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1. Name of project: PROPS by YouNow
2. Launch Date: December 2017
3. Status: Limited Strategic Sale
4. Website: www.propsproject.com
5. Whitepaper: https://www.propsproject.com/static/PROPS%20Whitepaper.pdf
6. Who is behind the cryptocurrency:
PROPS is a project by YouNow, a livestreaming platform with 40m users and thousands of creators, operating a thriving virtual economy for several years. Key people in the leadership team behind the project include:
- Adi Sideman (CEO) — Co-founder of the world’s first online karaoke, Ksolo; creator of the Matrix Game for the famed Warner Bros. movie; producer of the Elf Yourself app, #1 in the iOS Store; a pioneer in user-generated video platforms. In 2011, Adi founded YouNow, a social video platform with 40 million registered users and an economy with millions of dollars of virtual currency purchased each month.
- Yonatan Sela (SVP Business Development & Product Strategy) — Entrepreneur & digital media executive. Yonatan was a founding team member of the video platform Tvinci (acquired in 2014), where he spent 5 years as VP Marketing and Product Strategy. Prior to YouNow, he was a VC at Venrock where he focused on the digital media and blockchain verticals. Yonatan is an Air Force Captain and a Wharton MBA.
- Eran Kalmanson (CTO) — A founding employee at SundaySky, officer in the Israeli intelligence corps’ elite technological unit for over six years. At YouNow, Eran leads engineering and, R&D. Believe it or not, he also holds a degree in Gastronomy.
- Ben Perper (Director of Product and Business Intelligence) — Product and business leader with over ten years of experience in building consumer-tech products, most recently at Zynga, where he launched, and operated games reaching millions of users. Now, Ben heads both the product development and business intelligence teams at YouNow. He holds an MBA from NYU Stern.
- Peter Watts (Platform Lead) — Co-founder of music discovery company Swarm.fm, an early partner on the Spotify App Platform, and prolific hackathon winner. At YouNow, Peter led core product features and founded YouNow’s growth team. Most recently, Peter is at the helm of the company’s blockchain integrations and wallet design.
7. How does their previous experience relate to the opportunity:
The team has decades of combined experience in mobile video, gamification, and product. YouNow was the first mobile live video platform to gain traction in the U.S., and the first U.S. company to implement a two-sided virtual economy in which users earn.
They have practically written the book on that front. This team has been true innovators in the intersection of video, mobile and new digital economies, which makes them uniquely positioned to be the first to integrate cryptocurrencies into a digital video and media in general.
8. Why are they qualified to implement this particular solution and deliver it to market:
They currently manage a platform (YouNow) that’s grown to 40 million users, running 60,000 micro-transactions per day in a thriving two-sided virtual economy, and millions of dollars per month in revenue.
The leadership team has developed, grown and sustained one of the most successful mobile video platforms around, and is well-positioned to open its new video infrastructure for developers and tokenize the economy to better serve the interests of all the platform’s contributors.
This may be the first token economy to launch into an existing community of users and creators who already spend and receive digital items, so the use cases and basic spending behavior doesn’t need to be invented – it already exists among the community.
9. What is missing from their team:
The core team initially did not come with years of blockchain experience (although SVP of Business has spent time as a VC focused on digital media and blockchain investments).
The team has partnered with some of the best advisors out there to quickly ramp up: Jake Brukhman of CoinFund, Manuel Araoz of Zeppelin and Decenterland, Nick Tomaino (Coinbase, founder of 1confirmation and Token Summit) , Doug Petkanics (Livepeer founder/CEO) and many others.
YouNow has been working on this blockchain project for 1 year, and its development teams have gained strong skills in Solidity.
10. How “hungry” is the management team:
Extremely. This is a hyper focused, extremely hard working team of 40 that has been running a successful startup for a long time. They are investing everything they have built over the past 6 years into PROPS, focusing the entire business only on PROPS and the success of the first app in the ecosystem – Rize.
YouNow, its community of millions, its economy, technology and team are all dedicated for the success of PROPS. The company has also transitioned from a C Corp to a Benefit Corporation, dedicated to the creation of an open, equitable digital media space and to the success of PROPS. The company tokens are also subject to 3 years of vesting.
11. Notable team members: (read more about them above)
12. Notable investors:
- Union Square Ventures
- BlockTower Capital
- Oren Zeev
- Chris Dixon
13. Team size:
Looks like there are 40 people on the team.
14. Number of Github contributors:
15. What problem are they addressing:
Content creators, developers, and other contributors’ interests are not aligned with the health and growth of the platforms to which they contribute their time, effort and creativity.
Centralized business models ensure an opaque and arbitrary decision-making process and a disproportionate percentage of revenues accruing to a third-party platform rather than those contributors that are helping it grow.
Hundreds of billions of dollars have been generated by the likes of Facebook and YouTube, yet only a tiny fraction of that value flows back to users, creators and developers building on top of these networks. More of their thoughts on why YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat and others fail to serve their contributors here.
16. Why is it important to solve this problem:
By decentralizing operations and aligning the interests of every stakeholder contributing to the platform, the team can revolutionize the digital content business model, enable contributors to earn fairly for their efforts and build transparency into the system so that creators don’t need to worry about the censorship that’s proven rampant on other platforms.
Further, they can expand earning potential to developers, power users, and other stakeholders that help the network grow, truly aligning the interests and efforts of everyone who builds the platform.
See CoinFund’s thoughts on the topic here.
17. How important is solving this problem:
This is a problem that touches billions of people who use social media, and shapes their worldview based on the content they consume and engage with.
18. What is their proposed solution to the problem:
TL;DR - The proposed solution – PROPS – is a decentralized model for a digital media network that uses blockchain technology to equitably reward its contributors: users, content creators, developers and others.
They are introducing PROPS, a cryptocurrency that powers social participation in digital media and Rize, a new platform for interactive video that will be the PROPS token’s first large-scale adopter and champion. Rize is an open video platform that connects groundbreaking many-to-many video technology with tokenized virtual gameplay and aligned economic incentives for its participants.
Launching in tandem with PROPS, and seeded with YouNow’s community of millions, Rize will popularize the cryptocurrency. Rize will serve as the initial member of the PROPS Ecosystem, a group of applications and platforms powered by PROPS that fairly and transparently reward participants in proportion to their contributions to the network. Half of the PROPS supply will be governed by a non-profit foundation that will distribute them across the ecosystem, incentivizing third party application developers, content contributors and users to join the PROPS Ecosystem in order to build a user-focused alternative for today’s highly centralized digital media landscape.
This video explains the project as a whole and provides a live demo of the platform.
Digital media is based on content creation and human interaction. Network effects are required for it to thrive. The sheer number of people required to participate in a successful digital media network is an order of magnitude larger than other decentralized networks.
In order to compete, a media network needs to:
- Provide something meaningful and distinctly new for users, that the giant incumbents will find very difficult to copy.
- Be easy enough for most people to use in order to reach the platform ubiquity that mainstream users have come to expect.
Here are a few thoughts on what it will take to build such a blockchain-based decentralized digital media network, today.
- Significant financial utility for users, particularly early adopters — Critical, especially in today’s landscape, where a few monopolistic media networks exercise powerful network effects that serve as barriers to healthy competition. Cryptoeconomic business models offer financial utility and a stake in the network for all network participants. A cryptoeconomic model creates strong incentives for early adopters to participate even before a critical mass of users is achieved. This is a new, promising path to overcoming the “chicken and egg” problem where, in the old model, networks tend to provide value to participants only upon reaching a critical mass of users (more on this by Chris Dixon). YouNow users are already accustomed to a two-sided economy bringing in millions of dollars in revenue per month and are comfortable with and believe in the financial utility of in-app currency.
- Robust community of content creators and engaged users — While Token Distribution Events offer an opportunity to seed such a community, so far the people buying tokens on TDEs are not the standard users that drive digital media networks. Getting tokens into the hands of creators and other key community members aligns the interests of all the network’s stakeholders and helps ensures a stable token holder ecosystem that is less dependent on speculative activity. PROPS has committed to doing so and they are excited to share that major influencers and content creators are onboard.
- A natural use case for a token — The tokenization of digital media needs to be implemented in a way that doesn’t add complexity and is natural for the use case. This makes current digital economies, with existing micro transaction behavior, uniquely suitable candidates for tokenization.
- No requirement of users for prior knowledge of blockchains or crypto — Designing a system that bridges the gap between the blockchain and the mainstream is essential for mass market success: Coinbase is a classic example of a product that has achieved this. Providing a user friendly, easy to use product is challenging in the world of cryptocurrency. However, it is more feasible with a sufficiently large, experienced, product-focused organization, that leverages open-source code available for a global community of developers. This is one of the key reasons I have high hopes for projects like Filecoin.
- A fresh user experience and killer features- As Facebook, YouTube and Instagram have gained strength, creating something brand new has become an essential component of expanding on digital media. For Snapchat, it was disappearing messages and stories; for YouNow, it was live mobile video with microtransactions. The next innovations will continue to happen around video, because it has become the dominant form of media in the devices we all have.
With this thesis in mind, the YouNow team designed and built PROPS and the first app in the ecosystem, Rize, to fulfill each of the above requirements. Rize will be seeded with millions of YouNow community members. Please read more here.
19. Are there other solutions to this problem:
- Steem is another project that attempts to address some of these issues.
- There are also a couple of small, seed stage projects attempting to address the issue (e.g. Stream Token).
20. Why is this solution better than other solutions at addressing the problem:
There are several seed stage projects without a community of users or creators, and with far less experienced teams, attempting to go after this problem in various ways, e.g. as an add-on for YouTube. This approach of a “hack” is problematic for multiple reasons, and creating a brand new network from scratch is extremely difficult.
Steem is the exception - a great project, that to an extent shares the same vision as PROPS: a decentralized social/digital media ecosystem, in which contributors to the network are fairly rewarded for their contribution.
However, PROPS takes a completely different vision to get there, and there are several fundamental differences between the projects: PROPS starts with mobile video (Steem is more akin to blockchain-powered reddit).
PROPS has a significantly larger community of millions of users and thousands of creators/influencers. PROPS is focused on getting a unique video experience and the benefits of a decentralized crypto-economy to the mainstream, and to millions who have never used cryptocurrency before (while Steem is rooted in blockchain community and the prominent content there is blockchain related).
21. Has the solution been explained clearly and succinctly:
22. The solution in simple words:
PROPS is a decentralized ecosystem of video applications built to enable content creators, developers and other contributors to have a stake in the growth of the platform they’re helping build.
The experienced team at YouNow built PROPS to align the interests of content creators, developers and other platform contributors with the growth of the network. Rize, the first app in the PROPS ecosystem, is powered by the PROPS token and is powered by its open, many-to-many video infrastructure. The app has been fully tested and will launch the day of the PROPS token sale. Token value will be supported immediately by demand for the utility of the token by the YouNow family of 40 million users and thousands of creators / influencers, who already spend millions of dollars per month in YouNow’s current two-sided virtual economy.
23. Is this solution live and usable:
24. If there are existing competitors, what will they do:
Competition at large is composed of the giant digital / social media companies who control the market. As large public companies, they are not likely to move their entire business to cryptocurrency anytime soon.
Additionally, Rize (the first PROPS app) will be the first many-to-many video platform in the market, providing a fundamentally different experience than existing video apps, that includes the ability to do social games on video, watch linear content together with friends, hangout in large or small groups on live video and more.
25. How is their solution/product differentiated from the market:
Discussed above, but very briefly: first token to power video ecosystem with video infrastructure, first token to run on an already working 2-sided virtual economy, first many-to-many video platform.
26. What is the business plan:
Establishing value for the PROPS Ecosystem involves a three part plan: grow a network of PROPS users in digital media, create a Partner Rewards program and demonstrate the opportunity for ecosystem participants.
The Rize platform will furnish the initial user network, demonstrate the value of a contributor driven cryptoeconomic business model and act as a cornerstone for adoption by additional ecosystem partners.
Platforms and apps in the PROPS Ecosystem (Partners), including Rize, will build the network of PROPS users and grow the use cases for PROPS and its value. In exchange, the PROPS Foundation will seed Partners with an initial token supply to align incentives and allow them to earn from the PROPS Foundation’s Partner Rewards pool.
The PROPS Foundation will also oversee the development of a shared layer that allows users to take their identity, relationships and wallet with them between platforms and apps, contributing to seamless interoperability within the ecosystem.
New platforms and apps that enter the ecosystem will be able to quickly onboard users who already have accounts, and as they acquire new users, the network will continue to grow.
Over time, the identity layer will transition into a blockchain-based social graph culminating in an ecosystem that supports both centralized and decentralized applications that strengthen the network.
27. Why hasn’t this opportunity been taken already:
Cryptocurrency have only recently reached a point where mainstream users will be willing to adopt them at scale. So far this has not been attempted by any successful mobile video company. Until now.
28. How much money do they plan to raise:
$20-$30 million USD
29. Why do they need this money, and how exactly will this money be spent:
The team determined this number by setting a robust development roadmap and budgeting the costs necessary to sale the PROPS team.
The capital raised will be dedicated to engineering, product, research and development of the PROPS ecosystem over many years. They also have budget set aside for business operations, marketing, legal and administrative costs.
30. How quickly can this be implemented:
The team has been building the platform for the past year (and leveraging the experience and community built over the past 6 years). Both the economy and the first app on the platform, Rize, are operational and there will be a use case and actual, in-product demand for the PROPS token the day after the TDE.
31. Is the market large enough to support substantial growth:
Digital media is a giant market, where companies like Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, Snapchat and others have built businesses in the hundreds of billions.
32. How large is the market segment being targeted:
Multi-purpose video platform for mobile video, covering multiple areas in digital media.
33. Who will be the customers:
Billions of social media users, millions of social media creators and hundreds of thousands of developers building media-related mobile apps.
34. How will they get people to use their product:
The platform will be seeded with YouNow’s community of 40 million users and thousands of creators / influencers.
35. Why will people use this product:
To interact with other people in real time, to consume content in an engaging way, to get to know new people and to play video-enabled games in real time.
36. What do people use now:
Multiple other social media platforms, TV, video-chat apps.
37. Why will people switch from their current product:
New type of user experience and way to interact, new type of social games, a highly compelling financial offering – earning in tokens and getting a real stake in the platform for the long run.
38. How transparent is the management team:
Fully transparent – the whitepaper includes a lot of information, including the company’s revenue and other engagement data. The rewards engine of the new platform is fully laid out. The leadership team welcomes any question.
39. Has anyone ever seen their product:
Thousands of people have not only seen but tested Rize, the first app on the PROPS platform. The team also shows a live demo of the product at events and presents it on the PROPS website. See examples here and here.
40. Do you know how their product will work or is it vaporware:
Many-to-many video infrastructure and architecture is carefully laid out in whitepaper.
41. Does the team have a Slack channel where you can go and talk to members of the team:
The team has a Telegram channel and members are often getting responses within minutes.
42. How responsive is the team?
Extremely responsive, answering questions within minutes of their being asked.
43. Is there a Bitcointalk forum Announcement thread?
45. Slack/Telegram/Discord channel:
46. Is there a Twitter page for the cryptocurrency and does it post regular updates:
47. Is there a Facebook page for the cryptocurrency and does it post regular updates: