Meet Andrew Hill, Co-Founder and CEO of Textile

Welcome to the first blog post in our Filecoin Community Highlights series.

Welcome to the first blog post in our Filecoin Community Highlights series. Over the next few weeks, we will be featuring Filecoin use cases and developers in the community who are building essential tools and services on the Filecoin network. We hope these stories inspire others to join us in our mission to build world-class tools for the distributed web.

And now, on to our first Filecoin Community Highlight!

Andrew Hill is co-founder and CEO of Textile, a company that is rolling out tools to make it faster and easier for developers to build decentralized apps on IPFS and Filecoin. The values behind Textile are simple and, to us, inspiring:

  • Consumers should own their own data
  • They should know where and how their data is stored
  • And they should be able to transport it from one system to another.
  • This 1-month window is intended to cover unforeseen circumstances (such as critical security vulnerabilities that need to be addressed, etc) that might delay launch
  • We plan to launch at the beginning of this launch window

From the beginning, Textile has been making it easier to build applications on IPFS thanks to its decentralization principles. Now, the Textile team is developing plug-and-play tools for Filecoin application developers. We spoke to Andrew about the inspiration for his company, the role of data in our economy, and the future of Web3.

How do you describe Textile?

Textile is a company with a mission to change the way data works on the web. We believe that interoperable data can lead to some of the future’s most exciting use cases for the internet. So, we’re trying to build tools and methods to help developers get there.

How did you and your team link up with Protocol Labs?

It started really as a technological connection. We joined the IPFS community and started building things with it. IPFS offers so much already – the more we dug, the more interesting things we found. We got excited about how IPFS brought together projects like libp2p and IPLD to provide a pretty unique solution to moving data around the internet. Futuristic ideas like tracking a single content address to network all of the data you have ever created got our imagination firing. And the straight-forward utility of libp2p showed us that we could start building real technology right away.

We realized a lot of the stories about the work people were doing on the network weren’t being told. So, we started writing blog posts about what was really inside. And from that, we started building relationships with other people in the community. In the process, we were learning a lot about what was being built on top of IPFS to make it run, and along the way, we came up with some use cases we wanted to see happen.

What tools are you building for the Filecoin network?

Right now, we’re focused on how existing systems can plug into Filecoin to use it to store data directly from their systems in the Filecoin network, and then retrieving that data later. That sounds pretty basic, but in reality, we’re building an abstraction to the Filecoin node that does a bunch of management about the data that you are adding to the node, creating yields to store that data, tracking the progress of those yields, and then ensuring that those yields remain online.

Our Filecoin suite of tools lets app developers store data on Filecoin and gives them APIs to plug into the platforms they’ve already built. Our tools package up Filecoin and give you a bunch of standard APIs for managing sort of the whole lifecycle of data in your Filecoin wallet. What we want to do is show how easy it is for application-side developers using our system to jump on and start testing data storage.

Why are you interested in data storage?

The internet wasn’t designed to value data as a “first-class citizen.” Instead, data is a side effect of our interconnected system of computers. It’s a secondary resource on the web that has become one of the major economic drivers of the internet. Companies are built around how to turn data into new companies and new products. At Textile, we’re looking at data as a first-class citizen.

Where did the idea for Textile come from?

My co-founder, Sander Pick, and I had the idea for Textile before we actually started the company. We were both committed to building and innovating with technology, and we wanted to figure out where we could have the biggest impact. We zeroed in on data – personal data specifically – and the idea that general data on the web is really messed up.

Why was data messed up? We asked ourselves, ‘What would it take to get to a better future? What kind of tech needed to be built?’

We’d seen the work Protocol Labs was doing in the space with IPFS and Filecoin, and realized these networks were actually removing the hurdles between us and the future. So, then we thought about what else could be built on top of that system to get there.

At Protocol Labs, we talk about building a foundation layer for the next generation of the web: Web3. By that we mean a fully distributed model for the web, where we’re not reliant on central servers to serve us and save our data (that’s the current Web2 model). What’s Textile’s vision for the web in the next decade?

We see ourselves in an exciting position related to Web3. At Textile, our focus is on interoperability, so we believe there is a role to play between the two worlds by bridging Web3 networks and Web2 systems. When Web3 technologies want to make use of valuable resources from the traditional web (e.g., DNS, REST APIs, RSS to name a few), Textile can help. Likewise, when Web2 technologies want to tap into the value of Web3 (e.g., secure storage, censorship resistance, trustless transactions), Textile can help. Filecoin is an amazing example where we can add value by making the network more useful to all the systems that already exist.

By building a stronger and broader bridge, we think we can help drive new use cases, new users, and new ideas to the Web3 networks.

Filecoin is an open-source cloud storage marketplace, protocol, and incentive layer.
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