In a fireside chat as part of Decrypt's Around the Campfire series, Protocol Labs CEO and founder Juan Benet indicated the Filecoin network is exceeding expectations for large-scale storage.
Filecoin, which took in $200 million from a 2017 ICO, launched in October of this year. According to Benet, since then, the decentralized blockchain network for renting out and borrowing computer storage has reached one exabyte of storage capacity—about the size of Dropbox when it filed its IPO in 2018.
"Being able to reach a scale to compete with and contend with the traditional cloud is something that many people said was impossible," said Benet. "When we first set out to do this, so many people laughed at us and laughed at me directly, saying, 'You'll never get a decentralized network to exceed a few petabytes, maybe 10 petabytes.' And now we're passing one exabyte."
For those who lose track of bytes as soon as they get any higher than what's available on an iPhone, an exabyte is "a hundred times more than what people said was possible," noted Benet. "And this is just the beginning of the network."
By comparison, Twitter produces about 4.3 petabytes a year, or 0.0043 exabytes. Data company Zeenea estimated in March 2019 that Netflix stored 60 petabytes of movies and TV shows, or six percent of Filecoin's current capacity.
So, an exabyte is a lot of storage.
There's still a lot of excess capacity on the network, however, which relies on miners for storage. According to Filecoin's storage stats, last checked on November 19, 761 gigabytes of data are currently being stored on the network.
Filling that capacity is what Benet and Protocol Labs have their eye on. The founder pointed out that Ethereum and other blockchain networks aren't meant for hosting applications end to end: "You cannot store, say, an entire chatroom...on Ethereum."
Now that capacity is expanding to be able to compete with legacy products, he said, the next step is: "Start moving lots of applications over to this network. Beyond that, we start looking into the frontier of new kinds of use cases and new kinds of applications that people haven't built before."
It's an "if you build it, they will come" moment for Benet and the Protocol Labs team. They've built the field. Now they're waiting for the players.