This is going to be a rather lengthy post, but hopefully it will both clear the air a little, show a little more transparency, and offer some explanations about what’s been happening.
DigiByte Foundation changes
First things first, we’ve had a bit of internal discussion and review, and we need to make a few changes. It’s clear we’re not communicating internally enough, and misunderstandings happen as a result. We want to do better.
Unfortunately we’re only human, contrary to popular belief. We make mistakes, and we’re learning from them. We appreciate your understanding.
Part of being a decentralized blockchain means that anybody can do anything, and sometimes there is so much going on it’s hard to keep track of it all. We’ve had Wave143 recently help out with monthly updates on Reddit, and they’re becoming *insanely* long, as there’s so much going on!
It seems though that if we’re going to work as a Foundation, we need to communicate even more frequently than we are currently, if we’re to make the Foundation the “supporting structure” for the Blockchain.
Again though, as a decentralized blockchain it means we’re not the “final say”, and I want to be clear here about this. Anybody is most welcome to even form a company to support DigiByte, in fact I would encourage it even. If you are able to offer assistance, if you want to offer consultation services, or development resources, then the DigiByte Foundation would love to see that.
Original marketing / PR goals
Although it was only 3 months ago, I remember the start of February all too well.
Almost every other day there were posts on Reddit, tweets on Twitter, messages on Telegram, asking for the Foundation to head up a Marketing / PR drive for DigiByte. It had probably been going on for 2–3 months by the time we made our original announcement that we were going to have to crowd-source the funds to undertake such a venture, during which time we had been actively investigating a number of avenues.
We had just seen one of the biggest bull-runs in Crypto history (Arguably *the* biggest), and the enthusiasm for DigiByte was palpable. The community growth was so rapid it was mind-boggling.
It got to the point that community members were even looking to undertake such a venture, though naturally there was a healthy dose of skepticism. The community specifically wanted somebody they felt they could trust with their donations, so giving to “just anybody” wasn’t something many were comfortable with doing. With that in mind, listening to what the community wanted, some of us Foundation members took this on, with the hopes that a semi-public face would allow enough trust that we wouldn’t “do a runner” with the funds raised. So I created a wallet for people to donate to.
An initial effort raised around 10,000 DGB though from the community, which was later transferred into the main Marketing fund wallet.
We set out to obtain 300,000 DigiByte for our initial goal, with an additional 900,000 as a “stretch goal”. We had a bunch of nifty ideas floating around with what could be done should that 1.2 million DigiByte goal get reached, but, it seemed the goal was a little bit too much of a stretch.
The problem was the value of DigiByte was so insanely volatile thanks to the Bitcoin markets tanking, the value of the funds at present day is still not quite the USD$12,000 that it was worth when it was sent to TCPR. The funds sent to TCPR were purely for the part-time engagement of his services, there was no additional funding air-marked for use anywhere else by him or by the Foundation.
This Marketing Fund is under the control of Jared, Ammar & Josiah. We are the only ones with the 2-of-3 required multi-sig keys. The remaining funds are still sitting in the DigiByte Marketing Fund wallet, which is referenced on the website: https://digibytefoundation.org/donate
These additional funds are going to be used for any future marketing endeavors, such as an up-coming animated video for Digi-ID. Should any other marketing ventures arise that could utilize these funds, we have them there.
Hiring of TCPR and PR goals
Although it was only announced at the end of January / start of February that we were looking to hire somebody, it was something that had been investigated for a while. This was not an overnight decision, nor one that was taken lightly.
Speaking from personal experience, I didn’t have the skills to understand what would be a good candidate for this undertaking. Other successful members of the Foundation who had a history of running a company did however. Many options were investigated and it was only after significant searching that TCPR was discovered.
He was presented to other members of the Foundation after whittling away many of the other unsuitable candidates, and those involved all agreed he was a good fit for DigiByte.
Given his history and experience with his successful fashion line, in addition to effectively being somebody who was not saturated by the crypto-world, he seemed to have the skills and industry-contacts to share the DigiByte name.
The goal would be to engage with a new audience of people. Those who were not already invested in cryptocurrencies, as that seemed to be too-small of a target market. We wanted to get visibility to the masses, to those not using blockchain technology.
This naturally ruled out Facebook and most other social media advertisement, especially as Facebook have banned all crypto-ads. The audience that also brings are usually not the kind of long-term investors that DigiByte is interested in.
It’s no secret, that DigiByte Foundation wants long-term sustained and steady growth, just as Jareds’ vision has been since the inception of DigiByte. People coming from Facebook have been previously bombarded by other ICO’s, many of which are either Pump & Dumps or end up failing. Those are not the kinds of short-term investors that are good for such growth, and not the target market of this PR / Marketing initiative.
In addition to this, anybody can start a Facebook ad campaign, or a Google AdWords run. This doesn’t require the DigiByte Foundation to get involved. If you, as a reader of this, wanted to do-so, you could simply run a campaign on your own.
Lets be clear: Social-media is not part of this engagement with TCPR, nor do we expect TCPR to be doing things such as tweets from his other twitter accounts.
Toms’ skills were better suited to mass marketing, which is where we want them to remain focused on. The original DigiByte sent to TCPR was for the engagement of his services on a part-time basis over the course of a 12-month period.
The market responds
We are now a little over 3 months in to this engagement.
Unfortunately for what is probably 4/5'ths of it, the market was extremely bearish, coming down from a Bitcoin high of almost USD$20K.
People are always interested in Bitcoin when the price is going up. In New Zealand, our local paper couldn’t get enough info on Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, blockchains and the likes, even though they themselves didn’t understand what they were writing about. It lasted for probably a good 7–10 weeks with Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies on the front-page daily. I should know, they interviewed me at the start of January about my Mining. A follow-up interview was promised, but by mid-late January that interest had waned completely, as the Bitcoin value began to tank.
Never mind that the value of Bitcoin was still up 5X or more since the same time last year, rationale was clearly not on the forefront of peoples minds.
As interest in Bitcoin dwindled, so-to did any interest in altcoins such as DigiByte.
The problem with this means that no matter how hard anybody tries, people no longer wanted to read, see or hear about cryptocurrencies.
This became quite apparent to us after Tom spent a good dozen or more revisions on an excellent article for the Huffington Post. He went back and forth a number of times with Ammar and I, with the original draft (Which looked quite solid in my books), and then all the revisions, tweaks, changes requested by Huffington Post.
After a lot of back and forth, Huffington Post came outright and simply said “We’re sorry, at the moment we don’t think this is something our audience is interested in reading about”, and the article was scrapped by them.
Not content to accept failure, Tom immediately began working on yet another story to submit to the Huffington Post. After a bit of back and forth, this one was accepted. It was a good solid article that didn’t come across as a DigiByte “shill”, and was an overall interesting read, while still portraying DigiByte in a great light.
Unfortunately we received a grand total of two comments on the article, and viewer numbers were slim.
The market had spoken: Now was not the time to be making waves about Cryptocurrency when it came to interest from the masses. The value was trending down and people were not interested as a result.
Still, Tom continued to pursue a variety of avenues, with a number of sources, as he had all along. It was at this time that Tom even suggested implementing DigiByte as part of his supply-chain for ethical and lifelong fashion-wear. The theory was it could be used as an ‘example’ for other companies on how implementation might look. However, after a bit of back and forth, we decided it was best if Tom continued his pursuit of mass-marketing / PR as he had been doing.
We needed to be focusing more on the non-currency aspect of the Blockchain, something Jared has been talking about for years now. Security is at the heart of DigiByte, and our applications in that space. It’s even in our Genesis Block Hash: “USA Today: 10/Jan/2014, Target: Data stolen from up to 110M customers”
This tied in well with Digi-ID and is going to be a good focus for DigiByte going forward. Digi-ID however required the DigiByte wallets, which had hit a few developmental roadblocks.
Successful development progress
Digi-ID was being bundled in to the DigiByte Wallets, both DigiByte Go on PC, as well as the Android & iOS wallets.
Unfortunately there was some issues with synchronization that needed to be addressed, along with some core updates to it, as well as finishing the Digi-ID implementation into the wallet.
With this in mind, and off the successful crowd-funding for the Marketing campaign, we again asked the community to put their trust in us and to donate to the cause. Again, this was done without any explanation of what the development was going to be for, just that there were to be 4x “bounties”.
The funding was achieved in a couple of days, and so we announced our first two bounties and the need for developers: Fix the sync issue and bring the iOS core up to match that of Android.
These two brought some very skilled developers our way, who are still contributing on a volunteer basis even to this day. We are incredibly grateful for their input and the progress made as a result.
Following this, we announced the mobile UI redesign contest.
There are times when a community-vote seems applicable, this certainly seemed to be one of them. Voting on which PR agency to use was not.
This was a fantastic way for our community to have a direct influence on the look and feel of the wallet, both in the designing of it and voting on which they liked the best!
The code work behind the redesign has begun and you can see the initial progress of it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRGq1-WvQOQ
In addition to this, we’ve also done volunteer donations for Venezuela which you can read about our initial relief efforts here , here, and the proposal submission / follow-up video here. We’ve successfully donated a thousand bottles of water to the Red Cross, food to feed 160 orphaned children for a whole month, as well as 30x tablets, school tables, scissors, glue, pencils and more for a school.
Where-to from here?
I specifically mention this because so far I believe we have been good stewards of the funds that the community has donated to us. We have used them for what we said we would, not to mention we’ve been frugal and not over-spent.
I still stand by my decision to engage with TCPR, as does Ammar. We both believe the best is yet to come, and, we want to do what we can to support Tom & TCPR even more-so, to allow him to help take DigiByte to the masses.
We want to be clear this will not result in a pump & dump, and that a price increase is not specifically the end-goal here, though it may be an implication from the additional users that come to DigiByte.
A change in market conditions is in the air, and the last couple of weeks have begun to show this. On top of it all, we’ve just recently launched the Digi-ID.io website as a platform to direct people to who are interested to find out more about Digi-ID.
This website has a document we’ve dubbed a ‘darkpaper’, along with a set of FAQ for end-users, vendors potentially looking to integrate Digi-ID into their platform, as well as developers.
This is only possible as a result of the community trusting in us, to get head-way made with the mobile wallets, Digi-ID implementation completed, and then a TON of hard-yards to get this website and supporting information available in an easy-to-digest format.
I’d also like to thank Damir Cengic again, who both won the Mobile UI redesign contest, as well as for the help with the Venezuela document submission, the Digi-ID.io website design, and for PromoteDGB.com
We have a fantastic team, a vibrant community, and I believe we are still yet to see the best come from engaging with TCPR.
If you have any ideas, or suggestions for leads we can pursue, or angles we can tackle, we welcome any constructive feedback. We still remain certain that social-media or search-advertising is not the best path for us, but rather traditional media and mediums.
The launch of Digi-ID is bound to be beneficial for a good ‘avenue’ we can use to show the world why DigiByte is such a powerful blockchain. I believe TCPR will be the one to help show that to the masses.
How the community has handled this - Our image
We’ve also seen that the DigiByte community at large can get pretty toxic, and understandably his isn’t something we want to encourage. Because we’re a decentralized Blockchain, this means that everybody is effectively a “Brand ambassador”. I honestly believe that a lot of people in the DigiByte community haven’t stopped to think about how their actions would be portrayed when viewed by an outsider, and this also includes the actions of those on the Foundation.
It’s also incredibly disappointing that there are people in the DigiByte community who are tagging his clothing brand on Twitter, contacting him and his family via Facebook to send hate-mail. None of it is warranted, and for a decentralized blockchain we need the community to reflect upon how their somewhat appalling comments and actions are affecting the DigiByte branding. It’s my opinion this needs to stop, immediately.
Look at it this way: If you search for DigiByte right now, you won’t find a very positive image of our community. We need to reflect on this and improve.
I would even go so far as to suggest that many of the inflammatory reddit posts / tweets are removed, they’re counter-productive in almost every way and not a good image for the DigiByte brand / community.
As a result and after discussing this with Tom, we agree it’s best that he no longer takes direct feedback from the community, either on Reddit, Email etc. as it’s simply too time-consuming and not productive. TCPR will continue to focus on getting DigiByte in to mainstream media, and I want to remind the readers of this that social-media is not part of this.
Ammar & I would like to reaffirm our on-going support for Tom / TCPR
TCPR will continue with the original goal: To get DigiByte in to mainstream media
More internal communication is needed by the Foundation, this has become blindingly obvious over the last two weeks. Decentralized blockchain is good, but we need to improve how we work together within the Foundation structure.
We’re going to be a bit more transparent with these marketing efforts, even if they are unsuccessful. This might not mean we ‘announce’ all the specifics, but to reaffirm the community a bit more is probably needed.
Tom will continue to work part-time on DigiByte, in addition to other non-DigiByte roles. He was never intended to be full-time, and he’s naturally free to continue to work on his clothing brand etc
The community needs to review how they want to be perceived. A greater focus on the fact that everybody is an “Ambassador” will be coming.
Community members spamming YouTube comments, Reddit comments, Twitter comments is just that: Spam. It’s unhelpful and leaves a negative image about DigiByte.
Social media ad-runs or search-engine ad runs are both something anybody is free to do, and are not expected from our engagement with TCPR.
Digi-ID is going to be a focus going forward, and the Digi-ID.io website
Uses for DigiByte outside of just “A faster Bitcoin” are also going to be a higher priority too.