What is EOS – A Beginner’s Guide

What is EOS?

It’s a layer 1, Generation 3 blockchain called “EOS” or “EOS Mainnet” and a
cryptocurrency with the symbol $EOS. There are no miners. Instead, token
holders elect groups called Block Producers who process transactions for the
network. Using elections instead of competitive mining allows the EOS
blockchain to be <1sec fast, have (super) low fees and high throughput capacity
(10k + transactions/sec). The election system is called delegated proof of stake
(DPOS). EOS uses the symbol of a chestahedron that reflects the sacred
geometry of the heart.

Why EOS?

EOS is attractive because of its technology and community. It allows developers to build dApps (solutions to problems) that other platforms cannot support. After setting up an EOS wallet, the technology superiority can be felt through the user experience of posting transactions (doing things) on the EOS blockchain. There’s a moment when you realize it’s better than conventional apps because you get more from using it.

The EOS community has incredible leaders who adopt the values of transparency, openness, honesty, accountability, liberty, respect and other core values of blockchain. It’s a group of people dedicated to solving life’s hardest problems regardless of financial and regulatory obstacles. Joining the EOS community is like entering a new planet. 

How did EOS start?

A company called Block.One (“B1”) issued an ICO during 2017-2018. They had the largest raise out of all the ICOs at the time at ~$4B in $ETH. The ICO used a reverse dutch auction that lasted one year. During the ICO, B1 converted their $ETH into $BTC and built the first version of the “eosio” software. Eosio is the open-source code that runs the EOS blockchain. Although there are other blockchains that use eosio, EOS was the first to adopt it and represents the largest community. After the ICO concluded, a group of people (not affiliated with Block.One) took the code and launched the EOS blockchain and the $EOS token. Block.One earned 10% of $EOS tokens (100M $EOS) vested over ten years as per the ICO agreement. 

The ICO was the most fairly distributed, decentralized of its kind.

Who is the architect of eosio?

Daniel Larimer, former CTO of B1, designed the concept of eosio based on his previous projects called BitShares and Steemit. Those two projects’ blockchains are application-specific (DEX and social media, respectively). Eosio is a general-purpose blockchain engine that can support any type of dApp. After resigning from B1, Dan created EDEN on EOS based on his book called More Equal Animals. Dan’s life mission is to create solutions for securing life, liberty, property and justice for all. 

Dan’s book describes a new societal structure that he is building on EOS

What is a smart contract?

It’s a new concept in crypto. Funds are moved into a different location from one’s wallet for accounting, transferring and other purposes. It’s essentially a separate pool to aggregate funds, kind of like when you send your funds to an escrow agent. Here, the “agent” is a computer with code (logic) that determines what to do with the funds. 

For example, when you are placing an order on a decentralized exchange, the crypto you intend to buy/sell goes into a smart contract. The party on the other side of the trade also puts their crypto in the smart contract. When the prices match, the smart contract sends the funds to the appropriate parties based on their order. The use of a smart contract enables the code to run on its own, with no third party operators. 

What is staking?

Staking is a special use of smart contracts to help with reaching consensus on EOS and other chains. Staking is like posting collateral. It makes your tokens illiquid. In return, you get voting rights on EOS. The more you choose to stake, the more voting power at your disposal (more on voting later). When unstaking, you lose voting power, but your tokens become liquid. On EOS, unstaking takes 72 hours. The time delay is a security feature in case your keys get stolen (more on security later). dApps use staking to give rewards and other non-financial benefits like voting. They do so to encourage keeping tokens off exchanges, among other reasons. Staking shows “skin in the game”. It measures one’s dedication to a goal.

How do resources work on EOS?

EOS has gone through two phases in determining how to allocate resources (decentralized computational power) among token holders. Imagine an apartment complex with 1 billion rooms. In phase 1, living in the rooms represented your ability to post (or “sign”) transactions/do things on the EOS network.  From 2018-2021, staking 1 $EOS meant owning 1 room. No one could live in it besides you. In the fall of 2019, many rooms were taken and the network became “congested” for some. Whales (large token holders) owned a bunch of rooms that they didn’t utilize. So the network had given some free, unused rooms to people who wanted more, which was signaled by attempting to post more transactions than their stake allowed. Then an application came along that took up all the free rooms, causing no more for individual users which some described as “congestion”. It inspired the change to Phase 2, the PowerUp Model

In the PowerUp Model, think of the same apartment. Let’s say you have 1 $EOS. It means you have the opportunity to own 1/1Billionth of the “equity” of the entire apartment complex. Equity benefits come from the fact that all rooms are available to rent for 24 hours for a fee. Having equity means earning from rental fees. By owning 1 $EOS and lending it in the REX smart contract, you earn 1/1Billionth of the rental fees. It effectively frees up all the rooms that were previously owned by whales who didn’t use them. You are “lending” your $EOS because it is used for others to rent rooms. After 24 hours, your $EOS comes back plus the rental fee. If you’d like free “room rentals”, check out the EOS PowerUp service. They will pay the rental fee for five to ten simple actions on EOS daily!   

On EOS, “stake” to vote, “lend” to earn rental fees. However, all the $EOS in REX can also be used to vote. Therefore, it’s recommended to put all the $EOS you own for savings into the REX smart contract. 

How does EOS handle user security?

On EOS, users have the option of using keypairs on their account that have multiple permissions (can do different things). The public-private keypair is the foundation of user security in cryptography that’s used like a username and password. In Bitcoin for example, you get one public and one private key. On EOS, best security practice is to have two sets of different public and private keys called “owner” and “active”. You can choose to have more than two keypairs that are limited to certain actions, like one keypair just for voting. Moving funds with the “voting” keys would not be possible, for example. 

The owner and active key come with every EOS account as the same keys. It’s important to change one of the keys in order to reap the security benefits of EOS. The active key is meant to do everything while using EOS dApps. The owner key can do the same, plus the ability to change the active key. The owner key is meant to be stored offline in a safe place. If someone steals your active key, you’ll use the owner key to create a new active key. Here is where staking comes into play. If someone steals your active key, the first thing they’ll do is try to transfer your $EOS to a different account or an exchange. If you’ve staked or REX’ed your $EOS, the hacker will initiate an unstake command. Using EOS Authority’s email notification feature, you’ll get notified. Now you have a 72-hour window to use the owner key to override the unstake command and change the active key. This is the tip of the iceberg regarding the permission system on EOS, making it the safest blockchain system in the world.  

How can I build a dApp on EOS?

Start here and here.  

Post-ICO and EOSVC

Shortly after the ICO, Block.One announced the EOSVC fund with ~$1B of funding that was to be invested in EOS projects. 

Some EOS community members have negative feelings about EOSVC because it did not go as planned. Venture capitalists (VCs) expect profit and regulatory compliance. Because many EOS projects were not able to fit their criteria, EOSVC had to look elsewhere to deploy the capital. 

B1 decided not to issue grants similar to Consensys in the Ethereum ecosystem. They most likely felt that donating to EOS public goods projects would have caused EOS to be centralized, risking negative regulatory perception. As it stands, no additional funds have been allocated to EOSVC. Instead, B1 makes its own investments, still mostly on VC-type criteria. In 2021 however, B1 made a move to support public goods projects on EOS. More on funding opportunities later. 

What’s the story behind the Block Producers?

On EOS, there is no mining. Instead we have stakers and block producers (BPs). Stakers play the role of miner on EOS. The BPs are the mining pools. The formation of mining pools are a natural result of incentives in blockchain systems. They form because of pareto-distributed wealth differences. EOS factors them in inherently, achieving greater efficiency. Adding voting incentives enables transparency and accountability from the BP candidates. 

The BPs hold the keys to make changes to EOS blockchain’s code and produce blocks. They make decisions based on + 1 majority. They achieve incredible coordination and uptime. Since producing the genesis block, the BPs have invested and developed more sophisticated infrastructure that can support tens of thousands of transactions per second, half second block times (near-instant transactions) and 24/7 uptime. 

What is the inflation rate on EOS?

The EOS token has a supply of around 1 billion. When EOS first started, the inflation rate was set to 5% with 4% funneling into a savings account and 1% for BP rewards. Without a way to decide who should receive the funds from savings, the EOS community voted to burn them and eventually shut off the 4% inflation. That changed as of 2021 when the EOS blockchain changed the inflation rate to 3% per year. A third of the inflation, 1%, still goes towards BP rewards. The rest of the 2%, 20M $EOS, funnels into an account for grants. 

How does voting work on EOS?

When you have $EOS staked in your decentralized wallet, it gives the authority to vote for up to 30 BPs. The BPs who receive your vote will earn rewards from 1% of the network’s inflation. Votes are recorded and rankings are updated in real time, a type of “liquid democracy”. 

The top 21 BPs who receive the most votes are the only ones who produce blocks for the chain. BPs outside the top 21 are paid “standbys”. BP pay is based on the amount of votes received and blocks produced. Because the top 21 produce roughly the same amount of blocks, their pay disparity is based on votes.  From 21-22 there is a larger pay gap because 22+ does not produce blocks. From 22+ resumes the gradual decrease based on votes until pay stops around 70th place depending on various factors.

The incentives around block producers result in “vote buying”. It is when a block producer sends a voter $EOS in exchange for their vote. Many outside of EOS incorrectly state the vote buying “problem” is uniquely negative to eosio chains. However, it is the same concept as mining pools that use their customer’s computational and financial assets in exchange for mining rewards. Vote buying was not immediately apparent when EOS launched the chain. Within a year, however, cultural differences arose around vote buying. The BPs who engaged in it climbed the rankings. It was part of the reason that caused a major BP shuffle (solidified as of 2021) and a reimagination of governance expectations

Voting for representatives using tokens (DPOS) allows exchanges to vote for themselves using their customer’s tokens. Because most $EOS holders are ignorant or apathetic of the voting mechanism, there is little incentive for the exchanges to develop a system that allows their customers to vote on their own, or pay them for their vote. However, the transparency of DPOS voting permits advocacy groups to form. Upbit, the largest exchange in Korea, has more than 100M of their customer’s $EOS tokens. Koreos, a BP representing the Korean speaking EOS community, is petitioning for Upbit to allow their customers to vote. The misalignment of incentives between exchanges and DPOS voting is a unique problem of eosio and has contributed to Dan’s motivation to complement DPOS with the EDEN consensus system. 

How does EOS governance work?

On EOS, proposals are formalized on-chain and signed through multi-signature (“msig”) accounts. An msig account is one that is controlled by two or more other accounts with different “weights” and a “threshold” assigned. The threshold is like the amount of votes a proposal must receive before it passes. The weight of an account is how many votes it gets. For example, if there are three accounts on an msig with each having a weight of 1 and a threshold of 3, then all three accounts must sign for the proposal to pass. If one of the accounts had instead a weight of 3, then that account would not need the other two to pass a proposal. Configuring msig accounts through eosio’s flexible permission system is one of the benefits of using EOS. Any organization can set up an msig to move funds, change account settings and more in a secure, decentralized manner. 

When someone mentions “EOS governance” they are probably referring to how the BPs make decisions, the most significant msig on EOS. When moving funds and changing the core code of EOS, the BPs must sign an msig with a + 1 consensus. Because there are 21 active BPs, 15 (the threshold) need to sign for the proposal to pass while each BP has a weight of 1. Significant decisions are made in the open, allowing token holder voters clear view whether the BPs they vote for stand for issues they deem important. For example, in May of 2021 a major hack occurred on EOS, termed the “SX Vault Hack”. The BPs signed an msig to reverse the transaction, allowing the stolen funds to return. Later in the year, the BPs collectively decided to form and fund the EOS Foundation through the same process.

Is EOS centralized?

Centralization-decentralization is a spectrum. When others claim that EOS is “centralized”, they are most likely referring to the 21 block producers in a way that lacks nuance. In ETH, anyone can theoretically become a miner. But it is not practical because the average Joe cannot outcompete a mining farm for token rewards. Joe must lend the farm his computer power in order to acquire tokens, centralizing his chain. In EOS, lending your vote for rewards also contributes to centralization, but in a less severe way. The difference lies in the economics of rigs versus tokens.

 

Brendan is the CEO of B1. He is highlighting how it is harder to buy $EOS tokens to vote oneself into the top 21 spot(s) than it is to buy hardware to become a miner with enough influence to have a say at the “code changing table”. Buying more tokens causes the price to rise due to price slippage. Whereas buying more hardware causes the price to drop due to bulk buying discounts. Brendan’s observation of 3-4 mining pools controlling ETH remains true today. On EOS, the pie chart is split evenly 21 ways. 

Some of the BPs on EOS vote for each other, forming alliances that become stronger due to how voting works. Each $EOS token gives you up to 30 votes. Choosing 30 BPs gives you full voting power. Choosing to vote for just 1 BP gives you half the power of voting for 2. Because the incentives dictate voting for all 30, many BPs vote for each other, forming “alliances”, derogatively referred to as “cartels”. There have been proposals to change the mechanism to 1 token 1 vote. Although it could eliminate the incentive to form voting alliances, getting it passed through the BP msig may not be possible due to a potential loss of power. 

The bright side is that voting is transparent. The token holders can stage public campaigns against an alliance or other injustices. So far, the top BPs are generally in good standing due to the value they provide to the EOS community. All in all, the DPOS consensus mechanism is more decentralized (more independent entities producing blocks) and transparent (on-chain governance!) than POW. 

Who is Block One and what’s their relationship to EOS?

Block.One (“B1”) originally developed the EOS.io platform that utilizes the EOS mainchain / other sister chains 

Although they are an EOS token holder, they are generally concentrating on other B1 products. 

B1 holds 10% of EOS tokens. Although it represents a small fraction of their total portfolio ($BTC!), it is a large percentage of the EOS network. If EOS appreciates, it will dominate their portfolio. There are reputational forces stemming from their ICO, their products and social media messaging that also align B1’s interests with the rest of $EOS token holders. 

Some in the EOS community feel B1 does not contribute enough to the EOS ecosystem. Others use different time horizons to judge B1’s contribution. Their largest (public) contribution has been updating the eosio codebase and responding to technical issues. They are working on two major products that will incorporate EOS.

Voice is an NFT platform that offers free, environmentally friendly minting of NFTs, credit card payments and zero gas fees. They have access to a large budget that they used to purchase a high level domain (voice.com) and recruit popular artists to the platform. Because Voice lives on a private eosio chain, they use the EOS blockchain to publish transaction records and will create a custom block explorer on EOS to display them. They created a new NFT standard for eosio that can have multiple co-minters, containerized NFTs where users can effectively put NFTs inside of others, lending/borrowing NFTs and more. 

Voice is investigating using the $EOS token for resources on the private Voice chain.

 

Bullish is a cryptocurrency exchange that “offers an unprecedented combination of deep liquidity, automated market making, and industry-leading security and compliance”. It uses a Hybrid Order Book that offers better liquidity and predictability than its competitors. It is “hybrid” because it combines liquidity pools from DeFi with traditional limit orders in CeFi. Investors provide liquidity into the pool with a 7 day minimum staking period and earn a return. When the market crashes/booms, those tokens staked into the pool cannot be moved, acting as buyers/sellers in volatile markets where most everyone is on one side. With $10B worth of funds, Bullish will help stabilize the brutally volatile crypto market.

Bullish is designed for institutional investors. CEO Thomas Farley is the former president of the NYSE GroupFarley facilitated Bullish’s public stock offering through a merger with Far Peak Acquisition on the New York Stock ExchangeBullish chose this route to provide their users with the option to purchase financial exposure without the regulatory uncertainty that comes with a new crypto token offering. 

Bullish’s private pilot program awarded participants with play $USD over three 2 week periods. The top 3 participants with the highest value portfolio won a total of $525k in prizes. The tokens available for trading were $BTC, $ETH, $USD and $EOS. The participants observed the $USD-$EOS liquidity pool had by far the highest yield compared to the other pools.

$EOS is used as a trading pair with an accompanying USD-EOS liquidity pool on Bullish. Bullish will also use the EOS blockchain to publish transaction records, which proves their data has not been tampered with. It gives some visibility to the private Bullish EOSIO chain without exposing sensitive internal information. 

How did EOS become independent?

When EOS mainnet was launched in June 2018, there was a vesting contract that allowed B1 to claim 10% of the total token supply (100M $EOS) over a ten year period. The keys to the contract are controlled by the top 21 Block Producers. In December of 2021, the BPs decided, with 15/21 vote, to end the vesting of tokens to B1’s account.

Before the BPs ended the vesting contract, the EOS community was dependent upon B1 updating the codebase the EOS blockchain runs on. The community did not have access to make updates. Part of ending the vesitng contract meant forking (copy-pasting) the code for community control. This action made EOS independent for the first time.

Since then, many senior blockchain developers from B1 left to work for the ENF and the EOS community. A notable “Coalition” has formed with other blockchains that use similar core code to EOS. The Coalition will take on the responsibility of updating a shared codebase to add new features to EOS. Anyone can take the code to “spin up” a new chain based on EOS.

The EOS community has gone through three stages. The first is the hype stage. A new chain, new money and a promise of re-investment inspired many people to allocate their time into the EOS ecosystem. Projects announced a move from their chain to EOS. Thought leaders engaged in public settings, answering questions no matter minnow or whale. Price increased dramatically, then slowly simmered as the hype waned. The hype stage began in July 2017 and ended in the fall of 2019. 

The second is the stagnation stage. With no investments into public goods projects, the teams who chose to stay on EOS struggled on shoestring budgets. Thought leaders became silent. Indecision caused inaction. Competition gained ground and FUD went unanswered. Price labored sideways. Stagnation began late 2019 and lasted through 2020. 

The third, most current is the comeback stage. Beginning in 2021, solutions were announced to provide funding for public goods projects. Project Betas were unveiled from years of work. Excitement is muted, but hope has returned. 

We are on the way to a fourth stage, prematurely called the orbital stage. We will reach orbit when we provide the world significant value found only on EOS. 

When entering the EOS community for the first time, it’s best to recognize the baggage EOS OGs carry. They have suffered through stagnation through no fault of their own. But there’s a bright side. The hardships have made us strong because we can trust each other. 

Is EOS a security?

Block.One (“B1”) reached a settlement with the SEC in 2019. The SEC was concerned about whether B1’s ICO offering was a security. B1 paid the SEC $24M to settle (read the settlement proposal). In return, the SEC “has simultaneously granted Block.one an important waiver so that Block.one will not be subject to certain ongoing restrictions that would usually apply with settlements of this type”3.

The waiver “will not require the [EOS ERC-20] token to be registered as a security with the SEC”4, which legitimizes B1’s ICO. Because B1 launched their ICO on the Ethereum blockchain, the tokens exchanged for $ETH lived on ETH, hence why they were ERC-20. When the EOS blockchain was launched, ICO participants were airdropped the $EOS on the new chain.

Despite the settlement, there are inaccurate claims B1 acted illegally during the ICO. B1 hired reputable law firm Clifford Chance to conduct an audit of the ICO. B1’s response to the claims can be read here.

Because of the settlement, institutions like Bloomberg are comfortable transacting with $EOS. It’s therefore likely other institutional capital will see $EOS as an attractive portfolio target for their crypto exposures.

Does EOS have marketing?

Brendan of B1, as early as 2018, tweeted/telegramed about marketing. A now deleted comment claimed there would be “marketing on EOS like… never seen before”. Since then, he/B1 has changed their stance on marketing, walking back mentioning EOS. They believe marketing on EOS should be spent through their products that use EOS, not for the chain itself. Unfortunately this strategy excludes promoting the vast majority of dApps on EOS and all of the public goods projects. 

When the opportunity for funding was introduced, two new EOS projects were created to address the marketing void on EOS. The community has signaled through the first EDEN on EOS election their interest in funding a different marketing strategy than what B1 supports. By being voted into the Chief Delegate roleJesse Jaffe and Randall Roland received funding for their projects called EOS Bees™ and EOS Support, respectively.  

Marketing can be simplified into two aspects: attract and onboard. EOS Bees is an outreach marketing group that will promote EOS projects, attracting people to the chain. Once interested, people will be forwarded to EOS Support to help them set up an EOS wallet and answer questions. By solving the sentiment and onboarding problem, $EOS will climb the marketcap rankings. It allows everyone holding $EOS tokens more opportunity to build great solutions by getting more spending power for their $EOS!

Is funding available on EOS?

In 2021, four funding initiatives were announced to bring consistent, on-chain financial support to EOS projects for the first time. The EOS Foundation, EOStarter, Pomelo and EDEN on EOS use different mechanisms to choose who deserves to receive funds. The Foundation and EOStarter use a trusted, centralized model of its core members whereas the Pomelo and EDEN take a more decentralized route. 

Pomelo is a crowdfunding platform for public goods, funded by B1, that has “matching partner funds” and a quadratic distribution algorithm. Each donation is matched by a third party kind of like how a company matches an employee’s savings in a 401(k). Here, the amount matched depends on the number of unique donors. If one hundred donors contributed 1 $EOS to a public goods project, the “matched” amount would be greater than one donor contributing 100 $EOS. Plus, there could be more than one matching partner. 

EDEN on EOS uses the political playoff system described earlier. It rewards one’s ability to be trusted in front of multiple types of people that are randomly assigned into groups of 4-6 at a time. 

EOSTARTER is a community-powered Incubator and Gamified Launchpad on EOS. Basically, what EOSTARTER does is fund and support projects that want to build on EOS, all the way from their idea to their token launch and beyond. They also have one of the coolest NFT Projects on EOS: The Tartiers

Helios is a venture captial organization focusing on the broader EOS space, including chains that use similar code to EOS. Helios funds early stage startups. They are working to be an improvement from the EOS VC challenges described earlier. Helios is led by Brock Pierce, a former shareholder of B1. Brock sold all his B1 shares in exchange for $EOS, making his incentives aligned with the community.

ƒractally is Dan’s next iteration from EDEN. It’s a shift from EDEN’s compensation model. Among many changes described in the White Paper, ƒractally rewards contrubtions after they are done, rather than campaigning for the intiatives one will do. ƒractally uses its own token in innovative ways to create a true DAO, one that can not be manipulated by outside forces.

With clear funding opportunities, no matter the sophistication of a project, the future of EOS has never been brighter. If you have an idea that you’d like to receive funding for, introduce yourself to the community here or on the dedicated Discord server for the EOS community. 

How is $EOS “green”?

EOS is green because of the way the BPs are selected. With delegated proof of stake (DPOS), the power sucking mining war needed for proof of work (POW) blockchains like Bitcoin is unnecessary. Instead the block producer is voted in. They take turns processing blocks rather than competing for the opportunity. 

EOS is 66,4545 times more energy efficient than Bitcoin. It uses 630.72 MWh & emits 281 tonnes of CO2 per year, significantly less than the POW chains. With help from Climate Care, the EOS blockchain has offset its carbon footprint for a year’s duration (May 2020 – 2021)!

EOS uses less than .01% carbon emissions than Bitcoin

Sources from quotes

1-2 Decentralized Dispute Resolution by Daniel Larimer

3-4 Block.one Announces Settlement with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission by Block.One

5 The Future of Blockchain is Sustainable by EOS Authority 

 

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