This week Chris and Johan are joined by Colin Gounden CEO of VIA. VIA’s main mission is to help clean energy companies and government agencies unlock the value of their data by bringing AI everywhere, and in this episode, they go in detail on blockchains, the important things about data and how to even get your own company started.
Broadcasting from the commodity capital of the world, Zurich, Switzerland, this is insider's guide to energy.
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Welcome to insiders guide to energy.
I'm your host, Chris Sass, and with me, as always, as co-host Johan Oberg yo on what's happening today.
Hey Chris, it's another good day and feeling a little bit of sensitivity.
You know the work is coming up more and more to do actually have the opportunity to spend a few days out of the office to meet people and face to face again.
So I'm really.
How you been doing back from the US?
I am back from the US. I've been out meeting people quite a bit lately on the road. We've got a trade show coming up in October, energy trading week in Houston.
Insiders guide will be hosting our first student event there. We're expecting 100 students. It should be a great event, so if you're listening and this comes out before that, please.
Come visit us in Houston.
We'd love to see and talk to our audience.
Uhm, I've been doing well as well.
I'm looking forward to tonight's episode or today's episode, depending on when you're listening to this.
I think we're going to start talking about technology again.
We're gonna go back into a technology bank.
So a lot of times we go kind of broad.
This time it's a technology conversation.
Which I like you know we we set it up and said this convergence between the energy world and the technology world and see you know how how does this match and what technology drives the transformation and is it bus words or is actually making a difference and and obviously today we have some of the the big bus words and I'm really looking forward to seeing.
Talking a little bit about with our guest, what value does it really create, not just the actual technology, but the actual value.
You know me, I'm a commercial guy.
I want to see what it.
Does for customers.
So why don't we just jump right into this weeks episode and just start talking about that today?
I'd like to introduce Colin Gondon.
Colon, welcome to the program.
Thank you Chris and Johan for inviting me on.
A pleasure to be here.
Well, we're looking forward to the conversation today.
I think you were inspired to to come on the podcast or reach out to us by a previous guest.
And if I'm not mistaken, we might have been talking blockchain at the time that that that might have caught your attention.
I think that's right.
We, you know, we've been in the.
Blockchain space for.
Five years now and, you know, very early applications around this area.
When we started, I want to.
Say there were 300 and 83190 companies providing blockchain solutions in the energy space specifically, and all of them.
We're focused on this area of pure, pure trading or energy.
Trading and we were one of the few that actually had nothing to do with that.
We're focused in the area of data and data privacy, which we think is a much better and bigger application and has a broader, you know to your point Johan, where you say it has a big business value that's that's immediate and happy to chat more about that today also.
Happy to chat about business, happy to chat about macro trends.
Energy is affecting everything, so like nothing is off the table in terms.
Of questions today.
Well, as if you know, if you listen, that Johann.
And I go wherever.
Wherever the conversation takes us, so we appreciate that.
I think when you say we, it would be helpful for the audience to understand who we are, what what company are you apart of?
I'm calling down to the CEO at via co-founder here as well.
I have a background in technology.
I've been in technology for 30 plus years, originally with IBM.
I had two startups in the in one of the 90s and then one in the mid 2000s that were both successful. I was also a a partner, a board director at a private.
Equity company with $2 billion in her management and and 2000 people around the world.
Uhm, founded via in 2016. Focused in the area with the around AI machine learning to help the grid stay reliable.
And one of the things that we found is.
It didn't really matter.
How good your math or AI was if you couldn't get access?
To the data.
This data access issue was a much bigger barrier to creating any of the business value people wanted out of analytics and AI, and so we developed a platform.
Keep data private and secure and still analyzable, and that platform is now used around the world today by a lot of companies.
So, so we mentioned a little bit in terms of AI and and and blockchain and and and obviously we can go very broad on this but but in your definition maybe full for our guests and because we.
Had other people on.
On the show that talks about same.
Thing maybe a.
How do you see what, what, how?
When you talk about energy and blockchain, what are the kind of the core components that or the core key components that you would put in?
Yeah so I think it's a great question.
You know we're we're starting with the energy piece at that and then when we think so first I I would take a one step back I I think broadly we have a mission which is around cleaner safer more equitable communities and I think that's an important context piece because you know when we talk about.
The data required to make decisions about energy and energy infrastructure is increasingly decentralized.
It's in more and more places you've been both of you, Chris and Johanna, fit in the energy space A.
While and you.
Know for a long time, literally a utility generated burn some fuel generated some power.
Sent it down a line to somebody home and that was kind of like what you had one player in the end to end.
Today, the power might be rooftop solar, it might be an electric vehicle.
The people who are involved maybe the the local government or a community provider, as well as the utility as well as a building owner.
There are lots of different parties involved.
And when you get into that world one, that data comes from more or more places to keep the grid alive and healthy and basic decisions and support requires more more understanding and nuance in order to to make key decisions around investment.
And if can I give you, give me one minute, I'll give you a quick example.
How to how to make that?
I don't know.
Are either of you Chris or Johann Arthur?
You electric vehicle owners?
Jonah Jonah EV yourselves?
OK, so you know, if you think about an electric view, I'll give you a quick example.
Zurich has a lot of electric vehicles, right? You're going to think about upgrading the infrastructure and a lot of communities. In order to handle that, EV's use a lot of power. Let's take.
So if you're a power company and you do some analysis, the easy thing you might say is.
Oh, where all the EV is going to be bought.
I see whether there's a lot of them being purchased, a lot of Teslas.
That's where I got to upgrade the infrastructure.
That makes sense.
We should all go.
We shall be happy about that.
When you think, well, who's buying all these?
Technically, they happen to be wealthier neighborhoods, right?
They're buying it in Zurich.
You'll find a lot of them in the South Bronx of New York City.
Not a lot of Teslas, which means what's happening is all the infrastructure upgrades are going to all the wealthy neighborhoods and.
All the lower and moderate.
Income communities are not getting the infrastructure upgrades, and that has all kinds of impact on social economic development.
It has impact on environmentally right.
So a neighborhood like the Hunts Point neighborhood in South Bronx, Manhattan has twice the asthma rate.
Of the rest of the New York City.
And so you need to get data from other places in order to make the make a, make a, make the right decision about where to upgrade and what where to invest your money.
Based on sort of simple data set.
But I I guess.
Where I would challenge that.
That picture a little bit is early EV deployment tends to be fleet based, Yep.
And so if you look at fleet models, fleets are looking at some of it's charged with depot, some of it's at home and some of its St like that's what they're looking to do, right?
So that breaks that economic barrier you just talked about a little bit 'cause if I'm putting a fleet in and I have a driver, my driver.
On the Upper East Side, they may live in the Bronx, right?
And so I may have a different.
So does this data that you've worked with help with that as?
Well, so I don't disagree that fleets are a big part of this, but actually electrified fleets have not been like literally we've only had electrified vehicles, you know, really popularized last 10 years.
The the fleet vehicles are relatively new.
Right, trucks, etc. Or.
Only in the last year the F-150 is the.
Big pickup to come out in the electrified vehicle space.
That's only this year.
Teslas have been around for a while, so all of the infrastructure upgrades actually had their there's report from in Illinois and report in New York.
The infrastructure upgrades have been going disproportionately to these other areas.
What you need to do is include more.
Data about that aren't just about the grid, but also demographics in other areas to compensate.
For that around fleet vehicles, you are right, you're making a good point, which is now you need to think about routes and route traffic and one of the reasons that hunts point in South Bronx has this big.
Uh, uh, this this big asthma rate that CDC would say it's the highest asthma rate, actually, in the entire United States.
Actually, it's not, because, you know, there aren't actually that many car owners in that neighborhood.
It's because they're adjacent to a large industrial port and that needs to get the part that actually needs to reduce diesel emissions and be electrified.
And so it's that combination of now I need commercial data from, you know, from hundreds of companies that operate in that port.
Now I need data about the neighborhood to manage.
And understand if the health outcomes are happening now I need electrification data about the grid and how to handle and balance the the new new on boarding of power.
So lots of different datasets from new players.
And generally you should, you know, if you're, if you've spent any time at a big company, you will know people don't like to share data, you know they don't like to share it within a company, nevermind like across companies to be able to make these kinds of you know, thoughtful decisions.
So that that's essentially the problem we're solving for.
So how how do you solve that?
Because I I worked a.
Lot in terms of smart cities.
And and you start, we always said that data is the new goal which was back in 1015 years ago.
Well, we wonder why that come from, but literally OK the data.
Once you get the data available somehow, if you do something smart with it, you can you can create value as you as you said.
Yes, there's a big big challenge in sharing this data.
It's obviously to make bundles that you can sell into some kind of an ecosystem, some kind of a digital platform.
But but how would you?
Even if it's blockchain, even if it's AI, but still access to the data doesn't matter what technology is behind it, you still need to get approval or get that data right?
So you, so you.
Raise an excellent point. Yeah that's you you raise an excellent point which is the the this the sharing piece or permission piece is always the hardest part and I want to say The Economist had data is the new oil on the cover back in I want to say like 2006 2008 like it's been a while.
At these terms.
The short version is math.
Mathematics is kind of in the same way that today.
Uhm, we now have a voice recognition on basically everything, right?
Your car and your TV remote and your your Alexa and Siri at home.
You have a you know when you point your camera phone at a.
At a pick at a person, the little rectangle comes up and identifies a human face, even though it's not a person they've seen before.
And it could be day or night, a crowd or or a, you know, a solitaire E image.
Basically, all of that's just mathematics to be able to identify these pieces.
There's a whole.
New branches of mathematics developed over the last few years that basically we've been pioneers in.
And we have 8 issued patents in this area in the last 18 months. We work with the US Department of Defense with some of their data sets to be able to kind of validate that we have this high level of, you know, security and cyber security. And basically the math allows data to be kept anonymous. Oh, and you can learn.
From it without actually just extract the information you're looking for without actually transferring the data.
So you know, instead of you sending me the data and looking at it and saying, you know, I'll figure out what questions I'm asked.
Essentially ask the question I want.
You know, instead of sending you my whole years worth of energy data.
You just want.
To know the.
Peak or you want to know whether your peak was it uh consumption was within this range or you want to like answer the question that's.
Most valuable and.
Remove the individualized and not pieces that identify you as a person and so.
That math has come a long way in the last several years and essentially implementing that and and this gets back to the I'm happy to pause there or tell you a little bit about like the tide of blockchain in a second if that's helpful to you.
So I guess the question I have is I get the data, I get the mission you described.
So you were saying hey, let's get equitable grids and and get the the infrastructure spread out.
Who's using your data?
Who's your customer?
Well, a couple things about that.
First, you know, technically we don't take again in order for privacy and.
And security be maintained.
We don't take possession of the data.
So the data always remains in control and owned and in possession at premise with with ever have customer.
Those are you.
Know the the customers very we work with I mentioned the US Department of Defense. It turns out if you can keep data private and anonymous and allow an analysis they become a good customer. We like them because we you know we the US government is the single largest consumer.
Of energy on the plan.
And the Department of Defense is 72% of all the energy consumption for the US government. So being able to work with Air Force bases and other agencies who have need about analyzing their data related to energy and infrastructure is.
One of the big customers that we've had and has grown kind of aggressively.
We we started with them just two years ago.
Yeah, June 2020 and we have nine more than 9 contracts across multiple agencies with them today.
Other kinds of customers are both, I would say both power companies, so five of the top 20 power companies, largest companies in the world, NL in Europe, which is the largest in Europe and is as a customer of record.
In the United States, at Hawaiian Electric and others.
Uh in Asia Vector which is the largest in New Zealand and so we TEPCO in Japan which is the largest in Japan, a lot of lot of well known companies.
And the other category is.
Where as you.
As you know well, electrification is spreading everywhere, so companies that didn't used to be power companies now are so.
Automotive companies are now actually electric companies, right?
Tesla has the.
That's equal to the next 10 automakers combined.
Not because they sell autos.
You know, they sell a lot less than either Toyota or General Motors or Ford.
It's because of their introduction power.
So automakers, logistics companies, airlines, there are a lot of people now in this space of thinking about how.
Power is impacting them.
And those overall current customers as well?
So coming back to my introduction.
Part of this where you create the value so so I understand.
Large customers, obviously heavy energy, either producers or consumers, you, you tie the technology, you get some kind of data out of this one.
But maybe for simple matters myself to give what actually is the value that comes out of it for one of these if you take the the the.
Military part or even one of the util.
These as a core value, what do they get from it?
Uh, so I think the the kinds of questions that people are using to they're trying to answer are both planning questions and verification questions.
So operation planning and operational, are there two kinds of categories a planning question is?
Uhm, I have.
10,000 distribution Transformers in my city. I can't upgrade them all. There's not enough copper along the planet. We actually had a utility executive say this.
There is not enough copper on the planet for me to upgrade all of my infrastructure for.
All of the.
Electrification that's coming.
How do I prioritize what I'm upgrading and what I'm not?
Where am I going to upgrade first, those are like actual questions people need to on an operational front.
Going back to the we have supply chain constraints, right?
Now there are, you know, everybody is competing for batteries in battery storage.
Everybody is competing for new Transformers, everybody is competing for upgrades on, you know, transmission and distribution lines.
In that world where I cannot get enough equipment, I now need to make operational choices about where am I going to send power, how can I turn work, where is, you know, curtailment going to happen?
Whose power can I incentivize to turn down or turn off?
Those are all live, real time operational decisions and I need data not just for me, but I need data from the fleet.
Operators, Chris, that you said, 'cause if they're going to be consuming, I gotta know it sooner rather than later.
I need that from even you know, somebody like Johnson Controls or from ABB who have control centers.
How can I get more real time information and data from individuals?
To be able to.
Manage systems in order to turn down or attenuate power needs, especially at the peak, right?
Most of the time, actually, I'm pretty much fine.
It's actually only the peaks that matter, and as we transition to clean energy sources that are more variable, I don't know when the sun is going to shine.
I don't know when the wind is.
Going to blow.
I need to manage those peaks much more aggressively.
So you mentioned before that the data remains the property of of whoever's data it is. You also mentioned blockchain or I mentioned blockchain in the introduction. So two things that come to mind is.
Who's putting it on which blockchain and then who's paying for it?
Because blockchain doesn't come for free 'cause there's some overhead to a blockchain, so how does that work?
So a couple of things we'd say first that.
People sometimes forget that the crypto and crypto currencies actually for cryptography.
And a lot of the, uh, you know that a lot of the method around how to trade digital assets or, you know, uh, Bitcoin, or actually all of that can be applied to data as well because all you did was turn money into a data asset and now I can use all the same same kind of technologies.
Your specific question about which blockchain.
So first we'd say we do not move the data to the.
Blockchain that seems like that's going to be highly problematic because for all the reasons of making it public or making it distributed, it makes it also energy intensive.
We don't want to have.
To do that, what we can do with math is say your data remains on your server at the Department of Defense where it stays at the person individuals home.
If it's a.
Consumer, you know, near their smart meter and what we're doing is creating a small representation of that data that is cryptographically secure and storing that small, that hash, that, that sort of pointer on the block.
OK, so that's actually what goes to the blockchain is something that's it's one way.
It's only decipherable one way, so it's a pointer and it's.
Only way in that.
OK, so, so.
You put a hash in the blockchain, but.
It still brings the problem up is.
Who's who's blockchain and who pays for that?
Keeping that up there.
So we use two different kinds of blockchains.
Actually, Villa has our own blockchain.
Called via secure chain.
It is the only blockchain that's actually used daily by the US Department of Defense, and it has a cyber security accreditation able to run up to top secret and classified level workflows.
It's the only one in the world with that.
So that that is that's.
Sort of a private and we use that for custodial services.
So like when we need to actually store that, that's that's.
Store the hashes and make sure something is what.
It says it is.
That's what that's for and there is actually very low cost actually.
So we basically support the cost of that.
And, and we have, you know, for people who use the applications built on top, they pay us a license fee for, you know, in terms of business model for transactions where someone is buying or selling data or actually you know, they want to they, they you want to have the permissions.
We use a public blockchain and we use you know, like Polygon for example.
Our goal is not really fast, low cost transactions.
There's a whole set of people who are focused in that area.
We're compatible with any Ethereum based blockchain for that.
So, so coming back to a little bit.
The questions that you mentioned before though to say you had customers in the US military is one of them.
You said you had in in Japan, you had in in Switzerland.
You have all over the world where where are you as a company that that's, that's a broad market, that's a global market and of course software is slightly easier than maybe.
In other ways.
How do you, how are you at this company and how do you support the global market?
Well, a couple.
I was lucky enough.
You know, my last company grew too.
To 2000 people in five years we were had people in 18 locations around the world. So managing a global enterprise is a lot.
Especially now with things being remote, things are a lot easier to manage a global globally than they were three years ago.
Uh, we are physically, I'm happy to be physically based in the Boston area. K just outside and and Harvard at MIT and this is our corporate headquarters. We are uh US based you know, company.
We have a technical center in Montreal, Canada.
We love Montreal for a lot of reasons.
It's it's both an easy drive in the same time zone, but also has great technical talent and then our.
European base is in Suk.
So just outside of Zurich.
Uhm, we like Switzerland a lot because the it's quite centrally located.
So if you need to serve France or Germany or Italy you can do that from from the area.
It also has great talent and research facilities.
Been working with.
People like Asha cellular or others and the universities and and with the Swiss Bay FA for for a long period of time, for multiple years.
And so we like the environment.
Switzerland we also like because our big thing is about data privacy.
I'm going to go out on a limb and say there aren't many countries in the world who have as hard or or, you know, regulate.
Reputation around data privacy. I think data privacy is still evolving in lots of jurisdictions, the US for example, at state by state.
If we can meet that, uh, Swiss level of privacy, then generally we're OK for every other jurisdiction, so it's a nice proving ground for us.
You mentioned earlier in the conversation that you'd give us the state of blockchain, right?
So blockchain is not a foregone conclusion in the energy business.
It's it's it's still out.
The jury is out of where it comes there.
There's certain people trying to do it.
What's your perspective of where blockchain is in the energy industry?
Uh, so I I think that.
We got we started using blockchain not because it was a technical thing to do, because it was we wanted to get into that space.
We were trying to solve a problem, right?
We were trying to, you know, solve an analytics problem and couldn't get the data.
And blockchain was the IT was this core stack that helped us do that.
I think of where blockchain is today, not just in energy, but generally a little bit where the Internet was back in the mid 90s when I was starting out, actually in in technology.
Uh, just having left IBM in my own company in in the in the 90s, I remember talking to banks about Internet technology and they all asked this question like.
I don't understand an open protocol TCP IP.
I use Novell.
Why would I want to have you know this open protocol and a browser?
I don't understand why you'd use a browser that's not as sophisticated as Windows 311. We all use Windows here. Why aren't you doing that?
We made a choice and we said, look, the technology in the ecosystem of the Internet is evolving faster than any single company and that's the future versus that's where innovation is going to happen and it made sense to be in that space versus this.
And we, you know what, what we essentially said is that, you know, it turns out that was true.
Novell went bankrupt in like, uh, the by the time 99 or 2000 rolled around, if you were saying, oh, we're going to transition to the Internet, it's too late, right? All everybody made their.
Where we are.
Where we came out in 2017, eighteen was saying, look.
Could you replicate what blockchain is doing in other spaces?
I guess, right, with other technology stacks maybe at the time, but we felt the investment, if you follow the money, right, the amount of money going into the space and the amount of companies and the amount of innovation happening, that ecosystem was technically much more adept and would outpace.
Company and I'd argue today in areas like learn math, right encryption, cryptography 0 knowledge, proofs all of the all the technical components about data privacy, privacy and technology related to digital assets.
That's happening in blockchain, blockchain and so people could figure something else.
But it's like it's the equivalent of being no valve right in this space now.
So if I if I follow up a little bit on that analogy in in terms of the the Internet, the the rise of the Internet and I think we are all kind of part of that in the beginning from our telco and software background.
And and you started off really with with replacing existing processes if that was your Internet bank as you mentioned.
Was really taking in giving the control to the consumer, say tapping your numbers and pay your bills.
Literally nothing really changed.
Might sound strange to say, but nothing really changed apart from the technology that that kind of shifted a little bit.
But the actual process was to say you paid your bills.
And I think that's the kind of the the, the, the the the growth of technology starts off with with processes replacing existing and then the interesting part comes around where it actually transforms and it's fundamentally changed some things.
So if we take the.
Blockchain technology and analogy of this with the energy industry where?
Do you see?
The next step, the actual transformation parts.
What would they actually transform or disrupt rather than just, you know, improving processes?
So first that yeah that isn't both excellent insight, an excellent question.
So I on the on going back, I remember conversations in the mid 90s, ninety five nights where people said I don't understand this Amazon or buying stuff online thing.
I already have catalogs, I can go to a catalog.
And pick up my phone and have something delivered to my house.
There's nothing fundamentally different that Amazon is doing that I can't do.
I couldn't have done before and but at that moment it was hard to imagine social media, you know, millions of reviews, E shops, Amazon Prime or a WS.
Not possible really to imagine what that transformation look a little bit the same, which is I'd say right now what we're seeing is for blockchain.
I think the the the big thing that's process replacement is around smart contracts which is the automation of things we do anyway.
So instead of having a paper contract that says.
You and I are going to trade something, or you and I trust each other enough to to, you know, buy something from each other.
We'll use smart contracts to automate them.
System executing those agreements and also dealing with the discrepancies. You know if we have a problem and we don't want to, we don't know each other, so we can't call each other up or and it's peer-to-peer or peer-to-peer.
So I don't have an opportunity to go to an intermediary to figure it out.
I have to have ways of dealing with those disagreements that are automated too.
And that's essentially the the advantage.
Some of this more contracted piece.
So I think that's kind of step one as you say where I think it goes, you know, so in some ways we, it would be arrogant to say we could now predict where the like, what social media is secure, like really very hard to do that or how prime like it.
There are things you can kind of you know look to I'd say today if you look at demand response or you know the the ability to most of that happens at a level which is companies doing that with you know when you go to the big commercial players or manufacturing partners big energy consumers in a world where the cost of.
Doing business goes down for these things.
Like on an individual thermostat is connected.
A nest is an example, but like lots of others or individual hot water heaters or heat pumps in Switzerland and in Nordics and now I have the ability to have very direct control over an energy system in a very fine grain level.
How can I have smart contracts control you know?
And equalize the power system at an individual device level at a moment in time, not just at a you know highly effectively.
I think that's that's you could imagine that world pretty fast and I think.
Where electric vehicles are going in New Hampshire, here in the United States, we there was a test done just just last month in August which showed, you know, the ability to sell back electricity came to $4000 per vehicle per person, right?
You know where it was selling at peaks, nobody had ever actually really done the math on that and and shown that until very recently.
It's like, oh, there's actually, you know, as we had in a world of war and extreme weather and waiting infrastructure.
Yeah, there's a lot more opportunity for these very, very fine grained permissions and control systems that I think, you know, blockchain and other other technologies will enable.
What data sets?
I guess you you.
Started talking a little bit about, you know, the.
The eaves you've mentioned views a few.
Times to the conversation.
You talked about heat pumps which use more capacity, perhaps the neives also heavy on that and the energy transition if you're going to electrifying things.
What data sets are the most interesting to you these days?
You know, I think that that set is always interesting.
I mean, if you're thinking about electrification and energy, you gotta have a load, an electrical load, so that whether that comes from a TV or a heat pump or a battery, like all that's going to be standard.
And, you know, I think that's kind of a base that you need the others, I think.
That are irrelevant in like demographics we were.
Talking about so.
Tax records or understanding individual incomes because you want to make the right decisions about groups, health outcomes that you know you don't.
If the CDC is saying that asthma is important and you know, and we need to reduce it, well, I need to know did the electrification actually reduce the asthma rate or not?
If it didn't.
Then something else is.
At play and we gotta make sure you.
Know all these.
These upgrades are having intended consequence.
So I think those are some examples of we didn't.
I would say honestly we didn't.
Imagine a year ago or two years ago that these additional data sets would be so relevant or valuable.
But if our goal is around more, you know, cleaner, safer and more equitable the communities, then those are things we got to start tracking.
So which leads me to a little bit something you mentioned asthma and and you mentioned the connection, the correlation between.
This just recently and and obviously being in Europe, I have A1 ear to the to the ground on this one, but we have the inflation Reduction Act coming out of the US which has a big part obviously on sustainability and also towards renewable energy.
How do you follow this first of all?
And how do you see this technology maybe putting the words in?
Your mouth even bridge.
Seeing this when it comes 'cause this is not just the investment from from the IR a, it's also all the private investments they're going to follow around this.
So how how do you see this and maybe connected to your to your company as well?
It's a it's an excellent point.
I think, you know, first I'd say that uh.
The IRA the Inflation Reduction Act is has been massively underestimating the impact it will have and I don't know if you saw just last week October 5th or 6th there was a article in the Atlantic about this.
It's basically the Credit Suisse first Boston CVA you know report and the the key outcome is that the.
Estimates of 350 or $400 billion are from the the the Congressional Office, which is an estimate of how much people will uptake or take on the the the kinds of credits that the US government is offered. But technically there illegally, there is no.
Tap and so it might be 800 billion in fact, right? That gets put into the economy. So it's a big boat of bonus.
And essentially what we see where that's going is partly that's going to be more, more electrification, more solar panels, more electric vehicles, more U battery storage, all of those things all.
Of them are.
Going to have data streams and so.
They're going to be connected or in real time ways.
And there's a need for, you know, now we're creating that infrastructure that didn't used to exist for people to have two way data flows into a power flows on the grid.
So I think for us we're seeing that that real time infrastructure come into play in the next five years.
That's unlike anything else you know, it's almost like.
959697 when people were buying home computers or in the 2000s when people were buying cell phones? Right on mass.
It's like when the devices come in, everything else is going to come into the data and applications you know, come on top of it.
But this is the.
The physical infrastructure build out.
One thing that comes to mind so I'm a startup guy.
I grew up in the networking world and started companies and took in public and all that other fun stuff along the way.
But one thing I do know is that generally you start with an idea and you pivot or you evolve the idea.
What did your company start out thinking it was going?
To do Oh yeah, like I said, we started out thinking of.
AI and machine learning.
To have models that.
Predict the failure of pieces of it.
And you know, I, I said earlier, you know, people don't like to share data.
People certainly don't want to share data about failures.
Gives an order.
And by the way, to build an algorithm that says predict something that's going to fail, you have to set some examples of failure, right?
When did that thing go wrong?
And you know, you'd eat labeled data and that was the thing.
It's like no one wanted to share their examples of failure and you know, so, so actually what are the products we have is this thing called this.
Global data Asset Collaborative, which is every company gets to keep multiple utilities.
They keep their own data, but they can share examples of when pieces of equipment go wrong without having to actually send the data or centralized it or give up their privacy.
And that, like everybody wins when you everybody should win, right?
If you shared more examples.
Failure, but like nobody wants to.
Do that and so.
That was that that was sort of a big pivot for us moving from from actually doing the AIP's too in an analysis to doing the data piece the prep and.
And then where do you go from here?
So you've got some initial success, you've got footprint around the world, you're saying, I'm curious what's next, where does this evolve to?
Uh, I think, I think you know, staying current is half the battle here because this space is moving so fast and you know, we use the use the Amazon example earlier or but.
Google eight Yahoo lunch, right?
So even a Yahoo was the Internet.
You know, behemoth at the time.
And Google, this little startup came along.
It's like at any moment somebody else, we may think we're the, you know, the, the, the leader in this space and but somebody else could come up at any moment.
And and and and kind of, you know eat our lunch if we're not careful about it.
So I think for us, half the.
Battle is keeping up with what's happening in the space, and we think that innovation is happening more in the blockchain and crypto space than anywhere else.
Which is why, you know, you'll see on our website solved with Viacom references to things like 0 knowledge proofs right, which have sort of taken off in the crypto space, and you know, the work that we're doing around NFC.
Our goal is not.
To have in in a in a sense like.
Come, you know, digital handbags, right?
Shirts. Digital TV.
It's that just happens to be the weird use case that somebody came up with.
In the same way, I'm going to say the Internet was mainly about like *********** right in the early days, like just the use case, not the actual technology.
Here 0 knowledge proofs are about ownership, you know, clear and definitive ownership.
Of digital assets, right.
That's actually the the underlying point of that technology and like we need to be all over, you know the implementation and execution of that for use cases in the energy space.
So the one thing that I always think about when we talk about this digital disruption or this digital transformation across the energy world, we have a lot of investment coming from the energy world, from the oil and gas companies, from from the utilities.
Now you see more and more Yves.
You you mentioned.
Tesla as part of it as well, the one.
Thing I haven't seen so much on, but maybe you know a little bit more and that is when when people see if we will see the big Dragons, the big hit, the big six starting to dip their toe even more into the energy world and especially now with this digital infrastructure that has to be.
Kind of accompanied by all the new.
Assets and this.
Uh, so I I think they already are, and I think by the.
Time you really see it.
It'll be too late for most companies.
To give you give you a sense of scale.
PG&E, These are publicly held companies, so my numbers are like you can Google them. PG&E is a $20 billion revenue company annually. Con Edison in New York is about $15 billion a year annual.
You know the the revenue.
For somebody like General Motors, $121 billion a year, right?
Much bigger scale. The revenue for somebody like British Petroleum or Shell is on the order of $300 billion a year. They can easily put 20 billion into something new, right into into the energy.
Electrification space way faster than anyone else. Never buying the Dragons, which also have 102 hundred 300 billion a year in revenue, but huge cash reserves.
And for them, putting 5 billion or 10 billion is not, you know, not very.
Much and for the.
For the companies like also a public record, because they're all public.
Google and Amazon and Meta and Apple all are huge energy consumers, some of their biggest.
Bills are, you know, cost of goods around the electricity consumption of their data centers.
So they are already.
Some of the biggest energy they're not as big as EU.
S department defense.
But they're pretty big in terms of their energy consumption globally wherever they have data centers and they're already investing in well how do I generate that locally how do I so I so they own that supply chain, how do I invest in energy product projects right.
So now a utility like.
Whoever that may be now has to compete not just with other utilities for for for battery infrastructure or for solar panels.
They have to compete with them.
Amazon or Apple or Google, they're all right.
That supply chain constraint is not just because the factories, it's because the price is driven up by these other players.
That's already playing out in the early stages.
Of supply chain.
I guarantee you that when Google bought.
Nest for its.
Thermostat it was not because they really interested in thermostats, it's because.
They wanted understand energy and data and you're going to see more of that happen in, you know, or Apple bots or Apple.
But you know that this is.
What's going to this going?
To play out over and over again.
I agreed that that data is important, right?
Everything from your EV having data about you.
It means like your smart phones got data for you.
So if if everything is Internet of Things and connected, I know everything about you and there's going to be a fight for that.
I think that we're Johann.
Heard. I've asked.
Before, is that the the the big?
Tech companies can really come in.
'cause if you distribute energy and you change and you don't need to put in a huge plant and you can become a virtual power plant or do things differently.
Uhm, they may run a different energy company in the future.
I guess is kind of where Johann was going and if I put words in his mouth and seeing that.
So it's not just the consumption in competing or where they chase green energy.
It's that do the legacies end up with a bunch of stranded assets because these these other guys came in and just changed the rules?
You know, go back to telecom, you used to have these big 5 E switches and you had to build a whole building and stuff.
And then someone said hey, you know I beat North and east the way to go and the ones that weren't quick there had bunch of fives that were useless in the future or DMZ switches, right?
Uhm, I would expect that that may happen in energy, but from your point of view and data, right?
You know, I would be looking going.
And well, either I'm an acquisition target for a guru or I'm a a competitor of Google.
That's what I'd be thinking in yourself and your supporting.
I think all of those things you said, Chris, are correct, exactly right.
I think that the the infrastructure will change in ways we can't yet predict and.
You know, I remember a moment in time around 2000 where somebody.
I had like a.
I thought we.
We were talking about how one day there would be Max in color on our devices and I remember how many people said.
Technologists only really said that's absurd.
The amount of battery power you would need to power a color screen is way too much.
The idea that there's going to be like Wi-Fi or some kind of network connection everywhere. Who's going to build that infrastructure? No one is incentivized to build, you know, telecom everywhere. Turns out like that happen, really.
The idea that like there's an alternative grid or there's like new infrastructure that comes in that enable that, that somebody was a lot more money.
Amazon, Google, Apple, etc.
Go ahead and say, yeah, we're just going to go electrify this whole city here, 'cause we can like and and then you have all of the data that that is associated with it too.
Totally going to happen, right?
We're going to see that happen.
And or, you know, I put that out there and that's a very plausible scenario that you know, you know, despite how strange it may seem to.
I know we're coming up to time where we're close to the end, but I have to follow up on that question.
Yeah, very quickly because yes, in from a technology point of view, from a transition point of view, I I agree with you.
I I also want to put in a little bit of a note where where you have regulation probably more than in any other industry.
And especially now we see this as from a European point of view, especially in.
Now that there's been a lot of restrictions on on the big tech and in combination now with our energy infrastructure, I think that's something that needs to play out, but very interesting to follow.
And I'll ask a I'd say I think that regulation plays a big role.
It can be positive and negative in the United States.
I think health care drugs are FDA is highly regulated, and yet we are the center of innovation, railing around drug development, right, for new drugs that come out, it's like where there's a need, where you know, when we needed to.
Because of Kovid, we invented Moodar, and Pfizer stepped in, and fast.
You know, there were vaccines.
We're heading into a world where energy you know because of Russia invading Ukraine, because of these, you know, there's going to be huge and weather, extreme weather and you know the waiting infrastructure, there's going to be a need for people to step in.
I think in a way that wasn't necessarily true 10 or.
15 years ago.
Well, I think we've gone all over the place in in the time that we've had today.
I I do appreciate the conversation.
It's interesting to see how data plays a role and how how your your business is using that in helping the energy industry.
I could go on for quite a bit of time, but I think we're up against the time constraint.
Thank you so much for being a guest on the show today.
Any final thoughts as we wrap up this episode?
Only to say first, I really genuinely appreciate that great question.
It's very insightful.
It's good to clearly you're, you know, it's one reason to be here is your experts in the field.
And so your questions, you know, reflect your expertise and the insightfulness.
So thank you for the opportunity and I look forward to maybe you know coming back in some future show and having a follow up as.
Balls. Well, I think.
We're going to bring you on to our data science shows.
We have a separate podcast from Insiders Guy that only does data science.
So maybe we'll talk in the data science side of the house in the future, but thank you again for our audience.
Look forward to it.
We hope you've enjoyed the conversation.
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