Failure, Grief and a Restart

Photo by Marco Mons on Unsplash

I have been asked what I’ve been doing for over a year 😅 and the state of the Ellcrys project. Well, I was trying to save the Ellcrys project. We stopped operating when we exhausted our runway and I was unable to raise new funding.

You see Ellcrys was a project that was on a mission to create a decentralised code hosting and sharing platform built on distributed ledger technology. Our mission was to build a network protocol that would help developers avoid censorship, de-platforming, lock-in and give them ownership of their data in ways not possible on existing platforms like GitHub. As you can tell, it’s an ambitious undertaking, one that requires a strong and skilled team with adequate funding.

Our first funding round was from early contributors who purchased a tiny amount of our crypto tokens in a private/pre-sale rounds. At a time when there was an ICO bubble, we struggled to raise significant funding (compared to other projects in the infrastructure category) but we were lucky to raise about $300k from a handful of amazing supporters.

We rented a nice place, housed the team and got working full-time. The idea was to create an environment where we could share and implement ideas faster and without friction. We were able to build an alpha version of a blockchain, a desktop wallet and an explorer. These things we built were great work but they were not sufficient. We needed to build an MVP that gave users an experience of how decentralized code sharing and hosting would look like — We did not succeed in doing this.

A few months after our initial raise, the crypto-market began to collapse and by November 2018, Bitcoin had lost 80% of its value from its peak in January. Due to my lack of foresight (among other shortcomings), we did not exit the market quick enough to avoid a significant impact. As a result, we lost over 60% of our Bitcoin holdings by December 2018.

With only a few months of runway left, I spent the next few months reaching out and trying to convince institutional investors to buy into the project and the team continued to build what we thought was going to lead to an MVP at the time. BUT it was already too late. There was nothing more to do than to tell everyone about the decision to disband the team as it became clear that we weren’t going to find new funding. This was a painful and sad moment for everyone in the team seeing that their hopes and aspiration for the project will not be materializing.

I am grateful for the work done and the effort put in by everyone on the team. To my co-founder (Odion), the core developers, the interns and community members, I am thankful for your contributions to the project. It took me so long to publicly discuss the project due to the loss of my biggest supporter, my sweet Dad during the last days of Ellcrys. He was looking forward to seeing me build Africa’s most valuable blockchain like I promised and bragged about it to him. On receiving the news, nothing mattered anymore. I just wanted to be alone with my family.

With everything that had happened, Odion and I decided that we were still not ready to throw in the towel on decentralizing code hosting, code ownership and code collaboration. More than ever, We were determined to go back to the drawing board, re-evaluating and start building again.

On September 2019, we started MakeOS (Make Open Source). MakeOS is the successor of the Ellcrys project. While MakeOS and Ellcrys share the same vision — to enable open-source developers co-build, co-manage and share ownership of open/sovereign software products and services — that would ultimately enable user-first services and give user’s freedom/power over platforms, we have simplified our immediate goal and roadmap to versions that are easy to understand, easier to achieve and relatable.

Today, we simply want to build a code collaboration and sharing platform, an alternative to Github. It will become the foundation for freeing users from the lack of power and ownership over their data and give the ability to participate in the governance of future platforms they will use and love. We believe in open source collaborators. We think the open-source community is best positioned to fix the problems we face on centralized platforms.

Open source collaborators can teach the world how to create open and transparent applications but they need help. The good thing is that they are already getting it through protocols like Bitcoin and Ethereum. Bitcoin democratized global money transfer allowing anyone to build money transfer services that are faster and more open than their traditional alternatives. Ethereum has enabled decentralized execution of code, allowing developers to build autonomous applications that cannot be stopped or altered in secret.

We are going to do the same for software development. MakeOS is working to build a protocol that allows open source developers to build in the open from day 1, host their codebase on a decentralized network and share ownership of their codebase or end-product with collaborators and end-users. It will be possible to build 100% of a product and deploy it a decentralized or centralized execution environment from the MakeOS blockchain. Since development, reviews, continuous integration and deployment are done on-chain, it will be possible to build fully open applications with rich governance configurations that consider users.

GitHub is great. They have great people building and improving the platform to make it the biggest social network for developers. They are also directly responsible for growing open source collaboration into what it is today. However, for us to enable collaborators to share ownership of codebase, application development lifecycle, governance and decision-making process and finally code execution, we need a platform that cannot change the rules for any reason. We need a platform that has no affiliation with a nation-state. We need a platform that is unable to discriminate. One that does not force users to agree to ever-changing terms of use.

We are building MakeOS as the necessary alternative that will enable open-source collaborators to host their code, share ownership and build completely in the open without relying on any central authority. There will be no room for censorship — No one can prevent you from using the service. We have extended git to include issue management and merge request protocols right into your repositories — This means no platform lock-in. Anyone can build and use any tool to browse a repository’s content.

Although the Ellcrys project has been discontinued, the Ellcrys Token (ELL) held by users who participated in our private/pre-sale token sales and community programs will be swapped 1:1 for the primary token of the MakeOS protocol. Expect more details in the coming days.

We are excited about the future and can’t wait to share what we have been working on for over a year. We are launching our beta client and test network in January 2021. We look forward to getting some feedback that will help us continue to improve the protocol.

We are currently running a private test. If you are interested in trying it before the Beta launch, please send me a DM (@ncodes).

Compliments of the season! Have a wonderful holiday.