Tron Buys BitTorrent for (Allegedly) $120 Million

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What do you do when your ICO raise nets you $70 million and then your token market cap flies to $2.3 billion without any software to back it up? We are of course talking about Chinese blockchain Tron, whose stated goal is to redesign distribution of entertainment and media content using decentralized technologies. Yes, the same Tron that has plagiarized the Ethereum and FileCoin white papers without citation, has copied Ethereum code without attribution, is using Delegated Proof-of-Stake while running one of the most centralized projects out there, and drew the ire of the usually serene Vitalik Buterin.

One thing you can do with $ billions of suddenly valuable magic beans is to buy a real property. And Tron has done exactly that by purchasing the original distributed P2P file-sharing company BitTorrent. The BitTorrent protocol took over the mantle of file sharing from Napster in the mid-2000s by slicing up media files into thousands of pieces and spreading them across a decentralized, indestructible swarm. Trackers like The Pirate Bay would point users to files that collated those pieces together (torrents), but no centralized servers existed to actually host these files. BitTorrent was a major innovation not just in piracy, but in moving large files across a growing Internet.

What this acquisition actually means from a product perspective, we do not know. BitTorrent Inc., the target, makes software that lets you search for torrents, and maintains the protocol. But we think (maybe wrongly) that even if this private company disappeared, nothing would happen to the existing activity on the network. BitTorrent doesn't really "own" its users, though it boasts over 100 million people using it. Still, Tron is getting development talent and a client that can maybe be re-purposed to ride the blockchain rails. Two parting thoughts -- (1) Kim DotCom, the ridiculous king pin behind piracy site MegaUpload had claimed to be launching a crypto-currency a few years back to power a new file-sharing paradigm, and Tron/BitTorrent looks a lot like that idea, and (2) imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and has helped Chinese tech centers like Shenzhen move from technology knock-offs to fast execution and innovation.

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Source: Coindesk ($120MM Acquisition), Plagiarism (Coincentral, Medium from Digital Asset Research), CCN (Vitalik on Tron), Logic (On knock-offs in Shenzhen), Bitcoin Exchange Guide (Kim Dotcom)