China’s first blockchain based social network is the conceived and created by Xu Ke, a 24-year-old female entrepreneur. Dubbed as Ono, the free social network is based on blockchain technology, which has the user’s data are decentralized. It is a self-governing system that rewards users who share quality content.
The beta version of Ono, was launched in April, and according to Xu, it has already amassed more than three million members. Currently available at the Google Play store, the iOS version will be out this month. Ono is also accessible through any web browser. On first look, the platform resembles Twitter and Weibo, though without character limits.
How Xu Ke started?
Xu is a native of Beijing and has always been really good with numbers. At the University of Riverside, California, in 2013, where she went as an exchange student, Xu developed a knack for poker. Though she wasn’t even 21 at that the time, the lenient Southern California casino laws and online poker allowed her to play, ignoring the general minimum gambling age in the U.S. The resultant was that this young lad honed her probability and risk assessment skill.
She met a fair share of interesting, unconventional characters in both digital and physical card rooms. Some of them include cryptocurrency investors and an intrigued Xu soon started mining Bitcoin. As she dug deep into the currency, she started understanding and appreciating its philosophy of decentralization via blockchain.
When she returned to China in 2014, Poker and Bitcoin were still her two great love. She would invest into Bitcoin whenever she’d score big at the poker table. Xu claims she had over 50,000 units of the currency at a point and eventually cashed out 20,000 Bitcoins in 2014 at $240 per unit, which came out to around $4.8 million.
Though Xu realizes she might have sold her stock a little too soon, but she used the money received than quite nicely. In 2016, she founded Nome Lab, a Beijing-based start-up that specializes in making blockchain product and games. CryptoDogs has been amongst her most successful product.
After the recent controversies over Facebook’s misuse of personal data Xu gave birth to Ono. Xu Cites:
“When [British computer scientist] Tim Berners-Lee invented the world wide web, his vision was to let humans exchange information and knowledge freely. The internet belongs to all of us. But it’s become so centralized now. Most of top ten tech companies in the world built their net worths by selling user data.” She adds “This is why blockchain is important — you own the data yourself,”
Nome raised $16 million from investors such as China Growth Capital and Korea Investment Partners for Ono’s starts. Xu plans to run ads and partnerships with brands down the line.
“Ono is run democratically, and lets content creators retain ownership over their content and get rewarded,”
Xu’s hope Ono is that one day it will become the “number one social network.” We have to give it to her competitive spirit, after all dreams could become reality if one could believe in them.