[a true story about entrepreneurial tenacity, persistence and refusing to compromise on a vision]
Almost exactly ten years ago, in December 2004, I flew to Sydney to go to the ATNAC (Australasian Telecommunication Network and Applications) Conference specifically to attend their half day P2P tutorial. I felt a little out of place not being a hard core developer and I didn’t understand much of the terminology and technical systems that were being described. As the tutorial was coming to an end the presenter asked if anyone would like to predict what future directions P2P technology might take. I put up my hand.
I was coming to the end of a Masters degree in Commercialization of Science & Technology and I had already committed myself to writing my thesis on a future P2P system I had conceived called D-Net which stood for ‘Device Network’. At that time SAAS (software as a service) was the foundation of Web 2.0, and this was still about three years before the launch of the first iPhone.
I had already raised the eyebrows of the lecturers supervising my final paper, who clearly were not impressed by my project as they saw it as completely hypothetical and therefore not at all suitable. One of the lecturers who would be marking my paper, ‘Derek’.. had completed the same course a few years before and had written his final paper on the commercialization of a sprinkler system, which he used as an appropriate example for us to draw inspiration from. Needless to say.. Derek and I never got on.
As I gave my answer to the question about the possible future directions of P2P technology, a couple of heads turned around. It was the first time I had spoken at the two day conference.. Clearing my throat, I said: (somewhat meekly)
“Um.. financial transactions across a P2P network?”
It was one of those moments where you are driven to say something that you are absolutely sure is logical, and if not obvious, at least quite plausible… But you suddenly realize that everyone in the room now thinks you are a complete idiot… and rather than outright mock you, they are just going to now politely ignore you… There were a few muffled laughs, and the presenter said: “Anyone else?” (I often wonder how many of the guys in that room now own Bitcoin?)
I returned back to Adelaide that evening with my souvenir, a folio of schematics of various P2P systems provided to all the tutorial participants and shared it with my partner in crime ‘Kavish’, an Indian Computer Science Master’s Student who was working with me planning the D-Net project.
Kavish and I went on to get our respective Master’s degrees, although not without some tribulations. The two lecturers who marked my final thesis were so annoyed by the speculative nature of the D-Net idea that they failed the paper. However, in an event that restored my faith in the University system, with the assistance of the Post Graduates Student Association, I lodged a complaint to the Vice Chancellor of the University, and was given a re-mark by another Professor, and was subsequently awarded my degree. (apparently I am now the only Post Graduate student in the history of that department that has succeeded in having a fail grade over turned.. a distinction almost as satisfying as the degree..☺)
The diagram below is an early concept illustration of the Independent Digital Music Market which now forms the basis of the Bittunes platform & Android application available on Google Play. This project, which had been put on ice in late 2006, was restarted in April 2013 when Bitcoin began to ‘cross the chasm’, because we determined that Bitcoin could potentially provide the ‘digital-for-digital’ monetization mechanism (and type of micro-earnings) that we had been waiting for.
Although Bittunes currently uses bitcoin as its only currency, it is not a ‘Bitcoin Company’. It is simply a new kind of global music platform, with an innovative ‘commons based’ business model. Both Artists and music buyers earn bitcoin automatically as part of the platform’s buying/distribution process.
With users spread across 43 Countries and contributing Artists from 29 Countries and counting.. Bittunes is offering a simple vision for a global solution that simplifies music distribution and puts power back in the hands of Artists and their fans.
Although the community is relatively small, it operates as ‘One Global Marketplace’ for Music.. with ‘One Currency’ and uses only ‘One Rights Framework’.. We believe that this is where music can get a fresh start.. and it is completely legal.
Simon Edhouse | www.bittunes.co.uk