This article is provided for information and education purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Readers are encouraged to do their own research and consult a professional before making any investment decisions.
Launching their mainnet March 29th is Nebulas, a decentralised search framework for blockchain, brought to you by NEO co-founders Hitters Xu and Aero Wang.
Just like the internet, blockchains will eventually require search engines to locate addresses, content and dApps, as well as verify their relevance, importance, and legitimacy.
Nebulas hopes to provide the foundation for this using their “Nebulas Rank” system, which will provide a way to assign ranking scores not only on their own blockchain, but across all major blockchains in the ecosystem – in much the same way that Google Search rankings perform that function for the internet.
The project will not just be limited a ranking system, however.
Nebulas will also be able to run smart contracts, host ICOs, and carry out practically any function that is currently possible on the Ethereum platform.
It is being designed as a self-evolving system that removes the need to fork, and even incorporates a brand new consensus mechanism called Proof of Devotion (PoD).
Proof of Devotion (PoD)
Proof of devotion is a new consensus algorithm that is designed to distribute value to those who contribute the most to the value and construction of the Nebulas economy.
PoD can be thought of a hybrid between the Proof of Importance (PoI) algorithm seen in NEM, and the PoS algorithm seen in many other systems.
It’s similar to PoI in the sense that the design prevents power from gravitating solely to wealthy addresses (reducing the likelihood of a monopoly situation), and rewards influential addresses instead.
Where it differs, however, is that it improves immutability by implementing strict economic penalties (seen in PoS) for malicious behaviour. This, Nebulas believes, eliminates the “nothing at stake” problem that is present in NEM’s PoI model.
“Nebulas Force” is the name that has been given to Nebulas’ self-evolving mechanism.
This mechanism has been designed as a sort of governance and development model, which enables the Nebulas to continue to upgrade and adapt to changes in technology in blockchain, without the need for hard-forks and their potential consequences.
Nebulas force allows all technological improvements to be tested and proven on side-chains before being implemented into the core chain. Such an upgrade to the main chain will only be made once it has been voted on by the community.
The hope is that this will improve the stability of the entire ecosystem and eliminate the type of community division that has occurred with previous Bitcoin and Ethereum forks.
The self-evolving mechanism is scheduled to be incorporated into the platform in Q4 2018.
Developer Incentive Protocol (DIP)
The developer incentive protocol (DIP) is yet another gem within the Nebulas project.
It’s designed to encourage developer participation on the platform, and rewards developers in proportion to their Nebulas Rank scores for their contributions to the ecosystem.
This is a small but very powerful difference between Nebulas and existing platforms, which for the most part do not reward developers for building popular dApps. In fact, the very opposite can happen, with more popular dApp creators possibly even paying more “gas” for computation and data storage costs.
The DIP may seem like a small feature, but has the potential to be a massive driving factor for developers in choosing Nebulas over other platforms.
Incentives are a powerful force, and being rewarded for your efforts as a developer rather than incurring costs is a no-brainer.
Hitters Xu also believes that this protocol may reduce the need for ICOs as a means of raising funds, since developers will be able to cover many of their owns costs.
Nebulas will also provide a suite of migration tools which will simplify the process of moving existing dApps on other platforms over to the Nebulas platform.
The NAS token is the native currency of the Nebulas platform.
Currently, NAS exists as an ERC20 token on the Ethereum platform which was used for their ICO, but this will be swapped for their official platform token in the near future.
The functionality of the token will be very similar to the way Ether works on the Ethereum platform. It will be used for regular user-to-user transactions, as well as “gas” for powering and writing smart contracts.
All fees will be paid on each transaction to the bookkeepers to uphold the network, write blocks, and prevent spam.
Circulating supply is 35.5 million NAS tokens, which will shortly increase to 45 million from unlocked bonuses.
Inflation is planned at 4 million tokens per year. 3 million of these will go to bookkeepers, while the remaining million will go to developers.
Maximum supply is capped at 100 million.
Team and Advisors
The team behind Nebulas is one that brings a great deal of experience to the table.
CEO Hitters Xu and Aero Wang (both NEO/Antshares founders) have a long history together in blockchain, building China’s very first blockchain community, BitsClub, together.
They appear to both be extremely active and well-connected, both within the blockchain world and outside it.
Xu and Robin Zhong (the third Nebulas co-founder) have both had involvement in blockchain development with Ant Financial, the financial arm of Alibaba.
The rest of the team wields immense experience in a variety of disciplines, including former Google and Alibaba developers, designers, marketers and business development managers, and a lawyer.
Advisors include Edith Yeung, a prolific tech investor, Chris McCann, Community leader at Greylock Partners, and Evan Cheng, a 10-year Apple developer.
You can check out their official team page here.
Nebulas already has a whole wealth of partners, although the details on each are difficult to find.
One of the most interesting may be their partnership with Dolphin Browser, a company with considerable ties to their team and advisors.
Dolphin Browser has over 200 million users across 130 countries, and plans to incorporate Nebulas and their search framework into their app may provide one of the first direct connections of blockchain to a mass mainstream userbase.
Where is it trading?
The NAS token is currently only available on a few exchanges, with most of its trading volume occurring on Huobi and OKEx.