We caught up with Jean-Daniel Gauthier, the CEO of Myriad Social, for a quick interview. Myriad is a decentralized social network that lets you follow content from conventional social media but also gives you control of what you consume. It’s owned, hosted, and monetized by its users. Myriad is planning to launch as an appchain on the Octopus Network. The Octopus Network is a brand new multi-chain network born to bootstrap and run Substrate based application-specific blockchains.
What is Myriad?
From a high-level view, Myriad is technically a Web3.0 layer built on top of existing Web2.0 social media channels that hands control back to social media users and content developers. Myriad’s a decentralized social platform where you can browse native content, or content coming from mainstream Web2.0 social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit, etc., without leaving the Myriad platform.
Myriad users have unique decentralized tools that hand sovereignty back to its users. Users can set their own custom algorithms that place the user in charge of the content that they stream — rather than the network operators. The idea is to give users the tools to prevent what we call “experience crafting” by the network operators that control the algorithms today.
With so many social media platforms out there already, why did you feel the need to build Myriad?
No one can dispute that Social Media has become a driving force behind daily social interactions, especially within the last decade. But the general issue with social media today is that the incentives of large social media network operators aren’t aligned with the incentives of their users. We built Myriad as a necessary decentralized alternative for social media.
Even most social media users are aware today that social media monopolies are focused on making money by selling user data at the expense of the users who generate the data. Users have very little control over their data leading to leaks and unlawful use — as has been illustrated by the Cambridge Analytica Facebook scandal.
Network operators also manipulate the speech that occurs on their platforms to appease the advertizers who pay them. And more recently, they censor content to appease political interests that place pressure on the network operators.
In addition, content discovery algorithms either highlight or obfuscate content based on the network operators’ terms, rather than those of the user. And monetization for creators is uncompromising, constantly changing, and governed by opaque terms and conditions — putting content creators at a consistent disadvantage. Myriad users have more freedom to monetize content through several means.
How is monetization easier on Myriad for social media users?
There are a couple ways for users to earn money on Myriad. The first is via cross-platform tipping between Myriad users, and the second is through our advertising blueprint.
Cross-platform token tipping allows Myriad users to send cryptocurrency, such as stablecoins, to both content providers on the Myriad platform, or content creators on any other external social media platform.
When Myriad users send tips to external social media accounts, the funds are held in escrow by a smart contract on the Myriad blockchain until the recipient of those tips decides to link their external social media to a Myriad account. Only the external social media account’s owner can link an account to a Myriad account.
Once the accounts are linked, any tips paid to that Myriad user’s external social media accounts are released to their Myriad account address for the user to trade, sell, or tip to other content creators. Myriad aims to make this tipping feature available for the widest possible range of cryptocurrencies and will update its selection incrementally.
You mentioned that the users, rather than the platform, make money from advertising. How does that work?
With current social media frameworks, a network operator, such as Facebook, might retain 100% of the advertising revenue it generates. Or it might implement a kind of partner program to split the revenue with its content creators, like Youtube does. However, these top-down, centralized approaches to advertising management come with many challenges.
First, the platform owners create absolute rules about which ads are allowed — this systematically excludes those who should generally have the right to advertize. Second, content creators often see slim returns from the advertising revenue collected by the platform when monetizing their content. Finally, their centralized structure has them reviewing millions of ad submissions which is a formidable job for any organization.
Myriad’s approach to this problem is to decentralize the advertising system entirely. Ad quality and fair payments to content creators and hosts can be managed by employing what we call a Triangular Incentive Scheme. This Triangular Incentive Scheme balances the interest of advertizers, Experience Creators, and Ad Space Operators (who manage an abstract thing called an “Ad Space.”) Let me explain how this works.
Experience Creators are users who create Experiences. Experiences are individual collections of content from people and topics created for the users themselves and for other users to subscribe to.
Myriad allows any user to add an Ad Space. An Ad Space is like a container for paid promotions and can be configured by the user for a specific topic area and targeted audience. The creator or Operator of an Ad Space holds complete control over which ads are allowed in the space to maintain the quality level of her choice.
Ad Space Operators, Experience Creators and advertizers all have incentives which balance each other. The advertizer wants to have her ad placement seen by those users who are most likely to react to the ad and buy the product. To do this she must first have her ad accepted by a respected Ad Space.
The Ad Space Operator’s goal is to secure placement in popular Experiences by curating the quality of the ads she allows into the space. The Experience Creator’s incentive is to include only those Ad Spaces that both meet her standards and are relevant to the Experience topic so that she can keep the Experience popular for subscribers and generate the most fruitful ad impressions.
In a nutshell, advertizers are paying Experience Creators to include their ads, Ad Space Operators for accepting their ads, and content creators who attract the Experience subscribers that view and react to their ads. Thus, Experience Creators can maximize their ad revenue by increasing their subscription rates and delivered ad impressions.
How are the advertizers' payments distributed to users?
When an Ad Space Operator approves a new ad into his Ad Space, he can specify a fixed fee or a percentage fee that includes the ad in the space. This fee for the ad goes into a sort of bucket for that specific ad. Each ad loses a small percentage of funds from its bucket every time it’s shown to a user. Once an ad’s bucket of funds is depleted, it will stop being shown by Experiences unless the advertizer tops up the bucket with new funds.
For an Experience Creator, including an Ad Space into their Experience is free. When ads are shown to users, the funds taken out of the ad bucket are split between the Experience Creator, the Ad Space Operator, and any other ad-relevant content creators included in the Experience by a predefined ratio.
Going up against Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit is a big goal— are you worried about gaining adoption?
No, not at all. Because we’re not competing with them. Myriad Social not only intends to serve as a sovereign alternative to contemporary social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit, but our platform is literally built on top of them. By building feeds of content out of other social media platforms, we don’t need to wait for everybody to come over to Myriad before the content is there.
Once users do come over to Myriad, they will see that not only can they import the same feeds of their other social platforms, but they can also gain a major degree of control over their social media life. Myriad isn’t trying to replace other social media accounts, just make them more useful to the user.
So, in the spirit of social aggregation, when you link your other social networks to your Myriad account, you can share content to your external social accounts directly from Myriad. In this way, Myriad is somewhat like a social media command center from which any user can post to all of their social channels.
We also believe that influencers will love our new advertising model as it gives them much more potential to earn from advertising. And finally, if anything, content creators on other platforms who have been tipped by Myriad users will want to collect those tips — even if just out of curiosity at first.
What’s Myriad’s roadmap for launch?
Well, our app is up right now for anyone to try and once we complete the stages of launching as an appchain on the Octopus Network, we will also offer features that reach much farther than other contemporary social media paradigms.
Following our roadmap in Q4, users will be able to issue their own social tokens by transforming their social media posts into NFTs. And in Q1 of 2022, any community of users will be able to host their own Myriad clusters with access to a global reputation system. This means that communities can host a federated server, choose a governance model that best fits their community, and create community-specific tokens to run their own local DAOs if they’d like.
So, in short, not only are we not competing with contemporary social media platforms, we are building much, much more than they offer their users. We’re convinced that social media users are ready for solutions that hand sovereignty and control back to them, allowing for freedom of expression for all users and freedom of choice for all content hosters. We strongly feel that Myriad is only the beginning of a new Web3.0 innovation wave in social media.