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Talking Bitcoin Social with Daniel Cawrey

As the former COO of ZapChain and writer for bitcoin publications, Daniel Cawrey is one of the most experienced people in the world at the intersection of bitcoin and media. Daniel has also been involved in our community since the very beginning when it was just an open-source project in 2015. When Daniel suggested he would be interested in demoing our current product, we jumped at the chance to get his thoughts on the current state of Yours and how we can make our product work well for content creators.

As the former COO of ZapChain and writer for bitcoin publications, Daniel Cawrey is one of the most experienced people in the world at the intersection of bitcoin and media. Daniel has also been involved in our community since the very beginning when it was just an open-source project in 2015. When Daniel suggested he would be interested in demoing our current product, we jumped at the chance to get his thoughts on the current state of Yours and how we can make our product work well for content creators.

Zapchain was the most successful social media destination that used bitcoin as a means to get content creators paid. That sounds similar to Yours — why didn’t it work out at Zapchain? There were many challenges Zapchain was facing from technical, community, and product points of view, and they weren’t able to overcome those challenges before running out of runway.

Zapchain Banner

First, Zapchain had on-chain bitcoin transactions that started having scaling problems in late 2015 when blocks started getting full. They began an integration with Coinbase, but weren’t able to finish before deciding to pivot the company in a new direction. Yours won’t have the same problem as Zapchain, because we have been pro-active about developing off-chain micropayments technology.

Secondly, since Zapchain struggled to grow outside of the bitcoin community. When they tried to appeal to the VR community, those people weren’t very interested in receiving bitcoin payments. The approach at Yours is very different — we are driven by ground-up market economics and won’t be curating specific subjects, but creating the tools that empower our users to decide what type of content is appropriate for them (like reddit).

A final point that we brought up to Daniel was how the incentives for payments at Zapchain may have been lacking. Zapchain was based primarily on a tipping model where users would voluntarily pay other users without getting anything in return other than satisfaction. Yours is experimenting with every model other than tipping — we want to make sure users have a strong incentive to make payments, such as profit motive or because they get access to content.

Yours Network

The payment scheme that most appealed to Daniel was something we call the “purchase model”. Imagine if all books were free, except that you had to pay $10 to read the last chapter. If books worked that way, wouldn’t you read more books? Daniel smiled and said he wished things worked that way because he had just decided to give up on a book that he found unreadable after about halfway through, and wishes he hadn’t already paid for it because he would like his money back.

Daniel brought up an excellent point concerning the role of the block size debate for Yours. Because Yours uses off-chain transactions, we are somewhat independent from the block size problem, but unfortunately we do still have to put transactions on the blockchain for onboarding and offboarding. If transaction fees get too high, it would make it too expensive to onboard and offboard, even though transactions within the system itself are zero fee. We are putting our own effort into this problem and are optimistic a solution will be found, but there is no guarantee of that.

Thank you for your input, Daniel! We look forward to revisiting with you again soon after we have iterated our product on the basis of your feedback.

Ryan X. Charles is a distinguished programmer with 20+ years experience. He’s previously lead development teams for BitPay, Copay, and Reddit. Charles is currently CEO of YoursNetwork.


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