Bitcoin is the most widely used cryptocurrency on the Internet. For those who are not familiar with how it works, Bitcoin uses “proof of work” mining in order to process transactions and secure the network. Two developers with a growing interest in cryptocurrency, David Vorick and Luke Champine, wanted to take a stab at creating what they felt could be a “better version” in 2013.
After looking more closely into what could be worked on, the two discovered there was not much to be improved. Instead of going back to the drawing board with a new idea, they noticed how the blockchain technology behind Bitcoin could be applied to data storage. Blockchain eliminates the need for centralized data centers because transaction data can be stored across thousands of computers.
Vorick and Champine formed Nebulous Inc. in 2014 and since then, the company has raised $1.25 million in capital from Procyon Ventures, Raptor Group, and others.
The company has created a decentralized data platform named Sia (pronounced Sai-UH). Sia is an open-source network that allows users to purchase cloud storage space. A user can purchase one terabyte of space for $2 per month, or they can become a host and sell storage space. The storage space is rented out in exchange for Siacoin, the platform’s own cryptocurrency.
Currently, the network has over 330 hosts across the globe with 1.3 petabytes (which is over one million gigabytes) of storage capacity. “We are committed to being decentralized,” says the company’s Head of Operations, Zach Herbert. “The company could shut down tomorrow, but the network would continue to operate without interruption.”
Since Sia is open-source, the company welcomes those to contribute to the project. The company has a burgeoning community of developers and fans; the company’s Slack channel has over 4,000 members, and its Twitter has over 9,000 followers.
The team has gone out of their way to add an extra layer of security to a client’s data by creating a highly redundant, and secure network; Sia breaks files into tiny pieces, encrypting each piece, and distributing them across dozens of hosts. “We have hosts all over the world, so it’s not like there is one big target, like a data center,” Herbert says. “A hacker would have to gain the encryption key and files from ten different hosts in order to put the data back together.”
Herbert, who is the only non-developer on the core team, joined the company in January 2017. He became interested in the company after hearing how Nebulous’ platform was trying to disrupt the cloud storage space.
“Right now, cloud storage is about $20 per terabyte per month, but it will cost more if you want to store across multiple locations,” he says. “I was shocked by Sia’s price of $2 per terabyte. It’s almost the complete opposite of what, say, Amazon is doing. It’s an order-of-magnitude reduction.”
Ultimately, the company believes Sia can become the internet’s data storage layer. Nebulous plans on building more features onto the Sia platform, such as file sharing and video streaming.
“The past year or so we’ve been keeping our heads down and working,” says Herbert. “This year is a big year for Sia.”