Business

BitTorrent accelerator fights off piracy reputation with innovation

With a new accelerator program, BitTorrent is taking control of its story.

Applications opened today for the BitTorrent Acceleration Program as part of its “ongoing quest” to find new and innovative ways to apply the BitTorrent protocol. The program will give relevant startups the opportunity to test and promote their products on the BitTorrent ecosystem and explore partnership opportunities.

BitTorrent is a web protocol that was first invented in 2001 to improve the way large amounts of data move across the internet. The company now has over 100 people and 170 million users around the world, and is responsible for 3.35 percent of all worldwide bandwidth, and more than half of the total bandwidth dedicated to file sharing.

One of the major applications for BitTorrent’s technology is transferring media content, and as a result BitTorrent is often associated with illegal file-sharing. However Christian Averill, the head of communications, told VentureBeat in an interview that BitTorrent is trying to change this perception by raising awareness about other applications of the technology.

“Our technology is often exploited for piracy but this is not something we promote or encourage,” he said. “There are much broader applications for the technology and over the past year, we have been trying to fix these misconceptions and specifically creating a set of tools that content creators can harness for their own benefit. This accelerator will help us stay on the course of product development and discovering new ways the technology can be applied.”

Unlike other programs that provide seed funding and coworking space, BitTorrent will offer startups the resources at its disposal. Companies working on content discovery, content consumption, file sharing, live streaming, and peer-to-peer technologies are eligible. Those chosen will have their products exposed to 170 million active users who can provide initial traction as well as feedback. Participants will also get in front of potential investors and strategic partners, and will have the opportunity to work with BitTorrent’s team of engineers, designers, and user experience specialists to hone their products.

“We have been focusing on building products that can help our users access good media and move large amounts of data,” said Farid Fadaie, BitTorrent’s Director of Product Development. “We are looking for companies aligned with that vision, that will resonate with our ecosystem and provide a service to BitTorrent users. It is a crowded space and we are an excellent resource for smaller companies trying to solve the same problems.”

Averill said BitTorrent has a slew of products in development right now, and in recent months, the company launched BitTorrent Sync, a Dropbox competitor; BitTorrent Surf, a web extension that helps with content discovery; and SoShare, a free delivery service for large files. The acceleration program will keep innovation moving and hopefully push the boundaries of what the technology can do.

As Averill put it, “We want to help solve problems, instead of being viewed as a problem.” The program has no definitive timeline and no set number of companies. Any entrepreneurs who are interested can apply here.

Photo Credit: BitTorrent


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