Fractal — Telegram AMA — February 19
On Friday, February 19, we had the pleasure to welcome to our Telegram chat:
Julian Leitloff, CEO & Founder.
We asked him questions about the development of Fractal.
Some sentences have been slightly edited for readability but the meaning has been conserved.
Fractal is an open-source zero-margin protocol that defines a basic standard to exchange user information in a fair and open way ensuring a high-quality version of the free internet.
The Fractal Protocol offers rewards to users for sharing and verifying their data. The Protocol facilitates users to monetize their data for financial gains while ensuring maximum privacy and security to their information.
By leveraging advanced technological tools, the Protocol facilitates performance-driven engagement to advertisers' campaigns. The Protocol ensures transparency and provides resistance towards ad-fraud by leveraging blockchain technology.
Q — Ayeley Commodore-M from GAINS: It’s a pleasure to have you here. Let’s start by hearing a bit about you. What did you do before crypto and did you have any other previous venture in crypto?
A — Julian from Fractal: Maybe I’ll start how I was introduced to crypto. I met Bruce Pon, co-founder of the Ocean Protocol at a startup conference in Berlin back in 2015. By the time I had my first startup right out of university but in a completely different field. We met completely randomly waiting in line to get food and started talking. I mean Bruce is a pioneer and they were building an IP layer on the Bitcoin stack (seriously). It took me another two years to join him in being in the blockchain industry. Luckily we stayed in touch.
Before that, I started my career in banking … five days before Lehman collapsed. I wanted to go into finance because I thought it’s meritocratic right? Just the market and you. You either get it or you don’t. Boy, I was in for a big surprise. So I went into academia, did research around alternative finance (crowdfunding), and was intrigued by open source governance research that was done back then. However, I got swallowed up by the idea of founding a startup and left university barely getting my degree haha.
Q — Ayeley Commodore-M from GAINS: That’s quite an intriguing story. How did you end up starting Fractal then?
A — Julian from Fractal: After my first startup that I did for nearly five years, I had a quick stint in an industry that didn’t work out. So I promised to take at least three months of doing research and taking a look at a bunch of different things.
So I sat down to finally understand blockchain technology. Got a copy of Mastering Bitcoin and thought to have that done in three days. Truth be told, it took me longer. But when I finished it, I knew that this was the industry I wanted to be working in. I knew right there that if someone would come to me and tell me ‘I am from the future and in 20 years you are still working in that industry’ I’d be okay with that
So my first take was to use tokens to democratize startup investments. Like for regular startups, not protocols. I saw how hard it was to get the basic infrastructure right and that everyone was building it themselves. This is why we started Fractal because we saw that key infrastructure was missing
Also, I wasn’t ready back then to start something on-chain and I was yet to meet my co-founder.
Q — Ayeley Commodore-M from GAINS: What is the Fractal project about in a few simple sentences?
A — Julian from Fractal: Fractal is basically replacing the ad cookie. We are providing a technology that allows users to reclaim their data while allowing them to share it in a safe way. We want to create a new deal for a free web. Unlike the situation that we are in today where a duopoly owns 60% of the market.
Q — Ayeley Commodore-M from GAINS: For how long have you been working on Fractal? And how many people are on the team?
A — Julian from Fractal: We founded Fractal in the fall of 2017. We have been experimenting with DIDs for a long time. Sovrin was one of our customers, we took a look at uPort and recently partnered up with KILT.
We are 14 people, some in Berlin, some in Porto, and most scattered in places like Estonia and India. Like many projects, the barrier between employees, partners, and freelancers is rather fluid. I would assume that right now 40 people are working on the Fractal Protocol.
Q — Twitter user @husenandi21: The Fractal Protocol enables people to share only the information they want to, how can we express what we want to share and what not?
A — Julian from Fractal: You know how some sites ask you for your cookie consent? That really isn’t great, it’s annoying. But what if we just go to settings once and get this done and over with. Imagine a plugin … let’s call it your data wallet … handling these things for you. So you could be ok with your favorite publisher to know much about you or your game company. But in general, you don’t want to share much. Then that’s what the data wallet is going to share.
I mean your willingness to share more will increase by the quality of the content you are being offered. And sometimes sharing information and getting individualized content and ads can be good. Imagine not having kids but seeing diaper ads all the time … not really helpful is it?
Q — Ayeley Commodore-M from GAINS: What is the token use case and how does it capture the value of the ecosystem you’re building?
A — Julian from Fractal: So every time cookie data is being planted or read today, the Fractal ecosystem will use the token. So the token is basically for buying data (we are talking microtransactions) and being rewarded for providing data both as a user as well as a data provider
But in order to make sure that the data is safe, we will introduce a staking mechanism that reaps some of the rewards (think Uniswap).
Q — Twitter user @y1sus_afp: Some platforms use VPN and others work as browser shortcuts to ensure the security of user data. What model has Fractal established to decentralize the Internet? What are the differences and advantages of your model compared to all the others?
A — Julian from Fractal: VPNs and ad blockers can be our natural allies. We believe that not the sharing of data is the problem, but the way it is being done right now
I mean if you think about it: The free internet depends on you sharing *some* data. But we need the actual content creators and builders to receive that money. Right now they are cut off this flow further and further as two companies have duopolized these gains. That is a huge problem and we can all kind of feel it. The internet has become a very noisy place.
So Fractal makes sure that the bloggers and builders get paid WHILE keeping user privacy. That’s the difference 🙂
Q — Twitter user @NguyenQ32225128: Apple announced that they are moving into the identity space, and Facebook has access to billions of verified identities. Where does Fractal see the competitive niche in the space?
A — Julian from Fractal: That is a very good question! So let’s unpack this for a bit. Basically ad €$ is a mixture of attention and quality of attention.
If you have a highly relevant person who has the intent to purchase (and the money) and you can capture that attention, advertisers will pay a lot for that.
Now we don’t only surf at Google and Facebook. How come they have 60% (and more!) of the market?
So basically we are equipping the remaining 30% in the market with the weapon to be on a level playing field with the big guys: Data!
Q — Telegram user Irina: Why did you make the decision to build the Fractal Protocol on Polkadot instead of Ethereum or any other blockchain infrastructure, what factors did you take into consideration?
A — Julian from Fractal: So there have been some trials before to do something similar. But the tech simply wasn’t ready. I mean you pay how much to issue a TX on Ethereum right now? 7 USD, often more. So you just can’t do some use cases. I mean who would pay 7 USD in gas fees just to know that someone likes dogs?
Q — Telegram user Atakansan: Do you think your system is secure enough? How safe is your system in securing funds and user data?
A — Julian from Fractal: So we are now 180k users at Fractal and we had no other chance of keeping that centralized. You won’t believe the security procedures we had to put in place. One of which is that even I have access to no user data at all. BUT we didn’t like it. We didn’t want to control your data. This is why we started working on the Fractal protocol
Q — Ayeley Commodore-M from GAINS: Did you raise any funds so far? If so, how did you handle them? And are you planning to do any future raises?
A — Julian from Fractal: So our Seed and Private rounds weren’t huge. We raised a total of 2.2m USD worth. We keep most in a multi-sig Gnosis Safe. There is the community sale coming up with Polkastarter. All of the proceeds are going into the DEX liquidity
Something that I find exciting is that our user base will have an opportunity to get in at a price that is the same as the Private Round and will have — unlike the Private sale participants — their tokens unlocked right after the launch
Q — Ayeley Commodore-M from GAINS: What stage is the project at? And what should we look forward to following the IDO?
A — Julian from Fractal: So we got some help from the good folks over at parity with the infrastructure design and were able to get our first grant approved. The team has kicked off the building process. The good thing about Fractal is that we have been around for three years, so the gateways to the protocol are already there.
In the next couple of weeks, you should definitely watch out for product updates that will already allow some use cases. We are working on getting the AdTech folks to entertain the idea of an open-source data sharing layer and we are going to open-source the code.
I mean in the end, we are up against the oligopoly so we’ll need strong allies. That’s something we are working on.
Q — Telegram user 🆁 😍 🅷: Explain your plans on global expansion. Are you focusing on only the market or you are focusing on building or developing and getting customers and users, or partnerships?
A — Julian from Fractal: That’s a fair point because the market isn’t always the same. So we will definitely start focusing on markets where the market share of the duopoly is going to be huge. Because of the pain of the remaining market participants is the largest. You also want to go with markets where user privacy is valued. But we will have a global approach from the get-go for sure
Q — Telegram user Axel: What is the most ambitious goal of your project? I would appreciate it if you could share with us any Upcoming Updates?
A — Julian from Fractal: I mean we are proposing the market to move away from Google and Facebook 🤓 That’s pretty nuts if you ask me. But we are talking to potential allies and have some awesome advisors onboard. Take Aurel for example. He led Adjust as their COO and recently sold the company for 1Bln to Applovin.
In terms of technical developments, we will ship something sooner, but the network launch will be in late summer early fall.
Thanks for coming in today, Julian. It was nice learning about Fractal. We are rooting for you to disrupt the duopoly of Google and Facebook. Anything else you’d like to say? Where can we follow you to stay updated? — Ayeley Commodore-M
It was a pleasure. really liked the interactive format here! Feel free to join us on Telegram — Julian Leitloff