The findings in detail
In Part 1 I looked back at the context of the sentiment around Harmony when we launched the survey as well as what has happened since then. It’s interesting how quickly sentiment can turn around but it’s also interesting what causes it. In our case it was the Coinbase announcement that they were actively investigating Harmony as an asset to list on the exchange. It can be hard sometimes to measure one project against another particularly since so many appear to be attempting to solve the same problems. Small, measurable details can make all the difference. The Coinbase news was clearly one such detail and there’s a lesson for us there. But that’s also the point of the survey, to begin acquiring measurable data from which to work.
So let’s dig in.
Tokens and Staking
Our Telegram group has 12,589 members, 1287 of whom are online and active as I write this. 250 participants took place in the survey. That is not a great conversion rate. I would have preferred to see numbers north of 400 but given where we are, okay I’ll take it. The data clearly shows us that most people weren’t able to get into the IEO so picked up the tokens post sale. What’s interesting though is the concentration of token holdings among respondents. The 10,000 to 100,000 ONE bracket is clearly where we will find most medium sized holdings. This is valuable data for building our staking model. One of the criticisms of PoS mechanisms is that it replicates the ‘rich getting richer’ model we find in non-crypto economies. If we jump ahead to Slide 12 it’s clear the promise of block rewards, a democratic staking model and the ability to benefit from PoS is a big draw. However, as we can see from Slide 13 running a node becomes way less interesting for our token holders. There’s no doubt there’s still some considerable barriers to overcome and it’s interesting that a tiered structure (Slide 14) would be of interest as it clearly makes the network feel more democratic. I.e. There’s something for me here. The nodes are vital to our network, the more we have the better so this is a graph I would like to pay special attention to next time we run a survey.
Project development and Transparency
Slide 7 is interesting. Respondents feel confident about explaining Harmony’s goals to their friends but in Slide 9 we see 6 out of the 10 projects named are NOT sharding projects. Generally we’re being compared with smart contract platforms and it’s interesting to see no mention of Hashgraph, Libra or Polkadot. There’s a bigger challenge here however, one faced by all crypto projects, which is to give this technology an easily graspable shorthand. We should be able to reduce the word cloud on Slide 8 into a single 3–5 word phrase. That’s a big challenge and it’s clear we need to do more to communicate what Harmony is about.
(On a personal note this is a particular bug-bear of mine. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been asked to make an explainer film for Harmony because every other project has one. I would much rather make a manifesto film that explains ‘why’ rather than ‘what’. When so many projects appear to offer the same thing the way you do it and the reasons you do it become much more important. I’m actively looking into ways to do an explainer Harmony style. That style is starting to take shape and I look forward to presenting more of it in the coming months.)
Slides 15/16 give a clear picture of what our community consider the metrics of success: enterprise and mass adoption with a clear preference for privacy tech such as ZKSnarks. Harmony’s place as a force for good trails in last place. Success first, social responsibility second. No surprise to see Decentralised Finance taking top spot in the priorities list. Although gaming (which we see as the logical stepping stone to DeFi) comes in last.
No surprise here. We scored low. It tends to follow that red candles mean the team isn’t marketing effectively. But we have also taken this on board and are working hard to put good content in place as well as taking a fresh look at our brand, proposition and communications. These things don’t happen overnight and it’s one of the areas where I’m hoping we can involve our community to make a big difference. Slide 19 is home base for me. Many of the items listed are on the radar already and will be rolled out as soon as possible (no fixed date as yet but it’s in progress). Videos and a comprehensive Gitbook to carry our FAQ’s and key documentation are a priority for me.
Make it simple, make it human
One overriding comment that came from the free text responses was the desire to see Harmony take the lead in making our technology simple to use, easy to adopt, great for consumer and mass adoption. Even though we’re a Layer1 where the dApps built on top are the primary interface layer this message resonates loud and clear. It should manifest in things like one-click deploy for nodes (on that note Alok has managed to get node deployment on AWS down to 5mins — big wow), in documentation, in the way we communicate and the ease with which others can talk about us and introduce us to other businesses.
But maybe there’s a bigger message here. What is our role as a blockchain project? Should we simply create and then hand over or do we have a more profound responsibility to build human-driven technology? As we begin to learn more and more about the filter bubbles employed by Facebook and Google to serve us only what we have already looked at, the role of algorithms, gambling style mechanics to ensure addiction and the skullduggery of our data exploitation it becomes clear that Silicon Valley has some searching questions to ask about its role in a future where AI will take an increasingly important role.
At Harmony this occupies our thinking on a daily basis. It’s not about fluffy platitudes or promising to create touchy-feely innovation. Human-driven innovation is the logical and necessary response to the abuse of power by major tech and financial institutions. Situated here in Silicon Valley we have an opportunity to play a leading role in shaping this new movement which has the potential to be every bit as exciting as the last great wave in tech.
This is a funny one. It has felt in recent weeks as if we were failing at every turn. But the data doesn’t bear that out. Tim’s conclusion is that those with negative opinions probably didn’t take the survey and I tend to agree with that. Why help us if you’re not positively inclined towards us. I get that. If we look at Slides 22/23, there are a lot of useful initiatives (although nothing ground-breaking here) to support Harmony’s mission. All of these are familiar from other projects and if anything it confirms my instinct that all innovation is expected in the tech layer and not elsewhere. But that’s an insight in itself. If we look at Slide 24 it’s clear that a very small amount of negative sentiment can result in a profound effect. I’ve seen this across countless projects but it is of course amplified by the nature of crypto markets.
One message that appears a lot is the need to be organised and less chaotic in our communications on Telegram. We are working on this already. Clear documentation will also help so we can offload queries into a website and keep the TG cleaner but possibly keeping a channel for ongoing marketing activities might help as well. Lots to think about here but we see the shortcomings of Telegram over Discord here.
And then on Slide 25 we see the DARK SIDE! I’m curious how much of this we’d see now but there’s also a really important lesson here which is something I’m building into a new articulation of our brand values which is the importance of ‘keeping it real.’ This means being honest and genuine but it’s in the context of not changing who you are if you attain financial success or enjoy a change in status. It’s a respect for where you come from and who helped you get there. That’s what ‘keeping it real’ means for me and there’s no doubt that, from a community perspective, that hasn’t been done right. There’s nothing wrong with the saturday BBQ from a networking perspective, but happy smiling faces around sizzling meat while the market is in freefall… Message received.
In the meantime, Simetri, the respected research division of CryptoBriefing made us pick of the month in their latest report. There’s a lot we’re getting right but of course much to improve on as well. We’re on it.
Thanks to everyone who participated and thanks for keeping us honest