Dominic von Trotha Taylor, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of iov42 tells us about their identity-centric approach with asset ownership proofs.
First of all, how are you and iov42 team doing in these COVID-19 times?
Dominic von Trotha Taylor: The worldwide spread of the virus, on many levels, has been an absolute nightmare for populations around the world. Many people, families and businesses have been affected in different ways. I cannot overstate how much sympathy I have for all those who have been impacted.
Coming back to iov42, we have been minimally affected, as most of us have got used to home working. As a company, we are in a really exciting place on our journey. In the middle of 2020, our platform was finally ready for use, after over two years of deep tech development. We have since been busy aligning the company to face the challenge of commercializing the business – 2020 was always going to be a huge year of change for us.
And could you please tell us about yourself and how you joined iov42.
Dominic von Trotha Taylor: Well, it was during 2020, in the middle of this year of big change, that I took on the role of CEO at iov42. I brought with me many years of experience from different industries, including telecoms and payments. But I really came to realize that after over 20 years of building up a payments business, I really love working in very young companies, with emerging tech and with a big vision to create great things. That’s why I am so passionate about working with iov42.
But I originally got involved with iov42 as an investor in 2016, when I fell in love with the company’s brave and ambitious vision to create an internet of value (and trust), designed for governments and enterprises – I believe this has now largely been delivered in our exciting new platform.
My first challenge, faced with the need to commercialize the business and find and attract customers, was to restructure, and find some good people to drive interest from industries, governments and customers. As a platform operator, our go-to-market strategy is very much to work with software development and infrastructure companies to allow them to develop great solutions on our platform for their end customers.
Tell us about iov42 and the problems it aims to solve?
Dominic von Trotha Taylor: As I have said, the original intention when I invested in the company was to create an identity platform for building trust. And that company vision still holds true today.
But as we all know, with online interactions it’s increasingly difficult to know just how much you can trust what’s going on. Do you really know who you’re dealing with? Are you confident in what you are exchanging? Do you know how to consent to an exchange? Do you have proof that the exchange happened? Are you even allowed to do the exchange – is it legal? These are the sorts of questions that our platform resolves for our customers to allow them to trust and be confident in the transactions they’re making.
We offer a way for organizations – from governments and enterprises to startups – to make sure that everyone can completely trust what’s going on when you deal with people in this digital world.
So how does the customer access this? Through our API-first approach, we are able to provide easy access for businesses of any size to plug in their processes. From there we can monitor what happens and provide proof that their expectations are being met, and all parties are happy.
We do this all through our identity-centric platform which was inspired by blockchain, but based on our own, pioneering technology that makes it simpler, faster, and more secure.
Can you expand a bit more on what you mean by “inspired by blockchain?”
Dominic von Trotha Taylor: We don’t regard ourselves to be purists in the world of blockchain. In fact, the vision I initially invested in was one that intended to tread the middle path of pragmatism — to build a viable solution for governments and large organizations that respected regulation and data privacy, and achieve scale and efficiency.
Whilst we absolutely do use blockchain technology in our solution, we seek to leverage the strengths of blockchain, such as immutability and security, but at the same time complement these strengths with other technologies operated by other organizations, allowing us to provide an energy-efficient and scalable solution that currently isn’t available on the market.
For example, instead of relying on software to run a node on any hardware – as other blockchains do – we use data centres as nodes. This allows us to scale our network like the internet. We also use the open-source Apache Kafka messaging technology as the basis of our engineering. It is a massively scalable streaming data technology used by tech giants like Netflix and Twitter.
The overall objective is to use the best technology available today to create a solution that large organizations and their users can rely on.
As a company working in the tech space, how has Covid-19 impacted the way your company operates?
Dominic von Trotha Taylor: It has been such a hard year in so many ways … personally, professionally, and otherwise.
When it comes to the business side of things, I think tech companies have been much less affected than traditional businesses with leases on premises, employee furloughs and so on. But of course, we have all been hugely affected by the isolation of working from home, the inability to see friends and work colleagues. I don’t know about you, but the endless meetings on Zoom and other equivalent tools can make it really hard to separate work time from home time – and that can drive stress for you and for those around you.
But all that said, iov42 has gone through a lot of change and managed the past year pretty well – morale is high!
I mean, even before Covid hit, our company was already very remote and supportive of working from home… So despite our team being spread across Greater London, Vienna, and Zurich, we had, and continue to have a really good working environment. Everyone is clear about what we’re trying to do, and there’s lots of open communication, healthy push-back, and support throughout the business.
How do we achieve that? For one, we make sure to have regular meetings across the various team functions. We all have cross-company meets at least every fortnight.
Besides regular meetings, we use a variety of different software to support open collaboration and high productivity. For example, we use Slack as a quick, general communication tool. We also use Miro for online whiteboard exercises, as well as a virtual office space called Spatial. I particularly like Spatial, because it replicates a physical office and allows you to ‘wander around.’ Part of my management creed has always been walking around the office and casually checking 0n people. For me, Spatial is as close as you can get to the real thing.
Of course, we’re all hoping we’re going to get to the other side of Covid. If and when that happens, we are looking forward to travelling again, seeing each other face to face, going to conferences, and meeting customers and clients.
That being said, I’m sure that all of the new learnings gained around working over the past year or so will carry on, even when Covid is more or less under control. There are lots we have gained in resource efficiencies, so it will be interesting to see how these Covid-time practices continue.
Have there been any other impacts on your business over the past year?
We have also made positive inroads into the sustainable supply chain of timber, starting with a PoC between the world’s largest timber certification agency and a large timber importer to the EU. These relationships are now spreading across the supply chain, with the ultimate objective of being able to track timber from the forest to shelf.
We have also been able to work on a few game-changing tenders for a variety of government-related organizations, including the EU. We are really excited about these opportunities because they give us the chance to learn, grow, and innovate.
Your final thoughts?
Dominic von Trotha Taylor: We’re very excited about the future. In a very tough year of Covid, we’ve managed to transition from a technology development company to a commercially-led business with customers using our platform and growing interest from various sectors, including governments.
I think we have a promising horizon ahead of us and we’re all very focused on it. What’s not to love about that?
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