The RHIZOME Report - Episode 1

On the first ever episode of “The Rhizome Report,” Rhizome team member William McKenzie had a chance to chat with Scott Smiley and Daeki Lee of ICX Station.

For those who don’t know, ICX Station is a global accelerator program sponsored by the ICON Foundation, with hubs, known as “launchpads”, in San Francisco, Tokyo, and Seoul.

Smiley & Lee have both served in accelerator roles with the ICON Foundation before moving on to co-found ICX Station. They currently serve as managers of the San Francisco Launchpad, the US-based hub of ICX Station.

Lee, who started his career working in venture capital and had established a relationship with Min Kim, pointed out that, unlike traditional startup investing (where investors will provide guidance and support to the companies they invest in), many investors in the blockchain community would simply hope for quick ICO gains without doing much to help the industry flourish.

“As someone who really believes blockchain has potential, that’s just not sustainable,” said Lee. “So I brought this idea that there is some need for some support for the ecosystem. I brought up the idea: ‘What if we build some accelerators on ICON to facilitate and support these different projects that are building on ICON?’” Min Kim liked the idea enough to start just that type of program.

ICX Station hopes to continue their contributions to ICON by running for P-Rep, and their proposal focuses on four key areas: Acceleration, Incubation, Education, and Thought Leadership & Research.

In response to concerns that ICX Station is composed entirely of members of the ICON Foundation, Lee explained that the long-term goal is to allow ICX Station to become an entity independent of the ICON Foundation, and that serving as a P-Rep will allow ICX Station to pursue the initiatives they’ve wanted to attempt, but that might not have received a green light from the ICON Foundation in the past.

“The goal from the start has always been to have ICX Station be a self-sustaining entity,” said Smiley. “I think with the accelerator, the incubator, and also acting as a P-Rep, helps us to bring in more revenue and will get us to not have to rely on sponsorship from the ICON Foundation.”

Smiley also shared some insight on the staking process, and the distinction between delegating and staking - a topic that has piqued growing interest since ICON released IISS 2.0 this week.

One point of clarification is the difference between staking and delegation. Staking is simply the act of converting your ICX to staked ICX - which is blocked, you can’t transfer it anywhere - and then what you do with the staked ICX is delegate it to different representatives, different P-Reps. As long as your ICX is staked, you have the freedom to delegate from one P-Rep to another and as many different P-Reps as you choose. When you’re in the unstaking period, you’re not delegating to anyone …From my understanding, once you unstake, your delegations are removed and you have this period of time where you are waiting to get liquidity for your ICX as it converts from the locked state to the unlocked state. In other words, moving your delegated ICX from one P-Rep to another won’t require the 5-20 day lockup period. Only when you choose to unstake entirely will the lockup period apply.

Many have also expressed concern with the 6% penalty imposed on ICX delegated to a P-Rep that falls below an 85% productivity ratio. Will there be a way to track if your P-Rep is approaching that threshold? Smiley believes so.

“In terms of monitoring, I do expect the productivity ratio to be on the ICON Tracker…so you’ll definitely be able to monitor it,” he said.

William also asked about an alert system, so users wouldn’t have to regularly check thresholds. “I think an alert system would be really cool, and it’s something that would need to be developed,” Smiley concluded.

Other topics throughout the interview included the process of starting ICX Station, the prominence of the University of California, Berkeley in the ICON ecosystem, and the good (and bad) experiences of working for a global decentralized corporation.

And what excites them most for the rest of 2019?

“For me, it’s decentralization,” said Lee. “I think it’s going to be really exciting to see how a network that’s decentralized runs. I think if we truly decentralize, ICON will be one of the most successful DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations), and I’m really curious to see how this testing of this digital nations thesis will work out as we truly accomplish decentralization this year.”

Smiley agreed. “I’m really excited to see how the network runs when it’s running in this DAO structure with a decentralized governance model and everything that the IISS team has been building - all the governance mechanisms are in place so that this [network] is as attack proof as it can be on day one. So I’m really excited to see the direction the ICON network goes when it’s in the hands of P-Reps.”

Smiley and Lee concluded the interview by laying out their optimistic 5-year vision for what ICON will look like. Be sure to listen to the entire podcast to hear just what it is.

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