Everyone started speaking seriously about the TRON startup after its successful ICO in September 2017, when it managed to raise $70 million in just a few days. Today, the project's token, the TRX, is traded on almost all major exchanges and is reaching for the top ten in terms of capitalization, and TRON founder Justin Sun does not stop calling his project a soon-to-be substitute for Ethereum.
Prior to TRON, Justin Sun was known as the main representative of the Ripple project in the PRC, and then as the creator of the Peiwo application for the exchange of short audio messages, with a number of registered users exceeding 10 million people. Now, Peiwo will be the first application to be integrated with the TRON network. Meanwhile, Forbes wonders if Justin Sun will be the new Jack Ma (founder of the online retailer Alibaba Group).
TRON is a completely Chinese project. The core team of its developers is based in China. TRON was also supported by Chinese capital, as among its key investors are the founders of the Lifan automotive company Yin Mingshan and the popular mobile game Clash of Kings Binshen Tan, Bitmain's CEO Wu Jihan, former board member of Ripple and Coinbase Exchange investor Feng Li, and others. TRON is also striving to develop partnership relations first and foremost with Chinese businesses.
The existence of such a large company in China would be impossible without the protection of the authorities, which is confirmed by a curious detail that Justin Sun is a member of the local branch of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, an advisory authority under the leadership of the PRC. And this is despite the actual ban on operations with cryptocurrencies in China.
Better Than Ethereum?
The TRON project aims to create a network for the decentralized exchange of content between users on the blockchain, as well as for the development of entertainment and information applications. The motto of the company reflects an even more ambitious goal, the "decentralization of the internet."
TRON constantly emphasizes its advantages in comparison with Ethereum. One of the main characteristics of its network is the high throughput at 2,000 operations per second, which is higher than current Ethereum values (20 to 25 operations per second) and, most importantly, it allows the deployment of large-scale decentralized applications on the basis of TRON, which is the determining quality for working with a large audience, for example, that of Facebook.
At the beginning of the development, TRON divided the product into several levels of development, namely storage, the core, and the application, and in several years it plans to implement the principle of operation sharding along with other leading blockchain networks, which will increase the capacity along with the expansion of the network. In addition, TRON does not charge commissions for transactions on the network.
For transaction validation, TRON uses the Delegated Proof-of-Stake (DPoS) protocol. TRON chose it for reasons of a more "democratic" organization. The validators in the TRON network are 27 "super representatives" selected from the representatives of the crypto community by voting done by TRX token holders.
An important element of TRON is the development of third-party decentralized applications based on smart contracts. To do this, TRON created its own virtual machine, the TVM, which is fully compatible with the Ethereum network but uses the Java language, not Solidity. Among the development tools available in TVM are Remix, Truffle, and Web3.js.
Chronology of Events
The main intrigue is the opportunity to implement all the ideas in practice. The roadmap of the project is scheduled until 2027, the main event of 2018 for the project will be the full launch of its own blockchain network and all its elements. For now, TRON is moving towards the implementation of this stage according to plan.
TRON published the first version of the code of the future mainnet Odyssey 2.0 in late December. On March 31, according to the schedule, the project team began testing the protocol. Then TRON's technical director Lucien Chen repeated the benchmark for the rapid replacement of the competitor: "Our primary goal is to optimize capacities and surpass Ethereum in all aspects, including throughput, availability, and scalability."
In June, a full-scale TRON transition started with Ethereum on Odyssey 2.0, which began with the exchange of ERC-20 standard TRX tokens for the tokens of its own protocol. By August, Odyssey transferred more than 93 percent of all TRX tokens, and the remaining mass will be traded on the Binance and Gate.io exchanges until the transition to a new standard, and then the remaining tokens will be burned.
On June 25, the official release of the TRON network was held, which the company refers to as the "Independence Day.” On that day, the genesis block of the network was launched. A month later, a campaign began to select the "super representatives,” who will become the network's validators. July 31 marked the beta release of the TVM. Its official version will be launched on August 30, along with the end of the launch process. Also on July 31, the official wallet of the TronWallet project started working.
Other goals for TRON in 2018, according to Justin Sun, will be the increase in network bandwidth to 10,000 operations per second, the launch of the first applications on the TRON network and the launch of its own blockchain browser.
Acquisition of BitTorrent
The main event for TRON in terms of business development was the acquisition of the peer to peer network BitTorrent. The parties did not disclose the value of the transaction, but, according to TechCrunch, it was $126 million. Sun's statement about the event says that "more than a billion users from 138 countries" are registered in the network, on the official site of BitTorrent it is indicated that "more than 120 million users" use the program every month.
Justin Sun said that the purchase of BitTorrent is aimed at creating "the largest decentralized ecosystem.” He also announced the beginning of work on a secret project, "Atlas,” later explaining that his goal is to connect the TRON and BitTorrent networks, which will be worked on by developers from the U.S.
Porn and Toilets
TRON is known for hyperactivity in the information field, which does not always have a positive effect on the project.
In January, Justin Sun was criticized for loudly announcing in his microblog the partnership with BaoFeng, which he called the "Chinese Netflix.” Later, it turned out that TRON plans to cooperate only with a BaoFeng division, and the company itself is compared with Netflix incorrectly since it does not produce video content.
Another hyped piece of news was the announcement of the largest porn site PornHub about the introduction of premium payment options with the help of several cryptocurrencies, among which was TRX. Some perceived this news with skepticism, while the Global Coin Report portal called the event "penetration of the TRX token into the industry" and suggested that PornHub content could be distributed over the TRON network in the future, supported by the BitTorrent P2P network. This assumption was also confirmed by Sun, who stated that the partnership with PornHub would bring "additional scenarios for the use of TRON technologies."
A downright failed statement by TRON was related to cooperation with the Chinese manufacturer of mobile toilet Moshroom to create a "toilet on the blockchain.” Some publications immediately hurried to joke about the new meaning of the term "shitcoin.”
Plagiarism, Vulnerability, and Conflict of Interest
The accusations of plagiarism hit the TRON project more severely than any unsuccessful attempts to hype itself up.
In early January, Juan Benet, the founder and CEO of Protocol Labs, accused TRON of copying the white paper of the IPFS and Filecoin projects, backing up his application with detailed screenshots from the comparison. Justin Sun explained the lack of references in the TRON document by the errors in translation from Chinese into English.
On June 19, Digital Asset Research (DAR) released a post that noted that TRON was convicted of violating the GNU Lesser General Public License 3.0 (LGPL) license in December 2017, as the Java Tron program was created from the EthereumJ library. Against this backdrop, Sun's explanations of the "difficulties of translation" look completely inconclusive.
Although several lines of code were later corrected in accordance with the LGPL, the company stated that legal problems would "fade" before the vulnerability of TRON due to the use of the code of the EthereumJ library, which is known for its unreliability and bugs.
In addition, DAR was confident that TRON would encounter problems with the release of the network, since its TVM is a copy of the Ethereum virtual machine. Its difference is in the use of consensus DPoS, which was developed for use in other architectures. There is, however, no information about any problems with the work of Odyssey after the launch of the network on June 25.
A large portion of criticism aimed at the project is generously being poured by Ethereum, its main and as-of-yet-unattainable competitor. Vitalik Buterin does not miss any chance to release some sarcastic joke to the tweets of Justin Sun and confidently records TRON in the list of "scams.”
In addition, according to DAR, TRX tokens of the ERC-20 standard had one of the highest levels of ownership concentration among the largest tokens of this standard (and it is unlikely that this changed with the introduction of new format tokens). Discontent is being added to this by the fact that Justin Sun was elected as a "super representative" of the TRON network just one day after he was nominated.
Although the allegations of plagiarism caused reputational damage to TRON, they did not have a significant impact on the company's performance. China has long been known for copying other people's developments, which does not prevent companies from the Middle Kingdom from developing and taking leading positions in various sectors of the global economy.