Serial entrepreneur Halsey Minor knows about mass adoption. He’s helped create technology platforms like CNET and Salesforce, to name a couple.
Announced Tuesday, Minor’s VideoCoin platform, which draws on dormant computing resources to process streamed video, is adding fiat payment rails as the project looks to move beyond the limited sphere of crypto and blockchain tokens. The network becomes commercially available starting May 27.
A broader reach is essential, says Minor, CEO of Live Planet, an immersive video startup that provides technology to VideoCoin, in order to take the fight to the market-leading Amazon Web Services (AWS). (Interestingly, Minor’s first job at Merrill Lynch saw him team up with co-worker Jeff Bezos on a publishing platform.)
“Taking serious aim at mass adoption is surprisingly absent from the crypto industry. There are really no services you can use a credit card to perform,” said Minor. “A company like Fox is never going to go to an exchange and buy volatile tokens. You kind of have to be in the crypto world to use crypto projects – and we are trying to break that barrier down.”
That said, tokens still play a vital role on the platform. VID token holders stake them to earn a slice of the savings gained from decentralizing the work required to process online video. Indeed, VideoCoin’s private token sale raised $50 million back in May 2018, and part of this week’s platform launch (dubbed Everest) is making VideoCoin available on Bittrex, the Seattle-based crypto exchange.
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“Staking is a really good use case for tokens, but using them for payment just puts friction between you and your users,” Minor said.
VideoCoin’s new fiat capability comes courtesy of Public Mint and allows the platform to accept credit cards, ACH and wire transfers, and to send funds to anyone who has a Public Pay wallet.
Stepping back, video accounts for 80% of internet traffic and every online video goes through various stages of processing, such as encoding and transcoding to suit different devices. It’s a shift that has upended the traditional broadcast model, which had basically zero distribution costs.
It’s also where AWS is dominant and making big money from its vast network of data centers. But farming out the processing and storage requirements to hundreds of thousands of so-called “zombie servers” that do next to nothing most of the time means VideoCoin will cost firms a third of the price of Amazon, said Minor.
“As the global video business moves larger volumes of content to internet delivery, the costs of processing and delivering video have become a huge burden for major media companies,” said John Ward, executive vice president and CTO of video-streaming provider iNDEMAND. “The current [COVID-19] crisis has intensified this.”
AWS did not respond to requests for comment by publication time.
The VideoCoin platform can be accessed by developers looking to build on its infrastructure and streaming companies that can take advantage of cheaper processing, as well as hardware owners who want to earn money putting it to use (known as “workers”). It’s also open to stakers who allocate jobs to workers ensuring the best possible results, for which these token holders can earn 16% of the overall remuneration.
“Workers will get cash. They will want to build reputation with stakers so they attract more staking,” said Live Planet CTO Devadutta Ghat. “Workers get work dependent on their capacity and the amount of staking they’ve attracted.”
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Ghat said any owner of hardware, from a Raspberry Pi to a data center, can join the platform and become a worker. To illustrate the remuneration workers can expect, he said running a Raspberry Pi node or NVIDIA Jetson Nano 24/7 for a month (total cost of about a dollar) could be paid for by 15-20 minutes of video streaming.
All the workers and stakers on the platform will be visible using a block explorer soon after the Everest launch, Ghat added.
Security cameras and video doorbell companies are another large and growing market, and one which Amazon Ring is capitalizing on by doing video processing at cost. “Streaming cameras have become one of the largest sources of video on the internet today, and demonstrates how dynamic the market for video processing is,” Minor said.
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Looking back, the explosion of cloud computing, which saw Minor win big with platforms like Salesforce, is now being reversed. With the advent of 5G, things are moving back to the edge of the network, he said.
“Everyone has done a great job of moving to the cloud,” said Minor. “But now it’s opening up all these opportunities at the edge with 5G’s low latency and high bandwidth – and with blockchain, which is sort of the ultimate edge-based technology.”
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