Covalent ICO Overview
The Covalent ICO and COVA token sale are raising funds to launch a privacy-protected, decentralized computing platform and protocol. To optimize scalability, Covalent leverages trusted hardware enclaves to move data computation offchain. Network nodes serve to collectively verify results of the offchain computation once a task is finished and submitted to the chain.
Covalent ICO Value Proposition
Covalent offers a distributed network layer for computing to extract value from data without compromising privacy. The system architecture is purpose-built to monetize and utilize data in a reliable, secure and efficient way without any party ever gaining direct access to the data itself. Privacy of computation guarantees security for data providers, while proof of computation ensures model output results are verified and reliable for data consumers. To maximize scalability, trusted hardware enclaves conduct computation tasks in an offchain environment.
The Covalent Virtual Machine (CVM) relies on a hardware-based enclave, or Trusted Execution Environment (TEE), to make large-scale computation compatible with smart contracts. Intel SGX will initially provide the TEE for offchain computation.
While network nodes, referred to as SGX Host Miners, perform typical functions like block production and transaction verification, they also host hardware enclaves for offchain computation. Each computation instance occurs offchain on a single node to reduce onchain network load and maximize privacy. When a compute task is complete, the offchain node submits proof of computation along with the reported output results to the smart contract protocol for verification by other nodes in the network.
Covalent employs use of TEEs as an optimized solution for both privacy and proof of computation, as the contents are not accessible to any network participants, even Miners themselves.
Covalent hosts a Data Marketplace to facilitate transactions. The network allows data producers to choose between different methods for data sharing, including streaming, licensing and bartering schemes. Data consumers will include data aggregators, model trainers and other owners seeking more data. Traceable ownership ensures data owners are compensated at every stage of the distribution and usage process.
The Data Marketplace consists of three types of participants:
- Data Owners (DO): list their private data sets on a pay-per-use basis
- Model Trainers (MT): train models on datasets acquired via the marketplace
- SGX Host Miners (SHM): facilitate transactions through verification of privacy and proof of computation
Data Owners first encrypt a dataset and publish it to an index on the Data Marketplace. Model Trainers search the index and choose a desired dataset for use. Once a dataset is selected, the MT submits a buy order and is routed to the Owner and SGX Host Miner through libp2p, an IPFS p2p protocol. If the DO agrees to the request, the dataset is sent to the SHM along with a hash of the dataset to the MT. The MT also sends model software and a hash of the desired data set through an encrypted channel to the SHM.
Once the task is complete, the SHM sends the encrypted results to the MT, and a key to decrypt the results to the DO. The DO finally sends the key to the smart contract, which provides the key to the MT to access the computation results and rewards the DO for use of the dataset.
COVA is the native protocol token of Covalent, serving as a unit of exchange for transactions between network participants. COVA is also the reward mechanism for miners that host hardware enclaves, produce blocks and verify transactions. Network users will make payments and deposits with COVA, which can serve as a stake against malicious behavior. COVA will initially be released as an ERC20 token until launch of the mainnet.
Covalent ICO Team
Vincent Li (Co-founder) was a doctoral candidate at Harvard University before departing to pursue a opportunities in finance. Vincent spent 3 years as an engineer, starting off in high-frequency trading firm before moving to Citadel, a leading hedge fund. He left Citadel for a position at Gigster, a freelance software developer startup, where he spent a year before moving on to found Covalent.
Raymond Gao (Co-founder) holds an MS in Mechanical Engineering from Princeton University, where he spent two years as a Research Assistant. He is an early adopter of BTC and ETH as both an investor and miner. In 2016, he joined FreeS Fund as an investor in Big Data and IoT companies before founding Covalent.
Shundan Xiao (Co-founder) has 5 years experience as a Software Engineer in the Bay Area, including stints at Amazon, LinkedIn and Gusto.
The Covalent ICO team has another 9 members. Complete details on the team are available here.
Covalent ICO Strengths and Opportunities
The Covalent ICO proposes a more equitable vision for data sharing through mechanisms like traceable ownership to ensure providers can control how their data is used over time. The recent acquisition of 23andMe by GlaxoSmithKline, which included the rights to 5 million customer DNA records, is a sobering reminder how desperately a paradigm shift is needed.
In sectors like healthcare where data is both scarce and sensitive in nature, Covalent presents a potential win-win scenario for all stakeholders. A greater number of individuals are incentivized to securely share their data, providing enterprises better access to higher-quality datasets.
For fields like precision medicine in particular, sufficient data is so scarce that government-funded initiatives rely on volunteers to meet the enormous demand. Leveraging the current need in the data-driven healthcare industry, a pilot-project between Covalent and an enterprise partner would lay a solid foundation for growth.
Progress markers on both the business and tech fronts are indicative of an early stage project. Still, the Covalent ICO has made crucial headway building a sizeable community of supporters and awareness in the space that are indispensable. The core team members have demonstrated track records scaling startups, building tech products, and even prior blockchain development products. Covalent has also received institutional backing from FBG, Zhenfund, BlueHill and Node Capital.
Covalent ICO Weaknesses and Threats
While the team has indicated to us an early iteration of the network is under development, no product demo or code is currently accessible to the public. With the team’s focus fixed on tech at the moment, a detailed roadmap for measuring product progress would certainly be welcome.
Targeting adoption from the individual level up to the enterprise, an articulated go-to-market strategy that includes partnership targets, adoption efforts and a program for building the ecosystem user base will be critical at the next stage for outpacing the competition.
With a product concept that has potential to reach a sizeable market beyond just crypto-savvy users, Covalent could stand to profit from structuring their marketing efforts accordingly. Building a thriving and sustainable ecosystem from the ground up will ultimately depend on a strong user base at both the supply and demand ends. We will be closely monitoring developments as Covalent moves into the next phase.
The Verdict on the Covalent ICO
The Covalent ICO offers a comprehensive, decentralized platform to tap the inexhaustible flow of unutilized data produced everyday in the digital realm. While the Covalent ICO is still missing some key progress indicators on both the tech and partnership fronts, the credibility of the team, well-designed product concept and support from top institutional partners all point toward a solid project in its early stages of development.
We have been in discussions with the Covalent ICO team and our ratings are based on conversations and information that they have asked us to keep confidential. Please note that our review does take into consideration the token data that has been shared with us, but we have been specifically requested not to share the token metrics that we have seen at this point. We will share them as soon as they are made available by the team.
As a Top 10% rated ICO, we will look to make a small bet on the Covalent ICO.