The inside story of BitTorrent’s bizarre collapse

BitTorrent “was founded in 2004 by Bram Cohen, inventor of the open-source protocol that lent the startup its name, and Ashwin Navin. BitTorrent — the protocol — was a genius way to transmit large amounts of information over the net by breaking it into small chunks, sending it through a peer-to-peer network, and reassembling it,” Jessi Hempel writes for Backchannel. “BitTorrent — the company — got started on the assumption that Cohen was brilliant. He’d invented one of the web’s most fundamental tools, and surely there was a business to be made from it.”

“But from the start, BitTorrent had a branding problem — pirates used it to share movies illegally, making it the Napster of entertainment. Because the protocol was open-source, BitTorrent (the company) couldn’t stop the pirates,” Hempel writes. “For 12 years, BitTorrent’s investors, executives and founders attempted to figure out many money-making strategies, including both enterprise software and entertainment businesses… But transforming this technology into any kind of business has proved elusive.”

“It has remained a technology in search of a business for a dozen years,” Hempel writes. “Then last year, [a pair of cousins named Bob Delamar and Jeremy Johnson] arrived with plans to save it once and for all. Instead, they squandered millions on failed schemes, putting the company on course for collapse.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: BitTorrent’s still around? Most of us use the technology, but woe is the actual company.


  1. So I just downloaded BitTorrent Live and they require an email and password in order to access the content. This requirement is an absolute no-no when trying to use an obscure new app or service. So, I deleted the app.

  2. As soon as the image below appeared in the press, we knew BitTorrent was doomed to manipulation and destruction by our corporatocracy.

    It’s a picture of BitTorrent creator Bram Cohen with Dan Glickman who was, at the time, Chairman and CEO of the MPAA, Motion Picture Association of America. Note the Red Tie. This was clearly a shotgun wedding designed to kill BitTorrent and its perceived threat to the MPAA.

    Thank you Bram for incredible, innovative software that changed the world! Code on!

  3. Brilliantly put down. Not everything can be marketed as a product. Similar to the internet, BitTorrent is a revolutionary technology which cannot be monitised in its own but the company did try to build products and services based on which failed due to a number of reasons. But yet indeed, the technology was a gift to the internet community!

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