A start-up inspired by ancient history to draw inspiration from modern times has collected $ 5 million to decentralize the permanent storage of global information.

"The big goal is to build this library in Alexandria that never forgets the precious knowledge of the world," said Arweave's founder. Sam Williams said CoinDesk in an interview Tuesday.

The Berlin start-up receives new funds from a trio of leading investors in the cryptography sector: Andreessen Horowitz, Multicoin Capital and Union Square Ventures. The token-based financing round involved the sale of the Arweave AR token.

Arweave allows decentralized permanent storage by relying on "a new data structure that looks like a chain of blocks, called the blockweave," according to the technical documentation released by the startup on Tuesday.

The Arweave protocol underpins what the startup calls permaweb, a "set of data, web sites and distributed applications" hosted in perpetuity. In fact, users "pay for a few hundred years of storage in advance," said Williams, basing on the laws governing lowering data storage costs. The main network Arweave launched in June 2018.

Minors receive AR tokens to offer unused computer storage space, using what Arweave calls a "proof of access (PoA)" algorithm similar to this one.

The permaweb is accessible through web browsers such as Chrome, Brave and others.

"Arweave lives and works today as promised, which says a lot," said investor Kyle Samani of Multicoin Capital at CoinDesk, adding:

"Today there are clear and immediate applications for web-based permanence in government, media, classrooms, audience rooms, and so on. I expect developers to use Permaweb as another essential component of the web3 stack and create new applications that enhance existing services or create new ones. "

About 100 applications have already been created on the Arweave platform, with projects ranging from social forums to post-iting articles. In a press release, the company said more than 45,000 objects had been handed over to the permaweb only in October. To date, some 157,000 transactions have been validated on the network.

"People are experimenting with almost all basic web services," Williams told CoinDesk. "We would like to see them become bigger projects in the future."

To grow these "seeds," Williams said the $ 5 million funding would go primarily to developer outreach efforts. The 12-person team is soon adding two employees and will continue to hire, he added. Arweave is also expanding into the United States by intensifying its marketing efforts.

The financing phase – Arweave's first, apart from a limited symbolic sale in 2018 – places the company in the same breath as other decentralized file storage systems such as Filecoin, Sia and Storj.

"We are trying to do something totally different," said Williams. "We are considering permanent storage."

The permanence poses problems, of course, a point emphasized by Albert Wenger and Dani Grant of Union Square Ventures in an article published Tuesday on his blog.

"Any way to apply Arweave will certainly not be positive. Any technology can be used for better and for worse, starting with the oldest technology of humanity, fire, "they wrote. "Sam and the Arweave team have thought a lot about this and from the start designed features, including a democratic process that allows participants to collectively decide on the content policy of the network, to solve this problem. problem."

Arweave's long-term vision is certainly great. Williams hopes the protocol will one day dislodge data storage companies such as Amazon Web Services and even the National Archives. Williams said:

"We are trying to build something that really belongs to the people."

Team photo via Arweave

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