MaidSafe Update - November 2019

After a strategic review at MaidSafe, we are closing our 2 offices and having to carry out some redundancies and contract terminations. This is surely bad news?

Obviously for those involved in losing their job, it is terrible news. We need to make sure those folks are rewarded for their part in this movement and we will. I will come back to this. For the project though it is probably essential and should in fact help us at this stage.

How did we get here?

The largest contributor to our current situation was that the value of the Cryptocurrency rose dramatically and we decided to invest in offices, marketing and support functions. On reflection, we simply grew too quickly and that actually slowed down our engineering progress.

With the decline in crypto asset value, we then saw the departure of the most senior office-based staff (and directors). That was a troubling time as their teams were still in place, the loyalties of those teams rocked to the core. Something had to happen and it did!

What did we do?

We switched to a product focussed launch plan, not partial products, but actual products. This was a critical change. Then we focussed on delivery, exactly what will we deliver and what code we needed to deliver that. This was coupled with the removal of old code and old ways of handling network connections, messages and consensus, based on the last 2 years of R&D that we spent so much on. Basically, we looked and said this is what we now have, let’s use this and understand that this changes some of our code, hopefully for the better but definitely in line with the current design.

That allowed 2 things to happen:

  1. We started launching products and re-focussed weekly updates, most weeks being announcements of a new product or release.
  2. We re-focussed the teams on the product they were working on as opposed to a bit of a product (library). This meant more cross-team collaboration, eventually leading to product-based teams.

These changes were critical to progress. The community and shareholders have commented on the positive difference there.

What now?

Right now the next part of the plan is being executed. This actually started a couple of months back with the conversion of the employee benefit trust into standard share options. This allowed all the team at that stage to be awarded share options. Those options, on launch, would make everyone close to being financially independent and that was an amazing thing to be able to do.

As some staff will no longer be eligible for the options (due to the redundancies and contract terminations) we have put in place the ability for the options to be paid at the discretion of the remuneration committee. This work allows us to reward all those loyal and dedicated staff we lose. That is a proper and decent thing to do in my opinion. It is not their fault we grew as we did or did not launch while they were with us, and they should not suffer the loss to their rewards for “sticking in”.

Then we have the tough part, we had 2 offices and a run rate of £250K per month (when all the staff were in place). With recent departures and not replacing folk that came down to £160/170K per month. Still staggering and not fundable in my opinion. So the goal is to get the whole team decentralised and remote and get the monthly run rate to £60K per month or less, but at the same time accelerate the launch! Wow that’s quite an ask, you may say and I agree, but this is what we are doing and I will explain why.

During the redundancy and contract termination process, I was humbled and honoured by the vast majority of the people I had to speak with. The staff were appreciative of what we had done for them and understood the position we were in. So we have some amazing folk there, committed and understanding, even to the point some will keep working on, either without pay or with part-time pay (and hours at times). What a great start. Some of our professional advisors also forfeited their fee. We were getting into war mode and one we will win.

Why is this faster to launch?

The team now is a product-only team, no other departments are involved. There are no managers, just a single CEO. There is one team and that single team is purely product focussed. So we have Engineers who will implement the network and its features. They already are! We will have QA validate and sign releases and improve testing They already are! We will also have the last, but critical, part in the puzzle, UX and we all know Jim is really crucial (and totally committed) here to provide a user-focused solution and less of a solution for Engineers only :-).

That is why we go faster, no distractions, no layers of bureaucracy and no working in silos. In fact the progress should be very noticeable.

So what won’t we do?

Quite a lot actually!

  1. We won’t have a dedicated in-house marketing team. We will use word of mouth and the community.
  2. We will eventually not spend time reporting much more than GitHub project boards. (We will still have weekly dev updates/announcements)
  3. We won’t have any focus on negotiating with exchanges/partners or similar (We won’t ignore them though)
  4. We won’t spend further time on VCs at this point.

When we write that down it does not seem much, but those points have cost us 10s of thousands of pounds per month. Much time is wasted by people randomly saying MaidSafe should speak to XXX and so on. We’ve stopped doing that at all.

What will we do?

We will focus 100% of our energy on releasing products until we are at beta. Then we will speak to others, look at potentially subcontracting PR and so on, but first we will release the network and this is our only goal right now.

Apart from the cash to do it, the only issue for the SAFE Network community and MaidSafe is the company has no core product. So that is our only goal and that will be the only reason for meetings. All staff will be looking at products and executing the plan we currently have to launch. Those plans are as reported in recent months.

What about funding?

Before these changes MaidSafe only had a few months of run rate, these plans take the runway to over a year (crypto prices depending). That provides a lot of comfort, but we can do more. Currently, we may still have some monthly costs for services that can be cut.

We also have a great opportunity for funding, one that will protect shareholders, token holders and the project as a whole. This can be done at no cost to those groups and buy us considerably more runway/launch funds etc.

That funding model is detailed in a separate post. I hope you like it.


– David Irvine (@dirvine)

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First… Booyah

Not to sound to critical, but this should have been the plan from begin with.

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Massive changes. It sounds like brave and difficult moves being taken.

It’s obviously sad to lose may great people, but let’s hope some of them can come back on board once there’s a product & revenue to support them.

I hope, and expect that this laser focus on the network will help the network get ready as soon as possible.

To everyone who’s stepping aside for now, thanks so much for all you’ve done for the Safe Network. I hope that there’s no hard feelings despite it being tough. Hopefully some of you will get on-board again at a later stage.

All the best to those who are parting ways with MaidSafe for now, and best of luck the the core engineering team pressing on towards launch!

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I totally agree with the new strategy. Maidsafe should focus on their core competencies and not get distracted with side issues. Becoming more efficient will pay off in the long run.

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Thanks for the transparency @maidsafe . Not so many projects show a detailed report of both the past and current situations like you did. And I appreciate that you’re not trying to hide difficulties or hard moments. I think that’s part of big challenges like the one that we’re trying to accomplish.

I agree that all the resources have to be implemented into the product. The network is the basis, it’s the starting point for everything else. Without the release of the product, all other things like marketing, exchanges etc… have no sense to exist.
Moreover, though many people left “official” roles, you’re not alone. There’s a huge community here to help you. Some of us have been here since a lot cause we strongly believe in your mission. And we can’t wait to contribute on our own. We can do great things together but first we need the network to be operative of course.
Again, the launch of the network won’t be the end point. It will be just the start

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It is important not to spend too much on marketing. When the network comes out, if it is not perfect, no amount of marketing will save it. And if it is perfect, no amount of marketing will be needed.

Plus, you may be a able to harness our community to do free marketing for you. That would be a giant plus.

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Wow, this is not good news, out of funds, loans…

This is perfect news. You have to be blind so you don’t feel the energy and purposefulness that comes from them … Plus I’ll lie if I say I’m not happy about the opportunity to get 50% more MAID…

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Anyone else speechless? What an evening. I look forward to bumper pack detailed updates, but today, just as I finished the main update, great update as usual, pow pow… two more big ones. I’m dizzy.

A lot to take in.

Job losses are a terrible thing, very sorry to hear this.

Very good to hear.

True heroes. :clap::clap::clap::clap::clap: Thank you guys. You are a part of history.

Thank you to everyone at maidsafe.

Marketing, the project sells itself… especially with resources like the primer, the .tech website, the dev site, this forum and the dev forum. Many of us are pointing people this way, and they love it. I will continue to do so.

I suspect you have the attention of more people than you realise out there, in industry, people sitting and waiting silently.

Thank you for the transparency, on every front. Thank you for everyones hard work, thank you for making the tough decisions.

We are all right behind you. :slight_smile:

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I don’t understand the timeline here at all. Fleming has been close to delivery for months now. Would it not have been better to release something before making multiple posts like the world is falling in on itself?

Even converting ERC20 tokens would have been an positive release, if you feel we are years away from a finished project, because you have to raise funds for a multi-year road map.

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I agree It was a bit of a shock to read the following. A few months of runway… ouch.

But this was before the changed made above. Another year of funding available. Woooo! :tada::tada::tada:
It’s a cutting edge project. Have to admit, I’m not only going to get great return on investment and a great technology in the future, this project and the very transparent updates are a wild ride. Very happy to be a part of this.

Loans wise, I’m happy to hear that the community itself will get the opportunity to invest before VCs.
The ship is in good hands, tough decisions have had to be made. I grateful for all involved.

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How about 70% subscribed in first hour? That sound better perhaps. This is all business, if you had this transparency from others (who survived) then you would see likewise. Sometimes when your crypto drops 90% in value and your costs remain static, somethings gotta give. So you stand and fight, or do nothing and die. We choose the former, always.

We are not years away though, erc20 conversion would be a nightmarish thing for us in terms of focus.

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So you don’t need funding, because you have made changes and everything is cool for a full year.

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yes, that is confusing for me too, Why the need for loans if there are funds for one more year and fleming is so close

How about 70% subscribed in first hour?

what do you mean, did you already get loan offers for 7 mln MAID?

At 50% ROI, this is a high reward, which means it’s an equally high risk of total failure.

As we all know the company now has funds for the next year or so (crypto price-dependent), however it would benefit greatly from an investment perspective to remove any financial constraints to maintaining the very best team we can afford.

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This☝️

20 characters

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That would be a wee bit of madness. We will build this out at the pace we are. We may have more Engineers to do that with, or Qa and that would be very helpful. Even when it is built it won’t magic itself onto exchanges, websites to sell tokens and we wont magically grow more arms out my behind to take on some extra typing, filing, HR, admin, marketing, PR and so forth. We will need to be very vigilant, but I am not gonna be a victim here, we will have plenty of reserves when we need them, but ,and the trick is, not before.

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I always happy when this time. Thanks for sharing I keep tracing weekly updates!

Great news!! I think maid needs ONLY launch. Marketing is important for business app not protocol.

And it is really really good one dev CEO and product focused devs!! I am full suport this decision.

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Not equally… this is a project that has a good prospect for delivery; so, the risk is lessened and also this is a world of crypto markets where the standing fluxes wildly… as a project’s next foot falls, it’s standing relative to others jumps and equally where you introduce a hurdle to market it can soften the difference; so, too many variables that makes chattering markets a burn on time… which is why I rarely do.

Solid project :point_up:
Good leadership :point_up:
Great concept :point_up:
Proven idea :point_up:
Huge potential use case(s) :point_up:
etc :point_up: :point_up:

In a multivariable problem, stick to what you know… :wink:

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