Aptos CEO Defends 'Fair' Tokenomics That Prompted Community Backlash

Aptos CEO Mo Shaikh told CoinDesk the token distribution is much fairer than at other projects.

AccessTimeIconNov 4, 2022 at 9:26 a.m. UTC
Updated May 9, 2023 at 4:01 a.m. UTC
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The CEO of Aptos, the layer 1 blockchain that went live last month, has defended the project's "fair" token allocation following a wave of criticism from its community.

Aptos airdropped its APT token to early network testers in October, but concerns surfaced immediately over the distribution of tokens when core contributors, investors and the Aptos Foundation received almost half the 1 billion tokens issued. This led to concerns that investors and the foundation could potentially liquidate their tokens, which would trigger a negative market reaction.

"Our goal when we designed the tokenomics was to create something that fairly represents the community," Aptos CEO Mo Shaikh told CoinDesk in an interview. "If you look at our tokenomics distribution, we have among the lowest across any blockchain for investors. ... It's among the most fair that we have seen even compared to other projects."

Ethereum allocated just 9.9% of its supply to the founding team and another 9.9% to the Ethereum Foundation.

Aptos, which is made up of former Meta employees who previously worked on the diem stablecoin project, raised $200 million in March followed by a $150 million Series A round in July, with participation from the likes of FTX Ventures and Jump Crypto.

The Aptos token (APT) is currently trading at $7.39 with a market cap just shy of $1 billion.

"There are also pretty strong lockup periods. If someone wants to dig a bit deeper they would realize that investors can't dump on retail, they are totally blocked from doing that," Shaikh said. "We've put a lot of constraints on investors that no one has ever done before."

Technical constraints

Last month's launch of the Aptos blockchain was chaotic. Speculation mounted over whether the airdrop was exploited by attackers who reportedly created numerous Aptos wallets to capitalize on a lack of security barriers and receive a disproportionate share of an airdrop in what's known as a Sybil attack.

"It's a difficult challenge to fairly reward those who have contributed to the ecosystem," said Chief Technology Officer Avery Ching. "What you're trying to do is identify unique individuals, and that is a very challenging problem in general. We've taken a tremendous amount of care to ensure that every recipient was unique, and on-chain specifically we made sure that every airdrop went to a specific address to ensure that you couldn't double collect."

There was also intense scrutiny around the capacity and scalability of the blockchain. Aptos reportedly handled fewer than seven transactions a second, despite touting 100,000/second during the testing phase.

"In our testnets, many folks in our community verified the traffic that was going through our network – which was in the thousands per second," Ching said. "That was inferior hardware to what we're using today on mainnet. We're really looking to push our mainnet to its limits."

"We are working on exposing more metrics to the public. We had a spike of more than 2,500 TPS."

Written in Move

The code underlying the Aptos blockchain is written with Move, a Rust-based programming language that is also set to be used by the forthcoming Sui blockchain. Move was originally developed at Meta to be used to power the Diem blockchain.

"Move in many ways is inspired by Rust," Ching said. "The difference here is that Move is built for smart contract language development. We found that this would be easier for developers to build compared to languages like Solidity."

But there are concerns over blockchain safety when using a relatively new programming language, especially in light of the recent surge in crypto-related hacks and exploits that has seen billions of dollars stolen annually.

"We took an extreme amount of care before launch. What we did was break it down into different areas of potential vulnerabilities, working with auditors and work with other projects in the space to identify the riskiest areas. Move is safe from a verified perspective, but we've taken an even more paranoid approach to make sure things are safe," Ching said.

UPDATE (Nov. 4, 11:22 UTC) : Adds CEO quote before Technical Constraints heading, background on airdrop, blockchain performance, concerns over safety after the heading.

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Oliver Knight

Oliver Knight is a CoinDesk reporter based between London and Lisbon. He does not own any crypto.

Elizabeth Napolitano

Elizabeth Napolitano was a news reporter at CoinDesk.


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