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Jonathan Vanian

Jonathan Vanian

8 months ago

What is Terra? Your guide to the hot cryptocurrency

With cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ether, and Dogecoin gyrating in value over the past few months, many people are looking at so-called stablecoins like Terra to invest in because of their more predictable prices.

Terraform Labs, which oversees the Terra cryptocurrency project, has benefited from its rising popularity. The company said recently that investors like Arrington Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Pantera Capital have pledged $150 million to help it incubate various crypto projects that are connected to Terra.

Terraform Labs and its partners have built apps that operate on the company’s blockchain technology that helps keep a permanent and shared record of the firm’s crypto-related financial transactions.

Here’s what you need to know about Terra and the company behind it.

What is Terra?

Terra is a blockchain project developed by Terraform Labs that powers the startup’s cryptocurrencies and financial apps. These cryptocurrencies include the Terra U.S. Dollar, or UST, that is pegged to the U.S. dollar through an algorithm.

Terra is a stablecoin that is intended to reduce the volatility endemic to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Some stablecoins, like Tether, are pegged to more conventional currencies, like the U.S. dollar, through cash and cash equivalents as opposed to an algorithm and associated reserve token.

To mint new UST tokens, a percentage of another digital token and reserve asset, Luna, is “burned.” If the demand for UST rises with more people using the currency, more Luna will be automatically burned and diverted to a community pool. That balancing act is supposed to help stabilize the price, to a degree.

“Luna directly benefits from the economic growth of the Terra economy, and it suffers from contractions of the Terra coin,” Terraform Labs CEO Do Kwon said.

Each time someone buys something—like an ice cream—using UST, that transaction generates a fee, similar to a credit card transaction. That fee is then distributed to people who own Luna tokens, similar to a stock dividend.

Who leads Terra?

The South Korean firm Terraform Labs was founded in 2018 by Daniel Shin and Kwon, who is now the company’s CEO. Kwon is a 29-year-old former Microsoft employee; Shin now heads the Chai online payment service, a Terra partner. Kwon said many Koreans have used the Chai service to buy goods like movie tickets using Terra cryptocurrency.

Terraform Labs does not make money from transactions using its crypto and instead relies on outside funding to operate, Kwon said. It has raised $57 million in funding from investors like HashKey Digital Asset Group, Divergence Digital Currency Fund, and Huobi Capital, according to deal-tracking service PitchBook. The amount raised is in addition to the latest $150 million funding commitment announced on July 16.

What are Terra’s plans?

Terraform Labs plans to use Terra’s blockchain and its associated cryptocurrencies—including one pegged to the Korean won—to create a digital financial system independent of major banks and fintech-app makers. So far, its main source of growth has been in Korea, where people have bought goods at stores, like coffee, using the Chai payment app that’s built on Terra’s blockchain. Kwon said the company’s associated Mirror trading app is experiencing growth in China and Thailand.

Meanwhile, Kwon said Terraform Labs would use its latest $150 million in funding to invest in groups that build financial apps on Terra’s blockchain. He likened the scouting and investing in other groups as akin to a “Y Combinator demo day type of situation,” a reference to the popular startup pitch event organized by early-stage investor Y Combinator.

The combination of all these Terra-specific financial apps shows that Terraform Labs is “almost creating a kind of bank,” said Ryan Watkins, a senior research analyst at cryptocurrency consultancy Messari.

In addition to cryptocurrencies, Terraform Labs has a number of other projects including the Anchor app, a high-yield savings account for holders of the group’s digital coins. Meanwhile, people can use the firm’s associated Mirror app to create synthetic financial assets that mimic more conventional ones, like “tokenized” representations of corporate stocks. These synthetic assets are supposed to be helpful to people like “a small retail trader in Thailand” who can more easily buy shares and “get some exposure to the upside” of stocks that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to obtain, Kwon said. But some critics have said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission may eventually crack down on synthetic stocks, which are currently unregulated.

What do critics say?

Terra still has a long way to go to catch up to bigger cryptocurrency projects like Ethereum.

Most financial transactions involving Terra-related cryptocurrencies have originated in Korea, where its founders are based. Although Terra is becoming more popular in Korea thanks to rising interest in its partner Chai, it’s too early to say whether Terra-related currencies will gain traction in other countries.

Terra’s blockchain runs on a “limited number of nodes,” said Messari’s Watkins, referring to the computers that help keep the system running. That helps reduce latency that may otherwise slow processing of financial transactions, he said.

But the tradeoff is that Terra is less “decentralized” than other blockchain platforms like Ethereum, which is powered by thousands of interconnected computing nodes worldwide. That could make Terra less appealing to some blockchain purists.

More on Web3 & Crypto

CoinTelegraph

CoinTelegraph

8 months ago

2 NFT-based blockchain games that could soar in 2022

NFTs look ready to rule 2022, and the recent pivot toward NFT utility in P2E gaming could make blockchain gaming this year’s sector darling.

After the popularity of decentralized finance (DeFi) came the rise of nonfungible tokens (NFTs), and to the surprise of many, NFTs took the spotlight and now remain front and center with the highest volume in sales occurring at the start of January 2022.
While 2021 became the year of NFTs, GameFi applications did surpass DeFi in terms of user popularity. According to data from DappRadar, Bloomberg gathered:

Nearly 50% of active cryptocurrency wallets connected to decentralized applications in November were for playing games. The percentage of wallets linked to decentralized finance, or DeFi, dapps fell to 45% during the same period, after months of being the leading dapp use case.

Blockchain play-to-earn (P2E) game Axie infinity skyrocketed and kicked off a gaming craze that is expected to continue all throughout 2022. Crypto pundits and gaming advocates have high expectations for P2E blockchain-based games and there’s bound to be a few sleeping giants that will dominate the sector.

Let’s take a look at five blockchain games that could make waves in 2022.

DeFi Kingdoms

The inspiration for DeFi Kingdoms came from simple beginnings — a passion for investing that lured the developers to blockchain technology. DeFi Kingdoms was born as a visualization of liquidity pool investing where in-game ‘gardens’ represent literal and figurative token pairings and liquidity pool mining.

As shown in the game, investors have a portion of their LP share within a plot filled with blooming plants. By attaching the concept of growth to DeFi protocols within a play-and-earn model, DeFi Kingdoms puts a twist on “playing” a game.

Built on the Harmony Network, DeFi Kingdoms became the first project on the network to ever top the DappRadar charts. This could be attributed to an influx of individuals interested in both DeFi and blockchain games or it could be attributed to its recent in-game utility token JEWEL surging.

JEWEL is a utility token that allows users to purchase NFTs in-game buffs to increase a base-level stat. It is also used for liquidity mining to grant users the opportunity to make more JEWEL through staking.

JEWEL is also a governance token that gives holders a vote in the growth and evolution of the project. In the past four months, the token price surged from $1.23 to an all-time high of $22.52. At the time of writing, JEWEL is down by nearly 16%, trading at $19.51.

Surging approximately 1,487% from its humble start of $1.23 four months ago in September, JEWEL token price has increased roughly 165% this last month alone, according to data from CoinGecko.

Guild of Guardians

Guild of Guardians is one of the more anticipated blockchain games in 2022 and it is built on ImmutableX, the first layer-two solution built on Ethereum that focuses on NFTs. Aiming to provide more access, it will operate as a free-to-play mobile role-playing game, modeling the P2E mechanics.

Similar to blockchain games like Axie Infinity, Guild of Guardians in-game assets can be exchanged. The project seems to be of interest to many gamers and investors with its NFT founder sale and token launch generating nearly $10 million in volume.

Launching its in-game token in October of 2021, the Guild of Guardians (GOG) tokens are ERC-20 tokens known as ‘gems’ inside the game. Gems are what power key features in the game such as minting in-game NFTs and interacting with the marketplace, and are available to earn while playing.

For the last month, the Guild of Guardians token has performed rather steadily after spiking to its all-time high of $2.81 after its launch. Despite the token being down over 50% from its all-time high, at the time of writing, some members of the community are looking forward to the possibility of staking and liquidity pools, which are features that tend to help stabilize token prices.

Sam Hickmann

Sam Hickmann

5 months ago

Token taxonomy: Utility vs Security vs NFT

Let's examine the differences between the three main token types and their functions.

As Ethereum grew, the term "token" became a catch-all term for all assets built on the Ethereum blockchain. However, different tokens were grouped based on their applications and features, causing some confusion. Let's examine the modification of three main token types: security, utility, and non-fungible.

Utility tokens

They provide a specific utility benefit (or a number of such). A utility token is similar to a casino chip, a table game ticket, or a voucher. Depending on the terms of issuing, they can be earned and used in various ways. A utility token is a type of token that represents a tool or mechanism required to use the application in question. Like a service, a utility token's price is determined by supply and demand. Tokens can also be used as a bonus or reward mechanism in decentralized systems: for example, if you like someone's work, give them an upvote and they get a certain number of tokens. This is a way for authors or creators to earn money indirectly.

The most common way to use a utility token is to pay with them instead of cash for discounted goods or services.

Utility tokens are the most widely used by blockchain companies. Most cryptocurrency exchanges accept fees in native utility tokens.

Utility tokens can also be used as a reward. Companies tokenize their loyalty programs so that points can be bought and sold on blockchain exchanges. These tokens are widely used in decentralized companies as a bonus system. You can use utility tokens to reward creators for their contributions to a platform, for example. It also allows members to exchange tokens for specific bonuses and rewards on your site.

Unlike security tokens, which are subject to legal restrictions, utility tokens can be freely traded.

Security tokens

Security tokens are essentially traditional securities like shares, bonds, and investment fund units in a crypto token form.

The key distinction is that security tokens are typically issued by private firms (rather than public companies) that are not listed on stock exchanges and in which you can not invest right now. Banks and large venture funds used to be the only sources of funding. A person could only invest in private firms if they had millions of dollars in their bank account. Privately issued security tokens outperform traditional public stocks in terms of yield. Private markets grew 50% faster than public markets over the last decade, according to McKinsey Private Equity Research.

A security token is a crypto token whose value is derived from an external asset or company. So it is governed as security (read about the Howey test further in this article). That is, an ownership token derives its value from the company's valuation, assets on the balance sheet, or dividends paid to token holders.

Why are Security Tokens Important?

Cryptocurrency is a lucrative investment. Choosing from thousands of crypto assets can mean the difference between millionaire and bankrupt. Without security tokens, crypto investing becomes riskier and generating long-term profits becomes difficult. These tokens have lower risk than other cryptocurrencies because they are backed by real assets or business cash flows. So having them helps to diversify a portfolio and preserve the return on investment in riskier assets.

Security tokens open up new funding avenues for businesses. As a result, investors can invest in high-profit businesses that are not listed on the stock exchange.

The distinction between utility and security tokens isn't as clear as it seems. However, this increases the risk for token issuers, especially in the USA. The Howey test is the main pillar regulating judicial precedent in this area.

What is a Howey Test?

An "investment contract" is determined by the Howey Test, a lawsuit settled by the US Supreme Court. If it does, it's a security and must be disclosed and registered under the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

If the SEC decides that a cryptocurrency token is a security, a slew of issues arise. In practice, this ensures that the SEC will decide when a token can be offered to US investors and if the project is required to file a registration statement with the SEC.

Due to the Howey test's extensive wording, most utility tokens will be classified as securities, even if not intended to be. Because of these restrictions, most ICOs are not available to US investors. When asked about ICOs in 2018, then-SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said they were securities. The given statement adds to the risk. If a company issues utility tokens without registering them as securities, the regulator may impose huge fines or even criminal charges.

What other documents regulate tokens?

Securities Act (1993) or Securities Exchange Act (1934) in the USA; MiFID directive and Prospectus Regulation in the EU. These laws require registering the placement of security tokens, limiting their transfer, but protecting investors.

Utility tokens have much less regulation. The Howey test determines whether a given utility token is a security. Tokens recognized as securities are now regulated as such. Having a legal opinion that your token isn't makes the implementation process much easier. Most countries don't have strict regulations regarding utility tokens except KYC (Know Your Client) and AML (Anti Money-Laundering).

As cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies evolve, more countries create UT regulations. If your company is based in the US, be aware of the Howey test and the Bank Secrecy Act. It classifies UTs and their issuance as money transmission services in most states, necessitating a license and strict regulations. Due to high regulatory demands, UT issuers try to avoid the United States as a whole. A new law separating utility tokens from bank secrecy act will be introduced in the near future, giving hope to American issuers.

The rest of the world has much simpler rules requiring issuers to create basic investor disclosures. For example, the latest European legislation (MiCA) allows businesses to issue utility tokens without regulator approval. They must also prepare a paper with all the necessary information for the investors.

A payment token is a utility token that is used to make a payment. They may be subject to electronic money laws. 

Because non-fungible tokens are a new instrument, there is no regulating paper yet. However, if the NFT is fractionalized, the smaller tokens acquired may be seen as securities.

NFT Tokens

Collectible tokens are also known as non-fungible tokens. Their distinctive feature is that they denote unique items such as artwork, merch, or ranks. Unlike utility tokens, which are fungible, meaning that two of the same tokens are identical, NFTs represent a unit of possession that is strictly one of a kind. In a way, NFTs are like baseball cards, each one unique and valuable.

As for today, the most recognizable NFT function is to preserve the fact of possession. Owning an NFT with a particular gif, meme, or sketch does not transfer the intellectual right to the possessor, but is analogous to owning an original painting signed by the author.

Collectible tokens can also be used as digital souvenirs, so to say. Businesses can improve their brand image by issuing their own branded NFTs, which represent ranks or achievements within the corporate ecosystem. Gamifying business ecosystems would allow people to connect with a brand and feel part of a community. 

Which type of tokens is right for you as a business to raise capital?

For most businesses, it's best to raise capital with security tokens by selling existing shares to global investors. Utility tokens aren't meant to increase in value over time, so leave them for gamification and community engagement. In a blockchain-based business, however, a utility token is often the lifeblood of the operation, and its appreciation potential is directly linked to the company's growth. You can issue multiple tokens at once, rather than just one type. It exposes you to various investors and maximizes the use of digital assets.

Which tokens should I buy?

There are no universally best tokens. Their volatility, industry, and risk-reward profile vary. This means evaluating tokens in relation to your overall portfolio and personal preferences: what industries do you understand best, what excites you, how do you approach taxes, and what is your planning horizon? To build a balanced portfolio, you need to know these factors.

Conclusion

The three most common types of tokens today are security, utility, and NFT. Security tokens represent stocks, mutual funds, and bonds. Utility tokens can be perceived as an inside-product "currency" or "ignition key" that grants you access to goods and services or empowers with other perks. NFTs are unique collectible units that identify you as the owner of something.

Juxtathinka

Juxtathinka

5 months ago

Why Is Blockchain So Popular?

What is Bitcoin?

The blockchain is a shared, immutable ledger that helps businesses record transactions and track assets. The blockchain can track tangible assets like cars, houses, and land. Tangible assets like intellectual property can also be tracked on the blockchain.

Imagine a blockchain as a distributed database split among computer nodes. A blockchain stores data in blocks. When a block is full, it is closed and linked to the next. As a result, all subsequent information is compiled into a new block that will be added to the chain once it is filled.

The blockchain is designed so that adding a transaction requires consensus. That means a majority of network nodes must approve a transaction. No single authority can control transactions on the blockchain. The network nodes use cryptographic keys and passwords to validate each other's transactions.

Blockchain History

The blockchain was not as popular in 1991 when Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta worked on it. The blocks were designed to prevent tampering with document timestamps. Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta improved their work in 1992 by using Merkle trees to increase efficiency and collect more documents on a single block.

In 2004, he developed Reusable Proof of Work. This system allows users to verify token transfers in real time. Satoshi Nakamoto invented distributed blockchains in 2008. He improved the blockchain design so that new blocks could be added to the chain without being signed by trusted parties.

Satoshi Nakomoto mined the first Bitcoin block in 2009, earning 50 Bitcoins. Then, in 2013, Vitalik Buterin stated that Bitcoin needed a scripting language for building decentralized applications. He then created Ethereum, a new blockchain-based platform for decentralized apps. Since the Ethereum launch in 2015, different blockchain platforms have been launched: from Hyperledger by Linux Foundation, EOS.IO by block.one, IOTA, NEO and Monero dash blockchain. The block chain industry is still growing, and so are the businesses built on them.

Blockchain Components

The Blockchain is made up of many parts:

1. Node: The node is split into two parts: full and partial. The full node has the authority to validate, accept, or reject any transaction. Partial nodes or lightweight nodes only keep the transaction's hash value. It doesn't keep a full copy of the blockchain, so it has limited storage and processing power.

2. Ledger: A public database of information. A ledger can be public, decentralized, or distributed. Anyone on the blockchain can access the public ledger and add data to it. It allows each node to participate in every transaction. The distributed ledger copies the database to all nodes. A group of nodes can verify transactions or add data blocks to the blockchain.

3. Wallet: A blockchain wallet allows users to send, receive, store, and exchange digital assets, as well as monitor and manage their value. Wallets come in two flavors: hardware and software. Online or offline wallets exist. Online or hot wallets are used when online. Without an internet connection, offline wallets like paper and hardware wallets can store private keys and sign transactions. Wallets generally secure transactions with a private key and wallet address.

4. Nonce: A nonce is a short term for a "number used once''. It describes a unique random number. Nonces are frequently generated to modify cryptographic results. A nonce is a number that changes over time and is used to prevent value reuse. To prevent document reproduction, it can be a timestamp. A cryptographic hash function can also use it to vary input. Nonces can be used for authentication, hashing, or even electronic signatures.

5. Hash: A hash is a mathematical function that converts inputs of arbitrary length to outputs of fixed length. That is, regardless of file size, the hash will remain unique. A hash cannot generate input from hashed output, but it can identify a file. Hashes can be used to verify message integrity and authenticate data. Cryptographic hash functions add security to standard hash functions, making it difficult to decipher message contents or track senders.

Blockchain: Pros and Cons

The blockchain provides a trustworthy, secure, and trackable platform for business transactions quickly and affordably. The blockchain reduces paperwork, documentation errors, and the need for third parties to verify transactions.

Blockchain security relies on a system of unaltered transaction records with end-to-end encryption, reducing fraud and unauthorized activity. The blockchain also helps verify the authenticity of items like farm food, medicines, and even employee certification. The ability to control data gives users a level of privacy that no other platform can match.

In the case of Bitcoin, the blockchain can only handle seven transactions per second. Unlike Hyperledger and Visa, which can handle ten thousand transactions per second. Also, each participant node must verify and approve transactions, slowing down exchanges and limiting scalability.

The blockchain requires a lot of energy to run. In addition, the blockchain is not a hugely distributable system and it is destructible. The security of the block chain can be compromised by hackers; it is not completely foolproof. Also, since blockchain entries are immutable, data cannot be removed. The blockchain's high energy consumption and limited scalability reduce its efficiency.

Why Is Blockchain So Popular?
The blockchain is a technology giant. In 2018, 90% of US and European banks began exploring blockchain's potential. In 2021, 24% of companies are expected to invest $5 million to $10 million in blockchain. By the end of 2024, it is expected that corporations will spend $20 billion annually on blockchain technical services.

Blockchain is used in cryptocurrency, medical records storage, identity verification, election voting, security, agriculture, business, and many other fields. The blockchain offers a more secure, decentralized, and less corrupt system of making global payments, which cryptocurrency enthusiasts love. Users who want to save time and energy prefer it because it is faster and less bureaucratic than banking and healthcare systems.

Most organizations have jumped on the blockchain bandwagon, and for good reason: the blockchain industry has never had more potential. The launch of IBM's Blockchain Wire, Paystack, Aza Finance and Bloom are visible proof of the wonders that the blockchain has done. The blockchain's cryptocurrency segment may not be as popular in the future as the blockchain's other segments, as evidenced by the various industries where it is used. The blockchain is here to stay, and it will be discussed for a long time, not just in tech, but in many industries.

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Will Lockett

Will Lockett

22 days ago

The World Will Change With MIT's New Battery

MIT’s new battery is made from only aluminium (left), sulphur (middle) and salt (left) — MIT

It's cheaper, faster charging, longer lasting, safer, and better for the environment.

Batteries are the future. Next-gen and planet-saving technology, including solar power and EVs, require batteries. As these smart technologies become more popular, we find that our batteries can't keep up. Lithium-ion batteries are expensive, slow to charge, big, fast to decay, flammable, and not environmentally friendly. MIT just created a new battery that eliminates all of these problems.  So, is this the battery of the future? Or is there a catch?

When I say entirely new, I mean it. This battery employs no currently available materials. Its electrodes are constructed of aluminium and pure sulfur instead of lithium-complicated ion's metals and graphite. Its electrolyte is formed of molten chloro-aluminate salts, not an organic solution with lithium salts like lithium-ion batteries.

How does this change in materials help?

Aluminum, sulfur, and chloro-aluminate salts are abundant, easy to acquire, and cheap. This battery might be six times cheaper than a lithium-ion battery and use less hazardous mining. The world and our wallets will benefit.

But don’t go thinking this means it lacks performance.

This battery charged in under a minute in tests. At 25 degrees Celsius, the battery will charge 25 times slower than at 110 degrees Celsius. This is because the salt, which has a very low melting point, is in an ideal state at 110 degrees and can carry a charge incredibly quickly. Unlike lithium-ion, this battery self-heats when charging and discharging, therefore no external heating is needed.

Anyone who's seen a lithium-ion battery burst might be surprised. Unlike lithium-ion batteries, none of the components in this new battery can catch fire. Thus, high-temperature charging and discharging speeds pose no concern.

These batteries are long-lasting. Lithium-ion batteries don't last long, as any iPhone owner can attest. During charging, metal forms a dendrite on the electrode. This metal spike will keep growing until it reaches the other end of the battery, short-circuiting it. This is why phone batteries only last a few years and why electric car range decreases over time. This new battery's molten salt slows deposition, extending its life. This helps the environment and our wallets.

These batteries are also energy dense. Some lithium-ion batteries have 270 Wh/kg energy density (volume and mass). Aluminum-sulfur batteries could have 1392 Wh/kg, according to calculations. They'd be 5x more energy dense. Tesla's Model 3 battery would weigh 96 kg instead of 480 kg if this battery were used. This would improve the car's efficiency and handling.

These calculations were for batteries without molten salt electrolyte. Because they don't reflect the exact battery chemistry, they aren't a surefire prediction.

This battery seems great. It will take years, maybe decades, before it reaches the market and makes a difference. Right?

Nope. The project's scientists founded Avanti to develop and market this technology.

So we'll soon be driving cheap, durable, eco-friendly, lightweight, and ultra-safe EVs? Nope.

This battery must be kept hot to keep the salt molten; otherwise, it won't work and will expand and contract, causing damage. This issue could be solved by packs that can rapidly pre-heat, but that project is far off.

Rapid and constant charge-discharge cycles make these batteries ideal for solar farms, homes, and EV charging stations. The battery is constantly being charged or discharged, allowing it to self-heat and maintain an ideal temperature.

These batteries aren't as sexy as those making EVs faster, more efficient, and cheaper. Grid batteries are crucial to our net-zero transition because they allow us to use more low-carbon energy. As we move away from fossil fuels, we'll need millions of these batteries, so the fact that they're cheap, safe, long-lasting, and environmentally friendly will be huge. Who knows, maybe EVs will use this technology one day. MIT has created another world-changing technology.

obimy.app

obimy.app

15 days ago

How TikTok helped us grow to 6 million users

This resulted to obimy's new audience.

Hi! obimy's official account. Here, we'll teach app developers and marketers. In 2022, our downloads increased dramatically, so we'll share what we learned.

obimy is what we call a ‘senseger’. It's a new method to communicate digitally. Instead of text, obimy users connect through senses and moods. Feeling playful? Flirt with your partner, pat a pal, or dump water on a classmate. Each feeling is an interactive animation with vibration. It's a wordless app. App Store and Google Play have obimy.

We had 20,000 users in 2022. Two to five thousand of them opened the app monthly. Our DAU metric was 500.

We have 6 million users after 6 months. 500,000 individuals use obimy daily. obimy was the top lifestyle app this week in the U.S.

And TikTok helped.

TikTok fuels obimys' growth. It's why our app exploded. How and what did we learn? Our Head of Marketing, Anastasia Avramenko, knows.

our actions prior to TikTok

We wanted to achieve product-market fit through organic expansion. Quora, Reddit, Facebook Groups, Facebook Ads, Google Ads, Apple Search Ads, and social media activity were tested. Nothing worked. Our CPI was sometimes $4, so unit economics didn't work.

We studied our markets and made audience hypotheses. We promoted our goods and studied our audience through social media quizzes. Our target demographic was Americans in long-distance relationships. I designed quizzes like Test the Strength of Your Relationship to better understand the user base. After each quiz, we encouraged users to download the app to enhance their connection and bridge the distance.

One of the quizzes

We got 1,000 responses for $50. This helped us comprehend the audience's grief and coping strategies (aka our rivals). I based action items on answers given. If you can't embrace a loved one, use obimy.

We also tried Facebook and Google ads. From the start, we knew it wouldn't work.

We were desperate to discover a free way to get more users.

Our journey to TikTok

TikTok is a great venue for emerging creators. It also helped reach people. Before obimy, my TikTok videos garnered 12 million views without sponsored promotion.

We had to act. TikTok was required.

Our first TikTok videos

I wasn't a TikTok user before obimy. Initially, I uploaded promotional content. Call-to-actions appear strange next to dancing challenges and my money don't jiggle jiggle. I learned TikTok. Watch TikTok for an hour was on my to-do list. What a dream job!

Our most popular movies presented the app alongside text outlining what it does. We started promoting them in Europe and the U.S. and got a 16% CTR and $1 CPI, an improvement over our previous efforts.

Somehow, we were expanding. So we came up with new hypotheses, calls to action, and content.

Four months passed, yet we saw no organic growth.

Russia attacked Ukraine.

Our app aimed to be helpful. For now, we're focusing on our Ukrainian audience. I posted sloppy TikToks illustrating how obimy can help during shelling or air raids.

In two hours, Kostia sent me our visitor count. Our servers crashed.

Initially, we had several thousand daily users. Over 200,000 users joined obimy in a week. They posted obimy videos on TikTok, drawing additional users. We've also resumed U.S. video promotion.

We gained 2,000,000 new members with less than $100 in ads, primarily in the U.S. and U.K.

TikTok helped.

The figures

We were confident we'd chosen the ideal tool for organic growth.

  • Over 45 million people have viewed our own videos plus a ton of user-generated content with the hashtag #obimy.

  • About 375 thousand people have liked all of our individual videos.

  • The number of downloads and the virality of videos are directly correlated.

Where are we now?

TikTok fuels our organic growth. We post 56 videos every week and pay to promote viral content.

We use UGC and influencers. We worked with Universal Music Italy on Eurovision. They offered to promote us through their million-follower TikTok influencers. We thought their followers would improve our audience, but it didn't matter. Integration didn't help us. Users that share obimy videos with their followers can reach several million views, which affects our download rate.

After the dust settled, we determined our key audience was 13-18-year-olds. They want to express themselves, but it's sometimes difficult. We're searching for methods to better engage with our users. We opened a Discord server to discuss anime and video games and gather app and content feedback.

TikTok helps us test product updates and hypotheses. Example: I once thought we might raise MAU by prompting users to add strangers as friends. Instead of asking our team to construct it, I made a TikTok urging users to share invite URLs. Users share links under every video we upload, embracing people worldwide.

Key lessons

Don't direct-sell. TikTok isn't for Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube promo videos. Conventional advertisements don't fit. Most users will swipe up and watch humorous doggos.

More product videos are better. Finally. So what?

Encourage interaction. Tagging friends in comments or making videos with the app promotes it more than any marketing spend.

Be odd and risqué. A user mistakenly sent a French kiss to their mom in one of our most popular videos.

TikTok helps test hypotheses and build your user base. It also helps develop apps. In our upcoming blog, we'll guide you through obimy's design revisions based on TikTok. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.

Daniel Vassallo

Daniel Vassallo

3 months ago

Why I quit a $500K job at Amazon to work for myself

I quit my 8-year Amazon job last week. I wasn't motivated to do another year despite promotions, pay, recognition, and praise.

In AWS, I built developer tools. I could have worked in that field forever.

I became an Amazon developer. Within 3.5 years, I was promoted twice to senior engineer and would have been promoted to principal engineer if I stayed. The company said I had great potential.

Over time, I became a reputed expert and leader within the company. I was respected.

First year I made $75K, last year $511K. If I stayed another two years, I could have made $1M.

Despite Amazon's reputation, my work–life balance was good. I no longer needed to prove myself and could do everything in 40 hours a week. My team worked from home once a week, and I rarely opened my laptop nights or weekends.

My coworkers were great. I had three generous, empathetic managers. I’m very grateful to everyone I worked with.

Everything was going well and getting better. My motivation to go to work each morning was declining despite my career and income growth.

Another promotion, pay raise, or big project wouldn't have boosted my motivation. Motivation was also waning. It was my freedom.

Demotivation

My motivation was high in the beginning. I worked with someone on an internal tool with little scrutiny. I had more freedom to choose how and what to work on than in recent years. Me and another person improved it, talked to users, released updates, and tested it. Whatever we wanted, we did. We did our best and were mostly self-directed.

In recent years, things have changed. My department's most important project had many stakeholders and complex goals. What I could do depended on my ability to convince others it was the best way to achieve our goals.

Amazon was always someone else's terms. The terms started out simple (keep fixing it), but became more complex over time (maximize all goals; satisfy all stakeholders). Working in a large organization imposed restrictions on how to do the work, what to do, what goals to set, and what business to pursue. This situation forced me to do things I didn't want to do.

Finding New Motivation

What would I do forever? Not something I did until I reached a milestone (an exit), but something I'd do until I'm 80. What could I do for the next 45 years that would make me excited to wake up and pay my bills? Is that too unambitious? Nope. Because I'm motivated by two things.

One is an external carrot or stick. I'm not forced to file my taxes every April, but I do because I don't want to go to jail. Or I may not like something but do it anyway because I need to pay the bills or want a nice car. Extrinsic motivation

One is internal. When there's no carrot or stick, this motivates me. This fuels hobbies. I wanted a job that was intrinsically motivated.

Is this too low-key? Extrinsic motivation isn't sustainable. Getting promoted felt good for a week, then it was over. When I hit $100K, I admired my W2 for a few days, but then it wore off. Same thing happened at $200K, $300K, $400K, and $500K. Earning $1M or $10M wouldn't change anything. I feel the same about every material reward or possession. Getting them feels good at first, but quickly fades.

Things I've done since I was a kid, when no one forced me to, don't wear off. Coding, selling my creations, charting my own path, and being honest. Why not always use my strengths and motivation? I'm lucky to live in a time when I can work independently in my field without large investments. So that’s what I’m doing.

What’s Next?

I'm going all-in on independence and will make a living from scratch. I won't do only what I like, but on my terms. My goal is to cover my family's expenses before my savings run out while doing something I enjoy. What more could I want from my work?

You can now follow me on Twitter as I continue to document my journey.


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