For Kwak Jin-young, founder and CEO of blockchain company Sigmachain, creating a globally successful service has always been his dream. He led the team that designed Cyworld, which was popular in South Korea before the era of Facebook and Kakao Talk.
“Cyworld and Kakao all failed to become a global service, but blockchain has brought us a new opportunity,” Kwak said in a recent interview with The Investor, adding that while it is almost impossible to create entirely new services, like Cyworld or Facebook did, it is possible to create better versions.
He said his company is betting on blockchain technology to come up with better social networking services. Sigmachain recently launched a beta version of SNAC, the first-ever Dapp based on its main net Futurepia, in the hope of becoming one of the first platforms to successfully commercialize blockchain technologies.
The following are excerpts from the interview.
Sigmachain Founder and CEO Kwak Young-jin
TI: Please introduce Sigmachain and your team.
Kwak: Sigmachain is a blockchain company that develops blockchain main nets. We started to develop blockchain technologies in 2015 and launched our main-net called Futurepia in 2017. We do other IT businesses to make a profit and invest this in our blockchain technologies.
Recently we launched the beta version of Dapp SNAC, a reward-sharing social media platform. It’s like Kakao Messenger but based on blockchain technologies. On our platform users get rewards for their content. People will get more rewards for their content compared with the compensation they get from YouTube, for instance.
Our research team consists of 25 people and is based in Daegu. There’s an operation and sales team in Seoul made up of 15 more employees. I was originally looking for good talent in Daegu, which is my hometown. When Samsung Electronics moved to Suwon, some excellent engineers who were involved with Samsung’s distribution networking technologies used for its mobile phones stayed in Daegu. At the time, we didn’t even know what we were doing was very close to blockchain.
TI: Why SNS?
Kwak: I have been involved with SNS for a long time. I designed Cyworld and served as CTO of Say Cupid, a dating SNS later sold to game developer Neowiz in the early 2000s. Later I founded Touch, which develops distributed network technology.
And SNS based on blockchain benefits users in terms of evaluation and compensation. If you upload on a centralized platform, it is inevitable that you’re under the control of those platforms. But on decentralized SNS like SNAC, You can track down the original creator and history of alterations. So original creators can claim bigger benefits. This will improve the quality of the content.
On top of that, I have always wanted to create a globally successful SNS. All Korean SNS have failed to achieve global success. There are a lot of barriers for Korean companies in becoming a global player but I think blockchain gives us this opportunity. And so far it has been promising as two-thirds of users signed up for SNAC are from overseas.
TI: How do you compare yourself with competitors?
Kwak: I think many companies describe good technologies in their white papers but we rarely see them commercialized. Our goal is to commercialize blockchain technologies faster than anyone else. Because at the end of the day, it all comes down to who can materialize first and scale up. Look at Vitalik Buterin (the founder of Ethereum). He lacks experience in operating real services. This makes it difficult to create an ecosystem that actually works. That’s why you only see cryptocurrencies and money transfers as blockchain services. I think Steamit, which is a blockchain-based blogging and social media website, may be the only service that works.
Part of the reason we haven’t seen much of blockchain usage is speed. Bitcoin and Ethereum can handle five and seven transactions per second, respectively. This is too slow. We’ve achieved 300,000 transactions per seconds. This compares with Facebook, which can handle 30,000 to 40,000 transactions per second. We are proud of the speed, which is certified by Korea Laboratory Accreditation Scheme, the governmental accreditation body.
TI: 2018 was a bumpy year for blockchain and cryptocurrencies. How do you assess the blockchain industry now?
Kwak: In the past two years, most people were only interested in cryptocurrencies. There are many companies good at marketing. Some raise funding through ICOs and disappear. I see this trend changing this year. And I believe only those with competitive technologies can survive, while scammers and companies that have no technologies will fail.
TI: What are your future goals?
Kwak: We want to become one of the top 10 market cap companies with our coin SNAK, and host killer DAPPs to make Futurepia an active blockchain main net offering all the advantages of blockchain technologies. We are planning to list SNAC on cryptocurrency exchanges soon. In the past, people just invested after reading a white paper but these days, investors are interested in seeing real technologies. I hope investors vet more thoroughly.
We are also in negotiations with the local government to provide our technologies to build a smart city, for which blockchain technologies are crucial. We will continue our efforts to create an active blockchain ecosystem. To do so, we launched Sigmachain Network Alliance in March with more than 100 partners from various sectors.
By Park Ga-young (firstname.lastname@example.org)