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Vendia raises $15.5M for serverless blockchain data sharing

Vendia is building out its data platform that uses distributed ledger blockchain technology to help organizations and developers more easily share data.

The intersection of blockchain, serverless computing and data sharing is one that Vendia, a startup founded by AWS veterans, sees as full of opportunity.

Vendia raised $15.5 million in a Series A round of funding to support its serverless distributed data platform. The round, made public Feb. 3, was led by Canvas Ventures with participation from BMW i Ventures and Sorenson Ventures.

The technology that Vendia, based in San Francisco, is developing is born from the experience the vendor's founders developed while working at AWS.

The startup's CEO is Tim Wagner, creator of the Lambda serverless service at AWS. Co-founder and chief business officer Shruthi Rao previously led business development for blockchain at AWS.

Alongside the funding, the company introduced a public developer preview of its Vendia Share offering, a SaaS platform that uses serverless and blockchain technology to make it easier for users to share data across different deployments, in an approach that emphasizes data integrity.

Screenshot of Vendia Share dashboard
Vendia Share dashboard console enables developers to query and manage a serverless distributed data platform deployment

Vendia Share early adopter

Among Vendia's early users is the Best Friends Animal Society (BFAS), an animal shelter and rescue services organization based in Kanab, Utah.

BFAS is using Vendia Share to enable a platform to help return lost pets to owners. BFAS was looking for a blockchain technology to create a master record for pet information.

"We needed a mechanism wherein BFAS can connect to shelters, some of whom have little to no IT capacity, while ensuring all parties see the single version of the truth," said Angie Embree, CIO of the organization.

That system of record includes multiple readers and writers to and from the system, Embree explained.

BFAS needed a system with no upfront investment and worked on a pay-as-you-go model, Embree noted.

BFAS' data is a combination of sources for pet records and files, including photos, videos and PDFs of an animal's background -- and all the data for a single pet can come from multiple parties.

Also, the same pet could have different names, microchips and tags, which also presents a master data problem.

The organization evaluated the Linux Foundation'sHyperledger Fabric, as well as managed service variants from various cloud providers. But Embree said BFAS' evaluation found those options too expensive, operationally heavy or just not scalable.

Our challenge was could we go build a ledger data model and cross-cloud experience for serverless that would let you ingest data on Azure, process it on AWS and then store the result in Google.
Tim WagnerCEO, Vendia

The Venn diagram paradigm

Wagner explained that the vendor's name comes from the Venn diagram, a type of image that shows overlapping relationships between different objects.

Wagner and Rao were interested in the intersection of multiple technology trends, including SaaS and serverless, as well as data sharing by blockchain and its distributed ledgers. The challenge they saw was that serverless is often tied to a specific cloud platform and blockchain often has usability problems that make it difficult for developers to implement.

The basic idea behind Vendia is to bring together distributed ledger blockchain technology and the concept of serverless, which provides scalable components that only execute when needed.

"Our challenge was could we go build a ledger data model and cross-cloud experience for serverless that would let you ingest data on Azure, process it on AWS and then store the result in Google," Wagner said, referring to the major public cloud providers and their platforms.

Attacking the dispersed data problem with serverless blockchain

While Vendia's platform provides a serverless blockchain, that's not how Rao positions it when selling the platform.

"We don't go in with a -- 'hey, look at this serverless blockchain technology' -- because no one has a serverless blockchain problem," Rao said. "But they all have a dispersed data problem."

What has resonated with Vendia's early prospects and investors is its promise of helping solve the ubiquitous and vexing problem of data silos, with data in many different places that can't easily be shared and used.

"Our customers have multiple groups they work with and each has their own data and because no one group will trust another one with their data, they have to use a distributed ledger, because each party should be able to believe in the same version of the truth," Rao said.

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