Founded in 2017 as Archain, the company changed its name to Arweave in 2018 while completing the Techstars Berlin mentorship program. Arweave’s mission is to make permanent, low-cost storage a reality. The company aims to accomplish its goal with the Arweave network, a block-based data structure called a “blockweave”.
Arweave’s blockweave underpins the Arweave permaweb, an array of data, websites, and applications that are hosted on the blockweave. Since the Arweave protocol is built on top of the HTTP protocol, the permaweb is accessible via modern web browsers like Brave or Google Chrome. Aiming to store data on the network in perpetuity, the Arweave protocol enables individuals with spare hard drive space to store data in exchange for AR tokens. Arweave anticipates that the cost of storage will continue to decrease and uses a formula to calculate how much it will cost to store a particular piece of data. All of Arweave’s assumptions can be found in its yellowpaper.
The Arweave mainnet launched in June of 2018 with a select group of 1800 hand-picked participants across various countries. Before the launch, the Arweave team also conducted an initial token sale limited to whitelisted individuals.
In November of 2019, Arweave secured a $5 million funding round from several venture capital firms in exchange for $5 in Arweave tokens. Six months later, the Arweave team raised another $8.3 million in exchange for AR tokens. However, after this round, the firm stated that it would use the new funds to incentivize community adoption and growth.
What is Arweave?
Arweave is a new blockchain storage platform designed to overcome the scalability, data availability, and cost issues that exist in blockchain data storage. This is also the difference between Arweave and most blockchain storage solutions. Arweave aims to become “the Internet’s browsable home network”. Arweave uses its native currency Arweave (AR) as an internal exchange medium. Its value comes from the practicality of the network, including submitting information to the Arweave blockchain, rewarding miners for maintaining and protecting the network, and suppressing the spread of spam.
Technology (Key Features)
Blockweaves and Proof of Access
The core technology that powers the Arweave is the blockweave. Just as a blockchain is a linked collection of blocks containing transactions, a blockweave — specifically designed for the Arweave protocol — is a set of blocks that contain data, linking to multiple previous blocks from the network. This data structure allows the network to an enforce that miners provide a ‘Proof of Access’ (PoA) to old data in order to add new blocks.
Unlike in a traditional blockchain, where miners are forced to expend electricity in order to earn tokens, in the Arweave network miners are also encouraged to replicate valuable data (the information stored in the network) in order to gain tokens. This mechanism offsets the value that is normally wasted in blockchain networks, with useful, energy efficient storage of data.
Wildfire is the Arweave’s self-organising network topology system. Wildfire ensures that miners are selfishly incentivised to store and share data as quickly as possible with other miners in the network, in order to build a positive reputation.
While more complex under the hood, Wildfire can be summarised as: ‘if you share with me, I will share with you’. As nodes in blockweave networks require fast access to data in order to mine efficiently, they are selfishly-incentivised to give data to other members of the network promptly and continuously, autonomously improving the sharing to lightning-fast speeds.
In order to support a network that allows for long-term on-chain data storage, the Arweave needs a system that supports unlimited sized blocks. The Arweave achieves this by using a system that decouples transaction distribution from that of block distribution in the network. This allows only a ‘shadow’ of the block to be moved around the system (the instructions necessary to rebuild the block from its constituent transactions), rather than full block itself. This means that the information required to process large blocks can be distributed across the network in just a few kilobytes
Arweave’s data storage is backed by sustainable, transparent economics that allow users to perpetuate the replication of information forever.
The Arweave’s economic mechanism is similar to a traditional economic endowment structure. When a piece of data is added to the Arweave network, the user pays a ‘principle’ upfront, on which ‘interest’ in the form of storage purchasing power is accrued. Over time, interest on this one-time upfront payment is given to those that offer hard drive space so that they can profit from their storage contributions. By using extremely conservative estimates for storage pricing, Arweave ensures the long-term viability of the network’s endowment.
On top of the core Arweave data storage layer, sits the permaweb. The permaweb is a collection of interlinked documents and applications — just like the traditional web — except all contents are entirely permanent. Because the Arweave network itself is built on top of HTTP (the protocol from which the traditional web arises), browsers have access to all of the data stored in the network. As the Arweave network itself is agnostic to its contents, the permaweb can be used to all kinds of information — from wikis, to PDFs, to videos, and web applications. Once included in the network, these files are always accessible, from any place in the world, at any time. Further, once submitted nobody (including their original uploader) can alter them in anyway — enforcing consumer integrity for applications, and verifiability for documents, forever
Just like the traditional web, potential abuse of the permaweb is a serious issue. The community of developers and storers that maintain the network treat these issues carefully. Unlike the traditional web, the permaweb has tools for democratic moderation of its content built into the core of the protocol – putting control of the new web back into the hands of the people, users.
When someone submits a transaction to the Arweave network, data storers are given the choice of whether to replicate the associated data. The maintainers of the network are able to filter and screen the transaction in whichever manner they choose, checking against known illicit material, scanning the data with computer vision software, et cetera. You can learn more about how content is moderated in the Arweave protocol in the yellowpaper. The founding Arweave team is working with the Internet Watch Foundation to provide the maintainers of the Arweave network with the capabilities that they need to keep their systems and the permaweb safe from abusive material. Data storers can also elect not to replicate any material from the network, for any reason, if they feel that it is inappropriate for storage. Finally, those that maintain gateways (the servers you will likely use to view the permaweb) can also apply content moderation policies to further safeguard their users.
Use Cases and Apps
In broad terms, Arweave is the killer decentralised blockchain whenever large amounts of data need to be stored, because of the unique proof of access consensus mechanism.
By thinking about some core applications that are currently being built, and those that are soon-to-be built, we can run through:
1. Decentralised data storage:
Now personal and corporate files can be stored for one single fee, instead of the monthly ongoing costs associated with other storage protocols, making the data immutable, verifiable, and truly censorship-resistant. Depending on the lifetime of storage, the price for the AR tokens can be cheaper than monthly fees for competitors such as Filecoin or AWS. In addition, the blockweave further ensures the availability of data near instantly by its design, with 100% guaranteed uptime through the incentive mechanisms for miners.
2. Decentralized data sharing:
With Arweave, any content can be uploaded anonymously and shared to anybody. Imagine a peer-to-peer torrent network where there is always at least 1 seeder, no matter what. As opposed to derivative applications such as Filecoin or Sia, Arweave’s protocol design has an embedded mathematical pricing function, load-balancing demand and supply at fair prices. Any file can now be published anonymously to the world, and stored forever without powerful third parties able to take them down.
3. Decentralized data collaboration:
The archaic academic publishing market is currently at $25bn per year, with the market leader Elsevier having higher profits margins than Apple.
Approximately 80% of research papers are non-replicable, due to (among other factors) an unclear connection with the dependent historical research papers, and a lack of availability of previous experimental datasets. Arweave enables the initiation of an immutable decentralized database, opening data to anybody wishing to review and challenge its quality. Cooperation of scientists becomes borderless even for highly regulated data. Every research project can be rewarded by its true impact factor. Arweave has already built a partnership with staff from Charité (the largest university hospital in Germany) to develop a revolutionary new scientific journal.
4. Decentralized data Identity/Protection:
Today, valuable content is created online. While the future of content creation is clearly decentralised, proof of its origin, ownership, and its impact is still centralised by regulators and lawyers. With Arweave, every piece of content can be captured with a timestamp and archived in the blockweave providing a clear (and defensible) claim of IP and/or ownership.
Why is AR still Undervalued?
1. Circulation and current capitalization
Arweave has closed its public fundraising back in June 2018.
- Private sale price: $0.58 USD
- Public sale price: $0.72 USD
The Arweave network has a maximum circulation of 66 million AR coins, with 55 million AR coins having been created in the genesis block at network launch in June 2018 — these are currently in circulation and are fully transferable. An additional 7 million block reward AR have been introduced into circulation via mining (4 million AR are yet to be mined and introduced into circulation).
AR has been traded on the OTC market since 2018, and unofficially listed on a few exchanges with low volumes in recent months. However, the official listing is yet to be announced — this is a highly anticipated event.
Arweave offers a rare opportunity to invest alongside some of the world’s top venture capital funds (Andreessen Horowitz, Union Square Ventures, and Coinbase Ventures) in a project with a low market capitalization, without counterparty risk thanks to the immediate transferability of the coins, before the token’s official listing, and at a price relatively close to the private round’s price.
2. Coinbase Ventures Invest in Arweave
Arweave has raised a total of $22 million in funding in 2018 (US $8.7 million) and during two recent private sale rounds (US $5 million, Q4 2019 and US $8.3 million Q1 2020) from Andreessen Horowitz, Union Square Ventures, and Coinbase Ventures.
Big news: We have announced a major new funding round with @a16z, @usv and @coinbase. We are using this funding to start a series of initiatives to empower the Arweave community! Read more here: https://t.co/rEC03nx04w 📢🚀🗞️
— Arweave Team (@ArweaveTeam) March 5, 2020
Coinbase Ventures provides financing to promising early stage companies that have the teams and ideas that can move the space forward in a positive, meaningful way.
According to a Wednesday announcement, Coinbase is looking at 18 additional assets, including the Arweave project. This announcement caused great attention from the community, with each asset growing more than 10%. However, it is only an announcement of listing review, but the Arweave community believes that, in the near future, this asset will be listed at Coinbase because Coinbase Ventures is one of the funds that have invested heavily in Arweave.
The competition in the data storage niche is fierce. Apart from many established centralized entities such as Amazon and Google, Arweave will face tough competition from its blockchain rivals such Siacoin, Storj, Filecoin, Bluzelle, Lightstreams, and others. Although Arweave have stated in their lightpaper that their solution costs only a fraction of the price as compared to Filecoin, Siacoin and Storj, it would be interesting to see how it competes with Lightsteams who seems to be their closest rival and is also planning to do an ICO around the same time.
Arweave’s competitors include Filecoin, Storj and Sia. Filecoin’s implied valuation at ICO price is $10 billion, while, at current OTC market prices, Arweave’s valuation is below $60 million.
The AR Token
- Usage: Users pay AR tokens in order to add data to the Arweave network where it can be accessed via web browsers on Arweave’s permaweb. Users pay the cost that Arweave has predicted will be sufficient to store the data forever.
AR has a fixed total supply of 66m AR
- Token Allocation
• Seed Sale 10.8%
• Strategic Sale 7.1%
• Private Sale 19.5%
• Public Sale 1.1%
• Advisers 2.9%
• Team 13.0%
• Ecosystem 19.1%
• Reserve 26.5%
- Token Release
55 million AR were created in the genesis block at network launch on the 8th June 2018; a further 11 million AR, are being introduced into circulation gradually as block mining rewards. In order to incentivise mining, the node that successfully ‘mines’ each block is rewarded with a number of AR token. Archain re-adjusts the difficulty of the hash required for each block based on the amount of time the previous block took to mine, normalising around a solution time of 5 minutes. As an additional counter to inflation, the amount of currency issued for each successive mining block decreases such that 10% of the tokens in the genesis block are issued in the first year, halving every year thereafter.
The Arweave Team
Sam Williams (Co-Founder & CEO): Sam is a PhD candidate with an extensive experience in decentralized system design and implementation, having delivered a variety of projects including a distributed operating system.
William Jones (Co-Founder & CTO): William is a PhD candidate in the intersection of computer science, graph theory, and neuroscience. William spent a significant time studying distributed systems in the form of deep neural networks.
The founding team seems to be relatively inexperienced with both the co-founders being fresh graduates. We are unsure whether they are suitable to run a company which is aiming to disrupt the competitive space of data storage. We shall see their progress with time, and hope they prove us wrong.
Arweave’s team consists of eight team members. The team includes several members who are fresh graduates from The University of Kent. Overall the team looks fairly inexperienced with a little to no industry experience. Kyle Beckles and Matt Lockyer are the only developers in the team who have some industry experience and have worked for companies such as boohoo.com (large U.K. based online fashion retailer), and The Vanbex Group (company specialized in consulting, communications & development for global blockchain businesses).