- What was all bad about the old Internet?
Yilun: I wouldn’t say the Internet is wrong or bad today. Generally, when we design a system like the Internet, we always make some assumptions, and we build a system that is best within those assumptions. However, not all early assumptions could still remain valid today. For example, many parts of the Internet were designed assuming that participants are all honest, without considering any attackers. Therefore, malicious messages sent out from a DNS server will possibly be trusted by other DNS servers, and they will update or broadcast them. We have seen these attacks or say accidents in the past and know how they could cause huge trouble to the whole Internet. We also know that a lot of protocols before 2000 or 2010 have no security guarantee in the transport layer assuming that no one is in the middle trying to capture or modify the package. Obviously, history has already proved all these assumptions wrong.
Another thing is the IP address, the most popular way of addressing the node in the Internet today is IPv4. People assumed that 32bit would be enough for good, but it actually turned up to be used up only in 20 or 30 years but IPv6 still needs decades until it could actually be widely adopted as a mainstream solution.
So, we could see that many assumptions were broken. However I would not define it as bad or wrong, I would see them as problems that we need to solve in order to build a more usable, stable, and secure Internet that we’d like to have today.
Yanbo: I think we do not want to judge whether the Internet is bad or good. I think the Internet is always going through self-evolution. As time changes, new requirements and features will appear and the Internet will always adapt to them. Elaborating on these thoughts, NKN is just a part of the Internet, a step to evolution or revolution. Instead of changing “bad” or “old” Internet, it’s just a natural step.
Bruce: I’ll add a last point regarding centralization and decentralization, also about the economic incentives. One of the first few food delivery businesses, called waiter.com, was located right next to our office. Many years ago, I saw a Porsche 911 on their parking lot probably belonging to one of their founders. However, all the other cars parked there were like the cheapest and beaten up Soviet Lada cars belonging to those delivery guys.
When you have a total centralized system, there’s only a few who can benefit. It is not bad, but a much fairer and appealing way would be decentralization: where benefits are more evenly distributed or at least everyone can share the success of a system.
So, in our NKN network, miners are individual entrepreneurs and NKN run nodes only count as a very small part. If nConnect becomes successful, benefits go directly to the miners. Everyone participates and wins together.
- Can you give us some more intel on Coinbase’s progression?
Bruce: We cannot say much until it’s official. However, we do keep regular updates with Coinbase, and we are working with different teams within Coinbase as they do have separate business departments. As some of you might already know, we are under consideration by the Coinbase Custody. They do have Coinbase Pro or Coinbase exchange, but the good news is they all use the same process and standard of evaluating projects. We’re not there yet, but I think we are making satisfactory progress.
- Could you explain in detail about the difference between nMobile and nMobile PRO?
Yanbo: The name might be confusing to some of our users. It may look like nMobile PRO seems to be an enhanced version of nMobile. However, nMobile and nMobile PRO are totally different. nMobile is 100% open source and meant for communication purpose, which means it contains d-chat and our wallet.
However, nMobile PRO is made for enterprise purpose, where we integrated nCDN, nConnect features. So, the easy way to separate them is nMobile PRO is more targeted to enterprise, nConnect users, and nCDN miners.
- A lot of effort has gone into the recent Synology contract and integration. Do you have other NAS vendors in the works or at any stage of business development? If so, can you give any details about them?
Bruce: we already announced our coming partnership with ASUSTOR at the very beginning of this AMA, so I guess all of you knew that.
We don’t stop there, we have at least one leading enterprise in the pipeline for now. so our goal is to capture the 3 out of top 5 NAS vendors, that is our ambition and we can say that we’re not far from our goal.
- Have there been any further developments with new nCDN customers?
Bruce: We started with iQIYI earlier this year and we’ve already gone through a few billing cycles. In the meantime, we are not putting too much focus on nCDN due to its unique characteristics. First of all, it is very unique to the Chinese market, where the price of CDN overall is very low. Even with NKN’s very low cost base, it will not be very viable when it comes to the international market. Secondly, nCDN does not have a native connection as nConnect service has, as in nConnect miners will be paid directly, where transaction happens only between users and miners. For the nCDN services, we still need to convert payments and that is not the kind of model we’d like to go with. We’d like to integrate with NKN blockchain in a tighter way so we’ll be working to find a better way both for profitability and integration. Our main effort will be slightly shifted towards nConnect for now, since it shows a very unique benefit as it is tightly integrated with NKN’s network and is expected to bring more miners and revenues in the coming months.
- Any future plans business wise/commercially?
Bruce: I’ll lightly touch on the business side in the presentation. From what we have seen in the NAS vendors, it is very clear that we are able to capture the very top of the market. We do have a unique competitiveness there. NAS itself is a very good market, the size of the total market is about 20 billion dollars globally. Of course, nConnect is the remote access part, so we would be a fraction of that. But as long as we could capture that fraction, it will generate very good revenue for 2021 for the NKN ecosystem and especially for the miners.
But we will keep on developing more revenue streams and that’s why Yilun was mentioning our strong effort in developing C++ SDK because it helps to solve two problems: first of all, iOS app problems will be fixed as with C++ we can enable a very efficient Apple implementation; and secondly, with C++ we can push to smaller IoT devices. If we look into the home devices, NAS is probably high-end. They have enough CPU and memory to run nConnect pretty fine, but if we go down to the next level such as smart cameras, doorbells or even thermometers, then we have more limitations in terms of processing power, memory and disk. That’s where the C++ SDK together with a lighter client can enable us to go into those smaller devices. And that will open up an even larger business opportunity for us.
- The official website has been recently redesigned, could you elaborate a bit on your idea of this update? Also, is this an attempt to focus a little bit more on marketing in the future plans?
Bruce: Yes, we did put a lot of effort in the renewal of our website. Suzy and our marketing team have been working very closely with our developer team in the past months to complete this new website with refreshed look, better navigation and more information.
When we first started the project years ago, Yanbo, Yilun and I had an idea of how the project should be and we did not focus much on the “beauty” of the website, so it was not updated much during these times. I’m actually really thankful to our marketing team and our developer Chris for this total revamp, since not a single code was recycled from the old website and we did everything from scratch.
In terms of branding, we actually have something that we’ve been discussing for a while: how can we distinguish the identity of nkn.org, as a community project or a non-profit foundation, from the NKN company, which is commercial for profit enterprise.
So, up to now it serves well to combine the two in one place, but soon I think we might have to separate these two to avoid confusion or misunderstanding at certain point. We haven’t figured out the best way to do the separation but I think this will definitely be one of our big topics among the team and our community developers in 2021. If the community or anyone of you have any good ideas, please feel free to contact us and share your opinions.
Yanbo: we’ll also have some technical solution to solve the “sometimes laggy” website rendering problem with Chris and Yilun.
- What are your future marketing and communication plans?
Bruce: There are two different parts, we have nkn.org (the token side) and a business side.
For the business side, we have nConnect that is still in the very first stage where we do business developments with enterprises such as Synology and ASUSTOR, a B2B sales process. Our sales team will handle these.
Then once the service goes live, we start to deal with consumers, which means B2C. And that is also where we start to see the marketing. Suzy and the team in China have been working on how to attract more users. There are two ways, we could go to places where the NAS owners communicate and try to grab their attention, or we could also collaborate with our entrepreneur partners to promote our products together.
We will also start with targeted keyword search advertising, related keywords on major search engines can actually attract targeted users who search for a solution.
Aside from the product side, we have the NKN token side. We have been working with media platforms such as CoinDesk, Crypto Briefing, Coin Telegraph and etc. We try to get more editorial articles posted and we plan to work with more influencers to do more video interviews. That’s our plan to enhance the recognition of NKN.
We do hope that these two pronged effort will help each other. Especially in the crypto world, bigger news only happens when you both have a trustworthy crypto project that also has a partnership with a leading enterprise from the non-crypto world.
- Your thoughts on Surge dApp?
Yanbo: In fact, I like Surge very much. It is almost the top two software that I’d like to make based on the NKN network. The Rule110 team did such an amazing job that it has much more advantages compared to products that are already on the market. I did a lot of testing on Surge; it is still a Beta version, but it has a great potential to serve the mass market in the future. Also, let me announce that we do have an incentive from our NKN foundation to give out for this great software and further announcements will be made before Christmas.
Bruce: congratulations on the great Beta launch of Surge! I also use it pretty much every day and I personally think it beats all the products already on the market. And yes, we do have a merry Christmas gift for the team Rule 110 and further announcements will be done soon.
Yilun: I’d like to add something from the technology aspect to those people who are not familiar with this technology. Surge is not only a useful product but also has a challenging technology behind it. Personally, as someone in the field I’m super excited to know about the design, implementation details about Surge. It is definitely a challenging task and also a very ambitious one to build a software like Surge. I really appreciate the team for realizing such an amazing job in a short time. I believe that Surge will have a solid user base if they keep on with their awesome job. I’d like to insist that I really enjoyed Surge and I think it fills in as a missing puzzle to our NKN ecosystem. Great job everyone!
- Do you consider to expand both the number of community built dapps and developers? If so, then by what means?
Bruce: I think as Yanbo and Yilun already mentioned, we cannot or do not want to “buy” developers. We used to have “bounty” given out but apparently it did not work in the way we’d expected. We’d like to attract people with internal motivation. And as NKN foundation, we are willing to provide support and incentives whenever we can, but it’s definitely not so much about hanging out carrots in front of everyone since it might not give the right incentive that we initially hoped for.
Yanbo: Yes, and let me emphasize, we always value quality more than quantity.
- Any future partnerships or mutually created products with other blockchain projects?
Bruce: I think 2020 has been a difficult year for a lot of projects. We did not have much chance to meet with a lot of the teams in person due to the lockdown. However, we are in contact with some of the amazing projects, for example in the past we had a lot of contacts with IoTeX regarding the IoT side. That’s still an ongoing opportunity, with our C++ SDK, we should be able to support their future generation of security webcam.
And we are also looking for other opportunities, like improving the liquidity and activities on Uniswap. We’ll keep you all updated with announcements when new partnerships and collaborations materializes.
- The Ethereum dev ecosystem is flourishing, have you considered to tap into that community and attract developers that highly value the principles of decentralization?
Yilun: Yes of course, if we have a chance to attract the Ethereum community and developers that’d be great. But first let me explain a little about NKN if you’re not familiar. Ethereum and most of the blockchain are focused on the on-chain part, which includes smart contracts or specifically anything that’s related to transactions. However, NKN is more focused on the off-chain part. Therefore, the ecosystem, application that we and our community built are all off-chain products. Which further means that we do not see transactions as the core part. So, I would say compared to what we are building, Ethereum’s apps are closer to traditional applications.
- How’s the team?
Yilun: Basically, since I live in Silicon Valley, I would say the situation here is still quite tense due to the global epidemic. I have been staying, working, playing, doing everything at home for almost a year. I didn’t have much chance to go out for groceries or enjoy an outdoor vacation. And my lifestyle has changed a lot as you can see from my hair, uncut or growing quite wild😊 But I tried a lot of things or services I did not touch before. Somehow, I think this lifestyle works for me, and I think I’m pretty used to it now. 2020 taught us how the Internet has become one of the most important parts of our lives. Only with the Internet, we can do a lot of things remotely. And I would also take this as a proof that NKN has more opportunity because connection between people, things, and the world securely is our most fundamental goal.
Bruce: With winter coming, I think the spike of the pandemic is coming back somehow in some of the areas. We’ll probably be still adapting to this mode for a while. But on the other hand, when looking back at 2020, we did achieve quite a lot. And if we look outside the world, SpaceX had launched their crew dragon and cargo dragon, and also Starship was pretty successful, AND Taylor swift released two studio albums in one year which she had never been able to do before. I think we all can achieve a lot even in a pandemic, it is not an excuse to be made. We pushed forward some contracts and released a few products in 2020, but it is not enough. In 2021, we’ll do better. We don’t see the pandemic only as a problem but also as an opportunity. That’d be my new year’s resolution for 2021.
Yanbo: 2020 is definitely a tough year for everyone. But I’m still very proud that by the end of this year, especially in December, we have two of our most important products released: Surge from the community and nConnect. There are still things that we could improve and optimize, but we already did a good job to make everything work! In the next year, we have a very full schedule to fulfill and a lot of partnership to develop. I hope you all have a bright future next year and take care of yourself!