The Pillar Project Gray Paper

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THIS PROJECT owes its existence to the many people who have been supportive of the concepts in the book Pull, to the incredible team of volunteers at 20|30, and to Justin Poirier, who reminded us to let our passion guide us.

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  • Phase 2: Build integrations (exchange, browser, e-commerce, escrow, messaging, etc.) that make it easy to build solutions.
  • Phase 3: Begin to provide the service offerings that separate our wallet from other wallets. Continue to offer both account-based and atomic versions (explained below). Continue to build out more features as the ecosystem grows. Help our OEM customers transition from accounts to atomic ownership.
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  1. Internet should ensure diversity, pluralism and a right to choose; and …
  2. Internet should avoid the concentration of data in a few proprietary platforms.
  3. Personal Data Spaces was seen as a very important technology area for all the above top ranked values.
  • Replace apps with services. Apps on our phones are miniature desktop apps. Many of us have dozens of logins for apps that don’t talk to each other. We believe that the personal data locker will replace iOS and Android to become the operating system for all your devices.
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  • Accounts involve logging in and creating an account with a company you must trust to back up and safeguard your data, including credit-card info, passwords, etc.. If your account is compromised, you lose your data, identity, or value.
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3.1 Two Immutable Laws

The following two graphs show why very little progress has been made over the past twenty years:

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3.2 Solutions, not Tools

But that is not the right way to look at it. We have been trying to give consumers tools, when we should be giving them solutions. Now that we understand how to work with blockchains, cryptocurrencies, and tokens, we can start to give consumers a much better experience. A few good indicators:

  • The Brave browser is an open-source browser, that will make it easy to spend or tip for content as you browse, eliminating middlemen.
  • The Token App is a mobile browser with global payments built in.
  • Sovrin is a blockchain-based, permissioned identity system with a growing group of developers.
  • Civic is a secure identity platform using atomic ownership and its own tokens.
  • U-Port is an identity and reputation system you create yourself.
  • The Internet of People is an open-source stack for managing identity, personal graph, and reputation.
  • When they drive their car (or their car drives them), they want the data to go to their personal data locker, not to the manufacturer’s web site for another siloed log-in.
  • When they have an airplane ticket and their plans change, they want their locker to extend their hotel reservation, sell their ticket and buy a new one.
  • People want their investment portfolio to manage itself according to their wishes, not deal with accounts, sales people, and limited selection.
  • When looking for a new job, they want jobs to come to them, rather than having to send applications.
  • The weather forecast can automatically tell their home or building to prepare for a storm, without them having to do anything manually.
  • People want their reputation, KYC, attestations, and history to go with them whenever they want to use a new service.
  • If it’s easy, people want systems that give out only as much information as necessary to complete a transaction, not more. So you can order things online and the stores don’t even know your address, and you can say where the package should go, even if you’re on the road.

3.3 Market

With the personal data locker, we are going after a much larger market than the “native crypto market” — people who want to use smart contracts for everything. Our markets are technology early adopters and cryptocurrency early majority.

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4.1 What is the Pillar Wallet?

There are many cryptocurrency wallets already. The Pillar wallet will be …

  • Open source.
  • Not tied to any one browser.
  • Not tied to any one exchange — you can choose your exchange.
  • Easy for software companies to incorporate into their systems.
  • Both on desktop and mobile.
  • Stand-alone and OEM.
  • Ready for further integrations that will allow the personal data locker to emerge.
  • An atomic version that gives the user full control of her assets. This is similar to the Lykke wallet today but independent of any exchange.
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4.2 Integrations

In the next phase, we will create and/or partner with other companies to provide …

  • Smart contract aware is a new frontier of findability in the web of value. It’s possible today to invoke a smart contract and send it ether, but finding the smart contracts in the first place is getting to be more and more of a challenge. This “searching the web of value” will take some work, but we are inspired by the Userfeeds and ether ontology projects.
  • A fiat exchange that interfaces to the banking system requires licenses. We will look for partners who want to provide these exchange services to our platform.
  • Portfolio and wealth management will integrate your coin- and token-based holdings, give you investing and risk-management tools, investment advice, and secure your assets while making sure you have the petty cash to spend as you like.
  • Shopping services that work with ecommerce sites accepting cryptocurrencies, will be integrated.
  • Identity services will be provided by several different standards. We plan to integrate all of them, so people can easily plug into the system and bring their identity with them. People will likely use more than one identity system, so they can have different personas in the personal data locker.
  • Messaging and social sharing are already being done by several groups, most of them are open source. We will integrate one or more of these.
  • Job matching — we expect to offer a revolutionary new job and freelance matching engine.
  • Search — find offers on the web of value, compare them, research, etc.
  • People search — find others and connect your various social graphs.
  • Calendars and scheduling services that interact with today’s most popular calendars. Ties into various professional schedulers.
  • Smart contract control center shows all your obligations, escrow, assets, and is tied to your calendar, balance sheet, and other parts to give you a complete smart-contract management system.

4.3 Personal Data Locker Services

Once the basic extensions are in place, we can start creating vertical solutions. Here is a sample of the services we expect, many of which are described in Pull:

  • Peer-to-Peer lending
  • Wealth management
  • Asset management
  • Classified ads, auctions, and barter exchange
  • Peer-to-peer currency exchange
  • Finding contract work
  • Finding employment
  • Finding an apartment to buy or rent
  • Digital birth certificate ecosystem for products

4.4 Stack

As the wallet grows into the personal data locker, it will have more and more layers of standards, services, and features. For example, you may have different personas that you can use in different modes and maintain privacy. You may integrate many features with other members of your family or work. Our stack isn’t completely fleshed out yet, but here is a general idea …

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4.5 White-Label Wallets

We will provide our wallet to many companies’ software systems, either to add cryptocurrencies to their current capabilities, or to help them transition to atomic ownership of assets. We will provide a white-label wallet any company can put their own logo on or integrate into their own system. We will focus on the extra services you get with our wallet that you don’t get with other wallets. We hope this will entice many software companies to use our wallet and get their clients using Pillar tokens.

4.6 Transition to Atomic Ownership

For a long time, we will support both account-based and atomic-based wallets. The look and feel should be almost the same. As more and more people are comfortable transitioning to the atomic wallet, the customer experience will be easy. Rather than logging into a centralized service, you’ll establish your password and make sure it’s backed up or shared with people you trust. From there on, your assets will be fully under your control.

4.7 Private Key and Password Management

If you own your own data, you are responsible for safeguarding it. There are many ways we will help consumers do this. There are also plenty of hardware solutions. Eventually, we’ll use rings, watches, bracelets, even chip implants to verify who we are. We plan to give consumers many options.

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5.1 What does the Pillar Token Do?

While the wallet and platform are open-source and free, users will pay for the various services with pillar tokens (PLRs) as they use them. The token will power the entire ecosystem, giving an instant business model to many projects that can tie in. This is the beauty of a token: you may need a service exactly once and you won’t need to sign up for it, you’ll just pay in pillars and you’re done.

5.2 The Pillar Token is a Meta-Token

Brave has a native token for seeing customized ads and monetizing your browsing experience. Augur has a token for betting. Akasha has one for messaging. Civic has a token for identity. All these tokens will be native in our system one level below the Pillar token. Users may only ever use Pillar tokens, and the system handles all the various tokens needed to do what they want. Or they may see and use the various utility tokens directly.

  • Just whatever cryptocurrency they happen to like, or a mix.
  • A combination of fiat currency, cryptocurrencies, and pillars.
  • A combination of fiat, pillars, and the native tokens for each service.
  • Possibly no fiat currency at all — only tokens and cryptocurrencies.

5.3 Marketing & Partnerships

Ask anyone who has created a successful platform — it’s every bit as much about communication and education as it is about building a quality service. There are hundreds of wallets on the market. We believe the Pillar token will be the viral component. The more companies integrate their services and use our token, the more it becomes a standard, and the more people will want it. We plan to dedicate serious resources to education, marketing, and communications. We want the open-source Pillar wallet to be ubiquitous.

5.4 Governance

Token governance is more complex than many people realize. The personal data locker will become part of hundreds of millions of people’s lives, and the Pillar token will be making things work. As there are a fixed number of tokens after the token sale, market forces will determine prices and behavior. However, anyone with a large supply of pillars will be able to move markets and influence policy. Therefore, we plan to take stewardship of this token very seriously and watch for any potential issues that need attention. This is a new area of commerce. Most open-source projects have governing bodies, but they don’t have to think about tokens. We hope to show the way forward in token governance and teach other groups what we have learned.

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6.1 Team Building

We don’t believe in resumes or interviews. We have a community approach to building the necessary team for all our projects. You may not see the usual experts on our team — though we have many. Our approach is to invite people to work with us and see who is aligned with our purpose. Much of the team building for this project will take place at our summer event in August.

6.2 Architecture

We don’t have a set architecture for our wallet. We plan to keep building and modifying, throw away code as it gets out of date, and stay market-focused in delivering small units that work. We first have to build the world’s best open-source multi-chain wallet as the “trunk” then keep adding as we have partners and use cases that drive adoption.

6.3 Foundation: Collaboration

We plan to work with several projects we know well and have code we can start with. We plan to meet and collaborate with everyone in our space. A few notable projects:

6.4 Data Conversion

To transition from apps and web sites, the right data and content must flow in and out of the personal data locker. This is a huge job — the more you understand it, the more you see how big the project is. Fortunately, as David mentions in his book, we can use existing vocabularies, taxonomies, and APIs to bring data in and understand it. The state of the art in AI and big data have reached a point where it is commercially feasible to work with unformatted data and reformat it to suit our purposes — this can be seen by the fact that Google can now tell you whether a store or restaurant is open just after you type in its name. We are just now at a point where the personal data locker can make sense of much of the data online.

6.5 Digital Birth Certificates

A chapter in Pull describes the digital birth certificate — a digital identifier for every individual person, animal, and item on earth. This is not a new concept. There are plenty of systems already identifying individual items (as opposed to a class of items) and their condition and location.

6.6 Data Security

All the current development around blockchain-based data involves atomic ownership. This is a very active area of research and development. The Pillar wallet will become the hub for people to aggregate and use their own data. Data storage options include:

  • On blockchain
  • On the user’s device
  • In data centers
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7.1 Use of Proceeds

We are well aware of the difficulties of large-scale software development and the failure of most projects to communicate and document clearly what has been produced. We will need to evangelize and promote our wallet, get as many customers to use it as possible, and explain the value of the token to people many times. This project will have its own P&L, which will be available on the project’s web site and updated monthly. The team will be based in London to start. This is an agile business. We can’t know or plan how things will work out. We will have to launch and learn. For that reason, many parameters of this ecosystem are left intentionally unspecified.

7.2 The Planning Fallacy

It would be great if we could script each month of the next five years and connect the dots to success. Every new venture is a lottery ticket, a chance to build a network that may or may not materialize. Most won’t. Too many project plans suffer from overprecision. We keep Eric Schmidt, chairman of Alphabet’s words in mind:

7.3 Budget

Any budget or forecast is a work of fiction. Given the magnitude of the project, we believe these numbers are realistic and conservative. We are here to change the world. If we are doing OEM deals, we could double these numbers:

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7.4 Beyond Budgeting

What we know from start-up data is that running out of cash is one of the number one causes of failure (for the other three causes, see David’s talk on entrepreneurship). All companies should do rolling, agile forecasts and budgets, as described in the amazing book, Future Ready, by Steve Morlidge and Steve Player.

7.5 Money Management

We expect to raise enough money for five years. We plan to diversify our holdings. We will purchase our own index tokens, to help diversify. We also plan to participate in the pre-sale of projects that will fit into the Pillar system. This will be a small portion of our holdings, but it should help create an ecosystem around the personal data locker.

7.6 Transparency

We will put all financials and progress on our web site and update it once a month. We will post a financial report once a quarter.

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8.1 Culture

No matter how much money we raise, we will always adhere to our guiding principles (laid out in an essay called The Culture Deck):

  • Stay lean — no fat salaries, no fancy offices, set up a dorm for people to sleep in when they come work with us.
  • Work in the same room as much as possible.
  • Take care of each other, build a family culture. Employees first, customers second.
  • We don’t look at resumes and we don’t interview. We work with volunteers until they are ready to transition to part-time, and then full-time employment. Culture fit is more important than skill. We can teach skills. We want friendly, eager people who are willing to do what it takes.
  • No HR, no management, no board, no traditional business beliefs. Measure everything, try new things, learn what works.
  • Continuous delivery in one-week cycles. Keep the code working.
  • Continuous improvement — make things better every day.
  • Use Kanban — make Kanban your religion. Create joy at work.
  • Invite everyone to join us. Our community is our foundation.
  • Give to the crypto community. We plan to give research grants, do free events, publish, and more.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. Don’t underestimate what it takes to get people to learn and try something new.

8.2 Founders

David Siegel, founder (Switzerland). David built a web-design and strategy agency in San Francisco in the 1990s and sold it to KPMG. He has been at the forefront of technology and venture investing for 30 years. He has written five books about technology and business. In 2016, he was a candidate to be the dean of Stanford business school. He is an expert on blockchain, future technologies, angel investing, and startups. You can see his work at

8.3 Advisors

The following people have committed to support the Pillar project with their time, energy, and network. We are thankful to all the people who have offered to help us.

8.4 Customer Council

We welcome people from any companies to help guide the development of our product stack. The Pillar wallet and personal data locker are every bit as important to businesses as they are to consumers. We are actively looking for council members.

8.5 Partners

We look forward to working with the following groups (and many more) as our platform develops:

8.6 Open Source Steering Committee

We plan to involve many people and groups in this project. We will set up a steering committee for the software and the token. Initial members include David Siegel, Vitor Py, Phil Windley, Rui Vale, Martin Callinan

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9.1 Token Allocation

A total of 800 million tokens will be issued. This is how it breaks down in dollars during planning — the actual price in ether is subject to change (blue means an input):

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  • The token sale will offer 528,000,000 tokens to the public. They will be sold using a smart contract until all 528 million have been sold, or 60 hours, whichever comes first. The price will be set in ether. Buyers will receive ERC20 tokens at the conclusion of the sale.
  • All unsold tokens from both the presale and the sale will immediately go on ice for ten years using a smart contract. They can’t be touched during that time. We expect they will be transferred to a nonprofit that will govern the tokens before then, but until that time they will remain property of 20|30. After ten years, they may be sold, re-iced, or burned according to our token-management directives, which will evolve along with the system.
  • The minimum raise for presale and sale combined will be around $8 million, set ahead of the sale and priced in ether (approximately 80 million tokens).
  • The target is roughly $30 million at the sale-time ether price.
  • The cap will be 560 million tokens.
  • The marketing effort will receive 24 million tokens, or 3 percent. This is to pay all the people and companies who have worked so hard to create and manage the token sale. 1 percent of these tokens will be tradable immediately — they are bounty and contest rewards. The other two percent will be locked up for 9 months after the sale ends.
  1. To give to people who will develop services for our system.
  2. To offer them as prizes in contests to help expand the system with innovative services.
  3. For future offerings. Assuming a strong initial sale, we don’t plan another offering for at least three years. If we reach our cap, we will freeze all these tokens for three years.
  4. We may burn or ice tokens if we feel that it contributes positively to the ecosystem.

9.2 Token Sale

The sale will take place over 60 hours, beginning on July 15 at 08:00 GMT. Tokens will be priced immediately before the sale in ether. The sale will take place at that fixed price over 60 hours (measured in blocks on the Ethereum blockchain) or until all 560 million are sold. There will be no discounts. At the end, all unsold public tokens will be put on ice for ten years, as described above.

9.3 Token Trading

We expect to list our tokens on an exchange as soon as possible after the close of the crowdsale. We will put this information on our web site as soon as it is available.

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Written by

Provocateur, professional heretic, slayer of myths, speaker of truthiness to powerfulness, and defender of the Oxford comma.

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