Overstock's Medici Invests $6 Million In Decentralized Social Network

John Vibes
  • Medici Ventures, a subsidiary of Overstock.com announced a large investment into the social media platform Minds
  • Patrick Byrne, Overstock founder and CEO will join the Minds board of directors

This Monday, the blockchain based social media network Minds.com announced a massive partnership with Medici Ventures, a subsidiary of Overstock.com. According to a press release, the social media startup has received a $6 million Series A investment from Medici. In addition to the large investment, Overstock.com founder and CEO Patrick M. Byrne will also be joining the Minds board of directors. In a statement, Byrne said:

 

“There has been increasing excitement in recent years over the power of blockchain technology to liberate individuals and organizations. Minds’ work employing blockchain technology as a social media application is the next great innovation toward mainstream use of this world-changing technology.”

 

Bill Ottman, Founder and CEO of Minds, says that Byrne will be a great fit to the team because of his support of blockchain technology and internet freedom. Ottman said:

 

“It makes perfect sense for Patrick Byrne to join Minds’ board of directors. He understands the critical nature of using blockchain technology to help real people as it pertains to the increasingly urgent issues of user rights, privacy and Internet freedom. He shares our strategic vision, and we welcome his voice on the board.”

 

Minds has been growing in popularity this year, as the dominant social media platforms have begun banning the accounts of social activists and independent journalists. Ottman told TechCrunch that the site has also seen an increase in users due to government censorship in many different corners of the world. Ottman explains:

 

“In June 2018, Minds saw an enormous uptick in new Vietnamese of hundreds of thousands users as a direct response to new laws in the country implementing an invasive ‘cybersecurity’ law which included uninhibited access to user data on social networks like Facebook and Google (who are complying so far) and the ability to censor user content...The rise of an open source, encrypted and decentralized social network is crucial to combat the big-tech monopolies that have abused and ignored users for years. With systemic data breaches, shadow-banning and censorship, people over the world are demanding a digital revolution. User-safety, fair economies, and global freedom of expression depend on it – we are all in this battle together.”

 

Last week, dozens of high profile independent media organizations in the US had their Facebook and Twitter pages unpublished simultaneously, despite the fact that they had good reviews and many had well over a million followers. Over 1000 pages were taken down in the purge, and many of those organizations have found new homes on Minds.

Medici has been making big moves since Byrne sold 774,303 shares of Overstock.com for over $20 million dollars last month. Earlier this month, CryptoGlobe reported that Medici was making a significant investment in a company called VinX. VinX is a blockchain startup that is hoping to integrate this new technology with the wine industry.

Just last week, tZero, Patrick Byrne’s securities token exchange, officially launched their token on the Ethereum blockchain.

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What Exactly Is Facebook’s ‘Libra’ Cryptocurrency? What Are Its Challenges?

The new decade is set to launch with one of the most ambitious cryptocurrencies yet, with the social media giant Facebook’s ‘Libra’ expected to start trading in a few months. The new coin certainly has the muscle behind it: in fact, it has an entire Libra ‘Association’ that consists of companies such as Spotify, Farfetch, Uber, Lyft, PayU (Naspers’ fintech arm), and Calibra. Along with a plethora of other venture capital firms spanning the blockchain and telecommunication networks, and some non-profit organisations.

The ‘vision’ of Libra is put in no uncertain terms on its official website. That is to create: a stable global cryptocurrency built on a secure network… enabling a more inclusive global financial system.

Libra’s Ambitions, and How It Will Work

What Facebook and the other giants hope to achieve is to connect everyone in possession of a mobile phone to the global financial infrastructure. These are what Facebook considers the ‘unbanked’, those who do not have access to a bank, but who do have a mobile phone.

Libra would give these unbanked masses the ability to transfer money across the world instantly, on a secure network and at a low cost. If implemented, Libra would be an example of ‘leapfrogging’ technology, in which developing societies bypass what traditionally would have been a necessary technological evolution (i.e. the establishment of more banks) in order to get to an end point.

Libra’s Security Other and Concerns

Current proposals put Libra on a blockchain that encompasses around 100 computer servers, at least that’s the ambition. The blockchain algorithms will be programmed to work as what’s known as a “command-line programme”, something that will make scripting and interactive usage possible; with an interface of consistent options and file formats. For further security, Libra is also thought to be using Byzantine fault-tolerant consensus approach. This means that, in theory, the wider blockchain cannot be compromised even if one of the servers is disrupted.

But not everyone has faith in the new cryptocurrency, even with all the financial backing it has. Again, in theory, it should be almost impossible for a cyberattack to disrupt Libra’s blockchain, as a third of its 100 servers would have to be disrupted before such an attack could even be launched.

The Libra Association has also stressed that each of its members will have their own server, and that it will be supported independently by them and secured. Furthermore, the blockchain will have its own consensus-based algorithm. Meaning that transactions must be approved by two-thirds of all the servers before going ahead. This should make transactions more measurable and efficiently processed. Facebook has even said that Libra would be capable of processing a thousand payments per second, which would make it about 500 times more efficient than Bitcoin is today.

Libra and the Issue of Regulation

Despite the proposed ambitiousness of Libra, the United States and European Union regulatory bodies are yet to be won over. They already do not like the strength of pre-existing cryptocurrencies. Some countries have even outright banned them.

To get round this problem, the Libra Association has marketed its currency as one that has been specially designed to be friendly to regulators from the get-go. They insist, for example, that Libra is a stablecoin. If true, then this should alleviate some national fears for its potential implications on monetary policies. Still, there are concerns that if the Libra is very popular, it could become “Too Big To Fail”, which of course is a phrase still haunted by the 2007-08 economic crises.

The reason for these TBTF anxieties lies in the fact that Libra is intended to be collateralised by other currencies and some debt obligations. If there was ever a run on Libra, it would lack a centralised bank to mitigate the damage.

Libra’s special status means it will be a global currency and not specific to any one nation. So it is only natural that some national governments have expressed concerns about how it will impact on their unilateral monetary policies. Libra’s global status assures that it will fluctuate differently to any one other currency, meaning it will be shaped by its underlying assets, and may even resemble something like an index in volatility.

One way to address these fears may be found in a report conducted by the Association of German Banks. The AGB has suggested restricting Libra for payment transfers only, and not giving it the ability to provide loans. this would prevent the cryptocurrency from becoming a money creation system in its own right.

Libra — Will It Be Safe to Invest In?

Cryptocurrencies have enjoyed successful investment status and investment is predicted to keep increasing until 2020 at a minimum. Blockchain investments in the Libra cryptocurrency should be considered as a hedge in a diverse portfolio to protect against falls in other types of investments. Of course, at the moment Libra is not an asset that can be invested in… yet. But once it comes online, there’s no reason it won’t enjoy the success of others (not including the decline of Bitcoin, which may be in response to more competition from other cryptocurrencies).

Once online, Libra should be safe to invest on optimised cryptocurrency trading platforms that can handle automated and manual trading.

Libra and the Future Market

iven other fears including loss of tax revenues and transaction fees, traditional banks have already acknowledged that change is coming. In its ‘Future of Finance’ report, the Bank of England has already said that “hard infrastructure” needs to make room for, and can work with, “soft infrastructure” (cryptocurrencies). But what needs to be in place is a “well-respected” judicial and legal system, along with clear regulations, standards and rules.

As for the Libra cryptocurrency, no one can doubt the ambition of such a project. But whether it is something that the market actually needs is still a question that no one as of yet has an answer for.

Featured image by Tim Bennett on Unsplash.


This article was written by Neil Wright of Oakmount Partners Ltd, an investment consultancy firm based in Essex, UK.