Jack Liu: People need a reason to use Bitcoin

Since the RelayX acquisition of video content platform Streamanity, Bitcoin SV users are more and more willing to pay in BSV to watch high quality videos. 

How come Streamanity successfully makes video content creators upload and have their viewers pay to watch? How will Streamanity and Bitcoin SV grow even further from now on?

Time to ask RelayX founder Jack Liu about the success of Streamanity, onboarding new content creators and how to grow Bitcoin SV’s user base in general. 

Hi, Jack! Recently, you have surprised the Bitcoin SV sphere with Streamanity and a USD coin on BSV. First of all, how do you manage to get these things done with such a small team at RelayX?

It helps to work with some extremely smart problem solvers, and perhaps more importantly, people who have gotten over themselves and have bigger things in life to care about beyond Bitcoin SV or Relay. 

We spend time working on things that matter, and nothing about things that don’t. I think over time, we’ve learned more about each other and have a really aligned vision and it’s a case where our team not only works remotely, we almost never even have conference calls.

Not too long ago, RelayX acquired the video content platform Streamanity. Since the acquisition, Streamanity has shown real usage of Bitcoin SV already and seems to grow quite fast. We saw Isaac Morehouse doing great on Streamanity, recently Ari Kuqi and John Pitts have managed to gain traction on Streamanity, too. There is even a chart analyst called cryptofactor that seems to get a constant 60-70 paid views per video at the moment. People actually pay money to watch Streamanity content—why?

It’s a case of content creators are now starting to see the pricing power they have and maybe didn’t realise. We’ve been surprised and excited ourselves by how happy creators have been and the love they have shown for Streamanity. It’s been good to see viewers pay to watch the content as well. 

We’ve done a few key things right I think in terms of making sure every payment that occurs on Streamanity is instant, split in any way creators would like, and able to be done across any compatible wallet like RelayX or Moneybutton and many more. The more we open it up, the better it’ll do. It’s really early days and nobody knows for sure if this will work at scale. 

We are really happy to have bought Streamanity and would definitely buy again. 

Bitcoin SV related niche content gets a lot of paid views on Streamanity, while broader topics seem to be not popular yet. What are the reasons for that and what can video content creators learn from it?

It’s really a number’s game. If you went to a foreign country and tried to use a different language in everyday life, you’ll have a pretty hard time. There’s only maybe 10,000 monthly active BSV users, perhaps generously only a couple thousand daily active that have Bitcoin SV right now, so there’s not a lot of content topics you can have that can attract an audience. That’s going to change over time as onboarding is solved and the number of people with accounts that access the blockchain grows to billions of people. But by then, the competition to monetise content will be fierce too. 

It helps for us as operators of Streamanity to know that we have some degree of understanding and insight into how wallets and onboarding will be fixed given we operate RelayX.

Let us talk about the business side of Streamanity. Whenever a video is purchased, Streamanity gets a share of the payment. So by videos being paid for, you automatically get your revenues. However, what about videos that do not get paid views, aren’t these a financial burden for Streamanity due to hosting costs? 

That’s right. Currently, Streamanity from an economic perspective is a subsidized model where those who make money subsidizes those who don’t. Right now, all creators on Streamanity are paying 20% of revenues to the platform, while all users upload content for free. That’s a legacy structure passed on to us by the previous investors and team.

I think it’s seriously problematic. For example, if a creator like the Numpties, or say Joe Rogan became seriously popular, they aren’t going to accept a 20% cut, they’d want that reduced or they’ll go do their own platform or go somewhere else. Meanwhile people who are not monetizing are basically using Streamanity as their personal Dropbox or file storage service for free while it costs us a tremendous amount of money. Something like only 2-5% of the videos on Streamanity make financial sense for the platform even on a per unit variable cost basis without accounting for our fixed operating costs and labor costs. Of course we will make several upgrades over time to improve our hosting efficiency, and lower costs that way, but it doesn’t make sense that profitable creators should be subsidizing unprofitable creators. That’s what YouTube’s for.

We are going to make everyone pay for their usage. 

Is Streamanity profitable at the moment?

No it’s not. But certainly it’s in a better financial position than it was under previous ownership where it was hemorrhaging money with no top line growth. 

How much more activity would Streamanity need to be profitable? Are we talking about 10x the user base, or rather 100x?

That depends on how one goes about aligning incentives and building the platform. There’s a world where Streamanity could be profitable even with the users it currently has and there’s also a world as you know where YouTube had millions of videos and millions of users and was losing money profusely for so many years. 

An intuitive reflex to Streamanity would be the idea to “onboard” a big YouTube influencer in order to attract that influencer’s audience to Streamanity. However, you have mentioned before that this might not be the ideal way to expand Streamanity at the moment. Kindly share your thoughts with us on that.

People just think it would attract the influencer’s audience to Streamanity, when nothing like that would happen.

The better Streamanity becomes, the more things like that might coincidentally happen, and the organicness of it, means there’s reasons why influential people begin using your product—cause it’s good. Bitcoin also allows you to design incentives into the product such that it naturally grows and sells itself—again if it’s good.

Instead, if you hire some suit to get you a hook up to a YouTube influencer, you’ll end up very disappointed because it doesn’t change the fact that it’s not a very good product. It’s funny because there weren’t YouTube influencers before YouTube of course—the platform enabled the long tail creator who wasn’t on television to become a household name. Yet people think that bottom up approach won’t work for Bitcoin startups, when that’s the entire Bitcoin advantage on steroids.

You ask how it is we seem to do a lot with a small team—we don’t spend time on this type of stuff.

Let us talk about onboarding people to Bitcoin SV and BSV dedicated apps in general. There are quite some opinions in the BSV sphere on how to grow the user base. What is your take on it?

If you can’t convince people who already have Bitcoin to use your product, you won’t be able to convince people who don’t have any, nor get them to use it even when they one day do have Bitcoin. Of course the number of people who have Bitcoin is very small, but your product should still have an encouraging level of adoption within that small group. That’s been our thesis consistently and drives how we run our companies. We are going to grow with our industry and we will deeply be tied to its success and this network effect will compound. 

Look at Cambrian Bootcamp—did we look outside the Bitcoin developer space? No. We gathered the best devs who were in Bitcoin. 

Look at RelayX App Store. Did we spend time convincing apps like Snapchat or Instagram to make an app for RelayX? No. We love and have all the time in the world for those who have made apps on Bitcoin like a Twetch, a Baemail, a BitPic. 

Look at Streamanity—did we go out there looking for YouTube stars? No. We embraced those who are making Bitcoin content like Numpties, Diamond in the Rough, River.

Random people on the internet were what seeded YouTube, before they got the major media companies to create content for it many years later. All of YouTube’s competitors that focused on enterprise and building platforms for legacy media companies as an initial customer acquisition strategy, mostly failed.

So Bitcoin SV will grow by powerful BSV dedicated apps and services providing unique use cases to the current BSV user base rather than marketing to non-Bitcoiners? And by this, non-Bitcoiners will automatically come over seeing the unique possibilities that BSVers enjoy?

That this is even a question explains why Bitcoin hasn’t already eaten the world. 

Ask yourself why the current userbase is here? Cause they are doing something amazing that you can’t do without Bitcoin. Maybe it’s not amazing enough for the rest of the world to care just yet. If you want that user number to grow, you add more and more things people don’t even know they want but turns out you can only do with Bitcoin. Then those non-bitcoiners will come on their own. If you need to schedule a call or meeting or make a speech or educate or write an article about why a no-coiner should get Bitcoin, you’ve lost the script. People need a reason to use Bitcoin.

Watch the CoinGeek Live 2020 panel, Social & Online Content Creators: Moving On-Chain to Make Money.

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