Looking Back and Moving Forward: LBRY in 2017/2018
Jeremy Kauffman • Jan 31 2018
In the blockchain space, LBRY is an anomaly.
While many blockchain companies seem to exist exclusively to convert PDF-based promises into large sums of money, the LBRY team has relentlessly focused on creating a working product that is actually used by human beings.
As a result, LBRY has one of the most advanced and usable blockchain platforms in existence. We reached a number of technical and business milestones in 2017, and we expect to accomplish much more in 2018.
Here's a look at the past year as well as what's up next.
LBRY in 2017
LBRY entered 2017 with a live blockchain, a private alpha product, and just a few people working full time on the project.
Here's some of what we accomplished in 2017:
- LBRY released its first stand-alone graphical app in February of 2017. This app was a closed beta (though the miner and network tools were publicly available).
- The LBRY App began a public beta in August 2017. It has been downloaded over 100,000 times since then and is used by tens of thousands of users weekly.
- Over 5,000 YouTubers have made their content available on LBRY, including dozens of top creators, including fantastic ones like Casually Explained, The Rubin Report, 3Blue1Brown, and NurdRage.
- We launched spee.ch, a web-based way of accessing and publishing free content to the LBRY network. Over 200,000 people have already used this site, and it grows more popular every day.
- Around 50,000 people follow LBRY on social media, and about 10,000 regularly hang out in our online chat room. Funny story: our chat room was originally on Slack, but Slack shut us down for being too popular!
- Over 150,000 pieces of content are available on the network currently, including everything from major motion pictures, crypto retirement guides, top streamers, and LBRY originals like Cop Chronicles.
- Over 100 developers have contributed to the LBRY codebase, over 4,000 developers follow the project, and LBRY is continually rated one of the most active projects in the blockchain. For example, we're in the top 20 on CoinGecko, despite it only counting one of several core codebases!
- We grew from a lean 5 employees to 14 employees on five continents.
- We saved over 20,000 college lectures from the government memory hole.
- We saw major press coverage from NASDAQ, VentureBeat, Fox News, RussiaToday, John Stossel, and many other outlets.
Perhaps most impressively, LBRY has accomplished all of this for approximately $600,000 and a few million LBC. We will be expanding significantly into 2018 and expect to deliver commensurate results.
LBRY in 2018
As you can see, 2017 was a good year for us. But we have ambitious plans to make 2018 a spectacular year for the LBRY app and protocol. You'll find the broad strokes of our plan below.
A. Protocol Performance & Expansion
Optimizing the performance and capabilities of the LBRY protocol has been an ongoing challenge.
In 2018, we want the LBRY protocol to work better than ever.
- Expand the team of dedicated LBRY protocol developers. Join us! (Q1 2018)
- Continue to obsess over making the protocol as performant and reliable as possible (All of 2018)
- Explore and likely add support for resolution to other data sources, such as HTTP, BitTorrent, and/or IPFS. (Q2 2018)
- Improve publisher profiles and publisher functionality (Q2 / Q3 2018)
- Improve support for discovery, by adding features for tagging and categorization. (Q3 / Q4 2018)
B. Documentation & Technical Community
While it was the right call for LBRY to prioritize building over documentation in its earliest stages, the lack of a clear specification and documentation is now holding LBRY back.
Additionally, LBRY has already seen code contributions from over one hundred people. Improving the documentation and awareness of LBRY in technical communities will only improve this.
- Release a technical whitepaper. (Draft by Q1 2018)
- Launch lbry.tech as a technical resource, improve/revise other resources, and generally ensure the ecosystem is welcoming and easy to get started in as possible. (Q1/Q2 2018)
- Formalize and build awareness in the ability for developers to contribute and receive LBC. (All of 2018)
- Campaign and promote LBRY to technical communities, both online and in-person. (All of 2018)
- If you want to look at all of our development and business priorities in one place, take a look at our updated roadmap.
C. User Friendliness
LBRY is already one of the most popular consumer-targeted blockchain products. However, it could be used by even more people if the product was more user-friendly, available on more platforms, and more welcoming to new users.
- Release a redesigned app (Q1 2018).
- Release an Android app (Alpha Q1 2018, Public Q2 2018). Join the Android notification list here.
- Improve the first-run process, particularly around getting Credits in the hands of new users. (All of 2018)
- Continue to round out feature set (All of 2018)
Last year approximately $5-$10mm of new LBRY Credits came into existence and were awarded to miners. Assuming miners are not making substantial profits, this means a similar amount of money was spent securing the LBRY blockchain.
Is this the optimal design? As we've researched and discussed blockchain economics, we've discovered the knowledge and rigor to be shockingly low. We want to improve this.
Additionally, LBRY will be less conservative with its own Credits in 2018. We've built significant trust through our prudency. While we'll continue to be prudent, we can reward the community more by building more, and that means utilizing more Credits.
As always, you can keep up with how we spend LBC by looking at our quarterly Credit Reports.
- Consult with and consider forming a consortium or working group of security practitioners and economists. (Q2 2018)
- Launch a LBRY Improvement Proposal process, by which protocol changes can be submitted and considered (Q1 2018)
- Have a public conversation and discussion about blockchain economics, including incentive design and mining centralization (Q1 2018 and continuing throughout).
- Move several million Credits to market per quarter to further capitalize company and expand productivity (All of 2018)
E. Scaling Content
Having thousands of YouTubers adopt LBRY, including dozens of top streamers (despite the early stage of the product), shows the massive demand for content freedom.
By improving and streamlining the onboarding and publishing process for creators, we can attract a massive amount of content.
We expect to onboard more than ten times the creators we did last year and to get approximately ten million LBRY Credits into the hands of creators in 2018.
- Formalizing offerings to streamers. Debut new website and materials around campaign (Q1 2018).
- Debut film and television content from a "Big 6" Studio.
- Attend major and minor creator events, such as film festivals and conferences, continuing to establish LBRY as a viable alternative to centralized distribution (All of 2018, starting with Sundance).
F. Community Initiatives
LBRY's independent user community is one of the project's greatest strengths. We've had hundreds of interested developers contribute to the project, thousands of people hang out with us on chat, and tens of thousands engage with us in social media.
We want to continue to grow the number of people engaged and excited about content freedom.
- Launch a meetup program including incentives and materials to introduce LBRY to others (Q1 2018)
- Improve the ability to spread and share LBC through other media, such as Twitter, YouTube, and other social-platform-based tipping (Q2 2018)
- Engage with other existing online communities and friendly projects through shared initiatives (All of 2018)
- Continue to establish spee.ch as the safest/best way to quickly share images and videos (All of 2018)
Expecting the Unexpected
You can't be prepared for everything, but you can build processes and principles to figure out the right direction when you know you're headed into the unknown. The crypto space is changing rapidly, and there's no way to tell exactly what the future holds. Whatever we face, we'll maintain our open, decentralized mode of operation and commitment to our community.
We Need You To Build LBRY
Want to help LBRY build a free and open internet? Here's how:
- Download the LBRY app and try it out.
- If you have an idea that could make the app better (or if something breaks while you're using it!) open a new issue on GitHub and tell us about it.
- Tell your friends and family about LBRY. With SMS Rewards verification in the newest version of the app, it's easier than ever to earn LBC which can then be used to publish, view paid content or tip your favorite creators on LBRY.