Called Atlas Protocol, the startup believes that the data accumulating on blockchains today can be used to better market to internet users tomorrow, an idea that has already received validation from some of the biggest names in Asian business.
Revealed exclusively to CoinDesk, Softbank China Venture Capital (SBCVC) has completed a $3 million equity seed round in Atlas. SBCVC is a venture arm of the Japan-based telecom and e-commerce giant. Other participants include BV (the venture charm of Chinese internet conglomerate, Baidu), Danhua Capital and Fenbushi Capital.
Google, of course, earns the lion’s share of its money by gathering data about user behavior and using it to advertise to them all over the web, while users have very little control over how much data the company collects about them. As such, Atlas is positioning itself to come out ahead of Google if more of the web begins directly interacting with public blockchains.
The Atlas team knows the Google playbook well. It was incubated by the xGoogler Blockchain Alliance, an organization made up of former Google employees now deeply involved in building out the blockchain ecosystem.
Project co-founder Duran Liu is himself a former staffer at Google, working on improving different applications at the search giant with machine learning. Liu’s co-founder Cheng Li was also part of Google NYC, working on applications like speech recognition.
With the attention paid to Facebook’s Cambridge Analyitica scandal and credit rating agency Equifax’s data breach before it, users might be understandably wary about personal data being stored immutably on a blockchain.
Atlas Protocol has sought to allay those concerns by promising that users will control their data and only share the information that they opt-in to share. In a Medium post addressing how blockchain technology could help marketing teams abide by Europe’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the firm promises:
“Being implemented on the blockchain, Atlas Protocol will be fully transparent for users, in contrast to the ‘data blackhole’ setup that characterizes the current industry landscape dominated by digital giants.”
Atlas’s roadmap says it is aiming for a beta release this summer.
The basic model for Atlas Protocol is to allow users to collect data about transactions and interactions with the blockchain, and then allow marketers to incentivize sharing that information by using a token that can permit value exchange between marketers, users, publishers and others in the online ecosystem…