All posts by Thomas Prendergast

Facebook is still trying to figure out what teens are interested in

Facebook is still trying to figure out what teens are interested in

Facebook is restructuring its “youth team,” shutting down its new teen meme app LOL, and doubling down on Messenger Kids.

        

Facebook is still trying to figure out what kind of apps

young people want to use. Meme apps? Not so much. Messaging apps for elementary school kids? Yes, apparently so. At least, that’s what we’ve deduced from Facebook’s decision to restructure its “youth team,” the organization of more than 100 employees specifically tasked with building products and features for young people.

The team was alerted late last week that multiple projects — including a meme app called LOL aimed at high school kids — will be shuttered, and many members of Facebook’s youth team will instead start working on Messenger Kids, according to two sources. Messenger Kids is Facebook’s year-old messaging app for children who are under 13 and therefore too young to sign up for Facebook’s regular service. LOL never got much traction. Facebook described it a few weeks back as a “small scale test,” and TechCrunch reported that it only had around 100 beta users. Also going away: An early version of a high school communities feature that would let teens find and connect with classmates, a nod to Facebook’s earliest days when it was a directory for colleges and universities.

The company’s “youth team,” though, is not going away, according to a Facebook spokesperson. The plan is to cut down on a number of smaller projects that the group is testing and instead focus on stuff that Facebook believes is more successful. Messenger Kids, despite all kinds of privacy concerns from outside organizations, appears to fall into that category. “The youth team has restructured in order to match top business priorities, including increasing our investment in Messenger Kids,” a Facebook spokesperson confirmed in a statement sent to Recode.

It’s always interesting to understand how Facebook is targeting teens — a valuable demographic with advertisers and a group generally lauded for identifying “the next big thing.” (Facebook, you’ll remember, started with college students. So did Snapchat.) Many believe that Facebook has lost touch with teens — data shows that teenage users are leaving Facebook for other services — which is why the company has more than 100 employees focused on building products exclusively for that demographic.

Facebook even made headlines last week for paying some users, including teenagers, as much as $20 per month to use an app that collected data on how they used their smartphone. Facebook called it “market research.” That data collection actually violated an agreement Facebook had with Apple and led to a chaotic day at Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters after Apple blocked the special Facebook apps that are used by internal employees. The apps were restored less than 48 hours later. A Facebook spokesperson says the youth team restructuring is “unrelated” to the company’s “market research” project. Asked if the research app was a youth team project, the same spokesperson said, “No.”

Facebook’s youth team was created back in early 2016 and has seen a number of projects come and go since then. A Snapchat-style competitor called LifeStage, which was limited to teens, was a youth team project until it was pulled from the App Store in August 2017. Last July, Facebook also shut down TBH, another app for teens that let users anonymously answer questions about themselves and their friends. Facebook will continue to build other teen-focused products besides Messenger Kids, though it hasn’t yet shared those plans publicly. Other than Instagram, which it acquired, and Stories, which it copied from Snapchat, Facebook hasn’t had a breakout hit with teens since, well, Facebook.

Article Produced By
Kurt Wagner
Senior Editor, Social Media

Kurt Wagner has been a business and tech journalist since 2012 and was previously reporting for Mashable. He also covered general tech and Silicon Valley news in his first job as a tech reporter with Fortune magazine, based in San Francisco.
Originally from the Seattle area, Kurt graduated from Santa Clara University with a B.S. in communication and political science. He served as Editor-in-Chief of The Santa Clara, the university newspaper, for two years.

https://www.recode.net/2019/2/7/18215832/facebook-shutting-down-lol-restructure-messenger-kids

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The Best Leads are Inbound Leads

The Best Leads are Inbound Leads

 

 

If you are an entrepreneur, a business, a shoe store, an affiliate or referral promotor, musician, artist, attorney, teacher, waitress, anything that requires a buyer or consumer or subscriber to something you have or are selling or promoting, then you need a market. Within that market are customers and those customers are often referred to as “leads”.

Did I miss anyone or anything?

Makes no difference if you are selling used cars, an MLM hope and dreams scheme, government secrets, herbal teas, gasoline MPG pellets, organic peanuts, car washing service, baby setting, medical treatment, therapy or trips to mars (via Elon Musk), you need a stream of customers and before they become customers, they were leads.

For Sale or rent or DIY; your business depends on them.

 

Typical sources are friends, relatives and acquaintances, but these classifications runs out very quickly and to achieve an equilibrium of cost, effect and achieving your objective, the holy grail of leads has always been a difficult and often foolish pursuit, until Markethive.

The best relationship for leads is well, a relationship, a kindred foundation, a stream of “associates” who are exclusively connected to and drawn towards your inbound marketing portals, funnels and associations. These type of “relationships” are priceless and when nurtured with an ongoing two way engagement, collaboration  and dialogue, will produce a lifetime sphere of influence. This is the “holy grail” of marketing. This is precisely what the Markethive Entrepreneur program delivers.

Think about it. How many of you consider me your trusted friend, a mentor, even family. Then think about how that relationship evolved, how we got to meet each other, how you found yourself in my sphere. How over time trust developed and now we are long term solid friends.

 

This is Inbound Marketing at it’s best. Markethive develops the best relationship associate level leads from the Entrepreneur program. If you are building a business, selling a service, just creating a large effective collaborative team, then the $100 per month Entrepreneur program is the best option for building your leads.

Superior to trying to tell a story funnel capture pages. Superior to advertising a Facebook group via Facebook ads. Superior to it all.

Give it a try. The best part? For $100 per month, you get over $5000 per month back and realistically, you might even get more than that back for life.

Markethive, nothing like it, anywhere. But here.

Ask yourself this

Would you sign up for a system giving away 500 MH crypto coins and a state of the art marketing system that has sold for $2000 or more per month by a similar platform that just sold to Adobe for 4.75 BILLION dollars?

 

 

Do you want leads that are motivated by this offer, that give you a real verified name, a real verified email, a real verified phone, a real verified postal address, a selection of social network accounts and continue to engage and grow their account in Markethive (nurtured) with you.

A true and valuable sphere of influence?

This is exactly what the Entrepreneur upgrade does for you among all the other benefits.

 

Tried and tested already. We are doing actually qualified tests with different mediums to drive leads. One such tests was with BITTER.IO which is a service in the crypto sphere offering a version of faucets by sharing web site visits. It is relatively affordable at $1 per 1000 visits. We did this with a capture page that promoted the Airdrop and Inbound Marketing tools. $1 procured 25 “associate” level leads within 3 days. By extrapolation, one year would produce over 3000 “associates” equating a matching airdrop of Markethive coins @ 1.5 million coins. Cost of this enterprising campaign would be $1 x 10 (1 month) for BITTER.IO @ $120 for a year and the Entrepreneur upgrade $100 x 12 (months) @ $1200 for a total cost of $1320 divided by 3000 “ASSOCIATES (leads)” making the cost per lead @ .44 each for leads that would legitimately be worth $200 per today’s cost of standards as researched by Hubspot. That is a value of $600,000 in today's market for exclusive high data vertical contacts to you.

Not to mention the 1.5 million Markethive coin you also received by matching bonus via the Entrepreneur upgrade. To be conservatively speculative, the Markethive coin has the potential one year after launch of .25 per coin. Equates to $375,000.00 in value, speculative not promised. Drop it back to .05 per coin and you still make profit @ $75,000.

You see, we built Markethive for the masses, the entrepreneurs, all of them, young, old, rich or poor, Markethive is design to honestly level the playing field.

 

Markethive is here and your time has come.

Hey! Want to engage in further lead acquiring testing? Contact me via Markethive messaging and let me know. I will help fund the advertising for your system to measure additional results.

Thomas Prendergast

CEO Founder
Markethive

TP

Swiss Leaks’ HSBC Whistleblower Plans to Launch Clean Ethical’ Crypto Token

‘Swiss Leaks’ HSBC Whistleblower Plans to Launch ‘Clean, Ethical’ Crypto Token

               

Frenchman Hervé Falciani, a whistleblower who has been convicted

of the largest leak in banking history, plans to launch an ethical cryptocurrency that would combat money-laundering and fraud, Reuters reported on Feb. 8. In 2015, Falciani was convicted in absentia by Swiss courts for aggravated financial espionage after leaking the details of ~30,000 accounts, holding almost $120 billion in assets at HSBC’s Swiss private bank.

The evidence — which was alleged to have exposed a web of clients’ tax evasion, money laundering, and illicit financing schemes — has since triggered investigations and prosecutions in several countries, and Falciani remains in self-imposed exile in Spain after the country twice denied the Swiss authorities’ extradition requests.

He is now reportedly working on developing an ethical crypto token, dubbed “Tabu,” that would be fully traceable and thwart illicit dealings and tax evasion. The project is being spearheaded by Falciani’s non-profit Tactical Whistleblowers, whose team consists of Spanish academics — many of them mathematicians — and fintech experts. Speaking in Madrid under a witness protection program,

he told Reuters:

“What happens with any innovation […] is that it can be used in a bad way or maybe used in a friendly way with a […] positive social impact […] Fake information is the basis of any kind of fraud … [t]he same way that we have to deal with fake news, the same technology can applied to fake invoices.”

Falciani credits Spain’s second extradition request denial last year — a decade since he first leaked the “Falciani List” — with having drawn significant investor interest in the Tabu project. Having raised 1.3 million euros ($1.5 million), Falciani reportedly aims to raise a further 2 million euros ($2.3 million) pending approval from Spanish regulators. There are reportedly 5 million Tabu tokens, valued at 2 million euros, ready for the offering.

Aside from Tabu, the whistleblower is also preparing a blockchain system — dubbed “Aletheia,” meaning “disclosure” in Greek — to cross-check electronic procurement contracts for public administrations. The project aims to mitigate fraud and make efficiency gains to reduce costs. Cryptocurrency’s relationship with one of the decade’s most high-profile whistleblowers — Julian Assange —is well known. In fall 2017, Assange went so far as to publicly thank the United States government on Twitter for forcing the organization to rely on Bitcoin (BTC) due to the banking embargo, securing for WikiLeaks a 50,000 percent return.

Article Produced By
Marie Huillet

Marie Huillet is an independent filmmaker, with a background in journalism and publishing. Nomadic by nature, she’s lived in five different countries this decade. She’s fascinated by Blockchain technologies’ potential to reshape all aspects of our lives.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/swiss-leaks-hsbc-whistleblower-plans-to-launch-clean-ethical-crypto-token

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Canadian Securities Regulator Looking Into’ QuadrigaCX Cryptocurrency Exchange

Canadian Securities Regulator ‘Looking Into’ QuadrigaCX Cryptocurrency Exchange

              

The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) has initiated

a probe into Canada’s major cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX, Reuters reported on Feb. 8. The Ontario Securities Commission reportedly told Reuters that “given the potential harm to Ontario investors, we are looking into this matter and have already been in contact with the monitor.” OSC spokeswoman Kristen Rose reportedly declined to specify whether this means the Commission was formally investigating the exchange.

The news comes in the wake of the British Columbia Securities Commission’s claim that it does not regulate QuadrigaCX since the company has reportedly not shown signs of trading of securities or derivatives, or operating as an exchange in general. The aforementioned harm purportedly refers to the exchange’s missing funds in the amount of CA$190 million dollars ($145 million) in digital assets discovered after the death of QuadrigaCX’s founder Gerald Cotten in December.

Quadriga has not been able to access its cold wallets where it kept most of the assets, because Cotten was purportedly solely responsible for the wallets and corresponding keys. Cold wallets are storage systems for digital assets which are not connected to the Internet, which prevents users from being hacked. The exchange purportedly only has CA$375,000 ($286,000) in cash, while it owes CA$260 million ($198,435,000) to its users.

The crypto community has been sceptical about the circumstances surrounding Cotten's death, especially after news broke that his will, naming his wife Jennifer Robertson as the sole beneficiary of his estate, was released 12 days before his death. Robertson reportedly stated in an affidavit that “I do not know the password or recovery key. Despite repeated and diligent searches, I have not been able to find them written down anywhere.” Last year, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) froze five accounts belonging to Quadriga’s payment processor, Costodian Inc., and its owner, Jose Reyes, totalling to $21.6 million. The bank purportedly froze the accounts due to an inability to identify the funds’ owners.

Article Produced By
Ana Alexandre

Total change in her career took Anastasia into the world of analytics and business information as a researcher and translator in 2010. Some time later she got into FinTech, a dynamically developing segment at the intersection of the financial services and technology. Ana joined Cointelegraph in September 2017.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/seoul-city-govt-appoints-members-to-blockchain-governance-team

 

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Medical RampD Alliance Expands Blockchain Project to Include Data Sharing

Medical R&D Alliance Expands Blockchain Project to Include Data Sharing

               

The Pistoia Alliance has expanded its blockchain project

to include data sharing, data identity, and data integrity, according to a press release published on Feb 8. The Pistoia Alliance is a not-for-profit organization established in 2007, with representatives from well-known pharmaceutical industry companies which include Pfizer, Novartiz, and GSK. The Pistoia Alliance was formed to help integrate new technology to assist in the companies’ respective research and development (R&D) fields.

The newest project will focus on the use of blockchain to validate sources in identifying data, to ensure data integrity, and to improve sharing between the organizations. Prior to its foray into blockchain-based data management, Pistoia concentrated on educating the medical industry on the emerging technology. According to Pistoia, a recent survey found that access to skilled personnel and understanding of the technology are the primary barriers to blockchain’s adoption. That same survey reportedly stated that one-fifth of respondents do not think blockchain adds value beyond a standard database.

“Much of the industry is still at the ‘discussion’ stage of blockchain, we want to move beyond this and take action that actively supports members and leads to tangible outcomes that will benefit R&D, accelerate innovation and support the discovery of new treatments,” according to the president of the Pistoia Alliance, Steve Arlington. Distributed ledger technology (DLT) has been implemented across the healthcare industry to make medical data more shareable and more secure. In November 2018, Myongji Hospital, located in the city of Goyang, South Korea, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Korean IT company BICube.

Per the terms of the MoU, the  two parties would use DLT to create a healthcare information exchange system and “build a hybrid cloud [platform] that combines a public cloud and a private cloud.” That same month, the Austrian government offered financial support for a U.K. cancer research company, Lancor Scientific, that uses blockchain technology to detect the disease. Lancor Scientific has purportedly developed a device to detect multiple cancer types and records the screening results with smart contracts on a blockchain.

Article Produced By
Miranda Karanfili

Miranda is a journalist based out of New York City. She is a dedicated writer, passionate about storyelling and making voices heard through her writing. She has joined Cointelegraph as a News Editor.

https://cointelegraph.com/news/canadian-securities-regulator-looking-into-quadrigacx-cryptocurrency-exchange

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Amazon’s barely-transparent transparency report somehow gets more opaque

Amazon’s barely-transparent transparency report somehow gets more opaque

            

Amazon posted its bi-annual report 

Thursday detailing the number of government data demands it receives. The numbers themselves are unremarkable, neither spiking nor falling in the second-half of last year compared to the first-half. The number of subpoenas, search warrants and other court orders totaled 1,736 for the duration, down slightly on the previous report. Amazon still doesn’t break out demands for Echo data, but does with its Amazon Web Services content — a total of 175 requests down from 253 requests.

But noticeably absent compared to earlier reports was how many requests the company received to remove data from its service. In its first-half report, the retail and cloud giant said in among the other demands it gets that it may receive court orders that might demand Amazon “remove user content or accounts.” Amazon used to report the requests “separately” in its report. Now it’s gone. Yet where freedom of speech and expression is more important than ever, it’s just not there any more — not even a zero. We reached out to Amazon to ask why it took out removal requests, but not a peep back on why.

Amazon has long had a love-hate relationship with transparency reports. Known for its notorious secrecy — once telling a reporter, “off the record, no comment” — the company doesn’t like to talk when it doesn’t have to. In the wake of the Edward Snowden disclosures, most companies that weren’t disclosing their government data demands quickly started. Even though Amazon wasn’t directly affected by the surveillance scandal, it held out — because it could — but later buckled, becoming the last of the major tech giants to come out with a transparency report.

Even then, the effort Amazon put in was lackluster.

Unlike most other transparency reports, Amazon’s is limited to just two pages — most of which are dedicated to explaining what it does in response to each kind of demand, from subpoenas to search warrants and court orders. No graphics, no international breakdown and no announcement. It’s almost as if Amazon doesn’t want anyone to notice. That hasn’t changed in years. Where most other companies have expanded their reports — Apple records account deletions, so does Facebook, and Microsoft, Twitter, Google and a bunch more — Amazon’s report has stayed the same. And for no good reason except that Amazon just can. Now it’s getting even slimmer.

Article Produced By
Zack Whittaker

Security editor at TechCrunch.

https://techcrunch.com/2019/01/31/amazon-government-data-demands/

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Reddit is raising a huge round near a 3 billion valuation

Reddit is raising a huge round near a $3 billion valuation

               

Reddit is raising $150 million to $300 million to keep the front page

of the internet running, multiple sources tell TechCrunch. The forthcoming Series D round is said to be led by Chinese tech giant Tencent at a $2.7 billion pre-money valuation. Depending on how much follow-on cash Reddit drums up from Silicon Valley investors and beyond, its post-money valuation could reach an epic $3 billion.

As more people seek esoteric community and off-kilter entertainment online, Reddit continues to grow its link-sharing forums. Indeed, 330 million monthly active users now frequent its 150,000 Subreddits. That warrants the boost to its valuation, which previously reached $1.8 billion when it raised $200 million in July 2017. As of then, Reddit’s majority stake was still held by publisher Conde Nast, which bought in back in 2006 just a year after the site launched. Reddit had raised $250 million previously, so the new round will push it to $400 million to $550 million in total funding.

It should have been clear that Reddit was on the prowl after a month of pitching its growth to the press and beating its own drum. In December Reddit announced it had reached 1.4 billion video views per month, up a staggering 40 percent from just two months earlier after first launching a native video player in August 2017. And it made a big deal out of starting to sell cost-per-click ads in addition to promoted posts, cost per impression and video ads. A 22 percent increase in engagement and 30 percent rise in total view in 2018 pushed it past $100 million in revenue for the year, CNBC reported.

The exact details of the Series D could fluctuate before it’s formally announced, and Reddit and Tencent declined to comment. But supporting and moderating all that content isn’t cheap. The company had 350 employees just under a year ago, and is headquartered in pricey San Francisco — though in one of its cheaper but troubled neighborhoods. Until Reddit’s newer ad products rev up, it’s still relying on venture capital.

Tencent’s money will give Reddit time to hit its stride. It’s said to be kicking in the first $150 million of the round. The Chinese conglomerate owns all-in-one messaging app WeChat and is the biggest gaming company in the world thanks to ownership of League of Legends and stakes in Clash of Clans-maker Supercell and Fortnite developer Epic. But China’s crackdown on gaming addiction has been rough for Tencent’s valuation and Chinese competitor ByteDance’s news reader app Toutiao has grown enormous. Both of those facts make investing in American newsboard Reddit a savvy diversification, even if Reddit isn’t accessible in China.

Reddit could seek to fill out its round with up to $150 million in additional cash from previous investors like Sequoia, Andreessen Horowitz, Y Combinator or YC’s president Sam Altman. They could see potential in one of the web’s most unique and internet-native content communities. Reddit is where the real world is hashed out and laughed about by a tech-savvy audience that often produces memes that cross over into mainstream culture. And with all those amateur curators toiling away for internet points, casual users are flocking in for an edgier look at what will be the center of attention tomorrow.

Reddit has recently avoided much of the backlash hitting fellow social site Facebook, despite having to remove 1,000 Russian trolls pushing political propaganda. But in the past, the anonymous site has had plenty of problems with racist, misogynistic and homophobic content. In 2015 it finally implemented quarantines and shut down some of the most offensive Subreddits. But harassment by users contributed to the departure of CEO Ellen Pao, who was replaced by Steve Huffman, Reddit’s co-founder. Huffman went on to abuse that power, secretly editing some user comments on Reddit to frame them for insulting the heads of their own Subreddits. He escaped the debacle with a slap on the wrist and an apology, claiming “I spent my formative years as a young troll on the Internet.”

Investors will have to hope Huffman has the composure to lead Reddit as it inevitably encounters more scrutiny as its valuation scales up. Its policy choice about what constitutes hate speech and harassment, its own company culture and its influence on public opinion will all come under the microscope. Reddit has the potential to give a voice to great ideas at a time when flashy visuals rule the web. And as local journalism wanes, the site’s breed of vigilante web sleuths could be more in demand, for better or worse. But that all hinges on Reddit defining clear, consistent, empathetic policy that will help it surf atop the sewage swirling around the internet.

Article Produced By
Josh Constine

Editor-At-Large

Josh Constine is a technology journalist who specializes in deep analysis of social products. He is currently an Editor-At-Large for TechCrunch and is available for speaking engagements. Previously, Constine was the Lead Writer of Inside Facebook through its acquisition by WebMediaBrands, covering everything about the social network.

Constine graduated from Stanford University in 2009 with a Master's degree in Cybersociology, examining the influence of technology on social interaction. He researched the impact of privacy controls on the socialization of children, meme popularity cycles, and what influences the click through rate of links posted to Twitter.

Constine also received a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Stanford University in 2007, with a concentration in Social Psychology & Interpersonal Processes. Josh Constine is an experienced public speaker, and has moderated over 120 on-stage interviews in 15 countries with leaders including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whistleblower Edward Snowden (via on-stage video conference), and U.S. Senator Cory Booker. He is available to moderate panels and fireside chats, deliver keynotes, and judge hackathon and pitch competitions.

Constine has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, The Atlantic, BBC World Magazine, Slate, and more, plus has been featured on television on Good Morning, America, The Today Show, China Central Television, and Fox News. Constine is ranked as the #1 most cited tech journalist on prestigious news aggregator Techmeme.

https://techcrunch.com/2019/02/05/raiseit/

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The next integration evolution blockchain

The next integration evolution — blockchain

                

Here is one way to look at distributed ledger technologies (DLT)
and blockchain in the context of integration evolution. Over the years, businesses and their systems are getting more integrated, forming industry-specific trustless networks, and blockchain technology is in the foundation of this evolutionary step.

Enterprise integration

Large organizations have a large number of applications running in separate silos that need to share data and functionality in order to operate in a unified and consistent way. The process of linking such applications within a single organization, to enable sharing of data and business processes, is called enterprise application integration (EAI).

Similarly, organizations also need to share data and functionality in a controlled way among themselves. They need to integrate and automate the key business processes that extend outside the walls of the organizations. The latter is an extension of EAI and achieved by exchanging structured messages using agreed upon message standards referred to as business-to-business (B2B) integration. Fundamentally, both terms refer to the process of integrating data and functionality that spans across multiple systems and sometimes parties. The systems and business processes in these organizations are evolving, and so is the technology enabling B2B unification.

Evolution of integration

There isn’t a year when certain integration technologies became mainstream; they gradually evolved and built on top of each other. Rather than focusing on the specific technology and year, let’s try to observe the progression that happened over the decades and see why blockchain is the next technology iteration.

Evolution of integration technologies

Next we will explore briefly the main technological advances in each evolutionary step listed in the table above.

Data integration

This is one of the oldest mechanisms for information access across different systems with the following two primary examples:

  • Common database approach is used for system integration within organizations.
  • File sharing method is used for within and cross-organization data exchange. With universal protocols such as FTP, file sharing allows exchange of application data running across machines and operating systems.

But both approaches are non-real-time, batch-based integrations with limitations around scalability and reliability.

Functionality integration

While data integration provided non-real-time data exchange, the methods described here allow real-time data and importantly functionality exchange:

  • Remote procedure call provides significant improvements over low-level socket-based integration by hiding networking and data marshaling complexity. But it is an early generation, language-dependent, point-to-point, client-server architecture.
  • Object request broker architecture (with CORBA, DCOM, RMI implementations) introduces the broker component, which allows multiple applications in different languages to reuse the same infrastructure and talk to each other in a peer-to-peer fashion. In addition, the CORBA model has the notion of naming, security, concurrency, transactionality, registry and language-independent interface definition.
  • Messaging introduces temporal decoupling between applications and ensures guaranteed asynchronous message delivery.

So far we have seen many technology improvements, but they are primarily focused on system integration rather than application integration aspects. From batch to real-time data exchange, from point-to-point to peer-to-peer, from synchronous to asynchronous, these methods do not care or control what is the type of data they exchange, nor force or validate it. Still, this early generation integration infrastructure enabled B2B integrations by exchanging EDI-formatted data for example, but without any understanding of the data, nor the business process, it is part of. With CORBA, we have early attempts of interface definitions, and services that are useful for application integration.

Service-oriented architecture

The main aspects of SOA that are relevant for our purpose are Web Services standards. XML providing language-independent format for exchange of data, SOAP providing common message format and WSDL providing an independent format for describing service interfaces, form the foundation of web services. These standards, combined with ESB and BPM implementations, made integrations focus on the business integration semantics, whereas the prior technologies were enabling system integration primarily.

Web services allowed systems not to exchange data blindly, but to have machine readable contracts and interface definitions. Such contracts would allow a system to understand and validate the data (up to a degree) before interacting with the other system. I also include microservices architectural style here, as in its core, it builds and improves over SOA and ESBs. The primary evolution during this phase is around distributed system decomposition and transition from WS to REST-based interaction. In summary, this is the phase where, on top of common protocols, distributed systems also got common standards and contracts definitions.

Blockchain-based integration

While exchanging data over common protocols and standards helps, the service contracts do not provide insight about the business processes hidden behind the contracts and running on remote systems. A request might be valid according to the contract, but invalid depending on the business processes’ current state. That is even more problematic when integration is not between two parties, as in the client-server model, but among multiple equally involved parties in a peer-to-peer model.

Sometimes multiple parties are part of the same business process, which is owned by no one party but all parties. A prerequisite for a proper functioning of such a multi-party interaction is transparency of the common business process and its current state. All that makes the blockchain technology very attractive for implementing distributed business processes among multiple parties.

This model extends the use of shared protocols and service contracts with shared business processes and contained state. With blockchain, all participating entities share the same business process in the form of smart contracts. But in order to validate the requests, process and come to the same conclusion, the business processes need also the same state, and that is achieved through the distributed ledger. Sharing all the past states of a smart contract is not a goal by itself, but a prerequisite of the shared business process runtime.

Looked at from this angle, blockchain can be viewed as the next step in the integration evolution. As we will see below, blockchain networks act as a kind of distributed ESB and BPM machinery that are not contained within a single business entity, but spanning multiple organizations.

Integration technology moving into the space between systems

First the protocols (such as FTP), then the API contracts (WSDL, SOAP) and now the business processes themselves (smart contracts) and their data are moving outside of the organizations, into the common shared space, and become part of the integration infrastructure. In some respect, this trend is analogous to how cross-cutting responsibilities of microservices are moving from within services into the supporting platforms.

With blockchain, common data models and now business processes are moving out of the organizations into the shared business networks. Something to note is that this move is not universally applicable and it is not likely to become a mainstream integration mechanism. Such a move is only possible when all participants in the network have the same understanding of data models and business processes; hence, it is applicable only in certain industries where the processes can be standardized, such as finance, supply chain, health care, etc.

Generations of integrations

Having done some chronological technology progression follow-up, let’s have a more broad look at the B2B integration evolution and its main stages.

First generation: system integration protocols

This is the generation of integration technology before CORBA and SOA, enabling mainly data exchange over common protocols but without an understanding of the data, contracts and business processes:

  • Integration model: client-server, where the server component is controlled by one party only; examples are databases, file servers, message brokers, etc.
  • Explicit, shared infrastructure: low-level system protocols and APIs such as FTP.
  • Implicit, not shared infrastructure: application contracts, data formats, business processes not part of the common integration infrastructure.

Second generation: application integration contracts

This generation of integration technology uses the system protocols from previous years and allows applications to share their APIs in the form of universal contracts. This is the next level of integration, where both applications understand the data, its structure, possible error conditions, but not the business process and current state behind it in the other systems:

  • Integration model: client-server model with APIs described by contracts.
  • Explicit, shared infrastructure: protocols, application contracts, and API definitions.
  • Implicit, not shared infrastructure: business processes and remote state are still private.

 

Third generation: distributed business processes

The blockchain-based generation, which still has to prove itself as a viable enterprise architecture, goes a step further. It uses peer-to-peer protocols, and shares business processes with state across multiple systems that are controlled by parties not trusting each other. While previous integration generations required shared understanding of protocol or APIs, this relies on common understanding of the full business process and its current state. Only then it makes sense and pays off to form a cross-organization distributed business process network:

  • Integration model: multi-party, peer-to-peer integration, by forming business networks with distributed business processes.
  • Explicit, shared infrastructure: business process and its required state.
  • Implicit, not shared infrastructure: other non-process related state.

There are many blockchain-based projects that are taking different approaches for solving the business integration challenges. In no particular, order here are some of the most popular and interesting permissioned open-source blockchain projects targeting the B2B integration space:

  • Hyperledger Fabric is one of the most popular and advanced blockchain frameworks, initially developed by IBM, and now part of Linux Foundation.
  • Hyperledger Sawtooth is another Linux Foundation distributed project developed initially by Intel. It is popular for its modularity and full component replaceability.
  • Quorum is an enterprise-focused distribution of Ethereum.
  • Corda is another project that builds on top of existing JVM-based middleware technologies and enables organizations to transact with contracts and exchange value.

There are already many business networks built with the above projects, enabling network member organizations to integrate and interact with each other using this new integration model.  In addition to these full-stack blockchain projects that provide network nodes, there also are hybrid approaches. For example, Unibright is a project that aims to connect internal business processes defined in familiar standards such as BPMN with existing blockchain networks by automatically generating smart contracts. The smart contracts can be generated for public or private blockchains, which can act as another integration pillar among organizations. Recently, there are many blockchain experiments in many fields of life. While public blockchains generate all the hype by promising to change the world, private and permissioned blockchains are promising less, but are advancing steadily.

Conclusion

Enterprise integration has multiple nuances. Integration challenges within an organization, where all systems are controlled by one entity and participants have some degree of trust to each other, are mostly addressed by modern ESBs, BPMs and microservices architectures. But when it comes to multi-party B2B integration, there are additional challenges. These systems are controlled by multiple organizations, have no visibility of the business processes and do not trust each other. In these scenarios, we see organizations experimenting with a new breed of blockchain-based technology that relies not only on sharing of the protocols and contracts but sharing of the end-to-end business processes and state.

And this trend is aligned with the general direction integration has been evolving over the years: from sharing the very minimum protocols, to sharing and exposing more and more in the form of contracts, APIs and now business processes. This shared integration infrastructure enables new transparent integration models where the previously private business processes are now jointly owned, agreed, built, maintained and standardized using the open-source collaboration model. This can motivate organizations to share business processes and form networks to benefit further from joint innovation, standardization and deeper integration in general.

Article Produced By
Bilgin Ibryam
Contributor

Bilgin Ibryam is a principal architect at Red Hat, committer and member of Apache Software Foundation. He is an open-source evangelist, blogger, occasional speaker and the author of Kubernetes Patterns and Camel Design Patterns.

https://techcrunch.com/2019/02/05/blockchain-as-integration-evolution/

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Without Regulation ICOs Unlikely to Disrupt Venture Capital According to OECD

Without Regulation ICOs Unlikely to Disrupt Venture Capital According to OECD

             

In its January report, the Organisation for Economic

Co-Operation and Development (OECD) explained some of the intricacies of ICOs in modern finance. Although ICOs still offer advantages for startups, it comes at a steep cost. The organization concluded that ICOs can’t be properly harnessed until there is regulatory consensus internationally and it is unlikely to replace venture capital for mainstream seed financing.

OECD’s Stance on ICOs

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development was founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade. Today, the organization is comprised of 36 member countries including the United States, much of the European Union, Korea, and other major economies. Like most regulatory agencies, the OECD asserts that ICOs, in their current form,

are risky:

“ICOs in their current shape and form carry important risks for SME [small and medium enterprise] issuers and investors subscribing to token offerings.”

At face value, an ICO seems like an excellent way to raise funding. Thousands of businesses which otherwise would have never formed have been able to raise hundreds of millions using these offerings. Yet, to some extent, ICOs can be a trap. Keeping issuers accountable, properly structuring token economics, and evolving definitions for “utility” and “security” token have stunted many companies post-ICO. In extreme cases, the Securities Exchange Commission has even compelled companies that have conducted ICOs to return funds to investors via recision. Considering the age of the industry, there are still a lot of unanswered questions. The OECD does provide some answers, but even these come with a lot of footnotes and exceptions.

Grin as a Case Study

One highly anticipated project in the cryptocurrency space is Grin. The privacy-centric cryptocurrency gained the attention of Peter Thiel and several crypto-minded venture funds, including Primitive Ventures, Iterative Capital, and BlockCypher. With no ICO, no pre-mine, and some innovative privacy attributes, Grin has some features the crypto-community appears to value. In his proof of work newsletter, Erik Meltzer, a partner at Primitive Ventures,

stated:

“Unlike Bitcoin, which was so maligned and ignored at launch that Satoshi had to mine by himself on a single Intel CPU for most of 2009, there is (by our conservative estimates) 100 million dollars of mostly VC money invested into special-purpose investment vehicles to mine Grin.”

One interesting feature of Grin is “MimbleWimble,” a feature that purportedly hides information related to cryptocurrency transactions. Some have heralded the feature as a “cure” to Bitcoin’s privacy and scalability issues, but the feature has seen limited implementation outside of Grin. In a video explainer, crypto evangelist Andreas Antonopoulos said that MimbleWimble allows users to “have a much smaller, more private blockchain.” The innovation hides the amounts being transacted, the identities of the transactors, as well as verifies the state of the blockchain without storing all transactions. Allegedly, these are all features that Bitcoin has struggled with.

Grin has been compared a number of times to Bitcoin but implemented in such a way that’s more “fair,” according to advocates on Twitter. Prominent Bitcoin developer Jameson Lopp Tweeted his appreciation for the project on Jan. 15, 2019, saying that “there are no sketchy incentives skewed towards the creators, it’s actually innovating, and it’s a pretty cypherpunk project.” These questions of fairness are a matter of tokenomics (token economics). The monetary policy surrounding a cryptocurrency defines its use within the ecosystem and has a large impact on a coin’s price.

OECD on Pre-Mines and Tiered ICOs

The OECD offers some insights into this aspect of token offerings. The policy group asserts that “private sales of tokens ahead of ICOs raise a number of issues,” and “not having ‘skin-in-the-game’ is a source of potential conflicts.” Pre-ICO rounds that offer discounted tokens, but aren’t adjusted for risk compared to those sold during the main ICO, are primarily occupied by what the OECD labels “insiders.” The funds raised by insiders during this period are typically used to pay for marketing and advisory costs needed to establish the project in the first place.

Founders who manage to cover these costs often “carry no personal financial risk in the transaction besides reputation risk,” states OECD. The international agency underlined the importance of having “skin-in-the-game” as this accountability prevents conflicts such as pump and dump schemes. In the context of traditional startups and small businesses, cryptocurrency entrepreneurs need only pay for marketing expenses and advisory fees. Moreover, the absence of a mandatory lock-up period often tempts startup leaders to leave after they’ve raised the cash, rather than build out a working product.

ICOs Compared to IPOs

Initial public offerings (IPOs) for traditional stocks share few similarities with ICOs, other than that they are both fundraising methods. In the case of an IPO, investors interested in buying shares in a company are betting on a former track record of performance. There is a history of “both operational and financial performance,” explains the OECD, offering much more information than what is possible in an ICO. IPOs also tend to be much longer events, with planning for an offering lasting three times as long compared to an ICO, according to the OECD. With these features in mind, ICOs are more akin to venture

capital-style fundraising:

“IPOs follow series A-D financing or are used as an exit after venture capital funding, while ICOs look for seed/early stage financing, similar to seed financing (or perhaps series A round).”

If IPOs are a bet on a business’ forecasted success, then an ICO is a bet on turning an idea into reality. Unlike ICOs, venture capitalists (VCs) can meet with startups, get acquainted with the founding team, and then decide whether to provide funding. However, VCs still run into ‘problems’ of liquidity. For ICOs, as soon as a token is listed, a secondary market becomes available that makes “cashing out” easy. Such ease is tempting for

crypto founders:

“Academic research suggests that ICOs are preferred for projects with a high risk of failure and right-skewed payoff distribution, given that in case of some retention of ICO proceeds by the entrepreneur, the payoff for the entrepreneur is positive even when the project fails.”

ICOs Unlikely to Replace Venture Capital

Establishing a clear alignment of interest between token holders and founders is one of the largest impediments to ICOs succeeding. As the report claims, the OECD anticipates that the only way to harness ICOs is through international regulatory consensus. This, however, is easier said than done. At the end of the report, the OECD compiled all high-profile regulatory responses worldwide. Such a compilation emphasizes the complexity of “safeguarding” investors in each jurisdiction.

The FMA, the financial authority in Austria, suggested that ICOs require a license to help protect investors. Meanwhile, Thai authorities have simply outlined the benefits and risks associated with the fundraising technique, with few rules on how the practice should actually be regulated.

China and Korea have both outright banned ICOs, with the latter citing “serious concern about the fact that the current market funds are being pushed into a non-productive speculative direction.” ICOs were once lauded as a potential way to disrupt VC financing. Yet, at the present moment, the lack of accountability for issuers has left the space rife with scams and ill-conceived projects. With this in mind, the OECD concludes their report with the importance of a

quality use case:

“It [seems] inappropriate to consider ICOs as a potential ‘mainstream’ financing mechanism for SMEs whose projects are not enabled by DLTs and which would not benefit from network effects.”

By extension, the OECD suggests that it might make sense for projects enabled by distributed ledger technology to raise funds via ICO. Yet, this brings about a whole host of other issues around which projects should use blockchain technology instead of conventional databases. Again, it seems like international decision-makers are leaving more questions than answers.

Article Produced By
Liam Kelly

 

Blockchain Writer at CryptoSlate Berlin, Germany

https://cryptoslate.com/without-regulation-ico-unlikely-disrupt-venture-capital-oecd/

 

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SEC To Monitor Blockchain Transaction Seeking Suppliers to Extract Data

SEC To Monitor Blockchain Transaction, Seeking Suppliers to Extract Data

               us sec

An official announcement rolled out on Jan 31, 2019,
unveils that the SEC or Securities and Exchange Commission is analyzing blockchain transaction.

SEC to closely Analyze blockchain Services

According to the official report, the agency is looking for a supplier or vendor that would help them determine and monitor risk on grounds of digital assets. The opportunity is open for those that can extract blockchain data and parses them to make it reviewable. The opportunity page of

SEC reads that;

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is issuing these sources sought notice as a means of conducting market research to determine the availability and technical capability of large and small businesses to provide blockchain data to support the SEC’s efforts to monitor risk, improve compliance, and inform Commission policy with respect to digital assets.

The suppliers/vendors would further expected to enable SEC to access the data from the most widely used blockchain ledger. Besides data, SEC also demands to look at the process being used to extract the data and convert in reviewable format. This is to assure that the data transformation doesn’t lead to any kind of loss. Moreover, the requirement for the data provision mentioned by SEC website includes;

  • Provide data extracts on a recurring basis for the most widely used blockchain ledgers ,based on transaction volume.
  • Cleanse and normalize data to enable review and exploration. Provide capability to derive insights from the available data, including attribution data (i.e. to whom a particular address belongs).
  • Provide a means to demonstrate the data provided is accurate and complete

Article Produced By

Tabassum

Tabassum is a full-time content writer at Coingape. Her passion lies in writing and delivering apt information to users. Currently, she does not hold any form of cryptocurrencies.

https://coingape.com/sec-blockchain-transaction-seeking-supploers/

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