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About 15 months or so ago, I bought some SiaCoin using Bitcoin. At the time, it was about $140 worth. Today, thanks to Bitcoin’s rise, it would be worth about $1,000.

But I lost mine, thanks to Sia’s protocol, so I now have $0. But it’s not Sia’s fault. It’s mine. And I’m happy it happened.

Sia is a company that, like Storj, FileCoin, and MaidSafe, promises to help you monetize the extra storage space on your hard drive in return for tokens.

The way Sia works is as follows:

  1. You decide you want to lease out your hard drive
  2. You download a local file (Apple and Mac are generally available).
  3. You install it and set it up, telling the protocol how much you want to rent

Now, here’s where Sia differs (as far as I call tell) from its competitors. (Keep in mind, I am not saying that this is better or worse, I am just calling it out.)

Storj immediately starts paying you. FileCoin doesn’t have a product yet. But, with Sia, before you can participate in the network, you have to buy some SiaCoin, which is a signal that “you want to participate in the value creation and distribution of the network.”

You then “stake” part of your money to the network that basically signals your financial commitment to the project.

Then, you leave your computer on and files (which are encrypted and sharded) are placed on your hard drive from around the network.

Here’s the thing though.

Sia only works if the files are available when the end user requests them. At a simple level, if your file is on my computer but my computer is off, you cannot access your files. Imagine if Dropbox or Google Drive were never available. You’d quickly look for an alternative.

That’s what Sia wants to avoid, so they way it addresses that problem is by creating a financial mechanism that punishes you for having your computer offline.

I don’t know the technical term, but you may as well call it “programmatic burn.”

What this means is that, for every period of time X that your computer is not connected to the Sia network (and thereby making files available), you are punished by losing a portion of the stake you hold.

Stay offline entirely and you lose all your money.

That’s what happened to me.  I wasn’t connected to the Sia network for an extended period of time.

(In my minimal defense, Sia released at least two new versions of the software during my trial period and, each time, I had to set up a new wallet. This process wasn’t smooth, and it’s definitely possible that some funds were simply lost in that migration. I won’t bet any Sia on it — not that I have any — but that’s my instinct).

Mostly, though, it is my fault. I didn’t abide by the rules of the protocol, so I was punished for my behavior.

The net result is that, with reduced supply of Sia coin, the value of the other Sia coins go higher, assuming consistent demand, and even higher with increased demand.

Consistent demand comes from consistent availability of storage supply.  And the supply will increase because of the increased value of the token (SiaCoin).

What Sia did in building the protocol was create a system where I have an incentive to stay connected to its network.

If you really want a great read on the economics of decentralized protocols, look at Primoz Kordez’s piece on the topic. I found it very helpful.

So, while it is never fun to lose money, it’s easy to feel better about it when it comes in the form of a great education about an evolving type of business model. [Full disclosure: I have no relationship with Sia.]

Jeremy Epstein is CEO of Never Stop Marketing and author of The CMO Primer for the Blockchain World. He currently works with startups in the blockchain and decentralization space, including OpenBazaar, IOTA, and Zcash.

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