We published an audio podcast of our interview with Dan Larimer and Brendan Blumer earlier. You can listen to it here. For those of you who prefer a text version of the interview, here’s a transcribed version of my piece:
Dmitriy Perelstein (DP): We attended the #B1June event yesterday and people were very impressed. Production was unbelievable. Can you tell us more about “Voice”? Seems like you can share a few more details about the platform.
Dan Larimer (Dan): I can elaborate on that. The idea is that we want to have the fairest distribution of tokens to create an economy for ideas. Every single user has their identity verified, which makes it easy and seamless as possible. Once the id is verified we can give users tokens every single day. One of the things we are doing, whole lot of users can all start receive tokens at the same time. So all about early sign up process is about giving time to people so that they can learn about it, sign up and we can start the race at the same time. It’s part of our effort to keep it fair. Token model: give more tokens per day initially. But taper off like bitcoin. Reward people who sign up early in the first year. A lot more than in later years.
Once you have tokens there’s gonna be inflation. Those will be distributed among those people who produce content that is liked. It will operate similar to Steemit except with real id. One vote per person. Doesn’t matter how many tokens you have. Your vote counts equally. Reward curve wont be linear like steemit. Exponential at first and then goes linear. Idea is that consensus that its good content. Few of your froends liking it won’t give you much. But when you get hundreds of people liking your content – that’s when the reward grows big. Really trying to address all the lessons I learned from Steemit. Voice have real people, real “likes” to distribute the rewards.
DP: How do you ensure Voice is not manipulated? What if people begin forming syndicates liking each other’s posts?
Dan: The way reward system works, popular content on Twitter and FB has hundreds of thousands of likes. That should outweigh the syndicates. If there is wide-spread abuse of any particular form, we have plans to let community governance to deal with it. But it’s our hope that your id tied to your account, your reputation risk and social pressure – if you participate in those syndicates everyone is going to know it- it’s all transparent right on the blockchain. So you are basically saying “I am going to game the system, I am going to steal from everyone else”. So your reputation not only on Voice, but everywhere else in your life will get burned. So we believe identity creates powerful incentives for everyone to behave in a much more civilized way.
Brendan Blumer (Brendan): because everyone is a real person, those types of patterns are really easy to spot. And we design algorithm to counteract that type of behavior.
DP: One voice – one identity. Will there be some sort of KYC process involved? How?
Dan: Working to make our process as easy to as many users as possible. Compatible to many regulatory environments and in as many jurisdictions as possible. As low of a standard as possible to make things easy.
Brendan: every country is different. Verifying id in China is not same as in America, or Europe. Reality is it’s a more complex answer and comes on a country by country basis.
Dan: We are doing a lot of research into ways of doing identity and unique validation without using government ids and the like. Initially, govt ids will be an element of how you sign up to Voice. But none of the info you provide to verify your id: your residence etc. will be on the blockchain. You don’t have to worry about all of your info being out there. But your will be.
DP: Will token be transferable and tradable?
Dan: Yes, on a jurisdiction by jurisdiction basis.
Brendan: Rewards are not based off of how many Voice tokens you have. They are based off of your id. What it does is brings transparency to paid influence platform. How it works in FB: people go and spend USD and put ads in our feeds and we don’t know how they are being calculated and it’s completely misaligned. The money is going to group of shareholders and no value is passed to users. Voice token is a mechanism that we use to decentralize that control among user base and give them an equal chance to participate in that type of influence.
Dan: Social media is an attention economy. Users have a limited amount of attention. You need to create means to manage supply and demand. Demand to see content, promote content. Voice token is just means by which community interacts with each other and discover price. It prevents the spamming and other annoying aspects of soc media where people just try to shout at each other. If you produce good content that other people enjoy hearing, you’ve earned privilege of other people hearing your Voice and the Voice token is what mediates that.
DP: You are getting into the cross-hair of social media giants, like Twitter and Facebook. I am not too concerned about the former. But Zuck is notorious for his desire to crush competition either by acquiring or copying them. They are coming out with the own cryptocurrency soon. Are you concerned?
Brendan: FB token will be called “Global Coin”. It’s basically pegged to a basket of currency assets on a global basis. It’s really just a stable coin. What they are really doing is moving into payments. You can call it crypto because it sits on blockchain. But It’s a far stretched from the values of decentralized systems. Ultimately, what Voice is doing is decentralizing a lot of what would normally take place with the ad revenue on FB back to the users. If FB really want to be competitive, they need to accept that the size of their organization will need to shrink by 80-90% because when you are taking the value away from shareholders, and drive back to the users, the value of the company shrinks. We are not building Voice to be a $500B company. Building it to be widely-used platform that drives most of the value back to the users themselves.
DP: How will Voice work on penetrating mainstream audience?
Dan: The event yesterday is just a way to get Voice to the main users.
Brendan: Bet on Voice is a bet on tokenization. What we are seeing in tokenization by allowing users to take part in upside of platform. We’ll see go from 0 to 100 in record times. Crypto is most viral thing the world has ever seen in terms of adoption. We firmly believe that by allowing users to participate, rewards will be meaningful and that will drive top adoptions. Influencers on social media on FB or IG they make $1M a post by advertisers. But reality is on Voice, they may still get paid $1M and it’s possible in the future they will get paid $1M in addition to that given the right adoption. So we think that incentives are so magnetic that they will draw people away. We have a lot of focus on influencers. Rest will follow. We are taking a very calculated approach to how we gonna market this.
Dan: A lot of influencers are looking for a new home.
DP: Do you have a strategy to target influencers on other platforms?
Brendan: We absolutely have a strategy to target those influencers in order.
Dan: This event was to announce to the world that we are out and coming for you.
DP: At the event, another topic that people expected, but didn’t hear about was your roadmap. Can you touch upon it?
Dan: Roadmap was published on EOSIO at the same time. We should have said something at the event. We call it The Strategic Vision. Roadmap is very linear and has dates on it. We are doing so much in parallel that it doesn’t make much sense. What we are also doing a lot of we are doing a lot of cutting edge research like EOSVM. We don’t know until we get results of research if that’s the path we are going to go in. Entire new EOSIO that was launched last night in a stealth mode. Revisit EOSIO. Lots of gems you can pull out of it.
DP: Are you opening a new office in DC or is that just a rumors?
Brendan: We are opening office in Arlington, VA. We are already very rooted nearby. We’ll start expanding. DC is Intl city. A lot of security engineers, cryptographers. DC – Arlington beltway is reach environment for the type of things we do. Regulators, clients, engineers and tremendous intl access. Direct flights for Hong Kong where HQ are. First step is a modest expansion into this area. Main office in Hong Kong. No immediate plans to move it to the US. Depends on how business continues to develop, how regulations will develop etc.
DP: EOS Resources: the whole idea gets laymen pretty confused: buying RAM, staking. Any thoughts about simplifying it?
Dan: Trying to set example with Voice. Resource management will be on developer, not main user. Users won’t have to think about RAM. We are providing all of it. Also will be providing all the cq resources for interacting with RAM. We are trying to set the example, but also trying to increase availability of resources by testing EOSIO with 320 M users and terabyte of RAM. We know that network can safely scale as soon as we can get all BPs and full nodes to increase capacity. So that RAM can get cheaper in time. With EOSVM amount of CPU time per token staked is going to grow up dramatically.
Brendan: Mainstream… Ultimately app development and hosting of that on public blockchain is never going mainstream. It never needs to. It’s a small subset. If you are calling AWS and buying elastic hosting package. It’s not mainstream. Reality is that we’ve made it as easy as possible. Question is if it’s going to get cheaper or not. And absolutely. We start putting first steps of that yesterday. At the end of the day, buying RAM and REX for resources – it’s relatively easy compared to putting gas on every user action or application. Cost over time will continue to go down as blockchain scales. EOS is already most scalable in terms of what you pay and what you get. Nothing that comes close.
DP: EOS VCs: are you satisfied with their work to-date?
Brendan: they are just starting and continue to evolve. Key investments were made in mgmt. like Blizzard senior mgmt. coming on board at Mythical games. High Fidelity. Maturity of projects. We didn’t want to start funding early stage projects that don’t understand what their product was, project deployment, tokenomics etc. We want to play the long game. Vast majority of capital is still not deployed. Still adding GPs, building robustness of EOS. We are trying to make sure that projects are going to succeed.
Dan: Quality over quantity. Biggest challenge is finding number of teams out there. But it will come in time.
DP: Most publications covering crypto are based on the traditional old school newsroom model, which could be biased and centralized. What do you think of a concept of a decentralized crypto media organization?
Dan: Voice is about giving a platform to everyone who wants to enter business to make it easier for journalists like yourselves to monetize your content. We hope by giving everybody voice, will help reward that content that meets market demand.
DP: We at EOSwriter have a partner in China called Moran. They asked the Chinese audience to come up with questions for you. One of the questions was as follows. Chinese crypto market is huge. And EOS is one of the most popular blockchains in that region. However, it seems that Block.one does not do enough in the mainland China. Any plans on hosting major events like the Hackathon series in Mainland China?
Brendan: We do have plans for China. We have an active approach, but it’s very different regulatory environment so we operate under constraints.