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Referral Network should be Inclusive and Diversified

We have a lot of experiences in offline business organizations. We notice that those organizations are subject to corruption due to their centralized multi-layers business model which includes franchise and membership. This creates misalignment between the benefits of the central authorities (on the top of the pyramid) and the individual members of the organization. Luckily, we also see how decentralization and distributed ledger technology (eg. blockchain) can create a brand new kind of offline-to-online business organizations. I will dig it out piece by piece.

Some business organizations use a kind of exclusivity as a selling point. For example, they claim that in each of their smaller unit (eg. a chapter) only one member per business category can join the chapter. Let’s recall this graph on my first post of this series “The Giver Mindset on Forbole“:

FRN - Referral Community

It looks great! Now each member comes from a different profession and hence they will not compete with each other. For example, all the insurance-related referrals from the other eight members will go to the only member who is the insurance agent.

But this is just a gimmick for the top-tier franchise owners to sell the franchise to their downline. It provides the downline franchisees a good selling point to acquire members and earn the membership fee.

Exclusivity is an illusion.

Firstly, if the members are experienced networkers, they should have their own preferred choices of insurance agents or other service vendors. Unless there are stringent and enforceable rules, a business organization will not be able to force the members to treat each other as their sole or preferred choice of vendors. Secondly, being a member in an organization does not make you a reliable service provider. Will you choose a service provider just because he is belong to your organization, even you know he is not reliable?

We all have our own preferences.

This fake exclusivity does not worth its price (the membership fee and the time cost). Members should focus on building their personal brands and reputations, and help each other to spread the words out. To empower this, a business organization should be as inclusive as possible rather than exclusive. The more inclusive the organization is, the more diversified it members are and hence this can really help to spread the reputations of each quality members and help them to obtain more referrals.

To achieve this, a business organization need to manage both the offline and online presences by removing the hindrances to inclusion and diversity. Here are some measures we at Forbole Referral Network (“FRN”) will take:

1. Remove the concept of “chapter” which is static. Even children know how to make groups. Members of the organization will gradually and spontaneously form their own small groups according to their own characteristics, resources and needs. Groups need to be dynamic to cope with the rapid change of the business environment.

2. Remove the regular, frequent and boring meetings which are standardized with brainwash-style.

3. Focus on the commitment to the members, not the commitment to the centralized authorities.

4. Adopt an offline-online-offline approach to balance the need for real and authentic interaction (offline) and efficient virality (online).

5. Introduce a brand new business model by redefining members to become the owners of the community through the use of gift economy and decentralized governance powered by blockchain.

We will explain each of the above measures in more details later on.

(this article is subject to further modifications)

FRN - Referral Community

The Giver Mindset on Forbole

In Forbole Referral Network (“FRN”), givers are the people who are eager to help others to succeed. In the developers world, we have already seen the great development in free and open-source software, or FOSS community. We also see platform like Unsplash for people to share photos according to Creative Commons CC0. They are all generous givers.

In terms of business or career, we can also become a giver. But why should we become a giver in the first place? It is a simple maths. As a community, if we help each other to succeed, collectively all of us will have a higher successful rate. When A helps B to succeed, B will become more successful such that she has more resources to help C to succeed. Then C will be able to help A to become more successful.

Imagine a small community of three small businesses: an accountant, a designer and an insurance agent. Obviously they can become each other’s clients: the accountant and designer buy insurance from the agent, the agent and designer seek accounting services from the accountant, and the accountant and the agent seek marketing design services from the designer:

FRN - Referral Community

This is nice. But this is not big. What if each of them refer two business opportunities to one another from sources outside of this small community?

FRN - Referral Community

What if the new 6 people are each from different background and become part of this community?

FRN - Referral Community

So now this is a community of 9 people who actively refer suitable opportunities to each other. It just like each of them are now having a sales team of 8 people with business acumen and a strong giver mindset. One of our missions at FRN is to grow both the quantities and qualities of this community of givers such that the sole proprietors, small businesses and early-stage startups can rely on word-of-mouth referrals to obtain sales lead and tractions.

Polkadot World Map

Forbole is on Polkadot now!

Polkadot World Map
Polkadot World Map

Forbole is on Polkadot testnet now! Thanks to the generous referral and guidance by Melea! It seems like Greater China Region and the entire Southeast Asia have quite good potential!

Forbole Validating Polkadot
Forbole Validating Polkadot

Polkadot is a heterogeneous multi‑chain technology. It consists of many parachains with potentially differing characteristics which can make it easier to achieve anonymity or formal verification. Transactions can be spread out across the chains, allowing many more to be processed in the same period of time. Polkadot ensures that each of these blockchains remains secure and that any dealings between them are faithfully executed. Specialised parachains called bridges can be created to link independent chains. Let’s take a look how Dr. Gavin Wood, Co-founder of Polkadot made the introduction:

Deed of DID – Decentralization, Inclusion and Diversity

From the retweet on Twitter yesterday, I knew about Project Include which was co-founded by Ellen Pao, the ex-CEO of Reddit. Although I cannot say I agree 100% with their idea, inclusion and diversity are always the core values I want to pursue. When I read more posts by Project Include and Ellen Pao, I am inspired to think about how to integrate decentralization, inclusion and diversity.

May I call this the Deed of DID (Decentralization, Inclusion and Diversity)?

As you may know, we are building Forbole (ˈfɔːbəl) Blockchain, which is a blockchain designed for distributed reputation. Blockchain is just a state machine to facilitate application. Then what is the idea of our application? We decided to build Forbole Referral Network, because we think word-of-mouth referral can empower the underrepresented talents. In fact, as a graduate with mediocre academic performance, I was able to get a job offer from a bluechip banking group amidst the economic downturn in 2004 thanks to a referral by a lecturer who spotted my potential the transcript couldn’t tell.

Just as Ellen Pao said, we may have taken some actions that inactivated inclusion and diversity without knowing them. I see that a sound decentralized governance model may help to protect and foster inclusion and diversity. The product of decentralization, inclusion and diversity is permissionless:

Forbole - Deed of DID
The product of decentralization, inclusion and diversity is permissionless.

Our purpose at Forbole is to empower people. We would like to fight against the internet tyranny dictated by the elites. Our solution is to introduce a decentralized business model for social networks, and Forbole Referral Networks is our first experiment. Besides all the dense technical stuff, our own startup culture need to be decentralized enough. Culture is built by people.

As suggested by Ellen Pao, “When it comes to creating diverse teams, the sooner the better.“. So the best time to build our diverse team is now! We need to build a team of contributors from various backgrounds other than our existing team. The roles we need include but not limited to advisors, evangelists, developers, designers and content creators. We prefer remote freelancers at the moment. We can design remuneration in equity, fiat and tokens. To avoid breaching the regulations, we better state our own backgrounds instead of stating the opposite explicitly:

  • Both co-founders are males;
  • Both co-founders are Chinese;
  • Both co-founders are native Cantonese speakers;
  • Both co-founders are from Hong Kong;
  • Both co-founders are right-handed;

May I say that the contributors with backgrounds other than the above are preferred?

Big Dipper  – Lead you the way to explore the Cosmos

We are excited to announce the launch of the Big Dipper (beta), a Cosmos explorer, and it is also our contesting project for Cosmos HackAtom 3: The Validator Series.

The Big Dipper is an opensource explorer tool to monitor the status of any Cosmos compatible blockchain using the BPoS. We aim to provide a better user experience with nearly real-time response to show different information and metrics in different aspects regarding the network. We utilize different endpoints from Tendermint, Cosmos SDK and the Command Line Interface to aggregate data into a single web interface.

Governance proposal details being updated on the Big Dipper in a very short time.

Currently, the Big Dipper offers the following features.

  1. Monitor the consensus status of the network
  2. View blocks created time and number of transactions
  3. Monitor the change of validating power
  4. Show short term uptime and latest seen time of validators
  5. Track proposals creation, details and status update
  6. Easy to switch colour theme with any Bootstrap CSS themes.

We do not stop here. We keep enhancing the Big Dipper to show more information about the Cosmos. Features on user registration, status alerts, WebSocket event subscription on transactions, Prometheus metrics integration, etc. will be available very soon. Stay tuned.

You are welcome to give us feedbacks and fork the project to run with your blockchains. Please visit the project Github.

My stupid idea: cross holding using SAFE amongst a group of startups

I have just discussed a little bit about using Simple Agreement for Future Equity (“SAFE”) in Hong Kong in a chat group of startups.

This led me to another crazy idea: what if in a group of (eg. 10) startups, each startup invests US$1K to all the other 9 startups? so each startup will make a total investment of US$9K and at the same time receive US$9K from 9 investors.

Uncapped SAFE with a moderate discount

We are startups. Let’s minimize legal cost. Use SAFE (of course!). To avoid endless discussion of valuation cap, make it uncapped with a moderate discount, how about 20%?

10 startups, 9 investors, 45 connections

So, without actually spending or receiving new money, each startup in this group will have 9 strategic investors.

According to Metcalfe’s Law, we know that a group of 10 startups will have 45 connections. What if we make it 20 startups instead? 190 connections.

30 startups

What if we make it 30 startups? There will be 435 connections.

Let’s be aggressive, make it 30 startups. What if each of them can get 5 new investors from family and friends? There will be 150 investors each invests directly and indirectly in a portfolio of 30 startups.

What if each of them on average has 3 team members? There will be 90 people. This is a portfolio of 30 companies, 90 people, 150 external investors with mutual interest.

With this group of startups, maybe we can ask for a discount from business centres, coworking spaces, lawyers, accountants, restaurants… … wait, why don’t we also include business centres, coworking spaces, lawyers, accountants, restaurants in this portfolio as well?

Bootstrap a decentralized professional network like Bitcoin


Reading the whitepaper of Bitcoin always makes you contented and joyful. You will learn not only blockchain but the way how to write in such a precise and fat-free style.

Another magic of Bitcoin that has made it so glamorous to me is the way it has bootstrapped its chain together with its community. That is such a perfect application of proof-of-work. It also demonstrates the meaning of trustless.

Implied trust

I am a beneficiary of word-of-mouth referral. At Forbole, we are interested to see whether the trust we implied during the referral process can have more usage: is that some kind of “work” or “stake”?

Trust cannot be revealed by our words. We show that we trust someone or something through our actions. Actions always need us to spend energy (i.e. sacrifice something) to perform.

One of the convincing ways to say we trust some people is by recommending them to someone else. A more convincing way is to refer them to business or career opportunities offered by other people that we trust.

The question we want to answer: is that safe to say Person A trusts Person B as Person A has referred Person B to work for Person C, who has shown mutual trust with Person A as well?

Here’s my favourite part: What if Person A to record this referral together with the relationships among these three people on blockchain? Are the properties such as immutability, verification and governance make the trust implied from this referral more convincing?

If Person B has obtained more and more of this “record”, can you trust Person B even you don’t know Person A and Person C?

Why would Person A need to do it? What the reward and cost for this? Why would Person C want to be mentioned or disclosed?

Bootstrap this network of relationships

So we plan to use our own stories to bootstrap Forbole Referral Network (“FRN”), which is a decentralized professional network with a focus on referral of opportunities. FRN will by the first application on Forbole Blockchain.

Is that possible to start with something like genesis block of Bitcoin? I have tried to review some of the referrals I have received and made, and the networking effect they have caused in my life. This is like a meditation. You should try it, or do it on the upcoming beta of FRN.

Poor drawing by Terence Lam

Thanks for your support. Feel free to follow us on Telegram and Twitter. Please also help me to improve my writing by pointing out the typos, grammatical mistakes and the better use of English.

Further reading:

Uncharted Waters

After I posted “Become our angels” on my Facebook, I have received some unexpected responses. I have not received some expected responses. This is so interesting.

In fact, what we are doing is like a private crowdfunding.

I love to play a PC game called Uncharted Waters. I love to use a character called Ali Vezas. He was a poor guy in Istanbul. So he asked the people he knew in the town for a fundraiser to support his journey as a merchant. What you need to do is to talk to everyone in the town. You can take a look see what Ali has encountered…

First thing first, your ship was broken. You need to persuade the repairer to delay his fee as an investment (Oh! Investment by sweat!):

Your partner questioned about the start-up capital. Yeah, we can’t trade without any money!

Some people hate you so much that he would not deal with you like forever and in whatever circumstances:

And there are people who “always thought you’d make something of yourself someday.”:

And yes, even a little bit would help us to get started. So don’t be shy if you want to support us with just a little bit of money:

You should always ask yourself, “Why people have to trust me?”:

Even your dream girl will invest in you! (Disclosure by Terence: this has not happened on me, not yet)

Of course, you are staking your reputation and your relationships when you ask for investment from family & friends. Will you stake your relationship with your dream girl?

What funny? We have experienced the same as Ali…

Desmo and Phanero (English)

The dual-tokens model of Forbole Blockchain

(中文按此) In the world of proof-of-work blockchains such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, if you would like to mine the tokens, you have to invest in your computing power and consume electricity, These are the costs you need to bear, in reward for Bitcoin or Ether. If you have committed wrong calculation or other wrong-doing or misbehavior, you will suffer a loss as you have used your computing power and electricity but have not gained the reward. This is the Law of Equivalent Exchange.

What if we no longer need mining by adopting proof-of-stake consensus? Who’s gonna do the calculation? How? What if they have done something wrong?

Base on Cosmos, we adopted a dual-tokens model, The first one is Desmo [ˈdɛsmɒ]. Holder of Desmo can stake their Desmo in return for the eligibility to validate the transaction on Forbole Blockchain, and hence can earn transaction fee in terms of Desmo or Phanero. As such, one can view Desmo as a long-term asset that can generate income. If the computing power of a Desmo holder is not qualified to become such a validator, he can delegate his Desmo to other and gain a share of transaction fee. Desmo is the token we will issue in our crowdsale campaign..

Desmo is designed as a long-term asset such that we will have enough qualified people to validate the transactions and hence maintain the governance of our blockchain. So Desmo should not be relied upon as a trading tokens as this will encourage Desmo holders to use Desmo for short-term purpose instead of participating the governance of the blockchain. We need to have a more liquid token which is suitable for short-term purpose, and this is Phanero [fəˈnærəʊ]. There will not be any crowdsale of Phanero. Users can gain Phanero by making contributions to Forbole (except if our proposed hard spoon on Steem will take place).

Simply put. Desmo is like investment properties which can generate income. This will discourage you to do short-term trading or speculation on Desmo. But if the holders are all holding Desmos, there will not have enough Desmos for people to trade or utilize. That’s why we need a more liquid Phanero which will act like a monetary asset to provide liquidity to our blockchain ecosystem.

On Forbole Blockchain, we have Desmo for long-term purposes and Phanero for short-term purposes. They make our tokenomics more complete.

Our private pre-sale of Desmo has started. Please refer to our Whitepaper for more details. We are also opened for discussion of hybrid investment using future equity (SAFE) + tokens. Please send message to our co-founder Terence Lam if you are interested.
Desmo and Phanero (中文)

​為何 Forbole 採雙代幣模式?​

(English here) 在 Bitcoin 或 Ethereum 等的工作量證明 (PoW) 掘礦世界,若你想參與掘礦,你就需投資於提昇運算力及消耗電力來為區塊鏈計數,這是你需付出的成本,用於換來可能掘到的 Bitcoin 或 Ether,若你計錯數或做錯事,你就會受到白白浪費了運算力及電力但掘不到幣的懲罰,等價交換是也!

但若區塊鏈不使用掘礦的方式,而是用權益證明 (PoS),誰去計數?怎樣計數?計錯了怎辦?

所以我們參考了 Cosmos 的方式,採用了雙代幣模式。首先是 Desmo [ˈdɛsmɒ],持有 Desmo 的人,通過將 Desmo 抵押,就能獲得審批區塊鏈交易的職能,通過審批交易來獲取更多的代幣 (Desmo 及 Phanero),即 Desmo 是一種長綫生財工具,若自己的電腦規格不勝任此職能,亦可以將持有的 Desmo 委托他人,以換取交易收益分成。我們的代幣眾籌將會發行 Desmo。

但由於 Desmo 應該作為長綫生財工具,以確保我們有足夠多的人審批交易,維持區塊鏈上的管治,所以 Desmo 本身不應該被依賴作為交易的代幣,這會令 Desmo 持有人以 Desmo 作短期目的而不是用於維護區塊鏈,我們需要有一種具備更大流通性,適合短期操作的代幣,這就是 Phanero [fəˈnærəʊ]。Phanero 並不會通過眾籌發行,而是由用戶通過對區塊鏈作出貢獻而換取 (除了我們初擬的 Steem 的 hard spoon 將會執行)。

再簡單點說,Desmo 像投資性物業,你持有它就能收租,所以你不會輕易作短期買賣操作,但如果人人都持有 Desmos,巿面就會不夠 Desmo 給他人買賣或使用,所以我們有要像流動​貨幣的 Phanero,為我們的區塊鏈生態帶來流動性。

我們的布樂區塊鏈上,有適合長綫的 Desmo 及適合短綫的 Phanero,令我們的經濟體更完善。

我們的 Desmo 代幣私人預售已靜稍稍展開,詳情請參閱我們的 Forbole 白皮書初稿。除了預購 Desmo,我們亦歡迎你洽談以未來股權 (SAFE) + 代幣的方式來參與我們的區塊鏈世界,如有興趣請 PM 我們的聯合創始人 Terence