Sixteen months ago, we set out with the ambitious goal of creating a better monetary system: one that would be resistant to hyperinflation, free from centralized control, and more stable and robust than the monetary systems that came before it. This was a goal we felt could create tremendous value for society if achieved, and one we also felt well-positioned to take on.
We started with a white paper that proposed a stable, decentralized cryptocurrency called Basis that had the potential to fulfill this vision.
Basis remains stable by incentivizing traders to buy and sell Basis in response to changes in demand. These incentives are set up through regular, on-chain auctions of "bond" and "share" tokens, which serve to adjust Basis supply. Because the Basis ecosystem would take some time to develop, we knew we'd need to initially play the role of trader ourselves, which would be capital-intensive. As such, after publishing our white paper, we raised a $133M round of financing. This allowed us to involve a diverse set of investors who we felt could add a lot of value to the project and enabled us to build a large stabilization fund to bootstrap the system. We then assembled an outstanding team and set our sights on launching the system.
Unfortunately, having to apply US securities regulation to the system had a serious negative impact on our ability to launch Basis.
As regulatory guidance started to trickle out over time, our lawyers came to a consensus that there would be no way to avoid securities status for bond and share tokens (though Basis would likely be free of this characterization).
Due to their status as unregistered securities, bond and share tokens would be subject to transfer restrictions, with Intangible Labs responsible for limiting token ownership to accredited investors in the US for the first year after issuance and for performing eligibility checks on international users.
Enforcing transfer restrictions would require a centralized whitelist, meaning our system would not only lose its censorship resistance, but also that on-chain auctions would have significantly less liquidity.
Having fewer participants in the on-chain auctions adversely affects the stability of Basis, making Basis intrinsically less attractive to users. Additionally, imposing transfer restrictions on bond and share token auctions materially hurts our ability to build the Basis ecosystem.
While transfer restrictions can generally lapse 12 months after a security is issued, because the auctions of bond and share tokens governed by our monetary policy would be continuously issued, transfer restrictions and a centralized whitelist would be required indefinitely.
We considered many alternative paths to launch to try and comply with the regulatory constraints while keeping our product compelling and competitive, including launching offshore, and starting off with a centralized stability mechanism. Ultimately, however, we don't think any of the paths we considered are compelling enough for our users or our investors, or consistent enough with our vision to justify moving forward.
As such, I am sad to share the news that we have decided to return capital to our investors. This also means, unfortunately, that the Basis project will be shutting down.
Although this isn't the outcome any of us wanted, we knew going into this that we were fundamentally making a binary bet on a favorable regulatory landscape. The binary nature of our bet is precisely why we included a return of capital clause in our token sale to begin with, even though it was something we hoped we'd never have to rely on. So, while we’re disappointed we couldn’t launch the system we were all hoping to build, we’re thankful that we can at least do right by our investors given these circumstances.
Finally, we owe our sincere thanks to everyone who supported us and our project—from the extraordinary backers and partners who believed in us, to the outstanding team that joined us in our mission. You gave us the opportunity to change the world, and with the lessons we’ve learned, we're looking forward to trying again.
Basis is designed to keep prices stable by algorithmically adjusting supply
When demand is rising, the blockchain will create more Basis. The expanded supply is designed to bring the Basis price back down.
When demand is falling, the blockchain will buy back Basis. The contracted supply is designed to restore Basis price.
The Basis protocol is designed to expand and contract supply similarly to the way central banks buy and sell fiscal debt to stabilize purchasing power. For this reason, we refer to Basis as having an algorithmic central bank.
Meet the Basis Team
The team members’ backgrounds span Google Search, Google Ads, Google Research, D. E. Shaw & Co, Tower Research Capital, Hudson River Trading, Goldman Sachs, AngelList, and more. The founders attended Princeton together and all graduated with degrees in computer science summa cum laude. After college, two of the founders worked together at D. E. Shaw, then at Google before leaving to start Basis.
Nader worked on Search and Ads at Google and in algorithmic trading at D. E. Shaw & Co. He became obsessed with Bitcoin in 2012, and set up a mining rig in his dorm. His obsession sparked a passion for monetary theory, culminating in the insights behind Basis. He graduated summa cum laude in Computer Science from Princeton.
Lawrence worked in tech and quantitative finance at Google Search, Google Ads, and Radix Trading, and interned at D. E. Shaw & Co. in Institutional Asset Management and Google Research (where he co-invented 3 patents). He graduated summa cum laude in Computer Science from Princeton.
Josh worked in Algorithmic Options Market-Making at D. E. Shaw & Co. and as a machine learning engineer and entrepreneur-in-residence at Merantix, a German deep learning incubator. Josh graduated summa cum laude in Computer Science from Princeton.
Susan was Managing Director and Legal Director at Goldman Sachs, where she ran legal operations for equities trading in the Americas. In her 20+ years of financial services practice, she has also served as lead counsel at multiple quantitative trading and other investment firms. Susan received her BA from Harvard and JD from Harvard Law.
Brian was CTO at Tower Research Capital and at Radix Trading. A co-inventor of Invisalign, he has 20+ years of industry experience in both quant finance and tech and is an inventor on 17 patents, including a C++ patent licensed by Microsoft. Brian holds an MBA from Wharton and was a PhD candidate at Stanford.
Dionne was formerly Chief of Staff to CEO Daniel Coleman at the quantitative finance firms KCG and GETCO. She has close to a decade of experience acting as a strategic advisor and tactician, leading in her role through multiple high-profile mergers.