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Codex Protocol Rating Review

Stable+

Investment Rating

Expiry date: Expired 05 Oct 2018

Based on the analysis performed and issues identified we rate the Codex Protocol as “Stable+”.

  • Codex is aiming to create an open community for the art and collectibles (A&C) industry that governs a decentralized system and contributes to improvements.

  • The Codex platform could lead to an increase in transparency within the project’s market, leading to higher liquidity for A&C assets, as sellers and buyers could spend less time on checking for fraud and thus reach settlements more quickly.

The project has the following strengths:

  • A well-explained product featuring a verification mechanism

  • An experienced team, strong advisors and notable investors

  • Partnership with A&C industry participants representing more than 5000 auction houses

  • Launched betas of dApps

  • Platform release is expected July 2018

  • No direct competitors

  • The smart contract has been audited by Hosho

However, the project also has the following significant risks:

  • Demand for the protocol token is not guaranteed

  • Dependence of the platform’s success on the involvement and acceptance of the community and market players

  • Relatively high indirect competition

Codex is a decentralized registry for unique assets like art, fine wines, watches and more.

KEY FEATURES

  • Foundation date: 2017

  • Location: London, UK

  • Website

  • Whitepaper

  • MVP: The documentation refers to the Biddable and Codex Viewer dApps

  • GitHub: The smart contract is available on GitHub and was audited by Hosho

  • Founders: Mark Lurie, John Forrest and Jess Houlgrave

  • Team: 10 core team members, including developers and back-office specialists

  • Advisors: 7 individuals, including experts from well-known auction houses

  • Investors: Bessemer Venture Partners, FJLabs, Pantera Capital, JCapital (til the mid of July 2018 one more investor is going to show its interest – Jove Capital)

  • Community: ~10k Telegram, ~2kTwitter,  ~100 Facebook, <100 YouTube followers

  • Telegram

  • Twitter

  • Facebook

  • YouTube

 

Pre-sale, phase 1

Pre-sale, phase 2

ICO, day 1

ICO, day 2

Status

closed

open

TBA

TBA

Period

March 2018

May 2018

end of July

end of July

Token

CODX

Type

Ethereum based, ERC-20

Size

$ 10,000,000

$ 10,000,000

$ 5,000,000

Total Suppply of Tokens

1,000,000,000

Soft Cap

$ 15,000,000

Hard Cap

$ 25,000,000

Token Price

$ 0.043-0.057

$ 0.057-0.067

$ 0.067

Minimum transaction

$ 50,000

$200,000

0.05 ETH

Lock-up

3-9 months

3 months

no lock-up

Bonus Ratio

~24%

0-15%

no bonus

Currencies accepted

USD, ETH, BTC

ETH

Restricted list

United States, China

Whitelist

Yes, July 2nd - 6th, 2018


During the crowd sale a total sum of 1 billion (1,000,000,000) CODX tokens will be issued and distributed. Below is the scheme for token distribution:

The Community Pool has a lock-up of 48 months and could unlock monthly at the annualized rate of 25% per year.

The crowd sale is taking place in the following stages:

 

Raised funds would be used as follows:

If the hard cap is reached, tax expenses could reach $6 million. The project backups this sum to cover US corporate tax in the worst case scenario.

Codex is backed by partners – a consortium stated to cover more than 5000 auction houses with annual sales of $6 billion. The list of partners includes:

  • Auction Mobility - online auction bidding platform, cooperating with Phillips, Lang’s, Dupuis, Wright, Stacks & Bowers, Lauro, Charleston Estate auctions, Hart Davis Hart Wine co, Alex Cooper etc.

  • LiveAuctioneers – online auction bidding platform.

  • Maecenas - art investment blockchain-based platform that democratizes access to Fine Art. 

  • Feral Horses - an investment portfolio trading shares in contemporary art by emerging artists.

  • The Clarion List - a directory of art service providers with ratings & reviews.

  • ValueMyStuff – online valuation company.

  • Luxury Asset Capital - lending firm loaning money against personal luxury assets such as watches, diamonds, jewelry, luxury accessories, planes, boats, art and real estate.

  • DUST IDENTITY - provider of a diamond-based secure solution linking physical objects with digital ledgers (no info on the site).

  • Heffel Fine Auction House – a Canadian fine art auction house holding both online and live auctions.

 

As of the end of June 2018 the following investors have already shown an interest in the protocol:

  • Bessemer Venture Partners – the oldest venture capital firm in the USA, with $4 billion of assets under management. BVP funded the early stages of Pinterest, Skype, Twitch and Periscope and helped build 117 IPOs including LinkedIn, Shopify and Wix.  

  • FJLabs – an investment firm with a focus on marketplaces and consumer-facing startups. The firm’s portfolio includes the well-known Alibaba and Uber, as well as small technological startups like JobAndTalent, Fanduel, Earnest etc.

  • Pantera Capital - an investment firm and hedge fund focused exclusively on ventures, tokens, and projects related to blockchain tech and digital currency. Pantera’s portfolio investments include bitcoin services provider BitPesa, exchange platform Bitstamp and cryptocurrency Ripple.

  • JCapital - an investment firm focused on ventures, tokens and projects related to blockchain tech, digital currency and crypto assets.

 

SUMMARY: The website and main public communities provide a good overview of the project.  

Codex has already launched two applications.

ICO details are not fully disclosed, the date of the ICO was not announced as of the beginning of July. Accepted currencies were changed between the pre-sale and crowd-sale.

The token distribution proportions highlight the role of crowd investors as the main contributors to platform development, whilst the shares for the team and advisors (with lock-up period) is small. There is uncertainty regarding possible tax expenditure; this seems quite high.

Description of services  

The protocol will be implemented in a wide range of spheres such as luxury goods, agricultural, industrial and commercial equipment, emerging digital assets such as in-game items, with a primary focus on the art and collectibles asset class.

As a decentralized registry, Codex will securely store provenance information (the identity and chain of ownership) by recording, verifying and securely storing important information on each item.

Codex uses this authentic application of blockchain to bring A&C to a new level. Storing information about asset provenance and other relevant documentation on blockchain allows for greater transparency and more precise valuations for assets in the network. Certified validators like auction houses, dealers, gallerists and appraisers will verify the authenticity of assets, just like they do offline, but in Codex they will be rewarded with Codex’s native tokens instead of regular fees.  Through this mechanism, all parties involved may be sure that they are not selling fakes.

The authentication mechanism will operate as follows:

Increased transparency will lead to higher liquidity for A&C assets, as sellers and buyers will spend less time on checking for fraud and can reach settlement faster.

Moreover, authenticity will be guaranteed through establishing secure links between a real asset and its digital representation through the implementation of existing innovations in this sphere, like RFID tags or synthetic DNA.

On top of this network, Codex aims to build dApps to facilitate a better user experience. Owners will be able to check the provenances of their assets and control information exposure during sales, whilst buyers will be able to guarantee the originality of  items purchased.

At the time of the review two initial applications have been developed by the Codex team:

  • Codex Viewer – a dApp to create, modify and manage records on the Codex Protocol.

  • Privacy and visibility options are set by each record-holder.

  • Data are stored off-chain.

  • A Beta version is available for the community.

  • Biddable -  a dApp that integrates into auction software and enables holders of cryptocurrency to register, bid and buy at auctions.

  • Cryptocurrency deposit escr enabling bidders to prove their intention to pay while maintaining privacy.

  • CodexCoin and other cryptocurrency (such as ETH) are accepted as deposits.

  • Deposits will be returned if a bidder does not win. They are locked until an item is paid for with cryptocurrencies or fiat in the case of a win.

  • Transaction fees are charged in CodexCoin.

The proposed Codex ecosystem architecture has the following structure:

Ownership and other metadata, like the transmission history of the item, storage facility environmental controls etc., would be recorded on the Codex record.

Critical data such as owner, token ID and events emitted regarding tokens are stored directly on the blockchain. Other metadata such as descriptions, images and item history could be stored locally, via IPFS, or with other providers. Additionally, the protocol hashes the off-chain metadata for each token and stores it on blockchain to verify the authencity of off-chain metadata.

Using a Codex record, any participant could track the provenance of an item (identity of previous owners could remain private). The consortium has agreed to instantiate Codex records for any items they sell.

If a Codex record is lost, an owner can start a new provenance by uploading information and rewarding a validator for verifying and attesting that this item is an extension of the old one.

 

SUMMARY: The overall goal of the project is to cover a wide range of assets that relate to very different industries (from agricultural equipment to luxury goods and digital assets) each of which require specific knowledge.

At the initial stage the protocol is focusing its efforts on the art and collectables (A&C) market, currently valued at $1.6 trillion globally.

The project’s ecosystem is well described and confirmed by the involvement of partners. The protocol has already launched two dApps, confirming development activity.

The protocol offers transparency and more precise valuations, with rewards for loyal users.

Roadmap

The roadmap discloses the main milestones for the Protocol, describing development activities related to each phase.  

PHASE 1 – PRE-LAUNCH (COMPLETED)

  • Technical development of Codex Protocol, Biddable and Codex Viewer dApps.

  • Integration of Biddable into the software and technology providers within the consortium.

  • Recruitment and engagement of third-party application developers.

PHASE 2 – LAUNCH (JULY 2018)

  • Marketing campaign to educate and build awareness among bidders (cryptoholders, fiat bidders etc.)

  • Release of Codex Protocol on mainnet, and distribution of CodexCoins.

PHASE 2 – POST-LAUNCH

  • Expansion of consortium, development of new applications, new use cases occur.

  • Close work with core partners in the art ecosystem.

SUMMARY: The roadmap looks quite realistic in terms of platform development; dApps have been launched and the mechanics of the ecosystem were tested. However, it should be noted that further development for the project with respect to the team and token economy is not detailed, due to legal

According to Deloitte’s recent research into the arts and collectibles market (report), the market has grown significantly over the course of the last 10 years: from $1.622 billion in 2016 to $2.706 billion in 2026.

However, it is very sensitive to a variety of shocks (e.g. political) and risks (e.g. stock and financial markets) in other spheres.

Specifically, the two most recent market downturns in 2009 and in 2016 were caused mainly by the financial crisis (2009) and a lack of confidence due to political instability (2016). Nevertheless, the market always recovers from such shocks and continues to grow as wealth increases.

For the purposes of analysis of the macro-level factors affecting Codex, a modified PESTEL framework will be used. The PESTEL framework analyzes political, economic, social, technological, environmental and legal factors. As far as blockchain projects are concerned, environmental and social factors are usually not applicable or have a relatively small impact.

Political – the arts and collectibles market is free from political risks as such, however, political instability and lack of confidence associated with it are squeezing the market.

Economic – according to the Deloitte report, average wealth is continuing to grow, meaning increasing interest in luxury consumption in general and the arts and collectibles market in particular.

Technological factors – the development of high-tech now enables purchase of arts and collectibles online as straightforwardly as a hand-to-hand transaction.

Legal – The art industry has a high volume of illegal or otherwise suspicious transactions. Transfer of ownership is linked with participants’ unwillingness to disclose their data and uncertainty of asset provenance.

We will use Porter’s Five Forces framework to perform an initial competition assessment for the Codex project.

Threat of new entrants – Medium/Low

Threat of new entrants is relatively low, though possible, as the arts and collectibles market is a niche market.

Threat of substitutes – Medium

Threat of substitutes is medium. At the time of the analysis there are no direct competitors, but as the product/service itself is not unique or highly complex, there is always a possibility that new players will enter the market.

Bargaining power of customers – Medium

The key factor for a platform like Codex is its popularity with users as well as successful partnerships with key market players such as auction houses.

Bargaining power of suppliers – Low/Medium

There are labor (developers), experts and appraisers, auction houses, galleries and collectors (and maybe node holders) on the supply side for the Codex project; the bargaining power of suppliers can be assessed as relatively low, given the value that the project provides.

Industry rivalry - Medium

As of June 2018, Codex has some indirect competitors in the blockchain market. Please refer to the summary table below:

 

Codex

Verisart

Fresco

ViValid

Project type

Protocol/platform for dApps

Blockchain-based art and collectibles certification platform

Blockchain-based art provenance platform

Blockchain-based platform for valuation of high-worth items

Ticker

CODX

n/a

FRES

VIV

Key functions / features

dApps, smart contracts, appraisers/specialists

Mobile app addressing the requirements of museums and galleries

Airdrop for selected users, art value measurement system and digital asset offering system

Accepts fiat, mobile apps, expands beyond arts & collectibles market

Key users

Collectors, auction houses, appraisers, artists

Artists, galleries, auction houses

Artists, collectors, galleries, dealers

Specialists, buyers, sellers

Consensus

Ethereum-based (PoW)

n/a

Ethereum-based (PoW)

Own protocol, PoV (proof-of-validation)

Development stage

Testnet launched

Launched

Unknown

Alpha

ICO status

Upcoming

n/a

Cancelled, airdrop

Upcoming

Funds raised during ICO/ hardcap

- / USD 25 million

n/a

n/a

- / USD 28.8 million

ICO valuation1

USD 62.5 million

n/a

n/a

USD 41.1 million

Market capitalization

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Product launch

July 2018 (mainnet)

n/a

No roadmap

Q4 2020 – Q1 2021

100% of tokens at ICO price

The Codex protocol does not have direct blockchain competitors as of June 2018; however, indirect competitors offer some of the features covered by Codex. The main competitive advantage of the Codex project as compared to its competitors is that it offers a platform for dApps targeting the arts and collectibles market, and provides extensive features. Moreover, the Codex mainnet is likely to be launched much earlier than that of competitors, which gives the Codex team significant initiative potential in terms of market penetration and for further improvement of the product.

Summary: Despite its sensitivity to economic and political factors, the market looks promising and offers new opportunities for vendors, buyers and intermediaries.

The protocol seems competitive and lacks any direct decentralized competitors. The main advantages of Codex are its launched dApps and the fact that it is ahead of any competition in terms of development.

 

Name

Position

Total experience

Relevant experience

Professional achievements

LinkedIn

Affiliation with project

Connections

Endorsements/ Recommendations

Team

Mark Lurie

CEO & Co-founder

10+ years

Yes (A&C and digital)

Founded Lofty.com; Former investor in vc FJLabs and Bessemer Venture Partners

Yes

Yes

500+

No

Jess Houlgrave

COO & Co-founder

10+ years

Yes (A&C and blockchain)

Responsible fo billion dollar transactions at large Canadian pension fund; Former Credit Suisse employee

Yes

Yes

500+

No

John Forrest

CTO & Co-founder

5+ years

Yes (digital)

Former Senior Software engineer at Microsoft; Departmental Award for Computer Science, Kent Fuka Undergraduate Research Award 2011, Kent Fuka Undergraduate Research Award 2010.

Yes

Yes

500+

Yes

Dan Grachann

Head of Product

10+ years

Yes (product mang.)

Former Google Sr. PM, Rchain Director of PMM, US Army Captain

Yes

Yes

500+

No

Colin Wood

Senior Software Engineer

5+ years

Yes (dev.)

Full stack developer with 10 years of experience building Yesdynamic web applications

Yes

Yes

201

Yes

Shawn Price

Senior Product Engineer

10+ years

Yes (dev.)

Former full stack developer at Reelhouse

Yes

Yes

186

No

Andreas Becker

Business Development

5+ years

No

Business Development at BrightFunnel;
Marketing/Public Relations at Conversant

Yes

Yes

500+

Yes

Sebastian Tory-Pratt

Design Lead

5+ years

Yes (design)

7 years experience on 3 continents. Guest lecturer on design at NSCAD University, Dalhousie University and McGill University. BDes Interdisciplinary design, NSCAD U.BDes Interdisciplinary design, NSCAD U. Startplatz Scholarship recipient and 3rd place Volta Labs Hackathon

Yes

Yes

500+

No

Adrienne Burke-Moran

Content & Community

5+ years

Yes (marketing)

Former employee at Tamr (backed by Google, NEA), hack/reduce, HP-Vertica, and Viridity (acquired by Schneider Electric).

Yes

Yes

500+

Yes

Corinne Moshy

Events Manager

0+ years

Yes (A&C and blockchain)

Researched new business models and strategies for adopting blockchain technology in the arts at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London

Yes

Yes

345

No

Advisors

Joey Krug

Crytpo & Technology Advisor

4+ years

Yes (crypto)

Co-Chief Investment Officer at Pantera Capital & Cofounder of Augur; Advisor of Numerai, Urbit, 0x, Bloom, and doc.ai.

Yes

Yes

500+

Yes

Nader Al-Naji

Crytpo & Technology Advisor

6+ years

Yes (crypto)

Cofounder & CEO of Basecoin;

Yes

Yes

500+

Yes

Dr. Abe Othman

Crytpo & Technology Advisor

N/A

Yes (crypto)

Advisor of Augur and Stox; Was named Fordes 30 under 30;

No

N/A

N/A

N/A

Brook Hazelton

A&C Advisor

20+ years

Yes (A&C)

Christie’s President of the Americas; Former CEO of Phillips de Pury & Co.

Yes

Yes

500+

N/A

Sarah Shinn Pratt

A&C Advisor

N/A

Yes (A&C)

For 13 yeears ws an auctioneer at Sotheby’s; former Director of Appraisals for the Americas

Yes

Yes

500+

N/A

Fabrice Grinda

Consumer internet Advisor

20+ years

Yes (internet)

Founder of FJLabs.com; founder and CEO of OLX; has over $300m in exits and 300+ angel investments

Yes

Yes

500+

Yes

David Wachsman

Advisor

5+ years

Yes (crypto)

CEO at Wachsman - blockchain services firm.

Yes

N/A

500+

N/A

 

Summary:  The team features personnel experienced in the A&C field, including those with former experience working with the project’s investors, members with blockchain expertise as well as back-office specialists.  As the project is open for new solutions from protocol participants, active hiring is not currently required.

The advisors  include highly-experienced  professionals, including investors and specialists from partner companies.

  • The Codex platform is based on Ethereum.

  • The core element of the system is the CodexCoin token, used as follows:

  • Access and pay fees to create, amend and transfer records on the registry

  • Reward auction houses and appraisers for partnerships and vouching for assets

  • Reward stakeholders based on the amount staked and time the stake is active, in the form of a discount

  • Penalize participants for inappropriate behavior, like spamming the network, false information etc.

  • Transfer of governance to end-users, based on an on-chain voting scheme for most participants

  • Enforce requirement of stake by validators (e.g. auction houses) and applications in the form of a deposit

  • CodexCoin is considered as a critical element enabling the decentralization of governance as a measure of a stake for voting.

  • It is assumed that deposits could be made in ETH and that applications could charge fees in fiat or ETH, while invisibly converting to CodexCoin to pay protocol fee.

Summary:  The whitepaper provides a good description of how CodexCoin could be used. At the same time Codex will create an open community based on the Ethereum platform, where ETH seems to be a more convenient means of payment. There is also uncertainty over whether the art community would accept a new token.

The protocol consists of the following elements:

  • Codex Registry: ERC-721 smart contract

  • CodexCoin: ERC-20 utility token

  • Staking contract: Stake tokens to receive a discount on token fees

  • Proxy contract: Base for the core contracts. The Codex Registry will be accessed through DELEGATECALL. This is a proxy contract to ensure that core contracts can be upgraded in the event of an emergency or for future functionality upgrades.

As of the end of June, the smart contracts are available in a beta version; future changes are possible.

The mechanics of the ecosystem are being tested on the Rinkeby test network in a public beta. Rinkeby is a proof-of-authority blockchain enabling developers and the community to ‘kick the tires’ before real assets are involved.  

The smart contracts are in the process of being audited by Hosho, professional smart contract auditors and specialists.

As of June 27th, there is a bounty program for the smart contracts.

SUMMARY: Codex Protocol enables users to create ERC-721 tokens, called Codex Records, of real-world assets in a decentralized asset registry. Users can spend CodexCoin (CODX) to create, update, and transfer Codex Records. Users can also stake tokens via an ERC-900 compliant staking contract to receive discounts on the protocol. As of June 2018, the system is fully deployed to the Rinkeby network at https://beta.codex-viewer.com.

As a full description of the project is released, all the factors listed below may be re-evaluated:

Factor

Description

Price effect

Demand for the platform

The art & collectibles industry has a high volume of illegal and suspicious transactions due to a lack of disclosure of personal information. Participants could prefer to use the current system.

Bullish / Bearish

Token distribution

The distribution proposal has shares of founders, team and advisors at 20%, which are vested over 18 months, and a share for a community pool of 20%, with a lock-up for 48 months. However, there is  a significant share for reserves - 20%. If the reserves are released too quickly, the token price may go down.

Bearish

Limited supply

Limited amount of tokens available suggests that if the demand for the platform grows, the token price may go up.

Bullish

Volatility of crypto market

Tokens would be used as an internal payment mechanism, therefore due to the high volatility in the crypto market, the token price could fluctuate or even be subject to speculative activities (pump and dump etc.)

Bullish / Bearish


SUMMARY: The token price analysis has highlighted potential risks for token price stability. It should be noted that these factors are mostly connected with token distribution and demand for the protocol token.  

Based on the analysis performed, the following risks are identified:

Risk

Description

Level

Commercial risks

There are some indirect competitors on the decentralized market which are offering solutions, but they are either offering less features or focusing on a different target niche. Some competitors will be releasing their products much later than Codex. We believe that Codex and its competitors could coexist if  the project’s marketing is performed correctly.

Medium

Market risks

The arts and collectibles market is relatively conservative, and it is unclear how successful the adoption of blockchain solution will be and within what timeframe. We note than the team has managed to establish partnerships with many market players, which is promising. Nevertheless, the established partnerships represent less than 1% of the A&C market ($6 billion vs $1,622 billion) and cannot guarantee future success.

Medium

Roadmap

The roadmap does not cover future development of the protocol in much detail due to legal reasons. However dApps have been developed and released, showing good potential for the team.

Medium

Use of proceeds is not clear

According to the team, 25% of funds raised during the ICO will be spent on taxes, which may amount to USD 6 million, and another 25% will be spent on engineering. Given that the platform is supposed to be launched in July 2018, this amount seems to be overestimated.

Medium

Decrease in token price

The project assumes payments in both ETH and fiat within the ecosystem. Also, the Community Pool and Reserves together account for almost half the tokens. If the protocol is not widely adopted/accepted by the community, these parties could impact on the token price.

Medium/Low

Legal risks

Provenance and transfer of ownership are very important concerns nowadays, and legal implications differ from country to country. However, blockchain is probably the best solution when it comes to data transparency.

Low

Smart Contract

The smart contract is available on GitHub in a beta version. There are several items on the project’s ‘to do’ list, and future changes are possible.

Low

 

 

The information contained in the document is for informational purposes only. The views expressed in this document are solely personal stance of the ICOrating Team, based on data from open access and information that developers provided to the team through Skype, email or other means of communication.

Our goal is to increase the transparency and reliability of the young ICO market and to minimize the risk of fraud.

We appreciate feedback with constructive comments, suggestions and ideas on how to make the analysis more comprehensive and informative.