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When 24-year old Chinese entrepreneur Xu Ke (cover image), who studied in London and the US and learnt poker along the way returned to China in 2014, she was struck by the enormous opportunity that the glaring lack of blockchain products and games in the Chinese market presented. Already a millionaire after smart investments of her poker earnings in Bitcoin, Ke founded Nome Lab in 2016, a start-up specializing in blockchain products. After a few innovative launches, social network ‘Ono’ was the next big thing coming!
A free social network based on blockchain technology, Ono has taken the Chinese social networking domain by storm and is the pioneer in blockchain social networking amid the reportedly 800 plus blockchain startup projects in China over 13 different industry sectors, including e-commerce, social networking and finance.
The beta version of Ono launched in April 2018 and is currently available on Google Play store. According to Ke, it has already registered over 3 Million members. The iOS version will be launching this month.
“When British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee invented the world wide web, his vision was to let humans exchange information and knowledge freely. The internet belongs to all of us. But it’s become so centralized now. Most of top ten tech companies in the world built their net worths by selling user data. This is why blockchain is important — you own the data yourself,” founder and CEO of Ono, Ke elaborated, talking about the vision behind Ono.
“You are able to write as many words as you want,” Ke explained.
In addition to the 76-strong Nome team working on the project out of Beijing, 15 other members contribute to Ono’s functioning from different locations across the world, and there are thousands of volunteers working anonymously to help oversee the site, something that Ke believes is crucial, since democracy is the underlying vision behind Ono.
“Ono is run democratically, and lets content creators retain ownership over their content and get rewarded,” Ke said.
It’s been a long journey for the young Ke, who began to play poker at an early age that according to her, helped develop her abilities in probability and risk assessment. Her subsequent foray into Bitcoin introduced her to the philosophy of decentralization via blockchain.
Even after returning to China, Ke continued to channel her poker earnings into Bitcoin. In 2014, she cashed out 20,000 Bitcoins for $4.8 Million!
Ono is not Nome Lab’s first product. In 2014, Ke led her team to develop a social app ‘Era’ that was based on cognitive surplus value. The app registered over 10 Million users in the first week of going online. Ten days later, it entered the social ranking list of the App Store. With its monthly trading volume crossing 8 Million, Era charted a phenomenal success in China. ‘Cryptodogs’, a blockchain game was also the brainchild of Ke and her team.
Currently Ono is funded by the $16 Million Nome Lab raised from investors like Korea Investment Partners and China Growth Capital. The app will also run ads and partnerships with brands in near future.
In March 2018, Ke announced that Ono is ready to provide computing and bandwidth support for global network users and will be formally participating in the bid for EOS 21 global super nodes. Even CEO of EOS, Brendan Blumerkan, unreservedly praised Ono.
The young entrepreneur has many more big plans up her sleeves. She aims to take Ono to the top in terms of social networking. While that may sound challenging, Ke remains unfazed and can be counted on bringing new blockchain technology innovations to the fore in the future.