Over time there has been a tidal wave of people disavowing traditional, "nine to five" employment in favor of the ever-expanding "gig economy" - a phrase that describes an environment where freelancers and other independent workers engage in short-term employment.
A recent report by the freelance website Upwork supports this contention, estimating that 57 million Americans - or 36 percent of our country's workforce - are now working part-time or full-time as freelancers. By 2027, it is expected that more than half of American workers will earn some or all of their income through independent jobs.
Enter Ethearnal , a new startup looking to make its mark in this space. It is a peer-to-peer (P2P) system where employers and freelancers meet, enter into trustless smart contracts with reputation and money in escrow, and utilize a decentralized system of moderators, if needed. Thanks to blockchain technology, the company is delivering new solutions, disrupting the trillion-dollar freelancing industry.
"We endeavor to bring together reputation and economic initiatives into one by tokenizing reputation and giving it value," said co-founder and CEO Stanislav Uzunchev. "This will allow all parties, moderators included, to act with integrity, since everyone has something of value at stake, as well as something to gain if the desired outcome is achieved."
So, what separates Ethearnal from other freelance ecosystems that have already been launched? First, it provides a fully autonomous and decentralized system without a profit-taking objective. In other words, the fees of 0 to 1 percent go back into the system as part of aligning the initiatives of all parties involved.
Ethearnal also offers a pathway to other current projects that are not truly decentralized, where the community (holders of "ERT," the platform's native token) can vote and make the decisions.
Overall, the main value proposition of the system is that it's self-sufficient and self-regulating. It can thrive independently without constant monitoring and the need for any profit vectors. Ethearnal profits just like any other token holder.
Tokenizing the Freelance World
The Ethearnal token sale will begin on February 28, 2018, and will end on March 31, 2018. A total of 40,000,000 ERT tokens will be created with 30,000,000 available during this period, representing 75 percent of the total ERT supply.
The ERT token will initially be distributed through what Ethearnal is calling an "initial coin offering (ICO) 2.0." Dubbed by Vitalik Buterin (the founder of Ethereum) as " DAICO ," Ethearnal's ICO 2.0 model is a dynamic spin on the traditional ICO that merges the best characteristics of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) with those of traditional ICOs.
Investors in the ICO decide when and how to distribute the money collected to the developers. Initially, the team will only receive 10 percent of the funds raised via ICO. The investors will then have the ability to vote to release each subsequent 10 percent chunk of the funds.
"If the investors are unhappy with the progress of the project, they can either vote to have any remaining funds refunded and end the project or they can choose to have the developers continue to work until they release a product the investors are happy with," said Uzunchev. "Then, and only then, will the next 10 percent of funding be released to investors."
Tasked with fueling the community, ERT has a few major functions that make the Ethearnal platform possible. The more ERT a user has, the greater their visibility in the network.
Users can participate in the community by purchasing some tokens. But unlike other tokenization models of this type, it is set up in a way that prevents users from gaming the system, because some of their tokens are staked with every contract that they enter. In other words, one's stake can be lost if they maliciously try to rig the system.
Tokens can also be used to earn money as a moderator. This is another key part of the Ethearnal system: decentralizing the moderation process. The moderators, just like other users, need to stake a reputation, which ensures the honesty of their actions. This represents another key component that allows the system to be self-regulating and self-sufficient.
All in all, for the entire system to function, the token needs to have value. Much of that value comes from the people holding it because they see it as valuable, which makes it only fair for them to get something back in return.
The Future Forward
When asked about the current state of the freelancing industry and what the expected growth looks like over the next five years, Uzunchev is optimistic.
"It's a huge market," he said. "According to a Forbes study, the market was valued at about $1.5 trillion in 2016 and the trend is only going up."
In terms of Ethearnal's roadmap for 2018, his expectations align with this potential growth.
"We plan to have a working product by the end of the year, as opposed to working for years before releasing something 'perfect,'" he said. "Our motto is to 'release early and integrate often.' To create the best product, we'll have to work with the best experts. Because there is a lot of mathematics, algorithms and AI research involved, we will need a big dedicated team. Our goal is to reach a 100,000 user base [by] the end of the year. That will be our big win."
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