ContentBox Launches on Chinese Exchange Huobi 0 172

ContentBox is utilizing the blockchain in hopes of disrupting the digital content industry.

Relevant content should be easy to find in this technologically-enabled era. However, competition has created white noise that can be hard to penetrate for both creators and content-seekers.

Take podcasts. When we go to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Soundcloud or any other number of apps and search our favorite topics from a phone, tablet or laptop, we expect to find the most relevant results. But, due to convoluted distribution schemes and multiple different platforms, that’s not always the case. What happens, for example, when a podcast isn’t featured on your device’s native app store or podcast app? Or, perhaps it’s only available in the language of the non-English speaking foreign country you may be traveling in (which you might not happen to speak). At this point, it becomes a matter of scarcity: do you risk settling for a diminished digital experience, or worse, diminishing the quality of your trip?

Renee Wang was working in Japan when she realized there were no podcasting platforms that supported multiple languages on the market. She had to download podcasts to MP3 files and piecemeal them into one.  Recognizing the gap, she decided to build a solution.

CastBox was Born

Renee and her co-founder Alex He built CastBox, a discovery app hailed “the Netflix of podcasts,” and an all-in-one solution to the problem with having to hunt down disparate podcast channels, apps, and stations to find the podcasts you want. Replete with foreign language and multi-platform support, as well as personalized recommendation features, CastBox is essentially a blockchain-enabled podcast aggregator that not only allows individuals to discover new podcasts tailored to their interests, but also allows users to see what others are listening to on the app, and personalize their podcast recommendation and search preferences. One of the greatest ways CastBox adds value to users’ podcast experience is through its in-audio search feature: the app transcribes and indexes audio files and then allows users to search for them based off of just one sentence or body of text within it, after which CastBox then shows their search result, in addition to giving contextualized recommendations to similar podcasts.

On July 17, CastBox Launched ContentBox

As Wang and He discovered, the creative landscape for digital content creators is wide and deep, leading to significant and often insurmountable competition. Unfortunately, the profit potential for such creatives is bleak, as a result. In a market where distribution channels take the lion’s share of content creators’ revenues, the blockchain is poised to rebalance the model in the artist’s favor. And that’s where ContentBox comes in.

On July 17th, CastBox launched ContentBox on Huobi Global. The platform is an open-source blockchain infrastructure for creators, a token-based ecosystem comprised of a shared user and content pool along with a unified payment solution. As a decentralized content ecosystem, ContentBox gives users, creators, and companies alike the ability to integrate into it, opening up content channels, monetization, and multi-platform mobilization.

Boasting 18 million users, 3 billion BOX released, and 750 million BOX circulating as of July, ContentBox is now working on scaling its adoption of BOX Passport, a cross-platform identity and attribution gateway; BOX Payout, a borderless and secure payment transaction network; and BOX Unpack, a turn-key content management solution for publishers, to provide even more monetization opportunities for artists and creators.

ContentBox is allowing users to deposit and buy BOX both on its platform as well as on Huobi, which now also accepts BOX deposits, as well as BOX/ETH and BOX/BTC trades on its platform. ContentBox aims to decentralize the digital content industry and tackle its biggest pain points—creator monetization, user incentives, and content ownership—through a unified payout system, a shared content pool, and a shared user pool. ContentBox is the latest and most wide-ranging effort to combat abuses towards artists in the digital production industries, where platforms take the lion’s share of creators’ profits in exchange for distribution rights. ContentBox allows artists to bypass distribution platforms and access users directly, maximizing their profit potential. The release gives creators crypto-incentives for featuring their podcasts on the platform in the form of BOX tokens, which can be traded for ETH and BTC on Huobi Global.

With the release of ContentBox, CastBox further moves to disrupt the digital content production industry with an antagonistic business model that gives value back to creators instead of profiting off of them. There is major support for this: ContentBox is backed by Nirvana Capital, Node Capital, BlockVC, LinkVC, ICONIZ, JRR, and Fenbushi Capital founder Bo Shen. Further, that ContentBox was listed on Huobi at all is validation: only 0.0001% of all crypto projects are listed on this particular exchange. Yet, to definitively change the industry, CastBox will need to reach mass markets to scale platform adoption and reach mass profitability for podcasters using ContentBox, as well as attract key influencers away from top digital content distribution platforms and onto its own. If it can do this, ContentBox could allow CastBox to compete with the top market-dominating podcast apps globally. Keep your eyes open for more news on this continuing development.

Editorial note: this article was updated to correct a typographical error. We previously reported there were 750 billion BOX circulating as of July — that number was updated to reflect the accurate figure: 750 “million.”


What do you think about blockchain vs. tradition digital content distribution platforms? Could these really disrupt today’s digital content industry? Post in the comments below to tell us your opinions!

 

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DApp Frameworks Will Improve the Blockchain — Here’s How 1 224

Scalability has always been a problem for blockchains, and it’s the main reason blockchain technology hasn’t reached mainstream adoption. Whether in blockchain fintech—where comparisons of the Bitcoin blockchain’s 10 TPS to Visa’s 24,000 TPS abound—or in other sectors blockchain has touched, this is holding many otherwise promising companies back from delivering new, innovative kinds of value to the public. While larger and better-resourced companies have managed to overcome this problem through sidechaining and/or sharding, there is no substitute for the real thing. DApp scaling frameworks may be a foundation to build widespread solutions to this problem.

What are DApps?

DApps (decentralized apps) use blockchain technology to deliver peer-to-peer value through product offerings, services, or new forms of value. Built on blockchain technology, dApps use its decentralized, trustless, peer-to-peer structure to let users transact between each other without a centralized authority through an encrypted medium (such as NASGO’s platform that we’ve reported on previously).

While this is an otherwise revolutionary solution to the problem of over-centralization, it comes with its own set of baggage. Imagine if every transaction or purchase you made had to be confirmed by a network of other people before completing. This, the consensus protocol—on which Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other leading blockchains are built—is one of blockchain’s greatest strengths, but also one of its greatest weaknesses. For any  blockchain to work as intended, every node participating in it has to confirm every transaction that happens on it.

On the positive side, this massively increases transaction immutability, verifiability and transparency. Unfortunately, it also makes transaction per second (TPS) speed very low. Slow processes usually don’t scale. And without scalability, blockchain technology cannot reach mainstream usage. Right now, only about 8 million people globally use any form of cryptocurrency. To reach mainstream usage, 800 million people must consistently use it.

It sounds like a chicken-and-egg problem, but the blockchain space is already developing resources to overcome this issue. DApp scaling frameworks are one way. They are bundles of code inside blockchain protocols that let distributed apps distribute themselves in a semi-scaled way, letting a blockchain scale improve its TPS and allow more transactions than ever before. Unfortunately, not many developers have access to these, and the few that do have only built the earliest versions of this technology, which brings up the question: is this really a workable solution right now?

What We Have Now

DApps are hard interact with. They’re slow, confusing, and rely on 3rd-party software which only the most sophisticated consumers can readily use. Yet the chief issue here is speed—the key performance measurement of all distributed systems is scalability, and without it, dApps have no real business case or value proposition, let alone any realistic user acquisition strategy. Yet there are fixes for this problem, but little implementation and even less progress on their collective maturation. They exist in five categories, below:

1. Low-Level Optimizations

2. Parallel Blockchains (“sharding”)

3. Homogenous Vertical Scaling

4. Heterogeneous Vertical Scaling

5. Heterogeneous Interconnected Multichains

6. Multilayered dApp development toolboxes

There’s not much to be said for the solutions in the first category. Most of them—consensus algorithms, PoS migrations, parallel processing on transactions and code optimizations in the Ethereum Virtual Machine—are low-level and impermanent band-aids to the deeper problem.

The best of the solutions in the second, third, and fourth categories are at this stage still in the proof-of-concept phase, being built almost exclusively by and for Ethereum and Bitcoin, such as projects like Plasma and the Lightning Network. These are getting the most traction here only because they’re developing out of Bitcoin and Ethereum, but are nontheless still are very early-stage.

The idea behind Plasma is to take smart contracts, give them self-governing alongside self-execution properties to let the Ethereum root chain essentially create buds or “shards”—tiny sidechains each monitoring one aspect of a transaction instead of putting that combined pressure on the root chain—to distribute consensus, letting blockchains dramatically scale their TPS. Lightning Network deals more exclusively with payments—it’s a second-layer payment protocol next to the root blockchain, using a peer-to-peer system to let users make cryptocurrency micro-payments. Both platforms are examples of how some blockchain companies are using secondary and tertiary parallel blockchains to scale their TPS.

Concepts like Polkadot—scalable heterogeneous multichains—provide foundations for later functionality in the area of relay-chains, where the goal is to build validatable, globally connected, frequently-changing data structures on top of these frameworks.

Companies like MenloOne—multilayered dApp development toolboxes—create and deploy digital tools for dApp developers to use when they’re building. They include:

  • A layer for communication.
  • A layer for governance (given lack of server admins to ban malicious users in a decentralized network).
  • A local wallet for smooth transactions (no more MetaMask popups).
  • A core layer, a network of content nodes which cache mirror versions of blockchain data.

These incorporate fragmented systems to make dApp development easier for professionals.

Together, solutions in these categories are working to help top blockchains scale TPS to thousands per second.To become adopted by the mainstream public, these frameworks will need to use a variety of different tools to make transactions effortless for blockchains to process.


What do you think about the scalability of blockchains today? Is it a problem for you or are you unaffected? And, what do you most want to see happen in this area of blockchain technology in the near future? Post in the comments below to let us know!

Chinese Crypto Leader Li Xiaolai Suddenly Retires 0 70

One of China’s most prominent Bitcoin investors has announced his retirement from the crypto world. Billionaire Li Xiaolai is the founder of BitFund, a crypto venture capital firm that has fostered a slew of Bitcoin-related startups.

Li’s announcement of his decision to withdraw from cryptospace—and investing otherwise—came unexpectedly via his page on Chinese social media site Weibo.

“From this day on,” his post reads, according to TechNode’s translation, “I, Li Xiaolai, will personally not invest in any projects (whether it is blockchain or early stage). So, if you see ‘Li Xiaolai’ associated with any project (I have been associated with countless projects without my knowledge, 99% is not an exaggeration), just ignore it.”

Li is a former school teacher, and claims to be the first person in China to openly trade Bitcoins, rather than hiding behind its famous anonymity. Now, retired from both teaching and investing, he says he’s not sure where to go next. “I plan to spend several years to contemplate on my career change. As for what I’m doing next, I’m not sure just yet.”

Li closed his post by expressing that he still maintains a long term optimism about the blockchain.

Li’s Ventures Grew Crypto Capital, Controversey

Through BitFund, Li has incubated a number of blockchain related startups, including an off-chain wallet called Bitfoo, the crypto exchange YUNBI, and HashRatio, a miner manufacturing company. Li organized 2014’s Global Bitcoin Summit in Beijing, back when you could get a BTC for as little as $440, and years before China instated its full ban on cryptocurrencies.

Earlier this year, Li also acted as managing partner of Hangzhou Xiong’An Blockchain Fund, a billion dollar fund backed by the Hangzhou government. Li stepped down after fellow venture capitalist Chen Weizing introduced a series of accusations against him.

Included in the eleven accusations, which Chen broke on social media and messaging platform WeChat, were a supposed debt of 30,000 BTC that Chen says Li failed to pay on time. Li published a point-by-point response to Chen’s accusations, addressing the 30,000 BTC debt by saying “it’s not true… Chen is just muddying the water.”

Though Li called them “defamations,” and Chen did not offer supporting evidence for his allegations, Li said Chen’s antics “brought material and negative impacts on the reputation of Xiong’An Blockchain Fund” and that his resignation would “let the Hangzhou government continue its push for blockchain development.”

Li was the subject of controversy on another occasion when, in a candid conversation he did not know was being recorded, he outed several influential organizations as scams and said that the best way to succeed in blockchain, even if your project is worthless, is to get famous and build consensus.

The State of Crypto in the People’s Republic

All crypto and blockchain related websites are blocked by the Chinese government, and citizens are forbidden from engaging in crypto transactions. The People’s Bank of China released a statement on August 24th warning against ICOs, which they consider to be “illegal fundraising, pyramid schemes, and fraud.”

But the rules have been difficult to enforce, and crypto still enjoys an active user base in China. Beijing Sci-Tech Report, China’s oldest technology publication, is now the first Chinese publication to accept BTC as payment from its subscribers. Chinese crypto channel cnLedger announced in a tweet on September 25th that Ethereum Hotel, China’s first hotel to accept ETH as payment, is open for business in Sichuan Province.

A Crypto Landscape Without a Leader

The sudden exit of Li Xiaolai from the Chinese crypto scene could have caveats, or greater implications. Weibo users expressed their support and gratitude following his announcement, but some also speculated that his choice of words leaves room for Li to continue investing in crypto indirectly, perhaps through funds or corporate entities. Whether that will be the case or not, for many, his resignation marks the loss of a public blockchain leader.

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