Rakugo Token Sale: a publishing platform and copyright management system - Smith + Crown

Rakugo Token Sale: a publishing platform and copyright management system

Rakugo will be a digital publishing platform similar to Medium. Unlike Medium, a main goal of the Rakugo platform will be to help publishers monetize their content with the help of blockchain technology and more traditional means like advertising through google adwords.

Rakugo is raising funds to develop their platform through the sale of the Rakugo Seed Token, a profit sharing token that entitles its holder to certain rights outlined in more detail below. The Rakugo Seed Token is a self-acknowledged security that doesn’t play any role on the Rakugo platform outside of profit distribution. As a result, the Rakugo token sale is barred to U.S. investors.

Project Description

Rakugo will be a digital publishing platform similar to Medium. Unlike Medium, a main goal of the Rakugo platform will be to help publishers monetize their content with the help of blockchain technology and more traditional means like advertising through google adwords. Ultimately, the Rakugo team wants to develop a publishing platform that will solve three pain points felt by digital publishers.

  • Copyright management: currently, centralized publishing brands such as Huffington Post and Buzzfeed generally retain ownership over content created by their contributors. Even content creators who own the copyrights to their work are at risk of losing control over their intellectual property through plagiarism. With a few simple keystrokes, digital content can be duplicated and distributed across the web. Rakugo’s copyright management system will enable publishers to tokenize their work and issue content as a provably rare digital asset.
  • Monetization: Digital publishers have few options when it comes to how they monetize their intellectual property. Rakugo will allow users to back their content up with a tokenized digital asset as well as earn revenue through centralized advertising services.
  • High cost of editing and marketing: Digital publishers such as Huffington Post employ hundreds of salaried editors and marketers to optimize the quality of their content and the number of potential viewers. Conversely, freelance writers typically don’t benefit from the support of trained editors and marketers at all. Rakugo wants to develop an artificial intelligence that will make recommendations to readers and writers alike.

Kenzo: creating provably rare digital assets

All content published on Rakugo will pass through an assetization engine called Kenzo.  Kenzo essentially functions as a user friendly Solidity compiler that issues custom smart contracts for managing the ownership and distribution of digital content. Copyright information is inscribed on an ERC20 token called Namespace. The Namespace token functions as a digital copyright certificate and a proof of ownership that is notarized on the Ethereum blockchain.

Namespace can also be used to issue provably rare digital assets. When they publish their work, content creators will be able to decide how many official copies of their work to create. Each copy is backed by a cryptographic token certifying its status as an original work. While blockchain technology will not eliminate piracy and plagiarism altogether, tokenizing digital assets in this way has several notable advantages. First, while content can be copied and distributed without permission, the underlying cryptographic asset cannot. This will make identifying fakes as easy as querying the blockchain. Second, smart contracts give content creators greater control over how their content is distributed. At issuance, the publisher will be able to use Kenzo to limit the number of copies made and the conditions under which it can be copied or exchanged.

Shogun: a content curator powered by artificial intelligence

Shogun tracks and analyzes trending topics across different data streams, including content published inside and outside of the Rakugo network. Shogun will be used to curate content in a number of ways.

  • Curated content streams: Shogun will make recommendations to readers based on their behaviors and preferences.
  • SEO Optimization: Shogun will suggest that writers integrate trending keywords into their content based on sentiment analysis of topics related to the work in question.
  • Content Suggestions: As Shogun becomes more sophisticated, it will be able to help publishers craft language that is “sticky” and more likely to be picked up by other data streams.
  • Copy editing: Shogun will make suggestions to fix grammatical and syntactical errors.

Shogun will be proprietary technology and as such, not necessarily limited to use in Rakugo. Certain microservices that develop out of the project could be made open source sometime in the future.


The Rakugo platform utilizes existing monetization models and new blockchain models that will enable content creators to earn revenue from their work in a number of different ways.

Non-blockchain Monetization Models

Revenue Stream Description Fee Distribution
Ad-revenue Users earn revenue for the traffic they attract to the ads displayed on their content pages. Rakugo plans to use centralized ad placement services like Google adwords. 50% of ad revenue is distributed to the Rakugo platform and 20% is distributed to Rakugo Token holders. The remaining 30% is issued to holders of that content’s Namespace token
Subscriptions Users place content behind a paywall. Payments can be made in fiat, BTC, ETH or Rakugo Tokens. Rakugo takes a small fee for processing transactions

Blockchain enabled Monetization Models

Revenue Stream Description Fee Distribution
Social tipping Users can make donations or micropayments in BTC, ETH and Rakugo Tokens Rakugo takes a small fee for processing transactions
Tokenized Royalties Users can issue a tokenized asset that represents a right to royalties and revenue earned by their content. This allows content creators to sell partial ownership of their content to others, or to share revenues with collaborators. Rakugo takes a small fee for processing transactions
Direct sales Users can sell limited editions of their content in the form of a tokenized asset. Rakugo takes a small fee for processing transactions
Crowdfunding Users can raise funds for their creative projects through a crowdfunding platform Rakugo collects a 5% fee on funds collected in successful crowdsales.

Rakugo will also sell premium hosting services to publishers. For a monthly subscription fee, publishers can create custom branded websites on the Rakugo platform.

What is the token being sold?

The object of the Rakugo token sale is the Rakugo Seed Token (RKT). The Rakugo seed token does not play any role on the network outside of profit sharing and as a privileged means of payment in the Rakugo marketplace. Transactions that are completed using RKST will not be subject to fees. The Rakugo platform will also accept payment in ETH, BTC and fiat. The Rakugo Seed Token entitles its holder to three rights.

  • 20 percent of top-line revenue earned by the Rakugo network will be distributed to seed token holders on a quarterly basis. This includes any future revenue generated through new streams and by intellectual property owned by Rakugo, such as Shogun.  Distributions to token holders will be paid out in ETH.
  • RKT is convertible to a token that represents ownership of Rakugo stocks, if one is issued in the future.
  • RKT entitle their holder to a discount on purchasing further profit-sharing tokens if one is issued in the future.

What is the project status?

So far, no code related to the Rakugo project has been made publicly available. According to the team, an early proof of concept version of the Kenzo assetization engine is completed. The Shogun AI is entering a training phase in which it will be fed data streams and tested. A public Alpha of the Rakugo Publishing platform will be released at the end of 2017.

The Rakugo team is currently engaged in building a database of potential content contributors who are currently working as active publishing professionals and authors.

The Rakugo whitepaper contains a detailed three year roadmap that includes hiring plans, a product release schedule, and metric based milestones.

Challenges and Competition

Rakugo is building a hybrid publishing platform that uses both centralized and blockchain based technologies. They have specifically not attempted to build a decentralized system that harnesses the power of the attention economy (like Synereo or Brave Browser) or of user generated feedback (like Steem). Instead, they are providing a set of features that will be more familiar to a mainstream audience. Blockchain technology is integrated in the form of the Kenzo assetization engine and as a payment processor for supported cryptocurrencies.

Already, there are small but active economies developing around provably rare digital assets. One notable example that is already online is RarePepe, a marketplace for limited edition digital art centered around the now infamous iconography of Pepe the frog. Another example of a marketplace for rare digital art, is MemeFactory which will be one of the first districts launched on district0x.

One possible weakness of the Rakugo network is that monetization of digital content through tokenized assets may be better suited to music, visual art, and long form content than it is to Medium style blogs. It is easier to imagine consumers purchasing visual art, books, and music using rare tokenized assets than it is to imagine them purchasing individual blog posts. This is one reason why the Akasha model of earning revenue through social tipping and micropayments has been so attractive to publishers in the blockchain industry: it allows writers to monetize their work without putting content behind a paywall or relying on ads. Steem.it’s model of compensating contributors via inflation also allows people to create, consume, and curate content without paying.

While Kenzo would allow publishers more options for how to monetize their content, the underlying smart contract technology that makes it possible is easily replicated. Decentralized Ethereum-based competitors such as Akasha and Synereo could integrate decentralized marketplaces for digital content into their networks using open source smart contract stacks like those developed for district0x. Likewise, large content networks like Facebook, Soundcloud and WordPress could develop blockchain based marketplaces for digital content.

In the future, it is likely that publishers will have many options to monetize and distribute their work to potential viewers.  Many features of the Rakugo network, including crowdfunding, ad placement, and hosting services will be readily available elsewhere. As a result, the success of the Rakugo network depends largely on their ability to deliver a comprehensive set of publishing and monetization services to content creators. One way they could do this is by offering a set of blockchain and traditional publishing services that aren’t available all in one account anywhere else (for now…). Shogun could also attract users, if it proves to be an essential service that provides significant value to publishers.

Who is the team behind the project?

The Rakugo team is fully transparent about their identities and has a strong mix of business experience and technical expertise. They have an in-house development team with experience in machine learning and distributed systems.

Rakugo is founded by Brendan Playford and Wyatt Meldman-Floch. Brendan is an entrepreneur who founded three companies between 2009 and 2013. His first company B & R Playford Ltd was merged with another company in 2014. He sold his second company, Crush Foods Ltd to investors in 2015. His third company was a bitcoin mining firm that launched in 2013 before eventually ceasing operations in 2015. Most recently, Brendan has worked as an Account Director and Head of Demand Generation for two San Francisco based technology firms.

Wyatt is a machine learning and system architecture engineer with a B.S. degree in physics from The College of William and Mary. In the summer of 2011, Wyatt interned at the SETI Institute. From 2014 to 2016, he worked as a data engineer at Radius Intelligence where he helped develop predictive artificial intelligence models similar to the proposed Shogun.

Project Details

Incorporation status Plan to register soon
Team openness Fully transparent
Blockchain Developer Wyatt Meldman-Flock
Technical White Paper Yes
Available Project Code Not available
Prototype Not available

Token Details

Role of token Profit sharing rights
Token supply 40 million
Distributed in ICO 24 million
Emission rate No new coins created
Blockchain Ethereum
Consensus method Proof of Work

ICO Details

Sale period August 19th, 2017 to September 19th, 2017
First price proportional to participation
Accepted currencies BTC and ETH
Investment Round First public offering
Token distribution date September 30th, 2017
Min investment goal 2,000 ETH
Max investment cap 20,000 ETH
How are funds held Smart contract
Minimal Viable Product Q1 2018
Bonus schedule volume based Presale bonus in effect August 5th to August 19th

Official Resources