ICODrops review: Ultra
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Ultra - is a platform and an ecosystem for the distribution of games.
The IEO will be conducted on July 16, 2019, on Ethfinex via Tokinex.
The size of an individual investment is limited between $20 and $5000, only BTC is accepted. 10% of tokens are allocated and priced at $0,05 each. Hence, the Hard Cap of the IEO is $5 million and the total market cap is $50 million. Previously, through all rounds there was received $6,372,191 via sales priced at: $0.063 (5%), $0.071 (4%), and $0.077 (0,4%). All of the private tokens are locked for 3 months with further vesting for 9 months. The remaining tokens (allocated for the team, partners, advisors, marketing, etc.) have lock-ups starting from 6 months and are mostly vested afterward.
The IEO includes a sale with regular rules (unlocked within a week after the sale) and a sale of vested tokens (33% unlocked immediately, 33% unlocked after 30 days, and 33% unlocked after 60 days). Currently, there is no information provided to the public about the factors influencing rules application to investors. It's likely that the terms will be announced closer to the sale and will depend on the size of the investment and an investor's qualification.
The official website's daily visiting rate: 150 users / 600 visits.
The official website's uptime: according to the Web Archive, the current version of the website first appeared in mid-2018. There is a snapshot of 2013, where Ultra is defined as a community for sharing code, ideas, and designs. It seems that either the domain was purchased or the idea significantly transformed.
The official group in Telegram: there are 2 thousand participants; it was created on May 2, 2018, previously it was moderated by AmaZix, but they left in December 2018; communication is moderately paced, the admins are politely answering questions.
The official Twitter: there are 1,500 followers; it was created in May 2018; the team actively shares news, screenshots of the Beta version, new Medium posts, pictures from meetups and information about the upcoming IEO, the updates are posted regularly.
Additional channels: there is an official channel in Discord (300 users); one in Medium (4 posts, mediocre activity); Facebook (1,900 followers); the project is mentioned to be originated in Q1, 2017.
David Hadson - Co-Founder. David is a game designer, startup initiator, and project manager. He co-founded and acted as CEO in several companies focused on game development for mobile platforms, PC (worked on FPS genre games), and SEO. His studio, Pixel Beam, was acquired by Kingsoft, where he then started working. From 2016 to 2017 David founded and worked on Xiaobawang, which was focused on software and hardware development in partnership with AMD. He mentions himself as a co-founder and CEO of Ultra from May 2017.
Nicolas Gilot - Co-Founder. Nicolas is a game designer, monetization specialist, and mobile gaming professional. He worked along with David in four companies from 2008. Nicolas has experience in sales, marketing, and monetization. From 2010 to 2016, he was a founder and CEO of a consulting agency Gamika that provided a wide range of services from marketing and legal to data analytics and project management. He mentions himself as a co-founder and CEO of Ultra from March 2017.
Apparently, the co-founders are not just colleagues, but also friends at least from 2008.
Mike Dunn - CTO. He specializes in cloud computing, e-commerce, and mobile development. Mike started his career as a CTO at DELL in 1997. Up until this day he worked as CTO in several companies for periods of 2 years at most and advised for various projects. From 2017 he is a mentor of Techstars - one of the world's largest startup accelerators with more than 1600 projects. Mike works at Ultra from April 2018.
Edward Moalem - Chief Strategy Officer. His longest working experience was at IGA Worldwide (in-game commercials on PS3, Xbox 360, and PC), QED Associates (gaming industry consulting and communications with publishers and partners in local areas), and Starbase (a server platform). Edward works at Ultra from February 2018.
Julien Marron - CFO. Julien worked at Ubisoft for about 8 years and roughly 5 years at Wargaming (in finance). He has relevant education and skills. His working experience and companies are rather solid. Julien works at Ultra from June 2018.
Cristian Rizea - Project Manager. He worked at Ubisoft for 10 years, where he started as a developer and ended up acting as a Project Manager. Afterward, he worked in several companies and eventually returned to Ubisoft for 2 years, spent about a year at Bandai Namco - a famous Japanese software development company and videogame publisher. Cristian occupied positions of a Producer, Project Manager, and a Publisher. He works at Ultra from April 2018.
Lee O'Donovan - CMO. He spent 6 years at Vodafone and 12(!) at Google as a VP Marketing and Strategy. Lee works at Ultra from April 2019.
The project team's members have various skills and experience, from freelancers and advisors to working at Ubisoft and some lesser known companies.
Lead Blockchain Developer, Beibei D, doesn't have blockchain-related experience according to his profile on LinkedIn, but he has confirmed skills of the Blockchain Development and C++ that many blockchains are written in. he worked in gaming companies. There is no information in LinkedIn about the project's Crypto Strategist, Robin Davidson. Blockchain Developer, Trevor Wessei, has 6-year experience of working on a server side of one of the restaurants in California. He has some exposure to the gaming industry: built popular modifications for Fallout 4, an interface system for GTA servers' administrators with integrated payments via EOS. According to the website, he mastered many of his skills by himself, which is respectable. It's also worth highlighting that he has experience with EOS, the fork of which will be used in Ultra. He is pretty active in GitHub.
Obviously, the blockchain industry is comprised of crypt enthusiasts, who get experience as volunteers and then switch to working there full-time. However, in 2019 we expect to see more people with experience in some blockchain projects. It doesn't mean the team members don't have such, but they don't mention any on their LinkedIn pages.
Still, Ultra utilizes blockchain only for storing specific data, which makes it only a small part of the entire project.
Overall, the team looks complete and solid. Apparently, the majority of the members will work remotely, but this is common for the industry.
Ritche Corpus - a gaming industry specialist with 25-year of experience in business development, partnerships & alliances, marketing, business development, cloud computing, VR/AR, etc. He spent 13 years working at AMD and 6 years within Logitech. Ritche has relevant education and a vast set of skills.
Allen Foo - he spent 12 years at Microsoft and 3 years at Unity. In addition, he worked as a business, product, and sales manager. 4 years ago Allen founded and since acts as a CEO of UCCVR - VR/AR tech accelerator.
Alexandre Mironesco - an investment banker, focuses on private investments and development-related issues.
Bitfinex - partner and organizer of the IEO. The IEO page mentions that Bitfinex and some of its employees invested in Ultra.
Crypto Gamers - a website/portal/community focused on crypto-games.
IBC - an investment crypto fund. According to its official website and information on Linkedin, it's a classic fund of 2017 that emerged amid the ICO mania as a result of the early crypto investors being united.
UCCVR - a VR/AR accelerator of Allen Foo.
Wachsman PR - a marketing company: consulting, PR, and strategic development. It has a fascinating portfolio, where the most notable projects are: Kraken, Bitfinex, TrueUSD, Polymath, Aion, IOST, Republic, Aelf, Lisk, Steemit, Qtum, Dash, NGC, Zilliqua, Etoro, Coindesk, Bitmex, Blockstack, and Hashgraph.
Bright - a Latvia-based legal company focused on providing a wide range of services, including crypto consulting. Ultra has offices in France and Latvia, which points to this partnership.
Vrroom - a VR/AR focused website/portal/news outlet.
POINT95 - a crypto-focused company that provides ОТС, liquidity, and asset management services.
The highest quality partnerships are Bitfinex and Watchsman PR.
Idea and technology:
To begin with, we have to zoom out. The growth rate of the gaming industry increases year over year. If you disagree, try picking your friend's phone and count how many games are downloaded on it. The gaming platform's coverage expands and PC games became abundant.
The currently available gaming distribution services, Play Market, App Store, Steam and others charge developers a lofty fee of 30%. Moreover, the entry barriers for developers are rather high. These companies put out standards, and deviating from them will make the entry impossible.
The value proposition of Ultra is to create an alternative, highly competitive video game distribution platform with a function of exchanging related goods and services.
Ultra is positioned as a competitor of Steam. The team considers that they can lower the entry barrier for developers and decrease fees for internal purchases.
The platform will offer a wide range of services:
- P2P payments;
- An integrated messenger;
- A system for instant content distribution;
- An SDK for developers;
- Importing games from other platforms (Steam, Xbox, PS);
- Game promotion with tools for marketing campaigns;
- Incentives for gamers (beta tests, commercial views, supervising games, social activity) and resales;
- Altcoin mining without computational resources (quite a controversial moment: how can altcoins be mined through Ultra without users providing something in return?)
- Exclusive games
- A referral program
- A mobile application with a wallet and remote connection to the PC-based version
- NFT tokens, tokenization of in-game objects. The team presents various potions and boosters as an example. However, we think that this tech is more appropriate for unique items, elite artifacts and, maybe, in-game characters. Why put miscellaneous items on the blockchain (which is currently quite expensive)? Ultra could present a new paradigm that disrupts the existing "our game = your character and items don't belong to you" with blockchain, which is interesting. The concept inter-game transfers of items and characters also look appealing.
The blockchain part will be realized on a for of EOS with some enhancements. The technical part isn't outlined and there is no GitHub page to check how the performance enhancements are implemented.
The token is created for purchasing games/services/items on primary and secondary markets, payments for marketing and other services. Overall, the entire economics and all of the payments will be done with the platform's token. It's worth mentioning that there will be an option of non-crypto payments (CCs, PayPal, etc.), where the platform converts the incoming funds. Thus, a regular user, who comes to just buy a game and play it may never notice interaction with Ultra tokens.
We should also mention that the reasoning behind the usage of an internal token instead of fiat or ETH/BTC isn't fully clear. However, this problem is common for the industry, but usually the token is introduced to increase control over the tokenomics or implementing new features.
The project was started in Q1, 2017. The mainnet is planned to be launched in 3 months, in 6 months we should see first Ultra-based games.
The MVP is presented under NDA. According to the feedback of those, who tested the MVP, everything looks neat and functional. They also report that UX and UI are realized have high quality.
+ The IEO price is lower than that for private investors
+ The tokens of private sale participants will be locked for 3 months with further vesting
The IEO investors' protection requires either of these circumstances and we have two. Despite active discussions, the practice shows that lower pricing for private investors and small lock-up periods for them negatively influence tokens' performance on initial listings. This won't be the case for Ultra.
+ Strong management and complete core team. The team is comprised of great specialists and some employees have experience in top companies of the industry. C-level staff and many members come from the gaming industry.
+ Bitfinex/Ethfinex. Recently they conducted an IEO for Ampleforth, which turned out to have over exaggerated demand. The token has a good performance after the listing.
- Currently (10.07.2019) the interest in Ultra is low. The official group has 2000 users, which requires the interest of at least $2,5 thousand from each of them, considering the hard cap of $5 million. The dynamics closer to the date of the sale needs to be observed. Lately, investors are rather impulsive and can resister during the last two days.
- The team doesn't have extensive blockchain-related experience. It's likely that the blockchain space is new for them.
- There are no classic advisors/investors. Although it's not a trend anymore, a couple of them would be reassuring.
- The chosen niche has a history of low performance.
All in all, the project isn't solely focused on the blockchain industry. It has a crypto-related part, but it doesn't play a crucial role. Moreover, this part of the project will be masked. Perhaps we should stop trying to "disrupt the world's financial system, destroy banks and break the boundaries". Instead, we could just snap back to reality and build something that will work and have a user base.
The blockchain fits the gaming industry and looks organic within Ultra. Time will tell whether the project will succeed and be in demand.