Co-Operative Internet : How Bitcoin Can Help Change Internet Business Models

SearchTrade is a search engine on the surface but a whole lot more than just another search engine. It rewards advertisers, keyword owners and the end-user using SearchTrade, with Bitcoin.

Bitcoin could be the start of a trend whereby technology works for humanity rather than against it.

Wait… technology is working against humanity?

There are many examples where technological innovations enriches large corporations like Google, Facebook and mobile service providers – but often at the expense of everyday users. People play a role similar to farm animals, used as mere resources.

Bitcoin signals a turning point to that trend, with micropayments on a massive scale allowing users everywhere to share in the proceeds of everyday technology usage.

Monopolies and job losses

Mobile phone adoption is increasing, more and more people are accessing and depending on internet based services in their day to day lives. This has led to a situation where a few large internet-based service companies have taken control and are building monopolies on a trillion dollar network – a network supposedly built to serve humanity.

Most would defend these companies. After all, they deliver services that are fast, cheap, and enjoyable to use.

While this is true – and these services do create value – there is a dark side to the story as well. By reducing costs to consumers, they’re also killing job opportunities by the millions.

Newspaper publishing, the music industry, airline ticketing, hotel bookings – these are just a few industries where ‘disruption’ is costing real people their jobs around the world. The tech companies don’t provide employment on anything near the scale required to replace them.

A new model: Revenue sharing

The idea is radical: ensure that wealth generated by these businesses is distributed amongst the users who play a vital part in generating that wealth.

This way, people are not reduced to being passive consumers – they become active participants.

Technological resources would be distributed more evenly throughout the peoples of the world. The Internet could shift to a co-operative model, from its current corporate one.

The search engine that gives back

One company attempting to put this model into practice is SearchTrade. On the surface, it’s a search engine. It seems to work just like the other big search engines you use hundreds of times a day.

Under the hood, though, everything is different. SearchTrade takes the revenue it earns from its advertisers, and uses bitcoin to distribute it back to the users.

There are two kinds of users here: one is the regular searcher, who earns bitcoin micropayments for every search performed.

But here’s where it gets even more novel: if you think something will be popular, you can actually ‘buy’ a search term (again with bitcoin) and earn revenue every time someone searches for it.

Now, this is exactly what happens at Google too – except that Google keeps all the money. There’s no bitcoin, no micropayments to searchers, and no payouts to smart keyword holders.

Users jumping in

Launched in beta in August 2015, SearchTrade found a surprisingly willing market for its keywords, chosen by the buyers themselves and sold in a pre-launch sale for 0.39 BTC each. It had already sold the first 600 most popular words by mid-September, prompting the immediate sale of the next 600.

As of today, it has sold 1120 words to 947 registered buyers, and raised 450 BTC.

Regular searchers are paid out at 100 Satoshi per search. SearchTrade, which promotes transparency by publishing all its statistics on the front page of its site, says it has enough in its reserves to pre-fund 54.6 million searches.

Such a system might appear easy meat for click-farms and other abuse, but SearchTrade covers this by restricting user accounts and addresses to a limited number of searches per day.

Open market for keywords

SearchTrade is planning to launch officially in mid-December, at which point payouts will begin.

Keyword owners and buyers will also be able to trade words on SearchTrade’s open exchange, potentially earning buyers even more revenue as certain words prove to be more popular.

According to founder and CEO Vishal Gupta, himself a veteran of the traditional advertising & technology industry, SearchTrade is finding new use cases for bitcoin – uses that are truly innovative and beneficial to humanity, not just trying to replicated the traditional payments industry.

“Bitcoin is something that could be absolutely beneficial to humanity, but people are cautious of such a wildly new concept, and they need better incentives to get involved,” he said.

“This will give a lot of people their first taste of bitcoin, at no risk to themselves or their savings. And it demonstrates exactly how technology companies should be working – to enrich all users, not just their own management and shareholders.”

Growing company, and spreading ideas

The positive response has seen SearchTrade expand its team to over 35 developers, plus full-time marketing, support and management roles.

Gupta hopes the idea of revenue-sharing won’t be SearchTrade’s alone, and that in future all companies will adopt a similar model.

“We have all the tools to implement this new economic model worldwide,” he said. “I’m calling all developers to watch what we do, and put it to use in online applications everywhere.”

Want to earn more bitcoins? Join SearchTrade.
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