After a year-long initial coin offering (ICO), perhaps what has become the most hotly anticipated blockchain is scheduled to launch on June 2.
That blockchain is EOS, which has raised more than $2 billion in its token sale for Block.one, the company that created what's being touted as a dramatically more scalable and user-friendly version of today's blockchains. Those assertions rest on the projects consensus algorithm, delegated proof-of-stake (dPoS), whereby a set number of nodes – in the EOS case, 21 – will be chosen to act as validators (or "block producers").
These nodes will take turns verifying blocks at a rapid clip, with each one taking a turn every three seconds or so. The idea is that with only a few validators it becomes easy to process lots of transactions very quickly (although there have been critics of these claims).
Since these validators will have a lot of responsibility, they will, therefore, be rewarded for their work (through the governance process, the EOS community will get to decide on what the rewards should be) with newly-minted EOS tokens, similar to how bitcoin rewards miners.
As such, it not only looks highly desirable financially to be a validator node but will also come with a certain amount of power. And vying for those spots (or backup node spots, which will also receive rewards) are several dozen organizations.
Companies aiming to serve as block producers range from existing crypto-mining operations, exchanges, blockchain consultancies and teams of EOS enthusiasts. Candidates are spread out all over the world, but China shows the most interest, followed by entities in the U.S.
This question of power has been at the center of quite a bit of debate, with skeptics, led by ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin, saying that EOS's governance system is easily manipulable. According to Buterin in a post titled "Plutocracy Is Still Bad," it would be easy for cartels to form within such a small system.
Those spots, though, won't be chosen by Block.one; the company merely created the software, but once the mainnet blockchain launches, the choices made over the blockchain will no longer be Block.one's responsibility.
Sure, the company may be investing millions of dollars into the EOS ecosystem, but for now, just days before the launch, it doesn't seem to have invested in educating the community on how they can participate in its governance.
Even Katie Roman, an EOS cheerleader and self-described Dan Larimer (who co-founded Block.one) fangirl, acknowledged the issue stemming from Block.one's hands-off approach after launch.
"Block.one has said since the beginning of this project that they are not launching the chain, so the details of where and how to vote are not up to them," she told CoinDesk, adding:
"This is the hard part about decentralization and DPOS in general. Anyone can lead an effort, but that also means that there is a chance that no one leads an effort."