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73. Orchid Protocol (Published: 10th Nov, 2017)
Orchid Protocol is an open-source project committed to ending surveillance and censorship on the Internet. It uses an overlay network built upon the existing Internet, which is driven by a peer-to-peer tokenized bandwidth exchange. Orchid Labs Inc. is the delaware company promoting and supporting the R&D of the Orchid Protocol. The protocol works like a VPN, but instead of being routed through central authorities, traffic is routed randomly via a network of bandwidth contributors who sign up to share their extra bandwidth and activate their Internet-connected device as a “node.” Users (bandwidth consumers) will pay the bandwidth contributors in Orchid tokens (OCT) through a peer-to-peer exchange. Orchid Labs Inc. was founded in 2017 by an established group of technologists, entrepreneurs, and blockchain experts. It has raised $4.7M seed SAFT (Simple Agreement for Future Tokens) from investors including Sequoia, Andreessen Horowitz, DFJ, PolyChain Capital, Metastable, Blockchain Capital, Crunchfund, Struck Capital, Compound VC, and several other funds and angel investors.

The project is currently in private alpha stage. By the end of 2017, the software will be published to the open source community. Early in 2018 the company plans to offer a public beta of the Orchid Protocol to billions of users on the internet.

With the fears that states have infiltrated the Tor network, the Orchid Protocol will provide a new opportunity for users to avoid surveillance and censorship. The business model of the OCT token is simple and effect which can create a decent ecosystem between users and contributors. Although everything will depend on how stable and advanced the future releases is, this project has a great potential to succeed and can bring the current VPN industry to the next level. However, this kind of services also possesses significant risks. Regulatory risk is always the case for cryptocurrencies, and anonymous service providers will be the first targets which can be potentially cracked down by central authorities. Big companies like ISP provides and Google also will not like this and they will impose different barricades to hinder the user experience.

The project is still in a very early stage and we do not know if the technology actually works. Meanwhile, even if it succeeds, it will not be a mainstream product for average users who don’t even use VPNs. Therefore, we encourage to wait and watch.

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