New Open Source Cryptocurrency Grin Has Deep-Pocketed Donors
New cryptocurrency Grin launched its mainnet on January 15th. Grin is a volunteer-run project that says it’s only interested in getting the MimbleWimble technology — on which it is based — into public usage. But with major funding from multiple crypto investment firms and businesses, it’s unclear what safeguards Grin has in place to ensure the project remains independent.
UPDATE: This piece has been updated with new information about the governance of Grin.
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Grin Implements Privacy and Scalability Features that Bitcoin Lacks
According to its GitHub page, Grin is an open source software project that is an implementation of MimbleWimble, a blockchain proposal released in 2016 by an anonymous cryptographer known as Tom Elvis Jedusor. Created to solve the privacy and scalability problems of Bitcoin, the privacy aspect of MimbleWimble was derived from a technology called Confidential Transactions, which could also be used in Bitcoin.
A unique aspect of Grin is that it uses two variations of a consensus algorithm called the Cuckoo Cycle. Developed by Dutch computer scientist John Tromp in 2015, the Cuckoo Cycle is a proof-of-work algorithm. However, Grin has created two versions of its Cuckoo cycle, one that is ASIC-friendly and one designed for GPU miners. Block rewards will be split between miners on the two algorithms, with the ASIC-friendly algorithm becoming predominate within two years. This was done as part of Grin’s strategy to deal with ASIC mining, which the project views as inevitable in the long-term.
Grin Claims Altruistic Intentions, but Funding Opaque
Grin’s website emphasizes the project’s decentralized nature, saying it is run by a volunteer community. The project notes it is not motivated by profit for its development team or early adopters. Instead, the group claims to be purely altruistic:
We are building it Grin because we’re excited about MimbleWimble technology and the possibilities that it will one day offer. Unlike the vast majority of blockchain projects, Grin’s development is not motivated by profit for either its developers or early adopters.
With that in mind, Grin says there was no ICO nor founder’s reward, and that the project is being developed by part-time volunteers, some of whom are anonymous. In order to finance the project, Grin has accepted donations from multiple parties, which are listed on its “Friends of Grin” page. These include for-profit firms such as crypto investment companies Cypher Capital, KR1, and Continue Capital, crypto exchanges Bitonic and Galleon, and blockchain technology firms BlockCypher and Hashrabbit.
Upcoming Grin Conference Backed by Adam Draper
A upcoming developer’s conference called Grincon U.S. will be held in San Mateo, California at the end of January 2018. The conference is sponsored by Boost VC, a tech-focused venture capital fund co-founded by Adam Draper, son of noted bitcoin investor Tim Draper. The elder Draper made waves in July of 2018 by predicting that bitcoin’s price would reach $250,000 by 2022. Hashrabbit and BlockCypher are also co-sponsoring the event.
On its funding page, Grin says that it will not accept any capital that comes with the expectation of future monetary return or undue influence over the project. Donors’ money goes into the “Grin General Fund,” which, per the website, is:
[I]tended to cover costs related to Grin’s ongoing development. While the team may not have visibility on every particular need that will arise, all donated funds will be used towards Grin’s development or promotion.
Grin says the fund is managed by an organization called the “Grin Technical Council,” which has at least three members, and that “all spending decisions will be made public.” However, there are no financial records given on the website. Grin has also not publicly released any documentation demonstrating how it plans to prevent the donors from influencing the project, though the project’s Github and forum have governance information.
Bitsonline contacted Grin and the Grin Council to request a list of the spending made through the General Fund, but has not heard back by press time.
What’s your take on the Grin cryptocurrency? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.
Images via Pixabay, Boost.vc