What’s in a Name? Crypto Rebrands, From Ripple To Tether And NEO
It's like lipo for crypto.
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At Crypto Briefing, we spend all day with our heads buried in the crypto markets and even for us, it’s sometimes still a challenge to keep track of all the comings and goings. Today’s hot new startup can quickly become tomorrow’s deadcoin. There have been so many forks of Bitcoin and Ethereum, they could fill a cutlery drawer.
Added to this, crypto rebrands are also fairly a fairly commonplace occurrence.
Hot on the heels of our post about blockchain’s biggest acquisitions, here are the biggest projects to have proven their chameleon credentials by assuming an entirely new identity. In some cases, more than once.
King of the crypto rebrands is Ripple. If its ambiguous relationship with XRP wasn’t confusing enough, the company has had more names than Prince.
RipplePay started out as the brainchild of Ryan Fugger, who first had the idea for a decentralized monetary system in 2004. By the time 2011 rolled around, Jed McCaleb was working on his own version of a cryptocurrency. By August 2012, McCaleb and Chris Larsen had taken over Fugger’s project and renamed it OpenCoin.
McCaleb left the company, and OpenCoin soon rebranded to Ripple Labs. Nowadays it’s usually just Ripple.
But the company seems to be undergoing yet more name changes, having recently removed any reference to xRapid from its site. Instead, you’ll now only find reference to the far more tongue-twisting On-demand Liquidity System.
Amidst all these changes, don’t make the mistake of assuming XRP has anything to do with Ripple. Apparently, it doesn’t. Well, it does, kind of. (But not really.)
Like so many cryptocurrencies, Tether (USDT) has its roots in Bitcoin. More specifically, in Mastercoin, which is a protocol for issuing new crypto-assets developed on the Bitcoin blockchain, and is now called the Omni Layer.
Tether was launched on the Mastercoin protocol back in 2014 under the name of Realcoin. However, the company quickly rebranded to Tether, as a way of distancing itself from altcoins. The new name was supposed to represent the fact that each USDT is “tethered” to a real US dollar held in reserve by the company.
Although apparently, this tether is a particularly long leash, given that the company is being investigated for loaning out those reserves to struggling sibling, Bitfinex.
In 2014, developer Evan Duffield launched Xcoin as a fork of the Bitcoin blockchain. Duffield soon decided he wanted a name that better highlighted the privacy features of his new creation, and unfortunately opted for Darkcoin.
In a turn of events that literally anyone could have predicted with a name like that, Darkcoin soon became the gateway crypto of choice for the dark web.
By March 2015, Darkcoin renamed itself as Dash, a portmanteau of digital cash. One of the most successful crypto rebrands has now well and truly shaken off any associations with the dark web and is able to sell itself on other features including speed and ease of use.
These days, Dash is actively distancing itself from the privacy coin classification, arguing that it should be treated no differently than Bitcoin.
China’s first-ever public blockchain platform started life as Antshares, and was predominantly focused on being a digital asset platform. However, it struggled with marketing and brand identity.
As such, it only started to gain real traction once it relaunched as NEO in 2017. The name itself was selected to invoke the attempt at a fresh start, coming alongside a renewed focus on developing NEO as a smart contract platform to rival Ethereum.
Like many ‘ecosystem’ projects, there are now several organizations bearing the NEO brand: NEO Global Development is focused on developing NEO, NEO EcoBoost is an incubator/accelerator, while NEO Global Capital is a venture fund providing investment to projects building on the NEO platform.
NEO is now gearing up for a 3.0 launch in early 2020.
RSK has undergone a whirlwind of changes over the last year or two. The project was initially known as Rootstock. However, it’s long since dropped the moniker in favor of being called RSK.
Here is where it gets a little complicated. Some of RSKs founders established a development lab called RIF Labs. RIF stands for RSK Infrastructure Framework. While RSK is focused on developing out the smart contract platform based on Bitcoin, RIF is developing an interoperability infrastructure called RIF OS. This infrastructure is based on RSK smart contracts but could be extended to other platforms in the future.
In late 2018, RSK and RIF Labs merged to form a single entity, but still developing the two separate projects of RSK and the RIF OS. In May 2019, RIF Labs decided to rebrand as IOV Labs.
Still keeping up? Well, the latest news is that IOV Labs has acquired Taringa, a Latin American social media network with 30 million users. The company now plans to embed RSK and RIF OS technology across the platform, leveraging its name and data services for account creation and data storage.
Other Notable Crypto Rebrands
This list isn’t exhaustive, there are a few other crypto rebrands worth mentioning.