Iron Golem — A deeply test Golem that has been deployed and proven to be robust, highly resistant to attacks, stable, and scalable. Various tools for developers will be introduced to make application creation easier; Golem Standard Library (Golem STD) will be implemented to provide access to the low level core components required to interact with Golem from within a programming language. Other key functionalities that will be included are Golem web client, Golem developer toolkit, advanced transaction system, provider dashboard, devp2p integration, and MapReduce.
Objectives: Stimulate successful and innovative integrations with Golem.
Golem Brass Beta Debut
On April 10th, 2018 the Main Net and Golem Brass Beta was officially launched. The release was long awaited and reinvigorated the excitement and long-term vision of Golem. Support is live on the Ethereum Main Net and users can now earn/spend real GNT for rendering using Blender. Blender is a free and open source 3D creation suite that supports modeling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing and motion tracking, even video editing and game creation. The team plans to implement support for various other image rendering software in the eminent future.
Those who are interested in becoming more familiar with Golem, or want to sell/purchase computational power, head over to the download page and click “Download Golem”. It’s suggested to first familiarize yourself with the Testnet before moving onto the Main Net. Download link, documentation link, and a video tutorial for submitting tasks are below.
The Proof Is in The GitHub & Trello
For those who want to inspect Golem’s source code, or get a better sense for how development is tracking, you can find the latest on their GitHub repo. Under the “insights” tab, it is evident the team is grinding away. There are anywhere from 20–80 commits being pushed each week. Distribution of contributors is favorable, no one single contributor makes up the majority of commitments and there appears to be a true team effort. Golem’s Trello board is also useful for visualizing the team’s progress, activity, and current focus.
To give a better insight into how active the team is relative to peers, we can compare a few GitHub stats. If we look at GitHub stars, which are used to indignant repository appreciation and future reference, we can see that Golem currently sits at #10 among its peers. This is a great metric for better understanding the popularity, following, and appreciation that a particular project owns.
We can also analyze where Golem stands relative to its peers in terms of number of commits in the past 90 days & the past year. This is another insightful way to better understand dev activity. As we can see below, Golem takes #7 over past 90 days and #9 in the past year. A respectable ranking to say the least.
The Team — So, Who’s Running the Show?
It is often forgotten that great success comes from great people. When investing it’s imperative that one is considerate of a multitude of things — price relative to intrinsic value, strategic positioning, financial positioning, business model, catalysts, etc. Most neglect the notion that the right team can be the difference between a unicorn and a zero. This is especially true in the highly human capital-intensive crypto world.
Transparency & Engagement
Golem is incredibly differentiated on the basis of the team’s responsiveness, transparency, thoughtfulness, and innovation alone. They’re constantly publishing on their Medium blog, updating their GitHub repo, posting on Trello, and are incredibly active on the /r/GolemProject subreddit. AMAs (Ask Me Anything) are hosted on Reddit every couple of months and are great resources for getting your questions answered and learning more. You can read the December edition here, February edition here, and April edition here. It’s the small things that give investors and users confidence in the murky crypto world, it’s these practices that keep the support and engagement alive. Cryptoassets backed by quality management teams and an active & supportive community are destined to earn a premium over time.
“Without execution, ‘vision’ is just another word for hallucination.” — Mark V. Hurd
Track Record & Experience
The team behind Golem has an existing track record of successful collaborative software development, proving their ability to execute and deliver a viable product. Both Julian Zawistowski (CEO) and Andrzej Regulski (COO) have experience working together on consulting projects and business endeavors since 2008. In 2013, they both left IBS, a Polish economic think-tank, to create a consulting software development team called imapp. The Golem project would later spin out of imapp and become a full time endeavor. The team is composed of talented developers with a multitude of experiences and skill sets making them capable of such delivering a decentralized P2P computational platform.
- CEO and Founder of Golem since December, 2016.
- CEO and co-Founder of imapp since August, 2013.
- Worked at The Institute for Structural Research (IBS) from 2006 till November, 2012. Remains Chairman of the Foundation Council.
- Graduated from Warsaw School of Economics in 2004 with a MA in Economics.
- CTO and Co-Founder of Golem since December, 2016.
- Senior Lead Developer at imapp since July 2014.
- Holds a MSc in Mathematics and MSc in Computer Science from the University of Warsaw.
- Programmer with experience working on P2P technologies, NVidia’s CUDA parallel computing platform, digital cinema mastering encoding technology, and The Witcher 2 among many others.
- Implemented core components of Golem prototype and leads the design of Golem protocol and its preliminary use cases.
- COO and Co-Founder at Golem since December, 2016.
- Managing Director at imapp since October, 2013.
- Evaluation Program Director and Project Manager at The Institute for Structural Research (IBS) between January, 2008 and September, 2013.
- Holds a MA in Economics from Warsaw School of Economics.
- Passionate about managing people and improving organizational efficiencies.
- Lead Software Engineer and Co-Founder at Golem since December, 2016.
- Lead Software Engineer at imapp Since August, 2014.
- Software Engineer & Deployment Specialist at Red Ocean from January, 2013 to July, 2014.
- Graduated from University of Warsaw with a MSc in Mathematics and BSc in Computer Science.
- Lead Ethereum Engineer at Golem since December, 2016.
- C++ Software Engineer on the Ethereum Team since November, 2014.
- C++ Software Engineer at imapp from July, 2012 to December, 2016.
- Pawel is the creator of EVMJIT project and also a contributor to the LLVM and C++ Guidelines Support Library.
- Received a MSc in Computer Science from Wroclaw University of Science and Technology.
- Special Adviser to Golem Network.
- OmiseGo Product Designer.
- Ethereum founding team member.
- Some of his past endeavors include Hive, one of the earliest easy-to-use Bitcoin wallets, Vizor, an open source WebVR development platform, Splice, an online music making/mashup community, and Kitchensurfing, which connected mobile chefs with buyers of their trade.
ICO Review & Financial Health
On December 2nd, 2016 Golem successfully completed an initial coin offering and raised $8M in proceeds. Of the total 1B GNT created, 820M GNT was sold in exchange for 820,000 ETH. The remaining 180M GNT was retained by the team and Golem Factory GmbH. Golem’s 18% of GNT supply allocated towards the Golem Team and Golem Factory GmbH is relatively in line with initial coin offerings and it speaks to the team’s desire to be financially incentivized, but not conflicted. Just as important, the ICO had a strict hard cap on amount of funds raised, thus preventing an inflated network value, concentration of token ownership, token flipping, and misaligned incentives.
Although Golem raised $8M in ETH, Ethereum’s appreciation since the initial raise impels a $615M raised on the basis today’s price of Ether ($750). Although less than 50% of all the raised ETH is currently held, we can turn to etherscan.io to examine the genesis Golem contract and better understand overall financial health. Needless to say, Golem has enough capital on hand to keep afloat.
Despite the fact that Golem was way ahead of the curve when they launched their ICO, they’ve benefited more from the broader crypto market appreciation than had they done an ICO a year later. Golem’s holdings of Ethereum positions them well into the distance future and opens the door for M&A/capital investments to accelerate development. Sometimes, things just work…
“With ETH appreciation we can afford to increase the scale of such efforts. On our side, a potential partner has to fit at least one of the following profiles: 1) a strong focus and experience in a technology which could speed up or enhance the development of core Golem elements, 2) a business case with a big potential to integrate with Golem as a source of computing power.”
-Piotr Jesiotrzyk, CTO and Co-Founder
While Golem may be offering it’s own decentralized P2P cloud computing solution, there are a handful of others working to provide a similar offering. Although not pure player competitors, projects like iExec, Gridcoin, and SONM have overlap with Golem and are worth being cognizant of.
A Lyon, France based project building a decentralized cloud infrastructure to provide computational power for dApps. The iExec team believes blockchains offer very limited computing capacities to run decentralized applications and plan to fill that void. Computations will be run off-chain and will allow traditional cloud services to be run in a new fashion within its decentralized network, while also being enhanced by the Ethereum blockchain. The iExec team was originally involved in establishing the European Desktop Grid infrastructure, a distributed system that uses the collection of computer resources from multiple locations to allow nodes to perform a different task/application. Once they discovered Ethereum, they saw the ability to use it in conjunction with desktop grid computing to disrupt the world of cloud, big data, an high performance computing (HPC). Any machine can become a “worker” and join a worker pool to perform distributed tasks, completion of such tasks are rewarded in RLC tokens.
iExec is different from Golem in that they’re focused on requestors, or dApps creators. The project also plans to take a different computational approach, leveraging off-chain computation. iExec has yet to launch their MainNet and remains a “wait-and-see” project in the meantime.
Gridcoin is an open source blockchain that mints and distributes cryptocurrency to those contributing their processing power to the BOINC computational infrastructure. The Berkeley open infrastructure for network computing (BOINC) is an open source computing infrastructure that performs data analytics projects by utilizing contributor’s GPU and CPU power. BOINC has been the engine behind numerous computationally intensive research programs, such as pulsar identification, the creation of patient specific cancer treatments, and the simulation of candidate molecules for next-generation solar panels, among many others. All data analytic projects are approved through a selective whitelist process.
Gridcoin is similar to Golem in that anyone can be rewarded for their idle computational power. For that reason, those looking to rent out their computational power may decide to do so on the Gridcoin network if it’s a more profitable offering. A switch of providers from Golem to Gridcoin could potentially result in a shock to supply on the Golem network, resulting in higher prices and uninterested requestors.
On the flip-side, the two differ in that no marketplace exists for the sale and/or purchase of computational power. As mentioned before, all projects have to go through a whitelist processes and nearly all of the projects running on the BOINC infrastructure. Gridcoins cannot be used for purchasing computational power. At first glance, the process for syncing the GridCoin client to the BOINC project manager is lengthy, confusing, and unclear.
SONM is a worldwide general-purpose computing platform and is perhaps most similar to Golem. SONM allows for personal computers and data centers to be rented by customers for powering various applications — rendering, machine learning, web hosting, scientific calculations, back-end for managed data storage devices, large scale development. SONM utilizes Docker to perform Consumer’s tasks and Ethereum smart contracts for task execution and enforcement. Docker is an open source tool that can package an application and its dependencies in a virtual “container” that can run on any Linux server. This means Docker can take an image (an executable package that includes everything that is needed to run an application) run it inside of a container using someone else’s computational power, and the customer can then interact with the application. For instance, say you want to play a game on your PC but you do not have the hardware capabilities to run it. You can package the game into an image, pay for computational power to run it in a container, and then play on your own personal computer.
Contrary to Golem, SONM only has a MVP (minimum viable product) TestNet live for customers and suppliers to familiarize themselves with. Only task images that are whitelisted can be run on MVP for now, but additional capabilities in production. SONM is most different from Golem in the technical approach they’re taking to provide decentralized P2P computing.
Golem is undoubtedly one of my favorite cryptoassets to date. If you have a reputable track record and are looking to solve a real problem by way of an original solution, I’m all ears. While Golem’s effort to go from zero to one is intoxicating to witness, innovation isn’t without its risks. Golem has its fair share of challenges ahead that bring into question long term viability and likelihood of adoption.
The Value Proposition
When competing for market share there are a few different ways to come out on top. Some compete on price, some compete on better efficiency, some compete on differentiated features/functionalities. Whatever it is, any cost one incurs as a result of switching to your good/service must be offset — there must be a value proposition. For example, consumers eliminate the need for continuous capital expenditure on infrastructure, open the door to new tools and functionalities, and no longer assume operational and security risk when switching from an on-premise legacy solution to Amazon Web Services. These perks vastly outweigh the time and headaches that will come with transitioning to AWS.
Golem’s value proposition lies within leveraging its network of requestors and providers to provide lower prices and faster computational speeds. Said competitive advantage will only be realized if there are enough providers and requestors to drive market equilibrium. Desired applications and software must be available if Golem wants to attract, retain, and increase user activity. Furthermore, Golem’s functionalities, features, and user experience needs to be on par, at the very least, with existing computational services to users. Things like a simple user interface, a seamless and secure GNT purchasing experience, guaranteed security & confidentiality, and reliable customer support must exist. If these do not exist, they’re costs. If these costs are too high to keep providers and requestors on the network, they’re gone and so is Golem’s value proposition.
Likelihood of Adoption
At the end of the day, Golem is a cryptoasset. The world of cryptoassets remains nascent, difficult to understand, misunderstood by both the general public & institutional investors, stuck in the “infrastructure stage”, andVOLATILE. Before we can expect Golem to see large adoption, it’s fair to say the broader crypto world will need to see some adoption of its own. It’ll take time, an effective marketing campaign, greater awareness, further development, and meaningful partnerships to exist before one can expect a ramp in adoption.
Although the launch of Golem Brass Beta and Main Net was a grand slam, the only illustrative use case today remains CGI rending via Blender. Industry standard software like Autodesk Maya or 3Ds Max are not supported and GPU support for rendering is not yet available. However, according to Golem’s December AMA “integrating other rendering software is going to be relatively easy. We have already initiated contacts with the companies behind some major commercial rendering software.”
Reliance on the Ethereum Network
Golem depends on Ethereum to scale, optimize, and offer gas-efficient micropayment channels in order to truly realize full functionality. Since micro payments are required to facilitate task execution between the receiver and various number of providers, if gas costs are too high then providers will not have the economic incentive to offer their computing power. Because Golem is an ERC20 token deployed on the Ethereum blockchain, Golem is directly exposed to the risks and potential setback of Ethereum (governance issues, increasing competition, faulty monetary policy, PoS implementation failure, scaling issues, hacks, etc).
Reliance on Emerging File Sharing Technology
Although Golem plans to use a series of promising emerging technologies like IPFS, devp2p, libp2p, and Swarm for P2P file transfer, these are in fact new and emerging technologies. Just as with Ethereum, Golem is directly exposed to the risks, hurdles, and limitations that these nascent technologies present.
Privacy of Computational Results
Computational subtasks are currently NOT confidential and confidentiality will not be introduced anytime soon. Golem is aware that this diminishes network trust and limits the number of use cases for requestors, but the team has plans to address the issue in the future. Despite the fact, implementing a confidentiality feature is a BIG hurdle that Golem must overcome in order for core use cases to exist and be trusted. Although the batching process of tasks obfuscates the project in totality, there is no guarantee that a provider couldn’t observe a vital part of the task by pure chance.
Golem’s partners from ITL are working on support for computations using Intel’s SGX technology. This technology, also known as Software Guard Extensions, allows partitioned areas (also known as ‘enclaves’) in memory to protect select code and data. Because this is hardware security solution, an attacker with full control over the desktop endpoint will not be able to access the protected enclave of information. Fascinating technology, you can read more here.
Stiff Competition Among Tech Giants
Although the competitive landscape is minuscule amongst other cryptoassets, Golem is still going toe-to-toe against the most innovative, powerful, and well established businesses on the globe. The tech behemoths have plenty of levers to pull and deeply understand the value in retaining customers by making their platforms sticky. They’re constantly looking to own customer loyalty, deeply integrate themselves, and make the cost of switching astronomical. Even if we assume Golem will take the originally planned 8 years to develop, plenty could change in 8 years’ time that could hinder Golem’s full potential.
The Unknown Unknowns
It’s expected that any new technology or product is going to have an initial proof-of-concept, we all start somewhere. However, Brass Golem was originally scheduled for released in 1H17 and the Beta was only just released last month. This lag can be attributed to unforeseen challenges and circumstances that the team faced. Golem has undoubtedly set sail in uncharted waters in search for a new gold, with that search comes setbacks. If Golem continues to find itself consistently setback and unable to bring itself to market, the likelihood of the network ever gaining meaningful adoption could approach zero. The network needs enough requestors and providers to truly shine, but a lack of either-or would be catastrophic. Lack of users could ultimately push the network into a recursive loop of user departures and slowing speeds/rising prices.
Keep Your Eye on the Prize (Conclusion)
Fan or not, no one in their right mind can refute the fact Golem is pushing the envelope to bring to market some pretty incredible and revolutionary technology. Although biased, Golem is one of the few truly differentiated projects across all crypto verticals and it possess an incredibly asymmetric risk/reward to the upside. That’s not to say that setbacks wont emerge along the way or that Golem is still incredibly young. But, those who are patient and willing to keep their eye on the prize may certainly witness the birth of a new global network and revolutionary technology.
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