Alumni Startup Seeks to Decentralize Digital Services through Blockchain

By Karen Guzman

Blockchain technology could open the door to decentralized versions of online services like messaging, phone calls, and video, and Yang (Noah) Wang ’16 says he’s doing all he can to make it happen.

Such services generally run through a central server, like the ones belonging to Apple and Google. Wang’s startup, TOP Network, is developing a public blockchain and what the company calls the world’s first blockchain-based cloud communication network.

The company has raised more than $11 million privately. On March 26, the company was listed on the cryptocurrency exchange Huobi, the first company in the exchange’s Huobi Prime listing.

“We really want to enable real-world business on blockchain and make the digital experience less expensive and more efficient for everyone,” says Wang. Wang co-founded the Silicon Valley-based tech firm, working with engineer and entrepreneur Steve Wei, who now serves as CEO. Wang serves as CFO and CMO.

The company’s long-term mission is to build a public blockchain infrastructure that can be used to secure any decentralized service.

“To build the best communications app in the world, we decided to use decentralized technology to build our own public blockchain,” Wang says. “We brought together my business skills and Steve’s tech background.”

The company, which is planning to launch its main network in June, already has 60 million users, composed of the combined user base of three existing services: Dingtone, CoverMe, and SkyVPN. The company has 130 employees in China and California.

Wang came to Yale SOM with a background in finance and accounting, but he became interested in starting a company while he was taking leadership and entrepreneurship courses. “I learned so much from being around the startup culture at SOM,” Wang says.

Attending Yale had been Wang’s dream since childhood. “I wanted to really diversify my learning, and SOM is so embedded in the whole university,” allowing students to take courses across disciplines. Wang took elective courses at the law and drama schools, as well as Yale College.

But it was his exposure to the world of tech startups and venture capital that made the most impact. Events featuring the high-profile speakers whom Yale SOM brings to campus, including Carmax founder Austin Ligon ’80, Hillhouse Capital Management founder and CEO Lei Zhang ’02, and former GE chairman and CEO Jack Welch—Wang’s longtime “idol”—were all “amazing opportunities,” Wang says.

“SOM delivered what it promises to students: great exposure and learning from people who are true leaders in their fields.”