Product & Company

Our Mission

Unlock the power of your data with Datapods: revolutionizing the way you control, monetize, and protect your personal information in an increasingly data-driven world.
March 1, 2024

We've been working on the idea that became Datapods for about a year now.

While most of that time was spent strategizing and talking to people, we've recently shifted to working on the product and trying to generate traction. Lukas and I have started working full time, and David and Finn will start full time this year as well.

So we decided to take some time to really spell out what our vision and mission are. If you're like me, these things have always sounded a little silly. I've worked in big companies in the past, and their mission statements have always felt disconnected. For example, the large European ISP I worked for had "Connecting your world" as their mission statement. I cannot say that I resonate with that.

However, I think it is worth trying to articulate why we do what we do and what the goal is.

The Why

The current data economy is broken

It's clear that organizations like Meta or Google have too much power over one of the most important assets of the 21st century: our data.

While data protection laws such as Europe's GDPR or California's CCPA give data subjects (the people the data is about, i.e. you) a lot of basic rights, they haven't really done much for people's actual control over their data.

By actual control, I'm mainly talking about transparency (knowing what data is being collected about you) and sovereignty (having the power to do what you want with your data).

In theory, many services offer tools to achieve this, see Google Takeout for instance, but these are generally designed to discourage the user from actually using them, as these companies don't really want you to think about your data.

Case in point: Downloading your data from Amazon requires downloading 74 individual zip files, one by one, and that's after waiting 19 days for Amazon to actually collect all the data they have on you.

I think of data as an actual personal asset, something each of us should own. Much like your identity or your possessions. But the reality is that you don't own your data, and you don't actually get a share of the money made from your data.

It is also about choice. I don't think it's fair to either not use a service at all, or to use it and agree to have your data harvested.
Example: with WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger as the two most used messaging apps in the EU, both products controlled by Meta, the choice often means either disconnecting from friends or compromising your data.

Data makes our lives better

However, we're not against using data to build better products. That would be crazy.
It's great when Google Maps reroutes my daily commute because of heavy traffic that day. Its also great when Amazon recommends exactly the right product right away. These kinds of products and services only work with large amounts of highly relevant data.

We believe that data is actually underutilized in most cases. Think about it, why are most great data products only being built by these tech mega-corporations? Because they own all the data.
Many smaller or mid-sized companies simply do not have access to the data they need to build better products.

We think the world would benefit from better access to high quality data and higher data velocity. Like most markets, the data economy would benefit from greater transparency and efficiency.

This means breaking down Big Tech's data silos and giving control back to the users themselves.

The What:

What we are trying to build is twofold.

First, we are building tools to give you more control over your data. Initially, this will be mostly about giving you easier access to the rights you already have. Things like easily requesting and downloading your data from services, providing an interface to understand that data, and making things like correcting or deleting your data accessible.

Side note:

When I say your data, I'm not just talking about the data you currently have, things like photos, personal information, or data you've created yourself, like your search history. I'm referring to any data that relates to you in any way. Data about you. This includes information that companies have collected themselves, such as your GPS history, but also information that they have inferred from the myriad data points that are collected about you. Things like your level of wealth, your interest in various topics, or your political views. For more context on this, you might want to read The GDPR Files - What Mark Zuckerberg knows about you.

Second, we want to build a truly open data sharing platform. A platform where all kinds of entities, be they individuals, companies, research institutions, or governments, can share data freely and efficiently. A platform where data providers are fairly acknowledged for the data they share.


We're focusing on data donations for research purposes first here.


Exactly how this will be built is still being finalized, but it will start with the ability for individual users of the Datapods app to contribute their data via donations. For each category of data, such as location or financial data, you can choose to share your data with interested research partners. If research entities are interested in data sets containing information about you, your contributions could also be rewarded.

How we build this on a technical level is a story for another time, but we will make sure that first, your data is always secure and only accessible by you and third parties you authorize. And second, we will make sure that there is always complete transparency about what data sharing has taken place. We're planning to build a lot of this functionality on a decentralized public blockchain.

The How

We realize that there are many companies that have tried similar things over the years.
Most, if not all, have failed.

So why are we still doing this?

We believe we have some unique advantages that make it worth a try.

First, our location in Germany is a very unique market when it comes to how people think about privacy and data protection. There is a strong emphasis on privacy here, and people are very conscious of the information that is available about them. In fact, the German state of Hesse was the first state in the world to pass a data protection law in 1970.

Second, the landscape around data protection legislation has evolved a lot, with the EU (arguably due to German influence) at the forefront of said legislation. With the implementation of GDPR in 2016, the Data Governance Act in 2023, and the upcoming Data Act, there is a unique regulatory environment that we can leverage to build a better data economy.

Third, it feels like the scrutiny of big tech has reached a breaking point. There are regular calls for the regulation or even breakup of companies like Meta, Google, and Amazon. These companies clearly have too much power over the economy, over our lives, and especially over our data.

It seems clear that something has to change.

I'm absolutely convinced that there will be a hugely successful company built around empowering people to take back control of their personal data. We want to be that company.

Putting it all together

In short, what is Datapods about?

Our goal is to build a data economy that is truly human-centric.
Where instead of Meta controlling and profiting from your data, you do.
We want to make your data truly yours by giving you the tools to do whatever you want with it.

Whether you're the type of person who just wants to delete every data point there is about you, or if you just want to give it all away, freely for everyone to use, or if you're anywhere in between.

We don't care, as long as you are in charge.

Cheers,

Jakob

Two phones, showing the deletion request screen and data sharing screen in the Datapods app

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