Last week, British computer scientist Dr. Gavin Wood, co-founder of Ethereum ($ETH), Polkadot ($DOT), and Kusama ($KSM), talked about the upcoming rollout of Kusama’s parachain auctions.

Here is how Wood started introducing Kusama in September 2019 at a presentation he gave at DOTCon0.5:

  • Kusama is what we have termed a ‘canary network’, a testnet that has real value on it, or it is an early audited dry run of the mainnet.
  • Part of what Kusama is meant to do is reduce my stress levels when Polkadot is launched by giving me confidence that it won’t instantly f*** up.

He then went on to present a slide that gave more details on what Kusama is:

  • A dry run to test and ensure the economic security of Polkadot mainnet in a realistic, non contrived manner.
  • A developer network to prepare validators, parachain teams, and ecosystem tool builders.
  • Long-term, a Polkadot ‘litecoin’ testbed for new and risky protocols and runtime ideas.

In an article published last Tuesday (June 8), Wood started by giving an update on the current state of Kusama:

Barely a week ago, the Kusama network made history by becoming the first fully-decentralised, secure heterogeneously-sharded blockchain, made possible by using technology developed for Polkadot. While SR Labs (Parity’s chosen external auditor) has been conducting the external audit of this logic, Kusama has gone “where no canary has gone before” and deployed this code in an effort to minimise the chances of there being any nasty surprises waiting for Polkadot’s deployment.

The first live parachain, Shell, went online a little over two weeks ago and has been running very smoothly. However, as its name might suggest, Shell was but a hollow vessel that did nothing but wait to be upgraded into something rich and functional. Like a butterfly springing from its chrysalis, this Shell parachain was upgraded to Statemine last week, Kusama’s equivalent of the Polkadot’s Statemint common-good parachain.

Wood then explained the concept of “parachain slot auctions” and gave the technical team’s recommended rollout schedule (worth noting that “the Kusama council and assembled KSM stakeholders make the final decision over anything that happens on the Kusama network”):

“In order to create that community, Kusama has the concept of Parachain Slot Auctions — a market-efficient way of selecting which parachains will be added to the Kusama Relay-chain and have their functionality become a part of the Kusama network. Teams that have the confidence and backing of the KSM-holding community will be prioritised with a side-effect of ensuring that the most KSM is locked up for as long as possible. (The same functionality also exists in Polkadot, making Kusama be a useful canary for several new features)…

On the same day that Wood published this article, crypto exchange Kraken announced that “it will support Parachain Auctions in time for the first rounds taking place on Kusama.”

Here is what Kraken’s press release said about Kusama’s parachain slot auctions:

Parachain Auctions are an innovative new mechanism that allows projects to compete for slots on Kusama’s Relay Chain, enabling token projects to launch on their own individual layer-1 blockchain but with their security rooted into Kusama’s ecosystem. Parachain Auctions are set to launch on Polkadot sometime later this year.

In a Parachain Auction, KSM holders effectively vote for the project they want to succeed by locking their KSM on the Kusama network. The projects with the most KSM locked on their behalf will generally win a Parachain slot for up to 48 weeks. Once the lockup period is over, holders also get their contributed KSM back.

It then went on to say that Kraken’s clients (“excluding those in select jurisdictions”) would be able to participate in these parachain auctions.

Jeremy Welch, Kraken’s Chief Product Officer, had this to say:

Kraken is not just an exchange: it’s a platform that enables clients to seamlessly and securely participate in a whole range of cryptocurrency-related activities. Parachain Auctions open up a whole new vista for cryptocurrency holders so they can back projects that will likely make substantive changes to various aspects of our lives. Kraken is proud to support these activities, as our role is to be a key infrastructure provider for the space.


The views and opinions expressed by the author, or any people mentioned in this article, are for informational purposes only, and they do not constitute financial, investment, or other advice. Investing in or trading cryptoassets comes with a risk of financial loss.


Photo From Gavin Wood’s Talk on Kusama at DOTCon0.5 in September 2019