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ICO full analysis: UNIVERSA

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Whitepaper: universa.io/files/whitepaper.pdf

ICO Facts:

  • Dates: October 28th, until December 9th
  • SoftCap / Hardcap: $9.9 Million USD / $99 Million. 
  • Fundraising available: $20’489’052 as of December 5th, 2017. 

Token UTN: 

  • Total supply of 5 Billion UTN.
  • Price: 1 UTN = $0.0125
  • Where to buy: Icobacker and KickICO.
  • Other information: Minimum payment: $125, payable using BTC, ETH, LTC or DASH

In a nutshell: A fast production-ready blockchain technology and interface for creating smart contracts and applications.

Editor’s Notes and Disclosure: The author holds no business stakes or dividends at the startup. This article is an informative one. Both the author and Decentral Magazine encourage our readers to seek advice from a financial advisor and do their due diligence before considering any investment.

In the amazingly fast-growing crypto-world, technologies compete to be the “Next Gen” and the up and coming “Big Thing“. That subsequently renders a stiff competition amongst startups, trying to save their spot and sprout into public acceptance. In this race, even Blockchain, the cradle of the crypto-era, is under scrutiny.
We heard of the Tangle concept of the mining-free, payless decentralization. There is also the better-faster-stronger NEO Blockchain improvement project. And here we are, with a growing list of promises-promises, like that beautiful Naked Eyes song. Today we’re analyzing Universa‘s ICO for you, and promises are on the menu. Let’s dig deeper.

Universa, in the words of CEO Alexander Borodic

As explained by its CEO Alexander Borodic, Universa aims to improve on Bitcoin and Ethereum through easy-to-produce smart contracts. At its core, Universa is an infrastructure project: it tries to initiate and nurture a much bigger ecosystem of cryptocurrency payments and related token development projects. In other words, the UTN token is no cryptocurrency or Blockchain app. Rather, Universa provides a gateway for future projects wishing to use pre-existing platforms for their tokens development.

The way they intend to do this is by using the Directed Acyclical Graph or DAG. It’s the same concept behind ByteballIOTA’s Tangle and Raiblocks’s Block Lattice. They all have proven to create networks with extremely low transaction times, low to no fees, and improved scalability.

The 19 pages Whitepaper explains how the Universa Blockchain is expected to work, which is basically how a DAG works. The document certainly needs a technically savvy reader and lacks terminology, definitions, or a clear roadmap. Proofreading it reveals several misspellings, extremely long sentences, some inconsistencies, and a below-average look-and-feel. The document looks more like a personal initiative rather than a consolidated teamwork. For a project aiming to revolutionize the crypto, one would expect more, even from a non-English native speaker. A sentence introducing to the platform reads:

Universa Platform is powered by the Universa Network – a swarm of Universa Core nodes composing the Universa Blockchain, and supporting the Universa Secure Signed Document Service.
I know. “Universa” written 6 times in a Monday-long sentence. Sorry, what was the name of the project again?
Both the whitepaper and website over-emphasize the drawbacks of Blockchain, namely being slow, increasingly expensive, and bloating. While it’s true to a certain extent, I don’t know if that’s a correct marketing approach.

The exact same promotional releases published in some crypto-news outlets (newsbtc, cryptopanic, bitcoincurrent, etc.) reads:

Universa is expected to make a rival to such financially successful projects as Tezos ($230 million) and EOS ($200 million). According to Borodich, the founding of Universa can be compared to the revolution in trade, after the advent of paper money, or the Internet, after the appearance of HTTP.

Seemed to me like the same style from the whitepaper, or someone quoting himself, or both.

ICO information

The public sale of Universa’s token, UTN, began on Oct. 28th 2017. The hardcap targeted is $99 million USD at a price of $0.01 per token. In other words, it’s not really a hardcap. The website advertises for a “Get free tokens” that basically lures you into signing in only to taste the bitterness of deceit. An American friend told me once “If something is for free, you’re the customer”. Should’ve listened to you buddy.

So, when trying to take part of the crowdsale, I was asked to provide a minimum of 150$ through ICObacker. Finishing the story would certainly explain the crack on my screen. So, for readers considering an investment, here’s the token distribution scheme:

token distribution structure
UTN Token distribution. Source: Universa’s Website.

So, the “Foundation” with very little information about it would get 20% of funds. Needless to say that the doughnut chart is not to scale. The problem with a project aiming for a $100 M is that everyone would have the opportunity to weigh in during ICO. Finance 101 thaught us that lowering demand for the tokens might have a costly effect on investors. It’s likely to observe post-ICO price failure to sustain high valuation.

Key milestones and road map

Q4 2017 marks the API for apps and blockchains, the 5 weeks long crowdfunding (started on Oct. 28th 2017) and Smart Contracts Templates development. A foundation called “Blockchain Academy” is planned to kick start sometime in Q1 2018.

The Universa team

Universa, Team
Universa’s leadership. Source: official website

Fun fact: the first page contains 6 different pictures of Mr. Alexander Borodich, along with a 2 minutes video of him presenting the project. I wonder what his office looks like.

Anyway, the project is managed by Russia “Business Angel of the year 2016“, Mr. Borodich, who has taken part in 95 startups. He is also the founder of ventureclub.co, and the former marketing director of mail.ru.

Investigating the rest of the team wasn’t as straightforward as one might think. Mr. Alex Dovnar is obviously hard to investigate with his eyes closed, and only a Facebook profile. Evangelist (wait, what??) Maxim Postnikov’s picture is more of a Cold Play next world tour website, and he doesn’t exist according to LinkedIn. And Mr. Sergey Chernox looking down isn’t very reassuring for a project take-off. I know. No bounty campaign for me!

The website mentions 20 different team members, ranging in expertise and seniority level. It also lists 6 different “Lead developers”, and only one developer. Just think of having 6 bosses, then count your blessings.

A final word

I personally have some concerns about the project as a whole. Not that the idea isn’t brilliant, but given the scale, every detail counts, and no one is ready for another “DAO“. When aiming to build an entire platform, the devil lies in the details, and a small code inconsistency could mean a hack down the line, and a serious blow to the crypto-industry as a whole.
With that being said, such innovative approaches to crypto-related challenges can only push technological limits, and the ICO campaign may as much prepare solid foundations for a successful ledger. Let’s wait and see.

Useful Links

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