The squirrel spinoff looks at the cryptocurrency


North Canton-based technology company Squirrels LLC has established a sister company to enter the world of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.

The new company, Squirrels Research Labs (SQRL), was set up in the spring, but planning began last fall, said Andrew Gould, Squirrels' chief operating officer and co-founder. SQRL has released a new hardware product – Acorn – that works with computer graphics cards and increases the effectiveness of cryptocurrency mining and blockchain verification, company officials said.

Although the two companies are separate entities, they share leadership, employees and many resources. And SQRL expects to strengthen its ranks this year.

"We have explored the space of cryptocurrency and blockchain space both from a kind of personal interest and from looking at a business opportunity there," said Gould.

"It's a developing market, so it's still finding its legitimacy and trying to free the illegitimate people who might try to take advantage of a new thing." We looked at the space and wait for it to develop. "

Squirrels have been pushing technology since the two co-founders Andrew Gould and David Stanfill joined forces in 2008 to form Napkin Studio, publishing one of Apple's first app stores.

In 2012, the company released two of its first screen mirroring apps: Reflector and AirParrot. They were a success, and Napkin Studio became Squirrels LLC as founders and employees focused their efforts on wireless collaboration and presentation technology.

And now corporate leadership feels good about the prospects of virtual cryptocurrencies, which are built on blockchains that act like their decentralized digital registers. Blockchains could have many potential uses in addition to serving cryptocurrencies. They could be applied to monitoring logistics, medical records, order history, even voting, among other things. It is the potential of the blockchain to foster interest in cryptocurrencies.

Several blocks in a blockchain are validated through the mining process using a computer, or "mining rig". And "miners" are generally rewarded in portions of coins or tokens that represent cryptocurrency. The most popular tokens include Bitcoin and Ethereum, but it is estimated that there are over 1000 types of products.

SQRL's Acorn product can be upgraded via software to accelerate almost any blockchain-based technology, "company officials said.

And while cryptocurrency may be a cyclical market, SQRL has" confidence " in blockchain technology that will continue to grow and become more important as companies and entire industries apply it to their operations. We do not see it disappearing because the benefits of blockchain outside the cryptocurrency are undeniable, "said Tom Crilley, director of communications and public relations at Squirrels in an email.

SQRL has looked after the Cyclical Cryptocurrency When

The industry typically goes up in the fall, Gould said. Last fall, a form, Bitcoin, rose to nearly $ 20,000, which generated much fanfare, but in the spring, the price of all cryptocurrencies have come down, which is typical: it often trades "sideways" in the summer before going back in the fall and the beginning of the winter.

The spring launch of SQRL has positioned to maximize this year's rise, Gould explained.

SQRL is not worried about a "bubble" of cryptocurrency, however, he said. "Today there is an intrinsic value to the cryptocurrency and , while more companies move critical things on the blockchain, the Validation work of such blockchain transactions, paid in cryptocurrency, will continue to increase, "Gould said in an e-mail.

Acorn works with graphics cards to unload parts of the mining process that typically create bottlenecks.

"Imagine an assembly line of 10 different steps and every point that is doing one particular thing over and over again.The pass seven is much slower than the other nine passages, the conveyor belt through the assembly line can run just as fast as the slowest one is, "said Gould.

By managing the slower aspects, Acorn allows graphics cards to perform steps that are best suited for them. This increases the overall speed of the process. It can also reduce the amount of electricity that is used, allowing users to remain competitive if the value of the cryptocurrency decreases enough to affect their profit margin.

There is a huge market potential for this product, SQRL officials said. Approximately 16 million graphics cards worldwide are currently used for cryptocurrency mining and one user can combine up to two Acorns per graphics processing unit for maximum acceleration.

The price of Acorn varies according to speed, from $ 199.99 to $ 329.99.

Blockchain technology may seem like an obscure topic for some, but Gould said miners come from all walks of life, from independent miners, who have one or two graphics cards, to huge data centers capable of running dozens of thousands of devices.

And the reference market of SQRL, for the moment, is one of those miners.

"It is not quite fashionable to be a large entity talking about mining in public, but there are important investments in this space." SQRL products are aimed at all these miners, big and small, "said Gould.

SQRL had initially expected to sell around 1,000 units this summer, but increased those projections to more than 20,000 over the next six months due to a stronger interest than expected in the presale period. Shipments will start at the end of August.

The company is presiding over peripheral accessories called Acorn Nests, custom designed adaptive boards. In addition, SQRL is working with a Californian company called Xilinx, which creates field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), the chips that power all of this hardware.

The two companies have created a special version of a Xilinx card exclusively for the cryptocurrency market.

"This is a highly programmable board that miners can use to extract a variety of different currencies," said Gould.

SQRL also has complete mining solutions on site, and predicts that the prototypes will be available by September, with sales by October or November, but they did not want to offer details now.

All this means the need to create personal. SQRL and Squirrel currently share about 40 employees and company officials plan to grow the SQRL side of 20-40 people in the next 12 months.

SQRL is actively recruiting engineers, hardware and software developers and will recruit personnel for warehousing, shipping and final assembly.

SQRL operates on 16,000 square feet of warehouses and manufacturing facilities near the existing Squirrel headquarters in North Canton. The additional property more than doubles the footprint of the squirrels in the area and allows SQRL to expand when needed.

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