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TOP Network, a Silicon Valley0based blockchain startup, made its eye-catching debut in March as the first project launched on Huobi Prime. Backed by a solid founding team and several existing applications boasting a combined global userbase of 80 million, it was no surprise that TOP was met with great enthusiasm by investors. In the first week, TOP surged to 27 times its opening price with trading volume surpassing that of even Bitcoin, ranking first in terms of volume on Huobi Global.
As the IEO craze began to fade away, TOP Network put its efforts back into technological innovation and product development. Recently, TOP Network released two applications—a decentralized VPN, and a cryptocurrency wallet—and has announced that their mainnet is scheduled to launch within a month. Meanwhile, the team has been busy building out the community, hosting their first offline meetup in Seoul, Korea on Sept. 4th, an event attracting hundreds of industry professionals to discuss blockchain mass adoption in the Post-IEO era. After the event, Blockcast had a chance to sit down for an exclusive interview with Steve Wei, founder and CEO of TOP Network.
Blockcast.cc : Good morning, Steve. Welcome to Blockcast. It’s great to have you here! First of all, can you introduce yourself and your background? How did you get into the blockchain industry?
Steve: Hi, I’m Steve, founder and CEO of TOP Network. I’m a serial entrepreneur with a technical background. I started my entrepreneurial career back in college when I began developing software in Zhong Guan Cun, a technology hub in Beijing, to make a living. Twenty-three years ago I met Min Zhu, founder of WebEx. I joined his team as the earliest employee, and then founded the R&D team of WebEx in China. One year later after WebEx had raised funds, I brought the whole team to the U.S. I then left to start my own company in 2004 before WebEx was acquired by Cisco for $3.2 billion in 2007. The company I started was Cenwave Communications, a video conferencing and distance learning software. Cenwave turned out to be very successful, and was later acquired by Huawei in 2010.
Following the acquisition, I worked at Huawei Internet Innovation Center for more than a year in the U.S., and then left to found Dingtone in 2012. Dingtone operates three communication apps including Dingtone, CoverMe and SkyVPN that altogether have attracted over 80 million global users. Dingtone turned out to be very successful as well, and later went public in China.
In late 2017, I came across a blockchain project called Orchid Protocol, a surveillance-free layer on top of the internet that enables secure and anonymous communication. I realized that centralized communications would be disrupted by blockchain technology. That’s the reason why I started TOP Network.
Blockcast.cc : What is TOP Network about? What are the objectives and mission of your project?
Steve: TOP Network has three components: a full-stack decentralized ecosystem that incorporates a public blockchain, a decentralized open communication network, and decentralized communications Apps like decentralized VPN, decentralized messaging, etc. Now we’re focusing on the development of TOP Chain, which shares similar features to Ethereum 2.0.
We are finishing the final parts of the Mainnet which is scheduled to launch soon, two years ahead of the launch of Ethereum 2.0. We encountered countless challenges during development, but we finally overcame them thanks to all the resources and labor we put into the project.
Blockcast.cc : As you just mentioned that TOP’s Mainnet is coming out soon, can you introduce the features of TOP’s public chain and how it compares with existing public chains?
Steve: Like Ethereum 2.0, we are implementing sharding to achieve high TPS. Our public chain will be able to handle the massive traffic of communication applications, which makes us different from many of the existing public chains.
We have overcome a lot of challenges while developing the Mainnet. TOP Mainnet has already achieved many of the features planned for Ethereum 2.0 including sharding, staking, smart contracts, and more, and is scheduled to be released soon. Moreover, we will port our 80 million global users to the ecosystem upon Mainnet launch, which will bring in massive traffic and substantial use cases to the blockchain industry.
Blockcast.cc : How many transactions per second (TPS) can TOP Network achieve?
Steve: Our ultimate goal is 300,000 TPS, but we will gradually achieve this goal in three phases. The Mainnet will be able to handle 10,000 TPS upon its launch, and will subsequently be scaled up to achieve 50,000 TPS in half a year’s time. The final goal of 300,000 TPS will be achieved with our layer-2 technology.
Blockcast.cc : Will TOP have other DApps in addition to the existing communication DApps in the ecosystem?
Steve: We have formed two teams to develop large-scale blockchain games. Blockchain gaming is struggling as most of the games are easy, superficial gambling games. I think there are three reasons for that. First, most of the game developers come from the traditional gaming industry, but have little knowledge about blockchain and token economics. Second, there lacks a high-performance public chain to support complex decentralized games. Third, a team must invest an enormous amount of resources to develop blockchain games.
Our gaming development team meets all these requirements. Our developers are experienced in game development, while also having a deep understanding of the blockchain industry. Our public chain is able to handle massive volumes of transactions, and we have devoted a lot of resources to the cause, so I believe our game development will be a success. We will launch two blockchain games early next year.
Currently, I feel there are far more public chains than blockchain developers, so it’s unrealistic to depend on third-party developers to make a booming ecosystem. That’s why we’re building the ecosystem from a different angle by first creating a comparatively prosperous ecosystem with sufficient DApps and transactions by ourselves, and then looking for third-party developers afterwards.
Blockcast.cc : How’s the current progress of TOP Network?
Steve: We’ve already developed a set of communication applications including BitVPN, Dingtone, CoverMe and SkyVPN which have attracted over 80 million global users. Recently we released HiWallet, a cryptocurrency wallet with a simplified user experience—which is available in Korea—adding another valuable use case to the TOP ecosystem. We’re now finishing the final parts of TOP Mainnet, which is scheduled to launch in about a month.
To enhance the security of TOP Mainnet, we officially kicked off node recruitment and the staking campaign this month. Token holders can either lock up their tokens to run nodes or vote for one or more nodes to earn high profits. TOP Chain is a permissionless public chain, setting no limit on the number of nodes, and with a low barrier to entry for node operators. Even token holders without technical backgrounds can easily operate nodes by depositing about $1000 worth of TOP tokens and renting a cheap cloud server from Amazon Web Services.
TOP staking can generate far more returns than traditional financial products. The annual return of mining can reach 65%, while that of voting can reach over 15%. More notably, it is almost risk-free to participate in TOP staking. Smart contracts will automatically distribute rewards to token holders. Voters’ stake will not be forfeited under any circumstances, even if the nodes they voted for were slashed due to malicious behavior.
In addition to technical progress, we are actively expanding into the global market. We successfully hosted our first offline meetup in Korea on Sept. 4, inviting many prestigious guests including local projects, media, exchanges and investors. We will make more endeavors to branch into the Korean market in the future, and roll out more events both online and offline to engage the Korean community in our ecosystem. We do anticipate further collaboration with local projects and media to explore opportunities in the global market, and we’re glad to share our abundant resources especially in China and the U.S.
Blockcast.cc : I’d like to ask the last question about your advice for all our crypto investors. As an individual investor, how can you tell the difference between a good project and a bad one, and how can you make a wise investment decision?
Steve: I think the most important thing is to see whether the project creates or adds value. It should have its own technology, and create original use cases proven to be applicable by the market. Cryptocurrency investment is supposed to be value investing instead of speculation. A successful project should be backed by investment in both capital and talent, and should have a sustainable business model. I’m very confident about the future of blockchain. It will definitely generate a lot of value in the long term.
However, in the short term, altcoins are still struggling while Bitcoin continues rallying. This is because people have recognized the value of Bitcoin while the value of altcoins is still doubtable. If a project fails to make real value in the upcoming 1 to 2 years, it will most likely fail. The market will phase out unqualified projects, keeping the very few projects that bring valuable use cases, and I believe TOP will definitely be one of them.
Blockcast.cc : Thank you for your time Steve. We hope all the best for you and TOP Network!
Steve: Thanks for having me.