https://elixxir.ioDate of review: 24.09.2018
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Elixxir is a blockchain platform for digital payments and messaging, which aims to make mass adoption of blockchains and digital currencies much more easier while focusing on 3 key objectives: speed, transactional privacy, and communication privacy.
The official information is unavailable. Crunchbase states that they have already attracted $1,8 million during the seed round.
Daily visitors: 121 unique visitors, 486 views.
Alexa information: 50% of the traffic from the USA, 3,4% comes from Russia.
Twitter: was created on September 3, with about 1000 followers, the posting activity is high, but the followers' activity is rather low. They usually post the photos from various meet-ups.
Telegram: was created on August 28, there are about 6000 users in the chat, the activity of the community and the administration is high.
Additional information: Facebook page was created on September 19, 101 likes, 113 followers, low activity, represents mostly a copy-paste of posts from Twitter. Reddit was created on September 19, 122 subscribers, low activity. Medium was created on September 19, 90 followers, there are two doubling articles with 125 and 35 claps. Discord was created on September 18, it has around 400 subscribers, there is some activity from the community and the administration - some discussion is going on there.
David Chaum (CEO/Founder) - "the pioneer in Internet privacy", he is often referred to as the inventor of digital money. David has Ph.D. in Philosophy of Computer Science from a Californian university Berkeley and he taught at the New York University Graduate School of Business Administration and at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). His career in cryptography and informatics started in 1981, when he wrote an article 'Untraceable Electronic Mail, Return Addresses, and Digital Pseudonyms'. This paper laid the groundwork for the field of anonymous communications research.
Being widely recognised as the inventor of the digital money, David currently leads the Elixxir project.
David is also famous for other fundamental introductions to cryptography, including privacy technologies, voting systems, digital signatures (along with the idea of private keys), in 1988 with his colleagues David published an article that first featured zero-knowledge proofs.
David acted as a leader within groundbreaking cryptographic projects, he founded a team for cryptographic research within National Research Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science in Amsterdam. He also founded the Voting Systems Institute and Perspectiva Fund (which call themselves optical technology fund and specialise in venture investing, rather old-fashioned site and a conservative portfolio). In 1989 David founded DigiCash - a digital money company, which has been anonymous, thanks to their own developments in cryptography. The company has existed for 10 years until it was closed due to the inability to reach necessary scalability (during that time, the e-commerce hasn't been as widespread as it is today).
His personal website highlights his leadership in the Elexxir project.
Jim Dolbear (President) - 100 contacts in LinkedIn, he is a Harvard and Yale School of Management graduate. From July 2017 until today Jim acts as a President at Elixxir, since July 2007 he acts as a Co-Founder & Partner at Perspectiva Fund.
He worked in project funding sphere in Mergers & Acquisitions within New York investment banks Lehman Brothers and Morgan Stanley.
Later he joined Avery Dennison, where he worked in Finance and Cost Accounting, before starting to lead the world-class production.
For 6 years Jim worked as a just-in-time project leader, production manager, security manager, and quality manager.
Jim acted as a leader of searching & consulting company with 20 employees, which focused on media and internet industries that were new at that time.
He managed LAWNMOWER, the exhibition, and publishing company, which conducted events in LA, New York, and San Francisco. Among their clients were Sun Microsystems, IAC, Microsoft, Activision, Harcourt Brace, Cisco, Exodus, Warner Brothers, and Fox Internet Group.
Jim met David Chaum in 2000 and they worked with Information Science Institute USC for creating the Voting Systems Institute.
He was also a tech councelor of the State of California and one of the members of the Integrated Media Servers Center USC and NSF Research Center.
William Carter (Chief Operating Officer & Chief Product Officer) - 204 contacts in LinkedIn, he works in Elixxir since 2017, аnd also acts as founder and co-founder at such companies as TreCento (Mobile) and Expanse (VR) since 2015. Aforementioned Perspectiva Fund has invested in these two projects. According to their websites, we can state that they haven't reached success so far.
Stephanie Vaughan (Chief Financial Officer) - 500+ contacts in LinkedIn, she works at Elixxir since 2018. Since October 2017 until May 2018 Stephanie has been working as Director & Founder at Block Next Ventures (1 employee mentioned in LinkedIn, 3 mentioned on the website), this company assists in conducting ICO projects (full cycle).
Stephanie got her MBA in Finance from Columbia Business School and Bachelor's in Quantitative Economics at United States Naval Academy. She is a former captain in the USMC, she served as the communications officer and held strategic roles assisting in re-designing the USMC Force and overseeing anti-terrorism efforts for U.S. Central Command in Afghanistan
Stephanie acted as director of Marketplace Lending Development and Capital Markets Professional at StreetShares, where she managed all the strategic initiatives for the investors.
She also worked at LunaCap Ventures and was Investment Banking Associate at Houlihan Lokey.
Amanda Cavaleri (Chief Marketing Officer & VP Business Development) - 500+ contacts in LinkedIn, since August 2018 she acts as a technologist and entrepreneur working as Chief Marketing Officer & VP of Business Development at Elixxir
Amanda has worked on consumer-facing technology products ranging from machine learning and VOIP technologies to smart home and new media (AR/VR) technologies for the past decade. She serves as an advisor to blockchain companies and investors.
She was Enterprise Strategy & Innovation Fellow within AARP during 2016-2017, where she focused on filling the skill gaps between workers of different generations. Amanda also worked in various fields, connected to the companies consuming electronic goods, real estate, etc.
Amanda's work has been featured on the TEDx stage, in The Denver Post, and on PBS NewsHour.
Almost all of the employees, including those mentioned and not, have the positions in the Elixxir's LinkedIn.
We would also like to mention Brian Watson, who has the experience in investment crypto funds since 2018, and Mario Costa, who is a crypto specialist, focused on confidentiality and analysis of crypto protocols. He worked in Cyber Research UMBC lab and participated in research and development of a contemporary private protocol for locating users.
Technology and the idea
So, what is Elixxir, essentially?
The website features a 12-page brief, which provides a general explanation of the project's idea solely from the technological standpoint. In fact, the document lists and succinctly describes basic principles without any mathematical and economic rationale. However, there are references to 13 scientific papers, some of which are written by David Chaum himself (the project's ideologist).
Elixxir is a blockchain platform for digital payments and messaging, which aims to make mass adoption of blockchains and digital currencies much more easier while focusing on 3 key objectives:
- Speed (payment completion and message transmission are completed in a matter of seconds, the capability for tens of thousands of TPS is claimed).
- Transactional privacy (only senders and receivers can review and prove payment history. Transaction data is not stored on the blockchain).
- Communication privacy (the identity of communicating parties and their devices remains private).
The main technical features of the platform:
- Mixing. A way to 'mask trails' on the routing-protocol layer and make it impossible to identify the supplier-receiver-transaction content connections. Currently, this approach is not unique in making cryptocurrencies private, but David Chaum is one of its major ideologists (the first publications on Mix Networks were released back in 1979, moreover his works in this sphere were utilised long before the advent of the blockchain, e.g. in Tor). The document mentions cMix protocol usage, with its unique features, which we will not analyse here.
- New ownership paradigm. Traditional blockchain operates wallets, protected by owners' digital signatures. The blocks in the network commit transactions between the wallets. Elixxir assumes that the ownership will be defined on the separate tokens level, meaning that each token will be cryptographically protected by a hash function. Please keep in mind that a simple hash function is mentioned instead of the digital signature system. In this case, a token's owner stores (off-chain) a secret, while the token's 'address' in the network is a result of hash-function processing the secret. Considering this, the algorithm of a transaction in Elixxir can be presented the following way: a receiver generates a new address for a token (which does not yet hold any) and sends it to a sender; then a sender sends inquires the network for processing a transaction, where they put the freshly generated address and a secret of the token they hold and want to transfer; after that the network (validators) checks the ownership and change the address from the former owner's one to the new one (the former address is being erased) and sends a required confirmation to the both parties. Thus, one block of the network contains not the full information about the transaction (sender-receiver-amount), but two random lists of token addresses created and erased (the lists are equal). It is impossible to identify a transaction's participants even by analysing all of the blocks of the network. Besides, a brute-force attack is able to compromise only a single token and not all of the owner's assets. Finally, according to the authors of the document, such a scheme is more resistant to the attacks utilising quantum computers.
- Elixxir consensus mechanism. A temporary team of nodes (5-30) is dynamically created for calculation of a new block in the network, which is responsible for processing this block. The network with a defined threshold defines a queue for commands with the corresponding list of transactions that have to be included in blocks, which the teams are set for. After processing the block, the team in a prioritised way sends the results of the calculated block to the next team in the queue and only after that broadcasts them to the rest participants of the network. For a node to get included in any team, it needs to provide a stake and other network participants have to vote for it (advanced voting technologies are implemented). The time for processing a block for a team is limited and in case of no result, the block is being sent to the other team in the queue (which makes the network resilient). It is claimed that this consensus mechanism is much more resistant to so-called 51% attacks (only one 'fair' node in a team is enough) and Sybil attacks.
- Preliminary computations. It is the main tool for achieving high productivity of the network. As David Chaum states, one of the most demanding operations on the blockchain is generation and verification of digital signatures. Since Elixxir network (and its cMix protocol) uses digital signature technology (for Mixing mechanisms functionality), it is proposed that all the necessary operations are done by nodes of a team before they get the results from a previous node (previous block), meaning before 'start' signal for the final validation. To put it in other words, knowing the transactions included in a block processed by a certain team, its participants (nodes) do all the necessary computations, aimed towards digital signatures, in advance and also negotiate about in which order they will process the transactions in the block. It is important that at this stage the nodes do not analyse the content of the transactions. These computations usually take up to 80% of the time required to process the block. Only when they get a signal to start from the previous team, they begin to check the content and verify ownership for the assets in a list of transactions to process (hash functions are being run over secrets of the particular tokens). In such a way we can talk about some parallelism of block processing, which leads to the increased efficiency of the whole system. If we were to use the terms from the document, the processing template is formed by a team's participants during the first stage, which acts as a base for the following final computations in real time.
The described document can only be considered as an introductory one, which does not go deep into many aspects mentioned. The project has been announced very recently and at the time of this review, the information about it is rather scarce (within the current media sphere - twitter, telegram, discord hold almost no useful information). Obviously, we will get the answer to the majority of questions with the time (e.g., there will be more details about the preliminary computation mechanism, or the security of sending a secret to the network while processing payments, or the availability of transactions with a fractional amount of tokens, etc.). In addition to that, the implementation of smart-contracts/dApps was not outlined in the document (without it there is no point of discussion of a contemporary blockchain).
Addendum / summary / opinions
It is difficult to give the project a definite evaluation.
On the one hand, Elexxir has a very strong CEO, who is one of the key players in cryptography. On the other hand, there is lack of information about tech and how it is going to be realised.
Based on the presented document, it is too early to provide any fundamental conclusions.
Overall, the proposed ideas and the project deserve close observation by the community (at least because of the authority of David Chaum).
Despite the lack of information, we can state that the project is already in the spotlight and gets increased rates of hype very fast.