Sat. Aug 17th, 2019

18 Organisations Launch The Convergence Alliance To Enable A New Open Data Economy Built On The Decentralized Web

The Convergence Alliance’s has launched… and the new organisation’s mission is to accelerate and diffuse a more equitable, scalable and usable Web 3.0 to effect a New Open Data Economy based on the sovereignty of the user. Countering the platform monopolies of Silicon Valley and enabling a more evenly distributed value creation from AI.

Founding members include Deutsche Telekom’s T-Labs innovation arm, Jaguar Land Rover’s InMotion Ventures, SAP, Imperial College London, Frankfurt School Blockchain Center, the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI, which includes 100 of its own mobility members), Datarella blockchain solutions, Smart Dubai and the Fab City Global Initiative with 1,000 labs for additive manufacturing. Each founding member represents a key stakeholder groups critical to realising the vision of a more open and equitable Web 3.0.

Raimund Gross, Innovation Manager from SAP talks about joining the Alliance:

“At SAP we put the business value at front and center, hence the solutions we provide often involve several technologies. The Convergence Alliance allows us to collaborate with peers from the industry, share knowledge and gain a comprehensive understanding of the opportunities arising from emerging technologies. This endeavour will help us identify new ways of enriching business processes and eventually create new business models in the service of our customers.”

The Alliance connects technologists pioneering Web3.0 with industries such as IT & telecommunications, mobility, industry & manufacturing, utilities and smart cities that have already undergone a rapid process of digitisation. However, they now face challenges in unlocking return-on-investment from their experimentation in blockchain or turning big data initiatives into meaningful commercial advantages in AI.

What makes it different from the many other blockchain think tanks and consortia are that it doesn’t focus on blockchain and distributed ledger in isolation. The Convergence Alliance is instead centred on the concept of ‘convergence’, where technologies such as blockchain are best understood in the context of the wider technical landscape, and in particular how with AI, Big Data and IoT they combine and accelerate one another.

This has led The Alliance to explore the adoption of a curated stack of 15 open source technologies with 15.5M lines of code1, called The Convergence Stack2, with includes hardware, routing, distribution, interfacing and the application layer of the internet. As well as assessing standards they may require and how they would integrate into legacy business processes and IT systems.

Transitioning from a centralised Web 2.0 to the decentralised Web 3.0

Web 2.0 has by now highlighted the value of data but has concentrated into a handful of platform monopolies with extractive and intrusive business models with insecure data infrastructure. Where Google, Facebook or Amazon have become a direct competitor or overly dominant cloud AI vendor to the majority of companies and industries. Further to this, the recent launch of Facebook Libracoin, a public permissioned consortia planning to issue their own digital currency, has mobilised many industries to accelerate their thinking about their place within a new data economy, acting for many as a ‘burning platform’ moment.

The Convergence Alliance will facilitate collaboration at both a technical and commercial level to solve these data challenges. Its founding members have already led their respective industries building solutions leveraging The Stack including the Jaguar Land Rover IOTA-powered car wallet, where car owners earn credits by enabling their cars to report data on road conditions and traffic congestion3 and Deutsche Telekom’s T-Labs and Fetch.AI who are working together to build and deploy autonomous economic agents, that can be integrated into IoT devices to provide them with the authority and autonomy to organize themselves free of human intervention4.

Jamie Burke, Founder of Outlier Ventures and The Convergence Stack thesis comments: 

“The last 25-year computing cycle has been dominated by The Platform & The Cloud, with obscene value creation for a handful of corporations. However, there is a growing awareness about the trade-offs of the cloud platform and a developed understanding of the benefits of decentralised technology, unlocking a new truly peer to peer value exchange. The Alliance is the first manifestation of a counter narrative and a signal of the paradigm shift that’s about to come.’

“We’re excited to work alongside the Founding members of The Convergence Alliance to accelerate and diffuse a more equitable, scalable and usable Web3.0, centred around a New Data Economy and the cognitive revolution.  Bringing together open-source protocols, enterprise, academia, and start-ups to realise Web3.0 by defining, building, financing and integrating the Convergence Stack. We look forward to bringing meaningful ROI and impact form the promise of blockchain across a variety of industries, expanding the Stack, and we welcome partners to join building Web3.0.”

Alliance objectives and activities

The Stack has been in development for several years, and now with the formal launch of the Alliance, there is further collaboration around interoperability. The Alliance is facilitated by Outlier Ventures, and the inaugural summit of founding partners was launched this month (02/07/2019) where members agreed upon a set of core objectives which would then be opened up to the active participation of a wider membership of partners and peers.

  1. Standards Peer Group: With a rapidly expanding technology ecosystem birthing numerous emergent protocols with the potential to build upon the foundational innovations of HTTP (website browsing) or SMTP (email), members want a curated forum of peers to understand and explore different approaches around areas like interoperability or privacy to inform how they engage with standards initiatives.
  2. Ecosystem Guidance: To collectively agree and communicate the technical and commercial needs of alliance members from The Stack to help direct innovations in protocols, applications and support services, as well as the venture capital required to bring them to market.
  3. Dissemination & Education: To effectively educate the ecosystem of developers, businesses as well as technical academia through targeted events, content and research to accelerate adoption. Helping industry to ‘cross the chasm’ and diffuse the innovations of Web 3.0

Philipp Sandner, Head of the Frankfurt School Blockchain Centre, on the Alliance objectives:

“As one of the leading think tanks in Germany, it is an honour to participate in the Convergence Alliance. Convergence is about new business models for startups, corporates and investors – driven by blockchain. The Alliance brings together key people with business, IT and academic background, that will shape the fundament new business ideas driven by blockchain, IoT and data analytics.”

Outlier Ventures previously communicated that it intends to deploy $30m worth of support for The Stack through its venture platform over the next 3 years5. The Alliance will finance its own activities such as working groups, summits, developer conferences, research and the creation of educational content through annual membership fees. However, core to the philosophy of the alliance is the careful curation of members who must demonstrate an advanced level of technical maturity and c-level commitment to business model innovation and the meaningful deployment of Stack technologies.

Ecosystem of partners unlocking $1.5 Trillion by 2025

The founding members6 represent a wider ecosystem of participants that are required to shift the industry from a period of experimentation by early adopters to cross the chasm to the wider market and unlock an estimated $1.5 trillion by 2025 according to IDC and IBM7 They believe this will be achieved by the Alliance’s objectives to:

  • Inspire visionaries within large enterprise innovation outposts, venture teams and labs to gain applied learning through pilots and early stage investments
  • Connect these innovations to strategic goals at the c-suite of highly digitised industries and technically mature organisations
  • Onboard and enable middle management, as implementers and budget holders, through effective usable solutions and tooling
  • Venture financing of early stage startups and research groups to bring technologies to market
  • Empowerment of both the technical and commercial talent market, including new entrants  and professionals looking to reskill and upskill to advocate and effect change 
  • 15.5M lines of code, includes lines of code totalled from GitHub from projects across the Stack.
  • The Convergence Stack is a refinement of the Outlier Ventures investment thesis first published in 2016 anticipating the convergence of blockchains with IoT, AI and eventually robotics. Further information can be found at https://outlierventures.io/research/the-convergence-stack/
  • Jaguar Land Rover, April 2019, https://www.jaguarlandrover.com/news/2019/04/money-earn-you-drive-jaguar-land-rover
  • Deutsche Telekom, May 2019, https://www.telekom.com/en/media/media-information/archive/cooperation-on-digital-economy-572728
  • https://outlierventures.io/research/crossing-the-crypto-chasm-diffusion-of-innovation/
  • 18 Founding members of the Convergence Alliance:Deutsche Telekom, InMotion Jaguar Land Rover, SAP, Imperial College London, Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, Datarella, MOBI, Fab City Global Initiative, OV, Agoric, Fetch.AI, IOTA, Ocean, BigChainDB/ DEX, Evernym, Sovrin, Haja Networks, SEED
  • IBM, 2018, Blockchain Market Shares, Market Strategies, and Market Forecasts, 2018 to 2024, https://www.ibm.com/downloads/cas/PPRR983X, IDC, 2018, IDC Forecasts Worldwide Technology Spending on the Internet of Things to Reach $1.2 Trillion in 2022, https://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS43994118
  • Outlier Ventures is a venture platform that supports the development and growth of new technologies. To do this we advise and invest in talented teams, and support businesses which create value for an open data economy. Established in 2013, Outlier were Europe’s first venture firm dedicated to blockchain technology. As early investors in the space, we foresaw the coming together of key technologies like AI and IoT with blockchains – which we termed ‘Convergence’ in 2016.

    Outlier Ventures have developed an industry-leading investment thesis, based on the convergence of decentralised technologies with other advancing technologies including artificial intelligence, robotics, and the Internet of Things. The convergence of these technologies will support a new open and decentralised data infrastructure. This creates next generation data technology which will drive the evolution of the next internet paradigm “Web 3.0”

    Outlier work with seed and growth stage startups as well as larger businesses who are committed to the vision of an open and decentralised data infrastructure. The team is 30 people strong, with a global presence including London, Toronto, Chicago and Amsterdam. With specialists in token economics, research, legal, marketing, and technology, we bring a powerhouse of support to founders and partners.

    Outlier Ventures have invested and partnered with some of the most impressive projects in the decentralised space including, IOTA, Ocean Protocol, Fetch.AI, SEED, Sovrin, Haja Networks and most recently Agoric, as well as a number of further planned ambitious investments. The firm also maintains strategic partnerships with its corporate and academic network. https://outlierventures.io/

    1. 15.5M lines of code, includes lines of code totalled from GitHub from projects across the Stack.
    2. The Convergence Stack is a refinement of the Outlier Ventures investment thesis first published in 2016 anticipating the convergence of blockchains with IoT, AI and eventually robotics. Further information can be found at https://outlierventures.io/research/the-convergence-stack/
    3. Jaguar Land Rover, April 2019, https://www.jaguarlandrover.com/news/2019/04/money-earn-you-drive-jaguar-land-rover
    4. Deutsche Telekom, May 2019, https://www.telekom.com/en/media/media-information/archive/cooperation-on-digital-economy-572728
    5. https://outlierventures.io/research/crossing-the-crypto-chasm-diffusion-of-innovation/
    6. 18 Founding members of the Convergence Alliance:Deutsche Telekom, InMotion Jaguar Land Rover, SAP, Imperial College London, Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, Datarella, MOBI, Fab City Global Initiative, OV, Agoric, Fetch.AI, IOTA, Ocean, BigChainDB/ DEX, Evernym, Sovrin, Haja Networks, SEED
    7. IBM, 2018, Blockchain Market Shares, Market Strategies, and Market Forecasts, 2018 to 2024, https://www.ibm.com/downloads/cas/PPRR983X, IDC, 2018, IDC Forecasts Worldwide Technology Spending on the Internet of Things to Reach $1.2 Trillion in 2022, https://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS43994118


    Also published on Medium.