Context Labs

Blockchain at MIT with Context Labs

It was a pleasure today for Context Labs CEO Dan Harple to collaborate with some thought leaders in the blockchain industry:  Michael Casey, Senior Advisor at the MIT Media Lab's Digital Currency Initiative (DCI), and Professor Simon Johnson.  The event was Simon's MIT Sloan course "Entrepreneurs without Borders."  Simon's innovation as a leading economist, researcher, and professor has brought blockchain to the forefront at MIT, in partnership with the Media Lab's DCI.  Fall 2017 has focused on blockchain technologies and the impact potential for the economy.  Dan Harple was an invited speaker for the day at MIT Sloan, bringing the Context Labs perspective to Simon Johnson's classroom, co-led by Michael Casey.

MIT's involvement in blockchain took off in the Fall 2014, where all MIT undergrads were given access to bitcoin.  This work was preceded by an event in August 2014 at the Media Lab, "The Ecology of Digital Assets: Identity, Trust, and Data."  Since then, the research and interest level at MIT has rapidly grown.  This seminal event in many ways informed and shaped the concepts and frameworks used in the founding of Context Lab's blockchain-enabled solutions.  One of the outcomes of this effort was a movement to endorse a new digital framework for digital identity, and open data, put forth in an announcement by 21 top bitcoin and digital currency firms.  These core topics of Identity, Trust, and Data are still top of mind and fundamental to any successful deployment of blockchain technologies.  

A range of topics were covered:

  • Challenges and opportunities for IoT, and how a trust protocol is critical 
  • What price to put on trust, centralized IT versus distributed?
  • Can current blockchain implementations scale to support the demands of IoT
  • Supply Chain(s) and Blockchain
  • The role of trust and data veracity

 Dan's talk focused on the Context Labs interpretations of these demands, and its realization via the company's Immutably™ Product family, including its Proofworks™ solution for veracity and provenance.  Dan introduced the concept of the "super aggregator" and their impact on markets.  He discussed the potential transformative impact blockchain solutions could have on super aggregators, such as Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, as a more peer-to-peer "creator to consumer" model is enabled with new blockchain technologies.  All of this was framed also in the context of the Pentalytic Ecosystem modeling Context Labs employs to help model and organize innovation ecosystems such as the Open Music Initiative.  

Thank you Simon Johnson and Michael Casey for the collegiality and thought provoking day!

All in all, a fun day at MIT "Drinking from the Firehose"

All in all, a fun day at MIT "Drinking from the Firehose"








MIT Enterprise Forum- "Emerging Applications of Blockchain for Supply Chains"

CEO Dan Harple presented as an invited guest to the MIT Enterprise Forum session on "Emerging Applications of Blockchain for Supply Chains," on September 12th at MIT's Stata Center.  The event was filmed by PBS station WGBH and we'll post once it's available.

The overview of the event is here-

and here,

Thanks to the MIT Enterprise Forum and the great participants assembled that evening-


Samantha Radocchia, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer, Chronicled

Brigid McDermott, Vice President, Blockchain, IBM

Dan Harple, Founder and CEO, Context Labs

Dan Doles, CEO, Mojix

Bill McBeath, Chief Research Officer, ChainLink Research


Michael Casey, Senior Advisor - Blockchain Research, MIT Media Lab



Open Music Initiative - A New Paradigm for Music

We're excited to announce that Context Labs is a co-founding member of the new Open Music Initiative (OMI) with the Berklee Institute of Creative Entrepreneurship (ICE)  IDEO, the global design and innovation firm, and the MIT Media Lab. Context Labs will be providing strategic guidance and operational management of the technical platform for the project.  

The Announcement

The launch announcement also included kick-off blog postings from OMI's three co-founders: 

Working with Panos and Michael, as we designed and structured OMI over the past six months has been extremely rewarding.  Our engagement and collaboration at the Media Lab for the last four years also provides a solid foundation for collaboration.

The OMI launched today with more than 60 members, representing the global digital music ecosystem.  Joining were leaders from more than 60 leading founding entities, organizations and startups across the music industry ecosystem having signed agreements to participate, including, among others: Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, BMG, Spotify, YouTube, Pandora, SoundCloud, Netflix, SiriusXM, WBUR (Boston’s NPR news station), CD Baby, Tunecore, Downtown Music Publishing, the French collective rights management organization SACEM, mechanical licensing service provider Harry Fox Agency (HFA) and its rights management affiliate, Rumblefish, Righsshare, the trade groups Featured Artist Coalition, Music Managers Forum, Future of Music Coalition, and a wide variety of startups in the developing area of music rights licensing.

A Watershed

For me, personally, this is a watershed event.  The companies I've founded were seminal for realtime media, streaming and voice over IP (VoIP), seeding media experiences for billions of Internet users.  A collaboration with Todd Rundgren nearly 20 years ago envisioned a platform that would digitally empower the creator/artist to have a direct digital connection with fans, Patronet.  Today's technologies will bring us to this vision, with greater accountability and less friction.  Further, the work we did at MIT  with the co-founding of MIT's REAL (Regional Entrepreneurial Acceleration Lab) and the frameworks we developed that we call Innovation Dynamics, are now being deployed within OMI, bringing together and shaping its structure, resulting in the largest ever music industry cohort to come together to solve major issues.  

Context Labs intends to extend the work it's done for the traditional publishing supply chain to music publishing. Our blockchain-enabled platform (Chainplate Foundation™ for Publishing, Snapshackle™ for Publishing, coupled with VUEgraph Analytics™), will provide contributions to the OMI, with an eye toward accelerating a reference platform for OMI's goals for music.  Our role at OMI, for strategic guidance and operational management of OMI's technical platform project, will also be crucial in developing an interoperable framework suitable for the transformative at-scale improvements the music industry so needs.  


The outcome of the OMI will ultimately lead to the value chain pendulum swinging back closer to the artist/creator. As appropriate digital licensing rights are discovered and tracked in the digital ecosystem, more revenue will flow back to those who create.  

This means that fans and music lovers everywhere, will get:

  • more choice,
  • more music,
  • and more joy.  

Now that's a great mission statement.

- Dan

Transforming Publishing on a Global Scale

We're excited to announce today a strategic licensing deal with the world's largest publishing global supply chain provider, RR Donnelley (RRD)!

RRD is the global leader in print-to-digital supply chain solutions, with over 65,000 employees, and $12 billion in revenue.  RRD's decision to embed our blockchain-enabled platform (Chainplate Foundation™ for Publishing, Snapshackle™ for Publishing, coupled with VUEgraph Analytics™) with their Print-to-Digital Supply Chain Solutions is a signal to the tech industry that blockchain/distributed ledger technologies can be taken mainstream.  The Context Labs team is thrilled, and we look forward to transforming how global publishers reach their audiences to develop deeper and more trusted and private connections with consumers.  Here's the announcement-




Solution Would Enable Publishers To Open New Direct Channels and

Have Deeper Relationships With Customers

CHICAGO, March 14, 2016 -- R. R. Donnelley & Sons Company (Nasdaq:RRD) announced today that it is teaming with Context Labs (CXL) to pursue leading-edge blockchain-enabled technology for its global publishing customers.  The companies have extended their strategic relationship to further integrate the CXL platform technology within RR Donnelley’s Print-to-Digital supply chain solutions. 

“RR Donnelley has continually invested in new technologies, proactively leading and evolving our company through ongoing disruptions in communications channels for over 150 years. We look forward to bringing these innovative and state-of-the-art technologies and capabilities to our customers,” commented Thomas J. Quinlan III, President and Chief Executive Officer of RR Donnelley. “This new offering from CXL, using blockchain technology, has great potential to deliver extended consumer reach for publishers while reducing their supply-chain costs and providing them with deep, direct, and secure relationships with the consumers who purchase their products.” 

“RR Donnelley, with its global footprint, is uniquely positioned to bring this level of digital transformation to publishers, enabling them to more seamlessly and securely reach their customers. Using this digital technology, we feel that RR Donnelley can leverage its scale in the market to enhance the economics for its customers,” commented Dan Knotts, Chief Operating Officer at RR Donnelley. 

“The mission at Context Labs is to provide platform solutions that enable publishers to reach consumers with less friction, reduce their channel costs, and provide better direct one-on-one customer relationships. The strategic relationship with RR Donnelley, a leader in publishing supply chain solutions, brings the key capabilities of our platform technology products (Chainplate Foundation™ for Publishing, Snapshackle™ for Publishing, coupled with VUEgraph Analytics™) to RR Donnelley’s large global customer base,” commented Dan Harple, Chief Executive Officer of CXL. “Blockchain technology has been evolving for several years and is now becoming integrated into work flows in supply chains and financial tech. We are delighted with RR Donnelley’s decision to pursue these technologies for the publishing sector to enhance the role of publishers with the end consumers, at global scale.” 

About RR Donnelley

RR Donnelley (Nasdaq:RRD) helps organizations communicate more effectively by working to create, manage, produce, distribute and process content on behalf of our customers. The company assists customers in developing and executing multichannel communication strategies that engage audiences reduce costs, drive revenues and increase compliance. RR Donnelley’s innovative technologies enhance digital and print communications to deliver integrated messages across multiple media to highly targeted audiences at optimal times for clients in virtually every private and public sector. Strategically located operations provide local service and responsiveness while leveraging the economic, geographic and technological advantages of a global organization. 

For more information, and for RR Donnelley's Global Social Responsibility Report, visit the company's web site at

About Context Labs

Context Labs, with offices in Cambridge, MA and Amsterdam, The Netherlands, provides enterprise grade platform solutions that help customers develop new channels to market, reducing channel friction, while concurrently retaining and growing direct customer relationships. The company achieves this by delivering platform innovation integrating secure distributed and shared ledgers (Blockchain), network graph analytics and visualizations, data interoperability, trusted identity management, and micro-payment enablement. The platform consists of Chainplate Foundation™, Snapshackle Interoperability™, and VUEgraph Analytics™.

Contact Information 

RR Donnelley

Media:                                                                                 Investors:

Phyllis Burgee, Director Communications                 Dave Gardella, Senior Vice President Finance

630-322-6093                                                                    312-326-8155                                         

Context Labs

Web:       Twitter: @contextlabsbv         E-mail:

Use of Forward-Looking Statements

This news release may contain "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements and any such forward-looking statements are qualified in their entirety by reference to the following cautionary statements. All forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this news release and are based on current expectations and involve a number of assumptions, risks and uncertainties that could cause the actual results to differ materially from such forward-looking statements. Readers are strongly encouraged to read the full cautionary statements contained in RR Donnelley's filings with the SEC.  RR Donnelley disclaims any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements.

Announcing Context Labs

Our company and team exist for a clear and simple reason.  We aim to more fluidly enable direct connections and relationships between those offering value, and those who wish to purchase it, with privacy, trust, and security.

We aim to do this by using leading technologies, to reduce friction in sales and distribution channels, in a way that provides a degree of trust and privacy that the Internet has seemingly taken away.


Our team's collective history has deeply focused on collaboration, sharing, and connecting people and ideas.  We have introduced technologies and companies that pioneered Voice-over-IP (VoIP), shared whiteboards and screens, media streaming, big data interoperability, and social/local/mobile.  All this prior work spanning 20+ years had, at its core, a spirit of unification, to unite people and their ideas, using the power of the Internet.  More recently, Context Labs formed, incubated and evolved from work at MIT Sloan and the MIT Media Lab focusing on innovation dynamics.  With this work, we built a platform called InnovationScope™, to deeply describe innovation and its contributing components.  With all of this as a backdrop, we're excited to announce Context Labs!


We feel that the value chain pendulum of the Internet has swung too far away from those producing innovation, value, and products, to those who simply take and process orders, and provide "fulfilment."  Our aim to to sway the momentum.  Context Labs uses technology to reduce "connection friction" in the supply chain, allowing the value chain pendulum to swing back more toward the creative, the innovative, the inventive.  We believe this change will ultimately enable the production of more creative work, more innovation, and more invention.  Our pre-launch work in modeling innovation dynamics has shown us that this is a path for creating and generating value.


We aim to streamline the ways innovators, creators, and publishers, reach their customers.  We aim to enable both those producing and those consuming, to have a more direct and personal connection, with privacy and trust built-in.  We aim to flatten the supply chain from creation to delivery of the product or service.  Reducing friction equates to higher margins for those selling their products.  This provides value to the producers and to the consumers.  The result, we believe, will be a renaissance in publishing, music, the arts, and new innovative product development.  Our aim is to accelerate and empower new companies to bring their solutions to market, more directly, more securely, with a more consumer-friendly privacy model.  


Blockchain has emerged as a key technology and been experimented with in a variety of ways.  We see it as a component tool that when integrated with other key enabling technologies, has the potential to create a simple, private, and direct relationship between those who offer value for sale, and those who purchase it.  However, Blockchain and secure distributed ledgers alone, are not solutions.

Context Labs provides a platform solution designed for at-scale deployment.  It is not a single instrument.  It is an ensemble of instruments: secure distributed shared ledger technology, network graph analytics, data interoperability and visualization, with trusted identity, and micropayment enablement.  

Our platform ensemble is called Chainplate Foundation™, with Snapshackle Interoperability™ providing ease of integration and APIs for rapidly connecting a variety of supply chain functions.  The overall platform includes monitoring dashboards and embedded analytics, known as VUEgraph Analytics™.  This is the ensemble product platform from Context Labs.