South Korean national assembly recommends lifting of ICO ban. Source:
South Korean national assembly recommends lifting of ICO ban. Source:

Substratum ICO review

Despite the fact that the internet has broken down many barriers to liberty (both in economic and privacy terms), the recent controversy about the repeal of Net Neutrality laws in the US shows that it is still a long way from being truly free. Anyone with interest in crypto technology will know that the driving force behind the industry is decentralization and liberty and that while the internet made financial transactions more accessible, the blockchain made them genuinely free. Some people are hoping that blockchain technology will make the web truly free in turn also.

Among these believers is the blockchain-based startup Substratum, who recently held their ICO. The company has a big pitch for investors, as elucidated by their CEO:

“One day, Americans might wake up and realize they don’t like big brother watching over their shoulder and having corporations track everything they do. And when that happens, Substratum will be there.”
— Justin Tabb,  Co-Founder of Substratum

They want to do this by wholly decentralizing and anonymising the hosting infrastructure of the internet. Making the provision and use of the plumbing of the internet free to all participants is a notable goal considering how the flow of the internet is currently concentrated in a small number of telecommunications companies’ hands, while the hosting of websites is always done by registered and publicly contactable businesses

This is a simple goal but in reality getting towards it is quite tricky. The Substratum team recently launched their ICO to help them achieve this.

Un-freedom of information

The exciting thing about the internet that Substratum wants to confront is that while it is straightforward to share info quickly and privately, there is a paper trail and bottleneck at the source of the plumbing for the internet; the hosting providers themselves. This means that, first of all, the market is difficult to break into since it requires a lot of hardware to get started with – it is highly unlikely that someone could provide hosting services at the drop of a hat from their home.

This keeps a lot of people out of the market for a service they could provide, which in turn raises prices. Furthermore, there is the issue of anonymity. If a company offers hosting to a website, they provide a natural point of contact for law enforcement authorities and investigators who might, for just or unjust reasons, wish to contravene the privacy of the user or prevent them from hosting their site altogether.

Peer-to-peer industries have cropped up all over the internet ecosystem as of late, from employment to accommodation, but there are some significant issues with peer-to-peer hosting. Not least of all is the allocation of resources and ensuring that payment is made in return for this.

Blockchain ensuring security and payment

Of course, these very issues were the main obstacles to the rise of Bitcoin. Substratum wants to enable those with hosting resources to rent out to others to list their facilities on a marketplace that will automatically match buyers with sellers depending on prices and preferences. The Substratum engine will manage these contracts and payout to the hosting party upon each successfully served visit to the client’s website. This is all underpinned by the Substratum token, which allows payment to be guaranteed depending on the amount of service rendered.


The ICO finished on the 14th of August 2017, and since then has given a healthy 60% return for investors. Of course, one of the criticisms of the project that is also said after many ICOs is that the team don’t have a finished product yet, but as per the project’s Reddit forum, the community is quite satisfied with the team’s released milestones as well as their communication. They raised $13.8 million, of which 40% of that was to one company (which bodes well for the amount of confidence investors have in their project).

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