Many of the early pioneers of the web are now shells of their former selves. Lycos, Excite, and others no longer have any real relevance.
This is not to mention the thousands of other sites that were relevant to users of the early web. Some have survived, such as some of the first major eCommerce efforts, like eBay and Amazon. But Yahoo! has been in a steady state of decline for years now, and some might say it’s reached a new low by signing an advertising deal with Google, a company which was founded six years (forever in technology years) after Yahoo! and began as a project by college students.
Yahoo! Search used to compete directly with Google, but now its searches are handled by Microsoft’s Bing. Yahoo! Groups and Mail used to be massive communities, but now they’re dwarfed in comparison to usage of companies like Google and Yandex. Yahoo!’s primary source of income for years was advertising revenue, but now ad blockers and heated competition have made it more difficult for the company to thrive. It’s not surprising, being that that the company has never been alone in the market. Even now, one of its most successful offerings, Tumblr, was an acquisition a few years for a princely sum of more than $1 billion, and has no great revenue model.
Is it really surprising, though, that a company which has never meaningfully led the way is struggling to stay relevant in an in era when the Internet is dominated by companies forging new ground? The company began as a directory and believed that model was sufficient for a long time, according to historical accounts, until the coming of the web crawler. The idea of the web crawler didn’t originate at Yahoo!, and so they had to play catch-up there. They’ve had to play catch-up on numerous fronts, including eCommerce. Yahoo! itself appears to be in trouble in terms of gaining real traction, however, it seems they have so much money leftover from earlier times that they’re not going anywhere anytime soon.
The new deal with Google, the company hopes, will revive its core advertising business. Against all reason, they’ve managed to pull in over a billion dollars over the last quarter. CEO Marissa Mayer told Reuters in a recent conference call, “We are […] experiencing continued revenue headwinds in our core (advertising) business, especially in the legacy portions.” For all intents and purposes, Yahoo! Is becoming more and more like most websites. No longer a giant among dwarves, the company competes for standard traffic and relies on broken ad blocking to earn anything.
The company still has time to find an actual, profit-building business model. But that would require a streak of originality that doesn’t appear to exist, and perhaps risk-taking is not in the cards for a company just looking to survive.
Image from Shutterstock.
New York-Based TokenBnk Launches Crypto Savings Account
The blockchain ecosystem is budding with innovation. TokenBnk has added its name to the list of most interesting blockchain startups when it launched a decentralized application that functions very much like a traditional savings account.
Traditional Finance Meets Cryptocurrency
New York-based TokenBnk is the world’s first Ethereum-based savings account. The general idea behind TokenBnk is that you can deposit tokens into your Savings Contract (instead of a savings account) and earn rewards in the same token you hold. It operates very much like a traditional bank account, only for cryptocurrency. That’s kinda what we’re all about here at Hacked.
To illustrate how the platform works, suppose you receive 1,000 TBK as a reward and hold 500 of them in ether and 500 in OmiseGo. You will receive the same proportion of tokens back into your Savings Contract, thereby boosting your position size.
To withdraw ether from your savings account, you must pay a predetermined fee using the platform’s native TBK token. The fee is distributed as an award throughout the network via smart contract. The amount network participants receive is proportional to the percentage of the Total Network Value they represent.
TokenBnk emerged-by-stealth on or about Thursday, much to the surprise of the author, who has been anticipating this project for quite some time. The release was accompanied by an 11-page whitepaper and plans for a Nov. 30 token launch.
The protocol is being audited as we speak before beta testing goes live. TokenBnk will launch via mobile app some time in Q1 2018, followed by a full platform launch later in the year.
The development team behind TBK is impressive, with the main website listing 14 young men who can’t be more than 35 years old. The team hails from some of America’s most prestigious universities, such as Stanford, Princeton, Columbia, Carnegie Mellon and NYU. Private sector experience is also exemplified with stints at Amazon, AngelList and J.P. Morgan. (We’re glad the former JPM employees at TokenBnk didn’t drink from the same Kool-Aid as Jamie Dimon.)
TokenBnk CEO Shayne Coplan makes a strong case for his platform, especially for those of us keen on investing in cryptos over the long term.
“Currently, most long term holders leave their tokens in their Ethereum wallet, but why do that if you can yield automated regular returns by storing them on the blockchain as part of the TokenBnk network?” Coplan told Hacked. “The idea of holding fiat currency long term and earning no ROI is considered foolish, and it will be no different for cryptocurrencies.”
Coplan was part of the ETH presale back in 2014. With ether prices recently surging past $300, most market participants probably regret trading it right off the bat.
“In hindsight, the buy and hold strategy massively outperformed even the most successful of traders,” Coplan adds. “With the new wave of tokens arriving in the market over the next few years, hopefully TokenBnk can help token holders avoid making that same mistake.”
Ether trails only bitcoin in the race for market cap and is widely considered one of the most promising cryptos from a development point of view.
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Blockchain, Insurance and the Crisis of Trust
Blockchain has been described as the modern-day cure for many ailments facing industry. For insurers, the ledger technology can change the way businesses process claims, share data and prevent fraud.
Blockchain for Insurance
Fin-tech disruption has played an important role in reshaping the insurance industry. The internet, mobile devices and even data analytics have become indispensable to modern-day insurance providers. What’s more, the industry full expects this disruption to intensify in coming years.
A survey of financial service providers conducted by PwC found that nearly three-quarters (74%) of insurers identified their own industry as the most likely to undergo significant change as a result of technology. That survey was conducted long before blockchain was even a thing for the average observer.
Fast forward to today, and blockchain is all the rage. Beyond the hype, the ledger technology has radically transformed our perception of record-keeping and trust. As a self-managed system, it can help insurers coordinate claims and boost efficiency without the need for an intermediary.
Most people have or at some point will interface with the insurance sector. It is here that they will likely experience the crisis of trust that have caused many to go uninsured. Recent earthquakes in California revealed that only 17% of the state’s homeowners have insurance to cover the natural disaster.
Of course, everyone in the state knows about the San Andreas fault. The choice to go uninsured is a rational one aimed at circumnavigating an industry plagued by a lack of trust. Blockchain isn’t some magic bullet that will fix this problem. But what it can and will provide is transparency.
More transparency can create a more efficient insurance sector by reducing or eliminating all together the need for manual processes. As anyone who has tried to switch healthcare providers knows, manual data entry is prone to huge risks, not to mention fear of losing personal data. Through blockchain, personal data may be controlled by an individual, but verification is registered on the immutable ledger book.
Blockchain also provides smart contract capability, which can greatly enhance claims processing. By recording and verifying contracts on the ledger, insurers can guarantee that only valid claims are made. For consumers, it also means not having to fill out cumbersome paperwork.
Insurers are also leaning on the blockchain to detect fraud, which drains businesses out of tens of billions of dollars annually. The blockchain’s permanent record provides a decentralized repository insurers can use to verify every customer, policy and transaction. Before the blockchain, this would have required extensive cooperation between various actors.
There’s already a budding community of blockchain companies involved in the insurance industry. Together with other finance companies, they are among the biggest draws of the ICO market. According to CoinSchedule, more than 9% of the total funds raised via ICOs this year have come to finance companies.
When it comes to blockchain, insurance is another sector investors should carefully monitor. It is highly lucrative, but suffers from huge flaws that these new technologies can help fix.
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Gizer and Gaze Coin Join Forces to Shape eSports Future
Global gaming network Gizer has joined forces with VR platform Gaze Coin in a bid to transform the eSports economy. The companies are expected to boost monetization channels while providing new opportunities for virtual reality-based gaming.
The strategic partnership, which was just announced via Gizer’s Medium channel, appears to be centered on delivering gaming events in virtual and augmented reality. That’s a powerful concept for the rapidly growing eSports segment.
Gizer launched its crowdsale last month amid much fanfare, and has been ranked one of Hacked.com’s best ICOs of the year. The gaming network made headlines last month after it brought on blockchain heavyweight David Drake to its advisory board. Drake is the Chairman of LDJ Capital and is regarded as an influential blockchain leader.
Gaze Coin’s ICO is coming down the pipeline for Nov. 28. It will be hosted on the Ethereum platform, with a total supply of 100 million tokens.
Both companies appear to be synchronizing their development roadmaps to deliver games in virtual and augmented reality. Gizer plans to unveil its marketplace in early 2018. That’s around the same time Gaze Coin intends its launch the mixed-reality game Dream Channel, which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival this past May.
eSports Industry Is Booming
The eSports ecosystem is growing at a rapid rate, according to various research reports that peg it as a billion-dollar industry over the next two years. Earlier this year, Newzoo said it expects eSports revenues to reach $1.5 billion by 2020, with brand investment doubling over that period.
Clearly, the idea of creating professional leagues out of multiplayer games is gaining in popularity. Given the number of users already playing online, the need for an integrated network that connects all the dots and provides incentives has never been greater. The blockchain can greatly enhance the end user experience by creating a stable infrastructure to handle all transactions. This not only improves the platform, but ensures toxic members are kept at bay. (How many times have you played your favorite EA Sports game only to have to deal with members abusing one another and cheating? The blockchain is a potential remedy.)
Greater community involvement and more opportunity to grow the ecosystem are the other major benefits offered exclusively by the blockchain. And because this environment can be monetized, there’s huge incentive to grow and improve it over time.
In reality, eSports is just one of a myriad of industries currently being developed by the blockchain community. A total of 27 industries have been represented by the ICO universe this year alone, according to CoinSchedule. Gaming and VR token raises have been among the most lucrative, drawing in more than $120 million through the first ten months. That’s roughly 4% of the $3.25 billion in ICO funding raised this year alone.
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.
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