Thiel-Backed Decentralized Texting Startup Likely to Fail

May 2, 2020 3:43 PM UTC

During the 2018 ICO boom, a mania to decentralize everything led to a rise of disastrous investments as projects received funding for products that had no market demand. Some of the developments envisioned decentralized versions of common web-enabled resources, including text.

Text-enabling platforms are big business so there is no surprise VCs, erronously pumped millions into startups that aimed to decentralize text. None ever caught on as the vast portion of the population has insufficient regard for privacy, as has been proven time and time again with the level of information people comfortably release to tech giants.

However, some VCs apparently believe much has changed since 2018, and that 2020 offers a privacy-focused world.

Urbit, a blockchain startup firm backed by leading venture capital firms, Peter Thiel and Andreessen Horowitz, has launched new smart tools for its decentralized server program. Decentralized text is the project’s hopeful means to penetrating the market. 

The firm’s new initiative, branded as OS 1, is packed with a bunch of features consisting of a group messaging app, a note-taking system, a message board, and various other simplistic applications like weather or a clock display. Additionally, unobtrusive lists and white squares are used to create the entire system.

Urbit’s developers said, “OS 1 is somewhere between ‘productivity software’ and a ‘social network,” adding, “We think it’s the beginning of an altogether new breed of social computing.”

Urbit is Developing a Decentralized Internet

Most servers are operated on centralized protocols like Amazon Web Services, Urbit intends to create a decentralized network that operates on private cloud computers. Urbit allows users to operate on separate servers which means there is no need for a centralized system.

The firm also clarified that privacy was a primary focus while designing the chat system. “When you DM with people, messages are sent peer to peer. The system is, in fact, decentralized and pseudonymous by default. No one knows anything about you outside of your Urbit ID.” 

To develop a decentralized and encrypted operative system, Urbit consists of the Nock, a virtual machine, Arvo, an operating system, Hoon, a programming language, and Ames, a peer-to-peer network. The network also uses Urbit ID to recognize every individual with a private key and the ethereum blockchain will be employed to save users’ IDs.

All this is great but there is no evidence that the masses now have a greater desire for privacy than they did in 2018. If anything, the pandemic has shown that people are more willing than ever to give up their data in order for convenience, as usage of Facebook and its subsidiaries  has surged, as proven by the company’s last earnings report.

Unless Urbit manages to offer something beside privacy that is highly sought after and differentiated from existing apps which it competes against, the masses will have no reason to make the shift, as convenience is king in today’s world.

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