Why is blockchain a social innovation that companies can’t ignore? Xunlei explains at TechCrunch Hangzhou

From video download and streaming service to cloud-based acceleration services to blockchain, Shenzhen-based and NASDAQ-listed Xunlei has been reinventing itself since its founding in 2003. The company has recently completed a high-level personnel change with Xiaomi’s co-founder Wang Chuan taking over the helm—Xiaomi is one of Xunlei’s investors.

The new step for the company is blockchain and here it has launched two blockchain services this May: ThunderChain and StellarCloud. At TechCrunch Hangzhou ThunderChain’s chief engineer Lai Xin gave her view on why and how companies can transform themselves for the blockchain era.

According to Xin, the first step is choosing a sector and understanding the problems and pain points in the area—are you solving a problem of efficiency or trust or other issues?—and then finding a developer. But there is more to understanding what blockchain means for companies.

“If you look at the essence of blockchain, it’s a distributed ledger, transparent, and open. Looking from a different perspective, blockchain is also a social innovation,” said Xin during the fireside chat.

In the history of human beings and technology we have two types of innovations—professional and social innovations, Xin continued. Professional innovations include the steam engine, electricity, computers—hey are aimed at improving efficiency. But social innovations such as capital, the internet, and blockchain are improving the efficiency of society.

“Social innovations have several features—they can meet the needs of society and expand its skills while also unleashing its demand. It can also bring more parties to join innovation and certainly it can shorten the whole decision-making process and cut out the middleman. It’s about changing how the enterprise works and improving efficiency. That’s what I mean by social innovation.”

The internet and blockchain differ as social innovations because they connect different things: the internet is a bridge between information, while blockchain is a bridge between businesses. Once industries and companies understand the connotation of these ideas more of them will join the blockchain wave, said Xin.

Stellarcloud marks an expansion from content delivery network services to infrastructure as a service (IaaS) for the company. Xunlei allows users of their blockchain-based OneThing Cloud to share idle computing resources in exchange for LinkToken. Users can trade this for products and services that companies develop on ThunderChain or StellarCloud. Enterprise users can exchange LinkToken for idle computing power shared by users. According to Xin, Xunlei is the first company that came up with the idea of shared computing.

“Why would users be willing to share their computing bandwidth and resources? Blockchain is a part of it—it solves the problem of trust and incentives for users. With blockchain technology can record what users have contributed and how much resources the companies used.”

ThunderChain, on the other hand, allows companies to build and manage Dapps that can process 1 million transactions a second. The platform is open for startup companies and developers that want to build decentralized apps.

“We already have some projects on our platform: one example is storing genetic information. If you want to buy a gene testing service you can get gene information stored on our system. The ownership is clear on the chain—it belongs to a user who can decide if he wants to share it with companies working on genetic R&D.”

Xunlei started an application contest involving over 2000 developers with the winners being announced on July 6th. The company is also involved in investment and is considering launching its own fund for blockchain project, Xin revealed.

This article was updated on July 4th, 2018 to correct the location of Xunlei’s headquarters.