From the day we gathered to draft our initial whitepaper, our goal in Orbs has always been to bring blockchain to mainstream business use. Accordingly, we have placed pragmatism at the center of our identity and are focused on something that can actually run in the real world and bring tangible value today, not 5 years down the road.
The impact can be felt across the team, but nowhere more obviously than in our product. Orbs was conceived and designed as a practical blockchain solution with the intention to bring actual usage and value to the technology in the near term. It also drove the differentiators we created like predictable and low fee structures that enable apps to scale, isolation between apps with virtual chains, smart contracts in multiple coding languages and more.
But however focused we are on real usage, we must come to terms with the realities of the industry. While the blockchain sector is past the point of demonstrating the innovation in blockchain, the market is still very immature. Essentially, though it is undeniable that blockchain technology is capable of solving problems that we’ve previously had no solution for, the process of taking advantage of these opportunities takes time.
Put succinctly, we can all agree that the future is incredibly promising, but actual usage isn’t there yet.
Following the onset of the ‘Crypto Winter’ in 2019, we have observed a continuing decline in token-based startups and pure dApps. The dramatic decline in ICOs severely impacted the ability to raise money for these projects forcing a reset that was felt across the industry.
Yet, alongside the slowdown in dApps has been the increased adoption of blockchain by well established mainstream tech companies like Telegram and Facebook - both launching notable projects this year. We have also witnessed increasing adoption of blockchain technology in the enterprise sector - a leader in the adoption of emerging technologies because of their resources and reach.
And the rise of Proof-of-Concept projects has been promising with many companies now progressing to deeper integrations.
When the market reached its peak during 2017-2018, we saw explosive demand for blockchain infrastructure as hundreds of new blockchain startups launched. Use cases for decentralization were popping up everywhere and there seemed to be no limit to the impact that decentralization would have.
However, many of these use cases were not strong enough to survive crypto winter and many projects failed to mature to working products. While it is inevitable that a high number of startups will ultimately fail to become resounding successes, it was clear that there was a level of separation from the customer that was limiting the industry’s impact.
As a result, we no longer feel that finding the right use cases is the sole responsibility of the users of the infrastructure we’re building. Instead, we believe that we must take an active role in identifying the use cases we believe are viable and where the true value in usable blockchain can emerge. The road towards mainstream use starts from the right use cases.
With that in mind, our focus in 2019 is leveraging the two aforementioned observations to guide a strategy that can bring the maximum impact on the technology in the shortest term. First, we see real adoption coming to the enterprise ecosystem first and view this reality as an opportunity. Second, we believe that the focus of this process must center around the identification of use cases that bring immediate value.
However, this strategy brings a challenge because many of the enterprise use cases that bring maximum value begin in closed systems - in private networks - where it’s easy to overlook, if not completely ignore, the main innovation that blockchain provides.
Therefore, we are focused on solutions that leverage public blockchains to provide businesses with a core value - the ability to collaborate in trustless environments. This is based on the three guarantees - forkability, auditability, and governance that is transparent and enforceable. We break down the unique values blockchain brings to the table in full in our post here, but essentially it allows multiple parties to collaborate on open projects while limiting the risks currently associated with working together. The result is a scenario where many parties or businesses can come together to create solutions that could have never been imagined before because the risks of collaboration are removed.
This focus is critical because even use cases that start in more closed environments will not really benefit from the technology until they become more open. In these use cases, there is a built-in momentum that carries the use cases towards increasingly public opportunities.
This conclusion also reinforces a central component of our identity - the belief that there will not be a single blockchain solution will rule them all. Instead, we believe that the winning solutions will be based on ‘blockchain stacks’ that will together multiple protocols to create the ideal infrastructure for a given solution. For Orbs, see tremendous benefit in leveraging the mature Ethereum ecosystem as a base layer for Orbs. Ethereum provides the ideal trust layer, and Orbs brings the most effective productivity layer - giving our users a solution that outperforms any other on-market.
But this is just the infrastructure layer. For the industry to truly take off we also must identify and support the solution providers that will build on top of infrastructures like Orbs to offer complete “ready-to-use” solutions - like identity.
This leads to the final element of our strategy in 2019 - focusing in 2019 on building out the ideal Orbs ecosystem. This happens on multiple levels. First, we are focusing on the proof-of-stake ecosystem - The Orbs Universe - with validators, guardians and delegators - the core of everything we’re building. Second, we are actively working on strengthening the stack of providers around us. Finally, now that Orbs is launched and fully open source, we are focusing on growing the open source developer community around the project.
By creating this type of focus, we believe we can create the ideal foundation for businesses to drive real usage and value on the blockchain today.