The Status Network Quarterly Report - Q3 2019

The Status Network Quarterly Report - Q3 2019

[Translations in Español, 中文, Français, Русский, Italiano, 日本語, Deutsch, and 한국어 ! Shout out to Alejandro Zerah for the artwork <3 ]

1. Welcome

We’re excited to be back, with the next (and second ever) edition of this quarterly report. The feedback on the last edition was positive, so we’ll continue compiling this report of our highlights each and every quarter.

Our goal

There are challenges faced by communities in this world that seem insurmountable - being sanctioned, unbanked, censored, and living under hostile or suppressive governments. We’ve wondered out loud - what if we could provide the tools and infrastructure in a complete package to help these communities thrive, whilst upholding (without compromise) their human rights? Could we enable the creation of open socio-economies - borderless, free, and independent of interference?

The Status Network is our answer to those questions - a whole ecosystem encapsulating a complementary range of tools and infrastructure allowing people to communicate and transact via decentralized technologies. As well as building these tools, we’re also doing cutting edge research to find new and better ways for users to benefit from this tech in the real world.

You might know us for our mobile app, Status - we’re also doing so much more.

2. Current State of the App

Mobile app

We currently have 9,446 beta installs across iOS and Android, and we are working to get more precise usage data by analyzing the connectivity of Whisper peers.

Q3 saw us wrap-up several major scopes of work in preparation for our v1 security audit. Over the course of the quarter, we identified, spec’d and implemented key changes including the removal of Realm.js and relocation of app state storage to status-go and status-protocol-go, an upgrade for React Native, and a change in the storage of a user’s keys to the EIP1581 extended path.

With these security critical tasks out of the way, we kicked off the audit on September 30th. We’re now chipping away at our remaining release backlog, and fielding security related bugs as they roll in. We expect to publish the audit results in November.

Q4 will be all about shipping v1 of the app, and then we move on to improving against our top 3 biggest priorities, as ranked by the team & community: making chat more engaging and enjoyable to use, addressing critical blockers such as high bandwidth consumption, and polishing the UI to make it snappier and more effective.

Desktop app

The much anticipated two-pane UI has now been added to mobile builds. For this, the default react-navigation navigators were extended with custom ones. The two-pane UI was merged into develop and is now the default for desktop builds, meaning we’re now using the mobile UI for desktop!

Our next hurdle to clear will be resolving some issues in the react-native-desktop library to make JS execution internal.

3. SNT utilities

The Status Network Token (SNT) is a utility token that powers and incentivizes the Status Network.

There are currently 69,279 SNT holders, with 746,621 transfers having been made to date, and a total supply of 6,805m SNT. You can see more token metrics here.

We went live this quarter with SNT’s very own homepage, packed with info on all the uses of SNT and our research into cryptoeconomics:

Token economics

On the research side this quarter; we pondered how to define reasonable value flow discount rates when evaluating a token or project, and put forward the Hurdle Funding model - an alternative to token burning to capture value for projects in their growth phases.

We also submitted an application to the MakerDAO community to consider SNT as collateral for Multi Collateral DAI. Watch this space for news from the Maker Foundation on our bid to be one of the first teams to do a successful MCD integration on the Kovan testnet!

ENS Usernames

IN DEVELOPMENT

An ENS username is a stateofus.eth handle that users can register by locking up 10 SNT. There are currently 1,160 ENS usernames registered by 650 owners.

We worked this quarter on native registration flow, meaning that users can register their desired ENS username seamlessly and directly in the app, and connect it with their existing chat key. When v1 lands, and breaking changes mean that users will have a new chat key, ENS usernames that users already own can be linked to the new key. It will also be possible to connect a chat key to custom .eth domains as well.

We’ve added functionality to allow verification that an ENS username belongs to a user (similar to, e.g. a Twitter verified account), where we only display the username if the verification is successful. If you see for example @cammellos, you can be certain that this user has purchased the cammellos.stateofus.eth ENS username.

DApp Discovery

LIVE

This quarter, we implemented a world first with https://dap.ps - a curated list that relies on a unique economic mechanism to rank information without any centralized authority benefiting. Unlike bonding curves, our curve does not use complicated mathematics to create value for the community out of thin air, but rather uses similar maths in order to distribute the value generated by well-curated information to every holder of SNT in the network, whether they participate in staking and voting or not. You can find the contract which is deployed on mainnet here, along with the entire app itself, and the economic model here. If you're looking for a slightly more detailed overview, you can check out the presentation Andy did in Tokyo here. You can also find the live analytics that we're running on the contract here - big thanks to Peter and the team at Curious Giraffe for all the work they're doing on that important front.

We already have 11 DApps participating in this new kind of game, and nearly 100,000 SNT staked in the contract. This means 100,000 SNT less in circulation, which means that each of your SNT are a little more valuable. Please encourage your favourite DApps to stake their own SNT and play this game with us, as it will make for an increasingly useful list and (hopefully) increasing value for all of your tokens!

Teller Network

IN DEVELOPMENT

We were excited to UX test Teller at ETHBerlin, where we collected valuable user feedback and gained fresh insights when looking at the product from our users’ points of view. The feedback showed us that we needed some UX/UI improvements on:

  • Buyer flow - browsing offers, setting the trade amount, adding contact details, escrow overview; and
  • Seller flow - seller license, choosing an asset, selecting payment method, specifying local currency, setting location, and more.

There are some UX challenges that we have opted to hold until a later version (e.g. decentralized notifications and messaging on other platforms like Metamask).

Teller got a facelift this quarter; with a new logo, app layout, and a fresh colour redesign. We’re currently busy brushing up the Teller landing page to give a more intuitive explanation of what Teller is.

On the horizon; Hester is planning to take Teller on the road to visit Colombia for some more user testing - watch this space!

Sticker Market

COMPLETED

Work on the Sticker Market MVP is completed, and Sticker Market is ready for launch alongside v1.

4. Product & swarm updates

Keycard

We continued work on integrating Keycard into all corners of the Ethereum ecosystem. We:

  • Completed all feature integrations of Keycard with Status Android client (Q4 will be about fine tuning the user experience and getting rid of significant bugs),
  • Released iOS Swift SDK to integrate keycard with iOS13+,
  • Released Keycard 3.0 with an applet for payment scenarios,
  • Dedicated a significant research effort into launching an open & permissionless payment network that will integrate with Keycard,
  • Successfully integrated within the Gnosis Safe personal edition for Android & iOS.

Embark

This quarter, the Embark team released Subspace, a library for reactive DApp Development. You can catch our very own @rbin’s Subspace review here. V4.1 stable of Embark saw its release, continuing the team’s path towards Embark 5.0, which will have a refactored architecture, as well as a focus on making Embark’s accounts configuration more user friendly and unified.

Nimbus

The Nimbus team had an exciting quarter keeping up with the fast pace of Eth2 development. The efforts of all development teams reached their culmination during the Eth2 interop lock-in where we saw the first stable multi-client testnets. Our short-term goal is sharing this progress with you by launching a long-lived testnet, accessible to the general public. From there, the Nimbus team will be following an ambitious roadmap, focussing on the security and efficiency requirements that must be met for a launch on mainnet.

We are very grateful to the Ethereum Foundation and Protocol Labs for supporting our team during this quarter with two additional grants; funding our main mission and sponsoring the development of a native Nim implementation of libp2p.

The Nimbus team has a long-term goal of creating a vibrant ecosystem of permissively licensed libraries for interacting with Ethereum, and for creating DApps. To this end, we’ve published the humble beginnings of a new website dedicated to our Nim SDKs and packages. We’ve also launched the Nimplay project which can give you a glimpse into the future of eWASM-based smart contract development.

Protocol

This quarter, our Protocol team:

5. Funding

Project financials

Here’s what we’ve spent so far this year to fund the project, as well as a look at what we have in the treasury.

Expenses ($1,000s) Q1 2019 Q2 2019 Q3 2019
Salaries, core contributor fees & individual expenses $1,900 $1,800 $1,700
Third party vendors $100 $200 $300
Marketing & sponsoring $50 $50 $40

Reserves ($1,000s) Q1 2019 Q2 2019 Q3 2019
ETH & USD holdings $30,000 $57,000 $34,000

[For ease of reference, we’ve shown our financial data in this report in USD. When putting together this information, we used the following exchange rates to convert ETH balances:

  • Q1 2019 - Coingecko, 31/3/2019, 1 ETH = ~$142
  • Q2 2019 - Coingecko, 30/6/2019, 1 ETH = ~$321
  • Q3 2019 - Coingecko, 30/9/2019, 1 ETH = ~$180

Strategy

We’re continuing to maintain a ring-fenced ETH 150k (~$27m at the time of writing) reserve for user acquisition until we’re ready for mass adoption. This means that while our reserves look healthy, we won’t be using them all to fund development.

The benefit of having this financial constraint in place is that it forces long-term thinking, ensures we have sufficient capital for growth, places a focus on frugality, and gives us continued exposure to upside in the success of the public blockchain we’re building on.

We balance this against the downsides, which are that we’re sometimes forced to be reactionary in our decision making as the market moves, and this can lead to top-down decision making that’s not aligned with our principles.

With the funds that are currently available for research and development, Status as a whole has operating runway until June 2020, and Nimbus team until the end of 2020. Work is continually being done behind the scenes to secure additional runway without touching the ETH 150k.

Achieving sustainability is our biggest financial goal. In the near term, active treasury management (and exploring options for diversifying our reserves) is a priority.  In the longer term, embedding value into SNT through adoption will help us achieve our goal.

By making tools and infrastructure that are valuable to people, powered by SNT, every network participant (including us) can benefit from an increase in the value of the network as it grows.

Meet Assemble

We’ve been bandying around the working name of Assemble for our implementation of Liquid Funding, and have decided that we quite like it.

We continued development of Assemble during Q3, and are within a few weeks of reaching launch. For v1, we’ve created a simplified version of the original concept.

Think of Assemble as a decentralized Kickstarter - a place where open source projects can request funding, and multiple backers can pledge funds. Why are we excited about this and what’s different about what we’re doing?

  • It’s transparent and permissionless - everyone can submit proposals, and the funding status of each is visible to all, unlike grant programs.
  • Applicants don’t need to be voted in to have a chance to pitch, and the eligibility criteria is transparent.
  • There’s no subscription model - so funders are not tied into ongoing obligations.

So watch this space for Assemble to land - if you have a dream project, or you want to fund open source, this is for you.

6. Conferences & Events

Conferences

Our awesome core contributors were flying the flag for Status in Q3 at many events:

  • Devcon5 - there were so many good talks and workshops from a big group of contributors, on a range of topics such as security, research, UX, devex & product.
  • Berlin Blockchain Week (ETHBerlin / DappCon / TEGG) - Status was a Tier 4 Sponsor, and we popped up across the week:
    • Teaming up with Maker & Bounties Network for scavenger hunts, #wunderblock & #ethsommer.
    • Running user tests for the Teller Network with attendees.
    • Jacek & Dean participated on a panel to discuss Eth2.0.
    • Jarrad spoke at TEGG on Token Economics.
  • Web3 Summit - Dean gave a talk on data sync, p2p messaging and the latest from Vac. Mamy took part in a panel on the future for Eth2.0.
  • Ethereal Blocks - We posted three bounties for participants of this virtual Hackathon to get stuck into, with the event being organized courtesy of our friends at Gitcoin.

Events

We also had a blast gathering 50 core contributors together in Istanbul for our annual Offsite, where we talked strategy, building socio-economies, and held unconference-style sessions on our hottest topics.

It’ll be a quiet Q4 for travel, with the conference season mostly past us. We’ll resume our events program in 2020.

7. Contributors

We’ve remained at an even number of core contributors throughout 2019 - to avoid our expenses increasing beyond what’s sustainable. We plan to increase our headcount by ~4 in the near future, by hiring much-needed support to our marketing and security teams, plus a new technical writer to help Nimbus with its documentation.

During Q3, we bade farewell to five core contributors. Part of this turnover was due to our disbanding the QA team in September 2019 owing to ongoing financial constraints, leading to the decision of incorporating testing into engineering being made, for optimisation purposes.

We were excited to welcome two new contributors to Status in Q3: the awesome Andri and Dmitriy, both joining Nimbus.

Our #statusphere ambassador program was on hiatus during Q3 2019. Behind the scenes we’ve been working on a re-launch of the program, with a focus on creating an improved onboarding experience for new ambassadors, and a more structured, self-service way for existing ambassadors to get involved in tasks and projects. Stay tuned for the relaunch!

On a wider note, we’ve been getting advice from Jono Bacon on community building - to understand how we can optimize onramps for people wanting to contribute code to Status and build DApps on Embark. If you’re an existing or potential contributor, we’d love to hear about your experience; feel free to drop by on our discussion thread to share your feedback.

Shout outs!

Our favourite bit of the report - where we get to say thank you to some of the multitude of community members that make Status what it is - the State of Us. Status is truly a community effort, so a massive round of applause for:

  • All our ambassadors for still making things happen even while the program was on pause - to Brian and his v1 planning, and Kris for hosting a Status meetup in San Diego;
  • Our awesome translators for this report: Steven (Chinese), Jokyash (Japanese), Jinho (Korean), Lalo (Spanish), Jurgen (German), Gwenael (French), Davide (Italian) & Anton (Russian);
  • The bounty hunters that completed 37 bounties, and the 9 community members that contributed code this quarter. Props!
  • Everyone that took part in our translation campaign over at https://translate.status.im/ - we've been bowled over to see the status.im website and Status app translated into multiple languages by 54 of you.
    • Think decentralization should be for everyone? You can sign up to translate Status into any language of your choice!

We’re proud to be a project open to all - if you’d like to get involved you can read more here, or come chat to us about where you could slot in. We don’t mind if you’re technical or not - if you’re passionate about a better web, we’ll be glad to find a way to bring you into the fold.

8. Q3 over and out

2019 has been a fun journey so far - our small band of contributors has worked hard to drive forward a number of seemingly-dispersed projects. It’s sometimes easy to overlook how all the pieces of the Status Network fit together.

Where Q3 marked an expansion in our thinking from building an Ethereum portal to investing in research into the protocols and infrastructure underlying Ethereum itself, Q4 will be very much about deepening our connection with the very communities in which we hope Status can add value.

Everything that’s important to us in Q4 has users, communities, and socio-economies squarely in mind. Our top priorities will be:

  • Nimbus & Vac: Designing, modeling and implementing infrastructure that allows for uncompromising p2p messaging security, and universal accessibility of Eth2.0.
  • Status Application: Focusing on creating a chat experience that users will love, and getting ready for mass adoption by being sharding-ready (i.e. multichain).
  • Keycard: Building an open source Payment Network as an inclusive, rapid, and low-cost alternative for sellers & buyers to transact.
  • Embark: Leveraging Embark as a factory for startup creation.
  • Marketing: Re-building our marketing team to allow us to better connect with users. This also includes field research in communities (with a planned visit to Venezuela to get direct feedback from users).

There’s lots of work to be done, but we’re excited for what comes next.

Thanks for reading this report, and taking an interest in what we do! - your friends at Status.


Disclaimer / fine print

This report was made for your entertainment, and we’d ask you not to rely on it for any other purposes, e.g. making investment decisions. Just to be super transparent, we want to highlight that:

  • Token metrics info is an estimate supplied by a third party, given for illustrative purposes. We have not independently verified or fact checked this data.
  • Status financial information provided is estimated based on data available in October 2019 and may change due to intercompany chargings or ongoing updates in accounting. Numbers have been rounded for ease of presentation.

Thanks for your understanding!