We’re excited to be announcing a new service today at Obelisk, which we are calling ‘Launchpad’. Our first customer is Lyra Protocols, who will be leveraging the Launchpad service to ensure a fair mining start for their protocol.
Today, new coins that launch are entirely at the mercy of the first company that can bring an ASIC to market. And as we’ve seen recently, ASIC resistance does not provide much safety; well resourced manufacturers are able to bring ASICs to market for ASIC resistant coins anyway. This opens coins up to potential market flooding, secret mining, 51% attacks like the ones against Bitcoin Gold, hoarding of coins by one group, and other abuses.
Community Empowering ASICs
We’ve developed a service at Obelisk to fix this issue. We are willing to work with coin developers to design a custom, ASIC-friendly proof-of-work algorithm, while simultaneously developing a first batch of ASICs. The algorithm is not disclosed to the public until the ASICs are completed, meaning there is no chance that another group is able to be first to market.
This gives the coin developers control over the launch of their coin. ASICs can be distributed throughout the community, and we can ensure that no party controls more than a certain percentage of the hashrate, nor has any capacity to commit abuse. From genesis, the coin is protected by powerful community owned ASICs.
“Everybody is sick of Bitmain being first to market. With Launchpad, the community gets to be first to market.” — Taariq Lewis of Lyra Protocols
This does mean that at launch, the coin is centralized around a single ASIC manufacturer. We believe that this is the best way to guarantee a clean and fair start for a coin, however it is not the right way for a coin to exist perpetually. An Obelisk Launchpad release will include open source chip design schematics that can be leveraged by competing companies to bring their own ASICs to market, as well as other guidance related to the manufacturing process and various techniques to help competitors get off the ground. We will be doing this because our goal is not a monopoly. Our goal is a healthy and secure crytocurrency community.
Trust and Transparency
One of the core tenets of Launchpad is transparency and openness. For all Launchpad products, we will be disclosing as much information as possible. This will include the number of machines produced, and it will include the size (in hashrate) of all of the largest purchasers. We will also include information like the manufacturing price of all machines, and where possible we will be naming our suppliers and factories (NDAs do not always permit this).
Above all, we will be moving the industry increasingly to an open and easily accessible place. Today, the largest manufacturers are able to compete ruthlessly due to their exclusive knowledge and expertise, and due to their heavy vertical integration. We can erode those barriers by bringing that knowledge out into the open, by creating standards that minimize the benefits of vertical integration, and by teaming up with the community to ensure that, despite the challenges, mining can be decentralized.