I’d like to preface this by stating that this is in no means financial advice, nor is it meant to criticize the decentralized application in discussion. The following article is a collection of subjective personal opinions & objective observations (of which have been objectively verified by the Hot or Not Foundation), in regards to the Accumulator Neurons SNS Voting Criteria, which can be found in the resources below.
Accumulator Neuron SNS Voting Criteria
SNS Proposal Discussion
Protocol Documentation Relevant to Analysis
Hot or Not is a short form content application, aiming to disrupt traditional social media monopolies through the gamification & tokenization of content.
Main Net dApp
Is the dApp live and operational? Has the development team demonstrated technical competence specifically regarding the Internet Computer Protocol?
Yes, the Hot or Not dApp is both live & functional, and can be found at https://hotornot.wtf
Additionally, the Hot or Not Foundation has exemplified some degree of technical competence regarding the Internet Computer Protocol, as denoted by their main net dApp, and their breakdown of Internet Computer functionalities within their whitepaper.
With that being said, it seems as though the three figureheads of the team come from outside of the Internet Computer ecosystem, each bringing a series of entrepreneurial skills alongside them.
Is the dApp fully on-chain, meaning both the front end and back end of the protocol are hosted in Canister smart contracts?
Hot or Not utilizes a unique architecture system, in which they serve two forms of the application; one in which is entirely on-chain (both frontend & backend), and a secondary in which utilizes an off-chain frontend to serve the on-chain backend. Each architecture presents its own downsides, which we’ll go through below;
On-Chain Frontend & Backend
While a completely on-chain frontend & backend translates to greater decentralization, it typically comes with the downside of slower load times - which may be perceived negatively for a social application.
Off-Chain Frontend , On-Chain Backend
While an off-chain frontend can enhance user experience, and frontend performance, the lack of an on-chain frontend revokes the DAOs ability to govern the dApp - which is counterproductive for an SNS DAO.
Does the dApp rely on third-party dependencies, such as off-chain providers, fee-gated APIs, or other mechanisms that rely on intermediaries? If so, is there a plan to transfer these dependencies to Canisters and the SNS? Additionally, is there a plan to fund these mechanisms independently, without solely relying on the SNS Treasury?
Currently, the Hot or Not dApp has a few major external dependencies, which can be found in the list below;
- Video Uploads
Currently, the Hot or Not dApp utilizes Cloudflare for video uploads. This is primarily due to the cost infeasibility of multiple replicas verifying & storing data. In addition to costs, the dApp could suffer decreases in performance to streaming speeds. Furthermore, post-processing, such as watermark functionalities, are currently not possible for videos hosted on the Internet Computer.
- Profile Pictures
The Hot or Not Foundation cites a similar issue to Videos, in regards to Profile Pictures - primarily, being costs associated, and post-processing tasks. As such, Cloudflare is used in this instance as well.
- Video Status API
Due to Node Providers having access to Canister Data, Hot or Not can not embed Cloudflare Account Details in Internet Computer Canisters securely. As such, The Hot or Not dApp utilizes this API to query Cloudflare regarding the status of Video Uploads.
- Off-Chain Frontend
Due to lengthy load times, in the instance the dApp was completely on chain, the Hot or Not “Off-Chain Frontend” utilizes Cloudflare to host the frontend of the application.
As there is a major Cloudflare dependency, this of course comes with fees, which are currently being taken on by the Hot or Not Foundation. As of present, there is no direct public-facing plan to see these dependencies transferred to the DAOs possession. Instead, it has been stated that these dependencies will remain with the Hot or Not Foundation.
It is noted that these fees will eventually be covered by revenue generating functionalities, such as;
Sale of NFTs
With dependencies laid out it’s important to recognize that the Hot or Not Foundation would like to see these decentralized over time, with the following list of required (Internet Computer) functionalities being cited;
Cheap storage like storage subnets/low replica subnets
CDN like edge caching and further availability of more global boundary nodes in continents like Africa, Asia, etc. apart from existing ones in Europe/America
GPUs for hardware accelerated video encoding
Secure storage for API secrets
Can the dApp, in its current form, be considered a complete product that fulfills its intended purpose? If the development team were to suddenly stop building, would the dApp still be able to function and achieve its objectives?
Given Hot or Not intends to serve as a “TikTok” alternative, in its current form, yes, the development team could leave & it would continue to serve its purpose. However, it should be noted there are a few functionalities listed within the whitepaper, that will require the Foundation to invest resources into building them out.
Most notably, the listed features are not currently within the Hot or Not dApp;
Video Challenge Gamification
Creator Fantasy League
Is the protocol open source?
Yes, the Hot or Not dApp is opensourced, and is available here;
Has the team provided a clear white paper that details the protocol comprehensively? Additionally, is there technical documentation available that explains the underlying mechanisms, functionalities, and concepts of the protocol?
I do believe that the Hot or Not Foundation has provided a white paper that has adequately detailed the concepts of their protocol.
During my due diligence, I have only had to asked two questions, the first of which regarding the valuation of the protocol (which does not pertain to the white paper directly), the second of which regarding external dependencies - so while there is room for improvement, for the most part, the documentation thoroughly depicts the ideology & concepts behind the Hot or Not dApp.
With that being said, the technical side of the documentation is more barren in comparison to the concepts, and could be improved, in an effort to make on-boarding independent developers more convenient & feasible.
The Hot or Not White Paper can be reviewed here;
Is there an insightful overview of the tokenomics provided? Is token allocation responsible & proportionate?
The Hot or Not White Paper thoroughly depicts governance functionalities, and tokenomics within the protocol, for both $HOT and $COYN. The White Paper “Tokenomics” section references various graphs & estimated supply models, in an effort to depict the inflationary, and deflationary aspects of the tokens.
The initial token supply is proposed to be allocated as follows;
21.05% - Treasury
20% - Foundation
24.8% - Public SNS Sale
15% - Founding Team
9.8% - Seed Round
8.3% - Neuron Fund SNS Sale
1% - Advisors
This allocation can be broken down into the following three categories (Protocol, Insider, Community), as follows;
Community - 42.9%
Insiders - 36%
Protocol - 21.05%
It should also be noted that the founding team faces a vesting period across 48 months, as they unlock their tokens, and can not access ICP from the treasury, without consent of the DAO.
While the Hot or Not Foundation has done a fine job outlining token allocations, I personally do not consider this a fair allocation, due to the fact that the “insiders” reserve ~84% of the quantity that is being sold to the community for 1M-2M ICP, as denoted in the math below.
Foundation Allocation + Founder Allocation + Advisor Allocation = 20%+15%+1%= 36% of total Supply
Public SNS Allocation + Seed Allocation + Neuron Fund Allocation = 24.8%+9.8%+8.3%= 42.9% of total Supply
Insider Allocation / Community Allocation = 36%/42.9% = 83.9%
Can the team clearly articulate why the SNS is the ideal decentralization solution for their application at this time?
With all due respect to the Hot or Not Foundation; to date, within the conversations had regarding the SNS sale, the Whitepaper, or the FAQ, in my opinion, the Foundation has not adequately justified why now is the best time to launch an SNS Sale, while there are still many premature dependencies.
Is the team publicly known within the ecosystem? Do they have a visible presence in the crypto community or relevant industry events?
While the entirety of the Foundation may not be public facing, I believe it is reasonable to say that the Hot or Not Foundation has an established presence within our ecosystem. Most notably, Rishi is an active voice within the ecosystem, weighing in on various events in the ecosystem over the last year or so.
Twitters of public facing foundation members can be found below;
Is the team’s dynamic transparent? Do team members openly communicate and collaborate with the community?
It is stated that Hot or Not consists of 11 contributors; 5 of which being full time employees, while 6 are part time. However, of these 11 employees, I’ve only been able to find references to 3, being the founders listed to date. Of the three, it appears as though Rishi is the only one who engages the community, although the others may use alternative channels (to twitter).
So while it can be said that the lead of this project is transparent in their structure, it can not be said about the entirety of the team, as there are still many unknowns regarding the other 8 contributors.
What is the team’s track record and experience in the relevant field? Has the team made notable contributions to the ecosystem or relevant projects?
The founding members each bolster a respectable resume, all of which having referenced past successful projects
Saikat Das (Co-Founder & CTO)
Saikat manages the technical aspect of the Hot or Not Foundation, relying heavily on his decade of experience in development & team management. He has managed the development teams of several successful startups, managing up to 12 developers at a time. It appears as though Saikat is primarily a rust developer, focusing on the backend of the protocol.
Rishi Chadha (Co-Founder & CEO)
Rishi is the CEO behind the Hot or Not Foundation, utilizing over a decade of entrepreneurial & software experience. Rishi has forged partnerships with various Fortune 500 companies, sculpted multi-million dollar acquisition deals, amongst various other exemplifications of his business acumen.
Utkarsh Goyal (Co-Founder & CFO)
Similarly, Utkarsh also proclaims nearly a decade of entrepreneurial experience, with a background in investment banking. With this in mind, Utkarsh assumes the responsibility of overseeing the finance and legal aspects of the project.
Proof of Valuation
Has the team shown comparable raises within the industry sector?
The Hot or Not Foundation has provided reference to a few raises within the ecosystem in its FAQ(where valuation is addressed). The foundation references DSCVR & Openchat’s seed raise & SNS Sale, while also referencing the median pre-money valuation for seed-stage startups.
While this is relevant information, and helps reflect the environment of the ecosystem, these dApps target other industries (chat services vs social media vs short form content), and therefor are not directly comparable.
The lack of direct competitors may attributed to this, however, there are comparable web2 companies who have also raised for similar Short Form content services in the recent past. For example, “Triller” raised a 4.5M$ Seed in 2016, meanwhile another application, “Quibi” raised 1.8B$, before shutting down shortly after in 2020.
Does the valuation accurately address the current and potential market shares?
Based off what is in the valuation section of the FAQ provided by the Hot or Not Foundation, the team does not address the current or potential market share of a Short Form Content Product.
Has the team provided transparency regarding the valuation? Is the valuation method disclosed, and is the math behind it available for review?
The Hot or Not Foundation has stated they have used a Comparative Transaction Analysis valuation method. For those who don’t know, this method is typically used in mergers & acquisitions, and relies on valuations of companies similar to the company being acquired.
With this being said, the math for the Comparative Transaction Analysis has not been made public, meaning it’s not possible to gauge how extrapolative the valuation is, which comparative companies were utilized in the analysis, or review how the valuation was achieved.
Is a security audit necessary for the application?
While this is a Short Form Content Application, and videos uploaded are public (to my knowledge), there are a few aspects of the code that I believe should have some degree of review;
This belief comes from the fact that these functionalities within the protocol are responsible for the handling of user data & financial assets, therefor must be scrutinized upon as such.
Has the code received at least some degree of review? Are there feasible in-ecosystem alternatives for conducting a security audit? Is there transparency and disclosure regarding the security measures taken?
Based off the publicly available documentation, the code has not received a formal code review or security audit to date.
In accordance to the original SNS criteria, a few potential solutions to achieving some degree of code review, include exploring the utilization of @infu / Anvil’s Blast Services, or crowdfunding specifically for the purpose of a security audit.
Neuron Fund Allocation
Is the Neuron Fund utilized? If so, what percentage of the sale is the Neuron Fund?
The Hot or Not Foundation has proposed that the Neuron Fund partakes in their SNS Sale, requesting that the neuron fund represents 40% of the sale, in the instance it meets its minimum threshold of 1M ICP (400k ICP contribution). Alternatively, if the sale were to reach its maximum threshold of 2M ICP, the Neuron Fund would represent 25% of the sale (500k ICP contribution).
What is the size of the contribution in respect to the size of the Neuron Fund?
Given the Neuron Fund currently consist of 5M Maturity (assuming a 1:1 ICP-Maturity ratio for simplicity), the Hot or Not Foundation has requested that the Neuron Fund contributes 8%-10% of its resources.
In conclusion, while I see can see the vision that the Hot or Not Foundation has laid out, and support their application, the Accumulator Neuron will be voting to “reject to postpone” for the following reasons, as detailed above;
The application currently depends on the foundation; in the instance they stop paying Cloudflare fees (I am not saying they will, this is simply hypothetical) multiple layers of the application cease to exist, from video streaming, uploading, profile pictures, etc.
The application currently depends on the foundation to see the entirety of its gamification out. While it’s true the base short form content product is currently provided, the Hot or Not roadmap details an ambitious path forwards, including the implementation of multiple complex features & functionalities.
The current distribution of $HOT, post SNS Decentralization Sale, does not accurately represent a fair token distribution (in my opinion), as the founding team is left with 83% of what the entire Decentralization Sale would receive.
Lack of transparency regarding the valuation, coupled with high Neuron Fund requests makes it hard to reasonably gauge the extrapolation of the valuation, and therefor profitability for participants.
Lack of security audit on finance-based smart contracts opens room for vulnerability and potential unexplored attack vectors, which can jeopardize tokenomics & inflation rates.
I’d like to reiterate I’ll be voting to “Reject to Postpone”, rather than simply “Rejecting” the proposal, as I do see the value an application of this nature can provide to the Internet Computer, however I believe there are a few concerns to be addressed before turning over the Hot or Not dApp to an SNS DAO.
Written by accumulating.icp June 12th
Reviewed by Hot or Not Foundation June 13th