Interview Series #6 Siacoin

T oday we have an upcoming star in the blockchain and IoT industry, David Vorick, founder of Siacoin. Siacoin is a company providing revolutionary cloud storage service over the blockchain. Anyone can share their home-based hard drive to earn money. We are really happy to have you here David! Let’s start with a question to get new people quickly into the topic….


Q. Put simply, why is blockchain technology so revolutionary?

Blockchains are important because they allow two strangers to interact anonymously in the absence of trust. Sia is an excellent example of this. With Sia, users store their important files with complete strangers. Before the invention of the blockchain, this would have been a terrible idea. But because of the blockchain, we can guarantee that the complete stranger holding your data will lose money if they lose your file. And we can guarantee that they have not altered the contents of your files, because the hashes are stored on the blockchain.

This removal of trust makes things much more efficient. Before that, you could only do business with someone you knew and trusted, someone with a reputation, or someone who you knew you could arrest or sue if they wronged you. Lawyers cost money. Police cost money. There is opportunity cost to saying no to a business venture simply because you’ve never heard of someone. The blockchain, when used correctly, eliminates all of those things. It makes business way more efficient.

Q. Sia 1.0 is scheduled for release on the 28th, how is development progressing?

With about a week to go, I can confidently say that Sia will be ready for 1.0 on the 28th. Originally, Sia v1.0 was supposed to be released as a command line only product. But, thanks to the help of a newer team member, we will be able to ship v1.0 with a graphical client. Instead of just being for developers, Sia v1.0 will be for everybody.

Q. Sia was recently voted one of the biggest surprises of 2016, with more votes than both LISK and The DAO – how do you feel about that?

That was a surprise to me as well. We spent most of 2015 and the first quarter of 2016 with a market cap under $1M. To have grown to a market cap of $15M in the space of a few weeks was a huge, welcome surprise to everybody.

We’re excited to be delivering our version 1 in the middle of all the hype, and hope that our product meets expectations. I’m proud of what the team has built, and excited to bring it forward as one of the leading products in decentralized cloud storage.

Q. What happens if an agency wants to access specific data in Sia? Can comply with the requests and send the data?

Sia is a decentralized, fully peer-to-peer application. Furthermore, all files and data are encrypted by the client before they are uploaded to the network. The only way to see the data on Sia is to have the encryption keys, and the only person with the keys is the uploader. There’s nothing that anyone on the Sia team can do, and nothing that any of the hosts can do (even when colluding) to break the encryption of the files.

If a government agency issues a takedown request for a specific piece of data, there is a tool that the hosts can use to delete the data from their drives. However, this takedown request will need to be delivered to each host individually, as there is no central point of control on the network.

Hosts are able to provide encrypted data to any agency in response to a request. Most of the time, this is not useful to the agency, as the data cannot be decrypted without the keys, and the host does not possess the keys. Unless a user’s own computer is hacked, their data is safe on the network.

Q. Good apps are expensive to build, what are your thoughts on that with regards to Sia?

Sia is no exception, and over the past two years several hundred thousand dollars have been spent on development. The amount of revenue we earned while in beta barely makes a scratch.

This is viable because Sia has investors who understand that it takes a long time to build a world class cloud storage platform. They did not invest to see short term returns. Everyone is hoping to invest in the next Google or Facebook, and this is my goal for Sia. The cloud storage market is many billions per year, and is one of the fastest growing industries in the world.

We will be able to make our money back thanks to our revenue model. Nebulous (the parent company of Sia) makes money every time someone uses the Sia blockchain to negotiate a file contract. Which is to say, we make money if people use our network for storage. That’s our primary source of revenue, which means our entire existence depends on getting people to use the platform.

Many businesses don’t have that. They get hundreds of millions in investment money and then need to find ways to turn their users into dollars. Some choose to sell their user’s personal information. Some subject their users to advertising. Sia does not depend on any of that, and that’s something I am very proud of.

Q. Do you have any parting words for our readers?

Yes, and it’s that people should be taking decentralization seriously. Facebook is a centralized behemoth that performs psychological experiments on its users [1]. It has terrible terms of service and an abusive privacy policy [2] [3]. Facebook is not really at risk of being supplanted either, because it’s got enough network effect to shut down all of its competitors. Facebook is closed. Your friends on Facebook belong to Facebook. Your photos on Facebook belong to Facebook. Facebook is widely disliked, yet it’s something that we’ve all come to live with. If our photos, our friend lists, our lives were available through decentralized means, we could cut Facebook out of our lives without losing contact with our friends and family. I would be free to use my favorate social media app without forcing all of my friends to use the same app.

Facebook is not the only problem. There have been countless security breaks in centralized architectures [4]. Google controls most of what the world sees when they are searching for something on the Internet. Google has access to the vast majority of the world’s email. The US Government controls the inflation rate on the world’s reserve currency.

Centralized companies have monopolies over significant fractions of our lives and they have increasingly demonstrated that their bottom line is more important than our well being. They have increasingly demonstrated that they cannot be trusted.

Decentralization promises to bring that control back to us as individuals, but only if we pursue it. Whether you are following the decentralized data of Sia, the decentralized money of Bitcoin, the decentralized social media like Diaspora, the decentralized filesystem IPFS, or something else that you’re passionate about, we’re only going to get a decentralized future if we make sacrifies to pursue it.



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