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[UPDATED] TRON Acquires BitTorrent For $140M




Decentralized web and blockchain media startup TRON is about to close a deal to purchase peer-to-peer file sharing platform BitTorrent for $140 million. The announcement comes just six days before TRON is due to go live on its own blockchain.

UPDATED | July 24, 2018:

On Monday July 23, BitTorrent announced via its blog and Twitter account that TRON has officially closed its acquisition of the company. 

ORIGINAL | June 19, 2018: 

Reports are breaking that Justin Sun's blockchain startup TRON is acquiring software company BitTorrent. Shareholders are still negotiating details, but the deal is all but closed.

It's yet to be revealed how TRON will incorporate BitTorrent in its effort to create a decentralized internet using blockchain infrastructure, but BitTorrent's profile in data distribution and file sharing certainly compliments TRON's goals.

TechCrunch has reportedly spoken with a TRON shareholder who revealed the startup may use BitTorrent to "legitimize" its business, or that it could use BitTorrent's peer-to-peer (P2P) architecture to create a mining network.

The TRON Foundation was established in Singapore in 2017; completion of fundraising and a launch of its open-source protocol occurred the same year. In December 2017, the TRON coin (TRX) was listed on 10 major cryptocurrency exchanges, and today, it's the 10th largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization at $3.19 billion, according to CoinMarketCap. The TRON Foundation holds around $1.65 billion worth of TRX.

Sun, TRON's founder and CEO, also served as chief representative for Ripple in Greater China. Raybo, TRON's predecessor, was partially funded by Ripple co-founder Chris Larsen, who is thought to be one of the richest people in cryptocurrency.

However, both TRON and BitTorrent have tumultuous histories.

The December 2017 launch of TRX and its subsequent climb up the cryptocurrency charts was chock full of controversy. TRON was accused of plagiarising its white paper and misrepresenting key partnerships. TRON did receive support at the time via Twitter from Litecoin founder Charlie Lee, which Sun took as an opportunity to humble himself and save face:

(It should be noted that Lee is not without his own murky history. In December 2017, he sold all his Litecoin and some wondered if it was an attempt to pump bitcoin cash.)

The story of BitTorrent (founded by Bram Cohen and Ashwin Navin, and currently led by CEO Rogelio Choy) on the other hand, is one full of false starts and near misses. The BitTorrent protocol itself is meant to enable large amounts of information to be transmitted over the internet by breaking it into smaller chunks, sending it through a P2P network and then reassembling it. Since the company's genesis in 2004, there have been many attempts to turn a profit using BitTorrent, including two failed efforts to turn it into a media company.

BitTorrent has reportedly lost millions in these and other failed projects. Yet the company's website advertises that its protocols are used to "move as much as 40% of the world's Internet traffic on a daily basis."

In just under 6 days, TRON plans to leave the Ethereum network's ERC20 protocol for its own blockchain mainnet, migrating TRX and becoming completely independent.

Mainnet launches are not always without complication. The recent EOS rollout stalled when not enough token holders voted in the necessary 21 block producers. Just this week, a mainnet bug led to the freeze of seven accounts.  

Melanie Kramer

Melanie Kramer is a freelance FinTech, blockchain, and cryptocurrency writer based between France and Canada. Melanie has studied, and retains an avid interest in, global politics, business, and economics.

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