Could Bolktopia be a Metaverse Game Changer?

With the boom that we have seen in the metaverse space over the past few months, the number of projects rebranding and coming out of the woodwork is astounding.

Thanks to the buzz created by Zuckerberg with Facebook rebranding to Meta in late October 2021, metaverse OGs like Decentraland saw a hockey stick style spike in the price of MANA.

Decentraland was followed on the charts by Sandbox, Star Atlas, Bloktopia, and to a lesser degree Metahero. But this is not just about the price of tokens. It’s also about deliverables.

After taking a few days to look around some platforms that have a working product, I came away a little underwhelmed with some, and confused with others.

Somnuim Space, for all of the polish it has lacked actual users the few times I logged in. There were other avatars present, but they were little more than digital statues with which no interaction was able to be had.

Somnuim Space layout
Somnuim Space Night Park

In comparison, Decentraland certainly has an abundance of users, and there always seems to be something going on.

The Bloktopia Metaverse

So where does Bloktopia come in to this?

With what appears to be an ambitious project all that we have to go by at the moment is a flashy website, some in game footage, and some gamified funding mechanics built in. Any other form of deliverable are yet to be seen, and Bloktopia’s metal is yet to be tested.

Bloktopia has been able to attract Investors like Animoca Brands and MagicFew. And there are also heavyweight supporters like Polygon, Avalanche, Crypto Wendy O, Anti Fund, BitBoy Crypto, and x21.

Now, with the entourage they have accumulated, that’s not to say that Bloktopia is a sure thing, nor am I suggesting that it is a potential dud. Only time will tell.

Metaverse Buzz

There is more than a growing buzz around this metaverse project of late. A recent partnership announced with Binance has seen the scope for educating the market about Bloktopia expand.

Bloktopia have certainly been on a streak with their partnerships and promising announcements. And they have listened to the community in certain areas which open the door for wider participation.

However, there are parts of the community that seem to be getting ignored. This is where my closer look at Bloktopia started. You don’t tent to hear grumblings over nothing, particularly when you know a source of the grumblings first hand.

These grumblings are connected to Bloktopia’s JOBE offerings and the revenue stream functionality attached to these. A lack of ability to access qualifying funds is what I’m hearing, and as a result I’m looking more into Bloktopia. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Potentially.

What is a Bloktopia JOBE?

Amidst the buzz about partnerships, there is a growing concern about delivering on promises made. This is predominantly seen in Bloktopia’s JOBE offerings.

How a JOBE (Jointly Owned BLOK Enterprise) works is that there are 1,000 Lot Holder (units) within each specified JOBE.

A single unit requires the depositing of 4,800 BLOK which is required to be locked for a minimum of fifteen days before any rewards can be claimed. The more JOBEs you have ownership in, the greater the accumulation of BLOK rewards you will get.

These BLOK rewards are then able to be claimed on the 2nd of the month. The rewards accumulated are a distribution of ‘rents’ for the spaces sold.

I found out about this after the 2nd of November, so I can’t speak as to what happened then with the distribution of BOLK to JOBE holders who met the qualification criteria on that date. However, I can share what I have seen on the 2nd of December.

Having no luck with the Bloktopia Team on Twitter, I found that there were quite a few people on Telegram who were expressing the same concerns.

The tone of these messages, and the lack of moderation within the ‘Official Chat’ suggests one of two things to me. Either Bloktopia is lacking in a B2C capacity. Or, and I dread to say this given how many people have aped in on this token, we may be looking at the makings of a future rug pull here. 🚩🤔

One thing that may be proving to be a point of misinformation here is that the issue with the ability to collect rewards on the JOBEs is not something that is being experienced across the board at this stage.

I have it on good authority that JOBE 27 is able to have rewards collected, but JOBE 29 is not. The source of this comparison is one that comes from the same owner with allocations in both of those JOBEs.

Could that be something that points to some form of assurance? Well, a lot like determining what beauty is, that’s a matter for the eye of the beholder.

Personally, I’m still unsure, and this adds little consolation for me. If your platform is unable to function consistently for a single user who has held multiple JOBEs connected to the same wallet address, I’d call this a technological red flag. I would like to know what the Bloktopia CTO thinks. 🚩🤔

Given the vision that the Bloktopia Team have built, and how much of a financial (and non-financial) investment there is in this from their side and their token holder. I hope that it comes to fruition.

I’ll temper that with this point though, we all know the Crypto Bull Market is renowned for companies talking a big game and not delivering.

The above video walk through provided by Paddy Carroll is one of two videos on the Bolktopia YouTube channel.

For such an ambitious project, there must be a very capable Team, right?

Bolktopia Team

I have some concerns about how the Bloktopia Team are presented online, and the perceptions surrounding the validity of some of their digital personas. In the real world, they may well be completely spotless. But we’re talking the metaverse here, so digital credentials are what you live and die by in the eyes of your market.

Allow me to elaborate and provide points of reference.

Paddy Carroll is identified as the CMO & CoFounder. Being one of the more ‘present’ of the Team online, there are some small details that make me feel less convinced with regards to this project and aspects of authenticity.

Paddy’s Twitter Account (Wayback Machine link) seems to be rather disconnected from his professional ventures with very little activity for the 11 years his profile has been online.

Paddy, you’re working in the tech space dude… What the? 🚩🤔

We tagged Paddy in a tweet that we shared with the Bloktopia team to try and find an answer to the JOBE ‘Claim Rewards’ issue that Bloktopians have had. Let’s see how that goes…

Being one of three who has a LinkedIn Profile, Paddy appears to have suitable endorsements from his peers here (but we all know how clicky and ‘you-scratch-my-back’ LinkedIn endorsements can be).

LinkedIn Recommendations, on the other hand, require a bit more effort and energy, but that’s not to say they aren’t fraught with the same ‘you-scratch-my-back’ challenges. In this case, 100% of the recommendations Paddy has were reciprocated, some on the same day they were given. 🚩 🤔

This may also simply be indicative of effective marketing skills, right Paddy?

Paddy’s profile photo on LinkedIn and the Bloktopia website are the same, which is sometimes an indication of a potential red flag in my opinion. Marketing budget? Photo shoot?

The reason I bring this up is that the next Team Member has the same image on LinkedIn and the Bloktopia website, just converted to grey scale. Another potential red flag? 🚩🤔

Libby Rothwell is Bloktopia’s Commercial Director. For someone occupying a key role you would think there would be some congruence in their titles. Her LinkedIn shows that she is Bloktopia’s Group CIO (Chief Information Officer). Now, one of these should be correct. But which one? Do we trust the Bloktopia website, or LinkedIn? 🚩 🤔

Libby isn’t exactly ‘active’ on LinkedIn, which in and of itself isn’t a big issue and seems to be pretty commonplace for UK LinkedIn users. But, when you’re one of four faces for a project that touts to be a success in the metaverse space which other companies are apparently approaching for advice on structuring funding and marketing, I’d go to a little effort to keep things looking like I’m a real person.

Libby is (or was) apparently also a Principal Lecturer at Kingston (Wayback Machine link) University who has key skills in Contract Administration, Marketing, Social Media, and Digital Distribution to name a few. Unless Rocket Reach has aggregated two different Libby Rothwell instances into one?

Going back to her LinkedIn, it shows that she is the Business Affairs Executive at High Flier Films (Wayback Machine link), but when you go to their website they have a Libby Longden listed as their Business Affairs Executive. Same person by the look of the photo. Maybe Libby got married? 🚩🤔

Call me judgmental if you must, but if someone has a profile (ok, we are talking Rocket Reach here) that claims they have Marketing and Social Media as skills, why are there virtual crickets on their accounts like Facebook and LinkedIn, with what looks to be zero presence on Twitter? 🚩🤔

Ok, maybe Libby is just a very private person. Maybe I should lay off a bit.

Simon Benson is Bloktopia’s CTO, and that’s what his LinkedIn says too. Good start, Simon.

With what looks to be a reasonable background in the tech space, I still find it a little challenging to see that his profile isn’t that well fleshed out.

Simon Benson also just happens to be the Director of Immersive Technology at HOST Salford. I find it curious that there is no mention of them, PixelMax, or Dream Reality Interactive, or any possible connection in any Bloktopia literature.

Why do I mention them, you may ask?

Looking at some of the posts you could draw some connections as to who worked on the promo content for Bloktopia. I’m going with a combination of Team Members from HOST Salford, PixelMax, and/or Dream Reality Interactive.

For the post containing the video on LinkedIn, click here.

Elements of what is seen in Arca’s Path (Dream Reality Interactive) are seen as peppered influences in Bloktopia’s promotional content stylings in my opinion.

So, I’ll draw this conclusion; either talent from these Teams are working with Bloktopia, or there are people in the Bloktopia Team that are influenced by the creatives in these other Teams. It is also possible that talent was brough on to the Bloktopia Team in-house from sources such as these.

Being deeply involved in VR for an extended period of time, Simon addressed an audience in London as a part of the VRX Europe Conference (2016) and provided a sneak peek into the developments in Sony’s work.

Sources other thank LinkedIn provide a verifiable basis for Simon’s expertise. Check out the video below for more. This is great to see.✔️

My last point in relation to a typo in Simon’s credentials which can be found on his LinkedIn profile once again. Maybe it’s just a minor oversight, but, surely a Simulation Engineer at BAE Systems would have spotted this. 🚩🤔

On the point of the highlighted typo below, digital functionality can be immobilised with the input of a single incorrect keystroke. Could something of this nature be an indication of the potential for the JOBE functionality variations mentioned?

Ross Tavakoli is the last Team Member in the Bloktopia lineup we’ll look at. Listed as the CEO and Co-Founder, he is spoken of as being a Crypto OG and responsible for developing and building a specialist Team to bring his vision to life.

As any Crypto OG will tell you, if the Founders of a (Web3) project are anonymous (or possibly even pseudonymous) or difficult to find online and research, be wary of what they are offering. 🚩🤔

So, in this case it may seem like I’m going particularly hard on the CEO and Co-Founder here, and with due reason in my opinion.

Anyone who works online in a promotional space will tell you that it is easy to farm a lot of backlinks to support perceived credibility online. That might not be great for your search engine rankings, but, each link has click potential.

Back in 2017 and 2018 the ICO space was rife with bounties for promoting shitcoins through their marketing budget which was all too often made up of their native tokens. Now, I’m not saying that is the same case here, but, with the lack of imagination in how content has been spun, you’ve got to wonder.

Regardless of how many ‘same-same’ CRTL-C CTRL-V copy based publications online you’ll find that parrot a consistent line verbatim, it is important to look deeper. I’ve struggled to find many examples in the Bloktopia searches that demonstrate variations in copywriting.

Looking at one particular source of copy paste writeups, the Owler report for Bloktopia is one that I’m particularly struggling to swallow. Aside from the copy that appears on dozens of other sites, there is data here that just seems ‘off’.

How can the Founder have a 90 out of 100 approval rating when they are virtually invisible online? At the time of taking this screenshot, there were 7 Bloktopia followers on Owler. 🚩🤔

Keep in mind that anyone who creates an account with Owler can (without attempting to verify any facts) contribute to the data in the Owler report. Sounds like crowd sourced data and a repository for received opinion to me. Always question the source, including questioning what you see here on unTLDR.

Interestingly, over the three days that I’ve been looking into the Bloktopia Team, a Ross Tavakoli appears to have set up a LinkedIn profile. Until we see a photo uploaded to LinkedIn there are assumptions that it is the same person as on Instagram, and possibly the same Ross from Bloktopia.

The opinion of Dream Boat Capital (Wayback Machine link) is that this is the same Ross. They have explicitly provided a link to the abovementioned LinkedIn profile. But, I wouldn’t blindly trust them as a source of information as their site is loaded with plagiarised content.

As the broader blockchain mantra goes, don’t trust, verify. I’m not certain if this is the Ross we are interested in, but we will dig deeper into the particular Ross we have found as there seems to be very little else to pin any credible identity on at this stage.

Ross, would you like to add anything to this?

Notice that the Ross Tavakoli we are looking at here is self listed here as the Director at illuminapp (Facebook page link) and there is nothing listed about Bloktopia? Is this a potential misidentification? I hope so, because according to the research I’ll share with you I don’t think you would want this particular Ross to be the one connected to Bloktopia.

Trading as ‘illuminapp’ the business is registered as Artech Innovations Limited according to the Terms and Conditions page on their website (Wayback Machine link). Artech Innovations Limited is previously known as Artech (NW) Limited, under Company Number 11865964, of which Graham Owen Finch is the only listed Director according to the Certificate of Incorporation.

The name change from Artech (NW) Limited to Artech Innovations Limited was filed by Companies House on the 14th of May, which is all in order. What does stick out as a massive red flag here is that the Filings History for Artcech Innovations Limited shows no record of Ross Tavakoli as being listed as a Director at all. Nor does the records of listed Officers.

So, Ross of illuminapp fame (and I hope not of Bloktopia fame), tell us, how is it that you are the Director of illuminapp again as you have listed on your LinkedIn profile? 🚩🤔

While doing a bit of digging and trying to find our Crypto OG, I found out that there have been a few other ventures connected to the Ross we found which piqued my interest. Company Check (Wayback Machine link), a UK site, has him listed as being the appointed Director of Hawkjames Associates Limited.

Additional sources connecting this Ross Tavakoli to Hawkjames Associates Limited can also be found on Endole, another UK site. Somewhat disturbingly, the information here indicates that Hawkjames Associates Limited are behind on their filings by a considerable 2,059 days as of today (5th December 2021). This is backed up by data according to official UK government sources.

How do we make a connection between illuminapp and Hawkjames Associates Limited? Through the same UK government sources.

According to data gathered from other searches, the appointment of this particular Ross as the Director was made on the 2nd of April 2014.

Why does matter? This Ross Tavakoli is the current active Director according to the records at both Hawkjames Associates Limited and illuminapp LTD which was dissolved on the 23rd of September 2014 via a compulsory strike-off.

When you consider that Bloktopia is heavily based in the South Manchester area based on the job listings you’ll see online, and the listings for the companies above are in extremely close proximity, it does have a tendency to make you go ‘Hmmmm’.

Now, the name Ross Tavakoli may be common enough in that part of the work for there to be more than one person going by that name. Which is why there is a need for verification in the crypto space.

Unless there is something of an online presence for sleuths to connect, the assumption will probably be that the Ross mentioned above could be one and the same as our Ross in Bloktopia.

Take for example the link provided to Ross’ LinkedIn profile on the BlackdDragon review on Bloktopia (BlackDragon site updated – last visited 26.04.2022). This doesn’t point to the right person (Wayback Machine link). However, the Bloktopia profile on LinkedIn has yet to have Ross (this Ross or any other) join.

So I’ll ask this, Ross, apart from the video appearances you have made in some AMAs and interviews, where cam Bloktopians find you?

Sidus Heroes BLOKPAD Offering

With expansion on opportunity comes avenues for raising funds. In and of itself, not a questionable thing, but when you get into the weeds you can sometimes find things that seem a little strange.

The most recent of these is through what has been branded as their BLOKPAD offering. As exclusive as this sounds through their marketing spin, for a Telegram community of more than 120K, the rolling announcements in the Sidus Heroes channel makes me quirk a brow.

Looking at what has moved thorough the main deposit wallet address for Sidus Heroes and other wallets that funds are being moved out to over time, I’m not sure I completely trust this.

For clarification, you can track the funds from the deposit address and follow the withdrawals and see what BEP-20 tokens they have accumulated, bought, sold and swapped.

From a bookkeeping perspective, this demonstrates enough suspicion that the wallet address is one that is used for, or very plausibly connected to one that derives value from personal transactions.

Go to the Sidus Heroes Deposit Address > then go to the BEP-20 List (Withdrawals) and find the transactions dated 1st July 2021 Deposit Transaction Hash and then the Withdrawal Transaction Hash for SafeHamster swapped into WBNB > deposited into the currently used Sidus Heroes Deposit Address on this Transaction Hash. 🚩🤔

Call me overly cautious, but, if this were planned to be a large scale venture they would surely make sure that the wallets the public are interacting with were clean and had a history that would make their tax reporting less polluted.

Was I a winner in the Sidus Heroes draw and whitelisted? Yes.

Did I buy in? No.

Will I buy in? Not likely.

There’s just a little too much of that dodgy gut feel for me based on what I’ve seen.

In Closing

I have a quick question for you, the Reader. What are VR experiences like for you? It isn’t uncommon for newbies to VR to encounter motion sickness. And this is aptly brought up in a number of forums online.

It will be interesting to see how Bloktopia as a project coupled your chosen tech copes with tracked motion to reduce the potential for motion sickness during the in-game experience. I’m hopeful that this is going to be something that isn’t an issue while exploring the 21 floors of their metaverse, because this is a concern I have.

I am also hopeful that the bumps along the road are resolved by the Bloktopia Team, and that they deliver a solid product to the market.

As much as I am hopeful that this project comes to fruition, I will say that it’s really hard to have trust in the public facing listed team of four as they appear online right now.

Particularly considering that they have raised in excess of $570,000 USD (£430,000 GBP) per JOBE, of which there have been 38 to date. That’s $21.66 Million USD ( £16.29 Million GBP) in JOBEs alone. Not taking in to account the launch of the token, sales of NFTs, BLOKPAD proceeds, REBLOKs and ADBLOKs.

Tell me with a straight face that you haven’t got enough room in the budget to have a B2C focus and someone look over your digital identities as we have done here.

At the moment, this looks suspicious to me (and clearly others based on the Telegram chats) given how many people have had challenges with the ‘Claim Rewards’ function in the JOBEs. One of the very few public facing elements of functionality failing to work as promoted isn’t a good start. We’re not even using VR for this type of interaction.

Come on guys!

In the dizzying highs of a crypto bull market with so many red flags, there are elements of this that are reminiscent of projects from 2017 and 2018 that crashed and burned come the bear market. Until there is something launched that can be used, and gains adoption, I’m going to remain skeptical.

In my opinion, if I were to consider diving in to this project, I would approach with measurable caution.

Update: 6th December 2021 – JOBE ‘Claim Rewards’ functionality restored.

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