Ocean Protocol is a blockchain used to create a marketplace for large data sets. This young startup has seen remarkable growth in the last few years as it builds upon its partnerships and is poised to become one of the most important big data starups of the blockhain age. Founder Bruce Pon answers some questions:
Q1 For the people who aren’t familiar with Ocean Protocol yet. Can you give us a quick explanation of the project?
Bruce: Ocean Protocol allows people to buy and share data securely while preserving privacy. It’s an innovative project that uses blockchain technology to give people more control over their data and monetize it. Our vision is that Ocean can become the connective tissue for a new Data Economy where data is an asset that is fairly priced and people can share their data safely and receive compensation.
Q2: Can you describe the journey of the project over these last few turbulent years?
Bruce: 2020 was a whirlwind year. We focused on building – first the technology, then nurturing the ecosystem and community. Covid19 and the economic upheaval helped to give everyone a backdrop on why we need to build an inclusive Data Economy as fast as possible. There’s so much frustration, anger, and distrust of the elites – so building technology that can re-balance the power is critical to give people more options and hope.
For the project, in the first half of 2020, we released Ocean V2 – a way for data and algorithms to stay safe while being used. We also announced an important partnership with Mercedes-Benz to build on Ocean technology using the end-to-end platform featuring access control, data discovery, storage, and Compute-to-Data.
Ocean V3 launched in October 2020, which established the concept of datatokens and Initial Data Offerings. We brought Ocean very close to DeFi through the use of Automated Market Makers for data pricing in Ocean Market. It was also a big year for our community. We rolled out programs to create a more sustainable and active community of builders and contributors. It’s been great to see the positive response and engagement from all corners of our community. For example:
1. Data Economy Challenge – the second round just concluded and we announced the winners – this time, we challenged people to harness the power of Ocean datatokens and create innovative Web3 dApps and integrations.
2. Shipyard – we announced the 1st batch of Ocean Shipyard projects, which receive funding to add value to the Data Economy using Ocean tech.
3. OceanDAO launched Nov 2020 as a grants DAO – it is the way to self-sustainability for Ocean Protocol. We’ve already wrapped up 2 funding rounds and are entering the 3rd.
We’ll be announcing more programs shortly. Interested projects can head over to our website to apply for their chance to receive funding and support.”
Q3: We refer to data as the “new oil” due to its vast applicability. What will be the newest, necessary trends when it comes to this modern commodity?
Bruce: I have to admit that we don’t have all the answers and we don’t know how the Data Economy is going to develop. We have an idea of the direction however and a data marketplace underlined with web3 rails for security, privacy, and transparency is the most obvious place to start.
First, we need a place where data can aggregate, a Schelling Point where Web3 natives know where to go to post or find data. This is Ocean Market. I consider Ocean Market as the proto-data market. It’s the live application of our Ocean v3 release.
Ocean V3 brings all the capabilities of data and AI sharing in a lighter architecture that makes it easier for people to publish their data and then sell it. The core part of Ocean V3 is datatokens, ERC20 tokens that are generated for each published dataset. Since ERC20 tokens are highly compatible with DeFi, all datatokens can be staked, injected into AMMs like Balancer or Uniswap, and then used as collateral for lending.
Ocean V3 allows data to be incentivized via token airdrops from the network rewards. We’re bringing the tools of DeFi to data, along with an interface that is web3 native. We will be spending most of 2021 to refine it and improve usability.
The core smart contracts underlying these markets is Ocean tech – but anything above is completely flexible. The code is fully open source – so others can take all or parts of it to build other data markets. We need other developers to try out different ideas because we are still trying to figure out where this concept will stick.
Q4:The crypto community loves partnerships, and Ocean Protocol teamed up with a lot of parties over the past years. What partnership really stands out to you?
Bruce: I have about 40 different partnerships that I keep track of. Naturally, we value each one because we need to have interoperability and integration with the entire web3 stack to be useful for developers and consumers.
I’m particularly excited about the teams who are in Shipyard – they are fighting to figure out business models for data in a web3 native infrastructure.
I’m also excited to be working with Moonbeam to get on Kusama as fast as possible – the ETH gas costs are prohibitive for experimentation and usage right now.
With AllianceBlock, they are building data channels to traditional finance so that really helps to expand the type of offering and attractiveness for traditional exchanges and banks to work on native web3 tech. We also have a staking program for liquidity in the AllianceBlock ecosystem which seems to be well-received.
Finally, the partnership with Secret Network can have long-term implications for giving people more ways to share privately, without exposing algorithms or data. Excited to see what comes out in 2021 with these partnerships.”
Q5: The OCEAN token has seen incredible growth in both value and token holders. But if you look at the actual tech behind the token, what are the biggest changes after the token-swap you conducted?
Bruce: Since 2017, we have been refining the Ocean token design to ensure full alignment between the Ocean technology, community, and token. The August 2020 hard fork allowed us to inject the necessary monetary policy for the long-term sustainability of the Ocean Protocol project.
The new token contract set the stage for us to activate network rewards, which are used for Community funding efforts. The funding is funneled into the development of complementary core software, applications, and infrastructure to further the use and widespread adoption of Ocean, including initiatives like the Ocean Data Economy Challenge, Shipyard, and OceanDAO.
Right now, people are hot on yield farming and liquidity mining. I think these programs are great for bootstrapping ideas and giving community members yield while they hold Ocean. We’ll be participating in more of these types of programs in 2021 to give people more options for yield.
In 2022 we plan to activate network rewards, when the OceanDAO is mature and fully tested, where grants can be given to people that perform useful activities on the network. The ideal here is that token inflation is controlled by the community and any inflation actually adds more value than the price of dilution. Put another way, when new Ocean supply comes on the market, it is put towards building a stronger ecosystem.
Q6: Blockchain projects are operating in a very fast-paced industry, where do you see Ocean Protocol in let’s say 2025?
Bruce: I believe we’re truly on the leading edge of innovation. The traction Ocean has gained in the last year will only continue to multiply as adoption continues and the awareness increases. Also taking into account the fast-growing cohort of internet crypto-natives that are participating in the data economy, there is no limit to what we could accomplish. In the next five years, we’d love to ramp up the number of data marketplaces, custodians, and tools being powered by Ocean to the level of mainstream adoption.
Q7: Thanks for all these insights, If people want to stay up to date or get in touch with the team, where should they go?
Bruce: Thank you for the opportunity. Ocean is everywhere using @oceanprotocol.