When the topic of blockchain comes up, you’ll typically hear either a groan or burst of excitement. At the NY Tech Meetup on Thursday, Sept. 6, it was the latter. For this event, several companies shared their unique applications of blockchain across different industries.
James Haft, co-founder and managing partner at blockchain-focused venture capital firm CryptoOracle neatly summed up the hype around the new technology.
“Humanity is now searching for a way to trust,” he said. Blockchain technology claims the ability to help preserve that trust through its decentralized, distributed ledger model. Rather than rely on institutions like banks to tell you how much money is in your account, Haft said, the blockchain preserves trust by tying each transaction to the ones that came before it.
Here, we’ve wrapped up some of the most interesting applications of blockchain being built in the NYC tech ecosystem. You can find our coverage of previous Meetups here and here.
Sludge Media + Civil
Civil is using blockchain to give a voice — and a vote — to news consumers. The startup will soon launch its own cryptocurrency, CVL, which will serve as voting and purchasing chips for token-holders. For example, anyone who owns CVL can vote on whether new publications should be accepted onto the platform.
As a check on this power, a council of experts will also have the ability to overturn a vote by token holders, and token holders would then have the opportunity to override that judgment.
Another benefit of the Civil platform is that it maintains permanence of content on the web — so even if a Civil publication were to fold, the content would forever live on the blockchain. Sludge Media, one of the first cohort of newsrooms accepted onto the Civil platform, demonstrated how the blockchain encryption of an article looks like from their content management system.
With Republic, you don’t have to be a venture capitalist to invest in innovative startups. This platform lets you invest as little as $10 to registered startups with its own cryptocurrency. Republic was built to act on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commision JOBS Act, which allows for non-accredited investors to contribute to startups. It hopes its platform can help equalize funding among founders of diverse backgrounds by putting the funding power in the hands of more people.
OpenSea had one of the more whimsical applications of blockchain at the NY Tech Meetup. It’s a marketplace for so-called “crypto collectibles.” These can range from “CryptoKitties” — animated kittens with a Neopets-esque look — to Major League Baseball-branded digital bobbleheads. Because they live as a unique line of code on the blockchain, they can only be owned by one individual at a time.
The hype around crypto collectibles started when a game developer hid CryptoKitties on the blockchain. Now, OpenSea acts as an “eBay for crypto collectibles” of all kinds. While the collectibles live online, there is real money to be made off of these collectibles — the presenters said that an Elon Musk “CryptoCelebrity” sold for the equivalent of $110,000.
Ujo is using blockchain to fairly compensate musicians for their work. The platform lets artists circumvent the bureaucracy of music industry executives and register their content on the blockchain. Like the other presenters, Ujo’s co-founders noted that even if their site went down, the music would still exist on the blockchain.
The platform also addresses the problem of payments for artists. When someone buys a song or album through Ujo, everyone who contributed to that work is paid almost instantaneously, proportional to the rate they agreed upon in their smart contract.
BitRights wants to make licensing creative content easier and more reliable. The platform lets anyone with original creative work, like a photographer, register their work on the blockchain. The platform makes it easy for the photographer to attach a licensing fee and stipulations about how their work can be used, and make the contract available to anyone who wants to license the work.
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