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As the enterprise landscape continues to house and use more data and new technologies emerge to address ever-evolving data challenges, data sovereignty has become one of the most critical concerns for enterprise players today. With regulations like the GDPR guiding how organizations must interact with users’ data globally, it’s now imperative to rethink data sovereignty — a concept used to describe laws governing data in specific geographies. It’s in spaces like this that enterprise enablers like CyberConnect, providers of a decentralized social graph protocol, seek to change the narrative.

California-based CyberConnect yesterday announced a new $15 million funding, which it will invest in expanding its services for developers to solve what it calls “the cold start problem,” deliver richer social features and restore data ownership to users. The proliferation of consumer data, unlimited powers of social networking sites over user accounts and the increasing analytical power of large corporations have made personal data retention in the Web2 ecosystem more challenging.  Such developments threaten the Web3 environment, with a report by Salesforce showing almost 50% of consumers have expressed concerns over data ownership, as more users demand ownership of their personal data.

Wilson Wei, cofounder at CyberConnect, said in the company’s press release that companies with large social networks own users’ social graphs and often hoard such data for two reasons: To stave off competition and to advance corporate interests.

However, Wei believes in a different approach for Web3. He said instead of digging trenches over user data, users should be able to traverse Web3 applications with their social graph as part of their identities, while developers are also supported to prioritize building better services and content. This is the vision CyberConnect is building the social graph infrastructure for Web3, according to Wei. 

Data sovereignty and social connectivity

Over the past few years, the escalation of consumer privacy concerns have increased demands for alternatives to centralized data storage silos, which are known to put data integrity at risk and prevent individual data ownership. This is usually because they are either owned or controlled by no large corporations. 

Avivah Litan, a vice president analyst at Gartner, predicts that “25% of enterprises will integrate legacy apps and services with decentralized Web3 applications,” a development she estimates will move the internet to newer terrains and enable applications that were previously considered impossible.

“Users will be able to control their own data, privacy, content and algorithms and smart contracts will efficiently utilize trustless computing, which eliminates the need to trust and pay intermediaries,” said Litan.

CyberConnect notes the lack of social graph ownership triggers misalignment between users and platforms. At the center of this are social application developers who — unable to access composable data needed to create network effects — are faced with serious bootstrapping problems. This is another reason why, today, in addition to the lack of data standards and economic scalability, Web3 development stacks continue to depend on centralized data storage silos for the storage of social data. But this leaves a gaping data privacy hole that needs to be filled: it stops users from retaining ownership of their data.  

The prospects of decentralized social graph protocol

Social graphs must become more accessible to developers, as they’ll enable them to build data-rich applications that navigate the necessities of manual data scraping. CyberConnect claims its composable social graph can assist developers to easily bootstrap network effects and build personalized or contextualized social features in decentralized applications, while returning social data ownership to users.

According to Yat Siu, executive chairman and cofounder at Animoca Brands, an investor in the company, CyberConnect’s approach creates a way for Web3 users to preserve their connections between platforms, enabling interoperability, giving users more control to develop more comprehensive identities across all applications and allowing developers to build on this ecosystem to deliver more meaningful social experiences. Siu further said, “social connectivity in the open metaverse is as essential as ownership, interoperability and composability.”

With Gartner predicting that public cloud services spend will surpass $480 billion in 2022, organizations must begin to prioritize data infrastructure and governance. CyberConnect claims its social graph protocol currently accounts for 9 million connections across 620,000+ addresses that help decentralized applications (dApps) to build personalized social experiences and bootstrap network effects. The company also claims its protocol is already integrated by an array of Web3 projects, including Project Galaxy, Mask Network, Light So, Grape Art, Metaforo and The Open Dao forum. 

CyberConnect’s decentralized social graph protocol is composed of two core elements:

  • A developer-friendly software development kit (SDK) to streamline writing and managing social connection data in a decentralized, self-sovereign manner.
  • Building a social data network that empowers dApps to leverage the indexed data and recommendations to build meaningful, personalized user experiences.  

As decentralized peer-to-peer networks evolve and Web3 revives the vision for an interoperable and open web, CyberConnect says it’s ready for the transition via its social graph protocol, which preserves social experiences and helps to bootstrap network effects. This investment round was co-led by Sky9 Capital and Hong Kong-based Animoca Brands, which specializes in blockchain, gamification and AI technologies.

Other investors who are putting their trust in CyberConnect include Delphi Digital, Protocol Labs, Tribe Capital, GGV Capital, Spartan Group, Amber Group, IOSG Ventures, Polygon Studios and SevenX Ventures. CyberConnect has raised $25 million in total funding since its inception in 2021, according to Crunchbase.

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