While Peet’s Coffee & Tea on State Street bustles with customers, things are much quieter next door at Los Altos Research Center.
The storefront is usually empty and easy to walk past without noticing. You have to ring a doorbell to gain entry, if you’re lucky enough to score an invite.
There are plenty of rumors about what’s going on inside, but no one seems to know for sure. It’s almost as if Los Altos has its own version of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, cloaked in mystery and an air of intrigue.
But local residents won’t have to wait much longer for their golden ticket: LARC is scheduled to open its doors to the public in November to finally unveil the Matrix, its new internet alternative.
“We’re launching here because we’re going to take over Los Altos,” said LARC’s John Lamb. “We’re going to take over the world.”
That level of ambition is par for the course for the startup, which founder Marty Kacin introduced with much fanfare at a Los Altos Golf & Country Club event in September 2016.
At the time, Kacin declared: “Silicon Valley is getting stale. It’s time for a revolution.”
Bold new vision
Over the past year, LARC employess have worked to position the Matrix to compete with and eventually replace the internet as we know it.
Lamb noted that the Matrix will “refresh, restart and renew” the current internet landscape.
“This will be a completely different entity. Dead-drop network architecture is brand new – it doesn’t exist anywhere else,” he said of the Matrix, which enables users to share large files quickly and securely.
Kacin created, developed and patented the Matrix.
“This is a safe, private, secure and trusted environment,” he said. “A brand-new, local – no, global – information grid.”
How does LARC expect the Matrix to deliver on the company’s ambitious promises?
By tracking personal information and selling it to advertisers, free online services are able to turn a profit. However, with Facebook ads falling under the influence of Russian groups and hacks like the Equifax breach exposing personal information and putting it in the hands of nefarious actors, LARC’s leaders believe there’s a market for a secure network that users would pay for themselves.
According to Kacin, full access to the Matrix will cost users $21 per year. The annual subscription would give them the right to consume and publish content in a secure environment.
“There’s no middleman – LARC couldn’t even touch your data,” he said. “That’s what’s new.”
Perhaps the biggest hurdle the Matrix will face is one that has tripped up so many other internet ventures: attracting new users. Google+ launched as a Facebook alternative but has stagnated due to a lack of users making the switch. A network is nothing without other people to network with, after all.
“You’re going to get on, and then all your friends are going to get on,” Lamb said of the Matrix. “It’s going to grow virally and organically – but initially very small.”
Los Altos Research Center is located at 359 State St. For more information, visit linkedin.com/company/larc-los-altos-research-center.