Transitioning from Grantee to Funder: Mask Network

A big thank you to Jane Cho and Afra Wang from Mask Network who both contributed to crafting this piece. 

The power of community funding and open source helped Mask Network bring their project to life. Over the past three years, Mask has exponentially grown because of the reciprocated support from the Gitcoin community. Their massive growth and professional networks have transitioned them from grantee to one of Gitcoin’s biggest grant funders.

Mask Network is a free, open-source software (browser extension and mobile app) that aims to bridge web 2.0 users to web 3.0 through social media integrations, user data ownership, encrypted messaging, and more.

Beginning their journey with Gitcoin

Founders and blockchain enthusiasts Suji Yan and Yisi Liu introduced Mask Network (previously named Maskbook) to the public in 2019. They posted their first bounty in 2020 and have continuously posted bounties, aiming to bring fascinating features to the extension. 

In 2020, Mask joined the Gitcoin platform to host their first grant, The Portal to the New, Open Internet. The grant raised $19,000 through grant rounds and community support. But they didn't stop there.

Mask illustrated the true meaning of public goods through their Mask + Test Kit Mutual Aid Fund during Gitcoin's GR5. Their grant received an estimated lifetime funding of $19,000. The funds helped with purchasing masks and covid test kits to ship to countries and regions in need. To show their appreciation, Mask airdropped their native token $MASK to funders in February 2021. 

Suji and Yisi had a vision that included more than just themselves. Their selflessness is reflected in their work and project as they are now Gitcoin grant round funders.

Founders can be Givers 

Suji was a former journalist who left college in 2017 to create Mask. From the beginning, Suji did not want to separate the project from web2 audiences: “Unlike the others, we don’t want the user to migrate. I think it’s super hard and even impossible for a user to migrate, especially when you think about the billions of users on Facebook and Twitter. So, I think the best way is to add a layer on top of the build between web2 and web3,” Suji said. 

Over the past three years, Mask has continued to progress the accessibility of web2 users with web3 apps and products. During GR6 (June 2020), Mask and Gitcoin partnered on an added feature that lets users support Gitcoin grants on Twitter. Since then, they have been a consistent sponsor for every grant round. Yisi has donated over $29,000 USD, making them one of the top donors in the Gitcoin community. 

With a strong belief in the potential of open-source technology and decentralized networks, the team at Mask has dedicated themselves to supporting and funding innovative projects on the Gitcoin platform.

ETHShanghai Hackathon

In May 2022, Mask and Gitcoin co-hosted the ETH Shanghai hackathon, which helped to enlarge the impact of web3 social. The event brought more than 1,000 attendees and hackers together. The summit was a prominent event in the Ethereum community, bringing together developers, researchers, and industry experts to discuss the latest developments and challenges in the web3 ecosystem. 

The collaboration between Mask and Gitcoin allowed for greater participation and discussion about web3 social and its potential to reshape the internet. This partnership also helped promote privacy and control for users on the Ethereum network. Many innovative new projects emerged from the ETH Shanghai Hackathon.  

Yisi said, “In the coming year, we are excited to lend our support to more small projects and individuals through Gitcoin grants, Mask’s eco fund, and donations. We are also going to support more hackathons throughout the year and host the second ETH Shanghai, as well as ‘Web3 Social Houses’ around the world.”

What’s next for Mask Network?

The Mask team has developed Next.ID, a next-generation DID service that connects users’ social media identities. By the end of 2022, the team will be backing the launch of a cross-DID social mobile app “Firefly.” The social mobile app will use the DID service, Next.ID providing and incorporating many major innovations.

Yisi believes the future is bright for Mask and their community, “We look forward to keep partnering with Gitcoin and other organizations that share our values and vision, and to [support] even more projects that are making a big impact in their communities.”

To keep up with everything about Mask Network, follow them on Twitter and Medium.