Theta Network AMA Transcript
Theta Network’s AMA was held on 11th December, 9:30 PM PST on my TG group “OddGems Family” (t.me/oddgemsfamilia). It was our pleasure to have Wes Levitt, Head of Strategy for Theta Labs with us answering all the questions.
The entire AMA session, approximately 45 minutes long had some amazing questions which was equally answered by Wes, is transcript-ed below.
Me: Hi Wes, Welcome to our Group — “OddGems Family”, Hope you have a great time here answering various questions..Before we start, Please give us a short introduction about who you are and what’s your role in Theta team and also our audiences would love a short introduction about Theta Network?
Sure, Theta Network is a decentralized video delivery protocol that allows users to relay video streams p2p with other nearby users and be rewarded for it. Theta integrates at the level of the video platform, allowing them to save on their video delivery (CDN) costs and engaging their users via token rewards. For users, they are incentivized to contribute to the network by earning tokens for each video segment shared with another user on the network
As Head of Strategy for Theta Labs, my role is focused on marketing/press, business operations, and our overall strategy using blockchain to work with enterprise customers.
All Q&A below:
1 When will Theta Team plan to do a geo-specific stress testing on any platform (like Dlive) with millions of concurrent users sharing bandwidth?This will be a litmus test and we will understand the True capacity of the network. Also, with such large number of micro transactions being generated every second ,how does Theta Network plan to handle pruning?
We do stress testing internally, but even with DLive it’s still quite a ways from millions of concurrents. Even Twitch has only barely broken 1m concurrents maybe three times ever. Theta can handle DLive’s peaks in the 10s of thousands already, and our dev team is always rolling out further scaling measures to our p2p streaming protocol.
The blockchain tps has not been the bottleneck so far, since most micropayments can be pushed to layer 2. In the future, some of the work done on privacy protocols that reduce tx/block size could be used. We do have a system built in for pruning, but that’s more about reducing the blockchain’s aggregate size, not so much individual transactions
2 Can you please talk a bit about why you feel Theta needs blockchain, the importance of the token in the Art platform. What does the Theta solve and what is coming that might increase the use and need to stake or use the token? what’s your business model?
In the long-term we see Theta as a way for anyone to contribute excess bandwidth/resources to the Theta Network, without a single centralized party coordinating the p2p connections or payments between users. Without blockchain I don’t think there is a way to give monetary incentives to those users unless you have a centralized coordinator. We are aiming to make video (and other data) delivery more effiicient as the amount of data transferred annually continues to grow double digits annually. Our model is to grow the network and stake the Theta Tokens that Theta Labs holds, though our role should continue to reduce over time.
3 What killer features Theta has that are ahead of the competition and how does intend to open up the technology to the community and to researchers so it can be continuously improved on?
Our edge is our go-to-market strategy, aided by early investments in the company by Samsung NEXT (their venture arm) in 2016 and 2019. Through our relationship with Samsung we have made strong inroads not only with their business groups (VR, Visual Display, others not announced) but with other players in the Korean market such as CJ Hello. As we launch Guardian Nodes in Q1, governance will shift to a decentralized, community model. That combined with releasing more dev tools and a dev portal will help jump start an open source community, further reducing the reliance on Theta Labs.
4 Rest in the space and minimal product, where do you see your product actually being used by the community and solving the real world problem?
You can see it live on https://www.sliver.tv/ video platform right now, with more platforms coming soon. Users on SLIVER can earn TFUEL for relaying video streams to other users in their area
5 How Theta is different from other projects in the crypto space? & what problems Theta network intends to solve in terms of achieving mass adoption if in the coming months? What are your short term goals and what are your plans to accomplish those goals?
One of the biggest differences is we focus on a user experience that a casual user can understand, and integration with platforms with strong existing userbases. We think that’s the most logical path to mass adoption, since the typical consumer is years away from dealing with private keys and running nodes and the like — it needs to be simple.
6 Today, the development and deployment of blockchain protocols and applications fail to offer enterprises the scalability, distributed governance and enhanced confidentiality they want without surrendering the inherent security and immutability they demand. So tell me why do companies ,traders choose Theta’s Solution for their business? What’s advantages?
There’s a lot to address there, so in brief:
Scalability: given Theta’s video/data delivery use case, much can be pushed to layer 2 which allows for higher ‘effective’ tps. There’s absolutely no reason for a $0.00001 micro-payment for a single video segment to be an onchain tx
distributed governance: We are making great strides toward this with community-run guardian nodes in Q1, Blockchain Ventures running a validator node today and with other enterprise validator nodes coming soon
enhanced confidentiality: This hasn’t been a particular request or pain point from what we’ve seen. Platforms need existing levels of confidentiality ex. for DRM of copywritten content, but beyond that it hasn’t been top of mind for them from what we’ve seen
Advantages are that they save 50%+ on CDN costs, while gaining a more engaged, loyal userbase via token rewards.
7 When the network grows with adoption. Is there any concern for how Internet Service Providers will respond to their customers sharing out their bandwidth.
It is possible, though in the past with ex. BitTorrent the ISPs were primarily concerned with illegal sharing, not the amount of data. Since our go-to-market is to partner with the content rights holders, not illicit filing sharing, that should be less of a concern. As 5G rolls out and upload bandwidth increases, Theta should benefit as there are established use cases for higher download speeds, not so much for upload. We’ve actually heard major telecoms tell us straight up that 5G upload speed is an awesome solution still looking for a problem
8 Investors need to fully consider the market volatility we are in right now. With this in mind, who are which target group of audience are you after? And How do you convince them on joining?
We are targeting video platforms, both startup and enterprise, that can benefit from Theta making their CDN stack more efficient. Going forward we are evaluating expanding Theta use case to generalized data delivery in cases where a p2p network can operate effectively (many concurrents), like file patches, OS updates, etc. When a new Fortnite patch goes out you have millions of downloads in short period of time, perfect use cases for p2p with high file availability
9 How do you come with the idea of THETA?
The Theta project was borne out of the video platform SLIVER.tv. As a startup esports video platform, our CDN bill pushing HD and VR video was enormous and not sustainable given our run rate. We raised a Series A round led by DHVC and at the time Dovey Wan from DHVC joined our board, and helped guide our thinking toward using a p2p, blockchain-based protocol to reduce our dependency on traditional CDNs (and with it our costs). We quickly realized that Theta was something many video platforms could benefit from and shifted toward driving adoption of Theta protocol.
10 And does this mean that countries with minimal internet capacities can stream HD contents like 2k and 4k or even 1080p contents?
Theta can potentially enable this for Video-on-Demand content (VOD) since you can be pulling segments from users who already downloaded the content, though for livestreaming there are still challenges. In a live setting, p2p is still limited by the download speed of a network; it can optimize, but it can’t make the data travel faster than the network infrastructure’s physical limits.
11 When will Theta Mainnet 2.0 launch? The Guardian Nodes will launch on Theta Mainnet 2.0; Can you introduce the operation mechanism and the function of “Guardian Nodes”?
Mainnet 2.0 will launch in March 2020, and will center around Guardian Nodes launching on the Theta mainnet. This is culmination of Theta’s multi-BFT consensus design that combines a smaller validator committee with a second layer of 100s-1000s fo Guardian Nodes that finalize blocks and act as a check on malicious or otherwise non-functional validator nodes. Along with this transition we have many associated releases such as a developer protal, new integration tools for video/data platforms to start using Theta, etc. In short, the main goal of Theta Mainnet 2.0 is to decentralize governance and put in the hands of all the stakeholders in the Theta ecosystem — the community / stakers, video platforms, blockchain ecosystem providers, etc.
12 What is the mission and the vision of Theta? What kind of problem will Theta solve?
Our mission is to make video (and all data) delivery more efficient and cheaper for platforms, while giving users the opportunity to earn token rewards for their contributions of bandwidth/computer resources. As data delivery increase with 4k and 8k video and beyond (increasing 5x in just a few years (https://www.statista.com/statistics/267184/content-delivery-network-internet-traffic-worldwide/), this will become more and more important and position Theta to solve this problem.
13 Inactive and useless states are the biggest issues that are happening with Dapps. Seems to have very many DApps have few use cases, not even use cases. What did the team do to solve problems like this happening on the Theta platform?
I think inactive dapps are probably not the issue as much as lack of useful dapps. So as long as we can ensure Theta is integrated with enough major platforms and provides real value to them, that will outweigh any question of inactive dapps. There are plenty of useless internet sites, but it doesn’t distract me from the ones I find vital everyday.
14 Why did Theta choose to build on Ethereum platform and not other platforms such as Neo, Stellar, Tron, ..?
Theta is actually a standalone blockchain; the Theta token was originally launched as an ERC20 token, but was swapped to the native token on Theta blockchain in March 2019. We did this because our use case of data delivery specific needs, to where purpose building the chain makes sense. Since a micro-transaction for fractions of a penny doesn’t need to be onchain each time, it made sense to focus on Layer 2 from day 1 and only use the chain for settlement and large value transfers. None of the other platforms seemed to focus on this, or were PoW, or had some other issue that made it unappealing to build on.
15 What major milestones has Theta achieved so far? What is develop plan in the future?
Our biggest accomplishments are launching the Theta mainnet, integrating fully with SLIVER.tv video platform, and our work with Samsung Smart TVs which we continue to expand now (https://medium.com/theta-network/theta-network-featured-at-the-samsung-developer-conference-to-demo-integration-in-smart-tvs-4a5c4bdc42bd). Going forward, check out our 2020 roadmap here: (https://medium.com/theta-network/announcing-theta-mainnet-2-0-and-the-2020-theta-roadmap-f2fa33494188)
16 There’s a new project offering similar services to Theta and may be potential competition. Are the team aware of VideoCoin $VID and what are the differences between the two? CDN costs, etc.
Yes, we are aware of them and watch competing projects to understand how they are approaching some of the same problems we are. I think the key difference is again our go-to-market, we jumped right in to working with video platform partners and meeting with many more that weren’t ready to work with us (you learn more from the latter!). From that we have developed a real focus on what platforms and their users actually want, and build from there. We think that sets us apart and is probably why our protocol is landing better with these potential partners. I know VideoCoin for example has some great talent on their team, but when I look at their product so far it seems complicated even to me as someone in the space, let alone to a video platform engineering lead or product manager that doesn’t know blockchain. That seems to me like a tough path to adoption.
17 Where can I spend my Theta tokens? Are there any use cases for it?
Theta Tokens are not meant to be a currency for consumer purchases, but rather are used to stake on Theta blockchain and participate in block production, which earns you TFUEL tokens (the 2nd native token of the blockchain). Your stake in Theta blockchain will also give you the same rights to govern the network and vote on network upgrades.
18 Main stream Blockchain adoption seems to be coming as noticed from the Samsung Integration theta into smart TVs,Funded from Sony Innovation Fund.What is your views and thought about mass adoption?
I think mass adoption is inevitable, but it will definitely be selective and not come all at once. It also won’t be for every blockchain/token out there — many (or most) will fail. This shouldn’t come as a surprise at all — 95% of ALL ventures fail, and blockchain is not somehow an exception.
That said, I think we are starting to see the seeds of mass adoption, whether it’s our work in Samsung TVs, JP Morgan launching their stablecoin on an Ethereum clone, Enjin items being used by Microsoft, etc. It seems like it’s taking a long time, but it’s actually progressing pretty quick by most historical standards of tech adoption. The nature of public crypto markets makes emotions run high with big $ amounts, but we think it’s important to keep a longer time horizon. If you compare the last three years, there are huge improvements in enterprise use, custody and institutional trading, etc. Things are moving in the right direction, it just takes time.
19 Understand that there were some Quality/ Due Diligence processes at Partner’s end for holding back on the announcement of the 2 Enterprise Validators that are currently on-boarded on Theta Main-net. Can you please provide more info on when these processes can be finished and by when We can expect an official announcement on the Names of these Enterprise validators?
Sure, it was not quality / DD issues as much as just corporate approval processes, their engineers getting temp pulled for other assignments, not unusual for big companies. I’m not going to speculate on timelines given that we don’t control that process, but I can say that those 2 (and others) are very much still happening and none have in any way backed away from their plans to launch nodes on Theta blockchain. Lesson learned not to hint too much to the community when delays can happen outside of our control, but the good news is they are all still in play, and will be worth it when they launch!
ME: Thanks a lot for your time Wes and wish you and your project all future success. Keep building! Anything you would like to add or say Wes? That was an excellent AMA session and I hope everyone here would have loved it as well.
Thank for having me! Again awesome questions, probably the best we’ve had in an AMA (really made me think on some of those!). Would be happy to do a 2nd round in the new year after we have a few new releases out to discuss. Cheers, and if you want to find out more about our project, check us out here any time or come say hi in our Telegram channel: