An interview with one of the most powerful women in blockchain and the key to cracking mass adoption of decentralized social media.
On her Twitter account Crystal Rose Pierce, CEO of Make Sense Labs has dubbed herself “the First Lady of Crypto” — perhaps an allusion to her husband Brock Pierce who ran as an independent candidate in the 2020 U.S. Presidential election. Brock is back to focusing on blockchain it seems and has indicated he does not intend to run again, but Crystal Rose is a force to be reckoned with in decentralized technology, listed by Forbes among the “Top 10 Women in Blockchain.”
Pierce believes that blockchain is the bright future of social media and has raised over $30 million in institutional capital before completing a successful token sale for SENSE Digital, maker of Sense Chat.
We spoke with Pierce concerning her new project and the future of Social Media on blockchain.
“Sense Chat is at the forefront of the movement toward creator-owned platforms,” Pierce said.
“It is a social messenger where users are treated like participants and everyone can earn rewards for their contributions, unlike platforms that capitalize on the data of their users.”
SENSE explained in a statement: “The project was founded originally in 2015 as a multi-platform messaging-connector service to enable users to give and get advice and earn Sensay points. The original platform collected huge amounts of user data. Now, Sensay has evolved from a company that collects user data to a platform that protects it called MakeSenseLabs.”
Unfortunate news for users of the platform in 2016 but Pierce assured us that the company has repented its data-collecting behavior and holds data protection in a special place within their core mission.
“Back in 2016, we were collecting all of this user data — that many people believed was private. Of course, SMS is not encrypted and any intermediary can read it. It didn’t take long for us to figure out that the traditional app model did not make sense. It’s been my personal passion — and a company mission — to educate everyone on how to protect their privates,” Pierce said.
Sense Chat went into open Beta in September 2020. It says it provides end-to-end encryption for private chats and is available for download on iOS and Android. Sense Chat gained 70,000 users in 2020 but though they did not provide a number of total current users.
Put a Pin in Blockchain Social Media
Public Index Network (PIN) is a new name for a fairly venerable blockchain project, FLO. The network launched in 2013 — just a few years after Bitcoin and effectively an epoch ago by blockchain community standards. Since then it has had 100% uptime as a blockchain network with a metadata layer that provides quicker reading and writing to the blockchain.
As PIN Network, they have positioned themselves as a Web 3.0 blockchain that has projects in development that are using the metadata layer to create new social and video platforms.
“The Public Index Network, or PIN, is a public index for metadata built for web3. Applications built for web2 use web2 methodologies to query and organize data… apps built for web3 need web3 methodologies and protocols. The goal of PIN is to build a worldwide database of metadata for content on the web,” Joseph Fiscella, Co-Founder & Lead Developer for PIN (formerly FLO Network).
Fiscella sees the need for a decentralized public metadata index to support Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 applications.
“All information is hidden in a windowless corporate vault with access granted to the highest bidder only. (On PIN) all data, whether private or public, is always accessible on the network and indexed for search engines to easily find,” Fiscella said.
PIN is currently in use by Caltech and the State of Wyoming to store metadata on-chain.
Attracting Users to Blockchain-Based Social
All new social media platforms — blockchain or otherwise — may face an uphill batter, fighting user behavior and the huge influence of the existing dominant players in the social media space in order to fight for new users.
Jonathan Zerah, Head of Marketing at Status IM, a private messaging, payments, and transactions social platform said,
“Attracting users has been a largely grassroots, community-driven approach. We have identified people who believe in the principles of Status such as privacy and liberty via meetups, conferences, and open forums and then offering them the tools to achieve their goals.”
Status IM very recently launched Nimbus update: v1.2 CPU which has Beta support for the official Beacon Node REST API. In early 2020, there seemed to be roughly 4,000 registered users — no update on the number of users today, but Status IM feels strongly that the core value of privacy and decentralization will drive user adoption.
Ultimately, blockchain technology and decentralized systems are still nascent and have a ways to go before they can provide the ease of use and familiar UX to web2 / client-server-based applications. However, great strides have been made over the past few years, and the UX is slowly becoming more approachable for mainstream users,” Zerah said.
PIN Network is expecting more concrete benefits to be the deciding factor that drives the adoption of this new breed of decentralized social media platforms.
“Users will be attracted by incentives or content. Cryptocurrency is the incentive, and PIN hosts the content. It’s a win-win situation. UX is at the hands of app developers who are paid higher with PIN because their apps drive value to the app creator more efficiently by cutting out data-holding middlemen,” Fiscella said.
Even with crypto incentives, PIN acknowledged that it is a struggle to attract mainstream users while improving the existing platform, but believes that blockchain as the norm in social media is just a matter of time.
“It is definitely an uphill battle. But I think in the end, the hand that grasps the strongest, slips what it holds from its grip. Open systems and permissionless architecture will win out in the end,” Fiscella added.
Crystal Rose Pierce is counting on the strength of partnership and community relationships to promote Sense Chat.
“The best modern method of promotion is the most classic: word of mouth. We have built-in incentives for inviting other people to the platform. We are also creating partnerships with other major brands in the blockchain space and have been in talks with influencers on platforms like Tik Tok who want to monetize their audience and are excited to start a crypto-enabled community on Sense Chat,” Pierce said.