CEO Arman Sarhaddar and COO Urs E. Gattiker with Jessica Walker talking about the iVAULT Blockchain on TV

#WEF Davos: Cybersecurity and Blockchain

This blog entry is part of a series:

  1. WEF Davos: Cybersecurity and Blockchain (you are here)
  2. WEF Davos 2019: Top 100 CEO bloggers
  3. WEF Davos 2019: Die besten Chef Blogs (in German / auf Deutsch)
  4. WEF Davos: MCLago und Marketing (in German / auf Deutsch)

What it costs to attend WEF Davos 2019

Why should a company like Vault Security Systems AG attend WEF? If you read the general information, you will probably conclude, like we did, that there is no way we can spend that amount of cash on what amounts to a conference:

Membership and partnership fees range from CHF60,000 to CHF600,000 depending on the level of engagement. Most types of membership include the opportunity to participate in the Annual Meeting for the CEO of the company, although Davos participation incurs a fee over and above membership or partnership fees. (see Forum site)

The Swiss government also points out in some detail how much the WEF Davos costs public coffers. Incidentally, getting a ticket may cost more than CHF27,000 after you have paid your partnership fees. But there is even a badge hierarchy in Davos.

  1. White Badge – gets you everywhere and costs a minimum of CHF27,000, plus the membership and partnership fees your company pays… if you are a young global leader or academic you have a chance to get in for free, but do not hold your breath.
    Of course, Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, Belgium Prime Minister Charles Michel, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Prince William of the United Kingdom get in for free.
    But we’re not bitter about that or anything. Honest.
  2. Dark Blue – means you are a permanent WEF employee,
  3. Light Blue – means you are a temporary WEF employee,
  4. Orange – means you are a media person,
  5. Violet –  technical expert,
  6. Red – you are a driver,
  7. Green – you are part of a government delegation,
  8. Brown – the hotel badge (you are a guest at a hotel, and have paid CHF100 to WEF for a security check, in addition to paying the hotel for your room, of course).

This year part of our team scored an invite and had a chance to visit the World Economic Forum. Of course, there was no way it was a White Badge. After all, that would have cost us more than a start-up like could ever afford, and there’s no way we could expect our investors to cough up that kind of cash.

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Still, we got to a few events, and it was certainly worth the trouble and time it took.

iVAULT @WEFDavos 2019: The Vault Security Systems AG team enjoying the ride to one of the most beautiful places in Switzerland. Fantastic View!

iVAULT @WEFDavos 2019: The Vault Security Systems AG team enjoying the ride to one of the most beautiful places in Switzerland. Fantastic View!

By the way, as in past years, climate change was an issue at this year’s WEF – naturally. Although we did not attend any of those sessions, we did our part by having the team use public transit, including taking the train to and from Davos. In Davos itself, we took the WEF shuttle or walked from one venue to the next.

Was it worth it?

We were so excited to be there and have a chat with so many inspiring minds, but only time will tell whether the return on investment is enough.

For instance, we were only able to attend one day, but simply didn’t have more time to hang around. Plus, it’s a bit early to come to any definitive conclusions. Nevertheless, it was pretty cool.

For starters, this must be the only place where I can meet Japan’s Prime Minister, and exchange three words with Shinzo Abe on the way to the restroom, right after he visited with Jair Bolsenaro, Brazil’s president (he also met the Swiss president).

In fact, the Swiss government calculated that its president and ministers saved at least 60 days in travel and thousands of air miles thanks to attending Davos. What the Swiss government does not tell you is that at Davos you can informally meet some people, that you might have a hard time meeting through official channels.

We know the drill, the agenda is full, the timing is off, etc. In Davos, you ight just bump into someone.

Our bar-side chat with JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon was interesting. His advice to us was to take it easy and spend most of our time hanging out with people outside the convention center. Even for him, non-official events are a chance to meet people he might otherwise not come across so easily – like us, for instance 🙂

VSSAG's Danyele Boland with JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, and patent attorney John Moetteli

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, and patent attorney John Moetteli from Da Vinci Partners LLC

I had another great encounter with Alison Tarditi, Chief Investment Officer of Australia’s Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation. She needed a chair to sit down in order to change from her winter boots to high heels, and I offered mine at the restaurant. That started a good six-minute (at least) conversation, during which she shared something interesting:

Living Down Under makes the WEF a great place to meet fellow investment officers and pension experts from around the globe.

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Director General Francis Gurry made a smilar comment. He feels the event gives him a chance to meet national patent experts, and legal minds, but also the opportunity to hear from business people and regulators about their concerns regarding property rights, and of course, patents.

VSSAG's CEO Arman, COO Urs, and WIPO director general Francis Gurry exchanged business cards after having a chat

VSSAG’s CEO Arman, COO Urs, and WIPO director general Francis Gurry exchanged business cards after having a chat

What about blockchain?

Of course, hanging out with the famous crowd (see above) is one thing, but the reason we went is to learn more about blockchain developments. We wanted to meet our friends, foes, and some competitors as well as possible investors.

Most cybersecurity related get togethers at Davos happened at unofficial events, which have sprouted up everywhere. There is even an app, called Davos X, to help you navigate the unofficial schedule.

For instance, the Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC) hosts a five-day side event. Such events include on-stage interviews, panels, coffee breaks for networking, and so forth. We did not attend GBBC events during our one-day visit to WEF Davos 2019. So many events, so little time…

Naturally, since one main focus of this year’s event was cybersecurity, there were plenty of unofficial events to attend. We even ended up at an event where we met Damir Yandrich, chairman of LedgerState. Funny story: our CEO Arman Sarhaddar was starving when he go to this event, and had a cup of soup (he said it was great). At which point Damir approached us, and informed Arman he was getting a bit of a head start on eating.

It turns out that Damir was the initiator and one of the sponsors of this event, and we had some GREAT conversations. He introduced us to plenty of other interesting folks and he was a great host, of course. Thank you Damir!

Shortly after getting myself introduced to some folks I came to be spekaing with Jessica Walker from bloxlive.tv. She was trying to set up another interview and also talking to Cecily Mak, a venture partner at ConsenSys blockchain studio. Jessica has plenty of social skills and appears to be a great networker. In no time at all, she had convinced myself and our CEO to agree to being interviewed by her. Proof of this is the cover picture.

It was kind of a Q&A session, including such topics as:

  • Q: What is iVAULT’s business focus?
    A: Helping companies manage their supply chain better.
  • Q: Which part of my business will benefit first from blockchain technology?
    A: By fighting counterfeit products, your supply chain benefits first.
  • Q: Where does iVAULT make a difference?
    A: Accelerating transactions and the supply chain by combining database management, encryption and distributed computing.
  • Plus, a few other things…

After one of the panels finished, I had about three minutes to talk to Linda Pawczuk, principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP (time is usually short and you have to try hard to make a good impression 🙂 ).

Linda is the leader of the Deloitte US Financial Services Industry Blockchain group. Among other things, she is responsible for Deloitte’s worldwide annual survey about blockchain firms and developments. She gave a really great statement about the state of the industry in her two-minute introduction during the panel she participated on.

Another nice and very human encounter I had was with Charlie Smith (Business Development, reserve.org). He was worried about having to be on stage and his hair not looking perfect, but he did a nice job of entertaining the audience – as much as one can when talking about a technical subject that includes cybersecurity, and cryptocurrency in particular.

It was a pleasure to meet EST CAPITAL AG’s Sindhu Bhaskar, as well. He invited us to the launch event of his new bank on Friday afternoon. Since we could not attend, we will have to meet with Sindhu the week after Davos to explore our ideas further. But our paths might not have crossed so quickly without the WEF.

Attending #WEF19 Davos: Was it worth it?

I can gladly give a preliminary YES. During the day it was a bit overwhelming and after 18:00 hours I started to feel sensory overload. I was getting afraid I could no longer remember all the people I had met once back at the office… you know, looking at a business card and drawing a blank?

One person who stuck in my mind was Tom Trowbridge from the Hedera Hashgraph platform. We talked to him in the hallway about the advantages and disadvantages of distributed computing. Most interesting, was hearing from Tom how his platform’s development work had focused on eliminating some weaknesses we experience with public blockchains (e.g., mining, energy consumption, etc.).

I also talked to Houmin Yan, the dean of the college of business at City University of Hong Kong, one of those academics that got a free pass to attend WEF. Talking to him informally was very interesting… but that is for another time. Needless to say, his supply chain insights were revealing to me…

If I am given the chance, I will most definitely go again, maybe Tuesday and Thursday next year… If you cannot stay there (most hotels are fully booked and even if you find one, they are very expensive), I would again use public transit to get to and from Davos.

Oh, and here is another picture with Danilo Panarese (left) and Bibop G. Gresta, Co-Founder and current Chairman of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), after we met him a second time and had another cheerful chat.

Danilo Panarese of Vault Security Systems AG (left) with COO Bibop Greta of #HyperloopTT

Danilo Panarese of Vault Security Systems AG (left) with COO Bibop Greta of #HyperloopTT

What’s your opinion about the World Economic Forum?

iVAULT is the first global network to use blockchain technology for registering and identifying assets (such as lost items or stolen goods). It lets users register their items on the blockchain, search for, and identify them.

So, what do you think?

  • Have you ever attended a WEF event?
  • How do you use such events to network and benefit your business?
  • What tips could you give a start-up to get the most out of such an event?
  • Tell us all about it, we’d love to hear your story!

Join in the discussion and leave a comment. We will respond soon.

10 replies
  1. Lea Theresa Riether
    Lea Theresa Riether says:

    Dear Vaultsecurity Team
    Thank you for letting me joining this event with all of you. After getting to know you, your story (which is also provided in one of the videos) and the purpose of your business and especially your new product iVAULT I’m glad to know that you work with data on a good way – to protect people and all what people want to have protected. It’s a world where your personal belongings can be stolen very easily.

    In my opinion such an event is for every start-up very useful. You can get to know people working on similar projects and establish a network which is based on making the world better with new technologies.

    So, one question I forgot to ask you: How do you recruit your IT Engineers? I’m mean to build up a Blockchain system you need a skilled workforce. How do you train them?

    Go on working with your ideas and make our world safer with Blockchain.

    Thank you & kind regards
    Lea

    Reply
    • Urs Gattiker
      Urs Gattiker says:

      Hi Lea

      Thanks so much for leaving a comment.
      Yes we are trying to help people protect their

      – products,
      – valuables, and
      – digital identities.

      We feel that following regulation such as the GDPR is critical. Nevertheless, it is a challenge with blockchain to follow the letter of the law 🙂

      As well the sharing economy is growing rapidly. With it our need for keeping our data safe. We all want to be sure that we get the fee that is supposed to come our way for sharing an apartment, giving somebody a ride and so forth. Here iVAULT helps… and we even help you find your stolen goods quickly.

      So yes we are trying to step in and do our best to serve the public.
      Urs

      PS. yes being in Davos as a group made it that much more fun.

      Reply
    • Urs Gattiker
      Urs Gattiker says:

      Lea
      you also write:

      “In my opinion such an event is for every start-up very useful. You can get to know people working on similar projects and establish a network which is based on making the world better with new technologies.”

      Yes, I thought it was very good for getting to know others. Nevertheless, I have two caveats to this:

      1. The offical WEF venue is too expensive for a start-up to attend. Thus, the people in the Convention Center fail to mingle enough with the little guys… in turn, cross-feeding is hard to find between start-up and large companies and their teams at WEF.

      2. There is also the problem with “navel-gazing WEF crowd” whereby everybody thinks they are so wonderful, that they forget to be critical and at least a bit reflective of themselves and their performance (e.g., climate change).

      While a love blockchain … we are striving to cut energy consumption in hours as much as we can to do our share for our efforts to better manage climate change.

      Have a great day.
      urs

      Reply
    • Urs Gattiker
      Urs Gattiker says:

      Lea
      You also point out:

      So, one question I forgot to ask you: How do you recruit your IT Engineers? I’m mean to build up a Blockchain system you need a skilled workforce. How do you train them?

      IT engineers and recruiting

      That is tough to answer. Again there are a few things that might make it a bit easier for us.

      1. As you pointed out, WEF Davos enables a start-up to find people with similar interests and others that might be of interest.
      Although one is unlikely to find geeks that are looking for an interesting job in a team that cares about each other – iVAULT – Vault Security Systems AG.
      Nevertheless, with today’s internet it is a bit easier to have people work from or at far away places.
      That is good because not everyone wants to move from the forest, alp or tropical island to Zurich AND to be at our offices each day 🙂

      2. Most of the people we have found so far were those that we had in our networks, or colleagues and fellow geeks pointed them out to us.
      Then you have to talk, meet if possible and see how the team clicks.

      The biggest challenge is to find people who are very different but compliment each other’s talents, personalities, gender, and so forth.

      The next challenge is to make sure that they can all work with each other. Nevertheless, if you respect each other, spend time together show that you care in case the other feels down or has a personal challenge to cope with at home, things tend to work out.

      3. But we are still struggling to find women IT geeks … and so far we have two but not in Zurich unfortunately.
      The rest of the team is doing much better and women play important roles including one of the co-founders being a woman. The latter does help since it is not that common in the high-tech industry.

      As you can see, Lea, we still have a long way to go and if you know of a geek in your network, please let me know…. we surely want to talk to him or her.

      Thanks for sharing
      urs

      Reply
  2. Charlie Smith
    Charlie Smith says:

    Great meeting you too! What an observant guy noticing me messing with my hair hahaha

    Reply
    • Urs Gattiker
      Urs Gattiker says:

      Hi Charlie

      Yes it is the little things that count 🙂 they make a bit impact upon our lives since we have so many
      The big thing was, at least for me, the chance to get to know you last Wednesday.
      Thanks so much
      urs

      Reply
  3. Taina Temmen
    Taina Temmen says:

    Dear Vaultsecurity Team,

    Blockchains will turn the world upside down in just a few years
    That is just my 2 cents…

    But I have two questions:
    1. Why do Blockchains endanger the business models of entire industries?
    2. How can companies exploit the enormous potential for using and transforming this new technology?

    I am curious to read your answer Urs.

    Reply
    • Urs Gattiker
      Urs Gattiker says:

      Dear Taina

      Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment.
      I thought I split my answer in two:

      ANSWER 1

      Yes I think blockchains will change our world quite a bit. Needless to say, it has been coming for a while, such as

      a – distributed computing, and
      b – cryptography

      Both were the basis for the adaptions that were made to develop concepts and models for blockchains. But we still are early on and who knows how much change this will bring.

      Reply
    • Urs Gattiker
      Urs Gattiker says:

      Dear Taina
      ANSWER 2
      YOU WRITE:

      1. Why do Blockchains endanger the business models of entire industries?
      2. How can companies exploit the enormous potential for using and transforming this new technology?

      ANSWER 1.
      Danger came from the steam machine, computers and so forth. But I do not think that it endangers whole industries such as banking. Yes foreign exchange and transfer of funds will be easier and less expensive for a Pakistani expad in London to send home. That is a good thing but will surely not make all banks go bankrupt.
      Nevertheless, since forecasters have a very hard time to be accurate beyond 3 years into the future, why should I be any better? 🙂
      I suggest that instead of being afraid, we have to test the waters… see my answer 2 below.

      ANSWER 2
      I suggest that companies especially in the B2B area test the waters by developing a prototype. A very simple one that helps address a problem that is serious and costs money and goodwill. But please:
      a – make the prototype simple and quick,
      b – test how it works, and
      c – improve it as much as you can.

      I hope this clarifies and yes, in our prototyping we see that keeping things simple helps demonstrating how it works best. In turn, we improve things and onboard our clients faster onto our blockchain solution packages.

      Thanks for asking Taina.
      Greetings
      Urs
      Blockchain graphic, how it works

      Reply

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