Bitmark: Define, defend, and divide digital property
What do you get when you fuse cooperation with competition?
“Coopetition,” or cooperative competition, a scenario of no winners and losers, but only winners and winners.
At Bitmark (Sp 19), a fast-growing startup founded on Blockchain, the aim is similar: To create a field for winners and winners by eliminating friction from the digital economy, helping people define rights to their work, and assisting them to safely conduct legal transactions around their assets.
The questions that Sean Moss-Pultz and Timothy Chen, talented founders of Bitmark, set out to answer, are simple in hindsight but were immensely profound at that time. They asked:
Why do individuals not own digital things like ebooks, bitcoin, and personal data? How can an ebook “purchased” on Amazon still be taken away through a license agreement claim, years later? Why should people not have full control over their digital assets like personal data, when they have full control over their tangible assets like land?
To answer these questions, Tim and Sean found their blockchain-based company, Bitmark, in 2014.
As an early believer in Bitcoin, Sean was fascinated by its innovative combination of multiple technologies to create “sustainable decentralization,” a phenomenon that can generate an enormous amount of leverage against centralized market power and government control, thereby facilitating coopetition. Hence, Bitmark, implemented using an open-source blockchain algorithm, leverages the consensus protocol pioneered by Bitcoin.
So far, Bitmark’s impacts have been in many fields. Take healthcare, for instance. When UC Berkeley’s Public School of Health and Pfizer approached Bitmark to learn how to efficiently conduct research studies, Bitmark offered two key solutions: one, expand the reach of researchers to different participant populations by employing the smartphone, and two, track informed consent and protect the participants’ privacy to reduce legal costs and transfer property rights through blockchain instead of lawyers.
Next, take music. Imagine receiving your paycheck a year after your work is completed. Usually, that is what happens with artists, who are always on the wrong side of royalty payments. Red tape, contractual obligations, and intermediary roadblocks often lead to a delay of a year for artists to receive royalty payments for their work. Bitmark has brought that waiting time down to just one month, fantastic service to the music industry.
As Bitmark continues to make great strides in the world, it’s important to realize the fundamental challenge that they’re addressing: transitioning from being a technology-based platform to a solution-based one.
Consider companies like Salesforce, Slack, and Facebook. These are solution-based companies that solve difficult problems of organizing customer information and making new connections, but their technology is not their use-case. In contrast, many blockchain companies look at their technology as their use-case, something that Bitmark feels is slowing down the industry. Tim and Sean believe that, in order for blockchain to move forward, blockchain companies need to start moving away from being “blockchain” companies to solution companies, that Bitmark has very efficiently done.
In the company’s view, the world needs to realize that Blockchain would increasingly form the “how” of solutions, and not the “what,” for it is only then that we will fully harness the latent potential of blockchain to create meaningful impact, but above all, to create coopetition.