In Data We Trust

Why one so­cial me­dia com­pany is em­brac­ing blockchain

Newsweek - - Technology - — FRED GUTERL

SINCE JEFF TENNERY STARTED THE JOB

search web­site Moon­light­ing in 2014, so­cial me­dia sites have been be­set by hack­ers and crit­i­cized for com­pro­mis­ing their users’ pri­vacy. As a re­sult, peo­ple have in­creas­ingly lost pa­tience with com­pa­nies that col­lect their data and sell it. Moon­light­ing, which hooks up free­lancers with em­ploy­ers, has had to adapt. The com­pany orig­i­nally charged a 20 per­cent fee but then of­fered its ser­vices for free, with the op­tion to pay $10 a month for premium ser­vices.

Now, Tennery is in the process of mi­grat­ing his site to a blockchain—a dis­trib­uted net­work of com­put­ers in­de­pen­dent of the com­pany—which would cede con­trol of the site’s data to nearly 700,000 users. Newsweek spoke with Tennery about how this change will af­fect cus­tomers.

NEWSWEEK: What is Moon­light­ing?

TENNERY: We want com­pa­nies to be able to hire free­lancers the way you’d or­der an Uber. Our big­gest de­mo­graphic is mil­len­ni­als com­ing out of school who want to start out as en­trepreneurs. We’ve also got moms who want to get back in the work­force with a work-life bal­ance. And baby boomers use it to sup­ple­ment their in­come—a de­mo­graphic that I didn’t see com­ing. N: Why move the site to a blockchain? T: For two im­por­tant things: trust and portability. Peo­ple are giv­ing us very im­por­tant data, which could in­clude a re­view, a rec­om­men­da­tion, their ed­u­ca­tion, their li­cens­ing—all of which builds up trust for peo­ple who want to hire you. It made a lot of sense to safe­guard peo­ple’s proɿles. We are also look­ing into ways of mak­ing the proɿles more au­then­tic. Things like: Did you re­ally go to that col­lege? Are you re­ally a li­censed chi­ro­prac­tor?

We also love the idea of each per­son ba­si­cally own­ing their own proɿle and be­ing able to take it with them—mean­ing, I don’t have to sign up to 52 dif­fer­ent gig-econ­omy, free­lance mar­ket­places. My proɿle is mine, and I de­cide where to use it. All the data and ev­ery­thing as­so­ci­ated with what you do will be man­aged by you and con­trolled by the blockchain—which is the com­mu­nity of other free­lancers us­ing the plat­form. 6o there won’t be a cor­po­ra­tion that sells your data to ad­ver­tis­ers.

N: That’s a lot dif­fer­ent from how big tech com­pa­nies cur­rently op­er­ate.

T: Face­book and *oogle are in a po­si­tion where they’re cen­tral­ized and in con­trol of users’ data. 5ight now, they pro­vide great ser­vices, but look at their cash ʀow and their cor­po­rate val­u­a­tions: It’s pretty out­ra­geous, when you con­sider that we [the users] are re­ally the prod­uct they’re sell­ing.

N: One of the ad­van­tages of blockchain is that it cuts out the middleman. Isn’t that you?

T: Mid­dle­men don’t just evap­o­rate. We’re the stew­ard of the plat­form, so we will still need to make money to pay engi­neers, IT peo­ple and so forth. N: How will you do that?

T: We think there’s al­ways go­ing to be a place where peo­ple will pay a ɿ[ed fee for ser­vices. And if we do sell ad­ver­tis­ing, we re­ally like the idea of a re­wards pro­gram to share that rev­enue back to the users.

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