Amber Baldet's New Startup Is a Blockchain Dapp Store
THE POINT IS -
The "brain drain" from Wall Street continues with the departure of two of JPMorgan's main blockchain people.
Baldet and Nielsen are tackling the problem of application development - one of the main weaknesses of the current blockchain ecosystem.
A lack of bitcoin-facing applications out of the gate betrays Baldet's background in permission blockchains.
The move may be just the thing needed to bridge the gap between public and private chains. Maybe...
Decentralized application development is harder than it should be.
That's the guiding framework behind Clovyr, a new startup launched by two former JPMorgan blockchain employees that seeks to provide a new layer of enterprise-driven services between blockchains and user-facing applications.
Founded by CoinDesk's "Most Influential" finalist Amber Baldet and cryptographer Patrick Mylund Nielsen, the mystery startup has been a topic of speculation since Baldet announced her departure from the investment bank last month.
Finally revealed at Consensus 2018 in New York today, Clovyr is a decentralized application store that will host a selection of well-vetted applications alongside some in-house developer tooling designed to simplify application development for enterprises.
Maintaining a "blockchain agnostic" approach to application design, Clovyr will initially provide tooling to build on both public and enterprise versions of ethereum, specifically the Quorum, Geth and Parity clients.
Speaking to CoinDesk, Baldet hinted that bitcoin-facing applications will also be possible, and further blockchain integrations may be added to the decentralized collection in future.
In a public beta planned to launch later this year, the team intend to provide an initial development framework for enterprises looking to build on the tech, as well as other potential novelties such as tooling for data analysis on private datasets - something that Baldet anticipates will be a popular product.
"Right now there's no way to keep data private at its point of origin and also enable big data analytics, but there could be," Nielsen said in a press release.
Going forward, the team plans to launch a full tech stack for privacy-protecting decentralized application design, that would achieve compliance with upcoming data protection law, the GDPR.
Baldet told CoinDesk:
"We're trying to empower people to build things themselves."
Connecting the dots
According to the team, while the technology is there, there's a gap in application design that has been stifling innovation across the board.
Companies looking to integrate decentralized tooling are faced with the confusion of digging through open-source development platforms.
"It's so easy to miss useful new tools," Baldet said.
On Clovyr, developers and enterprises won't need to go through the process of building the tooling from scratch that may have already been executed.
"We're doing all that heavy lifting so they can accelerate and iterate faster," Baldet told CoinDesk.
The application store will also enable the development of hybrid blockchain formats, such as enterprise chains that can link up to public network's to publish attestations or transactions.
According to Baldet, the latter will beneficial to enterprise looking for the scalability and control of a permissioned system combined with the security parameters of a public blockchain.
But it will feedback into the public ecosystem as well, Baldet said.
"We're bringing modern software development lifecycle practices to decentralized applications so people can save their time and resources, and finder a broader audience for their big idea," she told CoinDesk.
In the future, Baldet expects that the public and enterprise-focused applications will blur into a much more user-orientated experience.
Rather than evaluating tools based on their creators, Baldet said, "the users will start asking, does it do what I need it to do and does it meet my personal requirement?"
At the same time, businesses have a much clearer resource to work from in order to enter the industry. Baldet explained:
"And those corporates, all they need to do is onboard Clovyr then they can experiment across the entire field of apps and mash stuff up. So that's what it will do, it's good for everyone."
The beta version of Clovyr will be a collection of developer tooling.
"First thing we need to do is get the nuts and bolts of a workable developer framework out there," Baldet said.
Going forward, Baldet and Nielsen's experience in building J.P. Morgan's Quorum, which contains multiple privacy-enforcing layers, will result in tools that can help people build in a way that protects user data.
"We want to provide very clear privacy-preserving stacks [that] we recommend you go with if you don't know where to start," Baldet said.
While the team has yet to fully expand on what such a privacy-preserving system would look like, Baldet hinted that such applications should be more conservative about what information is shared on-chain, and suggested using the shared ledger merely as a coordination device.
Plus, Baldet and Nielsen both hinted that such privacy-preserving features could come with data-analysis capabilities as well.
Nielsen told CoinDesk:
"Currently privacy is seen as incompatible with data-driven insight, but that doesn't have to be the case."
Notably, the startup's applications intend to provide compliancy for the GDPR, a strict data-protection law that comes into force in Europe this month that some have worried may cause problems for public blockchain data.
"It's certainly a challenge, but we just need to be smart about designing around the constraints," Baldet told CoinDesk.
But Baldet's concern for data privacy runs deeper than the GDPR legislation as well.
She told CoinDesk:
"Privacy isn't just a law, it's also just a human rights issue for users of the system."