How Storj Founder Shawn Wilkinson Is Helping Decentralize The Web

Written by Ann Brown

Shawn Wilkinson, the creator of open-source cloud storage platform Storj, isn’t just about disrupting the data storage sector.

He wants a total overhaul. His platform, unlike others out there, can’t be censored, monitored, and on top of this, there is no downtime.

His is the first decentralized, end-to-end encrypted cloud storage that uses blockchain technology and cryptography to secure data, Breaker magazine reported. If all goes his way, Wilkinson could introduce decentralized cloud storage to the world.

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In the process, Storj could knock Amazon’s S3 cloud storage from the top. And it might do it with its newly-released public alpha version of the new platform, Version 3.0, available through the Storj GitHub. There’s a white paper describing the design choices used in building the components.

“It’s Airbnb for your disk drive, where you can rent out extra hard-drive space and get paid for it.” — Shawn Wilkinson, creator of open-source cloud storage platform Storj, describing his newest version.

“The best way to explain things is often by analogy, so we say it’s Airbnb for your disk drive, where you can rent out extra hard drive space and get paid for it,” Wilkinson said in a Breaker magazine interview. “People seem to get that pretty easily. Then we transition to say that we’re mainly focused on cloud storage for applications because the developers are the ones who really make the choices about cloud storage for us. For years and years, something like Dropbox stored all its data on Amazon S3. Applications we know and love are mostly using platforms like S3 to store our data. That’s why we focus on being a new platform for those applications.”

According to Wilkinson, his product fits the needs of people looking for more security in their data storage.

“You’re right that a lot of the root concerns of blockchain and cryptocurrency, the roots that Storj came from, are ideological. ‘We want more privacy, we want more security, we want control over our data and we don’t want governments and companies looking through it.’ One of the things we really try to focus on is, how can we put that into practice? How can we build a product that will respect the privacy and security of our users, but it doesn’t take 31 steps to get there. It has a good user experience,” he said.

Storj stands out from other data storage platforms, Wilkinson added. Security is the No. 1 difference. “We want people to have privacy and control over their data, and we’re storing data on multiple untrusted drives all over the world. So it’s a simple decision to encrypt the data client-side and only give users the keys. We have to do it that way, and it provides a huge benefit for security.”

The product will benefit many, from businesses to the average person, Wilkinson predicted.

“I think when you’re building something disruptive, it doesn’t move the needle to be more ideologically pure. If that was the case, Uber wouldn’t be around, and Lyft would be the biggest ride-sharing company. But that does bring in interest: There are data breaches at large companies, or an Amazon S3 outage that takes out a quarter of the internet, and people take notice,” he pointed out. “What you really need to sell people on is having tangible benefits versus centralized counterparts. You start with something like, ‘It’s more private and secure,’ and people go ‘OK, that’s interesting.’ And then you drop into, ‘Oh, and it’s half the cost,’ and then of course it’s even more interesting to them.”


About Ann Brown

Ann Brown has been a freelance writer for more than two decades. Her work has appeared in CocoaFab, Black Enterprise, Essence,, New York Trend, Upscale, Moguldom, AFKInsider, The Network Journal, Playboy, Africa Strictly Business, For Harriet, Pathfinders, Black Meetings & Tourism, Frequent Flier, Girl, Honey, Source Sports, The Source, Black Radio Exclusive, and Launch. She studied journalism at New York University and has her B.A. Born in New York, Ann lived in Praia, Cabo Verde, for nearly a decade. She created “An American In Cabo Verde,” a Facebook community.