Putting Value back in the Data Economy with Pool Data CEO Shiv Malik by@jackboreham

Putting Value back in the Data Economy with Pool Data CEO Shiv Malik

Pool Data is a platform that seeks to redistribute power, value, and control in the data economy. It supports data unions by providing them with a marketplace and infrastructure to scale their organizations. We chatted with Pool Data CEO Shiv Malik.
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Jack Boreham

I'm a journalist and writer. You can check out my work on my website: https://jackboreham.com/

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In this slogging AMA, we host the CEO of Pool Data, Shiv Malik. Shiv walks us through Pool Data and how it supports data unions in bringing value to the data economy. We also chat about the wider data economy.

This Slogging thread by Jack Boreham, Char736, Shiv Malik, Mónica Freitas, Melissa Brown, Sara Pinto, Cris Silva, Blocklawd, Jimmy L, Sonic3625, james Burrows and Gilbert Hill occurred in slogging's official #amas channel, and has been edited for readability.

Jack BorehamJul 13, 2022, 11:00 AM

Hi, @channel, please join me in welcoming the CEO of Pool Data, Shiv Malik.

Pool Data is a platform that seeks to redistribute power, value, and control in the data economy. Pool supports data unions by providing them with a marketplace and infrastructure to scale their organizations, meaning everyone can benefit from data sharing.

You can ask the Shiv anything about:

  1. What is Pool Data? How did it come about?
  2. Who are the team members behind Pool? What’s their background?
  3. Why should we care about our personal data?
  4. What’s wrong with the data economy at the moment?
  5. What are data unions and how is Pool supporting them?
  6. How does this fit in with data buyers, brands, and what they’ve been doing with cookies etc?
  7. How are data unions related to Web3?
  8. What is your roadmap for the coming year?
  9. What is your vision for the future of data?
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Jack BorehamJul 13, 2022, 11:01 AM

Hi Shiv Malik a pleasure to have you with us. I hope you are prepared for these Qs 😁. To start off, can you tell our audience about your background and the birth of Pool Data?

Shiv MalikJul 13, 2022, 11:03 AM

Sure thing! So I’ve got had a bit of a peripatetic career. I was an investigative journalist for many years for the Guardian working on economics issues and also terrorism. I am the author of a couple of books and the co-founder of a think tank. I started in Web3 in early 2017. First as a day trader and then I worked for Golem and then Streamr.

Shiv MalikJul 13, 2022, 11:05 AM

Since 2018 I’ve spent my time working to incubate and foster data unions, and building frameworks for them to utilise. I started Pool back last year to specifically concentrate on helping data unions get off the ground. and now Pool has a team of 14 people.

Char736Jul 13, 2022, 11:03 AM

Shiv Malik. I'm interested by the idea of a data union what is it and how does pool worth with them?

Shiv MalikJul 13, 2022, 11:05 AM

Great question. So a data union is basically a way of allowing people to share and monetize their data. They can be structured in a good many ways. Some of them are DAOs others are more like traditional cooperatives. Pool helps them in three ways. 1. A marketplace to sell the data. 2. An analytics solutions so all the data unions can work cooperatively to create amazing analytics for the world. 3. A data wallet to allow individuals to store their own data and also join other data unions.

Mónica FreitasJul 13, 2022, 11:05 AM

Hi Shiv Malik! Great to have you with us. How does Pool work? And where did the idea for Pool come from?

Shiv MalikJul 13, 2022, 11:09 AM

Mónica Freitas - the idea has long intellectual roots. Jaron Lanier, the author of Who Own the Future (great book by the way) was talking about them years ago. Glen Weyl is another great proponent of the idea. I started working on them in 2017 to make them a reality and now we count at least 90 data unions around the world monetizing all sorts of data from mobility to clickstream data to mobile sensor data and financial transaction data.

Sara PintoJul 13, 2022, 11:05 AM

Hey Shiv Malik, it's great to have you here with us! We see a lot of news about shared data. What can be benefits of data sharing?

Shiv MalikJul 13, 2022, 11:12 AM

Sara Pinto I think the main benefit of data sharing is 1. the income you can derive from doing so as a collective (individually your data is worth very little, combined it is worth a fortune). We expect that to be around $150-200 a year. 2. People will get so much in terms of convenience and control by storing their own data in a vault. Imagine signing in with your wallet (i.e. signing in with ethereum) and being able to share your full data story with anyone, on your terms and under your full control.

Cris SilvaJul 13, 2022, 11:06 AM

Hello, Shiv Malik. Why did you decide to have your own token? What are the perks of that token for individuals and businesses?

Shiv MalikJul 13, 2022, 11:15 AM

Cris Silva - Great question! So it’s turns out when you work as a cooperative you really need utility tokens to sort out certain common problems. And it’s not just governance we’re talking about her. For example, the revenue we expect to garner from our combined analytics will pull upon raw data from all the data unions in our ecosystem. Who is to say which data sets are the most valuable or not in a given query. The Token in this instance will really help us sort out who should get more revenue or not. Our token is also a discount token to allow DUs who really want to be invested in common success to get full value out of the platform.

BlocklawdJul 13, 2022, 11:10 AM

Shiv Malik we here about data privacy issues all the time in the news, Facebook, etc. Where does Pool Data fit into all of this? What benefits does pool offer the average consumers?

Shiv MalikJul 13, 2022, 11:18 AM

- privacy is massively important. But I think people can now see that Google, apple and even facebook are starting to co-opt the privacy space. They’re basically saying, ‘only we can protect user privacy’. That has meant that everyone else is locked out of the data economy and they will garner even more control over advertising and analytics and basically the world’s data. That has to stop. Especially since the economic future of everyone depends on ordinary people having control and leverage over the data they produce if they are going to have any control over AI. Also I think privacy tools have been great at stopping people from sharing information but not so great at allowing us to share on our terms, when we do want to. And humans are very pro-social beings. We want to share information, we just don’t want to be taken for a ride and we want to be able to say no when we chose.

Melissa BrownJul 13, 2022, 11:12 AM

Shiv Malik what do you mean by storing data in a wallet. Is it like crypto

Shiv MalikJul 13, 2022, 11:20 AM

Melissa Brown - yes! That’s pretty much correct. Imagine a regular wallet but now you’ve also appended a data vault to it (we’re using Ceramic as the protocol). And now if you join a data union, you will also be able to copy and paste the same data you share with them into your own data vault. The read permission of the vault will be controlled by the same private key you use to send money. It’s pretty revolutionary.

Sara PintoJul 13, 2022, 11:19 AM

Shiv Malik storing our own data in a vault makes total sense. What are the issues revolving data? Regarding the economy and storing it

Shiv MalikJul 13, 2022, 11:23 AM

Sara Pinto so the idea of a personal data vault is pretty old. There’s an amazing paper written in Harvard Biz Review from 1999 for example. It’s the dream idea: everyone gets to port their data and store their own digital story. It solves a lot of KYC issues for example. The hard part has always been about where does the individual get that data from? If everyone stores random bits of data, that are basically an unstructured mess, how will anyone else be able to read that data in a programatic fashion? That’s where data unions come in. They already produce well structured data. So it’s easy to store that stuff on IPFS (using Ceramic). Does that answer your question?

Cris SilvaJul 13, 2022, 11:20 AM

Shiv Malik, interesting. So, do you operate solely in a blockchain/web3-centric strategy? Or do you have options for the not-so-up-to-date web2 companies? 😂

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Shiv MalikJul 13, 2022, 11:25 AM

Cris Silva - yeah - short version of this is that the data buyers are al in Web2 and all the data unions are already in Web3 or are moving (because they need scalable micropayments and only blockchain delivers this). So Pool has to act as a bridge between Web2 and Web3.

Cris SilvaJul 13, 2022, 11:26 AM

Shiv Malik, I bet there are very specific issues that arise when you have to bridge that web2 - web3 gap. What would you say are the biggest issues Pool faces?

Shiv MalikJul 13, 2022, 11:29 AM

Cris Silva great question again! So I’d say, the monetary bridge is tricky but that’s why Data Union data products are priced in dollars, we accept payments in dollars, and then we pay out using Gnosis Chain in xDAI which is (as you guys I’m sure know) a dollar based stable coin. The other main issue will be getting major websites to allow people to sign in with Ethereum in the near future. But that’s why we are partnered with a very serious Web2 advertiser who totally believes in data walletts replacing the cookie. Of course greater adoption of the “sign in with Ethereum” protocol will also massively increase web3 adoption.

Jack BorehamJul 13, 2022, 11:22 AM

Shiv Malik my goodness that's amazing. So how are you trying to educate people on the value your wallet brings them! It must be a challenge to make this mainstream, given all the Blockchain jargon haha.

Shiv MalikJul 13, 2022, 11:27 AM

Jack Boreham - great question! So the data wallet will be out next year for people to test. But for us the big moment is in March 2024 when everyone in Europe (450m people) will get a new legal right to port data from Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft (linkedin, Github etc), in real time, at the touch of the button. All you have to do is sign in and connect to a third party. That’s when we expect Data Unions to explode. And that’s when we will market our data Wallet - called Pocket - on a vast scale.

Sonic3625Jul 13, 2022, 11:29 AM

Hi Shiv Malik! Would you say the current data economy is broken? How will pool compete with giants like meta who take our data for their own use?

Shiv MalikJul 13, 2022, 11:36 AM

- totally, yes. It’s actually undergoing a HUGE crises. First there was GDPR, then data scandals shuttered companies like Cambridge Analytica and Jumpshot. Then Apple shut down 3rd party tracking of apps. And now cookies are being blocked by Chrome in 2023. So the old Surveillance data economy is finally defunct. Which is great news. BUT the big battle now is to find a replacement. Google basically is using privacy protection as a way to leverage even more economic control of advertising. Ordinary people will get almost nothing if they succeed. (And perhaps not even better privacy). Data Unions are a way that really fixes this. In fact the EU believes in the idea as well and is putting in €2bn to support them.

Sonic3625Jul 13, 2022, 11:29 AM

Especially as they want to be THE Dominent meta player

Shiv MalikJul 13, 2022, 11:38 AM

To answer the second half - people who store data in a data vault will actually have far more info about their digital story than Facebook would have on them. Combine clickstream data, or data from your car with fianncial transaction data and you’ve already got way more data than Facebook does. That’s how we outcompete everyone - working together to create much, much richer data.

Sara PintoJul 13, 2022, 11:30 AM

Shiv Malik yes it does! Thank you. So what having said that, what do you think it will be the future of data?

Shiv MalikJul 13, 2022, 11:39 AM

Sara Pinto - the future of data - that’s easy! Data Unions! A world in which everyone has a controlling stake in the data economy. Where people have data dignity and agents representing them for all the hard stuff. That’s what I want!

Melissa BrownJul 13, 2022, 11:32 AM

Shiv Malik what about the rest of the world, how will you market it to them?

Mónica FreitasJul 13, 2022, 11:34 AM

Shiv Malik, I'm new to data unions. I assume they reassemble any other union/syndicate. So, in essence, a group of people working together to protect their data and how it's being used. Is this correct? What are the particularities that make data unions unique?

Shiv MalikJul 13, 2022, 11:43 AM

Mónica Freitas - that’s right Monica! and my we should have called them “data syndicates”! They have functions of both a union (in that they negotiate better prices for you on your behalf and better terms of conditions for using your data). But they are also like cooperatives in that they share out revenue. There’s a basic explainer here btw: https://www.pooldata.io/blog/what-is-a-data-union

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Cris SilvaJul 13, 2022, 11:33 AM

Shiv Malik, that's a great choice of a crypto coin - not as subject to fluctuations as others. Have you noticed an increase in crypto adoption from your web2 clients? Especially after collaborating with Pool? (I'm always curious to know about the impact companies have on the transformation of the web3 space)

james BurrowsJul 13, 2022, 11:40 AM

Shiv Malik, you've mentioned the EU putting two bn towards it, but how do you ensure that kind of money isn't wasted? How will you work with data unions to ensure their offerings are substantial and beneficial for users?

Jack BorehamJul 13, 2022, 11:43 AM

Shiv Malik just out of curiosity do guys lobby governments for funding data unions?

Cris SilvaJul 13, 2022, 11:45 AM

Shiv Malik, that's very true. You're a relatively recent company. What has the growth curve been like? How many unions do you currently have?

Shiv MalikJul 13, 2022, 11:41 AM

Cris Silva “that’s a great choice of a crypto coin” - We think so too!Data buyers are still very reluctant to think about crypto. but anyone running a data union has realised that paying millions of people small amounts each day can only be done through a blockchain.

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Shiv MalikJul 13, 2022, 11:48 AM

and Jack Boreham - I’ll take your questions toghether. So the funds right now are administered by the EU through the NGI programme, Horizon 2020 and others. (I don’t have all the links to hand). We work hard to chose good teams, great ideas and products with clear traction. In the end though it is the data buyers who tell us which of the products they find most interesting. We ran a catalyst programme for Data unions in the first half of the year to really tease all of this out with our major data buyer partners.

Shiv MalikJul 13, 2022, 11:50 AM

Cris Silva So it’s a small enough space at the moment that we pretty much have contacts with all the big data uninos. (Some have 250k-1m users now). We will work with the six best to get them onboarded to our data marketplace by the end of the year. The next stages are then working on the combined analytics platform and the data wallet, Pocket. The hard part is bringing them together to start with but I think we’ve overcome that hurdle!

Mónica FreitasJul 13, 2022, 11:46 AM

Shiv Malik, oh, that's a great model. Do you work with already existing data unions, or do you help to create new ones too?

Shiv MalikJul 13, 2022, 11:51 AM

Mónica Freitas - the ☝ should answer your question too I hope!

Shiv MalikJul 13, 2022, 11:54 AM

Jack Boreham - sorry I don’t think I quite answered your question - we haven’t yet applied for grants , but we did lobby for the ecosystem to get proper regulation, that wasn’t too stringent, and yes, the ecosystem funding to get it all going. Back at the start of the pandemic, in 2020 that’s mainly what I was doing - lobbying people in Brussels (along with a good amny others0 to help push through the Data Governance Act which means what they call “data intermediaries” (i.e. data unions) can be officially recognised and supported. That also means the data they sell will also have much more standing in a world where most data brokers are operating under the table because they don’t have real user consent to sell it.

Gilbert HillJul 13, 2022, 11:53 AM

EU Horizon program https://ec.europa.eu/info/research-and-innovation/funding/funding-opportunities/funding-programmes-and-open-calls/horizon-europe_en
Data trust & sovereignty call for funding https://www.ngi.eu/opencalls/#ngizeroentrust_opencall

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james BurrowsJul 13, 2022, 11:53 AM

Shiv Malik, can you talk about what data union platforms you at excited about?

Shiv MalikJul 13, 2022, 11:58 AM

- So here are a list (I can’t pick faves!) of some great data unions. Some are Web2 others are Web3 as mentioned before. https://gener8ads.com/, https://cake.app/, https://unbanx.me/, https://dimo.zone/ , https://www.ozone.ai/account, https://swashapp.io/ and https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=tech.solipay.consumer&hl=en_GB&gl=US

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Sara PintoJul 13, 2022, 11:54 AM

Shiv Malik you mentioned that data unions can help monetize data, and you mentioned some of the ways you can do it. Does Pool offers those 3 methods?

Shiv MalikJul 13, 2022, 11:54 AM

Sara Pinto yes - we offer all three!

Cris SilvaJul 13, 2022, 11:54 AM

Shiv Malik, those are giant unions already. That gives you a pretty big pool of data to share. How do you manage to navigate the different data privacy regulations?

Melissa BrownJul 13, 2022, 11:55 AM

Shiv Malik I would love to know what you guys think about the metaverse as a separate entity from web3, how will Pool fit in this?

Shiv MalikJul 13, 2022, 12:00 PM

Melissa Brown - great question on the metaverse - in short you are not going to be able to traverse the metaverse without being able to store your digital identity and story. Pocket, our data wallet will be an absolutely central part of all of this.

Mónica FreitasJul 13, 2022, 11:56 AM

Shiv Malik that does answer my question 😊 One of your highlights in the landmarks achieved as a company was establishing a company culture. What's your company culture?

Shiv MalikJul 13, 2022, 12:00 PM

Mónica Freitas - We’ve run out of time but I’ll try and answer this briefly!

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Shiv MalikJul 13, 2022, 12:01 PM

I’d say it’s the people. We have an AMAZING team of real experts who are such a joy to work with.

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Shiv MalikJul 13, 2022, 12:01 PM

That’s the biggest landmark. If you can bring great people together - ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!

Jack BorehamJul 13, 2022, 12:01 PM

We certainly have!! Thank you Shiv Malik for partaking in this AMA, fantastic answers and best of luck with pool!!

Mónica FreitasJul 13, 2022, 12:01 PM

Shiv Malik Thank you!

Gilbert HillJul 13, 2022, 12:01 PM

Shiv Malik thanks!

Shiv MalikJul 13, 2022, 12:02 PM

Thank you everyone for your brilliant questions and bearing with me as I typed as fast as possible!

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james BurrowsJul 13, 2022, 12:03 PM

Thanks all!

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