Tech experts meet in Cheyenne to replace the internet

Cyber experts flocked to Cheyenne for a conference centering around one thing: urbit.
Cyber experts flocked to Cheyenne for a conference centering around one thing: urbit.(Matt Entrekin)
Published: Aug. 25, 2023 at 10:10 AM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - Last week, tech experts across the globe rallied in Cheyenne for the pursuit of one goal: replacing the internet.

Informatics, cyber and crypto experts from as far as the Netherlands and Canada flocked to downtown Cheyenne’s Colony Building for “Reassembly 2023: an (unofficial) urbit conference.”

The conference centered around something called urbit.

Urbit is an operating system and peer-to-peer network built to act as an alternative to the traditional internet network to which most of the world is accustomed. It runs on almost any cloud server, most laptops and many phones.

“Designed to be completely owned by its users, urbit reimagines the internet as staying true to its original roots: open-source, peer-to-peer and out of the control of mega corporations,” Logan Smith, head of marketing at a blockchain technology company called Tacen, said.

The method by which this is accomplished is a complex one, but the tip of the iceberg is individual control.

“In an urbit world, each person has their own urbit OS node, or ‘urbit’. Your urbit is secure and private to you and entirely under your control. When you want to connect with others, you connect to their urbit directly — rather than going through a centralized service,” this according to

Urbit began in 2002 by just a few people “as an open-ended personal project.” In 2013, the project continued to grow when Tlon became the first private company founded solely to develop Urbit. Eight years later, a nonprofit called The Urbit Foundation would branch off from Tlon and now pioneers most of the construction of urbit today.

But it’s certainly far from a one-man show. Today, there’s a cornucopia of organizations contributing to the cause, but even then, it’s still a project that anyone can work on.

Perhaps the greatest obstacle to urbit’s success? Making money.

“The biggest challenge is monetization because we’re returning control to individual users. How do you make money on that?” Jack Fox, longtime veteran software engineer, said. “In order to fund the investment, to achieve this next state of digital sovereignty for individuals, it requires capital.”

The conference was organized and hosted by Tacen who, despite employing tech experts across the globe, has a large workforce in Cheyenne. Though they focus on blockchain technology, they’re also a company who believes in the future of urbit.

“The Internet, as it currently exists, is not working as it should. With high amounts of surveillance, restrictions and bad actors, the internet that you’re using right now is not the internet that we were promised years ago. Urbit offers an alternative: a network that you control,” Smith said.

Parallel to Tacen’s hope in urbit, is their hope in Cheyenne. More specifically, their aspiration to see the Cowboy State’s capital city evolve into a technology hub.

Jae Yang, founder and CEO of Tacen, said he wants to retain and attract as much tech talent as possible to Cheyenne in the hopes of growing the city into a place akin to Silicon Valley, but without the problems of Silicon Valley.

But perhaps urbit’s success relies most on what’s demanded from the public. Fox, along with many others at the conference, encouraged everyone to redefine what they want their online experience to be.

“Give some thought to what your digital life is like currently. You’re not a product of big companies,” Fox said.

Learn more about Tacen here and take a deeper dive into urbit and its history here.