Introducing Stampify: a peek on a new-gen corporate governance software

Stampify paves the way to the business of tomorrow, by providing entrepreneurs, startups and companies with new-generation corporate governance tools. Stampify’s mission is to build a frictionless business world where connected organizations work together with transparency, flexibility and trust. To do that, Stampify takes the most out of advanced technology, including distributed ledgers.

We have detailed in previous articles the way we perceive the fundamental problem of corporate governance and the reason why it prevents faster and bigger prosperity. Those observations have steered the product design process, led by the following requirements:

Prepare the business of tomorrow // The way we will do business tomorrow finds its roots in the emerging mega-trends that everyone can already feel and see. The world is getting faster, always-on, ultra-connected and global. The pressure for decentralization is growing with boiling rumbles around the globe. The regulatory bodies are struggling to keep the pace and issue bold statements, among others on privacy (GDPR) and open banking (PSD2). Artificial intelligence is besieging almost every facet of our lives. Millenials enter the open spaces, and soon the board rooms. We are at a pivotal moment where the ways to run business must be revamped.

We are at a pivotal moment where the ways to run business must be revamped.

Start with starters // The most promising target group to engage in this indispensable mutation is the heating community of entrepreneurs, startups and small companies, which are at the forefront of innovation, and the most naturally open to making things in a new way. We will start with starters, most likely to share the same vision. This group is also the one who both needs and misses basic corporate governance tools. We will expand the reach later.

Think global, or go home // Globalization requires remote-friendly tools. Physical meetings are still important, but should not be required anymore. Ventures and businesses are now increasingly international, if not global — therefore local jurisdictions appear accordingly inefficient. Business governance must have the capacity to think beyond borders. The world needs a global common framework that is worldwide-compatible.

Remove frictions // Constraints and frictions impede streamlined business flows because of far-flung mistrust and conflicting interests. Well-thought-out technology injections would reduce those frictions and rebuild trust, while balancing all stakeholders’ concerns.

Smart tech // It is now the time to tackle the elephant in the board room, and to bring smart tech into corporate governance — we’ve been stuck on papers and centralized frameworks too long.

We’ve been stuck on papers and centralized frameworks too long.

The Stampify software: key components

Stampify is building a forward-looking piece of software leveraging the latest advances in distributed ledgers, decentralized storage and artificial intelligence that aims at supporting entrepreneurs and companies jump into this century and step in modern, dynamic and rethought corporate governance models.

The product has been designed upon the following assumptions and requisites:

—The system must embrace some key characteristics

Build a versatile interface between Contract and Commitment

The system shall seamlessly integrate the two-fold aspect of any resolution (agreement, report, decision, etc.): the Contract, which states the content of the agreement, and the Commitment, which is the binding tie that every signatory is bound with. Negotiating and contracting are only half-way: enforcing and executing are another game. The system integrates both parts in a self-executing process, which contributes to the trust factor between stakeholders.

Systematize digitalization and granularity

Not only is the system digitalizing contracts, agreements, resolutions, documents and reports (automating and facilitating formulation through variables), but it also breaks down the Document standard unit into small chunks; it separates and individualizes each clause as an isolated contractual component. A traditional contract is by design a group of clauses. Digitalization allows granularity.

Allow on-the-fly notarization

The system shall compensate for an obviously missing link in the decision-making process. It must offer shortcuts between a decision and its official record (all meetings are not sanctioned with minutes immediately afterwards). This record shall bear forensic auditability, hence foster accountability. We want to slip the corporate governance into your pocket.

Soften the incorporation’s hard milestone

Partners working along towards a common goal feed all a value creation engine, whether a legal entity exists or not. Incorporation only authenticates and formalizes ownership and production; yet, those aspects occur as from the very early days of the entrepreneurial journey. The system shall offer basic governance tools for not-yet-incorporated entrepreneurs too, that will go along as the company is born and grows.

Automate 80% of the pain — and crowdsource the remaining 20%

80% of the content, tasks, processes, documents and rules of corporate governance are similar, if not identical, in 100% of cases. The system shall automate the management of those 80%, and therefore replace third-party fees in the same proportions. The remaining 20% of complex, custom contributions will be provided, vetted and localized by a network of registered lawyers, paralegals and advisors. A growing library of templates (clauses and resolutions) will progressively increase the automated part.

— The system relies on the Blockchain to enforce outputs

Unlike all previous technology bounces, the blockchain fulfills almost all qualities required by the product design and the assumptions above. It alone can substitute (1) notaries, (2) lawyers, (3) escrows, (4) corporate housekeepers, (5) third-party certifiers, (6) in-house controllers, and other (7) consultants. In particular, the blockchain has four main characteristics that underpin our thesis.

It is decentralized & distributed

Decentralization implies the removal of a required trustable entity to certify resolutions. It stimulates transparency, guarantees authenticity, removes pressure, influences and frauds, and improves fault tolerance. Therefore, it also brings durability and security. All those qualities are similarly required by corporate governance and they are what its tools and methods eventually want to achieve.

It is immutable

The blockchain provides tamper-proof records ensuring immutability and an auditable record of every change, which is particularly convenient for reconstructing a history of corporate decisions, shareholdership, asset ownership, transactions, voting and signatures. The crash down on the intermediary will not impact the existence on the blockchain.

It is incorruptible

Unlike privately-stored documents on a centralized repository, all agreements, contracts, resolutions and transactions certified on the blockchain cannot be altered in any way. All ill-intentioned individual acting alone is powerless.

It is consensual

Distributed ledgers are designed around consensus. Any record must be agreed by all relevant parties to be blockchain-certified. It helps keep inaccurate or potentially fraudulent transactions out of the database.

Those four characteristics make the blockchain the most efficient way to implement the requirements of a new-generation corporate governance system.

— The system is deployed over the Ethereum development framework

Ethereum is an open-source, public, blockchain-based distributed computing platform featuring smart contract (scripting) functionality. It provides a decentralized Turing-complete virtual machine, the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), which can execute scripts using an international network of public nodes.[1]

The choice of Ethereum[2] to deploy the Stampify system is driven by the high potential of smart contracts, by its long-time hostile environment that turned it trustable and well-proven with a high resilience to threats and attacks, and by its important and growing community of developers, miners and experts who constantly develop the network knowledge. Besides, Ethereum is gaining traction within corporate environments, as demonstrated by the increasing number of members of the Ethereum Enterprise Alliance, gathering Fortune 500 companies such as Accenture, BBVA, British Petroleum, BNY Mellon, Cisco, Credit Suisse, Deloitte, ING, J.P. Morgan, Mastercard, Microsoft, Thomson Reuters, Samsung, Santander, Toyota and UBS.

— No Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs)

Even if Stampify strongly believes in the potential of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations, the system is not intended to create and run such forms of initiatives. The Stampify mission is to help traditional entrepreneurs and companies step in the 21st century and manage their governance duties. One of the main concerns is to evolve along with the market, not overrun it.

The Stampify software: features overview

— Cap Table Management // Blockchain-certified evidence of ownership, transfers and transactions of shares. The tool features the most standard attributes of corporate shareholdership, such as types of stock (common, preferred, etc.), voting rights and vesting. The blockchain records every transfer of shares and allows a full historical audit. Smart contracts also authorize self-executing transfers and records.

— Partners/Shareholders Agreement // Partners (when the Organization is not incorporated yet) and Shareholders (when it is) manage the fundamental rules of engagement with the Organization and between themselves through Stampify, by notarizing on the blockchain each clause independently.

— Resolutions Management // Stampify facilitates and blockchain-certifies all decision-making processes from governance-related corporate instances such as General Assembly of Shareholders, Board of Directors and Executive Committee. Resolutions can take many forms: decisions, nominations, minutes, reports, and are expressed from templates or through free text.

— On-the-fly notarization // Stampify puts the corporate governance into your pocket. At any time, legit stakeholders can notarize a decision, which will be time-stamped and certified on the blockchain with the relevant security, authenticity and immutability. To do so, the Stampify mobile application lets users scan any paper document, take a picture or record a voice file, easily add metadata, and notarize it on the blockchain for future use, retrieval or audit.

— Corporate housekeeping (distributed vault) // Stampify offers a secure and easy corporate governance document repository, linked with the system. Documents will be securely stored by a decentralized storage company.

— The Stampify Network // The Stampify Network is a community of local lawyers, paralegals and corporate advisors, connected to the system and providing upon-request support to organizations about contractual and legal aspects of corporate governance. The community is the crowdsourced, human arm of Stampify, extending its reach and benefits with dedicated support on specific cases or solicitations.

The Stampify token will be discussed in a future article. In the meantime, the team is working hard on turning this plan into reality. We will release more details very soon.