Patrick Byrne, the CEO of NASDAQ-listed online retailer, Overstock, has triggered conversation among fellow “long-time crypto enthusiasts” after having partaken in a one-on-one interview with Business Insider’s Sara Silverstein on Friday. Having earned millions on the back of the bold move in 2014 to become the world’s first billion-dollar company to accept Bitcoin (BTC), Overstock have again identified and invested in another coin which Byrne believes “has quite a future.”
When questioned about his level of interest in cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, the multi-millionaire chief executive admitted to “not really [being] interested in cryptocurrencies per se,” but didn’t hold back in revealing Overstock’s recent investment worth “millions of dollars into [the] teams” of what was until Friday, a widely unknown open-source project called Ravencoin. Byrne did not elaborate on whether these funded teams are working on something in the background, or whether Overstock invested in the core development team directly.
The financial resources aren’t the only type of investment that Byrne has provided Ravencoin. Indeed, he also stated that “we have people contributing to this open-source project.” It is a matter of interpretation as to whether Byrne meant that some of Overstock’s staff have temporarily transferred to Ravencoin so as to offer their human capital, or whether Overstock has helped Ravencoin by way of sourcing the talent required by the startup. Either way, given the resourcefulness of the seasoned American entrepreneur, it is certain that what Ravencoin has received from Overstock goes far beyond their multi-million dollar financial investment.
In conceptually describing Ravencoin, Byrne said:
It’s Bitcoin, but a thousand times more energy efficient. And there’s other real interesting virtues to it…It was launched January 3…[and] has spread faster than any number of miners of any coin introduced.”
Silverstein then asked whether “the primary purpose of Ravencoin is to be a more energy efficient version of some of these other cryptocurrencies.” Perhaps legally restricted in what he could divulge, Byrne notably struggled to elaborate beyond simply agreeing that energy efficiency is “the first feature it brings to the world.”
Byrne went on to describe the centralization problem plaguing ASIC-friendly mineable coins, like Bitcoin, and how by being ASIC resistant, Ravencoin “redemocratizes mining;” levelling out the playing field between home-based CPU/GPU miners, and miners (often companies) that run mining farms fitted with expensive, state-of-the-art ASICs.
Byrne’s explanation was unable to distinguish Ravencoin, for many extant cryptocurrencies are intentionally hashed for with alternative proof-of-work (PoW) algorithms designed to be ASIC-resistant. Examples include the Equihash algorithm (e.g. Zcash, Bitcoin Gold), and the scrypt algorithm (e.g. Litecoin, Dogecoin).
Upon closer inspection, however, the Ravencoin whitepaper does introduce a brand new mining algorithm called X16R. Acting as its test platform will be the (scarcely-mentioned) Raven (RVN) cryptocurrency.
Even the most hardcore crypto enthusiasts could be forgiven for having never heard of Ravencoin, for Byrne’s interview marked its first major publicity, despite the open-source project launching almost two months ago. This ‘silent launch’ has prompted criticism across social media, with some wary users labelling it a quasi-premining event, arguing that those “in the know” were able to mine RVN well before its existence became public knowledge.
The perplexity surrounding the ‘silent launch’ will presumably linger, particular now that evidence has emerged that by January 13 (i.e., well before Byrne’s interview), the RVN chain was already 25,000 blocks long. At the time of writing, there have already ~94,600 blocks discovered.
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