The Blockchain Meets The Content Industry

Coinist was recently fortunate enough to chat with the folks at Hubii Network, a project aiming to be the content platform of the future. Hubii Network reimagines the entire content process from production to consumption through to distribution.


Coinist was recently fortunate enough to chat with the folks at Hubii Network, a project aiming to be the content platform of the future. Hubii Network reimagines the entire content process from production to consumption through to distribution. Before we jump into the interview take a couple of minutes and watch Hubbi Network’s introduction video below.

Hello and thank you for chatting with us today. Unlike many other ICOs Hubii isn’t a new player in the content industry. You already have a content distribution network with a reach of 50 million users / day. Therefore, it seems like Hubii Network is being designed as an “extension” of your existing enterprise. Can you tell us a little bit about how the relationship between Hubii and Hubii Network works? Is there some type of synergy between them or are they two totally different entities?

Hello and thank you for having us here today. Hubii started as a location based news aggregator. Approximately 3 years back we were approached by Mozilla to build a product for their FirefoxOS project. We signed a Global Partnership agreement and we engaged. At that time we were introduced to some of their partners (telecoms and OEM’s) and soon after that both Telenor and TCL/Alcatel asked us to use our API to power two “news content” products they had built for their users (these are what we call distribution partners).

Then, two things happened; Mozilla had to cancel the FirefoxOS initiative while many more “distribution partners” approached us. Then, we found ourselves working as a proxy between content creators and distributors reaching out to 50m users a day. However the business would not scale financially and therefore we wanted a new approach to our solution. Thus, December 2016 we went back to the white board and thought about a solution that would still let us leverage all the work done – engine, partnerships and users – and Blockchain soon became an obvious solution for us.

Then, the concept of Hubii Network was born. The idea, as you said, is to build a blockchain based decentralised content marketplace where we widen our content offering from text to text, still images, music and video. All that powered by our own token, Hubiits, which has a full and clear utility.

So, Hubii is the company name and old product name while Hubii Network is our most immediate future.

Can you tell us a little bit more about your background in the content industry?

We have been doing content aggregation for 5 years having close to 600 partnerships with local and hyperlocal publications from 200 countries and in 80+ languages. We have a powerful API providing service to millions of users from South East Asia to Latin America and Russia. It is a global solution used by leading companies.

When did you decide to get Hubii Network off the ground?

We decided so in December 2016 after studying alternatives to take our company to the next level. Mozilla had to cancel the FirefoxOS initiative while many more “distribution partners” approached us. Then, we found ourselves working as a proxy between content creators and distributors reaching out to 50m users a day. However the business would not scale financially and therefore we wanted a new approach to our solution. 

You mention that the content market is expected to be a 2 trillion dollar industry by 2020. But you also mention that the industry is currently broken. You look at three main problems within the current system. Let’s look at those now and let’s discuss how Hubii provides a solution to those problems. However, let’s not speak in abstract terms, let’s use an example to help our readers better visualize how Hubii works. You also mention that content creators often don’t get rewarded for their work. Suppose I’m a content creator and I write news and articles about sports. Tell me what the traditional workflow looks like for writers. Then tell me what the workflow looks like for Hubii users. Specifically how does Hubii solve the creator reward problem?

The traditional workflow varies from company to company and even geography. I can tell you though that we have worked with content creators working as freelance journalists working for leading financial publications which get paid, in Hong Kong, $200 a month for 5 articles plus an small commission for every thousand readers. That does not encourage quality journalism.

Our solution provides full control to the journalist whereby he/she can decide how much would like to get paid for their work (among many other options). Then, of course, as any other marketplace the offer and demand will dictate if the journalist will be able to obtain that revenue but, there will be multiple other aid tools to indicate to the journalist pricing suggest and possible audience reach.

We want to provide content creators with full control and accountability over their works including revenue.

You also mention that new content distributors have to pay hefty fees to get access to content. So building on the example above, what does the traditional content purchasing and distribution process look like and then tell us what the process look like for users who use the Hubii Network.

I can give you a very specific example with one of our partners in South East Asia where we power over 15 million users. The way it works is that we, Hubii, has to sign specific deals with the publications, ingest the content, prepare it and have it ready to integrate with the distribution point; our partner.

That is a lengthy and complex process which takes time and money. Does not scale.

We work with companies which have recently raised $2B in funding and yet have difficulties to get hold of the content as they have to sign thousands of deals with individual publications. Again, scaling is a phenomenal issue plus, of course, integration, maintenance of the solution, etc. Multiple single points of failure.

Hubii Network will simplify the sourcing and integration in full. A single point of integration to all content you wish.
Furthermore, as a distributor you will be able to address the community and put tenders for the content desired, etc

Lastly, you mention that consumers are constantly hit with uninteresting content. Again, building on the example above, tell me how consumers have traditionally consumed content and tell me how the Hubii process is different.

We spend more time online than ever before. Furthermore, we get content thrown at us 24×7. As mentioned before a low pay for journalists – in this case – does not encourage quality content. We want to encourage not only a fair pay but also quality content as we think those two go hand by hand.

Then, on the other hand, we envision to provide content distributors with the right tools to be able to target their audience the best possible way and provide them with the desired content (coming from hubii network’s content pool). Please note that for new content distributors (telecoms, OEM’s, etc), content is not their core business hence we will assist them at that end too.

You mention that within the Hubii marketplace, content creators can submit their work and set their conditions. you mentioned “content price” as an example of a condition. Are their other examples of conditions that content creators can set?

Yes. Some examples;

– geographical distribution; where can be distributed and where can not (think about a movie release for instance)

– fact checking; can outsource that from within the community

– When to get paid (solves the micro-payment issues)

You mentioned that content distributors can look through a content pool to find content. You also mentioned that they could alternatively submit a tender for the content they require. To me, this sounds similar to a freelancer marketplace like UpWork of Fiverr. Is this right?

No, it is not. Fiverr offers a wide range of services. We are a content marketplace focused on text (news), images, music and video. We encourage the trading and tenders are one service of many. Also does not apply to all content verticals we touch. Another service of the platform will be crowdfunding.

A clear example of a tender would be, for instance, the NYT wanting to get concrete details and facts regarding what is happening today in Venezuela; local news from a local perspective focused on quality. Thus, they can put up a tender to get that piece of knowledge without having to send any correspondents to the country.

Alternatively, Telenor – one of our partners – could ask for more Cricket news in South East Asia when the cricket season kicks off.

You mentioned that Hubii Network will use blockchain technology as it’s backbone. Will Hubii Network run on Ethereum? Can you tell us a little bit more about the relationship between the idea and the technology that the idea will run on? What are you using smart contracts for?

Yes. Hubii Network will run on Ethereum. We do have plenty of engineering done today which is proprietary but, moving forward, we will develop open source code.

Smart contracts are – in our humble opinion – the holy grail of content creators. The most powerful tool today in technology to gran them control over their works together with full transparency and accountability.

Lastly, you mentioned that individual content consumers can purchase content directory from the distributor. Can you help us visualize this process a little better? Currently, users often use centralized third parties as trusted sources of curated content. For example, a user might visit CNN for their political news coverage needs or go to TechChrunch for their technology content needs. How would Hubii work in this regard? Would it be similar to how things work now or would it require that we totally re-think how we consume content?

I believe our video says that can purchase it directly from the “content creator” but we might have mentioned distributor also on the white paper. ?

I can cover both;

We have the advantage of having been running Hubii for a few years and we worked with companies presenting new methods to distribute content (Telecoms and OEMs). One lesson learned is that more and more users want to have a single point for accessing content unlike having 3 apps one for video, one for music and one for news.

Now, imagine your favourite music band decides to publish their latest album within Hubii Network and one of our distributors accepts to pay that band the conditions set within the smart contract by the music band. Then, the distributor serves the content to their millions of users. In this case we create a frictionless process between content creator and distributor reaching out to the desired audience.

Equally, users will be able to reach out to hubii network and buy the desired content from there; all they will have to do is to hold tokens and accept the rules set by the content creator.

To answer your more specific example (CNN, political coverage, techcrunch) , you – as a user – could subscribe to your favourite content / content creators / content type within hubii network and get all that content pushed on to your device as a single content stream (news, music and video/movies).

From a content consumption standpoint how would curation be handled?

Two methods:

– automated powered by AI (we have some curation filters already implemented in hubii)

– applying the utility of our token whereby token holders will be able to manually curate – in some cases – content as that is published on to hubii netowrk

Can you tell me a little bit about your ICO and internal token? You mention that payments are made using your internal cryptocurrency called HUB. Can you tell me more about the functions and utility of the HUB token?

  1. Transacting on the platform
  2. Validating content in various ways – allowing validators to be rewarded for their work (but punished for being bad actors)
  3. Providing liquidity to the platform to mitigate exchange rate risk for other users – again allowing token holders to be rewarded for their work

Thank you for taking the time to chat with us today. To our readers, if you want to look more about Hubii Network and their ICO you can visit this page:

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