In a hyper-digitalized world oversaturated with advertising, it’s hard for content creators to compete and flourish. You end up spending more time promoting yourself on social media than you do actually creating. The public’s attention span is short and grows ever shorter. 

This is where AC3 comes in. By bringing the so-called “earning economy” to the blockchain space, the viral marketing platform connects content creators and users in a mutually beneficial ecosystem that incentivizes users to promote the companies and creators they support. It also allows those without bank accounts or connections to financial institutions a chance to earn. “People can earn online as long as they have an internet connection,” says co-founder Steve McGarry. “They don’t need a bank account. They can just earn products and services by completing tasks.”

Things are starting to happen for the San Francisco-based startup. In December, the network joined ICON, completing a swap of its AC3 tokens on its own network for AC3 tokens on ICON’s network. 

Connecting advertisers with users

Blockchain believer, content creator and social media personality Steve McGarry and finance veteran and long-time business partner John Fields co-founded AC3 – i.e., All Content Creator Currency – in 2015. It is their third project together. Also in 2015, their second project, the peer-to-peer lending service LendLayer, was acquired by lending startup Affirm, co-founded by PayPal co-founder Max Levchin. 

AC3 helps companies and content producers acquire their first 1,000 brand advocates. This isn’t purchasing Twitter or Instagram followers. The platform incentivizes users to go forth into the world and evangelize your brand. Users complete marketing assignments and purchase products directly from the companies they like.  

Demand for this sort of service was even more than what AC3’s founders expected. Prior to going live, McGarry spent several months using his own considerable social media clout promoting the platform. They ended up getting over 3,000 pre-registered earners as a result, a bit more than their homegrown network could handle. McGarry says, “That’s when we came to ICON and said, ‘Hey, with our current network, there’s no chance we’re going to be able support 3,000 people performing hundreds of tasks every hour.’”

AC3’s first advertisers include online education platforms, E-commerce businesses, SaaS companies and top content creators. As a content producer himself, McGarry knows many of the top content creators personally. “They are all very nice people and willing to give me feedback.”

Many of the advertisers are educators who give out monthly subscriptions to their platforms. McGarry believes educators are fundamental to the platform. The mission is that anyone, anywhere in the world without a bank account – they don’t need to have access to credit or any sort of financial institution – can earn an education,” he says. “That, to us, is powerful. And all by completing tasks for an advertiser. That’s never been attempted.” He adds, “I think education is special to us and that’s where we really want to start, by helping people earn an education.”

Secure, fast and personal

The AC3 team opted at first to build their own network, expending much time and effort in the endeavor. They were really excited about it, too, but they came to realize it was a lot of work to maintain a network that had grown out to over 9,000 full nodes. McGarry says, “It’s almost like building your own internet and then building your own website on top of it.” Network security was particularly stressful. “People are constantly trying to find holes in your code,” he says. “People are poking at you 24-7 if you have your own network.”

AC3 decided to go with a larger, more established network. And that network was ICON, a platform with whom AC3 was already well acquainted. The AC3 team was impressed with ICON’s security and speed, the latter a must when you’re handling micro-transactions that should be nearly instantaneous. McGarry says, “ICON is extremely secure and crazy fast.”

McGarry was especially impressed with ICON’s personal touch. He’d already established a relationship with ICX_Station manager Scott Smiley, whom he’d interviewed for his YouTube channel during San Francisco Blockchain Week. “I’ve really enjoyed working with their team because with a lot of these companies, there are forums for developers, but at the same time, you’re not really hearing from the people building the network,” he says. “You have to put in a support ticket and it feels like you’re a cog in the wheel. I feel like the space is too small to have that yet, so it was nice to have a face to ICON as well, that personal touch.”

Still, the effort that went into building their own network wasn’t wasted. McGarry appreciates the education it provided and the community it helped build. “You often blur the line between your community and your product,” he says. “I think without a community in this space, you’re really going to have a difficult time.”

Big things in 2019

McGarry says that this coming year will be a busy one for AC3. “2019 is going to be our biggest year yet,” he says. “We’ve have some exciting announcements coming right around the corner.”

He says we should expect a piece of news coming out about the project every week of the first quarter. “The bear market can often get people down, and I like being the person who is very positive and with long-term thinking,” he says. “That’s the kind of company people gravitate towards in bear markets.”

He adds, “People want hope for the future.”