“We’re definitely a principled company and we’re doing something with a strong belief behind it. Right now, anything we put on the internet, Google owns it, Facebook owns it, Apple owns it, someone owns it. We’re a company for the people, in the sense that our goal is to give individuals control back of their digital life.”
I have something I need to admit: I’m a little bit selfish.
I know, I know, what a terrible person I must be, I’m basically the human equivalent of a squirrel hoarding acorns, just replace nuts with time and earthly possessions and you’ll arrive at Chris Rawle the human being. Somewhere in the midst of this bleak self-portrait, I have a secret desire: I want a personal cloud. No, not one of those whispy pillows of air we gaze at and imagine as otherworldly snapshots, I’m talking about the cloud, that vast electronic dreamscape where all of our data floats and is thumbed through by code-based titans called Google and Amazon and Dropbox. That is the cloud I want personalized, where I own it and live as the only omnipotent being, where I’m the thundering voice that blasts any potential intruders in a sonic boom of Gandalf-like fury, “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!”
As if sent from heaven, Daplie is here to indulge my selfish desires.
“We’re starting a movement to put the i back in internet, so you can control your own data,” said Brian Bourgerie, VP of Daplie.
When I’m home alone, wrapped in the silence of night and the glow of a neon screen, it’s easy to forget that I’m not actually alone. Like an unwanted guest, Google lurks over my shoulder, silently monitoring the clicks and scrolls of my internet behavior. For a select few, this excites their inner peeping Tom. For the vast majority, however, this is an unwanted intrusion that leaves us feeling soiled and vulnerable. But for the most part, we just haven’t had the option of turning around and saying, “Bad, Google, Bad!” until Google shuffles away cloaked in shame and self loathing. Instead, we’ve sat by while Google’s stinking breath tickles the lobes of our ears, jaws clenched as this solemn, greedy lurker pries into our digital lives. On top of all this, we agree to pay a monthly or yearly fee for the right to have our data intruded upon, essentially saying, “Google, thanks for going full peeping Tom on me, now what do I owe you again?” The remedy starts with the above slogan — putting the i back in internet.
Cofounded by AJ O’Neal and Bryson Hill, Daplie is building the first personal cloud, an in-home server that can be used by anyone and everyone. It acts in the exact same manner as any server, with one special caveat: you are the one who makes the rules. I know what your first worry is — isn’t this going to be impossible to set up, or at least require a PHD in computer nerd? Actually, it’s the exact opposite.
“One of the things that we’re doing that is so revolutionary is automation of all the technical stuff,” said Bourgerie. “When you buy our product, you plug it into your ethernet (modem, router, whatever you have), you plug it into the wall, and you’ll be prompted to choose a domain name that will be your access point to the server. Once you do that, within 30 seconds the automation that we built will set up a website URL, all the SSL encryption, DNS, tunneling, firewalls, all the stuff that most people don’t understand and you need an IT person to handle, it sets up almost instantly. It’s hands-off, it’s a consumer usable product.”
At the risk of sounding like an 80-year-old curmudgeon, I have a request — can every company selling super technical hardware please adopt this plug-and-play mindset? There’s something strangely exhilarating that comes from plugging a unit into the wall and watching magic unfold, sparked behind the scenes by all sorts of electrical wiring and code. Daplie follows this path to functionality and once you’ve arrived, anything is possible.
“From there, we have an app store where all sorts of different applications can be used and installed to manage your data, all safely and securely from your own server,” said Bourgerie. “You can create your own social network, broadcast your own radio station, host your own email, things like that. It’s really simple in setup, but the things you can do with a server are endless.”
If these functions sound simple, that’s kind of the point. Daplie is laying the groundwork for the complexities of expansion by starting small, and building up. They’ve already begun working on developer kits that will exponentiate the options when it comes to Daplie’s capabilities, allowing users to build their own apps and tie into the Internet of Things.
“Security cameras, smart locks, smart toaster, whatever, that’s all data and a lot of it is personal, you don’t want just anybody to see or hack into a security camera in your living room,” said Bourgerie. “Having your own server contains all of that within your own control.”
If storage is your concern, fear not. Those who have existing external hard drives will have no problem connecting through the USB port in back of Daplie’s hardware. Daplie also sells storage units that can be neatly stacked and connected on top of the server, expanding storage capacity to over 8 terabytes. Rather than renting storage, you pay a one-time fee and own it for life.
According to Bourgerie, Daplie is a company for the people and because of this, they also want to be a company by the people. This means one thing: crowdfunding.
“There’s people who want to invest and there’s people who want to buy,” said Bourgerie. “Many want to do both and we want to have those options for both people.”
Both of these options are now on the table, thanks to two simultaneously launched crowdfunding campaigns. The first is an equity crowdfunding campaign, where anyone who wants to invest in Daplie can do so for as little as $100. That is supplemented by an Indiegogo campaign, where anyone can buy Daplie’s hardware for a reduced cost. If you think it’s somewhat unusual to see both campaigns running at the same time, you are correct — Bourgerie says Daplie is the first company to offer both options simultaneously.
“We’re definitely a principled company and we’re doing something with a strong belief behind it,” said Bourgerie. “Right now, anything we put on the internet, Google owns it, Facebook owns it, Apple owns it, someone owns it. We’re a company for the people, in the sense that our goal is to give individuals control back of their digital life.”
Daplie is being built on the belief that everyone should have the option of controlling their digital life. This is a very logical idea, though executing it is easier said than done. By creating the world’s first personal cloud this dream begins shifting into reality, where it’s easy to envision a world untouched by Google’s long, sinewy arm — “It’s a place that you own and don’t have to rent. A place to call home for your digital life.”