Nansen CEO Alex Svanevik sat down with Cointelegraph for an exclusive interview during Token2049.
Public blockchains can be accessed and read by anyone, but creating meaningful insights from this data is no easy task. Millions of transactions are recorded across a variety of chains and Layer 2 protocols, creating petabytes of data every day.
Services like Google transformed the early Internet, accomplishing a major engineering task by structuring and curating millions of web pages to serve simple user queries. A handful of blockchain analytics platforms seek to do the same, and Nansen differs by processing on-chain data into a growing database of wallet tags.
Cointelegraph visited the growth company’s Singapore office during Token2049 for a personal chat with co-founder and CEO Alex Svanevik. Occupying a dedicated space in a co-working environment, the office was packed with employees across the city from corporate hubs in Lisbon, Miami, London and Bangkok.
Svanevik’s background is rooted in artificial intelligence. Graduating from the University of Edinburgh in 2010, the Norwegian thesis focused on building models based on how children learn mathematics. His first foray into the world of work involved building a business-focused AI consultancy before moving into management consulting.
Nansen CEO and co-founder Alex Svanevik chats with Cointelegraph at Nansen’s Singapore office during Token2049 in September 2022.
A stint as a data scientist for a media company preceded his eventual move into the world of cryptocurrencies, with Svanevik being introduced to Ethereum in 2017. His first job for a cryptocurrency company funded by a $15 million initial coin offering lasted about a year, when the The company became one of many that failed and failed after 2017.
Svanevik, Lars Krogvig, and Evgeny Medvedev then teamed up to create Nansen AI, looking for a gap in the market for an on-chain analysis tool for investors:
“On the one hand, you have the free tools that all crypto investors had access to, like CoinMarketCap and Etherscan. And then on the other extreme, you have very expensive tools that were used exclusively by companies, like Chainalysis.
Nansen was founded in late 2019 to provide high-caliber analytical tools to investors that deliver real-time blockchain insights and data. Svanevik admitted that the platform originally attracted sophisticated crypto traders with large holdings, but has since evolved to have a 50/50 split of retail and institutional users:
“We started with what can be called ‘Degens’, just before the DeFi Summer. Many of them used Nansen to navigate the DeFi Summer: which DeFi pools they should allocate their capital to, which tokens they should buy, etc .
The ongoing cryptocurrency bear market, which is reflected in traditional stock markets, leads Svanevik to believe that the Nansen sector will tend towards more institutional use in the coming years. Individual investors can take a break from crypto and cut back on analytics services, but continued institutional investment efforts require data-driven insights:
“There are many blockchain and crypto companies, funds, operators and projects where the companies that collect money are doing well from a financial perspective. Not only will they reduce their trading because crypto tanks accumulate 70%. They still have to have very high quality analysis and information.
Nansen has slowly built a reputation for his wallet tagging efforts throughout the cryptocurrency ecosystem. Again, this hardware- and labor-intensive effort is a testament to the joint human and AI efforts of the platform.
Svanevik estimated that Nansen scans nearly a petabyte of data each day from the variety of networks it monitors. This also represents almost 20% of the company’s operating costs. Svanevik describes Nansen as a “Google Cloud maximalist,” with the computing service being his preferred infrastructure platform since its inception.
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This speaks to the fact that even though public blockchains are available to everyone, there is inherent value in ordering data and gaining valuable insights from it. This is where Svanevik drew parallels with the platform and what Google did with the Internet