Current is an existing media platform that allows users to stream media content from YouTube, Spotify and SoundCloud. The company now plans to use blockchain technology to build a token economy around the platform. As part of the blockchain expansion, they plan to integrate other media networks like Netflix and Hulu into their existing platform.
The central premise of the company is that consumers often miss out on good content whilst content creators do not get sufficient rewards.
The new Content protocol is conceived to allow content consumers to be compensated for their attention and their usage data in CRNC, the platform’s native token, which can then be sold into other crypto-currency or used to upgrade membership packages.
Whilst the idea of passive consumers being paid simply to watch streamed videos or listen to streamed music appears novel to most, it is one of the major disruptive aspects brought to classical economic theory by the blockchain, and the proof-of-concept has already been established by platforms such as the Steem blockchain which is a working model of the idea.
CONCEPT AND WHITE-PAPER
With an abundance of information and content, people’s attention is now amongst the scarcest – and therefore most valuable – commodities. Generation Z spends 5 hours a day on the phone. Facebook and YouTube are extremely valuable because they have learned to monopolise this attention.
The white-paper, itself a comprehensive and professional document, goes into a lot of depth regarding the various mechanisms which Current wants to exploit via blockchain technology to create value in the attention economy. This is a very strong concept that incentivises all the participants in the ecosystem. The result, if they can execute the plan, will be a very powerful network effect.
Rather than competing head-on with other players in the streaming media industry, Current has chosen to work with them. These partners get to retain revenue and user data and are offered a conversion funnel for premium services.
Consumers are given tokens as an incentive to consume media and share the platform with their friends. Content creators can earn supplemental income and potentially reach a bigger audience. Curators earn an income for curating content and creating playlists – something they are not usually rewarded for.
The team are hoping to raise $36 million during the token sale and as per the following table, 70 percent of that capital will be used for development and marketing.
If there is a shortcoming to the white-paper, it’s that it provides very little detail on the specific technical implementation.
Current has an extensive roadmap, divided into two phases, with additional plans beyond phase two. The network is designed to evolve over time, and there is a fair amount of flexibility to accommodate a changing media landscape in the future.
The first phase began in April 2016 and essentially outlines the building of the current business. In March 2017 the first version of the platform was launched as an iOS App. The platform currently streams content from YouTube, Spotify and Soundcloud.
As of writing, the app has 200,000 users, with a 35 percent 30-day retention rate and an average session length of 18 minutes. It also has 238 user reviews in the App Store with an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. We should point out that there is very little reference to this App in mainstream media, making these numbers altogether more impressive.
Phase one will conclude with the token sale and CRNC token distribution. In Q2 2018, video integration for Netflix and Hulu will be added. An Android version of the platform is planned for Q3 2018, and platforms for Windows, iPads and Smart TVs will be released thereafter.
The first phase of blockchain attribution will be implemented in Q3 2018, allowing users to be rewarded for consumption. In Q1 2019 integration of external networks will be added. Over the course of 2019, decentralized content distribution will be allowed – this will allow content creators to earn 100% of the revenue generated by their content. The Ad platform will also be added in 2019.
The white-paper lists 15 people as the core team and contributors, as well as 11 advisors and investors. The big drawcard on the advisor list is Mark Cuban who founded and sold one of the first internet radio companies, Broadcast.com. Most mentions of the project in the media have led with his name which seems to have attracted a strong following.
Other advisors come from a wide range of related industries including blockchain projects, crypto exchanges, financial markets and entertainment. However, it is worth pointing out that very few of these advisors, including Mark Cuban, have mentioned Current in media interviews or on social media. We may be wrong, but on the face of it, it appears many of these advisors are on board primarily to give the project credibility and visibility.
As far as the core team goes, the CEO is Dan Novaes, who has founded and sold two start-ups in the mobile space. He seems to enjoy regular appearances on CNBC and Fox Business to discuss cryptocurrencies and the Current project.
Of the 15 people listed as the core team and contributors, only six count themselves as members of the Current team on LinkedIn. The remaining contributors are PR and ICO consultants. The team will, therefore, need to expand its development team to execute its strategy.
The CRNC token, pronounced ‘currency’, is central to the platform and protocol. Consumers, creators, curators and partners will all earn CRNC tokens by using the platform. Advertisers will also use the token to pay for advertising. The CRNC tokens will be implemented on the public Ethereum blockchain as an ERC20 token.
Of the total supply of one billion tokens, 350 million will be available for the token sale. Any unsold tokens will be locked up for two years before being sold on the platform. The low minimum contribution of 0.03 ETH for the token sale should allow for a broad investor base, probably a strategic move as token holders themselves are likely to serve as a promotional tool for the platform as well as end users.
A further 350 million tokens will be ‘mined’ by users consuming content on the platform and encouraging other people to join the platform. These tokens can be saved, sold or used to pay for premium memberships. 100 million tokens will be used to incentivise strategic partners. 170 million tokens will go to the team while 30 million tokens will be used for long-term network governance.
The Current protocol will distribute tokens as per the following table:
In the future, independent media platforms will be able to fork from the Current chain to create sub-tokens with their own distribution rules. Current also hopes that the CRNC token will ultimately be used on external media platforms.
Marketing is possibly Current’s biggest strength. The project has been featured in several mainstream media sites and on CNBC and Fox Business. The Current Telegram group has 49,000 members, making it the fifth largest ICO group on the platform. Over 100,000 people have already joined the whitelist for the token sale, which will ensure a broad base of investors, potential users and ambassadors.
This has been achieved by building a large team of high profile investors and advisors and by leveraging several PR agencies. If the team can keep the momentum going with its marketing effort, it should be able to gain traction fairly quickly.
The white-paper also covers numerous methods the team plans to use to attract consumers, creators and partners to the platform. Ultimately, the biggest driver of user adoption will be the network effect.
This has been one of the most heavily hyped projects in the past few months, but that is not necessarily a bad thing – it proves the team know how to market a product, and it is itself a sound foundation from which to drive user adoption in the future.
Current has already built an MVP, so this is more than just an idea and a white-paper. But, they still have a long way to go in terms of building the blockchain technology. To do that they will need to recruit a substantial and skilled development team. Having recently cancelled its main sale on the back of pre-sale oversubscription, they appear well-positioned to provide the necessary budget for assembling a first-rate development team.
Apart from the execution risk, this is a very strong concept with good potential. If the team can execute on its plan, the network can accrue significant value. Companies that win in the attention economy become very valuable, very quickly.
It is difficult to compare the market value of a media asset with the network value of a platform like Current. However, as the white-paper points out, the capital being raised in the ICO is low relative to the amount that has been invested in similar media platforms. That implies there could be a fair amount of upside if the platform is widely adopted.