‘Blockchain is the boy who tells the emperor he has no clothes’

15 Nov 2017

Eoin Lambkin, blockchain and film entrepreneur. Image: TechWatch

TechWatch’s Emily McDaid sat down with entrepreneur Eoin Lambkin to discuss how blockchain will change the internet as we know it.

Eoin Lambkin has been involved with Catalyst Inc’s mission from the very beginning, having worked alongside the team that designed the communications network for the Science Park in 2002.

It wasn’t just any network – it was one of the first open-access, carrier-neutral networks in the UK, promising a 100Mbps synchronous connection. The network was central to the Park’s ‘differentiator’ offering: all tenants could securely access the high-speed network, which today enables real-time connection speeds of 55 milliseconds to New York City and 35 milliseconds to Paris or Amsterdam.

‘The big banks have hid for years inside the very complex world they created. Now it’s all being exposed’

Fast-forward 15 years, and Lambkin has been involved with ventures from across the technology spectrum throughout his career. Where broadband once transformed business, now he’s harnessing blockchain to transform the internet.

“Years ago, we developed an idea for open access to content in the film industry. There exists across the world a vast library of films and documentaries that have never seen the light of day, never been distributed in any format. In this dark cave are many gems, from reputable directors and actors. We wanted to make these films accessible to the streaming generation,” he said.

Lambkin explains how previously, the legal rights to films would be so “complicated, with layers and layers of legality” that the idea was shelved due to complexity.

“Now, this legal structure can be wrapped up with blockchain contracts. Using the blockchain, we can dictate a revenue split and it tells every contributor in the chain how much they receive,” he said.

Lambkin described to me how he’s in the very early stages of this start-up, building a team and solidifying the offering.

“I’m a starter of ideas,” he said, “but nothing happens without talented folks to make them work. This is why I love start-ups – especially quirky stuff.”

His idea is to rescue films from the dreaded limbo state that can happen after they’ve been shown at festivals or never moved from the cutting floor – even ones that got rave reviews, which this article does a good job of describing.

Any time I think about what’s exciting about Northern Ireland in general, I think of the film industry. How can we build on it?

“It’s about harnessing the excitement around Titanic Studios and the new Belfast Harbour Studios. There have been great films made here – like Closing the RingCity of Ember – without whom Game of Thrones would not have arrived in NI,” said Lambkin.

Does blockchain change everything?

Lambkin said: “Capitalism is ending as we understand it. Blockchain is the boy who tells the emperor he has no clothes. The big banks have hid for years inside the very complex world they created. Now it’s all being exposed.

“Put it this way: it’s so disruptive all the big banks would love to own it – and none of them can.”

Blockchain is not for sale. What do you need to make your blockchain venture a success?

Lambkin said: “I need access to knowledge. For a small business to thrive, you need someone who understands the technology and the legality. This can be hard to find. But there’s a big pool of money out there that’s available for great investments – and if I don’t develop this, someone else will.”

He makes a good point. By 2016, total investment in blockchain technology start-ups had reached $1.5bn, per Frost & Sullivan.

Does it use smart contracts?

“There’s great complexity in writing suitable interactive and transparent contracts for this back-catalogue movie project. However, once cracked, it would be plug and play,” said Lambkin.

The ethereum blockchain’s model for creating smart contracts (which Lambkin would use in his venture) is explained in this short video.

What’s important to you?

“I want to live in a first-mover economy. If we can develop this, we could license it to another distribution platform, where the user interface is already built,” he said.

By Emily McDaid, editor, TechWatch

A version of this article originally appeared on TechWatch

TechWatch by Catalyst covered tech developments in Northern Ireland