An AMA with the Founding Team of Mask Network
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This week, the $GCR community had an AMA with the founding team of MaskNetwork (Maskbook). Mask Network connects mainstream social media with the new, open, decentralized Web 3.0. Through browser extensions and mobile applications, users could get a glimpse of the decentralized application world, make borderless cryptocurrency transfers, display, and trade NFT collections, and participate in DeFi projects.
1.) Hi Mask Network team! Welcome to the GCR Discord channel! Can you guys share with the GCR community a bit about the team behind Mask Network formerly Maskbook?
Hi all, Suji Yan here, and I am the founder and CEO of Dimension & Mask Network. I am currently a mentor of RadicalxChange Fellowship, co-authored articles with RadicalxChange, Data Law Group, and other economists and legal scholars. My work was published by Wired, South China Morning Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and so on[3:09 PM]I am currently focusing on open source, encryption, and privacy protection, and my company has products such as Mask Network (mask.io) That’s all about me, guess I’ll let Tianran finish the rest of the intro.
Hi I’m Taylor Zhang Director of ecosystem growth and investments. I am a Shanghai native, Emory BBA, and applied math major. Former consumer tech VC at Northern Light Venture got attracted to crypto in the last cycle and thought crypto and web 3.0 will change the way people own and transfer their data. Started the best Chinese crypto professional discussion group Bitcoin below $3000 watch party in late 2018, active till date and has more than 1000 members, Worked in the organization Tina Zhen founded that incubated Flashbot before it was there back in 2019, joined Mask Network early 2020, first as fundraising advisor and then full time. Also, lemme add an intro for our CTO Yisi Liu
Yisi Liu, co-founder, and CTO at Mask.io and founder of DWeb Shanghai node. He got his BS and MS in Computer Science at UIUC. His interest lies in Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing. He tries to figure out how the Internet affects human beings and society and builds models to help various public organizations to study and predict.
After school, he now focuses on seizing back ownership of data for Internet users through applied cryptology, so as to break the internet oligarchy. He is involved in various products including Mask Network and Tessercube.
We are currently at about 60 people, rapidly growing since the start of the year. We have people in the U.S, in Singapore, in Japan, and in Europe. Also growing community contributors everyday.
2.) Can you tell us from your point of view, what Mask Network is?
Mask Network is the core product of Dimension, which is positioned to become the bridge that connects internet users from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0. The foundational technology of Mask Network is a peer-to-peer encrypted messaging application, with new functions continuously being created around this foundation. We at Mask Network are strong believers in the ownership economy. People should own what they produce, people should own their data, their attention, and the virtual space they choose to contribute to. Mask Network integrates decentralized social messaging, borderless payment network, decentralized file storage and sharing, decentralized finance, DAO, and NFT to provide a safe and convenient portal for users to jump right into the continent of decentralized finance and then the new world of Web 3.0.
3.) Would you share some of the partnerships Mask Network has formed so far?
We already have a lot of the dapps integrated into the Mask network, and all the integrated dapps are partners of Mask This is the trading widget
This is our oldest dapp, the Red Packet Partnered with Maker
This is one of our latest, Dhedge
and this is the ecosystem map so as you can see, we’ve already built quite a robust and diverse ecosystem and enabled a lot of utilities directly on the existing social networks
4.) You have some exciting announcements coming up, can you share more about them? Like what is the project you’re working on now? And What’s the upcoming roadmap like?
We are trying to start a Social Defi Alliance. This started from Mask integrating Matic and a few Defi apps on Matic. We then realize that with significantly reduced cost, large-scale adoption of Defi apps might actually happen on social networks with the Mask integration. So we integrated a few more that better fit the social finance theme, and decided to start this social Defi alliance to unify the effort. We also want to rally support wherever possible so we enlisted fiat onramp provider, NFT badge provider, incubator, and a few renowned communities to give it a more complete push. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1zjbKwpNDT9qtOzxLHSciiNl4W1KtaonBXDCZUTMT2xw/edit . Check google Docs for detail, It’s still a working progress, still unannounced, and subject to a lot of change. Joyce did read it and agreed to support it.
So in the doc, we do have GCR as a community partner. I guess engaging the community early is a good gesture to simulate community involvement. Feel free to comment on the google doc. Roadmap. We have Mask 2.0 coming up next month. In the next 6 months: Mask 2.0 infrastructure for allowing developers the tools to build dapplets easier and an account system similar to SmartWallet. Mask Mobile app will be released this summer. Pay to unlock feature and a focus on minting social tokens. ArDrive file service, a Meson dapplet, RSS3. Basically, it’s like a dApp can be built on Ethereum. You burn ETH for gas and develop a task. Then, the dApp is run on Ethereum. A ‘dApplet’ or decentralized applet, will run on the Mask Network, and the thing is, the user feels like they’re on Twitter.
We are planning to release a series of articles regarding that so stay tuned. There will be a completely new Mask Network UI and functionalities. We will support more functions, more services around the blockchains, not just Ethereum’s. We’re spreading out to some sidechains, individual blockchains like BSC, or even xDAI, or even Solana. We haven’t finalized all the details yet, but we’re like the new era of Mask Network. You guys can just browse the entire blockchain universe without leaving the Mask Network extension. We are looking for great developers and anyone to join our community. We want to build a great ecosystem that anyone can write their own dApp inside of Mask Network.
We also want to support social tokens- the social money that each user can issue their own social token. We want to be this like metaverse– a great metaverse, in the near future. And we don’t really know how long it’ll take but this is the path we are definitely taking”. We also have exciting developments on a lot of fronts. We have over 20 dapps integrated already (we had 3 this time last year). We hope to see 100 early next year and over 300 by the end of next year. We are seeing a really good trend that the ratio of 3rd party apps is going up significantly in the recent months. Our developer community, with the help of gitcoin, has been growing rapidly. We are developing an NFT gallery inside your Twitter profile, and the ability to change your avatar into the NFTs you own. We are also experimenting with social tokens where each person with a Twitter account can issue a token of his/her own, and the social token will contain/own the asset or NFTs you wish to put inside to give it more value. All your historical social network content can be tokenized by our partner Cent and turn into NFTs that your own social token owns. If the social Defi alliance goes well, we will do round 2 and onwards, and hope to bring in a lot more active transactional users. That’s pretty much it for our roadmap and near-future developments
And here’s our bounty list, the alliance started straight from bounties – https://github.com/DimensionDev/Maskbook/issues?q=is%3Aissue+is%3Aopen+label%3A%22Bounty%3A+Open%22
5.) Can you guys share more about what the initial Twitter Offering is?
ITO is a feature based on IDO (Initial DEX Offering), we hope to bring users closer, respect their habits, and upgrade upon that. Because we found that many users who are used to Defi prefer to stay on Twitter, therefore leaving their information on it. The core differentiation point is the shorter user process, and ITO is to hit this pain point and retain more users. Mask Network has been working for a long time to bring different DApps into social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, and ITO is no different. We want users to be able to participate in the public token launching directly on Twitter, which will be a brand new experiment.
Imagine this, you are watching your favorite influencer’s content on social networks, and that influencer is recommending a brand new project that is raising funds. When you are tempted, you can use the ITO function to place a bid with one click. The whole process is simple and fast.
This is all made possible by Mask Network’s decentralized Applet architecture, which allows any decentralized applet to be displayed directly on top of any web-based social network. In addition, Mask Network has access to Transak, allowing almost any user in the world to directly participate in ITO bidding without having any virtual currency. Our first ITO project was with Loopring, where approximately $50,000 worth of $LRC was sold out in just 3 minutes. We also did the ITO of $mTSLA with Mirror Protocol, it was a huge hit as well.
ITO｜Mask Network’s first ITO project announced: Roadmark Loopring https://news.mask.io/2021/01/09/mask-network-ito-announcement-loopring
6.) Given your focus on encrypted messages, what’s the landscape there like right now? I mean where do you think the encrypted market is going and where does mask network fit in all of this?
In general, we think encrypted messaging by itself is very hard to grow, it should be part of the larger social network or instant messaging platforms. Facebook talked about it but hasn’t implemented it. Twitter has not done much on that front yet. Telegram is great but not end-to-end encrypted. Anything with a higher encryption standard than Telegram is difficult to use and is unlikely to get adoption in current settings. So you can see how we approach this. We started out as the encrypted messaging on top of those existing social networks. We found out that not only can we deliver messages secretly, we can also transmit code and decrypt and render them into applets on top of those social networks.
We hope that with all the utilities from web 3.0, users will be able to transfer from the existing social networks into the new world with the bridge we built and retain the user habits with those web2 social networks. And after users are all using the web 3 dapps, they will naturally be using the encrypted messaging services we offer. Mask Network is actually building a decentralized ecosystem. Everyone is doing new stuff nowadays: Web 3.0, NFT, DAO, DID, DeFi…, but no one is trying to connect the new world and the old one. We talked about this concept last year, and we think the biggest enemies are the giants in the centralized world, including Facebook, Amazon, or other giants. We have seen a lot of changes since last year, for example, Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, said that he was ready to decentralize Twitter by saying “protocols, not platforms”. But it’s been a year since that happened. Of course, Twitter still has a lot of projects taking place under the radar, like Jack is still buying Bitcoins with the maximum amount, or that he auctioned his tweets as an NFT.
Beyond that, we’re seeing a lot of new things in this new industry, not just DeFi, but also NFT, which has seen the most popular idea in the mainstream recently. But overall, the blockchain scene hasn’t had a significant expansion. If you look at the data about MetaMask’s download, it has been 1 to 2 million without further growth. We are old friends with Dan, the co-founder of the MetaMask team, who actually downloaded more than 2 million in 2017; and now the industry is like a bunch of geeks and programmers speculating on new concepts. Maybe Old Money or sovereign wealth funds will just buy bitcoin, and new projects lack the possibility to get out of the loop. We are wondering, could Mask Network connect the new world to the old in this case? What we’ve been doing before is step one, which is connecting information on the Internet with a decentralized identity. Because if you don’t have a decentralized identity in the Internet world, you don’t have a public key for cryptography, you can’t encrypt messages, transfer cryptocurrencies, or play with any of the new world stuff. For example, in Facebook, Twitter, these social networks, you do not really have an identity to yourself, your original identity is an asset belonging to Facebook, Twitter, they want to deal with your identity in any way they want. If that’s the case, it’s impossible for any decentralized company to grow, not to mention open finance.
So, the first step Mask Network chose to take was to make the crypto identity. Then in the process of developing the product, we found that Mask was actually slowly opening up a whole line of open finance and making a collection. But there is one feature that has been missing, and that is ITO, which is implemented through DApplet (Decentralized Applet), a technology framework developed by Mask Network, which can directly insert transaction information into ITO. It also allows inserting trading information directly into Twitter, enabling users to see quotes directly on Twitter and automatically identify trading pairs for trading.
Mask Network is an amalgamation of all the relevant fields and is the biggest portal to the decentralized world because we are the first bridge to connect to the centralized world. After all, if you compare it to Facebook and Twitter, Bitcoin’s market cap is still too small right now. Ultimately, the industry is still too young, and what we need to do now is to attract more people so they could enter the industry. Only if we find the immediate needs of users and lower the threshold of using the decentralized world to the point where everyone will use it and everyone is interested in using it, will we be able to attract more people to the industry. That’s why we take the lead and bring together well-known projects in the industry to do something interesting together.
7.) What can you say is the hardest thing about building Mask Network? and what is Mask Network’s most proud accomplishment?
I think a lot of the individual tasks are hard, but putting it together and turning it into an ecosystem is the hardest. And that has been our most proud accomplishment. We built the robust infrastructure for the dapps to live on, it was hard even doing it centralized, not to mention we did it the decentralized way. We did it decentralized to prevent taking down by the web2 giants. We spent a lot of time evangelizing the goodness of Web 3.0. We spent a lot of the effort nurturing our developer community. I think we are seeing the lights at the end of the tunnel.
8.) How can our community members learn more about you?