Today, we are proud to announce the launch of the open-source DeSo blockchain, with over $200M in backing from a long list of high-profile investors including Sequoia, Social Capital, TQ Ventures, a16z, Coinbase Ventures, Winklevoss Capital, Blockchange Ventures, Distributed Global, Blockchain.com Ventures, Pantera Capital, Arrington Capital, Polychain Capital, Hack Ventures, Alexis Ohanian, and many others.
DeSo: The Next Frontier for Social Media and Blockchain
Today, social media is even more centralized than the financial industry was prior to the creation of Bitcoin. A handful of private companies effectively control public discourse, and these companies earn monopoly profits off of content that they don't even create. Meanwhile, the creators who actually produce the content are underpaid, under-engaged, and under-monetized thanks to an outdated ads-driven business model. On top of all of this, the ads-driven business model also forces social media companies to keep a walled garden around their data that prevents external developers from innovating or building apps on top of it.
DeSo aims to solve these problems and introduce a new model for content distribution by decentralizing social media the same way Bitcoin and Ethereum are decentralizing the traditional financial system.
DeSo, short for "decentralized social," is the first and only blockchain custom-built from the ground up to power and scale a new category of decentralized social applications to hundreds of millions of users. Its launch officially kicks off the next stage of disruption for blockchain technology, and paves the way for social media to become an open utility, rather than a privately-held monopoly.
“The fact that DeSo can store and index social media data at scale is a major breakthrough for the blockchain space, and we believe it will enable a whole new era of disruptive decentralized applications.” - Paul Veradittakit, partner, Pantera Capital.
“DeSo makes it so that, for the first time, blockchain applications can compete with traditional social media applications at scale, as demonstrated by Pulse, Flick, and over a hundred other apps that are built on DeSo. This is a major step towards making social media accessible and monetizable by anyone." - Andy Artz, Partner, Social Capital
Over 100 Apps Building
Over 100 apps are already building on the DeSo blockchain, showing virtually unprecedented developer traction for such an early stage. These applications include Pulse, backed by Social Capital, and Flick, created by Nigel Eccles, co-founder and former CEO of Unicorn betting app FanDuel. The full list of apps being built on the blockchain can be found at bithunt.com/explore.
“Flick has been building on the DeSo protocol for the past six months. It has an impressively deep native social functionality and the core developer team delivers at a breakneck pace." -- Nigel Eccles, co-founder and former CEO of FanDuel
"Decentralized social media is inevitable as it puts ownership back into the hands of creators and creates an open playing field for innovation in the social space. The Deso protocol is unique in that it’s built from the ground up to enable fast and cheap on chain social interactions, which is why we chose to build Pulse on top of it." - CEO of Pulse
Better Monetization and More Control
Each profile on DeSo is controlled solely by the user, providing unprecedented control and privacy. And because all of the data is written to the public DeSo blockchain, and the code-base is 100% open-source, DeSo is the first social network with open code and open data. The result is that there will no longer be monopolistic empires in charge; anyone will be able to build a social network using the abundance of open content and the critical mass of self-sovereign users.
At launch, the DeSo blockchain supports not only traditional social features like creating profiles and posts, but also blockchain-native features like social tokens, tipping, and NFTs. These features alone enable vast new categories of money-enabled products, from social NFT experiences to influencer stock markets. These products in turn can allow creators to earn orders of magnitude more than on traditional social networks, while maintaining a more direct relationship with their followers.
Meet the Creator of DeSo
The DeSo blockchain was created by Nader Al-Naji, who started work on the project in early 2019.
Nader’s interest in crypto started in 2012 when he mined approximately 23 Bitcoin on free campus electricity while studying computer science at Princeton. After that, Nader worked in high-frequency trading at D. E. Shaw and as an engineer on Google Search prior to raising $133 million for Basis, his previous company, which was building a decentralized dollar.
After Basis, Nader set his sights on decentralizing social media. "DeSo is the embodiment of over two years of relentless focus and research on how to fix the existing problems with social media, and I believe DeSo presents the first clear path to turning social media into an open utility rather than a privately-controlled monopoly," he says.
Nader is also the creator of BitClout, a high-profile social app built on the DeSo blockchain. "We created BitClout as an early prototype to allow us to test and iterate on the DeSo blockchain before launching it publicly," he explains. "But before we knew it, we had high-profile celebrities joining like Tyga, Logan Paul, Antonio Brown, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Diplo," he continues. "More importantly, though, BitClout showed that you can build truly mainstream social apps on blockchain tech, namely on the DeSo blockchain - I see that as a major milestone for the blockchain space, and one that opens up a whole new category for disruption for the first time."
Eyes on the Future - What's Next for DeSo?
As part of the launch, the blockchain powering Pulse, Flick, and all the other apps in the ecosystem will officially be known as "The DeSo blockchain," and the cryptocurrency powering it will be known as $DESO.
Cryptocurrency exchanges Blockchain.com and AscendEX now list $DESO for buying and selling, and conversion to and from USD.
The DeSo blockchain will be supported by the DeSo Foundation, a non-profit headed by Nader, that will use the $200 million treasury to support its broad mission of decentralizing social media.
Nader will lead the DeSo Foundation, but he is looking for other crypto veterans to help lead it and grow it together. “Decentralized social is a new category that we’re pioneering, and to really get it going I think it’s critical that we have help from as many top minds in crypto and social media as we can find,” he says. ”If you’re excited about decentralizing social media, please join us at deso.org. We’re looking for experts from all backgrounds, from engineers to creators.”
Nader also hints that this won’t be the last we’ll hear about the DeSo effort. “Now that we have a support structure in place for the DeSo ecosystem via the DeSo Foundation, you can expect some big announcements about how we’re going to use the treasury to grow not just the DeSo ecosystem, but the decentralized social category as a whole,” he says. “Stay tuned.”