Supporting a decentralized, uncensored Internet for every person on the planetNov 1, 2017
What makes a better Internet possible? At Orchid Labs, our goal is to ensure that every person on Earth can have access to an open, decentralized, and uncensored Internet. We believe a better Internet is one that isn’t controlled by the few, but open to all.
Currently, Internet access for the majority of the people on Earth is censored and monitored. Because of this, many Internet users are blocked from freely communicating, collaborating, and accessing information. The current centralized system, which limits our ability to communicate and learn — while also harvesting and selling our personal data — is far from the full potential of what the internet could be and strays from the original intention of its creators.
That’s why we’ve launched the Orchid Protocol, an open-source overlay network that uses excess bandwidth on top of the existing Internet to ensure that people — no matter where they live on our planet — can have unrestricted access to information and collaboration. Orchid’s protocol combines surplus bandwidth, state-of-the-art encryption, and a decentralized infrastructure enabling any Internet user to participate and exchange bandwidth for payment in peer-to-peer transactions using Orchid tokens on the Ethereum blockchain.
Our team consists of engineers, cryptocurrency experts, technologists, and partners dedicated to creating an Internet free of surveillance and censorship. This idea isn’t new; there are people across the globe dedicated to this cause. We believe the Orchid Protocol will help the world finally create this reality.
While I’ve been interested in the idea of Internet freedom for some time, the origins of Orchid stem from conversations with Steve Bell, an entrepreneur with more than a decade of experience backing Chinese seed stage startups. We had both personally experienced and witnessed the consequences of surveillance and censorship in our work across the world. My concern was one of surveillance, while Steve’s was one of censorship or access. My perspective was, “how do communicate or access information in a potentially totalitarian state in a private fashion”. I had also experience security issues first hand, both during the Bitstamp hack of 2015 and in having my own phone ported.
We started discussing ways to create an internet free of surveillance and censorship that everyone in the world could access. With a passion for where we wanted to go and a firm idea of how to get there, we knew we needed the technological expertise and funding to make this happen.
Fortunately, we’ve met many technologists and partners who are also passionate about this cause, and who believe in Orchid’s ability to transform the way that users can utilize and access the Internet.
Olaf Carlson-Wee from Polychain Capital is an investor who focuses on emerging Internet-based technologies. “We’ve invested in a number of projects that I would say focus on preserving privacy on the Internet and enabling people to use the Internet in a more free and open way,” he said. “I’d say that cryptocurrency largely falls into this category as well. We invested in Orchid because we think it’s the most sophisticated project we’ve seen to date that’s trying to solve problems within this space.”
Steve Bell had worked with open-source advocate and technologist Brian J. Fox in more than one venture. Steve and Brian had been talking years earlier about the different ways in which restrictive firewalls could be bypassed, enabling freedom of speech on the Internet. When the three of us met to discuss the Orchid mission, it became clear that we had the makings of the core team well underway. Brian had known the software engineer and developer of Cydia, Jay Freeman, for years, and Jay helped us take our project from concept to development stage.
For an expert in creating the technology for an alternative funding model, we turned to Gustav Simonsson, an engineer and developer who helped launch Ethereum. Together, this team brings an immense amount of passion, experience, and expertise that can make the goal of an uncensored, surveillance-free Internet a reality. We believe that together, we’ve created a protocol that will transform the current power structure of the Internet and benefit every Internet user in the world.
One of our first investors, W. Bradford Stephens of Blockchain Capital, has known and worked with me for years. “We support blockchain enabled technologies and when you have an idea that can impact and empower billions of people by creating a more open and inclusive Internet — with the right technology and team — we realized the benefit could affect everyone, no matter where you are on the planet.”
DFJ Venture Capital, another of our partners, believes, “Mission- and purpose-driven businesses last longer. Like open-source communities working on a common goal. These galvanizing rods let people do amazing work. You want your employees and customers to be rooting for you. You can make money anywhere, whereas changing the world, it transcends your existence, and money never does that.”
The Internet is the most powerful tool for gathering information and collaborating that’s ever existed. At Orchid Labs, we believe in order for its fullest potential to be reached, this tool needs to be available for everyone, free of censorship and surveillance, and it needs to protect each user’s personal data.
Because of the passion and expertise of our team, and investors who believe in this mission and our ability to actuate it, we have the technology, drive, and resources to make this dream a reality. If you believe in these same ideals, and an approach that combines open-source technology backed by cryptocurrency, we hope that you’ll join us in our mission to realize a better Internet.