Bitcoin – an innovative digital currency -- has been receiving lots of media attention lately. Last week its mysterious founder was allegedly tracked down by a Newsweek journalist. The popular exchange site Mt. Gox crumpled after millions of dollars worth of Bitcoin went missing. Overstock.com and other popular companies have started to do business in the new currency, and Bitcoin ATMs are beginning to sprout up all over. Even Dogecoin – a joke currency based on Bitcoin inspired by a popular internet meme – has garnered a sizeable following. But one new Bitcoin alternative aims to gain a foothold in this new market by catering to a niche audience – namely, the digital broadcasting community.
The aptly named Podcoin is geared toward podcasters, video bloggers, YouTube shows, and their fans. Like Bitcoin, it utilizes cryptography, computer hardware processing power, and a dedicated peer-to-peer network that lets its users send funds to each other securely and anonymously. According to the website podcoin.org, Podcoin was inspired by prominent podcaster and TV personality Adam Carolla, whose program The Adam Carolla Show boasts the world record of #1 downloaded podcast. He and popular podcast series HowStuffWorks were recently sued by licensing firm Personal Audio on grounds of patent infringement. Carolla has had some success raising money for his legal defense fund via crowdfunding site FundAnything, but the future of podcasting is still up in the air at this point. Carolla has chosen to fight what he calls the patent trolls, but Apple and other companies that have been sued by Personal Audio have relented and made large payouts. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has filed a challenge to the patent, claiming it to be not specific enough and open to varied interpretation.
So where does Podcoin fit in? The homepage for Podcoin boasts a payment address that purports to be for donations to Adam Carolla’s legal defense fund. Brian Schmidt, co-creator of Podcoin, says that he has reached out to Carolla. “I emailed with Adam’s PR contact, and he is interested in having me convert the Podcoin fund to U.S. dollars once Podcoin has reached a $1 value, then I can just cut him a check.” Carolla has not spoken about Podcoin publicly, and he was not immediately available to comment.
Schmidt, who was interviewed by Adam Carolla aficionado “Superfan” Giovanni Giorgio on the podcast review show Podgodz, confirms that he does have a personal stake in Podcoin’s success but that he is not seeking official endorsement. “I’m just a big podcast fan and wanted to get involved somehow. It would be great if people thought it was a cool idea and started using Podcoin. But, like Bitcoin, Podcoin is just an open-source project with an uncertain future, so we’ll see.”
Adam Carolla along with fellow podcaster Marc Maron and radio personalities Kevin & Bean have a fundraiser show planned for March 27th in Redondo Beach, CA, which will also feature a performance by acclaimed musician Andy Summers’ new band Circa Zero. “I will be in attendance,” Schmidt notes, “so it might be a nice opportunity to talk to other podcast fans and tell them about Podcoin.”