Is DataBroker DAO taking on IOTA?

Matthew Van Niekerk
Published in
6 min readOct 1, 2017


The early token sale for DataBroker DAO is ongoing and a number of our new community members have asked on various channels whether DataBroker DAO is taking on IOTA?

This post is intended to address this question and to clarify how network operators, such as IOTA, and DataBroker DAO should be seen in a broader ecosystem of IoT sensor connectivity and data monetisation.

To be short, the simple answer to this question is no.

Why does DataBroker DAO exist?

The sole reason for the existence of DataBroker DAO is to connect IoT sensor owners that produce data with data buyers looking to access hard to get and previously unavailable data.

DataBroker DAO provides current sensor owners and manufacturers with a direct path to monetisation of their sensor data on the one hand and on the other provides entrepreneurs, researchers, smart cities and other data consumers with access to data that remains locked away in organisational silos today. To unlock the silos, DataBroker DAO integrates with the current networks that act as the information transmission highways for the existing and massive IoT sensor market.

What don’t we do at DataBroker DAO that IOTA does?

DataBroker DAO does not try to rewrite or recreate the protocol used for device communications nor does it invent its own encryption algorithms. We work with leading, existing technologies and protocols like Ethereum and proven encryption methods. We recognise that the market exists already, just that a suitable marketplace does not.

We also don’t call our project open source then plant landmines for others to unwittingly obliterate themselves. I hope that you appreciate that doing so is no different than creating a centralised system and that doing so, discredits the very trust that blockchain technologies and distributed systems aim to implant in our world.

Riding the wave of blockchain enthusiasm and creating such an “open source” protocol that is actually in no way “open source” or a “blockchain” is also akin to putting lipstick on a centralised pig, then throwing that pig on a surf board to get invited to blockchain events to ride the waves of enthusiasm that distributed technologies create. A protocol that can only be valorised by one party, the creator who knows how to avoid the planted landmines, is the pig.

If not competitors, how do DataBroker DAO and IOTA fit in the broader picture?

In the DataBroker DAO white paper, we map out the IoT sensor market and the stakeholders involved in this ecosystem. We define one of the stakeholders as “network operators”. This is the role that IOTA potentially plays at some point in the future. They have defined a protocol that enables devices to transmit data to communicate and transact directly. This is for DataBroker DAO, another network operator, similar to a telecommunications company operating a network for device connectivity.

The IOTA protocol sits next to any another protocol used for device connectivity to transmit information and/or transactions such as GSM, GPRS, LORA or Sigfox. It has its unique attributes as do the others.

DataBroker DAO is network agnostic so our scope includes various wireless networks like GSM, GPRS, LORA and Sigfox as a few examples. For those less familiar with the IoT landscape, these are existing and mature networks that are already battle-tested and fully in production. They are enabling the 9 billion sensors that are already connected today.

Will the data from sensors connected to the IOTA network be available to data buyers on DataBroker DAO?

A network operator with no sensors connected adds little value to a data marketplace.

We are pragmatic and recognise that to bring DataBroker DAO to market in the next few months in a meaningful way, that is, with actual sensor data available for purchase thus meeting our stated objectives, DataBroker DAO needs to tap into the existing IoT communication infrastructure via existing network operators. A data marketplace with no data is like an unfortunate empty restaurant that no one wants to enter.

The infrastructure we are connecting to currently supports 9 billion sensors globally and is expected to support more than 30 billion sensors globally by 2020. The market using this infrastructure is huge already and is growing rapidly.

As IOTA is getting a lot of attention these days, we did carry out a technical scan and contacted one of the founders in July to determine whether it would make sense to include them as a network operator for DataBroker DAO. We were warned by one of their investors beforehand that they are very inward looking and were fixed on doing everything themselves but thought it would be good to reach out nonetheless.

Our conclusion based on the mail exchanges and technical scan was that, given the infant state of the network and the fact that there are NO sensors actually working in production that utilise their network, it simply does not make sense to work with them at this point. Although any association with IOTA would bring considerable “hype” in the crypto space and would drive a large crowd to our token sale (see Paragon), we are pragmatic folks totally focused on bringing a value adding product to market this year. Integration with the IOTA network is simply not a priority as it would add no value to the end users of DataBroker DAO.

Great technology however…

There are a lot of great things about what IOTA aims to achieve and I do very much appreciate their vision and hope they succeed. However, the reality is that for sensors to work using their network requires that hardware manufacturers begin to install specific components in their sensors in their manufacturing process. Thus, we expect IT WILL TAKE SEVERAL YEARS before the network begins to claim ANY noteworthy market share in IoT sensor connectivity.

By that time, assuming they are able to demonstrate that their protocol actually delivers on its promises (unlimited scalability and zero transaction fees) and assuming sensor manufacturers immediately jump en-masse at the opportunity to adopt their technology, there will already be a market of more than 30 billion sensors working day in and day out that do not have their technology embedded. The IoT sensor world and the global deployment of sensors is not holding its breath while the stars align for IOTA.

We released publicly the first beta version of our platform in March this year and publicly demonstrated our first version of DataBroker DAO in January 2017 at the blockchain-IoT expo in London.

Since then, we have spent 8 months iterating on DataBroker DAO from a UI/UX perspective and we have been on the road validating DataBroker DAO with end users.

…at the Dublin Tech Summit in February;

in Brussels in March;

…with 3 teams of students at Vlerick in March to validate and further refine the business model;

…in Saudi Arabia in May;

… and in Singapore in May;

…and selected by the Smart Dubai Office in May to pitch DataBroker DAO (also in May);

…and in Berlin in June;

By conducting such a thorough analysis of the potential, we were convinced to move forward full speed with DataBroker DAO so we launched our fully open access token sale to drive DataBroker DAO forward.

If you agree with our commitment to open source and distributed systems utilising blockchain technologies, like us. If you believe in a transparent platform to unlock the value of data, support us. If you trust in our business model, feel free to purchase DATA tokens to make DataBroker DAO a reality.

Any questions, opportunities or partnership requests are welcome on any of these channels:

More info on