This is the inaugural issue of the GKIIN (Gristle King Industry Insider Newsletter), which is written and researched by myself, Nik Hawks, and my good friend Max Gold, owner over at PPL Antenna and one of the most dogged investigators into these projects you’ll find. We’ll be writing and releasing these on a weekly basis. Unlike much of the content here on GK which is free and written for the general public, or the Gristle Crüe membership, which is paid access aimed at Hotspot owners and enthusiasts, the GKIIN is a paid subscription written specifically to help industry professionals and investors understand the space.
This week in review: The Rise of TIPIN, launch of XNET, Community Calls & other updates.
Last week’s TIPIN Summit, put on by Lattice Capital in NYC, was a watershed moment in the world of blockchain + meatspace, initiating both this newsletter and a rapidly growing interest in the space itself.
After talking with many of you over the past few weeks, I realized one assumption I’d been making was totally wrong; that you all have a good feeling for the industry.
Being more or less at the center of the space, Max & I are constantly connecting across every active project that’s out there as well as a few stealth ones.
Whether it’s Helium, Pollen, Hivemapper, XNET, GEODnet, or the long list of really exciting projects out there, we wanted to share with you what we uncover in our research and conversations (whilst of course respecting confidentiality where requested) and help you, as an industry player, have a clear understanding of what’s going on in the minimum amount of time.
If you’d like to subscribe and get these once a week (again, this post is just the first issue and is free for all, the rest will be emails with access only via paid subscription), hit the button below.
Think of this as an email from your insider buddy who catches you up quickly on the most important parts of what happened last week. You’ll find news and updates along with analysis of key events, all in a length you can read in about 7 minutes. Where applicable we’ll add links so you can go deeper if you need to.
If you have a question and you’ve subscribed, just hit reply. By the nature of it, this newsletter has a small readership. If YOU have a question, there’s a good chance many others do as well. If we don’t know it off the top of our heads we can usually run down an answer for you in a day or so.
Unless otherwise stated, nothing you’ll read is a “paid editorial”. If we get paid to promote something, you’ll know about it.
Finally, nothing in here is financial advice. We love learning about projects and sharing what we learn, but make your own decisions based on your own research. The blockchain is a dark forest, filled with both glorious surprises and dangerous pitfalls. Beware!
With that as the intro, here’s the latest:
XNET launched this week as a competitor to Helium & Pollen’s CBRS play. Headed up by former Google employees, XNET is claiming that they’re a crypto telecom industry “started by industry insiders.”
In the world of blockchain, the accepted statement is, “Do not trust, verify.” The recent launch of the XNET project was an example of just how harsh this rule can be.
XNET launched into the space assuming customers would solely trust in the promise of “smart guys from Google”, but that line has been worn a little too thin. While they may have an excellent long term idea in terms of focusing on building out a true MNO with voice, 911, and data (something neither Helium nor Pollen can boast at the moment), they made some incorrect assumptions.
First, they didn’t understand how savvy their community would be when it came to deploying small cells as part of a crypto project. XNET assumed that by using cool names (Felix and Lucius, for their indoor & outdoor units, respectively) their customers wouldn’t be able to suss out the make and model. This proved incorrect, and after pulling FCC Certification records, the XNET Felix is a Neutrino430 Indoor TDD eNB (Pollen uses the same thing and calls it a “Camellia”) and the XNET Lucius is a Nova430i Outdoor TDD eNB (again, Pollen also uses this radio and calls it a “Elderflower”).
Second, they missed the mark on establishing bona fides. They said they didn’t want to be doxxed (publicly documented and known), but details are available for anyone who looked. Hoping they could hide it was solely wishful thinking, not a good PR strategy.
One of the main players at Hexagon Wireless, a large minerdeployer in the space, has posted a longer explainer article on ‘em if you want to get deeper. GKIIN has not confirmed whether Hexagon Wireless has invested in the XNET project.
Based on what we’ve seen so far, XNET’s tokenomic model proposed may not solve the chicken and egg problem, which is the main reason to employ crypto in these DeWi projects.
The Big Dogs:
Both Pollen and Helium had their Community calls this week. While those are always packed with info, not much of it was new in either of ‘em. By the time this is published Helium will have announced they have a far stronger anti-gaming tool than they’ve had before, so we should see less of a bleed in network earnings to gaming scum.
Pollen is aiming to get paid data flowing through their network by the end of the year. Remember, that’s a plan not a promise. Pollen also announced that their grants are live. They’re looking to fund at least 3 grants with no cap to funding, though 1 million PCN (approx $100k) was mentioned. Deadline to apply is Saturday, Oct 1st at midnight. Got an idea? Ask yourself this: Does it bring back 10x the value of what you’re asking? If the answer is “yes”, you’ve got a great chance at getting approved.
Helium HIP 70 passed on Sep 22, Helium Foundation begins to address Validator and Service providers vs Hotspot owners. A ton of work to be done, the next big announcement will probably center around WiFi6 cell offload, which will mean non-US players can earn MOBILE tokens if they have the right hardware to support it. That’s a big deal, but again a lot of work and probably not going to happen in the next month.
Hivemapper announced Hivemapper Fleet Day (full disclosure, I’ll be moderating the panels there and helping run that day’s show), they’re a little late on their launch schedule but have been releasing pics of their new mining camera hardware.
GEODnet announces their first station to use Starlink backhaul. Pretty cool that centimeter satellite accuracy is being supported with satellite backhaul.
Anode Labs launched the React Network, a crypto-based play on running a Virtual Power Plant (aggregating power management across a ton of houses and buildings). They’ll be focusing on what’s called “dispatchable” power, which (in very general terms) means they have excellent control over how much power is used. We’ll lay out specifics on this as they make those public.
WISPapalooza, Oct 3- 6, Las Vegas NV. For those of you in the 5G world who want a crash course in running a WISP.
Hivemapper Fleet Day, Oct 20th — San Francisco CA — How Hivemapper works and how you can leverage your fleet.
LA Blockchain Summit, Nov 1–3 — Los Angeles - Not a ton of coverage of blockchain + meatspace yet, though that may change.
Solana Breakpoint, Nov 4–7 — Lisbon, Portugal — This is the chain Helium is moving to, we’ll be paying close attention to what their ecosystem is building.
*For those of you well outside the blockchain world, “FUD” stands for Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt, and is one of the things being a subscriber to this newsletter will help you avoid.
Bottom Line Weekly Takeaway: The space is exploding, with new projects constantly popping up and a bunch in stealth mode. The community is far more savvy than it was a year ago, so projects that launch need to have solid fundamentals, a compelling & tight narrative, and locked in PR ready to educate.
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GKIIN will always disclose whenever we are invested in a project we’re writing about. Contributors to the GKIIN may at times be employed by various entities mentioned in the newsletter. None of what you read is financial advice. This newsletter is intended for information and entertainment purposes only.
Nik Hawks currently holds contracts with GEODnet and the Helium Foundation.