Alexandru Florea extends a hand. ALEXANDRU FLOREA
Alexandru Iulian Florea didn't start to become a multimillionaire. At the age of 26, with his family unhappy with him for leaving university, Florea was given the option of moving out or getting a job to start paying for family expenses. He chose Door #3, starting a business that went on to become one of the larger peer-to-peer networks in the world, and from there to start others, including his most recent: Online.io, a peer-to-peer network built on top of blockchain with the intent of protecting online users' privacy.
1) You have created a string of successful online businesses at a remarkably young age. What got you started down that path, and how do you draw upon that when looking at new opportunities?
I think the only word that can answer this question is curiosity! When everybody told me that I should follow a certain road, I always asked myself "But what happens if I don't go that way and I take another road?" It's something that I was born with, and this drives me to this day to explore new opportunities, curiosity is fun!
2) Peer-to-peer networks have been around for a couple of decades now. What do you think has changed since the days of BitTorrent, and how has that influenced your decision-making?
It's all about taking things to another level, BitTorrent was the beginning, but today we can translate the basic concept of peer-to-peer to new sharing economy models.
This will open up unimaginable connections between people with common interests while offering real rewards and incentives to network participants.
3) Digging deeper into blockchain: How central is it to your business strategy, and how do you see it evolving in response to pressures globally?
We are slowly switching everything to the blockchain while building Online.io 100% on the blockchain, is the natural movement we see for the future of our business. I truly believe we will just participate in this smaller or bigger networks in the near future, based on our preferences and interests.
Blockchain-based projects are still in their early days, global pressure will only set things to go on the right path, by always adapting and creating the proper environment. Imagine the internet 25 years ago, this is where we are today in terms of blockchain.
4) What pain points are you attempting to solve with your services? Who is your audience and how are you meeting their particular needs?
We are purely focused on privacy and promoting freedom of speech in countries where censorship is imposed.
Our audience is every citizen of the internet that wants to protect his data and privacy.
Online.io is a private suite that offers anything from anti-tracking tools to a virtually unblockable residential VPN service.
5) Privacy plays a big part in your thinking. How do you see the role of privacy and secrecy changing over time, in business, in government, and for the average person?
Until now this has been a soft subject that was not in the attention of the day-to-day user. But following the disclosures and the recent scandals with the elections in the US and leave.EU referendum in the UK, this is a hot topic. People are now aware of what is happening to their data, and how important it is.
Businesses are under a constant threat for some time now to protect their data and trade secrets, the spending on privacy has skyrocketed; remember the Sony hack? That was a perfect example.
Governments are just in the middle of everything, but at the same time have a tendency to move slowly, they will have to adapt and understand how the internet and its users are changing.
Just remember, change is good!
6) What's on your horizon? What technologies are you most excited to see, what would you like to see, and, which technologies do you think will prove duds?
I'm obviously a big fan of blockchain, but I'm also excited about AI and its future implications. I think these two will change over the world, if I think about what the iPhone did for the whole internet, I just can't imagine what blockchain and AI will do for the way we interact with products, services and between us.
7) Any last thoughts to the readers of Forbes?
I would like to invite them to take a moment to look within themselves and just think about how important their privacy is. Would you walk naked down the street?
Kurt Cagle is Managing Editor for Cognitive World, and is a contributing writer for Forbes, focusing on future technologies, science, enterprise data management, and technology ethics. He also runs his own consulting company, Semantical LLC, specializing on Smart Data, and is the author off more than twenty books on web technologies, search and data. He lives in Issaquah, WA with his wife, Cognitive World Editor Anne Cagle, daughters and cat (Bright Eyes). Follow him on Twitter or LinkedIn.