ArDrive wants to shake up the process of accessing rails feeding files into Arweave’s data storage blockchain.
The startup crypto told CoinDesk that it will invest $17.2 million funding round to create a decentralized alternative to arweave.net, a critical (but at present, a centralized) gateway for uploading files to Arweave’s on-chain hard drive, called the “permaweb.”
The permaweb’s entrance is through a gateway, said Phil Mataras, ArDrive’s founder. According to him, that’s where all of the apps connect to push data up, inquire about it, or transfer a transaction from one wallet to another.
Close to all of the data on Arweave entered via the core team’s original gateway service, Mataras said. AR.IO, the planned decentralized network, could change that by allowing anyone with the knowledge and about one MacBook Pro’s worth of spare computing power to host their own gateway.
Arweave is one of the few blockchain-based services working to popularize decentralized file storage. These services are small compared to cloud giants like Amazon Web Services but they are growing fast, with Arweave, Filecoin, Akash and Storj all offering low-fee file storage which can’t be censored.
Arweave has over 1,000 nodes, 150,000 users and 157 million files, Sam Williams, Arweaves Co-founder said through a spokesperson. The network is adding about 1.5 million files per day.
ArDrive’s Mataras Stated More Interfaces are Needed
They believe that in order for data to be truly permanent, access to it must be as well. And that requires a decentralized network with great incentives to ensure it’s not just about getting data in, but also out, he said.
The AR.IO token will play a huge role in the incentive structure. It will issue via a SmartWeave smart contract, similar to ArDrive’s own token but minus the token’s profit-sharing mechanisms. It will have some level of governance powers over an eventual decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), Mataras said.
But the token’s main function will be as a form of gateway collateral. Operators will stake AR.IO tokens against the balance of their users to prove that they commit to the network. As with other staking-based consensus mechanisms, foolish operators risk their slashed collateral.
Gateway operators will be able to state their own terms, charge their own fees and tweak their offerings for users, the users that are trying to store their files in a permanent, decentralized form. The tech-spec barrier to entry’s design is to be low however Mataras said “we are prepared” for any entity that might run “big, scalable gateway hardware” to take that route, too.
It’s all still all in the developing stages. The central gateway’s code went open source only a couple of weeks ago. And the AR.IO testnet will go live later in this year. If all goes as planned, the network should launch by 2023.
With that said, it has already started to attract the interest of Arweave’s core team. Together with Blockchain Capital and Sino Global Capital, they co-led ArDrive’s $17.2 million fundraising round. After receiving the new capital, ArDrive is now worth $63 million, as per Mataras.
ArDrive’s goal is to make permanent storage accessible to everyone. Furthermore, this additional infrastructure is essential for them to achieve that goal, he said.
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