Interview with Franklin Song, Co-Founder & CEO of DATA

Interview with Franklin Song, Co-Founder & CEO of DATA

How was the idea of DATA born?

DATA was a brainchild of co-founders and college classmates, Franklin Song, Chairman of DATA Foundation and Victor Ye, Lead Engineer. They both studied Computer Science Master’s program in the US and worked in a large enterprise or social networks. Franklin had started three companies including the mobile game development house Soul Game and the mobile video ads optimization provider Yomob. Their interest in blockchain was rooted in the deep understanding of large-scale distributed systems and artificial intelligence and what the decentralized blockchain technology can be applied toward solving numerous shortcomings of known data fraud that exists and costs immensely in the technology world of advertising ecosystem where data has been created, consumed and paid for. According to the recent report, over 45% of the data traffic flowing in all the ads networks up and down the stream is fraudulent.

Thus Franklin assembled a team including experts that have had years of experiences in various advertising technology sectors and developed the DATA project. The central theme of DATA project is to provide a set of open protocols based on blockchain’s decentralized general ledger and powered by AI as well as to establish a data trust alliance.  The alliance is a vehicle with the shared goals to improve the efficiency of cooperation amongst data producers, data processors, and data consumers, benefitting from an effective reduction in data fraud on the entire ecosystem.

Franklin is the founder and chairman of Blockchain DATA Foundation. He held EE and MSEE from Tsinghua University and Yale University respectively and previously worked in MSRA and Oracle in Silicon Valley. Franklin is a serial entrepreneur. He also founded Yomob a service platform aiming at optimizing global mobile monetization. It has more than 2,000 mobile developers and serves 120 million global end users monthly. Yomob’s founding mission is to help mobile developers to succeed. However, during the process of providing advertising monetization optimization services, Franklin learned that fraudulent data flow has caused advertisers and publishers heavy losses and indirectly reduced the income of developers who are doing practical work. While the current Internet technology cannot prevent data falsification from the source. He hopes to find an effective way to solve the problem that “terminal data fraud” has become increasingly common and severe.

“Advertising fraud” refers to activities issued by advertisers, advertising operators, and advertising publishers intentionally make false goods or services during advertising campaigns, or hide the facts, which may cause consumers to make wrong consumption decisions. The White Paper for Anti-Fraud Advertising in AdMaster describes many types of fraud: Non-Human Traffic, content bias, material that hasn’t been shown, false sales leads, multiple activations or repeated conversions, and so on. In 2016, China’s invalid traffic accounted for 30.2% of the total. This is a 100-billion advertising market. Such a high ratio is an unimaginable waste.

Around June 2017, Franklin found his old friend Victor in Silicon Valley. Victor graduated from Tsinghua University and Columbia University and worked for LinkedIn, Twitter, and Snapchat. Since 2013, he has begun to study large-scale distributed system and had a deep research about data encryption and blockchain technology. Victor is making great efforts to explore its application and usage in real life. After several months of communication and research, they believed that Data Authentication is an area in which blockchain technology can really generate value. They decided to build a blockchain team in Silicon Valley and create the DATA project.

  • Can you explain the common people about your product?

DATA is a digital data authentication protocol based on blockchain and powered by AI technology and P2P mobile storage structure. DATA aims at providing an efficient solution for data producers, consumers, and processors, assessing the value of data through technical means, and preventing false data from entering the ecosystem, thereby enhancing the overall efficiency of the industry chain.

DATA Project is the new paradigm for a secured and trusted digital economy, where fraud is proactively detected and prevented much earlier before the damage ripples into the trading chain.  The entire data flow is open, decentralized and cannot be altered.

  • As the company accomplished its ICO, what has already been done and what are you going to create with the money collected by the ICO?

DATA only has done institution only private sale in mid-Jan 2018, we have made substantial progress in technology development, strategic partnership, and community building.

For technology development, we work on both the DATA main net and prototype.

The backbone of DATA is based on Ethermint open-source engine, whereas we are able to store extra content in user account system, it’s device level reputation data. Our internal test net is running in a small test suite that’s globally distributed. We plan to launch open test net and contribute code to open source in the second quarter, 2018.

In April, the prototype of DATA integration with Yomob Advertising SDK is successfully completed and tested. The prototype SDK is currently launched on one of Yomob’s developers, Zap Zombies. More selected partners will be introduced in the near future, and the SDK will gradually be rolled out to 2000+ developers and more than 120 million MAUs on Yomob platform. There will be a detailed guide to elaborate how to gain DATA reward soon.

In terms of the strategic partnership, we founded Data Trust Alliance, which is an alliance that aims to build an authentic and trusted data ecosystem. Currently, our members include Blue Focus – the largest communication group in Asia, Kochava – the digital marketing data analysis company and its blockchain based digital marketing platform XCHNG. These partners help expand the application scenarios and use cases by adopting consensus with  DATA protocol.  We have also formed a strategic partnership with blockchain projects such as Distributed Credit Chain (DCC), GIFTO (GTO) and Content Neutrality Network (CNN).

As for community building, DATA has nearly 130K fans all over the world. DTA tokens are held by 160K investors with over 230K total transactions. Last week, DATA’s Korean version whitepaper and official website have been translated by local blockchain marketing & consulting KryptoSeoul.  We will update our official website with the support of Korean language content.

  • How does DATA differ from similar services? How can your innovative service assist the advertising industry?

DATA system is composed of four layers:

  1. P2P mobile metadata management layer (M³), a off-chain storage that was inspired by IPFS but designed especially for mobile devices based on Distributed Hash Table (DHT) and Erasure Code;
  2. Blockchain layer, a standalone public chain built from a fork of Ethereum on Tendermint, the Ethermint project;
  3. SDK management layer, in which AI technologies are used to generate AI models for device level reputation modeling and transfer the reputation and activity logs into M³ for peer verification;
  4. Application process layer consists of protocols and smart contracts to perform fraud detection, micropayment, and other services.

In DATA, App developers are rewarded for integrating into the system while users are rewarded for their attention contribution under proof of attention (PoA) mining rules.

The DATA project’s most innovative edge is to proactively identify and measure the fraudulent user data before being injected into the entire network.  While fraud pattern is detected,  the reward is granted to a true user for his or her attention consuming the advertisements and to the associated device contributing to in the P2P mobile storage sharing.

Storing a large scale of user data on blockchain is challenging. DATA introduces a decentralized Mobile Metadata Management system (M³) to store data in end devices while record user reputation on-chain. M³ can also be applied widely as an open infrastructure in blockchain industry.

  • How can DATA improve trust between players in the digital ecosystem?

DATA Project is designed as an open-source protocol, to disrupt the digital landscape, using the most current and proven blockchain technology and powered by AI, enabling data authentication stacked in the decentralized infrastructure.  Data is highly encrypted, stored on the local device yet updated and shared in real-time.

In this economy, the reward is given to end users and publishers with tokens for the actual consumption. A reputation modeling is applied to determine the right amount of reward.  For example, a zombie device can be immediately detected as the pattern of attention is gathered and analyzed. Advertisers are pleased receiving solid ROI instead of spending on chasing and eliminating fraudulently. Trust amongst all parties is measured, certified and incentivized.

  • How can anyone join DATA?

As end-users, anyone can join DATA by signing up for DATA reward system on any apps that partner with DATA. Once register, users can get DATA points reward based on Proof of Attention (PoA) rules. And then, they can use DATA points to exchange for DATA tokens (DTA). Traditionally, users are not rewarded for watching ads on the Internet but in DATA ecosystem, every user can get a reward after paying attention to ads on partner’s platforms/apps.

As mobile developers or platforms, they can join DATA as publishers. Publishers will get a reward based on the “attention data” generated from end-users through using the apps or platforms.

As qualified companies or institutes, they can join DATA as validator nodes in the system. Rewards for validators are issued on each block creation following DPoS rules.

Here is specific guidance on how to get DATA reward token DTA for different players in DATA ecosystem.

In DPoS systems, validators (like miners in PoW systems) can be rewarded for their contribution to the network. In DATA, users and publishers get most of the reward for their attention and data contribution.

Tokens are to be distributed in the following manner:

Initial Launch:

The supply of DATA Tokens (DTA) at initial launch will be 11.5 billion tokens, out of which no more than 40% will be sold to Token investors, and the rest belongs to team, advisors, and Blockchain Data Foundation, subject to vesting terms.

PoA Mining-like Process:

The same amount of tokens as the supply at the initial launch will be distributed as Attention Reward in the mining-like process.

Each relevant contributor is properly incentivized according to the following principles:

  • Rewards for users and publishers are issued on a daily basis and follow this “Proof of Attention” (PoA) rules.
  • Users daily reward depends on its attention contribution represented by its reputation determined by validators.
  • Rewards for validators are issued on each block creation following DPoS rules.

As a first step when launching DATA prototype, it will allow our community to get reward under Proof of Attention (PoA). This will also enlarge our community and holder token since some no coiners will be converted to coiners by signing up DATA reward system.

The attention reward distribution amount has a halving schedule similar to that of Bitcoins (e.g. halving about every 4 years). And when the newly minted amount diminishes, we expect DATA and DATA Tokens (DTA) to become industry protocol and widely accepted. That is the time when advertisers start to purchase DTA as the currency in the ad flow, and the token flow gradually substitutes current money flow in the digital ads ecosystem. The DTA currency represents the real value of the opportunity cost of user attention, which is highly relevant to the user acquisition cost. Given that the aggregate market value of the Internet is continuously growing while the total cyber attention from humans is limited to, it is expected that the value of DTA will keep increasing as the time goes by.

  • Why did you need Token Sale?

As all technology startups, we need to raise fund for our technology development, user rewards, daily operation, and compensation. For that, we had rather successfully completed the institute-only private sale in January 2018.

For every player that contributes in establishing a healthier eco-system, we want to incentivize end-users, publishers, and validators with utility tokens that facilitate the process of data authentication in the ecosystem where such utility can be of true value.

  • What are your plans for the future?

We have made great progress accelerating our technology development on DATA chain and product.  In the meantime,  we are reaching out to more potential partners to join our Data Trust Alliance.  The latter is a crucial part as we intend to keep the ecosystem open to enable the creation of more application scenarios and expansion of a strong community growth based on the nature of consensus in ensuring fraud reduction and data authentication.

Here is the detailed roadmap for DATA project.

PHASE I: Development and Marketing

2018 Q1 Blockchain Data Foundation founded.

2018 Q1 DATA Project institution-only private token sale as ERC20 token on Ethererum. Marketing strategy formed.

2018 Q2 DATA first prototype initial testing including DTA distribution system and etc.

PHASE II: Internal Release to Test on Yomob

2018 Q3 Alpha launch of DATA Chain and system, integrated inside Yomob’s SDK (DATA version). First Go-to-market strategy executed.

2018 Q3 Finish Closed Alpha test with selected participants from developers on Yomob platform. Distribute DTA with developers, users, and miners.
2018 Q4 Conversion of ERC20 based DATA Token to a native token. Closed Beta launch of DATA on Yomob platform with most of its developers.

2019 Q1 Open Beta launch of DATA on Yomob platform. Release Beta version of DATA SDK Protocol.

PHASE III: Soft Launch to Early Adopters

2019 Q1 Start industry collaboration with initial strategic partners including both ad networks and developers. Start building DATA ecosystem and generate DTA.

2019 Q1 Release Alpha Version of M³ for initial testing.

PHASE IV: Launch for Broader Adoption through Ecosystem

2019 Q2 Fully functional DATA system to include a wallet, micropayment. Provide external APIs / SDK solutions for developers to enable the in-app purchase of virtual goods and services to their end users.

2019 Q2 Release Beta Version of M³.

2019 Q3 Partner with selected industry strategic partners such as mobile SaaS service providers, App Stores, developers, ad networks, DSPs, ad exchanges, SSPs and etc. for utilizing DTA as a currency for more use cases.

2019 Q4 Offical launch of DATA Project and parallel marketing promotion for broad industry adoption. Open invite to engage partners up- and down-stream of the ecosystem.

Overall, the planning in our roadmap is rather conservative, but it guarantees the punctuality of our delivery. We expect our progress to be much faster than that presented in the roadmap. Our goal is to build a large ecosystem and we have to start off with small groups of communities and then grow them into something big and self-sustainable. There is no doubt that we have a long way to go. We hope that, together with our great community, we can move forward step by step and eventually find our position in not only the blockchain world but also the broader society.