This is part of a series of interviews with founders and builders in the Web3 space called the Web3 Growth Handbook. The official handbook will be released in the coming months, but you can read all of the other available interviews here.
“I think the trick is figuring out in the current moment what’s the thing that’s going to help the project grow. When you build any kind of marketplace, at any given time, you’re constrained by either side. So we have to decide what’s the next thing to help the marketplace grow.”
With big technology companies powering so much of what we do everyday, it’s easy to forget that the underlying infrastructure is complicated. This is especially true of video. When someone wants to build an application that leverages video, they either have to be willing to give up a significant amount of control to companies like Amazon and Google, or they have to be able to traverse the complex world of video encoding themselves. Livepeer is changing that. CTO, Eric Tang, believes that by incentivizing people to run video encoding services on a distributed network it will be possible to build highly scalable video applications with no single point of failure.
With the alpha version of their mainnet launched in May of 2018 and a successful token sale to help fund and incentivize the network, Livepeer went to work on making their protocol as decentralized as possible as quickly as possible. Livepeer’s launch announcement described the platform like this:
“Any broadcaster or developer who wants to broadcast video can send it into the Livepeer network, and the network will take care of transcoding and distribution so that the video can reach users on all different device types and connection speeds.”
We had a chance to talk with Eric about building out the network, serving two types of customers, growth challenges, and more.
How does LivePeer define growth as a company?
Growth to me is simply the usage of the platform growing. Usually, there’s a use case for whatever you’re developing. For us, that’s transcoding video. At a more granular level, growth for us is the amount of video that gets transcoded on the network and growth of the community. Community is vital for any decentralized project. So we look at the number of people participating in the protocol in any way as a signal of growth.
What has been the most difficult part of growing LivePeer so far?
LivePeer serves a marketplace of node operators and people who need the video services. So, the most difficult part for us is that the two sides of the marketplace are often times disparate. The people using the platform to transcode video are totally different from those using the tokens to stake. We’re speaking to two different audiences and creating products to help growth on both sides, and it can be challenging to balance who to prioritize and when.
Is there a way to overcome that and help your growth, or is that just an inherent problem in marketplaces?
I think the trick is figuring out in the current moment what’s the thing that’s going to help the project grow. When you build any kind of marketplace, at any given time, you’re constrained by either side. So we have to decide what’s the next thing to help the marketplace grow. It could be signing up more people to provide infrastructure or getting more people to transcode video on the platform.
What tools do you wish existed to help LivePeer with growth?
I think the tools are going to be different depending on the stage where you’re at. I can speak to our current stage. On the video transcoding side, I think developer support for making it as easy as possible to use LivePeer as a platform is something that’s really helpful. Anything from on-ramps for developers into the crypto ecosystem or analytics tools for people to understand the usage. If we are talking about the Ethereum network, the app developer needs all these tools to make development more effective. They need a development framework, and gas tracking, etc. The same applies to LivePeer.
For the supply side of the network, I think people care about community and information. Educating the community is key and supporting the community is useful.
What are your predictions for Web3/Blockchain growth in 2020?
I think for one, we’ll start to see cross-chain compatibility happen in a bigger way. Different chains being able to more effectively communicate with each other will be important and more prevalent. Another thing that might happen is I feel like the DeFi space is going to play itself out. Things are either going to work and it’ll be established or they’re going to work and people will have to pivot. In the past 6 months, the interest rates have been really high and so now we’re going to see how that all plays out in 2020.
LivePeer serves developers in need of video services in a decentralized way as well as people who want to run decentralized nodes for video encoding. If either of those are you, check out LivePeer today.