If you’ve ever seen those web apps that record how many letters you have typed on Facebook, you would know that you may have written the equivalent of a few books and have been paid zilch for it. But is being paid for typing on Facebook even possible? With Steemit, the social media currency, it is. Steemit is rewarding providers of good content with cryptocurrency and the best part is that you don’t have to deviate from anything that you are already doing.
Today we sit down with with CEO Ned Scott to learn more about how their platform and social media currency works.
Tell us about the product or service.
Steemit is cryptocurrency for social media. For social media sites that have a difficult time engaging users, Steemit is a cryptocurrency system that rewards individuals for their posts, comments and votes. It works by using the same economics that other cryptocurrencies use to reward miners for securing the network. The posting and voting incentives create a great way for regular people to engage deeply with others while earning for their contributions to the community.
We believe this is the first true application for cryptocurrency that can appeal to the regular person. For the typical user, the concept is fairly simple in that people can be rewarded just by doing what they were already doing – posting, sharing and voting on social media sites.
Another aspect of the product is that users don’t need to change from the sites they are currently using, which is important because it can be difficult to switch to a new social network. For instance, a blogger can continue to blog on their site, but if they use a Steemit widget, then their posts and comments would appear on Steemit’s blockchain, which makes the blogger and commenters eligible for cryptocurrency rewards, just like people who post directly to steemit.com.
How is it different?
Steemit is different from the status quo in social media because it doesn’t rely on 3rd party advertising to keep the site going. Instead of seeing third party advertisers on Steemit, we’re more likely to see people creating good content solely for the reason that good content is appreciated and rewarded by the community.
In cryptocurrency, there have been several attempts at social media businesses, but most have approached the idea with a business case based on tipping and donations. What makes Steemit different is that posters and voters are rewarded through the cryptocurrency’s seigniorage, and that happens at a set and specific rate, which is similar to other cryptocurrencies that have mining to secure the network. What this means is that there is a certain amount of cryptocurrency that must be rewarded to posters and voters each day, so there are always rewards for well-received posts and accurate votes.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
This is a great question because Steemit, in a sense, straddles two markets, social media and currency. The social media market has proven to be very significant. Twitter and Facebook both support market capitalization in the eleven digits. That being said, the currency and rewards markets are probably much larger. We’re approaching all of these at once, but we are taking the standpoint that it’s a new kind of market in its own way – an online social economy.
What is the business model?
The business model is based on promoted content. After honing in on the idea that users want to promote their own content, especially because they receive rewards when the content is well recognized, we learned that posters would pay to have their posts temporarily appear on the top section of the site. If we’re able to implement that system, we can develop a site that is extremely community focused. Along with that, other traditional revenue streams are possible, such as advertising, but we’ll continue to test and make decisions based on increasing growth.
What inspired the business?
My business partner, Dan Larimer, CTO of Steemit, and I have been building or investing in blockchain technology for over three years. Most of those initiatives have been based on the idea that blockchain technology represents opportunities to build systems that improve quality life for people around the world. Recently, Dan had been delving into the idea of micro insurance and mutual aid on distributed ledgers. As he and I talked about it, we came back to the idea that the most powerful part of cryptocurrency is community. Applying Dan’s expertise in blockchain technology, we harnessed the economic concept that posters and voters could be rewarded directly by a cryptocurrency database and built the social media business model around that.
How do you manage authenticity when you are incentivizing users to post?
Great question. Users are incentivized to post content from across the internet, it could be their own or someone else’s, similar to Reddit.com, but ultimately, it’s the community who decides which posts are rewarded. Because of this, one trend we have noticed is that original authors are better received and rewarded. Ultimately, if a platform becomes successful in this space, it would act like a backend to blogs and other platforms, where authors are posting instantly so that their work is accredited to someone else.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
On July 4th, the blockchain has its first rewards distribution, which consists of ten percent of its market cap. This will be an important moment for users and the initial distribution of the cryptocurrency. From there, we can possibly focus on other forms of the app, either in mobile or as plugins to other sites, such as WordPress. We have been seeing steady membership sign ups, and we’ll continue to try to navigate a roadmap that brings in more members over the next six months.
What is the one piece of startup advice that you never got?
Documentation is key. I had learned this in past jobs, but never realized how helpful it can be for a startup like ours. It’s been important for us in everything from our open source code to planning for a new sign-up process. Specifically, it has been empowering our early adopter community. We’re now seeing projects pop up that will leverage the same open-source blockchain database, and that’s big because it drives adoption in new ways.
If you could be put in touch with anyone in the New York community who would it be and why?
Bill DeBlasio. As mayor, Bill can drive job creation and with Steemit, there’s huge potential to focus on a city to become a nexus where content is created for platform early on. I have no doubt we could leverage the platform to create a better way empowering opportunities for New Yorkers.
Why did you launch in New York?
You can’t beat the hustle in this city. There are events every night of the week. I couldn’t have made the connections that have propelled us to this point without New York City.
What’s your favorite rooftop bar in NYC to unwind?
I like POD 39 for its great view and its classic feel.