ArDrive has raised $1.6 million for its decentralized alternative to cloud storage giants like Dropbox and OneDrive. 

Digital Renaissance Foundation and venture firms D1 and SevenX backed the Arweave-based startup, as did Arweave’s founding team.

The funding gives ArDrive some runway as the business of file storage experiences continues to shift. In China, a run on hard drives has triggered localized shortages and price spikes. Meanwhile, cloud companies such as Dropbox are reporting upticks in revenue and users.

The start-up now stores 570 gigabytes of data atop Arweave’s permanent database, said CEO Phil Mataras: “We just had 50 gigs uploaded two days ago. It’s really exploded.”

Those storage numbers are puny against the industry’s top names. Dropbox, for example, offers consumers 2 terabytes of data for $20 a month.

Even so, Mataras believes ArDrive’s strategy – charge by the file, not by the month – gives the eight-person start-up a competitive advantage if “subscription fatigue” begins to take hold.

“People just don’t like having another $9.99 bill to pay,” he said, pointing toward “microtransactions” as a potential workaround. 

In ArDrive’s case, that means charging one-time fees – less than a penny for a Word doc, two for a photo – to store users’ data for eternity.

Sam Williams, Arweave CEO, said ArDrive is becoming a “cornerstone of the ecosystem.”

“It is the way that people right now are uploading data to the network en masse,” he said.

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