When PoolHarvest shut down a few days ago I predicted that based on the reasons given by the pool operator that the site they ran along side the pool, Chia Profitability, would also be shutting down. I was correct. I knew that this would come, because I spoke to Ottavio, the CEO of Firx Inc which is the company behind both projects, and got some of the reasoning in detail from him. See the announcement and then lets go through his reasoning.
They are really putting their money where their mouth is because regardless if the pool was profitable or not, the site is certainly ad-supported and self sustaining. I can’t say I am surprised by his reasoning, as a lot of the cryptocurrency developer community is the most anti-corporate portion of the open source software community. I’m going to include his full words here so there is no miscommunication.
Actually we started by developing ChiaProfitability in the first place when Chia was getting more and more attention because I couldn’t find any website online that grouped all the info I wanted in the same spot. I was genuinely excited about this new ecosystem and I still believe that it could be very promising. Shortly after that, we got into Chia farming (before the official pooling protocol was announced) and saw that a few services were offering proprietary third-party softwares as pooling solutions so we decided to go ahead and develop our own. This is how Poolharvest.io was born. It quickly gained a lot of attention as very few pools existed at that time. We were getting insane stats on the pool website (with 1 million+ page views the first 2 weeks) which encouraged us to push it even further and implement new functionalities, while improving the pooling software. This is when Chia Network Inc announced that they had introduced their trademark policy. When I saw the first tweet from Chia Network about it, I got really confused and wondered how this kind of new terms would apply to already existing services like ChiaProfitability. To be very honest, I was not planning on requesting a license because I didn’t want my company to sign any kind of contract with them. To this day, Firx Inc does not have any license delivered by Chia Network Inc, and we never got any inquiry from them about it, despite the fact that they were aware of the existence of ChiaProfitability as both Bram and Gene interacted with us on Twitter several times. Bram himself qualified ChiaProfitability on Twitter as a “third-party tool”. The development of ChiaProfitability and Poolharvest.io continued as “side projects” until the official pooling protocol came out. Since the beginning, it was clearly stated that Poolharvest.io would be shut down on the official protocol launch.
The pool was indeed shut down and we started working on implementing the official protocol so we could go back online. A week or so after the pool was deactivated, it came back online with the new protocol implementation.
In the meantime, the pool was getting a lot of backlash. Some people were calling us out with false accusations of scamming amongst other stuff. We took some time to reply but it got out of control and we still to this day don’t know who tried to spread misinformation and why.
I was also getting more and more concerned about the fact that Chia Network Inc was, and is still, in my opinion, using their trademark policies to take down some services or website that don’t always go in their favour. It became very clear for me that the only thing they are trying to do is protect their money and their investors, going against the fundamental principles of what a blockchain is.
I was getting very annoyed that Chia Network was claiming that the Chia Blockchain is the most decentralised blockchain ever, while restricting some people’s freedom of speech and threatening legitimate services and projects like XCHscan so they can keep an absolute control over this ecosystem.
Shutting down every service we run related to Chia is of course not for economical reasons. Poolharvest.io didn’t cost anything to run. We already had the servers, the bandwidth and the infrastructure. ChiaProfitability is running ads which make a good amount of money. In the end, all of our Chia-related services are profitable from a financial perspective. But to be honest, our core business is crypto mining. We strongly believe in financial decentralisation and cannot support a project that infringes its fundamental principles. The money we are making running these services is, honestly, play money for us. This is not what we were interested in with these projects. The Chia Blockchain is a solid project but Chia Network Inc’s sketchy strategies really destroys its credibility (again, this is my personal opinion).Ottavio, CEO of Firx Inc
This is of course of significant interest to me, as it indicates a frustration from people who came to Chia as an open source community and ecosystem and have instead encountered a tightly controlled set of services. The PoolHarvest team has always been open and helpful in the community and has indeed been the target of a lot of accusations. Full disclosure, I looked into those accusations and could not find any evidence of wrongdoing on their part. Ottavio was helpful during that investigation, if a little aloof.
I think its pretty clear that Ottavio and Firx Inc truly believe that the centralization of the ecosystem around Chia Network Inc is a problem and that it affects the long term viability of the project. I have been on the fence about this the whole time, whether the focus on “big business” vs the open source community was a smart move. I think if you poll 10 farmers you’ll get 10 different, highly detailed answers.