Helium is developing one of the more unique blockchain use cases out there, with its user-powered wireless networks incentivized by crypto tokens. The buzzy project received blowback last week, however, when a pair of prominent companies that it listed as partners denied that they were working together.
Helium’s founders now say that they're changing how they handle and market such alliances.
On Friday, scooter rideshare startup Lime told Mashable that it does not have an active partnership with Helium, which is governed by the non-profit Helium Foundation and has considerable participation from Nova Labs, the startup that represents the network’s founders.
Lime’s logo had been prominently displayed on the Helium website, but a representative for the scooter firm told the publication that it had only taken part in an “initial test” in 2019.
Later on Friday, a representative for cloud software giant Salesforce confirmed to The Verge that it had no partnership with Helium either, despite its logo being featured on the Helium website. In that case, the Salesforce spokesperson simply said, “Helium is not a Salesforce partner.”
The Helium website quickly removed both logos.
Today, a representative for Nova Labs told Decrypt that the firm will work with the Helium Foundation to change the way in which they collectively market partnerships with brands. Nova Labs declined to specifically comment on Salesforce or Lime.
“Since the network launched in 2019, we’ve worked with a variety of companies on various applications and pilots,” reads Nova Labs’ statement. “In the case of the brands mentioned in recent articles, we had approvals to talk about the use cases but we’re going to be much more rigorous now about the logo approval process going forward to avoid any confusion. Both Nova and our partner the Helium Foundation have removed the reference.”
Nova Labs’ statement comes following a tweet thread from Helium co-founder and Nova Labs CEO Amir Haleem, who wrote today that it was “frustrating and upsetting” to read reports about companies claiming no association with the Helium project.
Haleem said that Helium’s creators have worked with a lot of companies, albeit some on limited pilot programs and trials.
“We spent a lot of time working with the brands mentioned in some of the stories last week,” he tweeted. “Months and months of trials, experiments, prototyping, sales engineering. We had verbal approvals with the teams we worked with to publicize and highlight these engagements.”
Haleem said that Helium’s permissionless network approach means that they don’t have formal commercial partnerships with brands and firms, and they aren’t always clear on when trials or pilots have ended. But ultimately, he said, as people shift roles and leave companies, “verbal approvals simply aren’t good enough.”
a lot of discussion floating around about @helium and various companies that have used the network over the years. I wanted to clear a few things up. it’s been frustrating and upsetting to read some of this stuff
— amir.hnt (🎈,) (@amirhaleem) August 1, 2022
As a result, Nova Labs and the Helium Foundation will update the Helium website to “only reflect companies that we think are active and with written approvals, and we’ll work to keep it current going forward,” he explained.
Helium’s original network, in which users share access to their home wireless network in exchange for HNT crypto tokens, now has more than 900,000 user-operated nodes in service. That network is focused on providing connectivity to internet of things (IoT) devices like trackers and sensors.
More recently, Helium launched a 5G network that can be tapped by smartphones, laptops, and other consumer devices, and passed a proposal to launch new crypto tokens for each separate wireless network added in the future as it explores a “network of networks” approach.