You can now pay for apps with your spare compute power

Startups are frequently questions: What if we tried something new rather than the usual way? The category Massive is a good illustration of this: What if consumers could use their extra computing capacity to pay for apps or services?

The basic idea of distributed computing power supplied by individuals is nothing new. Anyone who has seen the SETI screensaver before has seen something similar. But what Massive is creating may be a somewhat well-known concept and an alternative to charging clients or bombarding them with advertisements in order to make money.

Point72 Ventures, Coinbase Ventures, and CoinShares Ventures joined forces to raise 11 million for Massive today. The investment was announced by Point72 Ventures, which is being led by billionaire Howard Marks as well as crypto-themed firms such as CoinShares Investments and Coinbase Venture. Several angels also took part in the fundraising occasion.

The idea of the model is intriguing, and Massive’s funding round shows that it has found some market traction. As a result, we contact the firm to learn more. nMassive co-founder and CEO Jason Grad likened the company’s work to an Airbnb or Turo for computers, comparing it to several of the most well-known consumer-sharing businesses that people are familiar with.

It’s a fair comparison. The firm has signed up 50,000 desktop computer users — nodes — to its service. It’s white hat, of course. Given that Massive is looking for compute power, it will constantly need to ensure that it is a good custodian of user trust and partner selection; no one wants their spare CPU cycles to be used in something illicit.

The firm has an excellent approach to caring for its early compute exchange, with a stringent requirement that users must opt into the service before joining.

Massive is presently partnering with crypto-focused organizations. They have a clear need for processing power, and the work they perform — such as executing blockchain computations — is compensated through block rewards and other fees, making them appealing partnerships. It’s easy to see why Massive’s investor list includes several crypto-specific VC firms.

The aim of the company, on the other hand, is more ambitious. It aims to establish a two-sided marketplace for compute power, according to Grad. That means more people would offer up a portion of their computing resources, as well as future acceptance of mobile devices and a broader partner list

The firm’s perspective is founded on the idea that today’s internet dominant business models are inadequate. “Shit,” as Grad puts it himself.

He’s got a valid argument. The internet of today is a mix of free and paid, with or without access restrictions. The proliferation of paywalls was not included in the initial draft of internet business models. However, because ad inventory available on most websites wasn’t worth as much as anticipated, and with a few major platforms monopolizing a big portion of total online ad spend, there wasn’t enough money left over to pay for the rest. Paywalls were born as a result.

Is it feasible that Massive can lead us back toward a more open internet? I’ll give up some compute power for greater access to anything, frankly, as long as I have faith in the firm sitting between me and, say, a crypto-mining business.

The firm does not consider its role to be to take the place of income, according to Grad. The firm will be able to provide new revenue streams where they previously didn’t exist, rather than replacing existing revenue streams, according to Grad. As a result, apps will still be paid for many people in areas with limited access to money, such as rural areas or disasters zones. A compute-for-access trade may therefore be accretive for users and organizations alike in places where payment is difficult to obtain.

We established up top, great businesses are questions. For Massive, the market’s answer is a resounding yes, providing ample evidence that there are enough consumers to create a sufficient distributed computing network to attract firms to buy into service.