Token Summit 2017: Cryptocurrency-Based Networks Seek to Change the Face of Media

Cryptocurrency, Blockchain and the token economy have become hot topics in the news, and were the subject of the recent conference Token Summit 2017—but what exactly do these terms mean?

Way back in 2008, Bitcoin (BTC)—the first generation of decentralized cryptocurrency—was created. Without a central bank or government regulating it, Bitcoin was meant to be a digital store of value, and nothing more. Since prices are currently hovering above $15,000 for 1BTC, it’s safe to say it’s been a success. Bitcoin is based on a technology called Blockchain, which is a permanent record of transactions. This unchangeable nature is what allows the digital coins to be indisputably owned by a single person.

A few years ago, the next generation of cryptocurrency hit the market, led by the Ethereum network. The main difference between Bitcoin and Ethereum is that on the Ethereum network, you can publish code logic—creating a decentralized application, or DAPP. In order to facilitate commerce and engagement with users, these DAPPs all typically have their own “tokens,” which users and spend and earn on their respective platforms. This digital commerce forms the basis of what is known as the “token economy.”

And this is the complicated and exciting world we found ourselves on Dec. 5 at Token Summit 2017 in San Francisco: the second conference in the cryptocurrency space focused entirely on the token economy. A celebratory affair from the very beginning, tickets to the sold-out event were being listed on Stubhub for upwards of $1,500 the night before the doors opened. These prices might seem crazy—until you think about the meteoric rise in the price of cryptocurrencies over the last year.

The attendees who made it in were fully engaged, furiously taking notes in every session. The crowd represented just a fraction of the many around the world who are racing to create the underlying infrastructure and systems they hope will power our decentralized future.

The crowd was treated to a number of special announcements: for example, the launch of the Steem Smart Media Token, which helps online publishers monetize content, or the announcement from Storj that users can now pay for its cloud-based, decentralized storage software using the Storj Token.

Of all the applications of Blockchain technology, the ones that interest us the most at Wowza are media and storage. Here are some interesting companies in these spaces that we saw at Token Summit 2017:

Steem Smart Media Token

Steem Smart Media Token

The Smart Media Token (SMT) is meant to solve for the disconnect between consumers and content producers. Instead of users’ data being monetized and a middleman sharing the profits with publishers, the SMT empowers consumers to contribute directly to the producers they like—and gives producers a way to accept small payments without being eaten up by fees.

StorJ Closed Network Announcement

StorJ Accomplishments

StorJ has perhaps the most simple and elegant business plan on the blockchain (if you’re familiar with HBO’s show “Silicon Valley,” it may seem familiar). Essentially, StorJ allows users to earn tokens from the extra space they already have on their computers. Think of it as a completely decentralized cloud-based storage platform (such as Amazon Web Services, Azure or Google Cloud), only the data is stored on a network composed of users’ computers, rather than in data centers owned by a single, corporate entity.

Their big announcement at Token Summit 2017 was that now, users can not only earn tokens on StorJ for giving up their hard-drive space, but they can also spend those tokens to buy space on the network.

Props Token by YouNow

PROPS Token by YouNow

Video chat platform YouNow has gained some serious traction as of late, and already has a vibrant community of users. Coupled with their vision for the future of the PROPS Token, which allows content producers to earn “PROPS” for their engagements, YouNow has set an ambitious goal with this Token (and time will tell whether they can hit it).

After two days in San Francisco meeting with companies in this space, we are excited about the progress being made in the world of tokenization. Though there will be many stumbling blocks along the way, that is always the case with radical revolutionary technology, and the future looks promising.

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