On Monday, at the second Ravencoin Meetup, developers laid out their roadmap for this blockchain project to a large audience at Overstock.com headquarters near Salt Lake City.

Its backers describe Ravencoin, launched in January, as “a blockchain [that] is optimized specifically for the use case of transferring assets such as tokens from one holder to another.” The project’s name is was inspired by the ravens of the fictional world of Westeros in HBO’s hit series, “Game of Thrones.”

Ravencoin Roadmap

Lead developer Tron Black used the Meetup to reiterate the roadmap outlined in the project white paper released April 3. With the first phase of the project complete, Black said the next phase will allow users to create their own tokens to represent assets and subassets. This phase could be completed within the next several months. Phases three through six will add the ability to issue payment of rewards or dividends to asset holders, message token holders and implement token-based voting systems.

Though based on the bitcoin (BTC) code, Ravencoin differs in a number of respects. First, it is not meant primarily to be a currency. Additionally, its use of the x16r algorithm is designed to make it resistant to mining devices that use application-specific integrated circuits, or ASICs. Such devices are expensive, often in short supply and use lots of electricity. Advocates of widespread, “democratized” cryptocurrency mining claim ASICs concentrate mining power in the hands of a few. Lastly, project developers say Ravencoin is more energy efficient because it can be “scaled to 1000 times the capacity and block reward of bitcoin.”

Overstock.com may start accepting Ravencoin in the future. However, its CEO provided no firm commitment or date.

Bruce Fenton, CEO of Chainstone Labssaid Ravencoin differs from many other coins making news these days. First, he said, it is a use-case-specific coin meant to address a real-world problem, which is the slow and overly complex ledgers currently used for publicly traded assets. He said Ravencoin is an opensource project with a different economic model and decentralized governance structure.

Ravencoin Philosophy

Patrick Byrne, CEO of Overstock.com, discussed the philosophical vision driving Ravencoin. He argued that in the U.S. “there’s an oligarchy” of elite actors who have captured traditional institutions, using them to further enrich themselves and oppress the weak. But he said people can create systems to achieve what those institutions were intended to achieve. Ravencoin, which he called “the fairest coin since bitcoin,” is a step in that direction.

Byrne has been a long-time supporter of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency. In February, he announced Overstock had invested several million dollars into the Ravencoin project. In 2014, Overstock became the first large retailer to accept bitcoin. It has since begun accepting “all major alt-coins,” he said. During his presentation, Byrne hinted the company may start accepting Ravencoin in the future but provided no firm commitment or date.

Overstock has invested in 12 blockchain– or cryptocurrencyrelated companies. These include tZero, for which Byrne also serves as CEO and which describes itself as a “distributed ledger platform for capital markets.” They also include Bitt.com, which began offering digital payment services to the Caribbean nations of Barbados and Montserrat in early 2018.

Sean Lawson
Sean Lawson is Associate Professor of Communication at the University of Utah where he researches emerging communication technologies. He is the author of Nonlinear Science and Warfare: Chaos, Complexity, and the U.S. Military in the Information Age.