ICO Review: Hero Node ($HER) [Outlook: Pass]

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This project has received heightened attention in the circles I follow so I wanted to take a crack at reviewing it. Here we go.

Hero Node’s goal is to make “Blockchain-as-a-Service” into reality. The project aims to reduce the complexity in developing decentralized apps (dApps) across any of the major smart contract enabled blockchains. By reducing development friction, an increasing number of non-blockchain developers will enter the space and start to build an increasing number of dApps on the web and mobile devices. The end result would hopefully be a marketplace of centralized and decentralized apps competing for consumers.



Token Metrics

  • Symbol: ​HER
  • Type: ERC20
  • Hard Cap:​ 31,000 ETH
    • Presale: 12,000 ETH (minimum of 300 ETH), vested tokens for 90 days. 33% of presale vests every 30 days post ICO
    • Public sale: 19,000 ETH
  • Market Price:​ 1 HER = 21,000 HER
  • Total Token Supply: ​2,000,000,000
  • Tokens Released: ​June 2018


The Team

The team has a lot of technical experience developing the Hero framework from the time they were working inside Dianrong – China’s biggest p2p lending platform from the founder of Lending Club. The team is primarily Chinese and its either difficult to find professional experience or there is high unfamiliarity with Asian brand name companies. Much of the team has a technical background and worked together in Dianrong, an internet provider of financial information and services to SMBs (small, medium businesses).

  • Liu Guoping, CEO, experience at the following firms: NEC, Wind, and Dianrong prior to founding Hero Node. It’s hard to say what the caliber of these firms and his experience is due to a lack of visibility of these companies. But based on a cursory of search, there are 1,001 employees of Dianrong on LinkedIn. It’s not a startup, but it’s definitely still a medium sized business. On Wikipedia Dianrong is listed as having 3,500 employees. Dianrong looks to be China’s version of peer-to-peer lender LendingClub (1,530 employees). Wind has 543 employees at LinkedIn. This suggests to me Liu does not have the “blue chip” experience most ICO evaluators are looking for, but that’s okay if we are evaluating based on entrepreneurship and technical capability. Also, the low numbers of employees at these firms may also be a result of lack of LinkedIn adoption in China.
  • Carl Zhu, ​CTO, 1 year experience at a firm named PAX and 3 years at Dianrong. His experience feels a bit light as a first impression.
  • Daniel Lixao, Engineer. Hero Node’s website says distributed database and software engineer. Prior to Hero, around 5 years of experience in software development.
  • Ruoxin Zhang, Software Developer. Website says he is a senior developer of blockchain. On LinkedIn he has ~4 years experience building financial applications. Again, the experience feels light.



Partners & Investors

  • QTUM foundation – Hero Node is exhibited on their dApps website.
  • Draper Dragon – Tim Draper’s fund
  • Fenbushi​
  • Kevin Guo, Starwin Capital – Chinese investment firm focusing on early stage fintech. It’s likely Kevin became aware of the team during their time at Dianrong. Notable crypto investment: Loopring
  • BNcapital fund
  • Roots Capital fund
  • iOT chain fund


Hero Node’s System

Hero Node’s architecture includes a network of nodes that will synchronize with public blockchains such as Qtum and Ethereum. Data for web and mobile applications will be stored in a distributed fashion via the IPFS protocol. Web and mobile applications will access data from IPFS and the public chains via Hero Node’s APIs. This architecture could potentially make it convenient for developers to work with a multitude of blockchains for specific use cases. Perhaps an application will rely on Ethereum for its security and another chain for scalability. The idea behind working with a unified API is the convenience of only needing to learn how to use these standards rather than becoming an expert in Ethereum or Qtum. Hero’s platform will be built on Javascript to enable mass developer adoption.

Breaking down the architcture:

  • Hero Aggregate Layer: communicates to the public chains (Ethereum, Qtum), storage layers, and the aggregate data is accessed via the API
  • Hero Node Gateway: is the API for developers to access IPFS and public data from the Hero Aggregate Layer
  • Hero Mobile: a mobile developer framework to convert JavaScript code to iOS, Android, and H5 compatible formats


Verdict

The idea of aggregating data across chains combined with offchain data and simplifying development for web and mobile applications is a good idea. There are a number of challenges to be solved such as ensuring the Hero Nodes have the latest copy of every chain. They will also have to account for potential forks when it comes to synchronizing to their Hero Nodes. It may be far out there, but the ability to attack Hero Nodes and falsify data from the public chains (not corrupting Ethereum but the Hero Nodes’ interpretation instead) needs to be addressed as well. One thought that comes to mind is why is Hero the specific team to accomplish this. Why wouldn’t more fully developed teams working on public chains simply incorporate interoperable features themselves. Over time, these public blockchains may standardize and have developer friendly interfaces anyway.

Overall, it’s a good idea. But the relative inexperience of the team combined with the likely interoperability features of the major blockchains make this investment a lower priority for me. Rather than investing in middleware tools with APIs, capital could better be deployed to continue maturing public blockchains themselves.

Side note: Fenbushi, Qtum Foundation, and Draper Dragon’s involvement will likely generate a ton of hype. And when it comes to cryptocurrency projects, hype might be the only thing that matters with cryptocurrencies.



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