Web3 is emerging as one of the biggest threats to the dominance of traditional internet giants like Google, Meta Platforms and Amazon, but these legacy companies are not about to loosen their grip on billions of consumers so easily. In fact, so determined are they to retain the status quo that they’re now looking to collaborate with their Web3-native rivals in order to boost their presence in the decentralized web.
The internet today is a highly centralized place, with a few large companies controlling the majority of people’s online experiences. They operate vast data centers scattered across the world and collect enormous amounts of data on their customers, which is sold to advertisers for financial gain. Users are rightly rather concerned about this, which is why the emergence of the Web3 movement that promises to decentralize the internet is such an interesting development.
Web3 makes use of blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies, creating a network of distributed servers that nobody controls. It’s a more transparent infrastructure that many believe will eventually become the foundation of a more equitable internet. But if that vision is fulfilled, it could spell disaster for legacy internet giants who dominate the industry today, hence many of them are now looking to embrace the concept rather than fight it.
Google & Space and Time
One of the most intriguing examples of these collaborations is Google’s partnership with Space and Time, the creator of a decentralized data warehouse platform that enables applications to query any database accurately, without revealing any information on the nature of that query.
In a December 2023 blog post, Google Cloud said Space and Time’s offering, which is based on a novel zero-knowledge proof for Structured Query Language operations, has been integrated with its own, cloud-hosted database service BigQuery. Using Space and Time’s Proof of SQL tool, developers can now conduct ZK-verified queries on data stored in Google Cloud to power more advanced smart contracts. It means they can execute transactions based on more complex, data-driven logic, without any risk of tampering.
The Proof of SQL consensus mechanism allows users to cryptographically prove to anyone that both the query execution and the underlying table were not modified or tampered with. In this way, it establishes greater trust in decentralized applications that rely on data that resides in centralized databases. The partnership is all part of Space and Time’s initiative to enable “verifiable compute” for dApps at scale. For Google Cloud, the main benefit of the partnership is that it can still play a role in supporting Web3’s smart contract infrastructure.
LG & QuickNode
Meanwhile, LG Electronics is looking to bring its legacy Web2 services into the world of Web3 by partnering with blockchain deployment platform provider QuickNode. In the announcement, LG’s CNS system integration and digital transformation subsidiary said it is working with QuickNode to support the rapid rollout of its very own blockchain platform, called Monachain.
Monachain was first launched in 2018 but the time is ripe for expansion. It’s a custom-built blockchain infrastructure for traditional industries such as finance, energy and logistics, and it powers uses cases such as mobile identity cards, digital currency wallets, NFTs and battery distribution history management, healthcare documentation and more. With this project, LG wants to play a role in South Korea’s plan to replace traditional ID cards with digital alternatives.
To date, LG’s Monachain has secured more than 50 corporate customers, including some of South Korea’s biggest banks, plus LG’s very own telecommunications business, LG U+. According to the announcement, LG CNS will use QuickNode’s blockchain deployment tools and infrastructure to support future deployments of Monachain.
KDDI & Oasys
Japanese telco KDDI Corporation is another Web2 giant that’s showing a keen interest in decentralized technologies, having created its own NFT marketplace and digital wallet (the αU Market and αU Wallet). Now, it’s going further by teaming up with the gaming-focused blockchain Oasys, enabling its users to access its NFT market.
The partnership paves the way for blockchain games built on Oasys to list their NFTs on the αU market. Users will also be able to manage and deposit their NFTs and OAS tokens using KDDI’s αU wallet. The idea is that Oasys will be able to tap into KDDI’s millions-strong customer base and perhaps bring a new wave of gamers into its blockchain ecosystem.
Oaysys actually stands out among Web3 companies for its willingness to partner with Web2 giants. Earlier this year, it revealed it was working with Amazon Web Services on a gaming hackathon, alongside Ubisoft, ChainGuardians, AAG and Adventure Gold DAO. The GameWave Genesis hackathon was focused on Web3 game development and aimed to encourage video game developers to explore the use of decentralized technologies.
Oasys also has a strong relationship with Sega through Shuji Utsumi, who works as an advisor to the company while serving as the latter’s co-chief operating officer.
Nuklai & Crunchbase
Crunchbase might not be a genuine Web2 “giant” but it is nonetheless very representative of what the legacy internet stands for, with its tightly-controlled and centralized database of information pertaining to global startups.
However, that hasn’t stopped Crunchbase from dipping its toes into the Web3 waters anyway. It has done so through a collaboration with Nuklai, leveraging AllianceBlock’s technology and ecosystem. Nuklai is the creator of a “data tunnel” service that aims to transform the fragmented data landscape into a more cohesive network that anyone can access. Nuklai sees itself as the foundation of a new, global and circular data economy based on the idea of information and revenue sharing between individuals and organizations in a decentralized way. With Nuklai, all participants are rewarded for their contributions, whether they provide data, enrich it, enhance it with additional information, or improve its quality.
In March, Crunchbase announced that it will be making its wealth of startup data available to Nuklai users. The company’s dataset is used by investors and others to discover, qualify, track and engage with startups, so they can find promising investment opportunities. By making its insights available to anyone through Nuklai, Crunchbase’s data becomes much more accessible to Web3 companies, enabling developers to build novel dApps for use cases such as customer acquisition profiles, maps of untapped markets, default probability models and more.