There's a gap in the vision for the decentralized internet.
At least that's according to Bluzelle, which recently raised $19.5 million in an initial coin offering (ICO) aimed at creating a network of decentralized online databases.
While several companies, including Filecoin and Storj, are already working on decentralized file storage, Bluzelle is targeting the databases that keep data quickly and easily accessible for websites and applications to pull from.
These databases make the internet more useful for interactive tasks, such as updating weather and stock prices. And Bluzelelle wants to bring that flexibility to the decentralized web, which is currently as slow as molasses.
So-called structured data gives websites and apps faster access to data they can read, change and be updated externally. And following the interest by investors to fund what they call "protocol tokens," there seems to be consensus that now's the time to be investing in this specific protocol.
Bluzelle sold 33 percent of its total pool of 500 million crypto tokens to 7,058 people and organizations.
Kenetic Capital, Kryptonite1 and 8 Decimal Capital participated in the ICO, which follows the $1.5 million in venture capital Bluzelle raised in August, in a round led by Global Brain, LUN Partners Capital and True Global Ventures.
While MySQL and several other open-source software projects are filling the database role on the internet, Pavel Bains, CEO and co-founder of Bluzelle, said he believes traditional tech companies will switch to decentralized database platforms as the technology matures.
One reason, he said, is that these platforms don't have the single point of failure that has plagued mainstream technology in recent years.
Bains told CoinDesk:
"We see us as a complementary piece of the whole ecosystem. ... A natural complementary piece is going to be the database layer. What we've seen is, over the last year is nobody's really tackling this problem."
Not one, but two tokens
Notably, Bluzelle didn't just create one token, it created two.
The first, BLZ, is the ethereum-based ERC-20 token that was sold during the ICO. BLZ will eventually be used to purchase the second, BTN, which was created only for use on the Bluzelle platform.
What Bluzelle found, as others, such as Kik and Mobius, have noticed, is that ethereum-based token transactions are just too slow and expensive for a service that, at scale, will need to constantly be running loads of micro-transactions.
"If it's not fast, it's not going to be attractive," Bains said.
In this way, BTN will act as the speedy, cheap token for micropayments.
Plus, the company wants to be able to provide "just-in-time pricing," meaning the price paid to specific nodes to host, share and write data, will change on the fly based on demand on the network.
Bains told CoinDesk:
"If you did all those kinds of charges [with] a credit card or a traditional system, you'd eat a lot of merchants' fees."
So why create the ERC-20 token in the first place?
Because crypto tokens that will be tradeable on the open market have been shown to entice a large community of people invested in the product's ongoing success. And as BLZ will be tradeable one-to-one with BTN, demand to access and use the platform should be accurately reflected in the price of the ERC-20 token, Bains said.
Cultivating the community
While Bluzelle has some competition in the space already from ethereum project Swarm, the latter's immutability might not be right for every user, as Keld van Schreven, cofounder of blockchain investment company Kryptonite1 and Bluzelle backer pointed out.
For instance, because the public data Bluzelle will host can be changed, it will benefit a number of applications, including those that must adhere to Europe's "right to be forgotten" laws.
Still, Bain said, Bluzelle is meant to be a "complementary piece of the whole ecosystem."
Currently, Bluzelle is focusing on the crypto space, citing prediction markets, currency exchange protocols and data streaming services as three potential early markets.
Each of these markets has actors that are reading as well as writing large volumes of data (sometimes both at once), which make for natural use cases for Bluzelle.
Now that the ICO is over, Bains said, the company has turned its focus to "building out the open-source developer community," because developers are some of the earliest adopters of technology.
"Our goal is to start with dapps," he said.
And with that, Bluzelle expects its first major release to happen in April, with a wider public release planned for July.
According to van Schreven:
"Bluzelle has nailed an easy-to-use toolset and interface for developers building decentralized apps."
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