Blockchain Startup Raises $3 Million To Become The Wikipedia Of Data
A new San Francisco startup wants to use the blockchain to create more trustworthy and collaborative databases for consumers and businesses. Dirt Protocol raised $3 million in new investment from 26 investors, including venture capital heavyweights like Greylock and General Catalyst and crypto investors Digital Currency Group, Pantera Capital and Linda Xie.
Dirt cofounder and CEO Yin Wu, 29, is a serial entrepreneur who dropped out of Stanford in 2011 to start her first software company. Her second venture, Double Labs, was a mobile notifications startup that Microsoft bought in 2015.
The concept for Wu’s platform centers on information registries, also known as token-curated registries, that allow people to vote to verify their accuracy. For example, in the wacky world of cryptocurrency initial coin offerings (ICOs), some teams make false claims about who their advisors are to make their project look more prestigious. In response, the advisor can tweet about the lie and contact the ICO team to request her name be removed, but she has little other recourse.
In Wu’s vision, there will be a registry on the Dirt platform for cryptocurrency information, where different stakeholders (token-holders) can vote to verify accuracy. For an ICO team to add itself to that registry and list its advisors, it would need to “stake” tokens, thus making a bet that the information is correct. To dispute a claim, people must wager their own tokens, and whoever wins the challenge, decided by number of votes, wins the opposing party’s staked tokens.
The goal is to create a widely used, reputable list of verified ICO projects, in the same way the Better Business Bureau badge has served as a stamp of approval for small businesses. And like Wikipedia, the list can be edited by anyone, but it will be moderated by stakeholders. For Wu’s project to work, many people need to use and trust the list, to the point where ICO projects who aren’t on it would have less credibility.