Beyond Bitcoin: Crypto-Ownership Companies Hope You're Ready To Decentralize Everything On The Internet
Welcome to the age of crypto-ownership, where any kind of data can be encrypted and managed by a decentralized network of computers.
David Irvine lives in a tiny beach town called Troon on the West Coast of Scotland. He describes it as a place where old people go to retire, with a population of 15,000, a thriving golf community and views of the cliffs of Ireland on a clear day. It’s a surprising place from which to launch a product that he hopes will transform the way the Internet works.
Irvine is a mechanical engineer who taught himself about computers when he “realized they would be big.” He went on to manage oil company Saudi Aramco’s computer network before founding his own network consulting company, Alba, in the UK. After realizing that “the way the Internet is designed is insane,” he unplugged and started sailing, eventually becoming a yachtmaster who would pick up newly bought boats, say in the south of France, and sail them home to their owners in the UK. In 2006, he moved to a place where no English was spoken (so he could concentrate) to write the white paper for “MaidSafe“: a network for crypto-ownership and storage that does for data what Bitcoin does for value. Over the last eight years, he’s gotten $5 million in funding from family and friends to hire 14 people and try to make his product a reality. This month, the company is doing its first public funding round. Highly non-traditional, it plans to raise funds by issuing “Safecoins” on a cryptocurrency protocol calledMastercoin, which itself is built on top of Bitcoin. …