Interview: Justin Sun on the Future of Tron, BitTorrent and Project Atlas
Sun boasts an impressive resume at 28 years old: Founder of Peiwo (a popular Snapchat clone in China), Forbes China/Asia 30 Under 30, the first millennial attendee (and recent graduate) of Jack Ma’s Hupan University, and now, founder and CEO of a top 15 market cap blockchain project.
One of the most notable recent updates from Tron is its acquisition of BitTorrent, one of the world’s largest and most recognized peer-to-peer file sharing protocols. In February 2013, BitTorrent was responsible for 3.35% of all global bandwidth and dominated the file-sharing bandwidth market.
CoinCentral got a chance to connect with Sun about recent developments at Tron such as the BitTorrent acquisition, Project Atlas, and more.
Could you give us the two-minute movie trailer of your life? How did you wind up in the blockchain world?
I first came into contact with blockchain when I was studying in the US. I was reading the New York Times when I came across a story about Bitcoin. I was immediately drawn to how decentralized it was, it’s transparency and immutable qualities. That’s why I started working for Ripple and expanding the Ripple protocol to the Greater China region. I wanted to pursue values that I believe are worth fighting for.
But it was more difficult than I imagined to do this via an organization based in banking. An autonomous, decentralized community was a better alternative. I then went on to start TRON in 2017 to make my vision a reality. Looking back, I’m happy to say that I made the right decision.
Tron has experienced tremendous growth and exposure in the last year. How has the last year changed your life personally?
Honestly, it hasn’t changed much. I know very well how things are evolving outside TRON. For me, perfecting current technology and our community is the foundation of a project. No matter how the price change, we are not going to stop improving user experience and TRON ecosystem. That’s what really matters.
We’d love to let our readers get to know Justin Sun, the human, a little bit better. What are some of our passions and hobbies outside of the blockchain and cryptocurrency world?
Go (Weiqi) and writing are probably my main hobbies. In fact, I published my first book in 2017. It’s called Brave New World. Right now, all my energy is focused on enhancing our technology and the entire ecosystem, which required me to work 70-80 hours a week. I’ve gotten used to it, and I enjoy it.
Could you describe what it was like being in Jack Ma’s Hupan University?
Hupan University is definitely an important milestone in my life. I became the first millennial student there before I founded TRON. During those three years, I learned so much from Jack Ma and other incredible entrepreneurs, especially with how to analyze the current trends and how to develop the right strategies etc. What I learned at Hupan University benefit both TRON and myself. This kind of experience is the most valuable gift to me.
Tron has also received its fair amount of controversy and criticism from people that may or may not really understand the cryptocurrency industry. How would you address claims that try to make Tron out to be a marketing gimmick without the technology?
FUD and Shill are commonly used to change the perception investors have around cryptocurrencies to influence the price. Unlike some projects, TRON reached all its milestones (test net, main net, election of the witness nodes, virtual machine launch) without any significant snag. I believe that’s a great example that TRON is not only hype like some people say. The company is heavily investing in R&D; I’m looking forward to seeing more great products on our blockchain and demonstrate that the company is great at marketing but even better at building world-class technology.
You’ve seemingly taken a more marketing and partnership focused approach than other smart contract and Dapp platforms. What’s your reasoning behind this?
To be valuable, a network needs great technology, use cases, and users. By partnering with established companies such as LINE, Binance etc. our company gets more use cases for its holders, co-develops new technologies, and reach more people.
Blockchain will expand to a broader audience that even doesn’t realize they are using it, and I believe that’s where we will see the most changes in our society. You don’t need to know how the internet works to enjoy it, that’s the same with blockchain; we want to make it the most simple possible, and thanks to our partnerships coming up we will succeed. I’m excited to the see those partnerships driving innovation and new generation of Dapps.
You recently started collaborating with the Binance’s Blockchain Charity Foundation to explore how blockchain can help the non-profit sector. What are some of the combinations of blockchain and non-profits that excite you the most?
As a tech leader and trailblazer in decentralized technologies, I am delighted to see more industries and organizations embracing blockchain and its innovations. Together with Binance’s Blockchain Charity Foundation, we are building more use cases for this powerful technology. We are carrying important responsibilities, and by collaborating, we are now able to use it for good, towards initiatives that will benefit the most people.
I am excited to collaborate with @BinanceBCF to explore the solutions #blockchain can bring to the non-profit sector. I hope my commitment will inspire others to join this movement. Look forward to working closely with BCF and the @UNDP! https://t.co/UyDao9ZkKm
— Justin Sun (@justinsuntron) October 18, 2018
Communities are playing a major role to support those actions and TRON has decided to integrate community into the core of the company since it was established in September 2017. Our blockchain is co-governed by 27 Super Representatives, all elected by TRON token holders. I am fortunate enough to have earned the trust of the community and as one of those elected Super Representatives, I believe it is my responsibility to lead the movement and use blockchain technology for social good.
To go beyond this first donation and my engagement as a Super Representative, as of today TRON will be able to support any organization seeking for more transparency and efficiency thanks to blockchain technology. I’m excited to see the community developers and TRON working together on new products to serve those causes.
What are some of your other favorite projects in the space other than TRON?
TRON–I’m confident that the TRON network will deliver a premium, decentralized Internet experience to our users.
Bitcoin–It was the gateway for many into the world of blockchain technology, and showcases its potential extremely well.
Ethereum–It is the first expansion of the blockchain to applications.
Could you tell us about the importance of the recent BitTorrent acquisition?
Since its creation, the BitTorrent protocol had a system of incentives built into its core processes. BitTorrent users can choose to upload data to users that upload faster to them. Prior to the acquisition in July 2018, BitTorrent’s R&D team was already researching ways to add blockchain-based incentives to the BitTorrent protocol.
Could you tell us a bit about Project Atlas?
Project Atlas is the foundation for a new way of content distribution. To start, the product will feature faster downloads, more seeds, no mining, and backward compatibility. It is adapted to the world we live in today: mobile, connected, and transparent. We aim to eventually empower all content creators and their communities by eliminating the middleman and enabling content creators to distribute directly to users.
We have a team of 10+ people entirely dedicated to Project Atlas. We hope to unveil the first features soon and look forward to working further with key players in the entertainment industry.
What do you see as the most exciting applications of Tron’s technology?
TRON is transforming how the internet works to its core. I believe any application that is built on our network will unlock its power and benefit to the most. I’m excited to see the entertainment industry but also traditional sectors such as telecom, banking, energy, real estate, education.
What does success look like for Tron?
Looks great, people say blockchain will take more than ten years before you can experience it. Our team is working 24/7 to make that happen in much less. I founded the company in September 2017; today we are about 300 people. This is just the beginning of a fantastic story.
What do you think about market makers and asset management getting into crypto?
I believe they will play a significant role in 2019 and moving forward; we can only welcome this shift and interest in blockchain and cryptocurrency. We are currently in discussion with some large asset management companies; we are here to support them, facilitate the transition and help them educate their customers on the technology as a whole.
Alex is the Editor-in-Chief of CoinCentral. Alex also advises blockchain startups, enterprise organizations, and ICOs on content strategy, marketing, and business development. He also regrets not buying more Bitcoin back in 2012, just like you.