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It was another tense editorial meeting in the CoinStaker newsroom, and we were brainstorming article titles that would take everyone’s minds off the plummeting markets. “I’ve got an idea,” someone said. “What if we have a weekly column, where we pick out a good cryptocurrency and introduce it to the readers in a short profile?”

“Good idea,” our editor said, “but you’ll run out of topics in a month. Why don’t you write about one of the awful coins instead? You’ll never run out of material.”

With that sage advice,  we now embark upon the first installment of our approximately-1500-article series “Sh*tcoin of the Week.”

What do we mean by a Sh*tcoin?

Most readers have a pretty specific idea of what the word shitcoin means. It’s like the cryptocurrency equivalent of buying a lemon–you just spent  fifty grand on a Maseratti, but you opened the hood and it’s held together by rubber bands and gum.

But there’s another kind of lemon out there–a car which has nothing objectively wrong with it, but has no other purpose than to be useless and make you look stupid. The kind of vehicle that, even though the engineering is brilliant and the execution impeccable, is unable to answer an elemental question:“Why the fuck would you do that?”

With that in mind, we give you Sky: the Segway of Cryptocurrency.

Meet the New Internet

The Sky project has one big advantage: it doesn’t suffer from excess modesty. Here’s what we learn from first glance:

The Sky project has two components: Skycoin, a new cryptocurrency with “Fast transactions and no transaction fees,” and Skywire, described as

Sky: the Segway of cryptos.

An incentivized mesh network poised to become the privacy protocol of the future. Skywire’s goal is to make corporate internet service providers a thing of the past by giving the internet back to the people with its revolutionary privacy protocol. Peer-to-peer technology with a grassroots ethos, Skywire’s new networking protocol promotes net neutrality and sharing without blocking, slowdowns or censorship.

So, in summary: Skycoin is going to restore net neutrality and abolish your ISP, replacing it with….you. The new Internet will be peer-to-peer, and maybe even house-to-house. Users will pay each other in Skycoin for network traffic, and earn Skycoin by passing data along. Deeper down the rabbithole(at least I hope this is just a rabbit hole) you’ll find elaborate plans for miners, wireless antennas, video games, application languages, new consensus algorithms, and a new version of cryptokitties.  

Sky is one of the oldest altcoin projects, imagined up by Bitcoin and Ethereum veterans to fix  the problems that had emerged from the first round of cryptocurrencies. With that much proven talent and boundless imagination, it’s not hard to see why people have high expectations.

We’ve done the smelly work of sniffing through Sky’s underpants for bad signs. Here’s what we found.

Brown Flag No. 1: Terrible Marketing.

Most bad cryptocurrencies have good marketing and bad programming.  Sky is the other way around.

Let’s start with the lowest-hanging fruit: the website is awful. It looks like it was coded in FORTRAN for a server that runs on vacuum tubes. This may seem like a tiny nit to pick, but in a marketplace full of sleek, elegant websites pushing absolute garbage, it’s a pretty bad sign that the “new internet” can’t put together an attractive homepage. Couldn’t someone sell a few SKY for a subscription to Wix?

Of all the possible names, they chose the one most similar to an AI supervillain.

Unfortunately, the rest of the marketing department isn’t any better. Sky’s own marketing team has screwed itself into several PR blunders–including one where they bizarrely disowned their own COO.  Heck, just look at the name–they are literally trying to create SkyNet. 

The branding, or lack thereof, is painfully reflected in the marketplace, where it somehow lags behind doge turds like Dentacoin and EOS. “Skycoin developers have put all of their effort into making some of the most amazing technology in all of the crypto world, and have not put much effort into getting the word out,” the developers admit in their reddit FAQ. “So right now it is still relatively unknown.” Synth, the lead developer, has acknowledged the same in several interviews: Sky was largely left behind in the 2017 Gold Rush, mostly because it hasn’t bothered getting listed on reputable exchanges.

Brown Flag No. 2: The Lead Developer is A Comic Book Villain

Perusing the “Team” page, we come across the following snippet:

Synth, one of the earliest developers behind Bitcoin, started Skycoin 8 years ago with a vision of creating a new, decentralized Internet. He sits on the advisory boards of several cryptocurrency projects. Synth has a background in mathematics, distributed systems, and symbolic logic.

Now, I don’t want to be old-fashioned, but there are only two circumstances in which a fake name makes you look professional:

  1. If you are a magician, a rapper, a cult leader, or otherwise require a more imposing persona than you’d get from a real, normal-person-sounding name like “Jacob Finkelbaum.”
  2. If you are a drug dealer, Bond henchman or otherwise engaged in illegal activity.

Since SkyNet doesn’t have a Silk Road (yet) there’s no grown-up reason for “Synth” to keep using his WoW handle.

And he’s not the only question mark. We also meet “Sam,” who somehow gets by without a last name.  The White Paper on  Obelisk, the distributed consensus algorithm of the new internet, is a joint collaboration between “johnstuartmill” and “an anonymous user.” While it’s no surprise that the author of On Liberty would weigh in on cryptocurrencies, we were expecting him to capitalize his own name correctly.


“Bitcoins and Lambos are the only things desirable as ends.” –John Stuart Mill, Utilitarian philosopher and blockchain architect

I don’t mean to labor the point, but these things matter, at least if you’re thinking in terms of investment. It’s much harder to run or abandon a project if it’s got your real name attached—and it also gives the rest of us a chance to stalk your LinkedIn. Satoshi Nakomoto might be a pseudonym, but at least it’s a grown-up name that can be treated seriously. How are we supposed to treat the Obelisk algorithm seriously,  if we can’t even be sure that “johnstuartmill” doesn’t have a history of nude conspiracy theories?

Brown Flag No. 3: The Sky Miner—erm, I mean Node

Let’s learn about the  “backbone for the new Internet:” the SkyMiner. The Skywire miner is ”meticulously designed and configured to provide a backbone for the new internet.”  It “ functions as a “miner” for Skycoins” and “acts as a specialized VPN.” Nevermind the fact that Skycoins are premined. Here’s what you get, if you make it to the front of the waiting list:

• 8 CPU boards

• 2 GB of RAM per board

• 4 CPU cores per board

• 64 GB of storage per board

• 64-bit Linux (Alpine Linux)

• Gigabit ethernet, 8+1 port switch

At least Yoko likes the Skyminer. Picture via @strophy

At $600, Skyminers aren’t cheap, but you can get yours for the low, low price of $8500:

The price will be 1 BTC for 1 unit. Purchasers will receive:

• Skywire miner

• An amount of Skycoin equal to 1 BTC minus the hardware cost (estimated to be around $600), based on market rates at the time of purchase.

This reminds me of one of those late-night infomercials where they sell you a factory-surplus salad chopper for $40. But they add on enough cleaning sprays, Shamwows and plastic potholders that it starts to look like a good deal. Sure, it only costs a Bitcoin, but you get extra vouchers!

I spent a long time trying to think of a non-scammy rationale for the SkyMiners’ pricing. One would think that the best way to secure the future of Skynet would be selling as many nodes as possible, which isn’t going to happen when the price is 1 BTC. While we won’t begrudge anyone the right to make a profit, charging a price in Bitcoin and giving change in Sky only really makes sense if you think that Bitcoin has a more secure future than Skycoin.

After more digging, we found a half-cheeked explanation that SKY wants people who are committed to the cryptocurrency space. In other words: there’s no sipping allowed. if you want a taste of our kool-aid, you have to drink the whole cup.

(Note: You can build your own SkyMiner for three hundred bucks. It’s just a bunch of Orange Pi’s plugged together.)

Brown Flag No. 4: The Ever-Lengthening Roadmap

It’s not hard to see why people are impressed by the SkyNet project, because they really have done a lot. They’ve got white papers, a Skycoins, a Messenger, a coding language, miners, kitties, —ooh, so businessy. What’s missing? That’s right—no product. That’s like a metaphor for cryptocurrency right there.

Per the FAQs:

“A private testnet of Skywire has been operating for the past year. The public testnet will occur in Q1 2017 when the first wave of Skynodes go online. The first wave of Skynodes are shipping out as of mid February 2018. (boldface mine)

The SkyNet Roadmap, hopefully

In other words, they’re just about to roll out that testnet, once the sky nodes go out a year later. The official roadmap pushed the testnet back to Q4 in 2017. Its now March, 2018, with the practice Skynetnet still “just” around the corner.

Final Grade:

It’s hard to give Sky a hard time  when it’s one of the few cryptos whose programmers have done this before. At least it’s not an obvious fraud like Bitcoiin.

But that doesn’t mean it’s a safe bet. Skycoin is  what happens when smart brains get a whole lot of dumb money.The project reeks of business inexperience, and after six years of “development”  has nothing to show for itself except a lot of unused code and a non-network of very expensive nodes.

If it is a scam, they’re definitely doing it the hard way. The more likely outcome is that the project turns into a parade of white elephants—which, given the scale of their promises, is probably halfway true already.

On a scale of one to Bitconnect, we give Sky a score of three out of ten Carloses. Prove me wrong, Skynet.

Love Skycoin? Want to recommend a  Shitcoin for next week? Let us know at @Coinstaker.

Bother the author: @cryptosexuality

About Andrew

The author is a starving writer and a shiftless traveller to antique lands. After many adventures in China, Iran, India, and South America, he made a tiny fortune in Bitcoin, which he prompty squandered on Cryptokitties. He now spends his time dodging his creditors and reading fanfiction to the blind.

His writing and photography can be found in several magazines and websites. Some of them are pretty good.

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