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Mask Network: The SocialFi Giant Onboarding All of Web2

April 11, 2024

In conclusion

Ever heard of a Trojan Horse? The large wooden horses within which Greek soldiers filled their troops and sent them into the city of Troy only for them to come rushing out and eventually win the Trojan War.

Well, in the present day, Trojan horses are everywhere, just in different forms. The premise is simple: blend in with the enemies to hide in plain sight, penetrate the enemy's lines, and attack when they least expect it.

Now, why the hell am I talking about Trojan horses? And what the hell does it have to do with Mask Network?

You see, trojan horses often have a negative connotation, but today, we’ll be talking about a positive Trojan horse.

Despite a gradual process of onboarding people, the normies still don’t like crypto. Now that Mr. Fink has given everyone the green light to get on board, things may start to change, but we still don’t have what it takes to onboard all these people.

They’re all too comfortable with the convenience of Web2, which dissuades them from making the effort to learn how to use the superior Web3 internet, and that’s okay because Mask Network is here.

Why go through the effort of bringing them onto a completely new system when you can simply integrate our Web3 products on already existing Web2 platforms?

Today, we will guide you through how Mask Network will help onboard everyone from your grandparents to your mid-curve normie friends onto Web3.

So sit back and enjoy. This is going to be a good one.

What is Mask Network?

Mask Network is a decentralized social media infrastructure platform that helps users bridge from Web2 to Web3.

Let’s go back three years. Mask Network’s journey at that time was marked by one pivotal moment: when it was utilized for sending out Gitcoin grants for the Black Lives Matter initiative. While the protocol was initially received as an encrypted social messaging service for Twitter and Facebook, unveiling this feature was a step forward in becoming a true bridge between Web2 and Web3.

Today, Mask Network’s decentralized social ecosystem is backed by 120+ leading protocols with a combined user base of millions of users. Mask Network is essentially abstracting all the complexity of onboarding users to Web3 from Web2, and they’re just getting started.

From a cool social media encryption app to a giant

From Vitalik Buterin and MakerDAO sending out Red Packets to partnering with third-party apps to onboard a plethora of Web2 users, Mask Network has managed to achieve it all. Initially, Mask released first-party extensions for browsers (such as Brave, Chrome, etc.) and also partnered with third-party apps like Twidere (a half-a-million userbase worth client back in 2020), and also ran instances for Mastodon Cloud and mstdn.jp, with over 300K users back then.

Today, Mask is at the helm of obtaining a $6B worth (market capitalization) industry, which is equipped with all the right resources to grow into a $100B market soon. While SocialFi is not the most exciting for degens and shitcoiners, its steady growth over the past few years has been promising.

How Mask works

Mask’s core functionality is to provide encrypted transmission of information such as text, images, and even cryptocurrency.

  1. When a user creates a profile on Mask Network, it is represented as a secp256k1 key pair. Each user is then assigned a public key, which they can share on their social network.
  2. This way, fellow Mask users can assign that key to the user who shared it.
  3. When the user transmits a post on social media, it is encrypted by an AES256 key in GCM mode.
  4. This ensures that only one unique encrypted post can be shared online.
  5. This key is then encrypted asymmetrically with all the fellow recipients’ public keys and the creator’s private key, using ECIES (Elliptic Curve Integrated Encryption Scheme).
  6. These keys are then synced with GunDB nodes, thereby providing end-to-end encryption.

Mask components are attached to posts that go out on social networks. To an external user, this message will be encrypted. But whoever is using Mask Network will be able to recognize the message as it gets decrypted.

Thus, the receiving user (utilizing Mask Network) gets to see the actual text of the message.

The Famous Mask Red Packet

A Red Packet is an Ethereum-based smart contract into which anyone can wrap their tokens. When they share this Red Packet as part of a post on Twitter, the users who have access to it can open it. This is how the Gitcoin grants worked back in 2020.

A Red Packet is symbolic of a gift that is given during holidays or as a wedding gift in China.

Investors & Partners

Through the years, Mask Network has onboarded countless strategic investors and partners. Some of their investors in the past few years include:

  • Hard Yaka: A community of investors and builders run by Gregg Kidd. Gregg is a prior advisor to Ripple, Square, one of the first investors in Twitter. His vision has been to build portable digital identities, hence his interest in Mask.
  • DWF Labs: Their investment came through the strategic buying of $5M worth of $MASK tokens. This investment was sparked by the firm’s interest in accelerating Mask’s growth in helping build a decentralized social network ecosystem.
  • Arweave: This strategic investment from Arweave was prompted by its commitment to building a decentralized data infrastructure. Thanks to the partnership with Arweave, Mask was able to send encrypted files over a social media network.
  • Arbitrum: Mask received a total of $257,540 in $ARB tokens in mid-2023. It allocated a majority of these funds between the Mask community and the Mask DAO treasury. Of the total amount, 30% each was distributed to NextID Community Fund and Firefly Community Fund.
  • Web3 Social Ecosystem Round Brief: True to its ethos of building and supporting decentralized social network projects in the space, Mask announced a web3 ecosystem round of $40K in collaboration with Gitcoin (specifically in the Gitcoin Grants Round 14).
  • Investments in TON & Mastodon: Mask invested in The Open Network (TON) to accelerate its growth across various networks. Mask’s and TON’s goals are aligned in the sense both envision merging the web2 and web3 decentralized apps seamlessly. In a similar vein, Mask’s investment in Mastodon is driven by its vision to build decentralized social media. Mastodon itself has grown significantly since Elon Musk took over, thereby reigniting Mask’s interest in the application.

Mask also acquired Pawoo.net (in December 2022), which is one of the biggest Mastodon instances with over 800K users!

Mask Network’s Bonfire Union

Mask has been relentlessly building a portfolio of decentralized services and applications in the space while also supporting projects that share its vision. It recently announced its second venture fund, Bonfire Union, with a total AUM of $100M; the fund was founded back in 2022.

The fund invests in decentralized social networks and infrastructure, aiming to help the decentralized Web3 social ecosystem advance. The fund’s portfolio includes RSS3, Lens, and even Scroll.

Mask’s Apps

Mask Network is truly committed to building a highly decentralized yet scalable and user-friendly social network ecosystem. As part of that, it has launched two products that help implement that goal.

NextID

NextID bridges identities from Web2 to Web3, allowing users to utilize their Web2 identities to access Web3 applications. They achieve this using a Decentralized Identifier (DID), facilitating seamless integrations across various platforms. NextID integrates the various approaches to identity (including Verifiable Credentials and Soulbound Tokens) within a Layer 0 framework to ensure high degrees of interoperability.

The core component of NextID is Avatars, which are cryptographic key pairs that can be created by any user and can be used across any platform wherever NextID is supported.

NextID is being utilized by several Web3 applications today.

Firefly

Firefly App is a content hub that aggregates social content and feeds across major Web3-native applications like X, Mastodon, Lens, Farcaster, Mirror, Gitcoin, Snapshot, and even NFT feeds. It abstracts the complexity associated with keeping up with several different platforms and staying on top of all the news being circulated.

The Firefly currently has a whitelist, which you can access by minting the Firefly Pass NFT.

Team and Community

Mask’s founder, Suji Yan, is fighting the decentralized social media battle from the front. He attended the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) but dropped out in 2017 and founded Mask Network. In just a few years, Mask’s venture arm, Bonfire Union, was launched, too.

Mask has a vibrant community across major social media networks, with most of its user base coming from APAC. Thanks to its acquisition of several promising projects, Mask’s community spans across various protocols, regions, and geographies!

Closing Thoughts

Launched as early as 2018, Mask Network leads the charge to build a decentralized social conglomerate that onboards users from Web2 to Web3.

Mask is one of the very few protocols in the ecosystem that is putting its money where its mouth is. Bonfire Union has been relentlessly carving through the noisy space of Web3 and investing in decentralized social networks, infrastructure projects, and anyone blowing users’ minds away with creative content.

Complex onboarding has always been a major issue for Web3. Web3 users often like to call themselves degens and portray themselves as self-styled leaders of the DeFi ecosystem. If the barrier-to-entry to Web3 remains high, then the benefits of a truly decentralized financial ecosystem will remain limited to only those who can cross those barriers.

Thus, building a hyper-simplified bridge that makes it dead simple for users to be onboarded to Web3 is critical for its widescale adoption.

We’re bullish on Mask’s devotion to building a decentralized social media conglomerate and onboarding the next billion users to Web3! They’ve got several new investments across decentralized social networks to watch out for.

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