Last week Block.one confirmed the launch of an EOS-based social network. Having purchased over $20 million worth of RAM prior to the announcement, pundits had already guessed the company was up to something big.
The new social media platform, called Voice, will run on the updated EOSIO2. Dan Larimer, founder and CTO of Block.one, has plenty of experience with social media platforms. Larimer left BitShares to co-found Steemit, which many describe as Reddit on a blockchain.
Steemit is no flop, but it’s also not a Facebook killer. Given Block.one’s sizeable war chest and influence in the industry, this may be Larimer’s chance to face off with Mark Zuckerberg.
The Steem That Failed
Steemit was an early success in the blockchain industry. After launching in mid-2016, the platform reached a million users within two years. Its success was largely based on its decentralized premise and the inability of anyone to censor content.
The Steemit ecosystem works by rewarding popular content with Steem tokens. While there are no ads or personal data being sold to advertisers, there is a cost to use it.
But in the crypto winter last year, Steemit and many other projects fell victim to tumbling prices. The platform was forced to lay off seventy percent of its staff, and has come nowhere near challenging the likes of Facebook.
Perhaps it never intended to do so. But if we are to judge social media platforms by user numbers, Steem’s success is starting to cool. It may have been an admirable first step for Dan Larimer, but with Voice soon to launch, he may end up cannibalizing his own baby.
A Voice For The Disaffected
Voice is likely to appeal to the same audience as Steemit: people tired of the models that work for the platform but not for the user. As Block.one’s CEO said:
Users can now sign up for beta testing. With an Apple-esque fanbase and slick product releases, EOS and Block.one have a formidable platform from which they can launch anything they like and have a decent chance at success.
But what will success look like for Voice?
Unseating Mark Zuckerberg
Just as Facebook eyes the blockchain space, blockchain companies want in on the social scene. Basic Attention Token (BAT) and its accompanying Brave browser have demonstrated that internet services can work on a decentralized model, if properly executed.
Facebook may be a terrible product, as decentralization advocates never fail to point out. It leaks data, it sells data, and it allows bad actors to utilize those data for their own political ends.
As Block.one’s CEO said in a release:
Block.one CEO Brendan Blumer
“Our content. Our data. Our attention. These are all incredibly valuable things. But right now, it’s the platform, not the user, that reaps the reward. By design, they run by auctioning our information to advertisers, pocketing the profit, and flooding our feeds with hidden agendas dictated by the highest bidder. Voice changes that.”
That sentiment rings true for Facebook and other data-sharing internet giants.
But everyone still uses them. Facebook boasts almost two-and-a-half active billion monthly users, and Steemit can’t hold a candle even to smaller social platforms. By any metric, Facebook is an extraordinarily successful company.
Does that make it undefeatable? MySpace executives would say it doesn’t. And if any blockchain can unseat Zuckerberg from the social media throne, EOS might be the one to do it.
Larimer’s propensity to project-jump, however, will need to be tempered for that to happen. Beating Facebook at social media is not going to happen overnight, and staying the course will be just as important as providing a more user-friendly social media platform.