Coin watch: Mithril

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I came upon this project by accident when speaking to one of my friends who works at Blockstate, a blockchain advisory and services provider. Mithril aims to shift the power of the social network back in the hands of society itself. There are plenty of platforms enabling well known content creators to monetize their efforts through centralized platforms such as YouTube and upcoming blockchain projects such as Tune. But for the “all walks of life” content creators there is a wide open opportunity to reward long tail creators for seeding the world with their brilliant ideas. I funnel my content through several channels including Twitter, my site Quantalysus, Medium, and Steemit. Mithril isn’t the first blockchain project to place content and social networks on a blockchain, but it does go one step beyond text (Steemit) as it pursues a social network much more akin to a Snapchat or Instagram.

Social networks have evolved and grown over time. My first exposure to this space was through blogging via Blogger (later acquired by Google) and Xanga. The first semblance of a social network I used was Friendster. MySpace came along and displaced Friendster because I was infatuated with toying around with HTML and sharing music content I discovered. In 2004 I signed up for Facebook and slowly my MySpace presence faded away.

With the recent Cambridge Analytics news hitting the airwaves, Facebook has started to take a tumble in its stock price and in the public’s view. Perhaps its time for new growth to take over well established companies. Truth is, social networks is and always has been a powerful sector to pursue for new entrants. Classic economics theory states excessive profits will lead to new competitors entering the space. Facebook has plenty of profits to go after. No other industry exhibits the power of network effects as well as social networks: the more users that use the platform, the more useful it becomes, and the more useful it becomes the more users are attracted and stay on the platform. A powerful virtuous cycle!

We’ve come a long way in this space and I expect innovators to experiment with blockchain to decentralize benefits while maintaining the coveted network effect. Take a moment to remember our dear social networks, both live and six feet under ground:

  • Friendster
  • Orkut
  • MySpace
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Vine
  • SnapChat
  • Mithril

So what is Mithril? 

Mithril is an ecosystem to enable its mission of empowering content creators. The ecosystem is broken down into several layers, they are:

  • Lit: a social media platform focused on video and photo.
    • Public and private content sharing (i.e. Snapchat)
    • Story Feed (i.e. Instagram, Snapchat)
    • Filters
    • Lit Discover (promoted content)
  • Mithril Integration Protocol: ability to integrate into other platforms outside of Lit, i.e. truly enabling a partner ecosystem to develop features and apps on top of Mithril’s ecosystem
  • Mithril (MITH): the native utility token of Lit
  • Mithril Vault: Mithril’s wallet
  • Mithril Merchant Network: enabling real world businesses to accept MITH as payment
    • Roadmap to accept both brick-and-mortar payments and online

A Youth Movement

The youth have always been a demographic retailers have long chased after. With parents holding the purse strings (allowances), retailers have had to dance with both parents and youth alike. With Mithril as a cryptocurrency, it enables youth to generate income. Their newfound wealth will enable Mithril to broadcast to merchants a whole new category of shoppers have entered the fray. Now, I won’t dive into this but I am concerned with marketing to children and teenagers will morph into undesirable pathways, but that’s not Mithril’s responsibility or purview. Additionally, not all content creators will be teenagers (I’m certainly not a teenager).

The team

I’m going to start with the advisors since that is what excited me the most.

  • Pantera Capital (Paul Veradittakit, Partner)
  • Sora Ventures  (Jason Fang, Managing Partner)
  • Qtum Foundation (if you read my writeup on Qtum, you already know how bullish I am) (Stella Kung, head of PR and marketing)
  • AMIS (Alex Liu, CEO)
  • Blockstate (full disclosure: I am friends with a few of the consultants at Blockstate. As a former Accenture alum, I can attest to the real world functional/technical skills they bring to the table. To boot, they are awesome rock wall climbers!)

My buddy also sent me this great interview of Jeffrey Huang, their founder. All of their team have LinkedIn profiles which I encourage you to read through. Additionally, you will see GitHub repos for Li-Chun Yang (senior developer focused on full-stack) and Wilson Huang (co-founder of Hackoin – a blockchain consultant services shop). To boot, Mithril will naturally be on mobile (Chiao-Yen Chang focused on Android and iOS, Alex Huang on iOS).

Token economics

  • 35% of MITH available via Social Mining over next several years
    • Social Mining is the term Mithril uses to reward content creators for their influence and success as a contributor
    • Follows a “halvening” model (similar to Bitcoin) where rewards are cut in half every year
  • 30% private sale
  • 5% Development team
  • 20% Community Development (bounties, security testing, smart contract auditing, influencers – I may apply for this as a full disclosure)
  • 5% Future reserves
  • 5% Early backers and and advisors

Social Mining

The amount of rewards distributed via Social Mining is laid plain and simple on their whitepaper. For brevity I’ll break it down.

Your rewards are susceptible to a balance of quantity and quality of interactions. The more watches, views, and likes you receive the higher your core. However, each of these values will have a coefficient multiplier based on a weighted function. Based on maximizing this quality and quantity of interactions (watch, view, like) your score is weighted against the entire network to determine your purity score. This purity score is your percentage of the total social mining.

Why I am encouraged by this project

  • Social Mining is less susceptible to promotion scores, similar to how Steemit content can be over promoted with users with high levels of Steem Power.
  • Real world payment at brick-and-mortar
  • Enabling access to newer, youthful demographic for merchants
  • I didn’t mention Mitrhil is an ERC-20 token for a reason. In my post, The Multi-Protocol world I call for eventual value to accrue to applications since they will have a plethora of base layer protocols to choose from. Simply put, Ethereum will duke it out with Neo, Qtum, etc. until their features become so similar that applications do not have a preference which blockchain to go with.

“As Mithril evolves, we intent to keep close watch on leading Ethereum scalability solution such as Plasma, Raiden Network, as well as platforms outside of Ethereum, such as EOS and Zilliqa”.

~Mithril whitepaper page 11

Concerns

  • Stiff competition from incumbents (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat)
  • Ever increasing competition from fellow blockchain projects: Zen (in pre-ICo stage), ONG.social
  • Governance mechanisms for cyberbullying, illegal content such as child pornagraphy.
    • I can imagine Mithril creating mini-social networks within Lit so that users can join their own versions of Lit, tag content appropriately and filter it out based on that metadata. That solution could help Lit localize its network to accommodate regional preferences.
  • Detailed revenue model outside of Mithril valuation. I cover the dangers of having token value as the only business model of a utility network.
  • Lack of a two token system: one for utility and another financial
    • If the business model is focused squarely on driving MITH value upward, will that create a barrier to entry for either merchants, users, and sponsored content providers?
  • To what degree will promoted content, if any, play a role in Lit? Is this subject to a high degree of centralization?

My outlook

Mithril looks promising as an overall solution. I would be keen to see a demo or a beta release to see how far they have gotten. Typically when I evaluate cryptocurrency projects my bar is set fairly low for first steps. With as little as 60% of projects failing to estimates as high 80%, I first ask myself is this a scam? With the advisors they have onboard and the fact they only did a private sale, my only concern comes down to strategy and execution. I wish Mithril the best of luck since I think content and social networking is a ripe area for blockchain and token economic innovation.

You can find MITH on Okex at the time of this writing. They are also in discussions to have their token listed on other platforms.

Find out more about Mithril on their Telegram channel and Twitter account (@MithrilToken)

Disclosures: I am not part of the Mithril team nor do I own any MITH at the time of writing.

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