What is uPlexa now VS two-years ago?

uPlexa
9 min readAug 10, 2020

Whether you are new here, or you are a long-term supporter of the uPlexa project, this massive wall of text should give you a good idea of who we are, where we started, what our initial goals were, what we accomplished, how we pivoted, and what our new goals are.

How uPlexa was conceptualized

Initially, I (QuantumL3aper), was working with some friends who all worked within the Monero community. I come from a background of automation development and eCommerce. I helped create and scale a browser-based miner that webmasters could integrate/embed into their websites to provide another source of monetization. Right after launch, it was all over the news, as-well as being integrated on sites like CBC (which may unfortunately have been a hack), and The Pirate Bay.

My main role was scaling the platform; in a back-end sense. Crypto-Loot had hundreds of thousands of connections at any given second and were sending and receiving a pretty high volume of data.

I fell in love with crypto and started working more and more on crypto related projects. Myself and the co-founder have almost always been anti-corporate in many ways, and we do not agree with the way the current financial system works in most of the world.

After analyzing and scaling specifically to our audience, we noticed that approximately 64% of the users were mobile devices. There was this whole laughable stigma, even in 2017, when it came to mining on IoT devices. Everybody brushed it off as “not profitable” or “not viable”. After a bitcoin meetup in Bangkok that one of my friends here in Thailand and I would attend every week, we had a pool-side discussion over IoT mining. He joked about some hacker hacking a couple million IoT devices for a few hours to obtain a bunch of Monero, but I thought, “What if we could incentivize people to legitimately mine on their IoT devices?” We agreed that IoT mining could potentially be one of the most decentralized methods to distribute/mint a coin. We have seen how ASICs and FPGAs can be detrimental to networks. We have also seen projects like Monero have a heavy focus towards GPU mining, but nothing that was viable for low-power, general purpose architecture such as mobile CPU.

Thus, we brought the idea up in the Monero community. Some were for it, most were against it. This was a coin that was already dominated by GPU miners with rigs of 7–100’s of GPUs, and they did not want to lose their income. We also disagreed with their “fork every six months” consensus, as it only takes approximately 6–8 weeks to manufacture an ASIC and start mass production. Thus, we decided to have an emergency hardfork consensus. The idea being to have a prepared algorithm to switch to in a short period of time if we notice suspicious activity on the network. We would give miners 1–2 weeks notice prior to switching algorithms. Of course, not all miners will have time to switch in this period, thus somewhat weakening the network and resulting in “losses” for miners. However, we figured this is far better than a network that is mined by 95%+ ASICs for 50%+ of the time.

We were told the IoT algorithm would be impossible to pull off. It really was not that hard, and it has been our small claim to fame since then.

That solves our supply problem. What about demand?

Well, other than the eCommerce platform we are working on, we had not originally put enough thought into this. We thought people would like to use a privacy coin with what could be the most decentralized mining algorithm ever created. However, in a decentralized ecosphere, 99% of users are still using centralized services, such as centralized exchanges. When bitcoin moves, alts move. We quickly realized we did not want to be apart of the “general ecosphere”. No exchange listings hype, no useless partnerships that would serve of no value to our project, no contacting every ecommerce platform out there to integrate us. Everybody is running at the same wall, and we needed to do something different to separate ourselves.

Thus, we decide on layer-2 use cases that could continue to have a focus on privacy, IoT, and/or eCommerce that could create demand based use-cases that actually make sense to use with our technology.

In our chats we have discussed numerous privacy topics, VPNs and proxies being number one. VPNs are the first barrier to entry into the world of privacy and understanding how privacy is and should be used by all. We figure that if we can get users using our VPN, we can also hold their hands and guide them into the future of privacy and online data security. That being said, we have also had users in our community attempt to use Tor as a VPN, which is extremely slow and inefficient to be used for that specific use case. So, we decided to create a decentralized VPN that is far more cost-effective than traditional VPN services, but also more private, and more secure.

In order to pull this off, we decided to use the onion routing protocol. However, rather than expecting those in the community to provide value out of complete volunteerism (free exit nodes), we decided to place a mutual exchange of value by rewarding node operators with dividends (partial block rewards). This allows us to have mutual expectations of each other. To be a node operator, your node must have a strong internet connection and a high amount of bandwidth allocation, if not, the node is deregistered from the network. Our block reward is then split from pure PoW to PoW/PoS split. 80% of the block rewards will still go to our IoT miners, and 20% towards node operators (because there will always be far more IoT devices at any given time, and we don’t need millions of nodes).

Not only does the dVPN act as a more private VPN, but also offers hidden services, much like Tor (but again, much faster). Our idea is to launch for free, to really help gain virality around our service. Once the network starts to grow and nears any congestion bottlenecks, we would place a perMB fee. A per-usage fee that is auto-magically paid in UPX.

How PlexaNet per-usage Fees work:

In order to access Plexanet, you lock a certain amount of UPX away in your wallet towards PlexaNet/dVPN. The network will then automatically regulate how much UPX to take from those holdings whilst you’re using PlexaNet. No credit cards, no monthly/yearly subscriptions, no false marketing. Pay for a private service, privately. We also plan to keep the average usage fees <$1USD/mo, being almost 15x cheaper than ExpressVPN, and 5–10x cheaper than NordVPN. Notably, our code will be completely open source, allowing for any developer to audit us and see we’re not storing nor mishandling customer/user data.

What about those who haven’t dived into Crypto? What if they wish to try the dVPN when they hear about us? Well, they can jump on their phone, tablet, PC, refrigerator, raspberry pi, nintendo switch, etc. and mine a few hours, or a few days to obtain themselves enough UPX to access the network for hours-days. If they like the experience, they can choose to purchase UPX from an exchange, or simply continue to support the network via mining.

Delays, output hours, team members, and growth

Our “Steadfast Storm” release (enabling PlexaNet) has taken a lot longer than anticipated, and we’ve been pretty silent for the past 9 months, whilst still trying to keep a presence and let everybody know the passion behind the project hasn’t changed. I got tired of working 60–70 hour weeks, it simply was not sustainable. So I started working 40–50 hour weeks.

Two times last year, uPlexa peaked at a petty $1.6M MC, and crashed shortly after. The main thing being is my output would drop after a release between handling almost everything for the project. Release development, bug patches, support, marketing, partnership/exchange coordination, graphics, blog content, and Blake had been entirely focused on Shopya (the eCommerce platform)

Other than the demand-based issue we’re working on solving with PlexaNet, the second biggest issue, was output hours. How can we sustain output in regards to social media, developments, articles such as this, marketing, email newsletters, support, and partnership coordination? Well, I have to stop being the single point of failure. More team members, more hours. Even if our new team members are not all full-time, my overall workload can drop and I am able to focus on the most important aspects of the project. UI is easy but time consuming, and I hate it (as everybody can tell). I’m a functionality guy. So lets get a frontend dev on board, which we did. What about social media presence? We should be posting across all of our networks at least once per day. So we on-boarded two social media managers and a social community manager, and a full-stack developer to top everything off.

Whilst we finally admitted we needed help, other guys started saying “hey, I do not have enough time to be apart of the team. But I love the project and it’s an investment of mine, so I’ll contribute where I can” and we started getting guys reaching out to exchanges, working on some graphics, videos, scripts, etc.

Another community member had mentioned “I am an investor! I am not going to work for free” and I had to explain to him, that is not our expectation. I, do not own uPlexa. It is not a company, only an idea. Somebody could come up with an idea tomorrow and I could shoot it down. He could then fork UPX and the whole community could move over to it and call it uPlexa, or anything else (this is what happened to Monero for example, previous fork being BitMonero, which was a fork of Bytecoin, which was a fork of Cryptonote). And I am completely fine with that. Now to be fair, I am open to ideas and always put controversial subjects and feedback to a community vote. However, if people want me out, all it takes is a fork.

Secondly, I am the largest singular investor in uPlexa. Not in money alone via ads, PR, listings, video, etc.. but also in time. I am an investor, a leader, and a developer, but again, I do not own uPlexa as an entity. Between the thousands of hours and tens of thousands of dollars invested in the project on my behalf, I am the largest singular investor of uPlexa, and I do not expect to work for free either. What I expect is, to eventually earn a sustainable living from what I enjoy doing most.

Thus, I am just another community member working on my topmost passion, and my topmost investment. That is my mindset. I’m not working for free. And if you are confident in our community, our technology, and most of all, your own skills, you will likely see it through the same eyes.

This mindset helped me beat the depression of never (yet) coming remotely close to our nearest competitor. Electroneum, with an market cap of over $50M+. A project that promised mobile mining, decentralization, and privacy. A project with $40M in funding that decided to allow ASICs to mine on their network, stripped all privacy protocols of a privacy-based blockchain, and created a mining simulation rather than an actual mobile miner.

After explaining it in these words, our community was able to see it through my eyes and wanted to help. They helped get us an in on a devs community who are all people who contribute code to projects without the expectations of immediate payment from the “core team”, essentially, like-minded individuals.

We have learned an incredible amount in the past couple of years, and it almost feels like we are relaunching, but with the added knowledge and experience we wished we had two years ago. All it takes is any of these side services (plexanet, shopya, etc) to take off first, for the whole ecosystem to take flight. Once any of them start making profits, we can start creating side-teams and companies much like lightning to bitcoin. We will be able to operate with more structure, separate divisions, more capital, and a large reputation.

With all that said, we now have more output hours to further our use cases and focus on polishing up our image, such as our UIs, websites, social media, and articles such as this one. I am incredibly excited about being apart of the uPlexa community, and I am very enthusiastic to be using more of our own tools for privacy, security, and true decentralization.

QuantumL3aper,
Founder and Lead Dev (but not CEO) of uPlexa

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uPlexa

uPlexa: Incentivizing the mass compute power of IoT devices to form a means of anonymous blockchain payments.