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The following post was written and/or published as a collaboration between Benzinga’s in-house sponsored content team and a financial partner of Benzinga.

The cloud is central to the functioning of modern society — in big ways and in small. Everything from ordering your favorite pizza on DoorDash Inc. (NASDAQ:DASH) to the critical functionings of a hospital relies on the cloud.

For most, the cloud exists as a nebulous concept, a mysterious force. Something that is taken for granted. When users make use of the cloud, if they are even aware that is what they are doing, it can seem as if by magic.

But the truth is the cloud has a very real, tangible presence. It is comprised primarily of massive data centers filled with a dizzying number of machines storing and processing the vast amounts of data required for that pizza to arrive at your door in less than 20 minutes. And the data centers truly are large. Amazon.com Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) are typically about 200,000 square feet — roughly the size of 4 football fields — and hold between 50,000 and 80,000 servers.

Amazon is, in large part, as big as it is because of its data centers. It saw that the future of tech was based in the cloud and invested in building the physical infrastructure on which the cloud runs. If you are using the cloud in some capacity, there is a very good chance you are interacting with one of its servers.

What this means is that the entire data economy is centralized. It is concentrated in the hands of a few middlemen — Amazon, Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) and Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) — that are the bridge between you, your data and the software or service you are using. Phunware Inc. (NASDAQ:PHUN) is hoping to change that.

With the release of PhunCoin and PhunToken, Phunware has created a decentralized data economy in which you own your data. You are in charge of what you share and are compensated for what you do. Instead of Facebook collecting your data and selling it to advertisers, there is no middleman involved. But just like the traditional cloud requires physical infrastructure, so too does a decentralized blockchain.

That is why Phunware acquired Lyte Technology. The company distributes high-performance computing systems, and Phunware hopes it can help create a global, decentralized network that will power its mission of data democratization.

“Software exists at the pleasure of hardware,” Phunware CEO Alan S. Knitowski said. “So much like Amazon invested in the resources necessary to deliver a global, on-demand economy, Phunware is investing in the resources necessary to deliver a decentralized global data economy.”

Instead of centralized data centers run by Google or Facebook, Lyte’s machines will be spread around the world, each one acting as an individual node in the network. These nodes will be what is known in blockchain as oracles — points of contact where the blockchain can interact and communicate with the real world. In other words, they will be the bridge between data stored on the network, the individuals consenting to and being compensated for their data being shared and the advertisers paying for the data.

This could be an exciting step toward a more data-equitable world — one in which people are in full control of their data and how it is used. If you’re interested in learning more, check out Phunware’s website here.

The preceding post was written and/or published as a collaboration between Benzinga’s in-house sponsored content team and a financial partner of Benzinga. Although the piece is not and should not be construed as editorial content, the sponsored content team works to ensure that any and all information contained within is true and accurate to the best of their knowledge and research. This content is for informational purposes only and not intended to be investing advice.

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