The Business Of
By Josh Moir
From looking to change the way torrenting works by implementing incentivisation to revolutionising lotteries, an interview with the founder of Upfire, Tyler Fallon.
The Business Of Interview Series
23rd April 2021, 17:00 GMT
Hello, everyone, this is Josh Moir from the Street Analysts, and today we are very honoured to interview Tyler Fallon, the founder of Upfire. Thank you very much for coming on today with us.
Hey, Josh, thank you so much for having me.
So we'd like to begin before you got involved in blockchain, can you talk to us about what you were doing before founding Upfire such as on what you've studied and then about you going on to work as a developer for a few companies, I believe.
I kind of pictured ICO boom kind of in my head and the explosion of a platform like this. So I immediately started planning out projects like the first thing that hit me for whatever reason, is just the file-sharing system. The file-sharing system has seeders offering files for no incentive at all. And it kind of just hit me that something like this would benefit from running on Ethereum. I had several ideas, that wasn't the only one, but that one struck me as the most obvious. So that kind of kicked off the planning for Upfiring the original version of Upfire.
Sure. And then so what was it about the blockchain space that really honed into you? So you thought, I'm interested in this and I really want to go into this more.
So, the trustless aspect, the fact that you don't have to trust a government to not print too much money or you don't have to trust Apple if they don't like your products or Google to not shut down your servers, it's run by the people, essentially. And it's like it's the immutability of it. It's essentially like the world's computer. Right. The world's computer aspect. So that's what struck me initially as like this is something that can be huge.
Yeah, and so, from becoming aware of the area, so blockchain technology, what was the process to then come up with the idea and subsequently launch Upfiring?
First, yeah, to map out, whether it was technically feasible and whether something like this can be done because back then there's no documentation for anything very, very little. So, we had to kind of sit down and I had to speak to some developers and speak to some people who were interested in the space and were very tech-heavy, like developers, essentially my teacher from the class that I was in at the time. And everyone kind of agreed that something that can be done.
And yeah, kind of once I had the confirmation that this is technically feasible and I'm not going to be, you know, doing something like... there are so many blockchain projects. This is probably the most important step for me, honestly. Like, I think I'm not elaborating on it enough, maybe because it was a while ago now. But this is the most important step. So many people in the crypto space, they come up with this idea. That sounds amazing, but it's not technically feasible. And they announce it and everyone's like, wow, that's a great idea. Energy on the blockchain or real estate on the blockchain. But they don't work out the technical aspects of how it's actually going to work. So, this is the most important step, and I spent a long time mapping this out and making sure that, yes, if I put time and effort into this, it's going to work, it's going to be a thing. And so, once we had confirmation there, we moved forward with it and we started building it. And this is not something that I plan on ever kind of giving up on. But I'll be working on this project as a contributor now that it's open source, you know, just forever. It's something that I believe in, that I believe should be a thing, you know.
Yeah, and so could you give a brief overview, perhaps, of what is Upfire and explain what attracted you to almost trying and change the way peer to peer file sharing works?
Yeah, I believe that people should be able to do and share whatever they want on the Internet and that the people should be responsible for whatever consequences that entails. It's the censorship aspect, if you upload a video to YouTube that YouTube's algorithm doesn't like or the moderators don't like, they can just take it down. That censorship aspect has always kind of made my blood boil like that, that these, that bigger corporations can kind of just control the narrative completely. And so I think that people should have total control, you shouldn't be able to be censored. And if you choose to do something, people always bring this up, if you choose to do something like upload copyrighted content to an app like this, that's you know, it's a decentralized app, you are responsible for the consequences of that. Do I think it should be censored? No, but if you're breaking the law, then you're breaking the law. Right. And you may have to face consequences to that. But I don't think that big corporations should have the ability to censor content creators the way they do now. And that's kind of the main premise of this app.
I mean, that's very interesting. Could you then talk us through what was the current file sharing and torrenting model versus the Upfire model, and how have you improved the process?
You're saying the Upfiring model versus the Upfire model?
Well, before Upfiring, there was minimal incentivization for users to upload the content. Could you explain the significance of incentivising users with a monetary value to upload this content?
Yes. So the old system is you download, like let's say you go and you download the app BitTorrent and you basically are looking for people who are voluntarily sharing files with you, which to me doesn't make any sense. Because why would a person who has voluntarily seeded torrents for other people to download from their computer. Very few people. The system doesn't really work. Like you're if you're looking for a certain file, it's difficult to find it. There's a ton of issues, I could go on about the issues with the current system and why I think that you know, kind of like exploits the people who don't know that they're seeding, essentially. And so it makes it hard to find rare files and things like that. So the goal of Upfiring, which was the initial app and also Upfire as well, is incentivized peer to peer file sharing.
It's to give the seeders a small incentive. It doesn't have to be a big one, just some incentive to share files and provide files to the network. Incentives is everything, by the way. Incentives are what made the Bitcoin network grow initially. It's what kept it secure. Right. All the mining rewards. Right. Every single blockchain every single like, you know, liquidity pool where you're adding liquidity for things. The whole space is run on incentives. And the torrenting space, in my opinion, would be improved drastically with an incentive model. It just needs to be done right is the thing. Blockchain is a new space and we've run into problems that were kind of unforeseen in the beginning when we planned it out, like the high transaction fees on Ethereum, which weren't present when we initially planned this out. So, there's changes that need to be made. But this is doable. It's something that we can do and it's something that should be done. I think most people who hear the idea that understand how torrenting works, do agree that the seeder should get some sort of reward for providing files, know they are doing work so.
Yeah, I think that's really boiled down what Upfire and Upfiring are all about and going on to that, for some of our audience who are not perhaps familiar with upfiring and what is now Upfire. Could you talk a bit about the history of Upfiring and why you have now decided to rebrand, to Upfire and what the difference is?
Yeah, we initially launched as Upfiring, that was the 2017 project, launched in early 2017. When we launched initially, the goal was to allow users to pay for files using an ERC-20 token, a utility token, called UFR. That was the initial premise. And you would have to pay gas fees every time you did that. This model made sense at the time because people used to create apps. Or in 2017, it was all the rage to be like, let's use my token to pay for things in my ecosystem. That was the way things were looked at back then. What ended up happening was that what we saw in the space were that the successful Ethereum applications, the ones that had real users, were not ones where you had to go buy a token and then use them inside an ecosystem. The token provided some other sort of benefit to the ecosystem, like governance or staking or some other sort of benefits and the actual currency for being used in the ecosystem was Ethereum or like BNB, for instance, if you're looking at Binance, smart chain.
Just say Ethereum for the sake of argument. So if you look at, for instance, like major applications that are actually being used, like Aave compounds, like all the yield farming protocols, everything in DeFi, and they all revolve around Ethereum, you don't have to go buy Aaave's token in order to store money in their bank, essentially they're decentralized bank. Right. You can store whatever you want in there. You just need some ethe for gas. So that's kind of what we're going for or that's kind of like one of the biggest changes that we realized. And also, the gas fees are too high to pay with a token. So, you can't do micropayments the way you could in 2016 anymore with a token, so the gas fees are now too high, so using only one currency will help save a little bit of money as well. A good amount of money, actually. So. All right. So that's Upfiring, starting out with the payments and tokens. Right. It was the same premise of incentivized peer to peer file sharing. We created the dapp. We launched the dapp. We had some uses for the dapp in August of 2020. Right. Was really when the dapp really launched. And right when we launched the dapp Ethereum gas fees spiked like it was start of the bull market. It was like the mining boom was right when we launched the dapp.
It couldn't have been, worse timing in terms of like we finally finished this stuff that we've been working on for three years, that, you know, it does exactly what it's supposed to do, minimal bugs. And yeah, OK. So then we kind of decided that we kind of had to go back to the drawing board. We have a working protocol. That's the most important thing. We have the ability for seeders to earn via this protocol that we have, the Upfiring protocol. But it just needs to be altered a bit to account for the state of the gas fees now. And we kind of came up with we're going to integrate all this this new technology. We're going to change the use case of the token completely. When you no longer need to use a token, you don't need to buy the token to use the app anymore. That is probably the most important distinction. So then we're rebranding over to a Upfire which is launching this week, really like the website and everything. And then the name change is happening this week. The application is coming out hopefully in a few weeks. We're starting to pay with BNB, we're launching on Binance smartchain via bridge. Then we're going to move back over to Ethereum and just do layer two.
Yeah, and then, I mean, that really explained to our audience what the difference between why you changed from the original, Upfiring to, now, Upfire. Could you explain the significance that incentivising users will have on the quality and quantity of content available on Upfire and on the Upfire?
Yeah, so when there's an incentive, you have a reason to actually make sure that your content is good quality, you can sell good quality content for more than you can sell, you know, before it was free, it was, no matter which content you offer, good quality, bad quality, whatever, it's all free. So you don't really care. But now with the incentives, if you have really like high quality, like some piece of art that you made. Right, it's like the original and extremely high quality, you can sell that for a lot more money than, like, something that you took two seconds on. So this incentive model just makes sense when it comes to incentivizing seeders to actually put in work. It's also the number of files. I don't know many people who are like, I'm going to go try to upload thousands of my files on my computer to this network and just provide them for free. But when you add a small incentive to that and you think maybe if someone needs any of these files, I can provide them. So you're able to upload all those files, right?
Put a price on all of them. And you're providing a service to the network and you can increase the, now at the incentive, you can increase how much you earn by uploading more files to the network. More and better quality. So it should over time, of course, the network effect of BitTorrent is huge. But that is why our market cap is one-thousandth of them. Right. So we have some work to do. So that's the plan, to start growing this network. And that's my biggest focus is growing the network, getting the app out and getting to real users.
Yeah, and that sort of leads to my next question, which is, what are your plans for Upfire? Could you talk about the short-term road map for the Upfire project?
Yes, so the first thing is just getting the dapp out, running with a bridge to Binance smart chain. And the reason we're using Binance smart chain is it's a short term solution, for now, it's something that will allow us to grow the network and grow the projects. And the fees are very low based on the way Binance runs their chain. So it's a solution for right now that will allow users to kind of get involved. The next most important could be staking. It provides a purpose for the UPR token, the Upfire token. And when users stake, they're going to be able to earn a percentage of every single transaction that happens on the network, so every time someone pays in BNB and later in ETH. Depending on what proportion of the staking pool they own, they're going to be able to earn a portion of all of the transactions, every transaction will go to a pool. They'll own a proportion of it, and then they earn that. So that provides an incentive to buy and hold the token.
And another huge development for an app like this is the treasury. We plan to give this treasury a lot of power and control over the future of this application because ideally, this entire project needs to be like one hundred percent decentralized. It needs to run itself. And in order to run a project in this day and age, you need the access to capital, to some sort of funding. Even if it's tokens. It's very, very hard, it's like I was saying incentives. Right. You have to have incentives. So with, you know, ideally, in the future, I would like to set back and just be another contributor to the projects. And the project can run itself via all of the token holders voting on proposals like the government and then using the treasury to fund those proposals. So whether those proposals are like marketing, other things that the community wants to run. Whether they want to change and to designate some of the treasury funds to that.
So the steps would be staking, governance and fully decentralizing the application and kind of moving in that direction.
Yeah, in a few questions time we're going to talk about how community-driven you want Upfire to be, but for now, it seems that once you and your team have fully developed the Upfire platform, the only real problem will be informing people about the platform and growing your user base. Can you talk us through your strategy to grow the number of users of Upfire?
So I think that now influencer marketing is huge, I think having influencers to talk about the project and kind of see its use case, see that we have a working product is one of the biggest strategies. We want to go into existing torrenting communities. Now that the application is a regular torrenting app that also includes blockchain I think it's going to be very appealing to existing torrenting communities. Because before it came in they would say, OK, so I can earn money through this, I can't do my regular torrenting, where I can provide files for free. So it's not the same as what I'm used to, so they would leave. Whereas now we can offer the best of both worlds. Not getting in with people whether it be a bull market, bear market, but right now, I think this is perfect timing for us to be launching this.
A concept that I find very interesting is how community-driven you want Upfire to be, with a decentralised treasury among other things looking to be implemented in the future. Could you talk to us about why you want it to be so decentralised?
It has to be, otherwise it will die. That's the thing, everything, and that goes for every application of applications, satellite as well, like Tenez, things that are centralised have the potential for failure. Like governments can attack them. It doesn't work well and everyone's flocked towards decentralisation, and this is why Uniswap and Aave and these DeFi platforms, that have managed to fully decentralise themselves, that's why they do so well, it is because they don't have to manage everything. And this is what we need to do, especially given the nature of the dapp coming down to file sharing.
Yeah, I mean, it's quite interesting for our audience. Could you tell us what your long term vision is? Where you would like to see your project in the next 5 years.
I think that this has the potential to kind of challenge the existing torrenting ecosystem and be the standard for torrenting. And with the incentivisation I don't see any reason why you wouldn't use it. As long we properly create it and we get this in front of the right people. I mean, it is very clear, you know, you provide files, you get Ethereum or BNB in the case of the initial launch anyway.
Yeah, I think that covered the majority of Upfire is. Could you tell us someone that you look up to and what is it about that person that inspires you?
Yeah, this discussion is going to be like a tough one. I think that Elon Musk is really good at delegating responsibility while still keeping up with the projects he runs. That is important because I'm starting to get to a point where I have a ton of different things going. Like I'm working on another project, Lotto, and I'm working with NFTs. So many different things in this space, and delegating is so important. Properly working with people around that aspect is huge. So people that are good at that, I kind of look up to them. I'm not saying its any one person, but Elon Musk just comes to mind.
For most of us, it is Elon Musk. What he's achieved is impressive. As you mentioned, Lotto Finance, we have produced another article on this. It's a very interesting project that Tyler also leads. So I do recommend everyone checks that out. Tyler will be answering a few questions about that project.
Are there any other industries that you have a particular interest in, maybe A.I. or you mentioned that you look up to the Elon Musk in terms of delegation, are you perhaps interest in space travel? What other industries are you interested in, apart from blockchain?
I think A.I. is fascinating, but I don't think we're quite there yet in terms of like creating the things that are really going to be interesting to me yet. If that makes sense, like I think A.I. is something I would be interested in, like 15 years when we make a little more progress. Honestly crypto is the main thing I have interest in, it's crazy. I have an interest in every aspect of tech, but nothing is as strong as crypto. So so it's kind of like nothing is really a close second to me. That's why I'm so grateful for this space existing, because otherwise I would most likely just be just like a programmer, you know, for some company. So I'm interested in a lot of other aspects, but keep in mind I've been working in crypto since Ethereum came out. So in terms of like other industries, I don't know, I don't have experience in them, so I guess I'm not really sure.
Yeah, I mean, it's great to hear your passion and devotion to crypto. Thank you very much for taking the time out in this interview. Do you have any additional information or additional things that you want to add?
No that's it, thank you.
Thank you very much. Been very fun talking to you today.
Yep. Thank you, Josh.