In the last couple of weeks, I have been reviewing cryptocurrencies that try to do things differently and have been working throughout the long outdrawn bear market to actually deliver on their promises.
One of the things that really stand out to me and that I find immensely interesting are the projects that are changing the way consumers are treated and rewarded. Since the internet era, the biggest companies on the planet have evolved their earnings model from having to pay for a product or service to giving their product or service for free but monetizing the customer itself in the process. At the birth of this model, it seemed fair and perhaps it was, I don’t expect companies to deliver anything for free, but in the subsequent decade, it has evolved into an ever intrusive character. Something that is evident in, for example, the way Facebook has been getting in the news in recent years.
We are starting to see change
There is a high possibility that it changed this way due to the continuous pressure of having to show better yields every quarter to your shareholders. Understandable but not sustainable, and more importantly, not in the best interest of your customer in any way imaginable.
Where we initially looked at these companies with a sense of amazement and awe, we now look at them with a sense of distrust and in some cases even fear. We are afraid of how they use our data, if they are spying on us and if they are selling our information to the wrong people and/or companies.
Freedom of expression seems to get decimated with every year passing, seeing content creators getting demonetized and even censored and expelled. Besides that, the distribution of income seems to be unfair, with the content creators getting only a very small piece of the pie for the content that they actually created, while the platform that does nothing but host this content gets the biggest share. At the same time, content consumers are getting bombarded with advertisements, even more frequent than on cable television, and are in no shape or form rewarded for their time spent on the platform.
That’s why I’m so thrilled to see platforms like Steemit, BitTube (see review INSERT LINK) and Cent come to fruition. Initially, Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies weren’t invented to deliver these kinds of solutions, but it seems to be one of the most exciting use cases being realized. Not only does it help in making an economy less dependent on (central) banks, large institutions and governments, they also help in changing the way we look at how we should spend our time to make a living.
The entire 40-hour workweek – slaving your time away so the top CEO can make an extraordinary living while the bottom 90% can just get by – system is heavily due for some change. Ultimately I understand that top-level businessman deserve more because they have more responsibilities, more pressure and, in most cases, are more skilled, but I also believe this system is in place because most of us just don’t know any better. this is how it has been for a very long time.
In recent years we have seen a switch to entrepreneurism and solopreneurs, mostly because of the opportunity of the internet and being able to reach the entire world from every place on the world, but in a way they still rely on sites like Google, Facebook, Instagram, etc. to get some attention and get a % of that traffic to their own site and make the sale there.
But what if everything you put out there actually is monetized from the start. What if you don’t have to give the biggest part of those earnings to big companies only hosting your content. What if you could make a decent living solely on the income that you receive from the content you create from the start, not after reaching an arbitrary amount of followers. What if people watching and consuming what you put online decided what the value is.
A worldwide, 24/7, free market of skills and productivity. Get rewarded (and judged) for what you get out there.
There we go, the intro is a bit long and I hope I didn’t lose you in the process, but that is what Cent is trying to achieve, or better yet, is achieving.
Blockchain is enabling, or maybe even forcing social media in a new direction, where the content creators and consumers not only decide what is valuable but where the most valuable content is rewarded the most. The best content gets watched/read/viewed the most and gets the biggest rewards. Content consumers can share the content and get a part because they get the content distributed further. It’s inevitable that this way of social media 2.0 is where we will go and how we will revolutionize the concept.
“Show me the incentive and I will show you the outcome.” As Charlie Munger would say.
Why would content creators and consumers not go towards the platform that gives them a fair cut? Coincidentally I read today that the biggest Youtuber Pewdiepie, who has over 90 million Youtube subscribers, has seen the light and is thinking about switching to a blockchain-based video platform.
Amazon charges a 50% cut from channel subscriptions on their Twitch platform. 50%. Fifty Percent. For hosting YOUR content. Oh and BTW, the government will take another 50% of that, thank you very much (well at least here in the Netherlands).
Of course, people will flock to different platforms where they will receive almost all of the revenue created by their own content. It’s simple economics. But people will have to learn about the possibilities.
The Cent Platform
So, ahem, again, CENT the social media platform based on Ethereum – have to stay focused
I will refrain from diverting from now on. Here’s the quick rundown of how it all started.
Cent is a Dapp build on the Ethereum network. Founded by two guys that have a rather different background. Max Brody has a background mostly focusing on design and Cameron Hejazi had a software background working at an advertisement bureau.
Cameron learned first hand how the advertising monetization model works and detested it. Max wasn’t happy with the lack of possibilities for freelance entrepreneurs. Both were looking for a fair alternative model for content creators to earn an income. Both learned about and loved cryptocurrencies. They met each other, it clicked and boom – a new team and business was born.
In essence, Cent is a social media 2.0 platform. There are no ads to be found. Instead, content creators are rewarded by the quality of the content they deliver, and content consumers are rewarded by spreading said content and ranking replies to bounties.
Let’s start with the bounties.
Cent has a vision where everyone can make an income online by getting rewarded by the skills they possess. Let’s say that you just wrote a book, the writing is done, however, you still lack the cover image. You put out a bounty on the cent platform giving away 20$ worth of Ethereum for the person that can create the best cover image. A couple of designers give it their best effort, and in the end someone is chosen to be the winner and receives a large chunk of the bounty. Not all though. Other people on the platform are incentivized to rate the cover images so a winner can be chosen. 20% of the bounty is reserved to these people for the ranking process (disclaimer – these rates can differ at the time reading this review, it’s mostly to help you understand how the gamification works).
In the end, this means that a couple of designers had a shot at getting their work out, got a platform to show their designs and were rated for their effort. Someone earned the large part of the bounty and the original provider of the bounty has a cover image for the book. That’s not all though, they also receive the information of what the crowd thinks is best, in essence, a very valuable market analysis.
Raters receive a part of the bounty for their effort as well and everyone can look at the entire ordeal as a success, and worth their time.
So far bounties are found in a vast array of possibilities and subjects, ranging from logo designs to product reviews to just wanting to receive some interaction on their posts. The first bounty I received was a tiny amount of Eth simply by replying with my twitter handle because someone wanted to create a list of ‘Centians’. Quite literally the sky is the limit here (within the legal possibilities of course).
The bounty system works and it is the way Cent started. The founders quickly found out though that not everyone is willing to place bounties on every post they create so they developed a seeding system.
When people seed a post they give a bit of money to the original content creator but also receive a part of the money that gets injected by people seeding the same post after them. What they essentially do is bet on the future potential of that post thinking that it will get traction, and more people will also seed that post after them. People generally will only seed a post because they value that particular content. Be it a review like this, a picture a meme or whatever, so the content creator gets an instant valuation on what he or she creates.
What it also does, however, is create someone that is now invested in this post, hoping to receive a part of the next seeders’ income by spreading the word. The gamification is terrific and it creates fans of certain content creators but more importantly creates an entirely new breed of content consumers. Essentially ‘content-scouts’ looking for the next awesome post that could go viral.
The entire thing works on top of the Ethereum network, and the entire financial aspect can be handled by using a web 3.0 wallet like Metamask which works as intended.
As you can probably tell by reading the review I am pretty stoked by the entire idea, especially since I intend on delivering quite some content for years to come. There are however a couple of negatives that have to be addressed.
I have to start with the amount of traction the platform has generated so far. I know it’s still very early but looking at Twitter, Reddit and Telegram stats we are looking at a very small (but dedicated) group of people. This also means that the amount of money earned from bounties and seeding so far is tiny. This, of course, can grow with more attention but it also poses a risk to fully get invested in a platform where it remains to be seen if it grows to their potential. They aren’t the only social media disruptor that I have encountered.
It’s also a risk to have the entire platform build on the Ethereum network. I still am on the fence of the future of Eth, it could remain to be the most stable to run Dapps on, but what if we have another surge in attention and traffic and the network gets congested. What does that mean for Cent?
Besides that, the platform isn’t fully decentralized and utilizes a combination of Cloud storage and blockchain technology to run. Decentralization maximalists might object to that idea, but for me personally that isn’t a big issue so far. If another project manages to let this function in a fully decentralized way they might lose market share though.
And lastly, the design of the platform isn’t really beginner-friendly enough. After a while, I managed to understand what everything meant and what every button does, but I did have to read multiple help pages and how-to documents. For the average ‘crypto- and social-media-nerd’ it might be easy to figure it all out, but the platform would really benefit from displaying popups on hovering over the icons.
Some of these downsides are nothing more than that. However, especially the dependence on Ethereum and whether or not Cent will get the needed traction will determine if this platform succeeds or gets left behind.
Personally I really feel that they have a good chance of luring in more and more people with the extremely interesting gamification of creating and consuming content. And this will be key. They need to grow the number of users to ensure the content available is wide enough for more people to check on the platform, in turn increasing the amount of Eth available for bounties which in turn will increase the incentive for posting content resulting in more traffic. If done right it will be a self-reinforcing loop. I will definitely continue posting my content on the platform, interact with the Centians that I encounter and report on any major changes of the project in the future!
That concludes this review! If you want to add anything or have questions, please feel free to comment below.