Web3: a completely decentralized web.

Investment Details

  • Type: Dutch Auction Crowdsale
  • Pre-Sale: Ongoing
  • Opening Sale: Oct. 15, 2017
  • End Date; Oct. 28, 2017
  • Platform: Native
  • Token Release: Genesis Block (Q3 2019)
  • Total Supply: 5 million out of 10 million total allocated to Genesis
  • Payments Accepted: ETH

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Author:
Chief Editor to Hacked.com and Contributor to CCN.com, Sam Bourgi has spent the past nine years focused on economics, markets and cryptocurrencies. His work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Avid crypto watchers and those with a libertarian persuasion can follow him on twitter at @hsbourgi