In early 2014 while perusing Reddit, I saw a post calling for volunteers to help out with a new project. The founder of the project, Shawn Wilkinson, invited anyone who was enthusiastic about the cryptocurrency movement to participate. He promised to let those who were willing to join a development community to create a “decentralized Dropbox,” a piece of software that would allow anyone with a few extra gigabytes of storage on their computer to make a profit by leasing it out to others. The software, he said, would also allow anyone to purchase cloud storage space at a fraction of the cost that centralized providers were charging. This would be possible because there wouldn’t be any overhead costs for cooling or data center rental. Of course, end users would have to ensure their systems remained healthy and protected, but this is something they were doing already without getting paid for it. The idea sounded so great that I couldn’t believe anyone hadn’t already implemented it. The project goes by the playful name of Storj.
Over the coming months, I learned that though the idea was very logical, there was still a lot of coding to be done. Developers on the team toiled round the clock—literally, as they were scattered across the globe—to get everything working. Everyone participating in the project collaborated over Slack, and each day the amount of developers, writers, and designers participating increased. I attended the North American Bitcoin Conference in Chicago where the team was balancing out discussing the project with venture capitalists and entrepreneurs on one hand and on the other, interacting via social media regarding the ongoing crowdsale—a Kickstarter like effort where anyone could contribute money in return for early access to the software and StorjcoinX (SJCX), the native token of the network.
Unfortunately, the following month I had a family emergency that barred me from volunteering my time to the Storj project any longer. Over the few weeks that I was absent, the development pace did not slow at all, and by the time I was comfortable trying to catch up, I realized too much had happened for me to resume my post as the leading social media and public relations representative. While my face to face time with Shawn and the rest of the Storj team was limited to those few days in Chicago, immediately upon meeting them I knew that everyone, Shawn especially, had a deep passion for creating this incredible piece of software. It didn’t matter what problems or challenges would arise, they would attack them head on. When I was helping write the press release for the crowdsale, Shawn was available day and night, even in the wee hours of the morning, to offer his guidance. Paraphrasing Benjamin Franklin, there will be plenty of time to sleep when you’re dead.
Fast forward to now, April of 2016. I have been keeping track of Storj’s progress from a distance, and needless to say they’ve been doing incredible work. Though the software is still in beta, over 3 petabytes (yes 3000 terabytes!) of data has been stored on the network. There are nodes, rather users hosting data, all over the globe from Alaska to Europe to Southeast Asia. One of the most exciting developments from a public viewpoint is the recently announced addition of Storj to Microsoft Azure’s Blockchain-as-a-Service platform. This will put Storj front and center in the public eye so that companies like Coca Cola and The Weather Channel who are considering decentralized storage for their data will be able to use Storj with a greater sense of trust and user friendliness.
As of April 9, 2016, the service is in a first-come, first-served closed beta, but considering it’s been added to the Azure BaaS platform, it’s likely it will be going live in the near future. Up until now, the only way to earn rewards for offering one’s extra hard drive space was to have participated in the crowdsale or to hold 10,000 SJCX (around $1000 at the time of writing this article). Whether one will be required to hold a large stake in SJCX once the software is live is yet to be determined, but it’s likely the barrier to entry will be substantially lowered, allowing average users to participate without committing $1000. When the software is live, payment for hosting data will be on par with mining Bitcoin back before the advent of specialized ASIC miners. Luckily, storage is storage, and though some users will create data center nodes for the network, everyone has access to the same storage technology making participation extremely fair and competitive.
Eager investors have a few options to seek profits. Though SJCX is not equity per-se, it is the native currency of the Storj network, and anyone wishing to host data will use it to pay the storage providers. It’s very possible the price will exceed it’s current levels. In fact, in the past few months, the price has already doubled. Whether this is purely due to speculation or is a sign of initial demand remains to be seen. Investors can find SJCX on a few exchanges, Shapeshift being the easiest and Poloniex providing the most liquidity. Of course, you’ll need Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency to exchange for SJCX. To get started with Bitcoin, sign up for a Coinbase account using this referral link. When you purchase your first $100 worth of Bitcoin, you’ll receive an additional $10 as a reward.
Another option for investors is to purchase a low power computer as well as a few large capacity hard drives. You can buy a hard drive and computer for 10-35% off of Amazon’s list price by using Purse. Be aware that to make data hosting lucrative, your computer will need to always be on and have a good network connection. Otherwise, your node will not be considered reliable and will likely make less money.
Even if you don’t invest in Storj, it would be hard to argue that this isn’t one of the most exciting developments in cloud storage of our generation. With a passionate team of developers and some incredible software endorsed by prominent names in the tech world like Vitalik Buterin of Ethereum or Tyler Scriven of Palo Alto data analysis giant Palantir, Storj is worth shouting about.
Disclaimer: The author of this piece has a small financial stake in StorjcoinX. Investors should do their own, independent research before putting money into any company or crypto-token.
Featured image was taken from the official Storj blog.