Arweave is a decentralized storage network that seeks to offer a platform for the indefinite storage of data. Describing itself as “a collectively owned hard drive that never forgets,” the network primarily hosts “the permaweb” — a permanent, decentralized web with a number of community-driven applications and platforms.
The Arweave network uses a native cryptocurrency, AR, to pay “miners” to indefinitely store the network’s information.
The project was first announced as Archain in August 2017, later rebranding to Arweave in February 2018 and officially launching in June 2018.
Who Are the Founders of Arweave?
Arweave was founded by Sam Williams and William Jones, two Ph.D. candidates at the University of Kent. Williams came to the project with experience in decentralized and distributed systems, having developed an operating system called HydrOS as a part of his studies, while Jones’ focus was on graph theory and neural networking. While Williams dropped out of graduate school to focus on the company, Jones left the project early on in mid-2018 and completed his Ph.D.
According to Williams, he came up with the idea while walking up a mountain in Scotland, later bringing the concept to Jones, with whom he developed the technical details. After launching Arweave, Williams was later named an advisor to Minespider, a company providing blockchain-based supply chain tracking for the raw materials industry, and he has served as a mentor for the Techstars accelerator program.
Although Arweave was founded with centralized leadership, it launched a decentralized autonomous organization in January 2020 comprised of core community members to further the development and expansion of the network and its ecosystem.
What Makes Arweave Unique?
According to its yellow paper, Arweave seeks to ensure the “collective ability to store and share information between individuals and across time to new generations.” In order to accomplish this goal, its flagship permaweb is built on top of Arweave’s “blockweave,” a variation of blockchain technology in which each block is linked to both the one immediately prior and also a random earlier one. Arweave says this incentivizes miners to store more data because they need to be able to access random previous blocks to add new ones and receive rewards.
Arweave is focused on building a sustainable ecosystem around the network. In June 2020, it unveiled “profit sharing tokens,” which allow developers to receive dividends when network transaction fees are generated from their application, and it hosts incubators to support the building of permaweb-based apps. The project also works with startups through its “Boost” program, offering free storage and access to the Arweave team and industry investors.
In March 2020, Arweave announced that it had received $8.3 million in funding from Andreessen Horowitz, Union Square Ventures and Coinbase Ventures. This followed an earlier November 2019 investment also from Andreessen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures, as well as Multicoin Capital.