We are thrilled to be welcoming the Arweave team to the USV portfolio. Part of USV’s most recent investment thesis is about investing in companies that broaden access to knowledge and Arweave is doing exactly that by building a self-sustaining, community-run archival storage network.
Archives are extremely important: the survival and ongoing availability of knowledge helps with the continuation of human progress. While there are existing digital archival projects out there, they are mostly donation-based and face the risk that their funding could run out, their hosting provider could one day go out of business or a government could force them to remove files. Arweave, on the other hand, incentivizes participants to keep around files forever and is immutable.
To be able to do that, Arweave had to invent a new method of paying for storage, one where you can pay once, and store forever. While that sounds almost too good to be true and took us a long time to wrap our heads around, it will be true provided the cost of storage continues to decline at a predictable rate (in that case it will form a convergent geometric series where the price of storing something forever converges on a single number). Machines that provide storage to the network get paid out in small increments over time as they continue to prove that they have held onto archived files.
We think that this is a great example of a utility that would have been impossible to construct prior to cryptonetworks, and it will enable new applications and businesses to be built that could never have been built before there was such a utility to build them on. Developers are already building many interesting things on the Arweave network such as Archive.earth, a project archiving climate science and Adam, a project archiving family trees. We also built our own project on Arweave which archives daily measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. (And of course, this very blog post is archived on Arweave!)
Definitely not all ways of applying Arweave will be positive. All technology can be used for good and for bad, starting with humanity’s earliest technology, fire. Fire allows us to cook and to forge but it also enables burning down forests and waging war. This duality will also apply to the permaweb. Sam and the team at Arweave have given a lot of thought to that and have from the start designed features, including a democratic process where participants collectively decide on the network’s content policies, to help address this issue.
We are excited to be backing this team and the Arweave network. To get started archiving web pages on Arweave you can go download their browser extension – happy archiving!