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Twitter Suspended His Account. Then He Launched a Competing Network

·2-min read

(Bloomberg) -- Last month, after Elon Musk said he would acquire Twitter Inc., a Finnish cryptocurrency developer named Stani Kulechov tweeted a joke saying he was selected as Twitter’s interim chief executive officer. Then Twitter briefly suspended his account.

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On Wednesday, Kulechov will deliver his response: He built a rival social network based on blockchain technology, which will become available for anyone to access for the first time. The network, Lens Protocol, allows people to post and follow but differs from Twitter in a major way: Each piece of content is associated with nonfungible token, giving the creator ownership over their posts, said Kulechov, the founder and CEO of the London-based startup Aave.

Musk and the Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey have expressed interest in creating a more decentralized Twitter and open-sourcing its algorithm. Musk has also raised doubts about whether he will even go through with the acquisition, citing concerns about bots on the network.

Lens Protocol is suited to handling many of the issues that Musk has said he’s worried about, Kulechov said. Blockchain-based tools can help verify identities, prevent spam and present an open system, he said. “Open sourcing comes by default with public blockchains,” Kulechov said.

His own experiences with Twitter, including the temporary ban, helped inform the work on Lens Protocol, Kulechov said: “As a user, you’re very much at the mercy of the platforms.”

Converting enough people to a different social network is a big challenge, whether for blockchain-based networks or more ideological ones, like Gab or former US President Donald Trump’s Truth Social. Then there’s the flight from crypto incited by the recent crash of the TerraUSD stablecoin.

Kulechov is undeterred. His team sees potential for social gaming and music sharing to be added to Lens Protocol and will continue developing on the platform. “We’ve been building during bear markets and bull markets,” Kulechov said. “And we just don't care.”

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