Ripple announced Thursday that it is giving its former CTO more than $260 million to change the way content is paid for on the Web. Ripple’s Xpring initiative to invest in companies building the XRP cryptocurrency ecosystem gave a 1 billion XRP grant to Coil, a micropayments company founded by former Ripple CTO Stefan Thomas.
Coil’s goal is to disrupt the advertising and individual site subscription model currently used by virtually all content sites to generate revenue. It will do this by supporting another project Thomas helped create, Interledger Protocol, which allows people to send money across different payment networks, and its Web Monetization micropayment platform.
“Creators want more choice and control over how their content is monetized and distributed,” said Thomas, who is also co-creator of Interledger, in a press release. “Web Monetization provides a solution that is more fair, open, and inclusive for creators and fans around the globe. This initiative will help us level the playing field for creators by providing a better way to support content across the web.”
Coil launched a publishing platform in May that allows anyone to post content, accessible for a $5 monthly subscription. Content creators can also use a simple tag to connect their own websites to Coil’s micropayment system.
Coil’s goal is to help content companies struggling to pay contributors without having to sell their readers’ eyeballs “to the highest bidders who rarely have our interests in mind,” Thomas wrote in a Medium post in May.
Pointing to problems ranging from ads slowing browsers to recent concerns about foreign powers using them to influence U.S. elections, Thomas cited Apple CEO “Tim Cook’s prescient observation about ‘free’ services: ‘You’re not the customer, you’re the product.’”
With Coil, creators are streamed XRP in real time as subscribers view their content, and can select payment in U.S. dollars or XRP, with other currencies expected to become available as Interledger grows. There is no cost to creators to use Coil.
“The low cost and fast transactions of XRP makes it an ideal tool for Coil to offer an alternative monetization method and have a positive impact on creators,” said Ethan Beard, senior vice president of Xpring. Xpring already invested in Coil’s $4 million seed round fundraising.
Coil will use Xpring’s billion XRP “to build an ecosystem of creators, developers, companies and nonprofits,” that use XRP via Web Monetization, according to the release. It will also use the investment to raise awareness of its own platform.
Earlier this year, Coil invested in Imgur, a leading image-sharing site, and Cinnamon, a video streaming service.