Eric (AMA room host):To start off, can you intro yourself first. Whats your role in Theta and tell us your a little bit of your past jobs and how you got into crypto.
Sure, thanks for having us Eric! Hello everyone
I’m Wes Levitt, currently serving as Head of Strategy at Theta Labs which is the group behind Theta Network and the THETA.tv video platform. I focus mostly on day to day business operations, product management, marketing and community management at Theta Labs. Like at most startups, you wear a lot of hats which was a welcome change for me.
Earlier in my career I spent about 8 years working in real estate investment, in structured finance and real estate private equity, before going to business school at Berkeley. I was a crypto enthusiast already, and then ended up deciding to make the switch full time to the space after taking a class taught by Dawn Song (CEO of Oasis Labs now) which blew me away!
Dawn Song has a reputation over there. Interesting path to enlightenment .So in your own words, what is Theta Network?
Theta Network is a decentralize video delivery network that allows users to share/relay video streams to their nearby peers p2p, earning tokens as a reward for contributing their bandwidth and computing resources to the network. The video platforms that use Theta benefit by reducing their video delivery costs, while gaining a more engaged user base that can earn tokens just for watching content like they were before
Video platforms that use Theta can reduce their CDN costs (video delivery costs they pay to AWS, Akamai, etc.) by up to 50–60%, while the users that relay video from their device can earn $5 to $15/month for doing so, depending on how much video they relay and their local network
In the long-term we see Theta as a way for anyone to contribute excess bandwidth/resources to a global p2p network, without a single centralized party coordinating the p2p connections or payments between users.
CDN killa. good move to focus on video at the start.
Can you list all of the major partners Theta has so far?
We are working with several major Samsung groups, including Visual Display (can see a demo we did with them at SDC conference https://medium.com/theta-network/theta-network-featured-at-the-samsung-developer-conference-to-demo-integration-in-smart-tvs-4a5c4bdc42bd) and Samsung VR (https://samsungvr.com/view/agtgq6zMvoq is a live pilot we built on their site). THETA.tv can be found in the Littlstar PS4 now and soon the Samsung Daily app on all Samsung phones/tablets, and we have also signed partnerships with the former CJ Hello (now part of LG), COS.tv, and MovieBloc in Korea to integrate Theta protocol.
That’s all we’ve publicly announced, also working behind the scenes on much more for 2020!
What does the tokens do? I understand you have THETA and TFUEL…Samsung one is a big deal. as well as LG.
That’s right, the basics of the two tokens system are:
Theta Token (THETA): The staking and governance token of the Theta protocol. THETA is used to stake as a Validator or Guardian node, contributing to block production and the protocol governance of the Theta Network. By staking and running a node, users will earn a proportional amount of the new TFUEL generated. The supply of THETA is fixed at 1 billion and will never increase.
Theta Fuel (TFUEL): The operational token of the Theta protocol. TFUEL is used for on-chain operations like payments to Edge Node relayers for sharing a video stream, or for deploying or interacting with smart contracts. Relayers earn TFUEL for every video stream they relay to other users on the network. You can think of Theta Fuel as the “gas” of the protocol. There were 5 billion TFUEL at genesis of Theta blockchain, and the supply increases annually at a fixed % set at the protocol level, currently 5%. Any TFUEL used for deploying/interacting with smart contracts is burned.
So THETA is the staking token that secures the network and gives governing power over Theta Network itself. From an end user perspective, TFUEL is the one that you will interact with more as it is the currency you earn for your network contributions, what you would use to purchase items on a platform, donate to streamers, etc.
Great design there. How big is the team now @wlevitt ? Is it distributed?
There are 24 of us, mostly working out of San Jose, CA (though we’re all still working remotely for now!) with a 2nd office in Seoul. Headed by our CEO Mitch Liu and CTO Jieyi Long, and the majority made up of engineers on Jieyi’s excellent development team
We have been performing well out of the office, so the silver lining of this pandemic has been that we’ve realized we can work well distributed and potentially bring on new team members in other locations more easily than we thought
The project has a lot of big name investors. Can you name any of them for anything special they did behind the scene?
Yeah, that has been one of our major edges as a project I believe. Just to call out a few, Dovey Wan who led DHVC’s investment in Theta, she has been with us from the beginning and really helped establish our connections in crypto exchanges and always a great advisor and strategist. Samsung NEXT did a great deal to help intro us in Korea, leading directly to our work with CJ Hello and MovieBloc. Also Sam Harrison at Blockchain Ventures more recently has done a ton to build bridges with other crypto projects and Theta, some of which are in the works partnerships, and was the driving force behind getting Blockchain onboard as a Theta Enterprise Validator Node
What’s Theta project’s approach to work with other blockchains?
How will it be done?
We definitely take an open mind and approach toward working with other blockchain projects, which I think is natural for us because Theta is rather focused on our use case of video/data delivery, rather than trying to become an “ETH-killer” platform. So we see most all blockchain projects as potential collaborators, not competitors
Just yesterday we launched smart contracts on Theta testnet which features an EVM-compatible environment, deliberately so that ETH developers can easily make contracts on Theta compatible with Ethereum or port over existing ones, and we think this a big step toward collaboration with Etheruem and Ethereum-based projects, which is of course by far the largest blockchain dev community
In Previous mainnet launch on March 15th, 2019, You launched the operational token Theta Fuel (TFUEL),
What’s so Special about your Upcoming Mainnet?
Theta Mainnet 2.0 is a major update to the Theta blockchain, introducing Theta’s novel Multi-BFT Consensus. Community-run Guardian Nodes will now take a direct role in block production, finalizing blocks at regular 100 block intervals and making up a second layer of defense after the Validator Nodes that produce each block. With Guardian Nodes joining the network and staking, no single group or entity will control the majority of THETA staked, marking a significant milestone toward Theta’s decentralization.
Ian Enanoria | Stakin (POS Bakerz):
What’s the difference between Enterprise Validator node vs Guardian node? What are the economic incentives for each and is there a non-custodial delegation mechanism on Theta?
Enterprise validators produce blocks and are run by (currently) Theta Labs, Samsung, Binance, gumi Cryptos, and Blockchain with more in the works. Limited to 15–20
Guardian Nodes finalize blocks and act as a 2nd line of defense against malicious behavior by validators, these can be up to 1,000 with scaling beyond that in the future
Now that you have a good partnership with Samsung, the Mainnet is around the corner, and the prices of $THETA and $TFUEL pumped hard. What’s next? Is there anything to be excited about?
Mainnet 2.0 is definitely just the first step to more, without saying too much I would say while it will be an exciting launch and that’s great and all, the more important thing long-term is how we leverage that and our mainnet launch partner into more in 2020 and beyond
1. In a few days the Guardian Nodes will be Launched, what is the “revolutionary” about they? And how they will improve the Theta platform?
2. I am impressed, you have a Edge Cache node in an island of Pacific sea!( Right in the middle) Can you tell me how did theta get there?
1. Scalability of GNs with 100s-1000s of users, combined with fast tx throughput from the smaller validator committee and credibility of the validators Samsung/Binance/etc
2 I’d have to check the IP address on that one! Maybe Guam?
You have partnership with good video platforms, but the expansion its the normal behavior of all successfully projects like you. Can you tell me Which others partners are coming soon? Netflix , YouTube TV maybe?
The tetha protocol can be used in others devices apart of tablets and mobiles? Like smart TVs or new Games devices?
I can’t share specific partners not announced yet, but definitely applications beyond PC/mobile! Check out our Samsung TV collab: https://youtu.be/LgZQJgwHKb0
Is Theta resistant to censorship? simple but important question
Why is the Theta token not part of the rewards in thetatv?
Yes on the Theta Network itself. As video delivery infrastructure, Theta powers many different video platforms that will continue to set their own content policies (ex. Theta may work with Samsung video delivery but we can’t tell them what content to host)
Your mainnet 2.0 is now coming 5 days from now
What could be the benefits this mainnet 2.0 will bring to the cryptocurrency market? What is the competitive advantage?
1)Is really interesting, the concept of the multi-BFT consensus, how this solve the theta ecosystem problems?
2) What is the theta vision in long term right now? Considering that you archieved one of the best milestones of all crypto ( binance listing)?
As a BFT-like protocol Theta benefits from the fact that the network becomes more and more expensive to attack an attacker attempts to amass 51%. Still, we focus a lot on trying to decentralize staking hence the significance of adding more enterprise validators and balancing them with a large portion of the total stake run by community Guardian Nodes
As far as legislation, we are in the U.S. which has not taken the best approach to crypto IMO, but is getting better. In the video/data niche, we are less controversial and in a less regulated space than say a banking/lending protocol, so we have had an easier time of it than most crypto projects in the U.S.
Lunm (investing microcap projects):
I would like to know if Theta can help TV and livestream access to distant countries and / or with poor internet connections, and even under internet censorship?
The next step is to improve the entrance ramps so that consumers can buy TFUEL and THETA, preferably with FIAT money. What progress and news do you have in this area?
Yes, we recently launched the Theta Edge Node that actually lets users bypass the CDN entirely and stream entirely p2p, which would be very beneficial for someone trying to avoid censorship. It’s in beta for now, but I encourage you to check it out! https://medium.com/theta-network/theta-edge-node-released-7a63557f9612
How did $THETA survive in during long bear market? what your team strategy to gain more Adoption ?
Can you plz share us on recent achievement your team are most OF $THETA?
It wasn’t always easy, but I think we succeeded because we realized really early it was going to be a long couple years, managed our funding accordingly, and tried to focus on the long term in development in partnerships
THETA provides shared services on a decentralized multimedia network, which moves the streaming industry a lot but since Mobiebloc offers similar services, what would THETA do to make users prefer it?
We are working with MovieBloc — think of them as the platform, Theta Network as the infrastructure underneath it
How has the recent COVID-19 has affected your project? How will you survive, let’s say if this COVID-19 lasts a year longer?
Well we haven’t seen the office since March! But we’ve been pleasantly surprised how we’ve managed to keep on track despite working from home. We are fortunate in that sense in software development — a lot more fortunate than lots of people whose livelihood was destroyed in the last couple months. We are built to last indefinitely in this environment
Some days left for the Theta Mainnet 2.0 release. What are your expectations about it? How do you feel after all this hard work and dedication?
We are really excited, and it will be an eventful day for sure! That said, again it's just a stepping stone as we look at every success for the project as a way to leverage into bigger things
Question on 5G Strategy and Timeline: Now that Theta.tv will be on all Samsung Smart phones moving forward, can you talk about your 5G strategy. In my view, I see Theta network as a potential Advanced 5G feature that Samsung can add to their Smart Phones and base stations. (Samsung is deploying 5G basestations for Verizon here in the US. The benefit to Verizon will be to cut their backhaul costs by 50% which is one of the most expensive line items on their Operational cost balance sheet..
Yes we see 5G as a huge strategic opportunity. Telcos have told us that they have plenty of downstream use cases for 5G, but don’t really know what to do yet with all that upstream capacity. We aim for Theta to be the killer app for 5G up.
The performance, our experience in thetatv depends on our location with respect to the closest nodes?
Theta is a promising platform, how long do you think it will take to reach mass adoption? Features like the preinstalled app in the new samsungs will definitely shorten that time, do tou have similar partnerships coming?
What are your marketing strategies, who is your target market right now?
Depends on how you define mass adoption, but it’s already happening in some ways. I think in 2017/2018 the narrative was that grandma was going to be managing 10 tokens on her smartphone which in hindsight is absurd. But protocols like Theta are having success integrating behind the scenes so that blockchain benefits are delivered whether the users realize it or not. That’s the more realistic case for mass adoption — 90+% of people using the internet have no idea what TCP/IP is
Which area does #THETA focus on at the moment? (DeFi, Dapps,..) and which products/projects are you developing to support it?
Theta is currently focused on livestreaming video and video on demand, and beyond that have plans for p2p distribution of game patches, OS updates, and other use cases where you have many concurrent users looking to acquire the same data in a short period of time (i.e. great conditions for a robust p2p delivery network)
When will the THETA.tv esports streaming content be available in the Samsung Daily platform?
Theta Labs partners with gumi Cryptos to enter Japan market, is there any other market you would like to enter soon?
We are slated to be added in the next major Samsung Daily update, date to be announced by Samsung
We also see SE Asia as a huge growth market, in fact we had flights booked for a business development trip to HK and HCMC in February until forced to cancel because of the pandemic. We’ll be back as soon as the world allows!
Aside from doing AMA’s, are there any ongoing projects that we can expect from #THETA this 2020 that will most likely change the way a user see the project?
What will most change viewers’ perception is when they see Theta integrated in apps they have on their phone or smart TV and start seeing the benefits of Theta rewards without having to manage their own node or understand a complicated blockchain protocol. Those are important too of course, but you can’t expect casual users to get there. Mass adoption also requires showing non-technical users how Theta delivers value to them
is there a set amount of bandwidth that can pass through the edge node at any given time or will it be the maximum that hardware can handle 1 gbps+
There is a limit at this time to keep those superusers from taking away all the work from all the other Edge Nodes near them! But that can easily be lifted as more platforms adopt Theta and there is more relaying work for the Edge Nodes to do
What is the Inspiration behind your newest Product, the THETA Smart Contract SANDBOX?
The inspiration for the Smart Contract Sandbox came from partners that requested more complex ways of sharing TFUEL rewards with users and streamers, more customized to fit their use case. We used an EVM-compatible environment because it’s battle-tested, and welcomes the huge number of Ethereum devs onboard without learning a new system
How theta manage the innapropiatted content? What is the sanction to those user with bad intentions?
Theta Network doesn’t manage content, just like AWS/Akamai/etc. generally don’t make any distinction between content types — that’s still the responsibility of the video platforms that use Theta to manage their content and decide what is inappropriate for their users. Theta can certainly also power platforms that aim to be censorship resistant and not moderate content
I want to see #Theta network blast off. What can/will you do to incentivize developers to adopt theta network over some of the more established platforms running smart contracts ?
We see our platform as additive to other smart contract platforms and the best way for video/data delivery solutions to operate. We aren’t trying to pay devs to quit Ethereum and work for Theta — the compatibility is a way to make it easy for collaborations between Theta and Ethereum/Ethereum-compatible chains.
Follow up questions, are there any public documentations on how to become an Enterprise node (it seems more selective)? Also, do you plan to onboard some professional infrastructure / staking as a service companies as Enterprise validators?
Enterprises that contribute to the Theta ecosystem, just because there is limited space (protocol can support ~20 in the current form). But a key part will be that some of those slots will also be served by Guardian Nodes on a rotating basis in a future update. It’s like checks and balances in government, having many different parties involved in the governance so that no one entity could control it
And yes have talked with other staking services, that could come in the future as well!
Eric: if Netflix would utilize Theta, how much USD would they save on a per day basis, you would say?
Not sure on a daily basis, but it would easily be in the 10s of millions annually if Theta can offload 50%+ to the p2p Theta Network.
Eric: What countries have edge nodes been more prevalent or active?
We’ve seen the largest concentrations in U.S., Europe, Japan, SE Asia, and Australia. As more regional video platforms join Theta those specific regions should see more nodes come along with them.
Eric: What a great AMA. Thanks for the time @wlevitt! Please invite the AMA Room crowd to your telegram group and other channels for further discussions and info.
Thank you for all the insightful questions! This was great and I hope you all join us at https://t.me/thetanetwork, and stay tuned for Theta Mainnet 2.0 launch on May 27! For more info check us out here: