The blockchain and the strength it possesses to completely change the balance of power on the market fascinate the founders of TEAL. With the infrastructure of a distributed ledger, completely new application scenarios are opening up for the highly intelligent search and recommendation technology that Dr Klaus Holthausen invented back in the nineties. The TEAL team is aiming to create a smart blockchain ecosystem in which the data belong to the users and where supply and demand come together directly. They are not afraid of a blockchain bubble. In this second part of the interview they talk about their plans.
What makes TEAL different and what is TEAL doing in a different way to other blockchain-based companies?
Arne Schmidt: In the case of ICOs and token sales, investment generally is directed into the pure infrastructure. The financiers believe in the underlying vision. Others have a product but often it only involves a digitized business model. Uber would be such a construct, albeit outside of the crypto world. For me, Uber only pools private people who ride in taxis, but it is not new. However, an associative network that offers me, as a user or brand, entirely different options for action or trading is something I find cool. We are interlinking a completely new search technology with the infrastructure of the blockchain.
Dr Klaus Holthausen: And we have been thinking in concrete products from the very outset. The first products that we finance with revenues from the token sale will be a separate Wallet and our TEAL Marketplace. Nevertheless, we are also considering other application scenarios, ranging from market research through to financial services.
Michael Pruban: That is precisely what I would also say to every crypto-investor. If you are aiming to have success with your investments in the long run, make sure that the investments are more than just a currency. Almost all pure currencies have an expiry date. Those who invest in technologies that extend beyond the pure blockchain infrastructure and enable more than just one application are investing in continuing development.
A number of things have now happened since the early days of Google. Even apart from Google and IBM Watson, artificial intelligence systems are ten a penny, Mr Holthausen.
Dr Klaus Holthausen: That’s true. However, most artificial intelligence systems are developed with a single, specific problem in mind. Google enables things to be found, but does not interpret and associate in the process. Watson was intended to recognize language and learnt a dictionary by heart. In the meantime, Watson can perform fairly well for a few minutes in the Turing test. But the ability for abstraction, for associative understanding is missing, as it is with most of the others. We have long since provided proof that our search is capable of abstraction. The archive of a large national daily newspaper was converted accordingly back in the 1990s and permits a search for old articles that understands their content. And, together with our co-founder Ralf-Hermann Lensing, I have been using the technology in our market research and consultancy company for years with large companies such as the holiday portal e-domizil or as a consultant in the Roland Berger Expert Network.
You are planning a token sale in order to implement the TEAL Marketplace. These financing procedures are particularly controversial. Do you believe in a bubble?
Arne Schmidt: The fear of a bubble is absolutely justified. If a majority of the ICOs continue to focus on old products as a blockchain application or on pure infrastructure, no real added value will result at the end of the day. These business models will die. However, I have no worries about TEAL with the projected product range.
Michael Pruban: I take a similar view to Dominic Schiener of IOTA. There will be a consolidation within the industry and it will be painful for some, just like the dot-com bubble was. It’s only logical when a lot of people invest in such a far-reaching new development. As in the 2000s, some investors will lose money and some companies will vanish when the bubble bursts. But precisely as was the case then, some outstanding companies will emerge, just like Google, Facebook and Amazon did in their time.
Many blockchain suppliers are founding companies in Switzerland. What lured you there?
Michael Pruban: It wasn’t Switzerland that lured us. In Germany, it was simply impossible to establish TEAL in a legally secure form. That was probably the most sobering realization to date. In Germany, we are still miles away from a concept for dealing with ICOs and the like. After six months, we received a letter from the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin), which said: “Please send us your documents and we will examine them but we cannot give you any binding information. The trip to Switzerland was the necessary consequence. There are clear regulations there but then again much more bureaucracy as well. The necessary KYC processes, for instance, ensure that everybody interested in TEAL is only able to invest by providing a real name and identification. In this way, all those involved can look each other in the eye even while we are recruiting many supporters.