Can You Build Google on the Blockchain?

Published on
September 17th, 2019
Behind the scenes at the scrappy startup taking on G Suite
Arcane Maps recently launched on Product Hunt as a blockchain-based alternative to Google Maps. You can pull up the directions tool on your mobile or desktop browser, and you’ll get a clean design that is reminiscent of Google Maps (it’s almost scarily similar). Like Google Maps, you can “favorite place"," but all of your search history will be private, safe and secure, using blockchain-based cloud storage.
The team behind the Arcane is actually building an entire suite of product to take on G Suite, including decentralized versions of Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google Photos.
Arcane Office Maker Walterion shares more:
On the inspiration for Arcane Office: As we kept hearing news of breaches from big names, news of stolen data, and news of hacked data on the black market, it made us think about the issue. We began with BlackHole. It’s a file transfer service like WeTransfer, but much more secure. It is private, anonymous, heavily encrypted, and completely decentralized. No one knows who you are and with whom you shared what. Someone told us it was very calming for them to use the service. Some people didn’t care about privacy and liked more native, faster services. And some people said it would be used for bad things. I said sure, humans do bad things anyways.
On going after G Suite: Google and Facebook seemed like the bad boys in the hood, so we began with the bigger one: Google. We wanted to secure documents, so Arcane Docs was the first [product]. To have a complete alternative, we made Sheets and Photos too.
On challenges that come with launching privacy-focused products: It’s been a challenge to show people that these are private tools and that they’re also reliable and let you be productive. Unfortunately, in the past few years, many private tools fell far behind those from bigger companies. It’s hard to compete when you don’t have the budget. It takes time and support to push the limits, and thanks to the Blockstack guys we had the support.
It’s not an easy task to launch as many apps as we did in a couple of months, so that was a challenge too.
On how he structures his days: We are passionate, so almost every day from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., we are working. We also talk as a team every couple of days to sync up on tasks.
On competing with Google and Microsoft: We are focusing on Office 365 and G Suite. We’re looking at day-to-day office needs that have a huge market with huge data but don’t have proper privacy control. Arcane Office as a young suite can cover normal needs very well. We give people the option of having their own storage provider, which lets teams have extra control on their company files. This is a feature that other competitors sell in their enterprise plans — we offer it for free.
On the tools he uses to stay private: Telegram for chat mostly. We used Firefox Send before, but it didn’t satisfy us and that was one of the reasons we made BlackHole. We need an easy tool for everyday use on a remote team to be fast. For now, we encrypt our files and use OneDrive to sync them. We use Brave and Opera for browsing.
On his advice to makers working on blockchain-based products: Don’t make it hard on yourself — just start and make sure you made a reliable tool. Use the standard libraries and don’t make your encryption. Blockstack is a good start. Try to see the world like this: you don’t know what data your user has. Just give them a tool they need and make it so that you can’t be evil with it.
On what has surprised him as a privacy-focused maker: People NEED it. At first, I thought maybe it was just me, but it’s been surprising how people share their love [for Arcane] and tell us how they’ve been waiting for these tools. It’s refreshing to see people who are finding new ways to live their lives without worrying if someone is watching them or not. I’m hoping we can bring some attention to this field so that having privacy will be a basic standard like good design, and not just an extra feature.
Published on
September 17th, 2019
Comments (4)
Joe Lei
Product, code, design
No you cannot. Google is scale. Blockchain does not scale. If you want to scale blockchain, you need to turn it into a centralized database, which defeats the purpose of blockchain.
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I am a freelance writer and a blogger
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