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Special thanks to babygiraffe for his time and effort.
The passing of a year is a time of unusual rituals around the world, both to celebrate the arrival of the new year, and to predict what that year might entail. The Spanish eat 12 grapes at midnight – one for each month of the coming year. Sweet ones portend a great month while sour ones predict less favorable ones. The Danish have a propensity to leap from chairs at the stroke of midnight, though I'm guessing this doesn't do much to predict fortune in the coming year, unless someone ends up in the emergency room. The Chinese go all out, celebrating for 10-15 days, though their new year occurs somewhere between mid-January and mid-February every year.
Despite all the differences around the world of when and how a new year is celebrated, almost all cultures seem to encourage taking stock of the year just past and making resolutions – or at least predictions – for the next one. As I take stock of this past year personally, it includes some good things and some bad things. The biggest change is that I got engaged and married to my best friend, so 2015 was clearly a great one – certainly one I will always remember. Dash was a big part of my 2015, too.
At times, it may have seemed that 2015 was "The Year Of The Troll" as we fought the urge to respond to an incessant organized campaign of misinformation. When you look past the noise, however, and look at our accomplishments and the market's response, it is clear that 2015 was nothing short of incredible.
It's worth recalling that Dash is very young for a top-ranked crypto-currency; Bitcoin is over 5 years older. Given where the Dash project is and what has been accomplished already, it is easy to forget that this is Dash's very first full calendar year in existence. And yet, by almost any objective measure, Dash is doing amazingly well.
Price is certainly one objective way to measure our success. While we've repeatedly stated that price appreciation is not an explicit goal of the project, the team believes price appreciation will result from a well-executed strategy.
Dash finished 2014 at $1.91 vs. $3.31 at the end of 2015. Investors have made an astounding 73.3% return. Masternode operators have enjoyed additional rewards throughout the year for their efforts to support the network… Masternode operators that retain their Masternode payments easily achieved over 100% returns. These results compare favorably to Bitcoin's 36.9% return for 2015.
In terms of market cap, the numbers are even more amazing. We have grown from $9.54 million to $20.18 million, or 111.5% due in part to the growth in the number of coins. Our market cap growth also compares favorably to Bitcoin's 50.7% increase.
In terms of market cap ranking, we finished 2014 ranked as the #12 crypto-currency, below Dogecoin, Peercoin, Bitshares, Stellar, Nxt, MaidSafeCoin, Counterparty, and yes, even below Paycoin. Today, we have solidly secured the #5 position in the rankings, overtaking all of the previously mentioned coins.
So it appears that the market is beginning to value our achievements and market potential. When you take stock of the accomplishments the Dash community has delivered, it is understandable why. We have the most active and engaged community in crypto. Our community is filled to the brim with contributors helping in a myriad of ways as their time and talents permit, something you just don't see to the same extent with other coins. There is a strong feeling of comradery, respect, ownership, and appreciation in this community that attracts professional, hard-working, passionate advocates to our project. In addition, there seems to be a real spirit that we are doing something special and transformative that has the potential to literally change the world and people's lives for the better.
So just what has the community achieved this year? Like I said earlier, it's truly amazing. There are so many incredible accomplishments, that I am forced to abandon prose in favor of a long bulleted list (that kot compiled… thank you kot!). Even at that, I am certain that many things have been missed, large and small. However, it is worth highlighting some of our key accomplishments.
We had our first Dash-themed music video, which I have to admit, was not hard on the eyes. But, as much as you might have enjoyed that video, we are not all about marketing hype around here. We actually deliver innovation and are building out an amazing ecosystem surrounding ground-breaking technology, so I suppose I should highlight those things as well.
First, we extended the use of our second network tier to perform more than simply mixing services. In February, we added InstantX, which allows instant confirmation of transactions, the first solution of its kind in the crypto space. In the same release, we migrated all of our code base to branch from Bitcoin instead of Litecoin. This allowed us to incorporate many recent improvements incorporated into Bitcoin.
In March, we changed our brand from Darkcoin to Dash, which helped better position us for the mass market and align or brand with the broader capabilities we bring to the market besides anonymity.
In May, we released the first ever voting by blockchain solution, which enabled yes / no voting on questions posed to the community. I believe the first vote was on whether that famous dress was black and blue, or white and gold. Clearly, the dress was white and gold. In August, we released the broadest set of changes ever deployed in a single release, consisting of some 21,000 new lines of code. It included decentralized governance and a budgeting system, yet another set of firsts in crypto… and that, it seems, has changed everything.
The core team and community are now as empowered as ever. No longer is Dash beholden to the whims (and undue influence) of benefactors to try an idea. Anyone can submit a proposal, receive funding, and implement an idea if they can convince the community of its value. Plus, Masternode owners can more freely support good ideas, because they know that everyone else will be sharing in the burden of funding an initiative right along with them, rather than riding their coattails.
As a result, starting in September, Dash has funded many amazing initiatives and truly accelerated its growth. We have purchased a new domain name, funded attendance at Bitcoin meetups and conferences, funded sponsorships, enabled a small salary for our developers and other contributors, engaged a public relations firm, and initiated integration with Lamassu ATMs to name but a few.
Looking at this longer list of achievements, I am truly in awe and thankful to the community.
Re-branded Darkcoin to Dash!
New website coinciding with rebranding. More content, new design and multilingual (Chinese, Russian and Spanish) dash.org domain purchase
New contacts and relationships taken from the event
Presentation at FinTech Amsterdam: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIvcQIdSbIY
Evan's keynote during the conference
New contacts and business relationships with key crypto industry representatives
Kudos go out to the entire community. This list is truly awe-inspiring when you consider the amount of work that went into each of those accomplishments. The list of community members that deserve accolades this year would extend to pages, and I would truly struggle where to draw the line. You know who you are. I would be remiss if I didn't specifically recognize the vision and commitment of the founder of our project, Evan Almighty. We are lucky to have a leader with as much vision and commitment as he brings to this project.
A basic overview of Dash Evolution
2015 was not without its challenges, however. The price sank to as low as $1.16 in January, which may have rattled a few believers. For those that have stuck with this project, it has been rewarding both monetarily and otherwise. Another challenge was the trolls, which weren't all bad. They frequently bumped our BCT thread and provided endless entertainment for those of us that didn't put them on ignore. We've also needed to focus on improving our deployment process for major releases, which has markedly improved already. Bitfinex dropping Dash was a disappointment. At the time, volumes were pretty low, so I can't blame them for a tough business decision. Time will tell if it was a wise one.
As we turn our attention to 2016, we have many challenges ahead; many we can't even predict. However, it is fair to say that we are as competitively positioned as any point in our history to continue dealing with our challenges, delivering on our strategy, and capturing market share.
To me, it is plainly obvious why. I don't think any sane and knowledgeable person would argue that what Bitcoin needs right now – more than anything else – is more security. They already possess the equivalent computing power of over 100 Googles to secure their network. Meanwhile, I continue seeing headlines like "Bitcoin Foundation's Days May Be Numbered". Yet Bitcoin – and virtually every other coin out there – continues to explicitly allocate 100% of the network rewards toward that solitary purpose in the form of mining.
Dash offers a differentiated solution to the crypto market, one that allocates the network's resources more efficiently than any other coin, and has the governance in place to change that allocation as needed to address other needs, such as development, marketing, business development, legal, or any number of other priorities. We are currently 0.32% the market cap of Bitcoin, but I don't see how we could stay there.
Considering the sustainable competitive advantages we possess, and the differentiated solutions we offer end-users, I believe Dash will capture sizable markets serving use cases that our network is particularly well-suited to address.
I will stop short of making any specific predictions for 2016. Although the title above promises a crystal ball, alas I do not have one. To be fair, I have already made more of a prediction than Fernando did in Dash's first birthday post from last January. It read, "…there is no telling what [Dash] will achieve by its 2nd Birthday". Besides, predictions have a funny way of later making you look quite stupid.
Instead, I will end with my new year's resolution, one that I do not intend to break. I am increasing my commitment to the Dash project. I will apply substantial time, skills, and resources towards its success in the coming year. I am starting my 2016 commitment with a self-funded trip to Miami, additional responsibilities on the core team, and purchasing another masternode. In a sense, I am also ending with a call to action… I hope to inspire many of you to also find at least one more way you can contribute. Find some additional time in your busy schedule, vote on the proposals, introduce Dash to people you meet, or start your first masternode. If we all made contributions large and small, what will we be saying at the end of 2016? What will the world be saying about us at the end of 2016? Time will tell.
Now go eat 12 grapes. I hope each one is the sweetest you've ever tasted. Happy New Year everyone!