bitJob – Decentralized Marketplace for Students Employment

The following exchange was between ICO 41 and Dror Medalion, the CEO of bitJob.

Owen Scott: What is the mechanism available now to validate a student ID?  Are there API’s available to consume directly from Universities, or are there third-party services that make this validation possible?  

Dror Medalion: Currently, We are working on developing this Mechanism. The students ID’s lists will be withdrawn from the unions manually or by API’s. Depends on the institute ability, then those will be stored on the blockchain, and once a student will register, his records will match. Currently, we will start our pilot with the institutes that we already in partnership with us. There are also 3rd party services for this process as well that we are considering. That can help us validate the student’s lists, but the goal is not to limit any student worldwide, it will be our job to review his registration form, and collaborate with his institute.

Owen Scott: In the flowchart on section 1.3, it appears that the main form of payment between the students and employers would be PayPal, and that the token would be used (at least at first) to provide fees, distribution to affiliates, etc. But then in section 4, it’s mentioned that “The employers will not be able to hire any of the available service providers until they have a sufficient amount of tokens in their account to be able to purchase a minimum quantity of service set by the service provider.” Does this mean that even if Paypal is used, fees for service will be stated in tokens? And even if employers were planning to pay in Paypal, they still have to be verified through their stake in tokens?

Dror Medalion: bitJob is a Hybrid Model, it will support both means of payment – FIAT money (Paypal) and CryptoCurrency (STU). The Student will choose rather he wishes to get paid by Fiat or STU. If he chooses to get paid by STU and the Employer chooses to pay in Fiat, we will exchange that FIAT in the open market for STU, and pay the student. The Employer will be able to hire anyone he chooses based on the student records and Reputation. (and vice versa).  

Owen Scott: Will the lending program described in section 4 provide interest, and would it be executed through a smart contract? Would the smart contract lock any loaned funds from the loaner in the event that the barrow loaned tokens were locked in escrow during a service transaction?

Dror Medalion: The Loans are a part of a futuristic vision we had for our revenue model. it will not be deployed in the first version of the product. STU token will not supply any interests or dividends to the token holders, It’s a utility token and not a security. Having said that, Yes, Our goal in the future is to create a p2p loans structure which will be executed on a smart contract.

Owen Scott: There’s one statement in section 5.5 – in order to enter the crypto-currency market a person needs access to banking.  Not necessarily. I have two kids who have bitcoin wallets because they are leasing their video cards through Nicehash. They don’t even have bank accounts yet. (Maybe they never will .. wishful thinking :>)

Dror Medalion: That’s nice! 🙂 Most people though still use the banking system obviously, and we hope that by using our platform, more people can earn in Cryptocurrency and spend in Cryptocurrency, all over the world, reducing the need of Banking services and fiat exchanges.

Owen Scott: Section 11 shows some very promising and interesting methods of participating in the network and earning/minting new coins. The third option is pretty clear – that would be students providing services paid in tokens, and you have that spelled out.  But the others are not going to be “paid” by employers – so who would validate that the work/service/help that was provided to earn tokens was worth the distribution of the token? This would seem to be needed to be done by those that control the token supply – bitJob, right?

Dror Medalion: Yes, exactly, bitJob will pay STU’s to certain activities, like Affiliate efforts, this will not be paid by employers, but by bitJob itself. So for example, by bringing your friends to the platform, you will be compensated with STU tokens.

Owen Scott: What can be done to prevent Sybil attacks from “employers” – students have the student ID – how are employers validated? (this is also mentioned as a risk/annoyance in 14.4)

Dror Medalion: Well, First, in order to accept an Employer to the marketplace we will review his request and approve it based on our DD process. That will be the first phase of protection.

Secondly, same as in other marketplaces, like ebay, or Amazon, both sides should be reviewed by their reputation and ranking. But – if this is the first time an Employer is using the system, BitJob is guaranteeing a protection from Fraud, meaning all transactions will be ensured that in case and Dispute will rise, we will pay the student for his work. We will make sure no Student will be harmed by using our platform.

Owen Scott: Does it have to be a university? I have two kids in high school who are more than capable of providing services, but they are high school students.  Would this be possible?

Dror Medalion: Yes, this will also be possible, but currently, the penetration market and Pilot is for students and Academic Institutes. High School kids are capable of doing many things (Sometimes more than we are 🙂 ) and we need to provide them their own segment and job offers.

Owen Scott: Do you have a definition yet for “Educational Organization” since there are so many different types of non-traditional educational organizations these days?

Dror Medalion: The main vision if Universities and Colleges. But we all know that in many parts of the world, especially in India there are many institutes which are not aligned with the Formal Academic degree we all know. Those institutes will also be accepted after we will do our DD about them. In general Educational organization can also mean The Student Union itself, or other organization that unites a group of students, like a “Bitcoin Club”, a common thing these days.

Full Post :

What we have found, almost since the beginning of the podcast, is that each week our analysis leads us to another general note that we feel that we need to make before we start, and this week is no exception. What we have learned in the last week of analysis and which we want to share with you is the degree to which it is evident when a company that is preparing to launch an ICO or token sale is relying on professional assistance for the execution of the sale, and the preparation thereof, or not – and the implications of that type of assistance.  In fact, I’ll go as far as to say that this has actually led to a slight adjustment in our analysis methodology.  We will now add one more data point and potential brief discussion – whether there is evidence of professional assistance.  Now look – this doesn’t mean that we will be making any generalized judgements in relation to this – we are simply going to observe it, and note it when appropriate, and over time, and as we check back in with some of the ICO’s that we have analyzed, it will be interesting to see just what the significance of this data point is.

To be clear, I’m talking about specific organizations who provide services to assist in the preparation of token crowdsales. Companies like TokenMarket and Amazix, and others. The reason we are doing this is because what we have found recently is that when we analyze token sales that appear to have some sort of assistance from organizations like this our jobs are as analysts and potential investors is much, much easier.  Why? Well, everything is in place – community interaction, communication channels, repository of information like whitepapers and github – usually a rich store of instance information.

 

There’s another thing I wish to point out – our stance, as it were.  I don’t think we have ever expressed ourselves with respect to where we are with the concept of blockchain and ICO’s. So I want to do that now. As we dive into this space, our most general approach, and our starting point stems from what we should call a positive position. That’s where we start. The benefit of the doubt, so to speak. To be specific, while we understand some of the technology challenges facing blockchain, and while we understand that use cases are sometimes being stretched, we by and large generally believe that the potential is there to change fundamentally  the way in which products and services are distributed and consumed. And we believe it can change it for the better. What this means, in a way, we wish all sincere ICO’s could be a success, simply because we wish to usher this new era in.  We also believe, however, that there is a certain amount of gold-rush mentality happening right now, and that the only way we can decipher the differences between those two points of view requires sincere and open questions, with intelligent and balanced analysis. And finally, we can’t and don’t –  know everything. We would LOVE to hear more comments from our listeners, as well as reviews on iTunes of course – but we would also welcome comments as to how we can be better. So I’ll ask that you please visit ico41.com, click the email address link in the contact section, or fill out the contact form – or post a comments on any of our blog posts – and we’ll certainly respond to any sincere questions or comments.  Thanks very much …

bitJob

This project seeks to create a global, decentralized marketplace for Student Employment. Let’s say fiverr, upwork, elance and guru … but specifically to serve that segment of the population that faces the catch-22 of so many students, where they begin to look for their first job after college, and find it difficult, many times because they lack the portfolio of work that is so essential these days. I’ll say right out of the gate with this project that I found a LOT to like. Some of this might be due to the fact that I myself have some kinds who will be facing this issue in the near future, and that’s certainly what drew me into this project, but as I dug into the details of the whitepaper, looked carefully at the team, and then observed the execution of their token offering – which is going on right now and soon to end – I became more and more impressed.

Company and Team

The company is based in Israel and the founders have been involved with the project since May of 2016. As with some of the other ICO’s we have studied, the project itself and team is more important than the corporate structure. In this case, there is a working beta platform running on the blockchain – which to me is more important than company structure. I was able to sign up on an alpha platform within minutes and obtained an ethereum address as part of the signup, and watched as a smart contract executed. I was provided with the address plus 400 tokens in the alpha network just for signing up.  I’ll describe this in some more detail later, but the point is that the team has proven to me that they can build something on the blockchain. And let’s talk about the team. In this case we have a very strong set of credentials in blockchain and ethereum programming. One of the senior developers has been on no less than four concurrent projects , and has taught blockchain development in Switzerland. Another member of team wrote an article about crowdfunding using BitCoin back in 2014, before the ERC230 token craze that we are seeing now. The CTO himself has as list of projects that all involve smart contract development using solidity.  He has been consulting in technology for well over 20 years, is extremely active on Linkedin and has about 6,000 followers on that platform. This is a large team with 17 main members and a dozen advisors. After looking at the credentials and background of this team, there is no doubt in my mind that they can build what they have designed in the whitepaper.

Whitepaper

Just like this team, there is a LOT to like about this whitepaper.  First, I like the fact that the whitepaper itself is in version 3b, which means we are seeing the end result of an evolution of thought. And if you dig, you will find evidence of this evolution through a series of medium articles,early reviews and then responses to those reviews.  Secondly, the very first thing that jumps out at us is that the authors recognize that a hybrid model is required for immediately adoption. What I meaen by hybrid model is that some aspects of the system – such as payment for services, will feature paypal, which is the method most in use now in sites such as fiverr, upwork and others – while the token on the network will immediately serve more utilitarian purposes.  I think this is an important point, because many whitepapers present an elaborate block-chain only design to create marketplaces, govern transactions, provide payment systems, and operate entire ecosystems of processing, without a thought to just how long that will take to construct.  This whitepaper, in contrast, presents a model whereby a working system can be presented and operated sooner, with a road map that deploys blockchain technology in phases. This makes sense to me, and leads me to believe that with this project we we will be seeing a platform that is workable in a reasonable timeframe, with users logged in and the system functioning in a commercial sense relatively earlier in the development of the platform.  Remember a few weeks ago when I dropped in on the Golem project and found that after a year past their very successful crowdsale there was barely a beta to log into. This whitepaper inspires some confidence in me that their goals are more achievable and sooner.

The basic architecture of the system consists of three main actors and two major systems – The actors are Students, Employers and Affiliates, and the main systems are identify management, and process control.  Essentially, Students with talent provide mainly digital services for employers with projects that need help.  Affiliates play important roles in providing the ability for these two major actors to connect with each other and to help market the platform.  An example of an affiliate would be a student union, which would be rewarded for brining students to the platform.

Identity management is critically important because of the problems that plague some existing work-for-hire systems , where fake projects waste the time of students who wish to work, while bad actors also prey upon employers who have projects that require qualified staff.

The token provides the fuel to run the network, with the initial ability to provide affiliate fees and rewards for retaining the tokens in the network through an interest-bearing proof of stake mechanism, which reminds me of other proof of stake platforms like bitconnect, which is mainly an investment vehicle where members are strongly incentivized to re-inveset their tokens. Tokens will also be used in establishing and maintaining reputation profiles. Token will also be used for voting power to make decisions regarding the network. Tokens will also play a part in the bidding process for services and projects.

What I found interesting in this whitepaper was a discussion regarding the inequity present between people in various countries. It’s this economic imbalance that actually drives a great deal of sites like guru, fiverr and upwork. BitJob mentions the possibility of future token sales with tokens issued that are specific for a country as way to better tie correlation between a country’s pay levels and value of services.  The whitepaper refers to the use of country-specific smart contracts which are relevant to the appropriate currency, as well as the ability for country-specific tokens to perform differently on crypto-currency exchanges.  A lot of whitepapers deal with international components, but this seems like an original approach that I don’t think I’ve seen before.

The Road Map

The whitepaper was first published and the site came up in February of 2017. There were some pre-sale announcements before the private and public sales. In October of 2017, after the sale is over, the token disbursement will occur and they anticipate listings on exchanges. There will be a private beta launch in November of 2017, which I believe could easily happen, since they are already have a working alpha release. There will be a public beta release in first quarter of 2018, and the platform will be opened for developers shortly after that.  They anticipate a product launch in the second quarter of 2018. Please note that in case you don’t end up participating in the ICO itself, you could potentially purchase tokens on an exchange, and then you should be able to participate in the private beta. This is not confirmed yet, but if I find out more I will be sure to update our site at ico41.com.

The Token and the Technology

The token is STU and will be an ERC20 token running on the ethereum blockchain.

The token itself as well as the progress of the can be monitored on Etherscan.io – just type in the abbreviation of the token STU and it comes right up.  You are able to see the distribution of the token itself. In terms of utility, voting rights are provided by anyone who owns the token, and the amount of voting power is provided by how much of the token you own. A proof of stake mechanism encourages storing tokens in the platform, and there is the capability of minting tokens through a variety of activities, such as conflict resolution, new member registration, reputation scores, support provided for new members, running community forums, and more.  It should be understood that this is NOT a “proof of work” consensus method.  What I mean is that the concept of “minting” in not precisely the creation of a coin like bitcoin or ethereum works – rather, the tokens all exist now, and through what I imagine would be a series of smart contract, the so-called “minting” of coins would really be a transfer between the wallet that holds the reserves of the token – you can see it on the etherscan as holding about 96% presently – and the wallet of the member.  This is my understanding, although if I get more clarity on this I will certainly post an update on the ico41.com website.

 

The Presale

The presale started on August 2nd ended on August 16th . The pre-sale raised $1.5 M.

ICO Details

 

  • The ICO began on September 12 and ends on October 13th.
  • The price of the STU coin is 888 STU for one ETHER. The current price of ETHER is about $310 USD at the time of this podcast.
  • The soft cap – which is referred to the minimum funding goal is 2.250 ETHER, which is about $675,000 and has been achieved, so the project will move forward
  • The hard cap , which isn’t quite stated as such, but exists if you do the math, is about $70,000,000. What I mean by the math is that the maximum number of tokens issued is 200,000,000 and with a price of 888 tokens per ETHER – so the maximum amount that could possibly be raised is that division.
  • From what I can tell, the ICO is proceeding without a hitch and is successful, as their first milestone is almost reached, which is 7,500 ETHER. This equates to about $2.5 M. If you add the pre-sale of $1.5 there has been about $4M raised so far.

One of the reasons for such a smooth token sale is probably the involvement of both TokenMarket and a company named Amazix – both with solid track records in helping companies launch successful ICO’s.

SEC Compliance

In terms of SEC compliance, there is no evidence in the whitepaper, nor in any of the communication from the team that this token will be used in any other way than to provide utility, and there is no evidence of what the SEC might characterize as “passivity” in terms of the relationship between those that manage the tokens and those that hold them.  Meaning, there are voting rights, as well as other utilitarian uses of the token throughout the network architecture.  The official word regarding this sale is that it is closed to U.S. investors, but of course there will be a secondary market if you happen to be a U.S. resident and wish to join the community and use the network.

Business Viability

 In terns of viability we already see a great deal of success and activity on platforms that are already used by the target group, such as Fiverr, Upwork and Guru. We feel that the business concept itself is sound, but in this case it is made more sound by activities that have taken place on the business side of things by BitJob itself. I’m referring to the partnerships that they have in place, where BitJob has formed partnerships with universities such as Berkely, Concordia, McGill, the Ivey Business School at Western University, and the Cypress Interenational Institute at Cypress. The company issued a business development plan that showed the activities expected at the current level, which is between $2.5 and $10 M USD, that there would be on-the-ground marketing at major American and European universities, ios and android apps, STU-based debit cards, and large-scale marketing.

Community Reaction

The first thing I want to say about the reaction of the community is that this particular sale stands out from what I have seen in the sheer community involvement. There are more than a dozen channels listed, from BitCoinTalk to  WeChat, to Talk, to linkedin, Facebook, youtube and Github.  Their first announcement on BitCoin Talk about the token sale took place all the way back in June and the thread has 22 pages of comments. They received early and enthusiastic encouragement from senior BitcoinTalk members, and that continued until mid-August when the thread was locked by an admin for a procedural issue. On reddit there are many topics, with many comments and they are overwhelmingly positive, with a very few negative The Github presence is significant, with three repositories, and the pilot application updated in July, and the smart contract added in May. The telegram channel was well-maintained by various team members and also partners like Amazix. I have a few questions that are being forwarded to the CEO, and I will post them on the ico41 website as soon as I have answers to them. What is particularly interesting is that the team deliberately floated the idea early, and then allowed the community reaction to help guide them in their thinking, which developed into an evolved concept. In this way, the project has benefited from a long and active involvement with the blockchain community.

Gotchas

The main gotcha with this is the decision not to burn the unsold tokens to reduce supply. The CEO posted a long article on Medium titled “an In-Depth Explainer on the unsold STU Liquidation Process – post ICO.” This reason for the article was explained as a response questions from the membership. It’s a valid question, because many ICO’s have a policy to burn unsold tokens in this type of event, and there are 200,000,000 tokens issued. This means that about 95% of the token supply will be unsold. The CEO explained that the tokens would not be retained by the team, nor used to compensate advisors, contributors, or employees.  They won’t be traded with employers, and they will only be released over a period of 5-10 years through the affiliate program. The affiliate program is what the CEO calles the “value creators” of the system, and so the token will be used to reward that value as it is created on the network. You can read the entire article at Medium and decide for yourself. My personal feeling is that there is too much reputation here at stake for the team to damage their standing in the community over this. So from my perspective I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt with respect to this decision and I trust that they will do the right thing.

Takeaway

Our final takeaway from this ICO is that we believe this is worthwhile project with very little negatives, a very strong team, and an almost flawless execution.   After performing these analyses for some time now, I’m a little surprised that this project is not generating more revenue, but if you think about it, it’s more of a grass-roots project, a bit more sincere and altruistic than some of the more hyped projects, and has no billionaire celebrity investors attached to it. In a way, this could be a good thing in the long term.  Because it could mean that the token will be a bargain on the exchanges and will grow in value as the idea and platform grows. If this is the case, then there could be upside potential as the token value starts low and grows organically.

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