Leaving Cobo to continue the Cobo Vault legacy

Jun 01, 2021
4 mins read

Hi everyone I am Lixin. Former head of hardware at Cobo. I was leading a team developing Cobo’s hardware wallet product line — Cobo Vault.

I intended to build Cobo Vault as an ultimate security tool that provides self-custodial solutions against hacks on centralized services essentially to prevent tragedies like the Mt.Gox from ever happening again. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with this belief necessarily.

Cobo, the parent company of Cobo Vault, has decided to deprioritize Cobo Vault, their cold storage hardware wallet subsidiary, to “minimum maintenance”. It means that no new devices will be manufactured henceforth.

Established on November 1st 2017, Cobo’s original goal was to provide an all-encompassing solution to address the needs of every digital asset user by providing 3 different product lines:

  • Cobo Wallet — a centralized service for end-users
  • Cobo Custody — a centralized service for enterprise users
  • Cobo Vault — a cryptocurrency hardware wallet for decentralized users

With over 3 years’ of development, Cobo Wallet is becoming the Coinbase in China and it’s very profitable from a VC’s perspective. As the Cobo Wallet adoption quickly grew, the founders of Cobo started to have doubts on whether a hardware wallet providing decentralized self-custody services was a fit for their priorities. This eventually resulted in the “minimum maintenance” decision so Cobo, the parent company, can fully focus on their centralized crypto services.

The following are a few of the major concerns that lead to their decision:

  • The lack of synergy between centralized and decentralized services made company goals and focuses more difficult since the targeted users are vastly different.
  • Cobo seeks to focus only on their Chinese users while Cobo Vault is mostly focused on western market and the rest of the world where users have a much stronger sense of self-custody, there is clearly an inherent lack of synergy between them.
  • For startups, there is always a huge gap between what we want to do and the available manpower. To be reasonable, deprioritizing Cobo Vault to gather resources to focus on the most important business,their custodial services, is a logical choice.

Personally, I can understand Cobo’s decision from a pure business perspective but as a part of the crypto community, I can’t just leave the situation the way it is for both the hardware wallet and the users who love it. Going back to older models of hardware wallet is a retrogression for the whole community. I have tried to explain this to the Cobo’s senior management team but to no avail.

It became apparent that Cobo’s decision could very well hinder my personal goal in consistently providing the most secure and reliable hardware wallet so I have decided to start a new brand of hardware wallets called Keystone. This new brand will be operated by the original team. It shares the same firmware platform with Cobo Vault and takes all the legacy features from Cobo Vault but has a few new hardware improvements and integrations.

We are currently working on the manufacturing so the new hardware wallets will be ready for shipping by June 30th at the latest. Further updates will be posted in the future so please follow us on Twitter or join us on Telegram.

In order to stay faithful with the community who has previously supported us, the Keystone team will offer a 50% discount coupon to those who have purchased Cobo Vault so they can upgrade to Keystone with minimal expenses. Please forward your proof of purchase of your Cobo Vault via email to support@keyst.one.

Again, I am so sorry for the inconvenience incurred but hope to support you with our new Keystone hardware wallet. The Keystone team will have the freedom to prioritize the Keystone hardware wallet without corporate politics holding us back to provide timeless security and support to all crypto users.

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