BitTorrent’s 10th Anniversary & The Internet We Build Next

It may be our company’s 10th anniversary, but we’re just getting started.

Ten years ago online feels lightyears away. According to Pew, less than 30% of Americans had broadband Internet access. We thought of connection in terms of desktop and dial up.  We sent emails and instant messages. We went on the web to read. Back then, things like streaming video, social media, and smart phones seemed like science fiction to most people. But it was inevitable that the Internet would grow up.

BitTorrent was founded in 2004 to support the Internet’s evolution — providing a sustainable alternative to HTTP, an Internet protocol designed primarily for text. The introduction of the BitTorrent protocol allowed for unprecedented innovation: the development of an Internet built for rich media, and richer experiences. The world’s leading web platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, eBay, and Wikipedia use BitTorrent as their backbone. Content companies such as Amazon, Blizzard, the BBC, and Humble Bundle use BitTorrent for content distribution.  So does science’s leading edge. At the heart of the Large Hadron Collider and the Human Genome Project is a human network, based on the BitTorrent protocol. Without BitTorrent, the web as we know it might not exist — it’s a driving force behind the Internet’s past as well as its present.

CMO Jascha Kaykas-Wolff on BitTorrent’s Culture of Innovation

BitTorrent today is a people-powered network of over 170 million around the world, responsible for moving up to 40% of all Internet traffic, on any given day; and also responsible for making that traffic manageable. And it’s 180 of us, in San Francisco and Minsk, dedicated to building a better Internet.

What started with the protocol has become a portfolio of software applications: distributed solutions for syncing, publishing, and messaging. What started with the protocol stays with us: a commitment to the open, decentralized Internet, user enfranchisement, and user privacy.

Today we mark the occasion of our 10th Anniversary, but we’ll be discussing several areas of our culture over the next few months to celebrate the milestone. In this post, some of our colleagues discuss BitTorrent’s approach to innovation.

SVP Simon Morris on BitTorrent’s Uniqueness

When I’m finished writing this post, I’ll be headed to presentations from our bi-monthly hackathon (we call them Paloozas). Paloozas are where our projects come from: Sync, Bundle, and Bleep were all born from hacks. Today, Sync 1.4 is a growing solution for serverless file syncing and sharing. Today, Bundle is a thriving direct-to-fan ecosystem; with more than 10,000 publishers, such as Drafthouse Films, Cinedigm, and Michel Gondry; Kaskade, Skrillex, and Moby; De La Soul, Jet Life, and G-Eazy. We just introduced our serverless chat application Bleep as an Open Alpha. And we’re hard at work on applications for  Live, a video streaming protocol. Ten years in, our work is still beginning.

The Internet has long been a tool for innovation; for free expression, and economic progress. And these attributes are under constantly under threat. The recent trend toward centralization is only the latest. Temptation is great for digital gatekeepers to manipulate the Internet for gain of the few; to act as arbiters of culture and economy, to pick winners and losers in business and entertainment. Government agencies can’t resist the temptation to exploit the Internet as a tool for control: spying on its citizens and censoring access.

Engineer Adam Kelly on the Beauty of Innovation

Because we believe that our generation that will decide the fate of the Internet: whether it’s a tool for innovation, or a tool for control. And we believe that we have a responsibility to shape the Internet’s future, for good. We have assembled a team of the greatest minds in distributed technology. And every day, our engineers are looking ahead and anticipating the problems the Internet will face. Of course, they also consider how to solve them — whether it’s congestion, neutrality, privacy, or moving the heavy loads.

As stakeholders in the free, open Internet, our job is to keep innovating. As we think about the web we build next, we are doubling down on our commitment to our values; working with our peers to implement the protocols and software that ensure user access, control, privacy, and creativity.

Engineer Arvid Norberg on Online’s Future Offline

BitTorrent is more than just a protocol – it can be a model for restructuring the very fabric of the Internet. We have the potential to live in an era that respects Net Neutrality, solves for bandwidth congestion, protects our privacy and ends control; and its not far off from where we are today.

Our engineering teams are striving to enter this era, and we hope to share news soon as to how we aspire to shape the Internet we build next.

But for now, we mark the occasion with a thank you. Without people, there would be no BitTorrent. Thank you to all employees, past and present, thank you to our partners and the community who have brought us to where we are today. The last 10 years have been great, but we are ready to embrace the next 10.

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