Fast and Curious: Blockchain and domestic policy

This is the first installment of our brand new summer learning series: Fast and Curious. We’re summarizing key insights from our most popular private speaking events at Harvard, MIT, and elsewhere. For fans of our Blockchain Unboxed event, this video follows up on the connection between blockchain and domestic policy. Follow VIA to learn all about zero-knowledge proofs, public policy, and Web3 in the next few weeks.

Below is a transcript of the “Blockchain and Domestic Policy” video:

Welcome everyone to Fast and Curious with VIA. It may seem like an odd confluence of events, but actually the area of Web3 and blockchain impacting and being impacted by domestic policy and foreign policy is of high national importance and we’re going to spend one minute today to bring you up to speed on why that’s the case.

So first, let’s have a look at some companies. Let’s rewind the clock to 2011. And if you were to look at December 2011 and a list – thank you Wikipedia – of the largest companies by market capitalization on the planet, there are some observations to make about this list from 2011.

One observation is there’s a mix of countries. The United States is on this list, but you also have China and you’ve got Australia and Royal Dutch Shell, which is an Anglo-Dutch company.

Second observation is you’ll see commodities, right? So you’ll see the world of energy playing a big role. But energy more like oil and gas. Natural resources are really what’s driving this list from a big part, not exclusively, but from a big part.

Now, fast forward ten years, right? And let’s look at the list from 2021. In December 2021, when you look at that list, what’s the observation? Well, compare and contrast. Number one, a lot more American companies on this list. Eight out of ten of the companies are from the United States.

And number two, tech kind of plays the leading role here. Everybody basically on this list, even Taiwan Semiconductor or, you know, you could argue Berkshire Hathaway is not a tech company, it’s a financial services company. It is an investment firm, but who are some of the biggest stocks that they own? They own Apple, number one of that list. They own Microsoft, number two on that list. They own Amazon, number four on that list. So in a way, it’s an investor of some of the other companies higher up.

So the thing we’re seeing here is from a domestic policy standpoint, if you want to be elected and you want to be reelected, then one of the fabulous most easiest ways to do that is jobs. Create a strong economy. And the evidence shows that technology is a driver of high quality, high paying jobs. And how do you get more people employed? Well you make sure that there are technology jobs available here in the United States.

And so this is one reason that you’re seeing the United States focus in this area around things like blockchain and Web3, because 25 years ago, 25 or 30 years ago, you might not have picked the Internet or high technology as the biggest places where jobs are going to be created. But now that’s where wealth creation is happening. The result is the United States thinks ten, 15, 20, 25 years ahead of time. And with that perspective, an investment in things like Web3 and blockchain are inevitable because from a defensive perspective, you don’t want to miss out on this opportunity and have those jobs go elsewhere, have some other country become the main provider of that industry. And you want to be able to provide here domestically good things like high paying wages to people right here at home.

Our summary here is that the U.S. has leaped ahead in the economic league tables with the help of tech companies. U.S. investment in technologies like Web3 and blockchain are in the best interest for the long-term health of the U.S. economy.

In our next segment of Fast Curious, we’ll look at blockchain and foreign policy.

 

Former WSJ White House Correspondent and Senior Director at Circle, Jared Favole, interviewed during VIA live stream

VIA had the pleasure of hosting Jared Favole, Senior Director, Communications and Policy at Circle and former White House Correspondent for the Wall Street Journal at VIA’s headquarters in Somerville two weeks ago. Jared joined us for our first-ever live streamed event. VIAneers in Somerville, Montreal, and viewers from around the globe tuned in to hear VIA’s CEO, Colin Gounden, interview Jared Favole to discuss all things blockchain and domestic and foreign policy.

Circle is a global financial technology firm and the issuer of USDC and Euro Coin – highly liquid, interoperable, and trusted money protocols on the internet.

One of our favorite quotes from Jared during the event ties to the benefits of digital currencies over cash:

“The traditional way to deliver aid, particularly in the middle of a war zone or strife, sometimes amounts to literally flying a plane and dropping a palette of cash … if you tried to create an innovation called “cash” today, it would not get approved.”

Jared also shared his experience while being a White House Correspondent, his thoughts on how to make blockchain work in the future, and answered a number of excellent questions submitted from audience members on social media, the live chat, and in person. The full recording of the 45-minute discussion is available below:

As a follow up, blockchain, Web3, and particularly zero-knowledge proof enthusiasts will be excited to hear that we are launching “Fast and Curious,” a summer learning series of short videos where our CEO Colin Gounden gives an overview of specific topics in the Web3 space.

The first blog in this series will also be on blockchain and domestic and foreign policy. So, follow VIA’s website and social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram) to catch the latest!

Power Up! Winner: AI to improve developer experience

Frequent readers of VIA’s blog will know that twice a year we invest several days into “Power Ups!” These are days where 100% of VIAneers to stop bumping their heads on their day-to-day tasks and think about ways we can improve the way we work.

This year, we focused on artificial intelligence (AI). VIAneers self-selected into 13 teams and came up with ideas to leverage AI. Ideas included everything from ethical guidelines for AI, and how to generate more blog content, to how to use AI to support Kubernetes deployments.

This Power Up! we upped the stakes and had the teams compete for a $1,000 USD prize to be spent on anything that they would like. We were privileged to have Major General Kim Crider (ret) former Chief Technology Innovation Officer of the United States Space Force, Tom Davenport, author of more than 11 books on analytics and AI, and Tom Werner, former CEO and Chairman of SunPower join VIA’s COO, Kate Ravanis as our panel of judges to select the winner.

Winners were judged based on four criteria: VIA Value, Technical Readiness, Risk Consideration, Presentation Skills.

All of our VIAneers did an incredible job of not just finding great ways to leverage AI but also implementing them in the 2.5 day Power Up! time limit. 

But, there could only be one winner. 

The team that won was the TL;DR team. As readers know, we love a good pull request (feedback on developer code changes). While we have a whole language system about how to provide feedback on pull requests, TL;DR team figured out how AI could be used to help write a summary of the pull requests to aid reviewers.

“We found that all the teams had done an exceptional job generating ideas and taking a first pass at articulating the benefits and the implementation plans for their AI initiatives. What the judges thought made TL;DR stand apart was that the team had actually implemented their solution and reviewed internal data to quantify a savings of more than $250,000 per year with no additional costs. The fact that they had also thought through how to make the AI generated summaries reflect VIA’s culture and values was a special bonus from my perspective.” said Kate Ravanis, VIA’s COO.

As the video below shows, the TL;DR team’s AI generates summaries of pull requests to speed up the code review process.

Here are a few examples of how the TL;DR team’s project excelled against the evaluation criteria in just a few short days:

  1. VIA Value – The team requested internal data and was able to quantify the expected value (over $250,000 per year) and provided a spreadsheet to show their work.
  2. Technical Readiness – The code was working and demonstrated on a current VIA repo using VIA’s existing infrastructure. Bonus points that the AI model was directed to generate text that reflected VIA values and even use emojis.
  3. Risk Consideration – The team evaluated external solutions but ultimately implemented an in-house solution to protect VIA’s intellectual property. A thoughtful addition is to add a warning to each response that it is generated by AI and may not be 100% accurate.
  4. Presentation Skills – Every team had a 5 minute limit and TL;DR did a great job of summarizing their solution clearly and concisely.

Less than two weeks later, this solution is already live and in use today with VIA developers. 

Consistent with our long-standing commitment to improving developer communities everywhere, after further testing at VIA we will open source this project and make it available on GitHub.

Introducing VIA GPT: Supporting customers using AI

In October 2022, VIA began testing generative AI (GAI) and large language models (LLM) to support our internal development work. In January 2023, we released our first documentation to customers using GAI. The idea was that if we used GAI to create and provide first line technical support to customers, we could provide high leverage to our more seasoned technical VIAneers – with the caveat that everything was vetted by a person for accuracy and consistency.

Of course a lot has happened in the GAI and LLM world since January. Model variety, use cases, and performance are increasing exponentially.

Today, we’re pleased to launch VIA GPT as a way for our customers to get first line technical support on our core components (initially VIAsecurechain, and Fingerprinting).

With VIA GPT, customers can ask natural language queries to receive:

  • Documentation about our components

  • Code examples to deploy and integrate products

  • Multi-lingual support

  • 24/7 support

In addition, the use of a VIA-specific interface reduces the risk of GPT “hallucinations” from queries and creates a user-tailored and / or enterprise memory that is accessible across query sessions.

Given our standard deployment environments (Kubernetes, Helm charts) and also standard APIs (RESTful and Kafka with Swagger docs) most customers that have large IT teams can integrate and install VIA’s platform in just a few hours. We hope that VIA GPT support will reduce that time even further and bring our platform to enterprises with smaller IT teams.

Of course, our friendly and experienced VIAneers are always available to support customers directly as well. We look forward to continuously enhancing our offerings and giving our customers the VIA Good experience they have come to expect.

If you are interested in learning more about VIA GPT, contact us!

Top Burning Questions Q5: Where would I use a “Credentials Wallet?”

A wallet is a means for users to confirm their blockchain transactions. A common question from our customers is: “what‘s an example of a wallet in an enterprise context?”

To illustrate this, here’s an example of how a wallet might be used by an equipment manufacturer that is selling to other enterprises (i.e., B2B).

The equipment manufacturer provides an uptime guarantee to its customers. If the equipment is offline, the event can be automatically recorded in a blockchain for both the customer and the manufacturer to see.

The more important question for the manufacturer and its customers is: why was the equipment offline? Was the equipment offline for a valid reason, such as regularly scheduled maintenance? Or, was it offline due to a fault (and therefore there may be contractual penalties)? Or, were there external factors, like a flood, that will trigger insurance coverage?

In this example, the customer and the manufacturer submit their explanation and evidence (e.g., photos of the flooded equipment). Fingerprints of the documentation are logged on the blockchain. The actual data is stored off chain.

Recording the explanation and evidence in an immutable and auditable format creates trust. This trust speeds up processes like vendor performance review meetings, contract renewals, insurance claims, and regulator investigations.

So, what about the wallet?

Well, in a fully automated system there’s no need for one. That is, if the equipment being offline automatically triggered an alert, storing that alert information on the blockchain could be completely automated without the need for a wallet.

In our example, the “why” piece is a manual diagnostic. This information requires some authorization and authentication to make sure the person submitting it is who they claim to be, and has the permission to submit the documents.

One way to verify that the documents were submitted by authorized parties is to have each submitter digitally sign the transaction at submission. With multiple submitters (e.g., a manufacturer and customers), each party would have to integrate the submission system with their respective digital signature system.

With the VIA Credentials Wallet, all parties receive a simple mechanism to sign blockchain transactions without each participant having to integrate a new system. Each party also maintains their own enterprise user management systems (e.g., role-based access control (RBAC) models, identity access models (IAM), single sign-on (SSO), active directory service, etc.). This approach is particularly valuable at enterprises that have their employees hold their own private keys, such as through Yubikey (like Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft …) or an access card to login to their computers.

One of the key benefits to this approach is that the same Credentials Wallet can be used across multiple applications (e.g., systems from different manufacturers). In addition, RBAC integration with the wallet and VIA’s blockchain enables each organization to have their own rules to verify a transaction. Enterprises could decide to have multiple signatures to confirm a transaction, or only signatures from a certain role as submitters of a confirmation.

There are other benefits as well to a VIA-specific wallet. Long-time VIA blog readers will know that cybersecurity is a running theme as a differentiator for VIA in our platform. Everyone deserves the best cybersecurity. Over and above this, companies have a legal obligation to make sure they are protecting their financial and data assets. VIA has made the investment to harden VIA’s Credentials Wallet to U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) cybersecurity standards.

Looking for more information or have a related query? Don’t hesitate to contact us at info@solvewithvia.com and submit your question.

Top Burning Questions Q4: Why does VIA have its own blockchain?

Q4: Why does VIA have its own blockchain?

There are as many as 1,000 blockchains in the world today. A very reasonable question to ask is why create another one?

While VIA does connect to public blockchains if financial transitions are required, our motivation stems from customer requirements to control permission and analysis of off-chain datasets.

Read more below on the key reasons that drove VIA to create VIAsecurechain.

Data – Many blockchains are focused on financial transactions and not on data. At VIA, we are using blockchain to enable the secure verification, integration, and analysis of data. More specifically, we’re focused on large, decentralized datasets that need to be kept private and confidential. We accomplish this by storing hashes of individual digital assets (e.g., datasets) and making them searchable through an off-chain database. This private data use case considerably narrowed the set of available blockchains.[1]

CostMany blockchains today require a token system for consensus and key functionality. While there are benefits to a token, gas fees can add up quickly. A voting-based consensus mechanism (like Tendermint) can provide security without the expense of a token. The customer requirement for low cost combined with a data-centric blockchain led VIA in 2018 to build upon BigchainDB and Tendermint as core components.

CybersecurityAll customers, like those in critical infrastructure such as energy and transportation care about cybersecurity standards. This is particularly true for VIA’s defense customers. This requirement was not something that we found anywhere else.The result is that VIA forked code from BigchainDB and Tendermint and invested to meet the U.S. TOP SECRET level cybersecurity standards (e.g., zero-trust architecture, hardened containers) for the blockchain, consensus mechanism, and the hash storage database (MongoDB). The combination of these three elements are the core of VIAsecurechain. The result is that VIAsecurechain is the U.S. Department of Defense’s first and only cybersecurity accredited blockchain.

Explore the other components of VIA’s Web3 platform here and read more about VIAsecurechain in our solution brief.

[1]  Of course, the combination of a data-centric blockchain with a public, financial transaction blockchain enables the best of both worlds: secure markets for private data. This concept was first proposed in our 2018 white paper and now a reality through our partnership with Polygon.

VIA’s 2022 Highlights in 60 Seconds –
How the VIA values shaped our 2022

One clear theme for VIA emerged in 2022: W3. What do we mean by that? VIA CEO Colin Gounden explains in under 60 seconds.

 

Examples of Living Our VIA Values in 2022

The VIA values are expressed not just in our day-to-day interactions and culture, but also as a guide for decisions we make as a company. Here’s a look back at how we integrated our values into everything we did in 2022.

 

Love in = Love out

Our Love in = Love out value is all about taking pride in what you do. VIAneers got to express their pride in our mission captured in the video below.

Be each other’s biggest fan

For the first time in three (3!) years, we hosted our semi-annual Power Up in person at our Montreal office. This was our largest company onsite ever with nearly 20 new VIAneers hired this year. VIAneers got together to share ideas, lend support, and brainstorm.

As a company located across multiple countries, we know that getting ALL of our VIAneers in one space was not an easy feat. In true VIA fashion we’d like to share a shout out to our People & Operations team for organizing and coordinating a fabulous multi-day onsite!

Stay curious

As a company at the forefront of cutting-edge Web3 technologies, not only do we need to be curious about what others are building in the community, but we share our own learnings as well.

In 2022, VIA was featured in a record number of podcasts. One standout interview was with Nasdaq’s TradeTalks, where VIA CEO, Colin Gounden, explained the connections between Web3, blockchain, the U.S. DOD, and clean energy in 6 minutes.

Not only were we giving talks remotely – we did it in person too! Chainlink invited VIA to speak at 2022’s must-attend Web3 event, SmartCon 2022. Didn’t get to be there? Luckily for you we have a 90 second summary of Colin’s talk!

   

Learning never goes out of style

At VIA, we’re always learning. We began the year by being one of only ten companies out of more than 100 applicants selected to join Wharton University’s Stevens Center Cypher Accelerator program, where we learned from the biggest names in blockchain such as a16z and Pantera.

Then, we ended the year with another innovative accelerator program, when we were selected as one of only nine companies out of more than 200 applicants to learn from industry leaders at the AWS Sustainable Cities Accelerator for Infrastructure.

   

Ready, set, RESILIENCE!

In 2022, not only did we improve and upgrade our current technology infrastructure, we added brand new features to our Web3 platform. We wrote multiple blogs about zero-knowledge proofs, homomorphic encryption, and even shared some open source code.

Respect a challenge and challenge with respect

The energy sector faces tough challenges in war, weather, and waning infrastructure globally. This year VIA rose to that challenge with the launch of Skylight, our Web3 platform to support ultra-fine grained demand response. Read about how we leverage zero-knowledge proofs, NFTs, and more in our latest white paper.

And that’s a selection of our 2022 milestones! We couldn’t have done it without the contributions and continued support of customers, partners, and of course our very own VIAneers. 

In last year’s end of year reflection blog, we aimed to scale up in 2022 – all of which came true. After all, the best way to predict the future is to build it. In 2023, VIA is looking forward to announcing our contributions to communities big and small globally.

The year in Switzerland:
highlights of mission-driven initiatives in 2022

Avid VIA blog readers will be familiar with the many reasons for why we picked Switzerland as our European headquarters. In short, the country is a leader in clean energy, data privacy, and blockchain – three areas that strongly align with VIA’s mission to make communities cleaner, safer, and more equitable. 

The prestigious Tell Award we received in October of 2021 recognized VIA, along with Moderna, at a national level in Switzerland and set us up for an eventful year ahead. For all of you visual learners following VIA, here’s a look back at all things VIA that took place in Switzerland in 2022.

January 2022: Swiss media features VIA and HSLU in an article on securing smart meter data. Learn more here.

Swiss Ambassador to the United States, Markus Börlin, interviews VIA CEO Colin Gounden in New York. Learn more here.

EPRI puts VIA data privacy through its paces with an independent evaluation process. Learn more here.

July 2022: The VIA team hosts Swiss VIAneers Jeanine Pilloud and Martin Ramsler at VIA’s Boston headquarters.

August 2022: VIA Expansion Manager Ray Neubauer speaks at the SUEID conference in Bern. Learn more here.

September 2022: VIA participates in the Energy Data Hackdays event in Brugg for the third consecutive year with a challenge developed by VIA’s Skylight team. Learn more here.

October 2022: Our Swiss site, solvewithvia.ch, is launched in three languages: English, French, and German.

Swiss podcast Insider’s Guide to Energy interviews VIA CEO Colin Gounden to talk blockchain and energy. Learn more here.

December 2022: VIA CEO Colin Gounden travels to Switzerland to meet with our Swiss counterparts and customers to talk Skylight. Pictured below – Innovation Process Technology in Zurich hosts Swiss VIAneers Raimund Philip Neubauer, Jeannine Pilloud, and Colin Gounden for dinner after a Web3 talk.

As 2023 approaches, we look forward to scaling the technology and partnerships in Switzerland. In the meantime, thank you to all our partners and VIAneers for your support in creating a solid foundation. We are sending our sincerest and warmest holiday wishes to all of our European communities.

Top Burning Questions Q3: What do cryptocurrencies have to do with data privacy?

Question: What do cryptocurrencies have to do with data privacy?

There is no shortage of news around cryptocurrencies today, especially given the collapse of FTX, the crypto exchange company, earlier this year. Now more than ever, a question that we are getting is how cryptocurrencies are relevant to our Web3 data privacy platform.

What astute readers know is that the “crypto” in “cryptocurrencies” is for cryptography. The tech stack in the blockchain ecosystem related to encryption, privacy, and security is evolving faster than the technology of any single company. This is the main reason that VIA is committed to leveraging crypto technologies in our data privacy solutions.

Zero-knowledge proofs (ZKPs) are a good example of this. Long-time VIA blog readers will be very familiar with ZKPs. While their mathematical origin goes back to 1982, the first widespread application came from verifying cryptocurrency transactions. Here’s a quick example:

Imagine a disagreement between Adam trying to buy one bitcoin from Eve. Eve says she sent it. Adam says he never received it. In a traditional banking transaction, Adam and Eve would know each other’s names, bank details, and there would be at least one bank that can verify what happened. In the case of a cryptocurrency like bitcoin, the whole point is anonymous (so Adam and Eve don’t know each other) and peer-to-peer (so there’s no independent middleman to verify) transactions. That’s where ZKPs come in. They are a software mechanism to verify a transaction of a digital asset while maintaining the anonymity of each party, and without the need for a middleman.

That neat trick of verifying a digital transaction between two direct parties and maintaining the privacy of each one is hugely valuable in more than just bitcoin. In VIA’s case we made a choice to leverage ZKPs in energy and data transactions rather than try and invent a new technology. ZKPs are just one of the many digital asset privacy and protection mechanisms we use at VIA from the crypto world. 

Of course, don’t just take our word for it. Large, established institutions are formally embracing Web3 technologies.

“The DoD believes that Web 3.0 Blockchain technology can be leveraged to build systems that focus on protecting the data independently of the systems that store, transport, and process it through decentralization.”

That’s a recent quote from the CIO of the U.S. Department of Defense. In the past few months we’ve seen a significant uptick in the number of large companies that are asking us more sophisticated questions about our blockchain and Web3 technologies to embed with their own Web3 teams and initiatives. We see a bright future in blockchain and Web3 for those interested in the best in data privacy technology. 

Top Burning Questions Q2: Why do we work with the DoD, and what does it mean to have a top secret cybersecurity accreditation?

Question: Why do we work with the U.S. Department of Defense, and what does it mean to have a top secret cybersecurity accreditation?

In short, our work with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is in direct support of our mission. Long-time readers will be familiar with our core mission to make communities cleaner, safer, and more equitable.

Of course, the DoD provides humanitarian assistance ranging from providing food and shelter to individuals impacted by natural disasters to evacuating refugees from war-torn regions.

Air Force personnel load a supply of rice and soy-based meals for shipment to Guatemala. Photo by U.S. Air Force.

There is also a strong tie to energy, where we focus almost all of our commercial solutions. As a nation, the U.S. is the single largest consumer of energy on the planet. Moreover, a whopping 77%1 of the energy consumption of the entire U.S. Government is by the U.S. DoD. In our view, if we aim to accelerate clean energy, then working with entities like the U.S. Air Force to adopt electric vehicles and move to renewables is a must.

In addition, working with DoD installations on the topic of electrification helps us learn about how we can support civilian communities. A military base is like a city, with tens of thousands of people, thousands of buildings, roads, and vehicles. How we make a base more efficient directly helps us make urban environments cleaner.

Last, but not least, there’s the cybersecurity element. The standards required for our Web3 platform to run at the DoD include things like zero-trust architecture, hardened containers, and continuous vulnerability checks. Everything we do at the DoD can be brought to our commercial customers who are equally concerned about cybersecurity attacks. In our view, there is no higher standard for cybersecurity, and therefore no better way to make our communities safer.

We’re just beginning our work at the DoD. We look forward to a long relationship to support the DoD’s mission and, at the same time, bring our knowledge to improve the lives of residents in local communities.

Are you a community transitioning to clean energy and electric vehicles? We’d love to hear from you regarding your journey and share your learning with others.

Meet the Team: Santiago Vázquez Enríquez, Senior DevOps Specialist

We’re back with a fan favorite: VIA’s Meet the Team blog series! Through a Q&A-style interview, you will hear from our very own VIAneers about everything from a typical day at VIA to their favorite books, emojis, and activities outside the office. Now, let’s meet ‘em!


What does a typical day at VIA look like for you?

It usually starts with coffee and reviewing pull requests. After that, we have the usual agile ceremonies with the team and from there it all depends on the project I’m working on during each sprint. It could be more coding or design sessions, debugging, troubleshooting, and/or taking care of our deployments. To sum up, I am problem solving all day!

How has VIA’s adoption of flexible work locations impacted your work-life harmony?

I love remote work!

I’m close to our Montreal office and sometimes I choose to work from there. Days start easier with that level of flexibility, less rushing after dropping my son at school and more homemade meals for lunch. Speaking of lunch, sometimes that time of day could include jogging for an hour or a workout session, if time permits.

What’s something you have worked on at VIA that you are most proud of?

I’m proud to have been part of the team that achieved DoD’s Platform One accreditation. This was a big project that involved hardening our containerized application’s security, implementing DevSecOps pipelines, and configuring our Kubernetes clusters to run one of DoD’s hardened platforms on top of them. It was hard work, but felt good to be compliant with such a high level of cybersecurity!

What’s your favorite VIA memory?

When I joined VIA, remote work and lockdowns were already in place. Because of this, it was about a year before I met my teammates in person at the first Montreal office event. It was great to have offline chats and hang out! Since then, my favorite moments are from in-person events. A few weeks ago, we had an AWESOME in-person event, where we spent a couple of days learning and having fun together!

What’s something everyone may not, but should know about working at VIA?

From day one, you get to work on cutting-edge technology. The software that we build is complex to the point that it might feel like rocket science. It would be intimidating if it wasn’t for being surrounded by awesome teammates. Every one of them will help you succeed and it feels great to know that the leadership team has our backs with consistent feedback and support.

How does VIA’s Tech Stack compare to past experiences?

We are serious about maintaining our Infrastructure as Code, and automation is at the heart of our operations. To achieve this, we rely on orchestration systems such as Kubernetes to deploy and manage our applications. We are constantly building on top of the Kubernetes ecosystem to implement vendor agnostic tools such as the Istio service mesh to enable encrypted communications. As the ecosystem evolves, we bring in more features and tools that translate into more automation and a better developer experience.

Why is our VIAneer Experience Program (VXP) important to you?

I see the VXP as my best ally to avoid burnout. It’s a system that focuses on wellness and growth. It is also an open line of communication to address our goals and needs and align them with those of VIA.

Just for fun this time, what are your top favorite podcasts / books?

I like reading biographies and I loved “Just Kids” by Patti Smith. When it comes to fiction, I prefer Spanish and one of the latest horror novels I’ve read is “Nuestra parte de noche” (Our share of night) by Mariana Enriquez. I’m subscribed to a lot of podcasts (I bite off more than I can chew…) but one of my favorites is “Philosophize This!” There’s a lot of work behind each episode and it demands full attention from the listener, but it’s worth the effort!

What are 1-3 of your favorite emojis?

☕️ – 🤣 – 🙌


Interested in joining a team like Santiago describes? Check out our Careers page or contact us to learn more! 

Meet the Team: Maria Cesarini, Data Specialist

We’re back with a fan favorite: VIA’s Meet the Team blog series! Through a Q&A-style interview, you will hear from our very own VIAneers about everything from a typical day at VIA to their favorite books, emojis, and activities outside the office. Now, let’s meet ‘em! 


What does a typical day at VIA look like for you?

Typically my day begins with coffee and the creation of my to-do list (which more often than not includes “make to-do list” as the top item), followed by a daily check-in with my team at 9:30 where we discuss what we hope to accomplish for the day and plan any potential pair programming sessions. 

I am on the JARVIS solution team, where I help ingest and visualize data pertaining to infrastructure. I usually spend my day either updating wrangling scripts, creating data visualizations in Tableau, or presenting our work to customers. Over the last few weeks, I have spent a lot of time designing a new database schema and mapping out wrangling scripts for one of our newest customers. It’s a lot of fun collaborating with my team to solve the wide variety of challenges that we encounter daily!

How has VIA’s adoption of flexible work locations impacted your work-life harmony?

I absolutely love having the option to work remotely! My apartment is only a 15 minute walk from the office and it is such a treat to have the option to start the day from home and head in a little later after my morning meetings. I walk along this really pretty path that leads directly into Davis Square, so the commute itself is quite pleasant. I’m originally from the Seattle area, so having the option to work from my parents house and not have to take time off when I travel out there is something I really appreciate.

What’s something you have worked on at VIA that you are most proud of?

I have been very proud to have ownership over the creation of various visualizations and data ingestion processes, especially this early on in my time at VIA! The responsibility can sometimes feel a little daunting, but I have an incredibly supportive team that I know I can turn to whenever I need help. I have also been proud to give several successful end-to-end demonstrations of our work to customers. As someone who never considered herself a strong public speaker, it is exciting and a little exhilarating to receive positive feedback on a skill I had always assumed I inherently lacked! 

What’s your favorite VIA memory?

I have two favorite VIA memories: the first is actually from my first day working here! I was going through a career change and was extremely nervous about making a good impression and living up to expectations. That day, a group of my coworkers took me out to lunch and made me feel so incredibly welcome that it put a lot of my anxieties to rest. My second favorite memory is from the company offsite – our first night there, the People and Operations and Marketing teams put together a game night at our office in Montreal! I’m not usually a big game person, but it was so much fun to see everyone let loose and have a good time!

What’s something everyone may not, but should know about working at VIA?

All the talk about mission and values is not just lip service! The mission and values are embodied not only in the work that our company chooses to pursue, but in the very culture that has been cultivated here at VIA. Never have I experienced such an uplifting, supportive environment where I am consistently encouraged to learn and grow. It makes me want to do a good job not only for myself, but for the people around me who have so much faith in what I am capable of.

In your role, you work and collaborate closely with Colin (CEO), Kate (COO), and VIA product owners. What’s that like?

Colin and Kate are the heart and soul of VIA, and they are a huge part of what makes VIA so special! It is a privilege to be able to work and collaborate with them. Not only do they do a phenomenal job managing the company, but they always make sure to be uplifting with their employees by giving shout-outs and acknowledging a job well done. It is inspiring to be a part of their vision and creation, and I am excited to continue to learn from them.

What potential do you see in VIA’s Web3 projects?

Web3 is still very mysterious to me! Jesus (SVP, Product Architecture) gave a wonderful, informational talk about it during our company offsite and it sounds like an interesting new direction for the field. It is exciting that VIA is steering into this change and is an active participant in shaping what Web3 will look like in practice.

Just for fun this time, what are your top favorite podcasts / books?

I am obsessed with the podcast Binchtopia – I think it has shaped at least 20% of my personality at this point. If you are interested in witty and interesting sociological and psychological perspectives on pop culture, you should give it a try! I recommend the episodes “Ben Franklin off the Percs”, “In My Old Hag Era”, and “Honey, I Monetized the Kids”. My two favorite books of all time are Pride and Prejudice (which I read so much my copy fell apart) and For Whom The Bell Tolls.


Interested in joining a team like Maria describes? Check out our Careers page or contact us to learn more! 

Meet the Team: Angelica Novoa, People and Operations Partner

We’re back with a fan favorite: VIA’s Meet the Team blog series! Through a Q&A-style interview, you will hear from our very own VIAneers about everything from a typical day at VIA to their favorite books, emojis, and activities outside the office. Now, let’s meet ‘em!


What does a typical day at VIA look like for you?

At VIA, my typical day is my ideal work day! I get to work with the most talented, thoughtful, and competent teammates while contributing to the goal of making sure VIA continues to be the best place to work. My daily tasks range from leading components of our VXP program to spending some time researching best-in-class ways to keep our hard working team motivated and happy. There are always lots of one-on-one meetings with VIAneers in between!

How has VIA’s adoption of flexible work locations impacted your work-life harmony?

I have an elementary school-aged child and most of my family lives in South America, so work location flexibility has had a huge, positive impact on my life. I appreciate having the option of working from home or from our gorgeous office in downtown Montreal. In addition, I had the ability to work from my hometown during the summer this year. My friends could not believe my work not only allowed this, but encouraged it (I thought this practice was more widely spread). It made me even more proud to be working at VIA!

What’s something you have worked on at VIA that you are most proud of?

I got the privilege of working with Emma, our VP, People and Operations and Kate, our COO on improvements to the VXP during my first couple of months here. I was able to contribute in a visual way to connect VIA’s values and organizational principles to the robust processes and outcomes that are possible for any team member. More than pride, I feel honored and valued when I remember being given this opportunity to contribute to something that is so important to VIA’s leadership and so meaningful to the entire team.

What’s your favorite VIA memory?

There are SO many! No, really… It’s hard to pick one. I would have to say last week’s Power Up is a major highlight for me (pictures below!). The whole company got together in person for the first time in years. The energy was incredible! All of us at VIA are comfortable working virtually, but there is no doubt everyone enjoyed connecting with colleagues and having discussions about our vision and strategy in person. Because we have team members in locations around the world, many of us got to meet colleagues in person for the first time. It is great seeing the team energized as a result of this time together!

Using teamwork and collaboration to bring a stick down to the ground together without falling.
Being awarded “Most Likely to Help a Colleague” at the end of our Power Up.

Our CEO Colin kicking off Day 2!

What’s something everyone may not, but should know about working at VIA?

VIA exemplifies how businesses can drive positive social and environmental change! 

In your role, you work and collaborate closely with Colin (CEO), Kate (COO), and VIA product owners. What’s that like?

It’s one of my favorite things about working at VIA. It’s an incredible opportunity to interact with not only founders, but key leadership on almost a daily basis. Working with such brilliant and kind individuals is the best professional challenge I’ve had in years. So much to learn from each and every one of them!

Why is our VXP program important to you?

VXP is important because it’s the foundation for how VIA ensures that every VIAneer is getting what they need in order to do their best work and feel good about it.

Just for fun this time, what are your top favorite podcasts / books?

My top two favorite podcasts have to be No Stupid Questions and Coaching for Leaders. When it comes to books, I have to recommend the book Grit by Angela Duckworth.

What are your favorite emojis?

🥳 – 👏🏼 – 🙌🏻


Curious about what the VIAneer’s Experience program includes? Apply here and find out more!

Mastery Monday: Extra! Excerpt! 90 second summary of VIA CEO’s presentation at Chainlink SmartCon 2022

VIA’s CEO Colin Gounden was hand selected to present at this year’s “must attend” Web3 event, SmartCon 2022, held in New York City, NY. Though most of our dedicated Mastery Monday blog readers may not have been in attendance, we’re bringing you a 90 second video of Colin’s talk in this summary blog. 

Check out the video and transcript below!


Transcript of the summary video above:

War in the Ukraine, extreme weather in western Europe and throughout the United States, waning grid infrastructure are three of the Ws that are driving skyrocketing energy prices and causing food prices, transportation prices, and your home energy bill to soar.

At VIA, we’re using Web3 to help solve and address these issues.

Your energy data is a digital asset. It may not necessarily be as pretty or as fun to look at as your screensaver, but it’s probably much more valuable.

At VIA, we’re using Web3 in three specific ways.

One, we’re using NFTs to help give consumers clear and definitive ownership of their energy data.

Two, we’re using smart contracts to be able to compensate consumers for the insights from their data and for taking actions that contribute to mitigating climate change.

And three, we’re using zero-knowledge proofs to validate and verify that consumers took the actions they said they would, whether that’s turning down the thermostat or selling back their rooftop solar.

Reach out on Telegram or Linkedin or on even good ol’ email to join us in our efforts.

Transformer Tuesday: How Annie the Asset Manager ensures reliable service for ABC Power customers

For the tenth installment of our “Transformer Tuesday” series we’re taking our dedicated readers along on a journey with Annie the Asset Manager from ABC Power as she discovers how to provide the stronger supporting evidence required to approve rate case changes.