Know The Coin: Vertcoin Team's Head of Marketing Canen
Hey there, Shaun! Really glad to have you on the show. Would you mind telling the readers a couple of words about yourself, your background, and your team?
My name is Shaun, also known as Canen. I have been in the cryptocurrency space since early 2017. My background is in enterprise broadcasting for major companies all around the world and VP of Marketing for my families roofing company and I am also a commercial drone pilot with my own drone company. As for Vertcoin, I am the Chairman of the Board for the Vertcoin Foundation and head of marketing for the Vertcoin Team. The marketing team is made up of really the whole community. All our marketing chat is discussed in our #marketing channel in our discord that is open to the public. In our discord, our teams are broken down by Development, Mod and Marketing. All these teams work on marketing with input and ideas from the community.
According to your LinkedIn, you have a whopping amount of 4 jobs, which is a really impressive feat. How do you manage your time between all of them?
I work 6+ days a week and 10+ hours a day. However, I don’t feel like I have 4 jobs because I absolutely love what I do. My main job, even though that isn’t the best way to describe it since I can work early mornings, weekends and travel around the country to produce events for major companies. My Drone company is a side business that I developed out of my role as VP of Marketing for my families roofing company. We needed a way to market roofing to a generation that loves watching YouTube. What better way than to give them a video of our work on the internet? However, I film for anyone who needs photos or video from an aerial perspective. Most of my evenings and weekends I work items for our families roofing company as they pop up, it isn’t something that really requires me to be in that office 5 days a week. Then there are all the items I take care of for the Vertcoin Team. This is the one role in my life that I am not compensated for, but I spend a good amount of my spare hours working on the Vertcoin project because of the passion I have for the project and the community that supports us to build a truly fair and secure ecosystem based around the Vertcoin Blockchain. With all of this, I still try to enjoy life! Life isn’t all about making money or working. Spending time with my wife and daughter is paramount in how I conduct my time management each day!
What led you into the crypto sphere, and namely into Vertcoin?
I heard about Bitcoin back in 2011. I thought it was like World of Warcraft Gold and would be a fad, thus didn’t think much of it. It wasn’t until Spring of 2017 that I was talking to a buddy who lived in South Carolina about coming down with some friends to see the Eclipse that was going to be passing over his house. He was into mining and had two 8+ GPU rigs in his house and started showing me all about crypto and I was amazed at how space had matured. So, like most people, I started watching crypto channels on YouTube and reading everything I could get my hands on about different projects. I found Vertcoin when a YouTube channel I followed was going to do an interview with James Lovejoy, the Lead Developer of the project. So, I wanted to see what it was all about before the interview was going to take place. I was so surprised at a project that was all volunteer, no one was paid. Because up to that point, the only other project like that was Bitcoin. Everything else I had read about had ICOs and was throwing tons of money around like it was nothing. This is what drew me into the project and the rest is history!
Could you explain VTC for our readers in a couple of sentences?
Vertcoin was created in 2014 as a GPU (Graphics Card) mined version of Bitcoin. This enables a greater spread of security long term compared to ASICs. If enough devices mine the network, Vertcoin represents a viable alternative to the Bitcoin ASIC mined security model. With no ICO, Premine or Airdrops. Every coin that has ever been produced has been mined fairly by the general public from its starts as a project. The team behind Vertcoin is a volunteer team whose passion drives them to keep improving the project and growing the technology.
How did Vertcoin come to fruition? How did the idea emerge and who was the initiator?
Vertcoin came to fruition because of the threat of ASIC machines. From the start, Vertcoin had a social contract with our community that we will NEVER allow ASICs on our network because that level of entry into contributing to the consensus and maintaining the ledger is way to high. This is still the main goal of Vertcoin to this day, make it so anyone who has a graphics card in their computer can mine and contribute to the consensus.
How many core contributors are there?
7 – Vertcoin Foundation (Members of the Foundation are members of the below teams).
12 – Vertcoin Development Team.
5 – Vertcoin Mod Team.
3 – Vertcoin Marketing Team.
20 in total, but life sometimes gets in the way, so people have come and gone as their spare time allows.
Vertcoin is a really impressive coin in a sense that you can mine it on a GPU, without needing a lot of expensive equipment. However, could you talk a little bit about its differences from other GPU-mineable BTC forks, e.g. Bitcoin Gold?
The main difference between any Proof-Of-Work project that can be mined on a GPU is the Algorithm. Of course, the surrounding software such as wallets might differ but if a project has a QT (Core wallet) then the main difference is the Algorithm.
In fact, could you tell us a little bit about Vertcoin mining? What algorithm does VTC use and how accessible is it to an average person?
Vertcoin uses Lyra2REv3 as our current algorithm. This Algorithm is a tweak of our previous Algorithm Lyra2REv2 that was operational for 3 years. An ASIC was created for Lyra2REv2, so we created Lyra2REv3 causing those ASIC machines to not be able to mine Vertcoin. The team just finished Verthash, our new algorithm that will be out for public beta soon! Verthash is a highly I/O bound, instead of using a hash function like our previous Algorithm.
Also, one more mining-related question — I know that you guys were inspired by the Ethash algo, how exactly did you riff on it in the Vertcoin implementation?
Verthash uses a hash function as a generator of pointers to a shared dataset. It is based on Hashimoto with a few alterations. Since commodity hardware like GPUs is optimized for this already, we think that the potential optimizations for ASIC and FPGA hardware will be very limited. Given the high I/O nature of typical workloads for graphics cards, it will be highly likely that any innovation in the realm of I/O bandwidth available between processing units and memory will find its way into GPU hardware, meaning the advantage of FPGAs will both be limited and short-lived.
Now, a hard question. Vertcoin boasts near-Bitcoin levels of security, and yet several 51% attacks occurred last year. How did the team tackle those and is the blockchain more secure now?
Around this time last year, there were rumors of an ASIC being built for the Lyra2REv2 algorithm. The sell of that ASIC started in October 2018, this is when the 51% attacks started happening. All the work we spent digging into these attacks led up to the hashing buy/sell the site of NiceHash. With all the ASICs getting pointed to NiceHash, there was enough hash power to attack our blockchain. The good news is that we worked very fast to change our algorithm so these ASIC machines can no longer mine on our blockchain. Now, there isn’t enough hash power leased on Nicehash to 51% attack our blockchain. However, doesn’t mean it can’t happen. If someone or a group of people have enough hash power with their own graphics card farms, they could launch an attack. Therefore, having mining be as decentralized as possible is paramount in any Proof of Work blockchain. Bitcoin isn’t immune just because it has a ton of hash power. In fact, so the BTC network has so much hash power that you can’t mine with a graphics card on that network. I mean, you can attempt to, but it would be a huge waste of time. ASICs are the only way you can mine on the BTC network and those ASICs are pointing to a few mining pools. Those pools are normally controlled by the ASIC miner manufacturer. Therefore, CZ from Binance was able to consult with less than 10 people about rolling back the BTC blockchain to reverse a transaction. That is a 51% attack on the network by less than 10 people. So, these attacks can happen to any PoW blockchain, we just must do our best to decentralize mining as much as possible and that is what Vertcoin promotes on our blockchain.
What about governance? Do core team members/founders run the entire show? How close are you to full decentralization?
With Vertcoin, everything is opensource. So, anyone can fork the project or submit pull requests and the “team” can review them and add them to the supported blockchain. The team is all over the world and so far, all the assets (websites, servers and such) have all been in the care of individual developers. Our goals with creating the Vertcoin Foundation was to have a legal entity that would hold all the assets for the Vertcoin project that way we remove that burden from individuals. This will allow the project to live on well after everyone who is currently on the team has moved on. We try our best to mimic the Bitcoin development team in every aspect.
Have there been any solid VTC use cases so far? Maybe there are any particular ones you’d like to tell us about?
Vertcoin at its heart is a currency. We want it to be used for everyday transactions. Going to buy a soda from the store? Pay with VTC. Going to play a round of golf? Pay with VTC. We want this currency to be used for everything. Right now, we are working on the problems merchants and businesses have with accepting cryptocurrencies. Unfortunately, our focus as a team is making sure the technology is sound and ready for adoption. So, our development team is working on that now. Our marketing team and other community members are focusing on the adoption aspect. Check out our Merchant Mondays Reddit posts to see a list of merchants that currently accept Vertcoin as payment.
Any thoughts about VTC mass adoption?
To piggyback off the previous answer, we are working on ways to make it so merchants can accept Vertcoin and still be able to pay their employees and buy goods for their business in their local currency. This isn’t a function of the development team as it is an outside issue not related to the blockchain itself. One of the things that is currently in the works to help solve that problem is a tool being created by Vertbase. Vertbase is launching a tool called Vertbase Merchant, you can read more about it here: https://www.vertbase.com/merchant
Things like Vertbase Merchant will help solve these problems when it comes to accepting Vertcoin or any cryptocurrency as payment. We are working with other projects to keep advancing in this space of mass adoption!
Now, let’s talk about the market for a bit. Is this bound to be a new bull run, like we’ve seen in December 2017? Maybe there are any services or projects you have faith in, as in those that will be seen as market growth points any time soon?
As a rule, we don’t talk about or speculate on the price of Vertcoin. As part of our ongoing efforts to make sure the Vertcoin project falls on the right side of any future SEC regulations, we make a concerted effort to not talk about price action around Vertcoin.
As for the crypto market, do I think we are going to enter a bull run like 2017 again? I hope not. Let me elaborate as I’m sure that is not the answer anyone wants to hear. Everyone loves to see those green candles, doesn’t matter if it is the stock market or crypto market. I know I do. However, what goes up must come down. The faster it goes up, the harder it will fall. That is generally the rule of thumb when it comes to markets no matter the subject of that market. I’d rather we have steady growth over a longer period than an insane parabolic uptrend that shoots past all-time high. I always think about those people who got burned at $18,000 BTC price levels. It must be hard to get those people excited about crypto or the space in general. At that time, I would imagine a lot of people got into the market because other people were telling them to just BUY and don’t ask questions. That kind of stuff puts me in an odd headspace.
I’d never want to mislead someone into “investing” in something without giving them all the information to make an informed decision.
Others just don’t care and look at it from a pure greed standpoint.
“Stupid noobs, they should have known it was going to crash back down 80% from when they bought. Oh well, I got out at the right time! Sucks to be them!” Perhaps I am unique in my thinking that I want everyone to succeed, I want everyone to have a better life tomorrow than they did today. Creating market situations that result in a lot of people getting burned doesn’t do anything positive for this space. It slows down mass adoption, it slows down people willing to even take the time to learn about the future of transferring value from peer to peer. All for the quick pump and dump, it makes me sick. Therefore, Vertcoin is vocal about discouraging pump and dumps and we ban anyone who attempts to advertise one on the social channels we control.
I think right now we are seeing a nice uptrend, I hope it keeps going at a healthy rate. The more adoption, then more work done across project lines and the less tribalism we have in this space, the better we will all before it regardless of price action.
What do you think about VTC’s situation? Maybe, a little price prediction or some healthy bragging?
If anyone has followed Vertcoin for any amount of time, you’ll notice that we don’t brag, we are not flashy, and we do our best to not over promise and under deliver. We try to do the exact opposite. We want to set reasonable expectations and over-deliver when we say we are going to do something. That doesn’t mean we can’t have nice looking software that is easy to use and enables the most novice of computer users to mine with their graphics card. A prime example of this is our brand new One Click Miner software! Download Today: https://github.com/vertcoin-project/one-click-miner-vnext
I think Vertcoin is currently in a great situation given the circumstances. Of course, having a huge war chest of funds to spend on marketing and hiring a full-time staff would be amazing. I think having that plus our passion and talent in the space would be earth-shattering. We are doing the best we can with the limited time and funds at our disposal. We are making sure we are regulation proof and holding ourselves to the highest of standards when it comes to software development. I know people have got used to the amazing promises and flashy predictions from other projects in this space. Most of that stuff never comes true and someone just exit scams with all the money/BTC they threw at the project. The price can go to zero and we will keep working. That is the perks to not getting paid, it doesn’t matter the “speculated value” of a cryptocurrency if the team behind the project is able to function and keep working no matter what.
At the end of the day, Vertcoin is a currency. You can mine with your computer and contribute to the security and consensus of the Vertcoin Ledger. Nothing more, nothing less. Safe, secure and accessible. Vertcoin is a Graphics Card Mineable Bitcoin.
Speaking of the future, will we be able to see any VTC updates any time soon?
I’ve spoken about a lot of things we have in the pipeline so far but to reiterate.
We have just finished our refreshed One Click Miner, making it REALLY one click to start mining Vertcoin today! Check that out here: https://github.com/vertcoin-project/one-click-miner-vnext
Verthash is our new algorithm that is completely custom built by the Vertcoin team! We have new graphics card miners that have been built for AMD and Nvidia graphics cards. The Testnet for Verthash will be released soon for the public to start testing to make sure we didn’t miss anything in our internal testing.
We have had a problem with people trying to imitate Vertcoin team members and DM users asking for funds. So, we just developed a Vertcoin Discord Bot that monitors the server's user list for people using the same nickname as people in official roles. Once detected, the mod team is automatically notified. https://github.com/gertjaap/vertcoin-discord-bot
We are currently in talks with the IRS here in the USA about the Vertcoin Foundation getting 501(c)3 status. Waiting to hear back from them on if we got approved or not.
These are the main things we have on our plate now. Merchant adoption and outreach is an ongoing item for our team to keep focusing on every day!
Thank you so much for your time! Is there anything you’d like to add?
Thank you very much for inviting me to do this interview! If you are interested in learning more about Vertcoin and the blockchain space. Please head over to our website https://vertcoin.org/ and take a look at the community page, we have a ton social sites that will allow you to learn and grow as a user of cryptocurrencies. We do a monthly developer update on our blog: https://medium.com/vertcoin-blog and a live stream at least once a month to go over the news of the Vertcoin Project! Check us out on our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/vertcoin