Renee Wang is an ex-Googler who took a chance. A big chance, one could argue. She quit her steady job at Google Japan, sold her Beijing house (the only asset she had at the time), and invested the proceeds into her own startup company.
Renee is the founder of Castbox, a podcast player app that uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning to assist users in finding the most relevant podcasts among the millions that exist out there.
We caught up with Renee to discuss Castbox, and its blockchain-spinoff, ContentBox.
Congrats Class of 2018! Seeking inspiration to conquer adulthood? Check out our top 10 #graduation #podcasts: https://t.co/UdfzbjwQU0
ft. @bobbirebell @stephdennis13 @gabydunn @KalynNicholson @emmagannon @collegeinfogeek @TEDRadioHour @Gradjobpodcast and more! pic.twitter.com/35HZPuMEJ8
— Castbox (@Castbox_fm) May 22, 2018
What is your background, briefly?
I’m Renee Wang, founder of Castbox, a podcast player app that allows the user to search podcast libraries for specific keywords and phrases to find the most relevant podcasts. The app uses NLP and machine learning algorithms for this search.
Castbox is the fastest-growing and highest-rated audio app on Android and iOS, boasting over 16 million users across 175 countries. We have recently received a $13m capital investment to fund further expansion and growth.
Overall, the Castbox project has so far raised $29.5 million from top venture capital firms, including IDG, SIG China, ZhenFund, and Qiming Venture Partners.
Does it seem like a logical background to what you do now?
Announcing ContentBox, a blockchain project with its #cryptocurrency BOX Cash (BOX). It’s the first step in building a decentralized ecosystem for digital content. Check out our website at: https://t.co/PAzo8DCj3l #blockchain #ICO pic.twitter.com/uynvLQYdbV
— Contentbox (@Contentbox_one) April 9, 2018
Absolutely. I have always worked on the cutting edge of technology, and have an open mind about the entrepreneurial world.
Castbox is expanding into the blockchain. Give us a one-minute pitch for that project.
We have just launched ContentBox, a blockchain-based infrastructure for the decentralized digital content industry. Another positive development and a vote of confidence for the Castbox ecosystem comes from well-known blockchain investor Bo Shen. Bo is the founder of Fenbushi Capital, and an early adopter of Ethereum. He is joining the ContentBox team as a strategic advisor and cornerstone investor.
Legendary blockchain investor Bo Shen, founder of Fenbushi Capital has joined the ContentBox team as a strategic advisor and cornerstone investor.https://t.co/QklvS5QJKE#crypto #bitcoin #podcasts pic.twitter.com/dKDuzMIWFa
— Contentbox (@Contentbox_one) May 28, 2018
Castbox’s foray into the blockchain environment through ContentBox follows the company’s launch of its proprietary in-audio search and personalized recommendation technology, powered by NLP and machine learning.
Talk to us about the technology behind ContentBox.
— Contentbox (@Contentbox_one) April 17, 2018
ContentBox is open to all developers and platforms in the digital content industry. It offers a suite of blockchain-based solutions that enable a unified payout system for the digital content ecosystem, a shared content pool, and a shared user pool.
Core functionalities include:
- BOX Payout, a borderless and secure payment transaction network
- BOX Passport, a cross-platform identity and attribution gateway
- BOX Unpack, a turn-key content management solution for independent publishers to set up a fully-fledged online platform and an application interface for developers to integrate blockchain-related services.
As independent publishers and creators fight to regain control over the way their content is distributed and monetized in a space dominated by a few major platforms, ContentBox provides an open and decentralized solution that aligns the interests of all stakeholders through a token-based ecosystem.
In Bo Shen’s own words: “The nature of blockchain technology is to take a slice of the pie from vested interest groups, where you are bound to encounter resistance.
“To get your project off the ground, you must have vast industry and product resources. I invested in ContentBox because it has a strong technical team and a wealth of industry experience, and I believe that it will become the first killer app for the digital content industry.”
Will there be an ICO to support the ContentBox launch?
We will not be doing an ICO. Instead, we will focus on a private token sale.
— Contentbox (@Contentbox_one) May 24, 2018
Here are a few details about that.
- Token symbol: BOX
- Price per token: 1ETH: 19000BOX
- Total supply: 3 billion tokens
- ICO supply: 750 million tokens
- Private sale start date: 2018/4/13
- Private sale end date: 2018/6/22
- Soft cap: 15,000ETH
- Hard cap: 30,000ETH
- Minimum investment: 100ETH
- Accepted forms of payment: ETH only.
What do you plan to do with the funds raised?
Our bounty program is ONLINE!! We're awarding $3M worth of tokens to individuals that help us to build our community. #blockchain #cryptocurrency Details: https://t.co/DYQ5GMESsN pic.twitter.com/wb6N2ggZ5d
— Contentbox (@Contentbox_one) May 22, 2018
How are you different from your competitors?
Our team works hard, sometimes long into the night, to get the job done. We have a number of PhD holders in our staff and enjoy a 17-million strong user base.
If all goes well over next 3 months, what are your plans?
We have made good progress so far, and most signs are positive and encouraging. We are working towards becoming the de facto payment protocol layer for all media apps wishing to tokenize.
In your own words, how does Castbox empower content creators and publishers?
The digital media industry was built on the principles of inclusivity but it’s become too top-heavy to support the independent publishers and creators that continue to pour their heart and soul into their work.
By leveraging this emerging technology, we’re able to level the playing field with the ideology that all content should be fairly and openly distributed and rewarded regardless of who created it.”
CastBox,@CastBox_FM, the first partner of ContentBox, will pioneer a decentralized blockchain-based app and introduce BOX to its users in securing, consuming, and distributing digital content. #blockchain #ICO #cryptocurrency pic.twitter.com/sApL2a37nl
— Contentbox (@Contentbox_one) April 9, 2018
Castbox is an award-winning global podcast platform that gives users access to endless content in multiple languages, anywhere, through any device.
The platform’s proprietary technology includes features like curated podcast recommendations and in-audio deep search to customize the listening experience.
Castbox is the first podcast platform to integrate blockchain infrastructure to offer users an in-app loyalty program and a digital wallet to manage rewards.
In the first phase of the rollout, Castbox users can earn token rewards for inviting friends, sharing content, and joining the community’s Telegram channel.
Castbox will feature thought-leaders from the emerging cryptocurrency industry and partner with key influencers and communities from Stanford, Berkeley, Harvard, and Purdue.