When asked about the timing of their release, COVA’s co-founder Vincent Li, a Harvard College alum and early employee of A16Z-backed Gigster.com, seems surprisingly cheerful.
“I think violent speculation in the crypto-market has done its job very well: in the two short years of the Ethereum era, the crypto-market has probably attracted more technical talents than any other industry. The serious teams can now focus and get some work done.”
COVA (Covalent.ai) has received over 10 million dollars of investment from FBG Capital, Huobi Capital, Kenetic Capital, ZhenFund, Metropolis VC, Bluehill, Alphacoin, Node Capital, Alphabit, BA Capital, BlockVC, etc. The elite team is led by co-founder Vincent Li, a Harvard College alum and early employee of A16Z-backed Gigster.com, and co-founder Raymond Gao, a Princeton University alum and early investor of Conjur (acquired by NASDAQ: CYBR).
At Gigster, Li helped create the first token system that successfully incentivised thousands of freelance software engineers.
COVA’s mission has attracted a team of top technical talents composed of prodigy hackers, world-level awards winners in ACM, IOI coding competitions, and veteran Silicon Valley engineers. In Li’s words,
“You can’t get these guys to lift a finger unless you are working on something from the future. The next Google or Wikipedia or SpaceX. They are pulling all-nighters for COVA because, at COVA, they know that they are upgrading the entire internet infrastructure in a fundamental way. ”
Li explained to us what “Smart Data” is with some examples.
“Here are some smart data behaviors that you might think are too good to be true: Smart credit card numbers that may only be used once for a one-time charge before self-destruction; Smart CT Scans that may be processed by an aggregate function and not rendered individually; Smart ebooks that can only be shared 15 times; Smart mobile GPS data that cannot be used to construct an intrusive customer profiling.”
According to Li, the COVA (Covalent.ai) team is making these smart data behaviors possible one-by-one through two pieces of proprietary blockchain technologies: “Centrifuge” and “CovaVM”. Li says that they eventually take the form of “a brand new internet protocol” that complements the current internet infrastructure.
Li borrowed an analogy from Al Gore and calls the current internet infrastructure the “information superhighway”, where “information” would be analogous to the “cars” that traverse this “superhighway.” He says that if “cars” in the real world really acted like “information,” we would be quickly descending into lawless hell. Once drivers get these “cars” to their destinations, they’re no longer at the steering wheel.
“For one, anybody waiting at the destination could simply hop into the car and drive away, or resell your car for a profit, even raid the glove compartment for the registration papers to find out where you live. It’s as if as soon as the car reaches its destination, its stops being yours.”
Li explains that the internet is made up of “a suite of protocols”, such as transport layer protocols like “TCP/IP”, and application layer protocols such as “FTP, HTTP, SSH”. Together, these protocols make sure that your data is properly “packetized, addressed, transmitted, routed, received, and interpreted – they make sure that your data gets to the right destination”.
“However the current suite of internet protocols does not regulate what happens to data after it has reached its destination”.
He says that the data on the internet is “mindless, exposed, and abused”, and that “data silos, privacy breaches, intellectual property infringements, unwanted advertisements, election manipulations, digital footprints, and spam are all negative effects from a lack of enforceable data usage policies.”
He explains that COVA is this new internet protocol of “smarter data that remembers, knows when to keep a secret, learns from its users, and more”.
He says that with COVA, the owner of a data package can attach a data usage policy that “dictates how the data may be used, and makes sure programs operating on it obey the policy”. He calls this machine-enforceable data usage policy a “Smart Policy”.
Li made a comparison to Ethereum, “just as the “Smart Contracts” powered by Ethereum are machine-enforceable legal contracts, COVA “Smart Policies” are machine-enforceable data usage policies”.
With the deadly combination of a fascinating idea, a team of elite technical talents, and some of the biggest investors in the cryptocurrency space, COVA is serious project to look out for, regardless of the market.