Tim Wagner from Vendia, Shruthi Rao on Enterprise Blockchain

Tim Wagner from Vendia, Shruthi Rao on Enterprise Blockchain

CEOs haven’t lost sight of the promise of enterprise blockchain – the idea that a database or API can keep a company’s data consistent with its business partners, whether it’s upstream supply chains, downstream logistics, or financial partners.

But while it has been one of the most anticipated and recurring technologies in recent memory, blockchain has also been one of the most failed technologies in terms of pilots and applications, according to Vendia CEO Tim Wagner.

“We sometimes joke at Vendia that we would love nothing better than a failed blockchain experiment,” Wagner said. “Blockchain has definitely gone through this incredible hype cycle. We are in the midst of disappointment. Half of our deals in the last year are likely to be alternatives to failed blockchain attempts.”

The operational challenges of blockchain technology, including single-device limitations, lack of throughput and scalability, high costs, and difficulty in integration, mean that many pilots fail to deliver value, according to Wagner.

To solve these problems, he and fellow co-founder Shruthy Rao, chief business officer of Vendia, reimagined the idea of ​​blockchain and distributed ledgers in a cloud-native way, launching Vendia in 2020. Vendia Share is fully managed and serverless. A platform for building decentralized real-time data applications It allows customers to more easily share code and data across clouds, businesses, geographies, accounts, and technology stacks.

Shruthi Rao and Tim Wagner reimagined the idea of ​​blockchain and distributed ledgers in a cloud-native way, launching Vendia in 2020.Photo: Vindia

“We have this thesis here: the cloud has always been the missing component of the blockchain, and Vendia has added it,” Wagner said. “We took this completely different approach, this very cloud approach, a cloud scaling-type approach to building it, so at the core of our technology is a cloud-centric blockchain. By building it in the cloud, we can access essentially unlimited amounts of storage, amounts of Unlimited network capacity, unlimited amounts of processing capacity.This makes it possible for us to do things that traditional block chains cannot do: [Deliver] Much higher throughput, lower latency, more processing power, more parallelism, and easier integration. “

Vendia has received $50 million in funding so far. Its clients range from start-ups to large mid-sized businesses and businesses across markets such as settlement of roaming charges in Africa and Asia for telecom service providers; Supply chains for airlines. Large scale construction management. and the mortgage, hospitality and auto industries. include BMWAerotrax Technologies, and consulting firm Slalom.

“We usually replace early attempts to use Hyperledger fabric Or Quorum or one of those other systems,” Wagner said. “But a lot of them, frankly, are companies that stare at the high cost of building everything in a custom way through in-house custom development or outsourcing versus trying to get it as a platform. One of the most difficult things a company can do is to ensure that its data and that of its partners are always correct, consistent, complete and up-to-date.”

AWS . Connection

Prior to starting Vendia, Rao was the Head of Blockchain Business Development at AWS, including the Amazon Managed Blockchain product that supports the open source HyperLedger Fabric. Wagner was using the same technology at cryptocurrency company Coinbase.

“The interesting question we kept asking ourselves was, ‘What’s the problem, what component is missing here?'” Wagner said. “I would simply sum it up as if this first generation of blockchain technology ignored the cloud. They ignored scalability, they ignored cloud integration, they ignored the fact that everyone else was migrating to the cloud.”

Rao said it met 1,092 unique customers while on AWS. No matter what industry they were involved in — financial services, energy, media, entertainment, gaming — they all had one big story as to why they were “desperately” trying to use blockchains, according to Rao. Customers said they had many partners, and invested in a lot of data-making mechanisms—from the Internet of Things and mobile to edge computing and digital transformation—but the massive amounts of data these activities produced were stuck in partner silos and the cloud.

“For these companies, the problem has been that we don’t have access to our data that we need to make real-time decisions at a useful time so that we can respond to market changes quickly,” Rao said. “No matter how much investments they made in AI, machine learning, analytics, and all these great data-processing mechanics, they were getting a small chunk of the data.”

“I would simply sum it up as if this first generation of blockchain technology ignored the cloud.”

Meanwhile, Wagner was vice president of engineering in 2018 and 2019 at Coinbase prior to the IPO, which ran some of the largest regulated distributed ledgers in North America.

“I had this sad realization that while cryptocurrencies and distributed ledgers kind of worked for speculation, they didn’t really work for institutions,” he said.

Prior to joining Coinbase, Wagner spent about six years at AWS and started what is now known as its serverless division – which included AWS Lambda, its serverless computing service – with Rao eventually managing business development for the group.

“When I created Lambda, it was about democratizing and simplifying cloud access versus moving to and renting a server from AWS,” Wagner said. “We kind of think of Vendia as a similar idea: it’s about democratizing and simplifying blockchain capabilities for customers who then don’t have to understand how it works. We deliver it in a SaaS way. They don’t have to publish it, and frankly, they don’t even have to understand it.” They can capture business value without necessarily becoming an expert in rugged writing or hiring the developers of Hyperledger Fabric or any of those pieces.”

‘Sense of urgency’

Vendia was launched just after the coronavirus pandemic began, further highlighting companies’ challenges in the supply chain and pressure on the travel industry, especially airlines.

“It took a great kind of routable market for us and added a sense of business urgency,” Wagner said. “[It] Creating more awareness and focus on the limitations and lack of appropriate data sharing mechanisms, and the needs and requirements of data sharing between businesses. Focusing on reducing costs, efficiencies and passenger experiences, corporate travel, the need for businesses to be able to re-plan their travel – some of these have been very beneficial to us already.”

One of Vendia’s airline customers has about eight joint venture partners to take passengers to their destinations. When a customer books a flight from San Francisco to Cancun, Mexico, for example, that airline will take the passenger from San Francisco to Dallas, and one of its partners will then take over the Dallas to Cancun flight from the flight.

The initial passenger booking will come to the airline through the Salesforce CRM system. To pass on needed information to its joint venture partner taking on the trip from Dallas to Cancun, in the past, a Vendia customer would download their Salesforce data into an Excel spreadsheet and clean up some macros so that they only shared the information the partner needed to see, such as the part of the flight and the name of the passenger Passenger name record number, date, seat number and other details. Then it sends the information to the partner, who can use a different CRM system.

“I had this sad realization that while cryptocurrencies and distributed ledgers kind of worked for speculation, they didn’t really work for institutions.”

“It’s all very manual, it’s all in the airstream, and it throws into the fact that they have eight joint venture partners and many, many codeshare partners and sector sharing…point-to-point integration, especially on these complex flights, becomes more and more difficult,” Rao said. .

Instead, Vendia Share takes care of coordinating data sharing between different airlines. The product enables companies to have a complete view of all activities and transactions without worrying about their origin, as transactions are immutable through the power of distributed ledger technology, according to Rao.

“We make sure whoever is getting the data gets the data in real time, within five milliseconds, so there is no manual movement back and forth,” Rao said. “And everything is in the ledger so you can see who you share it with [with], what you have shared, when you share it… and you can make an accurate analysis of what has been shared. “

AWS support is generally available, Microsoft Azure support is in beta, and Google Cloud Platform support is targeted in the first quarter, according to the company.

Vendia announced its latest funding, a $30 million Series B round, led by NewView Capital, in May. The company, which has just under 100 employees, is using this money to scale its engineering and continue building its platform via the cloud, including Google Cloud Platform support.

“There is just a general idea of ​​meeting customers where they are: the cloud they use, the APIs or data access they prefer to use, the systems they have their data in, like Salesforce, for example,” Wagner said. “On the go-to-market side…we’ve pushed into the automotive, travel and financial services sector – that’s kind of where we started – and they all have some great business networks and use cases for us to tap into. But they are equally exciting and challenging opportunities in healthcare and energy. And consumer goods and a lot of these other spaces as well. To get there we need a bigger team to get into the market and more collateral. So this is going to be the other opportunity: to use that money to grow and expand our sector penetration.”

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