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Blockchain In Publishing: 33 Startups To Watch In 2019

  • 7 February 2019
  • Sam Mire

Exposing your creative work is tough. The most talented creators go completely unnoticed if they can’t find suitable means to publish their work. The advent of the modern internet provided easy means for self-publishing, but it led to a new set of problems stemming from oversaturation. Technology can’t fix all the publishing industry’s woes, but innovators in the space are working on it in any case.

The industry is already seeing some blockchain-powered enhancements.. Some startups reward content creators for self-publishing their work. Others explore how decentralized platforms can source more popular stories. Multiple platforms cater to ensuring that artists of any stripe or experience receive fair compensation for all their work.

Across the industry, publishing is beginning to see a first wave of blockchain innovators change how business is done. Here are some relevant companies in the space.


Sapien NetworkSapien

Trust in news outlets is at an all-time low, but Sapien is seeking to shift consumer confidence back in the right direction. The idea is to establish high-quality, trustworthy content and to reward that content by issuing the ERC20-compliant SPN token. Blockchain-enabled algorithms, along with democratic communal rating, determine what news is to be rewarded and – more importantly – which is untrustworthy. The platform incorporates data control mechanisms that so many legacy social networks have failed to implement, which might just be the most appealing aspect of the Sapien network.

Date Founded: November 22, 2016

Funding Type: ICO


Nwzernwzer

There’s no journalism like citizen journalism – at least, that’s the mantra nwzer, the AI and blockchain-powered news platform. They ask the question: ‘What if Reddit, Twitter, and Wikipedia had a baby?’. Well, according to the newzr team, you’d get…newzr. The platform is based on how much attention stories garner, and how much volume journalists deliver with consistency. The more likes and views, the greater the amount of stories they contribute, the more contributors are rewarded.

Date Founded: January 1, 2017

Funding Type: Private


EveripediaEveripedia

Everipedia is what you might suspect it to be: an internet-tailored encyclopedia. In fact, it is touted as the ‘world’s largest encyclopedia on the blockchain’. Contributors can become stakeholders in the platform and get compensated for their curated additions through tokens and other forms of remuneration. The platform is decentralized, so contributors can add their two cents regardless of their geographic location. It’s also democratic, resistant to censorship – a biggie in the 2018 news climate – and financially rewarding.

Date Founded: December 2014

Funding Type: Private


PIBBLEPIBBLE

PIBBLE is a blockchain-enabled platformed for the image conscious – image creators, that is. It’s an image ecosystem that rewards creators for their works, whether they are cartoons, illustrations, or otherwise. Blockchain tech and smart contract technology tag-team on the PIBBLE network to credit both creators and consumers for their interactions and contributions to the platform. For the amateur artists with cult followings, PIBBLE represents a means of monetization between street sales and the high-falutin arthouses.

Date Founded: 2017

Funding Type: ICO


PublicaPublica

Publica is a Gibraltar-based startup that wants to disrupt how books are funded, distributed, purchased, and read, with help from blockchain technology. The central column in their foundation is the ‘book ICO’, where authors pre-sell copies of their upcoming releases as tokenized assets. Authors create a campaign for their work on the Publica platform – if they’re wise it will be persuasive and compelling – and then interested readers/investors can choose to invest, or not. Those who do will receive a copy of the book once it’s published, and possibly other special rewards, in exchange for funding a writer’s penmanship.

ICO: October 10, 2017

Funding Type: ICO


LBRYLBRY

LBRY is a user-owned, decentralized content sharing and publishing platform conceived out of scenic Manchester, New Hampshire. The free, community-run digital marketplace contains a few different sorts of media, including movies, college texts and lessons, other videos, ebooks, and more. It is, at its core, a protocol. But, without the users building and launching on top of it, the LBRY platform would be just that – a protocol. Once users make their content available, set a price per stream or download, and begin to transact with users through blockchain payments, the platform really comes to life.

Date Founded: 2015

Funding Type: Private


SteemSteem

Steem is a social platform that rewards users the more that they share. The blockchain-driven database of users flips the old paradigm where investors in the social platform benefit the most from the platform’s growth. With Steem, it’s the actual content creators who see the greatest returns. Developers can build actual applications on the platform entrepreneurs can piggyback on others’ apps – or create their own – as a bona fide revenue stream, crypto-heads can find info about buying and selling coins, and the socially-minded can post away while getting paid to do it. And all of the content, posts, and data are secured by blockchain technology.

Funding Type: Private


MtonomyMTonomy

MTonomy is a publishing platform built for the digital age. Built by a team from MIT, right now the platform allows users to listen and purchase music directly on a web-based store by using the Metamask digital wallet. The vision for the platform remains larger, though; going forward, the plan is to scale the MTonomy marketplace to support a much wider audience of creators and consumers. Whether it’s an author, director, or musician, the MTonomy model allows creatives to directly market and profit from their work using smart contracts that serve to replace more fee-heavy platforms. The idea is that fewer intermediaries in digital content publishing will mean savings for all parties.

Date Founded: 2018


PaperchainPaperchain

Paperchain is a Brooklyn-based solution for financing in the digital publishing sector. Typically, pay cycles for digital media can be drawn out and inefficient; that is the problem that Paperchain is looking to solve. The hope is that, by tokenizing media revenue cash flows, investors in the platform sink their money in, affording creators and media companies a novel way to liquidate their unpaid earnings. The platform will also let users handle their accounts receivable in a single place, using smart contracts as a tool to ensure that payment is received on time. Paperchain is a multi-pronged approach to creating greater liquidity and accountability in the media publishing landscape.

Date Founded: July 15, 2016

Funding Type: Private


Loop NetworkLoop Network

The Loop Network is a blockchain-powered answer to the digital, alternative news revolution. Developed in California, the network uses credibility-analyzing AI to assess the validity of claims made by purported news outlets. This blueprint is aimed at removing much of the subjectivity and legwork that is presently required to scour and assess not only entire news sources, but the entirety of the internet itself. Decentralization is also a key factor in the Loop Network’s success; the belief is that a network of self-organized, decentralized moderators assisted by AI will be more trustworthy vettors than a single person or centralized entity.

Date Founded: October 1, 2017

Funding Type: Private


BitRightsBitRights

BitRights is providing a way for individual creators and businesses to register their digital content rights easily and  affordably. When a user registers a piece of content – video, artwork, photograph, whatever – it is assigned publically with time stamped ownership information, metadata, and licensing conditions. Users can then link their bank account to get paid every time that somebody uses their work. The BitRights web interface lets owners customize exactly what conditions will be attached when their work is used, ensuring that compensation is based on the owner’s terms, and nothing more – not platform fees, not marketplace averages, or other often-arbitrary metrics.

Date Founded: April 2018

Funding Type: Private


BTC LabsBTC Labs

BTC Labs is a decentralized media suite where the creators can be directly compensated for their work. A venture studio, BTC Labs will continue creating decentralized applications for media companies that want to keep an eye to the future. That means developing the infrastructure for the future of media distribution, with blockchain often serving as the rebar. Their noteworthy ventures to date include Po.et, MAD Network, and CoinCart.

Funding Type: Private


Linius TechnologiesLinius Technologies

Linius Technologies is a video creation and manipulation tool and platform that is seeking to bring greater customization, monetization, and security to video creators. Linius has partnered with the likes of Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft on an array of projects, using blockchain as an increasingly integral aspect of the ventures. The platform allows users to tap into the data behind their videos, in doing so bringing greater customization capabilities to the table. This has also led to greater control over video in general, unlocking the possibility of sharing large storage archives, instilling greater piracy protections, and more.

Date Founded: 2011

Funding Type: Venture-backed


CivilCivil

Civil is a journalism platform owned by the community, for the community. Journalists can upload their publication or entire newsroom onto the platform and wait for the audience to take notice. Nobody is barred from the platform, so long as they abide by the community guidelines and journalistic standards. Each journalist and publication is given the tools to establish that they are the true owners of the information they post, giving readers the peace of mind that they are taking in authentic, original content. Civil has partnerships with the likes of the Associated Press, which has created a number of membership privileges that expand beyond the platform’s inherent value.

Date Founded: 2017

Funding Type: Venture-backed


YoursYours

Yours is a creator-driven platform that rewards authors for their content. Users earn Bitcoin based on the amount of value (likes, reads, etc.) they bring to the platform. Creators have complete control over the amount users will pay to access their content, including whether they will charge anything at all. Users are also compensated for voting on quality content – the earlier the vote, and the more votes that are issued later, the more early voters and the content publisher receive. Yours makes clear that they charge ten cents to post, and take 5% of all purchases and tips – still, its use of blockchain for operations and payment automation keeps overhead and fees relatively low, allowing creators and voters to keep a fair slice of the pie.

Date Founded: May 25, 2016

Funding Type: Venture-backed


CBNTCBNT

CBNT – Creating Breaking News Together – is a decentralized content sharing community for professionals. The earliest iterations of CBNT will focus on the intersection of the blockchain and financial investment, and all content will be directed around that focus. According to the CBNT blueprint both content creators and consumers will be rewarded for their time spent on the platform through the issuance of “Mining Rewards”. And, the advertising revenue will also be distributed to the user base as the platform gains popularity and  consistent traffic. All decisions will follow this group-mentality; CBNT follows a decentralized, “group wisdom” model of governance.

Date Founded: 2017

Funding Type: ICO


MithrilMithril

Mithril is a Taiwanese-created social platform that rewards its users with MITH token as they interact with the interface and other users. Through its ‘social mining’ concept, Mithril creators are rewarded as they create and post new content; similarly, the more users interact with content and posts, the more they are rewarded. The grander vision is for a social ecosystem that is powered by MITH, with users spending their earned tokens across a variety of services under the Mithril umbrella – dating services, premium content channels, live-stream applications, and more.

Date Founded: 2017

Funding Type: ICO


WemarkWemark

Wemark is a blockchain-enabled marketplace for the licensing and sharing of digital content, namely photographs. According to Wemark, the ability to establish licensing rights on a blockchain ledger can save users as much as 75% on fees that would be charged by legacy platforms. Users can upload their own original works and peddle it for what they will muster, download the portraits of professional photographers, or both. Part of the Wemark appeal is that users get compensated in digital currencies with tangible value instead of some arbitrary credit. Blockchain registers each and every transaction on the ledger so that the community is fully aware of market rates, who owns what, and how a photograph is being licensed and used.

Date Founded: 2015

Funding Type: Private


TribeTribe

Tribe is a platform helping musical artists and other creators to stay independent by tapping into their fanbase’s willing financial support. The internet has allowed unprecedented independence in getting creativity into the public sphere, but funding work independently can still be a trying feat. Tribe is trying to solve the independence conundrum by hosting crowdfunding for artists using smart contracts. Artists get a clear benefit: funding now in exchange for revenues paid to investors later. But for supporter-investors, there is also a unique proposition. Each user has a record of which acts they supported, including individual songs and albums – serving as a sort of unalterable record of one’s fandom.

Date Founded: 2017

Funding Type: Private


PaymeabitPaymeabit

Italian startup Paymeabit is looking to enhance the movement of blockchain-enabled platforms helping users make money from their social presence. Just like most social platforms, Paymeabit users can post, like, and share, and each interaction on the site is assigned a value in Bitcoin. The relatively low cost of microtransactions using cryptocurrencies is what makes the Paymeabit team believe in their model. The belief: people are attracted to the idea of getting paid for what they’re doing anyway. So, creating a social platform where users can make money simply liking, posting, and sharing should bring the users to the yard – at least, that’s the Paymeabit bet.  

Funding Type: Private


AudiusAudius

Audius is a San Francisco-based decentralized platform for the distribution, attribution, and monetization of music. Artists, producers, and other creatives can simply upload their tracks to the database, receiving a timestamp for their metadata when they do. When listeners stream or buy the song, the artist and other collaborators are automatically paid out, with no third-party services taking cuts or dictating the terms of payment. Real-time royalty payments are a huge pull for artists, especially those who know the sticky business that is the music industry. For listeners, the ability to support artists directly through the Audius platform adds a feel-good element to the listening experience.

Date Founded: February 2018

Funding Type: Venture-backed


Lino NetworkLino

Lino is looking to provide a way for content creators to get paid more efficiently and directly. The Cupertino, CA-based outfit is working on a decentralized, blockchain-powered platform where transactions don’t come with fees, engagement with content is tracked and proven, and the value of content is made clear through several objective measures. Micro-tipping, gifting, and subscriptions are just three of the way that content creators derive tangible value from the Lino consumer base. For users, value comes from algorithms that measure content in a complex way, instead of merely by impressions. This reduces the odds of spam-heavy, value-light posts that are meant only to attract the ephemeral ‘click’. Lino hopes the result will be an engaging, rich ecosystem of content rewarded fairly and consumed engagingly.

Date Founded: July 1, 2017

Funding Type: Private


Po.etPo.et

Po.et, the ‘decentralized protocol for content ownership, discovery, and monetization in media’, is in the early stages of creating a home for creatives that want to establish ownership rights without shutting off traditional media avenues. The lifeblood of the platform is attribution – ensuring that the true creators of content are credited, and subsequent uses are monetized when they are authorized. Cryptography lets Po.et users dictate the terms of their licensing, and uses metadata to make the Po.et database easily searchable. These features make up a platform that lets users show off their work to readers, but also to publishers looking for the next up-and-coming author or media personality.

Date Founded: 2017

Funding Type: ICO


PopChestPopChest

PopChest is bringing video distribution to the blockchain. With their POP Network, PopChest pushes its vision as “YouTube on the blockchain’. The idea is to build on monetization models of major video platforms by providing instant micropayments to creators. These payments and token incentives will, in the PopChest model, replace advertisements and subscription models. The hope is that this will form stronger, more intimate experiences between creatives and their fans, while media personalities are not beholden to the wishes and restrictions of advertisers. It’s also thought that, because direct interactions will dictate how successful a video is, fans will have more sway in dictating who rises to the top, and who flops.

Date Founded: 2018

Funding Type: Private


DOT Blockchain MediaDot Blockchain Media

Dot Blockchain Media is a New York-based rights management platform for the music industry. Users of DotBC get access to a blockchain-linked database which stores metadata about song ownership, collaboration, licensing, and other factors that determine how a song is shared and how collaborators are compensated. Performers can link their song and performance rights, media companies can have easy access to information about how using a song or hiring an artists will effect their bottom line, and listeners have no ambiguity as to how they’ll be charged, either. DotBC is not aiming to create a new rights paradigm, only to improve upon the systems that already exist in the music industry.

Date Founded: 2016

Funding Type: Private


BounteyBountey

Bountey is a blockchain-enabled crowdfunding-style platform for creatives. Instead of GoFundMe campaigns, creatives on the platform establish a Bountey – fundable goals or ideas they’d like to accomplish. The Bountey users can then choose to provide funds, along with their input, in order to get the project off the ground. Once the funding is complete, artists can choose whether to accept the money or reject it, giving donors back their cash. The platform is made more transparent and fraud-averse through blockchain technology, and donors can be rewarded with unique gift from their patrons. Bountey is, for all intents and purposes, a new form of crowdfunding for creatives on the blockchain.

Date Founded: June 2018

Funding Type: Venture-backed


PropsProps

Props is creating a decentralized model for the distribution of digital media by rewarding contributors – the lifeblood of the platform. The New York-based startup is looking to create a more equitable share of profits among creators, instead of the disparate pay structure that has plagued other non-decentralized social platforms. The open-source aspect of Props is meant to allow cross-app sharing of video, specifically features such as P2P video chat, many-to-many video sharing, and multi-user live streaming. The PROPS token will be the metric by which a user’s value is gauged, as they will be compensated fairly – and transparently – for the growth the bring to the platform.

ICO: December 11, 2017

Funding Type: ICO


SocialXSocialX

SocialX is attempting to take social video and photo sharing apps to the next level with blockchain introduction. While there are admitted similarities to existing social platforms, there are some key differences, too. For one, users get paid for posting their photos and videos, and they get paid even more when followers choose to Superlike their content. Those who receive a Superlike are rewarded with SOCX tokens, which can be redeemed for currency of more tangible value. All files posted on SocialX are stored decentrally, which means that they are backed up but not in a way that is easily hackable. Additional features include prepaid SOCX debit cards, the ability to purchase goods through an eCommerce capability, and clearly-defined user ownership of all posted content.  

ICO: January 15, 2018

Funding Type: ICO


View.lyViewly

Viewly is a ‘decentralized YouTube’ built on the blockchain which rewards creators and users for their contributions to the platform. Built ‘for creators, by creators’, the streaming platform is the brainchild of Tel Aviv-based innovators who saw the ad-dependent, financially erratic video streaming platforms as in dire need of an intelligent upheaval. That’s how Viewly came to be, and now it’s seeking to gain a foothold in the streaming world with features like Patreon-esque support assisted by micropayments and creator subscriptions. Users can create, edit, and share all using the Viewly platform, as well as using those videos as the engine for self-launched social campaigns. The platform takes a do-it-all approach by mixing philanthropy with creativity and healthy monetization of time, effort, and content.  

ICO: October 5, 2017

Funding Type: ICO


IPStockIPStock

IPStock is a blockchain ecosystem that allows users to upload their illustrations, photos and vectors to establish ownership and set usage rights. The Swiss company is a visual digital content registry that encapsulated three primary purposes: 1) secure image storage 2) metadata management, and 3) uploading of content onto the ‘stocks’. These goals are all made easier through the automation of blockchain and smart contract technologies. Creatives will be please to read that the core service is free, support on the platform is everready, and the platform continues to evolve by the day, based on user feedback.

Date Founded: 2015

Funding Type: ICO


Sharpay Sharpay

Sharpay is a relatively new ‘share’ button that enables and unlocks blockchain-based rewards in for content promoters. It embraces the concept of ‘multisharing’, by which content is posted across several social platforms with a single click. The Sharpay button is customizable and can be made to easily fit in with the design of any site or application. Users can be rewarded both for sharing and exploring using the Sharpay button, and Sharpay tokens – the medium of reward – are exchangeable with Visa, MasterCard, or Bitcoin.

ICO: December 11, 2017

Funding Type: ICO


HowdooHowdoo

Howdoo is a decentralized social platform that professes to take all of the best features of social media apps, thrown in the blockchain, and come out the other side with the best thing since sliced bread. In this respect, they’re not unlike many of the other blockchain-enabled social platforms. They promise not to sell users’ personal data, and to prove that they aren’t using blockchain ledger technology. Howdoo also promises to reward content creators fairly, paying out based on objective criteria that is governed by algorithms, not the subjective whims of nameless, faceless, human teams. Meanwhile, advertisers see their benefit in the ability to interact directly with their target audience in a consenting manner. And, all of this is promised on sleek mobile and web-based platforms. Howdoo you like them apples?

ICO: May 2, 2018

Funding Type: ICO


GiftoGifto

Gifto Protocol is the ‘universal gifting protocol’ aimed at facilitating the creation and sharing of ‘virtual gifts’. Created by mobile entertainment company Asia Innovations Group, Gifto has been tested on AIG’s Uplive platforms as a way for content creators to monetize their followings. The gift-giving is primarily from fans to their favorite creators, and this is the vision for other social platforms that implement the Gifto protocol. The idea is for virtual gifts to help serve as a way for content creators to wean off the dependence on specific social platforms and their advertisers, in turn allowing for more creative freedom and financial independence. Gifto Tokens will be the digital currency that helps facilitate this exchange of value between fans and their favorite creatives using Gifto-linked social platforms.

ICO: December 14, 2017

Funding Type: ICO

About Sam Mire

Sam is a Market Research Analyst at Front Lines Media. He's a trained journalist with experience in the field of disruptive technology. He’s versed in the impact that blockchain technology is having on industries of today, from healthcare to cannabis. He’s written extensively on the individuals and companies shaping the future of tech, working directly with many of them to advance their vision. Sam is known for writing work that brings value to industry professionals and the generally curious – as well as an occasional smile to the face.

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