ICO Analysis: Ocean Protocol

Data has come into the public spotlight recently with scandals like Cambridge Analytica making everyone more aware of the implications of data and just how valuable it can be, both for consumers and corporations.

However, it might surprise you to learn that most data in the world goes unused.

According to Ocean Protocol’s whitepaper, only 1% of the world’s data gets analyzed. Moreover, as society continues to go digital, more and more data is produced every year.

In 2010, the world produced 1 zettabyte (ZB) of data. That’s 1,000,000,000,000 gigabytes (GB) of data. To put that into perspective, a standard iPhone X comes with 64 GB of data. 1,000,000,000,000 / 64 = 15.6 billion iPhone Xes worth of data.

That figure might seem like a lot until you consider the fact that in 2016, the world produced 16 ZB of data and will produce more than 160 ZB by 2025.

So if only 1% of the world’s data is being used, that’s a lot of data that sits dormant.

Some accused Cambridge Analytica of using data from Facebook to influence elections. If that’s true, data can be used for truly significant purposes, good or bad.

The Emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

While data in itself is a huge industry, AI is also an emerging industry that is set to impact every part of the economy in the coming years.

By 2025, revenue from AI will hit $60 billion.

However, AI needs data to be accurate. And given that most of the world’s data is unutilized, that means AI is being held back from its potential. Its only companies with enormous caches of data like Facebook and Google that are really pushing ahead in the AI industry.

Why Data is Underutilized

Data is being underutilized because sharing data amongst parties currently suffers from a number of challenges:

1) Centralized hosting

2) Cost (transaction fees, commissions, etc).

3) Lack of flexible pricing mechanisms (E.g. for building apps, model training)

4) Lack of audit trial for compliance purposes

5) No control over data usage once data supplied by providers

6) Lack of frameworks for consent, trust, and regulation

7) No way to track data usage for royalty pricing models

Ocean Protocol: A Decentralized Data Exchange for AI

Ocean Protocol wants to enable the exchange and sharing of data that could be put to use for AI development and other purposes.

The market for data will be two-sided between Data Providers and Data Consumers.

Data Providers earn Ocean Tokens (OCN) by providing data while Data Consumers pay OCN to providers for valuable data.

Providers can set data pricing via Ocean Protocol to prevent problems like vendor lock-in, choose from various pricing models, control who buys their data, see who has worked with their data, set different usage models (one-time, limited time, continuous), and sell their data without revealing it.

On the other hand, consumers benefit from transparent pricing, clear usage guidelines, previews of data before purchasing, choice amongst different data providers, data quality and reputation reviews, and tracking of data that has been bought and used.

OCN can also be earned by curating data, becoming a data marketplace that interfaces with Ocean Protocol, and providing network services like validation, verification, and storing the network’s blockchain.

Token

OCN’s total supply is fixed at 1.41 billion OCN.

Network service providers like validators earn OCN, which has a block time in seconds.

The token’s supply will be allocated as follows.

45% Network Keepers (block rewards for storing the blockchain and validating transactions) and Data Providers

25% Token Purchasers – goes towards funding Ocean Protocol’s development, partnerships, nurturing key customers as well as providing liquidity. 10% of this amount will be held in reserve for a possible secondary token sale.

20% Founding Team – used for core protocol, development of network and software, business development, community support, marketing.

10% Ocean Protocol Foundation – used for building community and ecosystem using bounties, grants, partnerships, and rewards.

50% of block-rewarded tokens will be released in 10 years.

Founding team and Ocean Protocol Foundation tokens will be released in six equal portions over the course of five years, beginning in the end of 2017.

Twenty-five of the total OCN supply will be sold to investors in four phases:

1) Seed

2) Pre-Launch

3) Network Launch Distribution

4) Secondary Token Exchange (potential)

Fifteen percent will be distributed during Seed, Pre-Launch, and Network Launch Distribution phases.

There will be another 10% potentially distributed during a secondary exchange if additional liquidity is needed or additional funds are needed to build the Ocean Protocol community. Otherwise, these tokens will be burned, distributed proportionally to OCN holders, or sold by Ocean Protocol on exchanges on a publicly announced schedule.

All purchasers of OCN have to be whitelisted.

Team

The Ocean Protocol team brings a lot of experience to the table.

CEO Bruce Pon spent years at top companies like Accenture and Daimler AG as a consultant and project manager before founding his own consulting, data, and blockchain-based companies.

Overall, the team has deep experience in big data, blockchain, AI, and data exchange and has done things like calculate gravity assisted trajectories between Earth and Mars, built a dozen global banks, managed operating budgets over $30 million, and more.

Companies, institutions, and organizations that the team is or has worked with include MIT, Cisco, Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, Google, Ernst & Young, and more.

Pon and other core members founded BigchainDB in 2014. BigchainDB will develop Ocean Protocol and has already created things like ascribe.io, a way for creators to track intellectual property on the blockchain, WhereOnThe.Net, which tracks the spread of creative works, IDPB, the Interplanetary Database or a shared global database, ImageMatch, machine learning-based image recognition, and more. Clearly, it isn’t their first rodeo when it comes to things like blockchain, data, and AI.

DEX Pte. Ltd. is also working on developing Ocean Protocol and was a lead partner for Data City : Data Nation, a partnership amongst Singaporean and British corporations and governments to work on data exchange by providing common regulatory and governance frameworks.

Singapore, which has shown its hostility towards crypto at times, is the lead government partner for Ocean Protocol. Singapore wants to become the hub for data sharing and is working with Ocean Protocol to achieve that goal.

Verdict

Though Ocean Protocol has a promising premise and team with lots of relevant experience, lack of a working product and significant partnerships makes investing less desirable.

Risks

  • No working product (-2)
  • Many other competitors like Enigma, Datum, Dentcoin, Streamr, and more, some of which have working products. (-1)
  • No other significant advisors or partnerships besides Singaporean government that could boost the spread of Ocean Protocol. (-1)
  • No hard cap announced for Network Launch Distribution round. (-1)

Growth Potential

  • Data sharing and AI are huge growth industries. (+3)
  • Team has lots of experience, especially in relevant fields, such as blockchain, data exchange, and AI. (+3)
  • While competitors may be focusing on specific use cases, such as “data marketplace for advertising data”, Ocean Protocol is more of a platform, and platforms, e.g. Ethereum and NEO, have done well in the past. (+2)
  • Pre-Launch round had an equitable token distribution with a max contribution of 1250 euros – helps prevent dumping by whales. (+2)
  • Long vesting periods to prevent dumping. (+1)

Disposition

It might be better to pick up some OCN post-ICO or if and when the project is more proven in terms of a working product and partnerships. Moreover, Network Launch Distribution details have yet to be released, which could have an influence on investment potential as well.

Ocean Protocol receives a 5/10.

Investment Details

  • Type: Native Token
  • Symbol: OCN
  • Platform: Ocean Protocol
  • Crowdsale: Network Launch Distribution date unspecified
  • Minimum Investment: Unspecified (Network Launch Distribution)
  • Price: Unspecified (Network Launch Distribution)
  • Hard Cap: 25m euros (Seed and Pre-Launch), Unspecified (Network Launch Distribution)
  • Payments Accepted: ETH
  • Restricted from Participating: not specified but their Ocean Tokenomics article makes it seem like it would be open to even un-accredited US and Canadian investors (see “Lock-Up”)

For more information:

Ocean Protocol Website

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.