Omaha startup Pinata specializes in blockchain, plays vital role in emerging digital art market

Companies and tech-savvy individuals alike are increasingly adopting blockchain—a decentralized, distributed method for storing data securely—for their business needs, with global spending on blockchain solutions forecast to top $17 billion by 2024.  Used in everything from food supply chain tracking to public transaction ledgers for cryptocurrency, blockchain presents a win for cybersecurity and data safety….

Photo courtesy Pinata, Justin Hunter
Photo courtesy Pinata, Justin Hunter

Companies and tech-savvy individuals alike are increasingly adopting blockchain—a decentralized, distributed method for storing data securely—for their business needs, with global spending on blockchain solutions forecast to top $17 billion by 2024

Used in everything from food supply chain tracking to public transaction ledgers for cryptocurrency, blockchain presents a win for cybersecurity and data safety. But it also harbors a number of technical challenges, according to the founder of an Omaha-based startup working in the blockchain space. 

“Blockchains are really, really inefficient at storing data,” said Kyle Tut, CEO and founder of Pinata. “However, traditional cloud technologies don’t actually work for that data.”

A software engineer who developed an interest in blockchain and cryptocurrency in 2017, Tut founded Pinata the following year (with help from the Startup Collaborative). Billed as a simple way to upload files onto the IPFS, or InterPlanetary File System, Pinata is essentially a platform for moving and securing data through blockchains.  

“What we do is secure and verify that the data is protected, then we can move it with the blockchain, whatever blockchain it’s connected to,” he said.

To help illustrate how his company works for an audience that may not be entirely familiar with blockchain, Tut provided an example of how Pinata shines: digital rights management. Specifically, Pinata provides the technology that supports the sale and authentication of digital files, such as art and movies. These digital sales depend on the use of non-fungible tokens, which are uniquely identified units of data that can be considered digitally equivalent to an authorized copy of a cassette tape or DVD—or even, as in the world of digital art, the equivalent of an original painting. 

To ensure someone can claim legitimate ownership of a digital file requires the verification and transfer of a particular non-fungible token. That’s where Pinata comes in.

“What we do is manage all that data for a lot of these platforms out there,” Tut said.

Being the go-to blockchain solution for a burgeoning digital-rights market is not a bad position to be in. As more digital goods are commodified and sold, more non-fungible tokens (NFTs) will need to be verified, stored and transferred. That means more opportunities to deploy Pinata.

In addition to its software, Pinata offers, through its website, an expert blog on all things blockchain. Geared toward a technical audience, a recent post offered tips on launching an NFT marketplace using Flow and IPFS.

Pinata’s stature is growing in the world of blockchain, NFT and cryptocurrency. Recently, the company was featured in an article published by Coindesk, a blockchain-focused media outlet. In that article, Pinata is considered the solution to verifying digital ownership, particularly in cases where a digital content creator no longer wishes to be responsible for managing ownership of an NFT. Pinata ensures that the authenticity and ownership of digital art and collectibles can always be proven, no matter what actions are taken by buyers and sellers along the way.

“If you mint a token on a blockchain that represents a piece of content, and then you sell that token, when you sell that token to whoever you sell it to, (the digital content represented by the blockchain token) is now owned by that person you sold it to,” Tut said. “So you can transfer digital content to people directly in a pretty secure manner because of blockchain and what Pinata does with blockchain.”

This process, Tut explains, serves as a kind of de facto copyright claim in the field of digital rights management.

Ultimately, Pinata hopes to be a major player in Web 3.0, the decentralized web.

“We believe blockchain, and what we do with IPFS, is what the internet is going to be built of in the future,” he said. “Generally what we’re about is: can we create a web where the user of the web actually controls their content, controls their data, has more permissioning rights around their data, can value it better, things like that. That’s kind of the space we play in: can we create a new internet?”

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