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BMW backs enterprise blockchain startup Vendia in $15.5m Series A


Last week blockchain technology firm Vendia announced it had raised a $15.5 million Series A funding round for its serverless SaaS blockchain solution, bringing total funds raised to more than $20 million since it started in March 2020.

The investment was led by Canvas Ventures and included BMW i Ventures and Sorenson Ventures, which joined seed round investors. The startup boasts the MOBI blockchain consortium as one of its partners, where BMW is a member.

Vendia was co-founded by former Amazon AWS executive Tim Wagner who was previously general manager of AWS Lamda, the serverless offering. More recently, he spent just over a year at Coinbase as CTO. Before joining AWS, he led the development of Visual Studio Ultimate at Microsoft.

The company is in the early stages of launching a SaaS offering around decentralized data sharing. Its marketing downplays the blockchain aspect, instead focusing on the ability for multiple companies to share data across clouds and platforms. The emphasis is on leveraging public clouds to enable speed, scalabilty and resilience.

How is Vendia different?

One of the reasons for the lack of emphasis on the blockchain aspect is its serverless nature. So it’s more a matter of hook up the data with APIs, set up roles for permissions, deploy the smart contract and away you go.

According to a blog post, it says the problem with most enterprise blockchains is the: “‘Single box’ deployment architectures: Blockchains like Fabric and Ethereum run on a single server for each user, forever limiting their ability to scale storage, network bandwidth, and computational power and thus unable to grow beyond problems that can be solved on a single desktop PC.” 

Instead, Vendia asserts that by using a serverless architecture, they can bring unlimited “compute power, memory, storage space, and networking” and tens of thousands of transactions per second. Because charging is based on transactions, less activity means lower costs.

The data storage is taken care of by Vendia and is stored in a Graph database, the AWS Dynamo database to be specific. Hence data queries use GraphQL APIs. While the aim is to support many different clouds, initial support is for AWS with Azure to follow next.

It claims proofs of concept can be done in a day rather than months. In reality, the lengthy time it takes to deploy enterprise blockchain apps is often because of delays caused by the need for collaboration.

Rose-tinted glasses

What’s the catch? Vendia certainly looks interesting and we will explore it more in the future. But it wouldn’t work for every application. 

Ordering of transactions on a blockchain is critical for certain types of applications, especially financial ones. “Transactions submitted close to one another in time without waiting for block confirmation may be processed in arbitrary order,” says the documentation. 

In the documentation, we didn’t find much detail about how parties agree on what data is added – the voting of nodes and consensus, which is rather important across companies. Smart contracts appear to support a broad range of mainstream programming languages.

There’s no mention of the solution being open source, so we assume it’s not. When it comes to sharing data with third parties, enterprises want to make sure it doesn’t get leaked, so they might want to take a look at the code. The public Hedera DLT also has proprietary code.

In terms of other similar projects, BigChainDB is perhaps the closest in blockchain-land. But that’s only because they both use Graph databases.

Meanwhile, the seed round investors were Neotribe Ventures, Correlation Ventures, WestWave Capital, Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, Firebolt Ventures, and Future\Perfect Ventures. 

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