An Introduction to Skynet's Homescreen for Managing DeFi and DWeb Apps by@evelinalavrova
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An Introduction to Skynet's Homescreen for Managing DeFi and DWeb Apps

by Evelina LavrovaOctober 7th, 2021
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Skynet Labs is building software infrastructure for the decentralized internet. Founder and CEO David Vorick talks about the launch of their latest product — [Homescreen], the first and only dashboard for managing DeFi and DWeb apps in-browser. He also talks about why it’s important for users to own their data and more. Vorick: "We need to move to a decentralized world where there is no overlord. Where content creators can feel confident that corporations are not controlling their relationship with their audience"
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During the Mainnet 2021 conference week in NYC, I had an opportunity to attend the Homescreen Day Spa, hosted by Skynet Labs. The event celebrated the launch of their latest product — Homescreen, the first and only dashboard for managing DeFi and DWeb apps in-browser.

Skynet Labs is building software infrastructure for the decentralized internet. This includes Sia, the leading decentralized cloud storage platform, and Skynet, a content hosting and application development platform.

I had the opportunity to interview David Vorick, founder and CEO of Skynet Labs, about when and how he joined crypto, Skynet’s new product, and how it’s going to change the way we use the Web. He also covers trends and current pitfalls in Web3 as well as why it’s important for users to own their data and more.

Please introduce yourself. How and when did you join the crypto space?

My name is David Vorick, CEO of Skynet Labs and I've been in crypto for about 10 years. My journey started when a roommate of mine popped his head into my dorm room and said: “Hey, David! I think you would really enjoy learning about Bitcoin.” I got sucked down into the deepest rabbit hole of my life and I’m still diving into that rabbit hole today. I joined IRC (Internet Relay Chat) Channels with Bitcoin and dived in around 2013. After that in 2014, I started actively building the Sia blockchain network, and its parent company Nebulous. We launched the blockchain itself in 2015 and we launched Skynet in 2020.

On, it says that Skynet is a "decentralized internet for a free future". How does that mission fit into what you're working on?

I'd say the major goal of Skynet is to take out entities like Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, and Snapchat.

During quarantine, I really started to notice when all these YouTube creators would refuse to say the word “COVID-19” because there was a belief that the algorithm would demonetize the video and then stop showing it in the search results.

So we had a global pandemic that’s affecting the entire population and at least within the sphere of YouTube, nobody's even willing to talk about it. That was wrong!

We shouldn't be afraid to talk about global events simply because the unelected faceless corporation has put down rules that we don't understand, about what we are not allowed to say. I feel we need to move to a decentralized world where there is no overlord. Where content creators can feel confident that corporations are not controlling their relationship with their audience, and creators don't have to have these arbitrary rules imposed on them that neither they nor their audience agrees with.

What’s Skynet Homescreen? How does it work?

Homescreen is a platform for decentralized DeFi front ends and any web front ends. The idea is that instead of loading a front end like Uniswap from we would load the front end from your personal decentralized cloud storage. When you add an app to Homescreen, it is actually matching that app, downloading all the assets of that code, and storing it on your personal storage. In the future when you click on that app, you're loading it from your decentralized storage. In other words, you’re getting a fully end-to-end decentralized experience.


How was the idea of uniting DeFi and DWeb apps on one dashboard born?

I think it just kind of fell out really naturally. We made Homescreen for DeFi when we knew that a lot of companies in the space were dealing with this problem of having to host themselves for various reasons. They really didn't want to do this and wanted an alternative. So we built Homescreen for DeFi but Homescreen also works perfectly fine with all other in-browser decentralized apps as well. It seemed like a great point to introduce some of the other Skynet applications and to get the ecosystem familiar with Skynet applications as well.

You explained Homescreen as a way to protect both users and developers — can you elaborate?

The goal of Homescreen is to protect users by giving them control over the code that they're running. We want to give the user complete control over the platform that they are using and over the software that they depend on. Homescreen is really about the users but it has a side benefit of protecting developers as well.

Every server that you run, every CryptoKitties that you have is a piece of exposure. Regulators, hackers, or just malicious people can attack and find weak points. So as a developer if you are worried about being a focal point for bad energy it helps to reduce the service area as much as possible. And for things like Uniswap or NFTs, the reward to a hacker for successfully attacking a developer server could be hundreds of millions of dollars so it's really a high-stakes game. If a developer can reduce the number of ways that they are exposed to hackers when you have a hundred million dollars on the line, that's a good thing.

Why else should developers care about Homescreen?

Because it's a way to get a more complete amount of decentralization into their applications. On the other hand, it’s a user experience. It gives users just a single page! Users can click on their favorite front-page or crypto application knowing that it's decentralized and they only need a single sign-in. So users are not tracking a lot of different pages anymore when they use many different apps on a screen. Instead, we’ve simplified their experience by unifying everything into a single setup.

What sort of trends in Web3 do you believe we’ll see over the near term future?

NFTs are just getting started and we will see them take off a lot more.

We're going to see more and more people switching over to decentralization for storing data in general.

Because the decentralized way of storing data just makes it cheaper for the developers, it puts the cost on the users instead. Therefore it makes it easier to launch applications and less expensive to scale one. But it also makes it a lot easier for other developers to build on your work and the activity from other users. It's a much more powerful way to build the web. People who participate in that way of building the web will have stronger applications and be more competitive overall.

What pitfalls does Web3 have now?

The biggest pitfall is UX today. You need browser extensions like Metamask. The Cryptocurrency bits are front-and-center, and nobody knows how to use a seed. There are a lot of ways that Web3 is different for the rest of the world. We haven't spent a ton of time refining the user experience to bring that vision to life. We're far far away but with enough energy and research we can make Web3 substantially more intuitive and essentially simpler for users than on the current web. The only way that we need to be different from Web2 is in signing in (via a decentralized identity). Other than that, everything else can be almost identical. While we’re not there yet, Web3 is different in many more ways than just seeds. We're moving towards simplified UX and we'll get pretty far in the next 2-3 years.

How will decentralized apps and Homescreen change our lives?

I hope we get to a point where content creators and audiences feel comfortable just saying what they think their audience will like. And as audiences, you can follow people — without worrying about the giant algorithm that's following you back, trying to learn your past personality, feed you ads, and creating rules in Terms of Service that you should be following. I think in general it's just focusing on freedom.

How will Web3 change the way user data is treated today?

The biggest thing is Web2 ended up in this end-state where data is in a ton of silos. Facebook knows social graphs, Instagram has all the photos, YouTube has all the videos, Twitch has all the live streaming, Snapchat has a lot of the messaging and none of these data can talk to other data.

You have a super fragmented user experience where your friends on Facebook may not be your friends on Snapchat, friends in your contact book may not see comments on YouTube, and so on.

Another thing is in order to make an improvement in the application, you really have to be at that company and have enough clout to suggest an improvement. For example, you think Twitter could be better but you have no ability to make a better interface or design for Twitter because all that data is locked away. So innovation is really locked into Twitter's vision. But when we open the data up and allow anyone to access any piece of data, anyone can innovate on that. You don't have to be part of the Twitter team anymore to make innovations to the core Twitter experience. If you make a superior Twitter experience, users can just switch over.

So I think it’ll be a really powerful shift. Once we unlock this data, the silos will just kind of fall apart because Web2 tech companies will realize that they're completely uncompetitive. They can't make products to keep up with everything else that is happening in Web3.

Why do users need to own their data and will we be able to maybe earn money from it one day?

I think the big reason that you want to own your data is so that it doesn't get locked into silos. Take my data on Facebook, for example. I spent maybe 100 hours finding friends, adding them, uploading images, and commenting on stuff, probably more than a hundred, hundreds of hours. I’ve given Facebook all this data on me that's really useful to the rest of my life and the rest of my digital experience because Facebook owns the data. I can't take all that work that I did and apply to any other platform on the web. That work only exists within the walled garden on Facebook.

So the reason users should have their own data is because it's your data!

You're the one who put work into it. If you want that data to follow you on Twitter, that is certainly a reasonable request. If you own your data, you'll be able to make that happen.

About monetization. It's not so much that you'll be able to monetize your own data. Monetization will come from finding things that are valuable. If you create something valuable: take an excellent photo or make an excellent blog post and people consume that in high volume, that's what you’ll be able to monetize. So we're not really looking to monetize your friend graph necessarily, but we're more looking to identify places where value has been created, where other people appreciate stuff that you've done, and to monetize that.

What are Skynet’s plans for the next year?

We plan on focusing deeply on Homescreen. This is a great opportunity to create a web browser for crypto.

A lot of people have been asking: “What's the big moment of crypto?”

Personally, it doesn't feel like it's had its Netscape Navigator moment yet, and I think Homescreen is that moment. So we're going to be putting a lot of energy into Homescreen. This is an amazing opportunity for us and for crypto.

We also are putting our engineering efforts into decentralizing Skynet further, as well as cleaning up the user experience. There are a bunch of user experience-related hiccups with using Skynet today, and we are very motivated to eliminate those hiccups. We want using Skynet to be better and more smooth than using Web2. We're not quite there yet, but we know several things that we can build and several changes that we can make. Skynet will have a much more seamless experience for users soon, so we are planning to be posting a lot on that as well.

Finally, we have some monetization plans in the works. We're not ready to talk about it yet but they're getting very close to the final. We're very excited about that soon.