This blog was originally published on Medium.
We’re proud to lead the industry in transparency and as such we will continue to issue quarterly reports to our community. As our Korean community has continued to grow we’re excited to offer a Korean-translated version of the report in addition to English and Chinese versions.
The full report is available in the links above but below is the letter to the community from CEO Matthew Spoke:
Letter from Matt
Another year is in the books, and this one was a whirlwind. Having launched our blockchain protocol in 2018, 2019 was a year to allocate resources into establishing a strategy that differentiates us in the market.
Over the past year we have spent a lot of time evaluating both our own strategies and the evolving gaps in the blockchain space as a whole. Two big insights came out of that evaluation.
First, we observed that blockchain projects with a digital asset speak to both coinholders and developers with the same narrative and technical explanations. This resulted in complicated terminology, user journeys and documentation that makes it difficult for developers and entrepreneurs to create breakthrough applications that solve real problems.
Second, we identified the importance of decentralization to digital platform economies both now and in the future, and moved to refocus our strategy to better serve the platform space. In June, we launched a strategic review to explore what problems exist for established platform companies and how our technology could solve them.
We focused on platforms because of the global proliferation of economic and social activities moving to the internet. Most of this movement is facilitated by online platforms that build software to coordinate, connect, and empower us. These platforms build early network effects through free services leveraging data and scale, then extract value from their respective ecosystems. This shift toward a platform economy has resulted in unintended consequences that can only be addressed by next-generation solutions.
While blockchain’s dominant incumbents have developed effective ecosystems to address and implement a future state of financial decentralization and internet decentralization, the platform economies of today have unaddressed problems that are clear opportunities for blockchain technology.
This research and the insights that came out of it pointed us towards a new direction for Aion. That direction culminated in our November announcement to split the Aion project into two distinct brands and narratives, connected and linked to a common vision: The Open Application Network (The OAN) and Aion.
The OAN is an open source public infrastructure for the creation and hosting of Open Apps to solve platform problems. Open Apps are programs that put users back in control and are universally accessible across platforms. Using Open Apps, developers can hook into existing platforms like Uber, Shopify, Twitch, etc. and create new breakthrough experiences.
Aion is now the exclusive brand of the digital asset, focused on establishing itself as a leader in the crypto ecosystem. As the economic underpinning of The OAN, Aion is establishing a third category of digital assets, distinct from the narratives of Bitcoin (“State Free Money”) and Ethereum (“Decentralized Internet”), and their alternatives. This category will be supported by bringing together a world-class ecosystem of validators, miners, exchanges, wallets, thought leaders, and organizations that support Aion and its usage in The OAN. This new direction will result in distinct narratives and go-to-market strategies for our two different audiences: platforms and their stakeholders (The OAN), and the crypto ecosystem (Aion).
The introduction of Open Applications as a distinct category represents a tremendous step forward for blockchain technology to solve real problems that society faces every day in the platforms we use.
The launch of The OAN and the accompanying visual rebrand was not our only accomplishment in 2019, as the shift in focus to platform economies was supported by some notable technical developments.
In June we launched the Aion Virtual Machine (AVM), the world’s first JVM-compliant blockchain virtual machine. Additionally, in November we went live with Unity, a unique hybrid consensus protocol, merging Proof of Work and Proof of Stake to create a more secure and decentralized block production mechanism. Since launch, over 92M Aion have been actively staked thanks to the amazing community of 30+ validators. In addition, the Aion mining community has grown, doubling our average Hash Rate prior to Unity. Participation in the security of the network has far surpassed our initial objectives for Unity.
We also launched a multi-year privacy research initiative with the University of Waterloo. It is focused on the development of cryptographic techniques such as Zero Knowledge Proofs and Fully Homomorphic Encryption, to enable privacy-preserving interactions between user data and applications operating on this data. This research is accompanied by the release of the Tetryon Testnet, enabling on-chain SNARK verification within AVM-smart-contract-systems, by leveraging a modified ZoKrates toolchain.
But there’s more work to do.
Looking forward to 2020, the team and I are as energized as ever about what we’re building. With the launch of The OAN and the security and performance fundamentals of the network in place, we turn our time and capital towards adoption.
In 2020, we have two core guiding principles to how we organize: Product-Market Fit and Aion Awareness and Value.
Product-Market Fit: At the current state of maturity in the blockchain ecosystem, we need to directly own our relationship with the customer. If we rely solely on third parties, we cannot develop empathy for our audience and establish rich feedback loops. As such, we are scaling our product teams to develop a consumer-facing application, leveraging The OAN tech stack. This focus enables us to control our adoption strategy and showcase how The OAN can solve real problems within platform economies.
Aion Awareness and Value: In order to scale the security of the network, Aion must continue on the path to establish itself as a leading digital asset. Supporting and growing the value of Aion is critical to the sustainability of network operations. We have established a Growth team exclusively focused on Aion marketing, ecosystem development (exchanges, custodians, validators) and relationship management (stakers, miners, investors). This team, in collaboration with external partners, will grow global awareness and access to Aion.
We’re excited for you to join us on this journey, and we look forward to tackling new challenges in 2020.
Past reports are available on our website.