Crypto startup Dfinity is proving a point with LinkedUp, an open version of LinkedIn

By January 23, 2020 Ethereum
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Dfinity, a crypto-startup that caught headlines with its massive valuation even before launch, is showcasing an open social network called LinkedUp.

LinkedUp is running on Dfinity's platform, which the company calls the Internet Computer. Instead of being hosted on a proprietary platform like Amazon AWS, it's hosted in a more decentralized manner (more on that later). And unlike LinkedIn, which is owned by Microsoft, LinkedUp is "not owned or controlled by a corporate entity," Dfinity claims.

This announcement comes at a time when there's increased scrutiny on social networks with regard to user privacy. Facebook is the most egregious example, given its many privacy violations, for which it was ultimately fined $5 billion in July 2019. The prospect of a social network that can't mess with your data or betray your privacy (without anyone knowing it) is enticing.

Crypto startup Dfinity is proving a point with LinkedUp, an open version of LinkedIn
Image: Dfinity

However, at this point LinkedUp is more of a marketing ploy than an actual replacement for any social network. The app, Dfinity claims, was "built by 1.5 engineers in three weeks to demonstrate the ease at which new open internet services can be created when developers utilize the tools devised by Dfinity."

That's nice, but Dfinity hasn't actually launched its platform yet. The startup recently gave developers a software development kit (SDK) and announced a new programming language called Motoko, which has been optimized for creating applications on Dfinity. But the Internet Computer platform itself is scheduled to be launched sometime this year.

Introducing Motoko — a powerful new programming language optimized for the Internet Computer https://t.co/HnXgI6Z9dr pic.twitter.com/vp3RmmZz64

— DFINITY Foundation (@dfinity) November 2, 2019

I've asked Dfinity about more details on LinkedUp, and a company spokesperson told me that Dfinity is "absolutely an operating piece of open software," though Dfinity has no plans to develop it further. Instead, the company will open source the code in case someone wants to pick it up and continue the development.

And while Dfinity plans to be fully decentralized in the future, LinkedUp is currently running on a single data center in Switzerland. Call it early days.

Dfinity is one of the most anticipated blockchain startups around, with a team of top engineers and cryptography experts building the platform. Technically, Dfinity is not a blockchain, but a decentralized network protocol which the company says has been inspired by blockchain companies such as Ethereum. It will have its own cryptocurrency at launch, which won't only be used as transfer of value, but also as fuel to power apps running on the platform.

At launch, Dfinity will be valued at about $2 billion, but the launch of its platform has dragged on, as it was originally scheduled for early 2019. I've asked the company for precise dates, but haven't gotten any beyond the 2020 time frame.

LinkedUp is running on Dfinity’s platform, which the company […]

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