IOTA Angrily Clarifies Nature of Relationship with Microsoft

Partner or participant? After an argument on Twitter, IOTA explains.

And this morning, a little drama: after an argument on Twitter, IOTA confirmed that it has not actually ‘partnered’ with Microsoft, contrary to popular belief. Was the partnership a lie on IOTA’s part, or inaccurate reporting on the part of the media? Let’s take a look.

Name-dropping leads to price increase

IOTA’s coin, MIOTA, surpassed Ripple last week to become the fourth most valuable cryptocurrency in the world. Partly responsible for the rise in price was the announcement that the network had ‘partnered’ with monolith Microsoft.

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It was widely reported in November when IOTA co-founder David Sønstebø said: “We are very excited to announce the launch of our data marketplace. This will act as a catalyst for a whole new paradigm of research, artificial intelligence, and democratization of data.” This marketplace was created in partnership with more than 20 companies – including, apparently, Microsoft.

Omkar Naik, Microsoft blockchain specialist, was quoted at the time: “We are excited to partner with the IOTA Foundation and proud to be associated with its new data marketplace initiative.”

IOTA published this quote on its blog, and apparently corrected Reuters’ report on the development, requesting that the word ‘Microsoft’ be in the headline.

An argument on Twitter 

Yesterday, The Next Web published a tweet headlined “IOTA admits it has no formal partnership with Microsoft”.

Co-founder David Sønstebø responded angrily, calling this claim “an absolute fabrication”. An argument ensued.

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An open relationship

There is a banal explanation to all of this. IOTA co-founder Dominik Schniener told TNW in an email: “We have never mentioned that any of the companies which are participating in the marketplace are our ‘partners’…We call them participants.”

He goes on to explain that there is an active, working relationship between the two parties: “We are in touch with multiple divisions at Microsoft (Chicago, Paris, Munich)… [and] are hosting two meetups today in Chicago and on Thursday in Paris which are hosted at the Microsoft offices.”

So perhaps IOTA allowed this semantic misunderstanding to spread as an exercise in name-dropping. But as Sønstebø pointed out on Twitter, if Microsoft itself used the word partnership, the onus was not on IOTA to correct it.

It should be noted that the TNW article in question uses the word ‘clarifies’ in the headline, but the original title used the more incendiary word ‘admits’, prompting the angry response from IOTA.

IOTA offered an official response after the publication of the story:

“We have never stated that there was any formal partnership with Microsoft, and instead always referred to them as a participant to the marketplace. The media has overblown the story into a “IOTA launches Data Marketplace with Microsoft”, which couldn’t be further from the truth, as we are working together with more than 30 of the largest companies in the world on the marketplace as a co-innovation exercise. When it comes to our communication and the involvement of Microsoft, we have asked for written and explicit approval of the press release, quote and logo beforehand and have stayed within the boundaries with what we were allowed to do.”

What is IOTA?

IOTA is a blockchain network which has been very successful recently.

The IOTA blockchain differs from that of Bitcoin in that it is much lighter and faster. A new block of data is added to the chain automatically with every transaction, and transactions can take place offline too, to be added later. For this reason it is quicker to use, and can be operated from mobile devices.

It was designed to be integrated with the internet of things, a system in which everyday household appliances are all connected to the internet. An internet-connected toaster was presented at a conference in 1989, and the idea has been discussed ever since.

The ease of use of the IOTA network – called ‘the Tangle’ – has made it very popular.

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