Ali and Ryan founded Obsidian Systems in 2014, after graduating from Harvard Law and spending several years working with tech startups in Boston and New York City. The waste we saw during those years convinced us that there had to be a better way to build products, and this conviction is part of everything we do at Obsidian. It informs our technology choices and our investments in open source. Most importantly, it effects how we build products.
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Tezos is a new platform for decentralized applications and smart contracts. It is designed to address key barriers to blockchain adoption: smart contract safety, long-term upgradeability, and open participation. The Tezos ICO was, at its time, the largest coin offering, raising $234m. Tezos was recently valued at approximately $2.5bn USD.
We were tasked with helping the Tezos Foundation launch their platform by providing tools and technical support for block validators who maintain the Tezos blockchain. We researched, designed, and developed a suite of tools for users ranging from the highly technical to non-technical and taught the community how to use these tools.
Obsidian provided end-to-end services from product definition and design, to development and deployment of multiple platforms and devices. Tezos has one of the largest block validator communities of any Proof of Stake blockchain (400+), in large part due to the cost effective solutions provided by Obsidian Systems.
IOHK: The preeminent Cardano infrastructure company.
Obsidian Systems provided engineering and management resources across a variety of critical components from ledger testing to smart contract developer tooling.
Groq: Creator of GroqChip, a scalable processor to accelerate AI, ML, and HPC workloads.
Founded by TPU designer Jonathan Ross, Groq has developed a deterministic single core streaming architecture, allowing for the compiler’s unique ability to predict exactly the performance and compute time for any given workload. Their products are used in finance, automated vehicles, industrial automation, cybersecurity, and scientific research.
Obsidian is providing software engineering, infrastructure, and tooling support to Groq's internal hardware and software teams.
Provenance: A leading public open-source blockchain for financial services
Provenance Blockchain is a public blockchain network that is based on Cosmos/Tendermint and was created to support the needs of the financial service industry by providing a ledger, registry, and exchange services across multiple financial assets and markets. Organizations use the Provenance Blockchain in order for faster and more cost-effective ways to conduct financial transactions.
Obsidian is developing a hardware wallet application for the Provenance ecosystem, to enable an additional security method for conducting transactions on the Provenance Blockchain.
Tezos: A 3rd gen proof of stake blockchain project.
Tezos is a blockchain for decentralized applications and smart contracts. It is designed to address key barriers to blockchain adoption: smart contract safety, long-term upgradeability, and open participation.
Obsidian Systems built Kiln (a GUI block validator and monitoring app), and the Tezos Baking and Tezos Wallet applications for Ledger devices. Obsidian also provided technical support for block validators who maintain the Tezos blockchain.
The majority of block validators use the Tezos Baking Ledger application to protect the funds they leverage to secure the Tezos blockchain, and more than 22% of all block validators on the Tezos blockchain use Kiln.
BTGPactual: Investment banking, wealth & asset management.
BTG Pactual is a Brazilian financial company that operates in the markets of investment banking, wealth management and asset management. It is the biggest investment bank in Latin America and the Caribbean and the 5th largest bank in Brazil.
Obsidian Systems helped BTG Pactual issue a tokenized Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) on the Tezos blockchain, backed by distressed real estate in Brazilian cities. Obsidian built a secure web application for bank employees to conduct critical processes surrounding token issuance and management, all on the Tezos blockchain.
BTG Pactual had a 42% profit increase after token offerings in 2019. Obsidian delivered the token management application in just 14 weeks with no critical issues or vulnerabilities (confirmed via security audit), advancing ReitBZ’s business model via tokenizing their investment opportunities and reducing costs associated with REIT issuance.
NYU Law: Law enforcement and criminal justice.
The oldest law school in New York City, the NYU Criminal Justice Lab works on projects related to law enforcement and criminal justice.
Obsidian Systems designed, developed, and deployed mobile applications for use by police officers in the field. The Screening Tool allows law enforcement professionals to assess whether potential arrestees should be diverted for mental health evaluation instead entering the criminal system.
This tool is currently used by the Indianapolis and McLean police departments.
Formation: Marketing insights via machine learning.
A venture capital-backed startup that combines customer data from many sources and uses the latest data science, machine learning, and AI techniques to perform analyze that data to provide marketing insights.
Obsidian Systems built their real-time marketing analytics engine that integrates customer information from a variety of sources and feeds it into email and digital marketing campaigns that are customized on a per customer basis. It includes a reporting dashboard and customizable visualization interface that enables tracking of key performance indicators and alerting when those indicators fall outside established thresholds.
Formation is used by several major retailers, including Starbucks.
Center for Brains, Minds + Machines: Science and Technology Center studying intelligence.
The Center for Brains, Minds and Machines (CBMM) is a multi-institutional NSF Science and Technology Center dedicated to the study of intelligence - how the brain produces intelligent behavior and how we may be able to replicate intelligence in machines.
CBMM tapped Obsidian Systems to maintain and expand Haskell software that had been written by departing researchers. These projects were primarily in support of undergraduate and graduate level research and included interactive applications used to collect behavioral data for research purposes. We also helped train researchers in good software engineering practices and provided them with tooling to improve their efficiency.
MIT Kanwisher Lab: Studying the functional organization of the human brain.
The Kanwisher Lab Faces Project at the MIT Center for Brains Minds and Machines focuses on facial recognition in both research and practice, including a human-delegated face recognition application developed by Obsidian Systems.
Obsidian built an interactive web application that can be used by Amazon Mechanical Turk workers to label image datasets with information about the location and orientation of spatial features.
The project was completed ahead of schedule. The client was pleased with initial test runs of the experiment and expanded the scope of the application to cover more complex labeling tasks as well as larger datasets.
Interos: A leader in supply chain analytics.
Interos is a supply chain analytics dashboard and risk alerting system that brings together data from thousands of sources.
The Interos system built by Obsidian Systems analyzes a corporation or public entity’s direct and indirect suppliers (i.e., their suppliers’ suppliers, and so on) based on a set of configurable risk factors and provides a real-time risk analysis dashboard, risk monitoring and alerts, and sophisticated reporting tools.
It is in use by the US Army, Department of Homeland Security, NASA, and the US Air Force and was recently used by Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing to analyze risks in the production of voting machines for US elections.
Databrary: A data platform for the study of human development.
A web-based data library for developmental scientists to securely store, manage, share, discover, and reuse research data, including videos, audio files, procedures and stimuli, and related metadata.
Databrary requested Obsidian Systems’ assistance spinning up reproducible builds, comprehensive developer environments, and the ability to add new features in order to meet the requirements of research grant investors.
We delivered a reproducible and well documented build process. Provided significant refactors to bring the desktop web application close to production Haskell standards, and integrated well known and well maintained Haskell libraries to improve the application’s maintainability.
Proceeding 5 months of work, Databrary was able to onboard some NYU Computer Science students to help maintain the application.
Job.com: Using AI & blockchain to solve employment search.
Job.com is evolving the traditional recruitment model using AI matching technology, smart contracts on the blockchain, enhanced feedback and financial incentives.
Provided a mock interactive application to convey the desired product behavior and an external API that interacted with their job search engine, Obsidian Systems created a dashboard to help facilitate the interaction between job seeking users, job posting users, and job.com’s matching algorithms.
Kadena: A PoW blockchain uniting data from multiple sources.
A blockchain-based financial technology startup by JP Morgan veterans, that integrates with other cutting edge crypto-currency services and tools, powered by a rich, multi-platform user interface for conducting high-security financial operations.
Obsidian Systems built Chainweaver - a cross-platform desktop wallet for Kadena. Chainweaver lets users manage their accounts, transfer Kadena coins and deploy and interact with smart contracts.
Kadenamint is an implementation of the Pact smart contract language on Tendermint.
Lanehoney: A transparent marketplace for real-time logistics data.
A dashboard for the daily business of trucking. LaneHoney is the first platform to publish holistic transparent real-time price data, as well as supply, demand and supplier performance information to a market that mostly operates blind via phone and fax.
Obsidian Systems pulled from numerous data sources to create a shipping lane calculator and a High Demand widget, both of which continually integrate realtime data to provide a uniquely timely snapshot of the space in an industry in which timing is everything. We generated summary reports from Market Data to allow users to compare parameters between our real marketplace opportunities with averages from across the country.
Our enhancements garnered meetings with investors and features in several industry publications.
Soostone: Understanding customer behavior via data science.
Soostone is a specialized technology company that combines innovative software with data science to provide high-impact solutions to a diverse corporate clientele around the world.
Obsidian Systems developed a web-based interactive data visualization app for business intelligence and analytics use-cases. Obsidian supplemented Soostone’s existing software development team with interactive web application experts who could drive day-to-day development as well as contribute insights into application architecture and design.
Obsidian successfully resolved significant technological challenges impeding the development of this complex piece of software, turning around the project and making the team at Soostone overall more effective at delivering results.
Wrinkl: Wrinkl is group messaging built for business.
A group chat and business communications system that consolidates email and chat into a unified interface.
Obsidian Systems provided end-to-end services from product definition and design to development and deployment to multiple platforms/devices.
Recognized for its innovative features, winning an Appy Award in 2018 and securing several patents for features related to data organization, email integration, surveys and reporting, and superior user interface.
BuildUp Capital: A retirement savings platform for the self-employed.
Build Up is a retirement savings platform for self-employed workers. The platform makes automatic contributions to IRA based on user defined contribution percentages. The platform also allows the user to view their predicted savings based on their contribution plan.
Obsidian Systems is serving as the technology adviser for Build Up.
Kalhatti: A mobile investing platform with unique assets.
Kalhatti is an application without borders whose mission is to make investment more accessible. It provides investors around the world an avenue for purchasing fractional assets (‘financial sachets’) with low transaction fees through the use of blockchain and encryption technologies.
Obsidian Systems was tasked with designing and implementing the Tezos smart contracts used by Kalhatti’s platform, the API which connects their application to the blockchain, as well as automated test suites that confirmed the functionality of both.
Kittyhawk: The best platform for flight and drone workflows.
Kittyhawk unifies the mission, aircraft and data to make drone operations safe and reliable.
Obsidian Systems worked on mission critical avionics interfaces - waypoint planning, route planning, and flights.
MIRI: A nonprofit studying mathematics of intelligent behavior.
MIRI does foundational mathematical and informatics research to ensure that smarter-than-human artificial intelligence has a positive impact.
We assist MIRI researchers by improving the cutting edge tools they rely on for their investigations into the theory and practice of artificial intelligence. In particular we are tasked with making improvements to open source Haskell infrastructure on their behalf.
We have successfully upstreamed several contributions to the Glasgow Haskell Compiler and other Haskell tooling.
Myrtle.ai: Enabling efficient deployment of AI-based services.
Myrtle was designing fine-grained reusable FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) IP cores (essentially circuit “components”) in Haskell so that they can be easily and correctly composed for a specific neural network.
Obsidian Systems wrote a DDR4 memory controller IP with extensive software property testing of combinatorial and sequential behavior. The memory control we wrote is used by the other components in their product.
When later deployed to actual FPGAs with physical memory and DDR4 memory, our work was tested and proven to work correctly.
Nervos: A multi-asset, store of value blockchain.
The Nervos Network is an open source blockchain ecosystem and protocol collection solving challenges facing blockchains like Bitcoin and Ethereum. The Nervos CKB (Common Knowledge Base) is the blockchain protocol of the Nervos Network which allows any crypto-asset to be stored securely.
Obsidian Systems will produce an application for the Ledger Nano X and S hardware wallets to manage CKB and interact with the NervosDAO, the BOLOS application which will connect with the hardware wallet from desktop/laptop computers, and the LedgerJS tool which will support communicating with Ledger devices through the browser.
PDT Partners: A leading global investment manager.
Composed of a tight-knit community of researchers, engineers, and business professionals, PDT is a leading global investment manager. Their investment success is driven by rigorous research, cutting edge technology, and a disciplined focus on risk management and trade execution.
PDT had been investigating using Nix to manage their complex software dependencies. They tapped Obsidian Systems’ expert knowledge in using Nix for business critical infrastructure to augment their internal migration efforts.
Initial migration of critical infrastructure was a success which has led to a further expansion of nix in their workplace that Obsidian continues to assist in.
Securitize: A platform for modernizing capital markets.
Securitize is a platform for modernizing capital markets that specializes in issuing regulatory compliant digital securities on the blockchain. They are a worldwide leader in their field and SEC registered Transfer Agent.
Obsidian Systems was tasked with helping expand Securitize’s platform so digital assets could be issued on the Tezos blockchain in addition to Ethereum. In conjunction with their team, Obsidian built the bridge from the blockchain-agnostic Securitize Platform to digital securities deployed on to Tezos.
US Mobile Home Pros: A platform connecting mobile home buyers and sellers.
US Mobile Home Pros (USMHP) had an existing application that allowed a seller of a used mobile home to complete a form and have a staff member at USMHP review the information and make an offer to buy the home or connect the seller with a buyer.
Obsidian Systems was tapped to modernize the application by adding instant messaging between USMHP admins and sellers, create a marketplace that allowed the sellers to connect with independent buyers, and integrated a payment system that allowed USMHP to collect on the right for buyers and sellers to communicate without restriction so that a sale may be completed.
USMHP was able to open a new revenue stream by allowing buyers and sellers to communicate for a fee. Previously, USMHP could only buy homes themselves (in certain states) and sell them for a profit or collect a small commission to connect a seller to a broker in a state where USMHP doesn’t operate.
Vulcanize: Software support for blockchain Dapps.
Vulcanize is a software company that provides decentralized application architectural guidance, project management, and code and security audits.
Obsidian was responsible for porting the MakerDAO Purple paper to Tendermint/Cosmos using the Kepler SDK. We packaged the system with Nix, provided a docker image, and simple testnet tooling.
Digital Asset: Dapps in Haskell via DAML
Digital Asset builds tools and frameworks to support the creation of secure, interconnected systems. One of Digital Asset's core products is DAML- Digital Asset Markdown Language. DAML is a framework for writing full-stack, distributed applications for Blockchain using Haskell.
Obsidian was tasked with re-designing a reference Healthcare Claims processing app. The application is widely used by tech enthusiasts to familiarize themselves with DAML. As part of the re-design, Obsidian followed design principles that made this an easy-to-use app while allowing users to explore and understand the underlying technology used in the application.
Avalanche: High-speed, multi-chain smart contracts
Avalanche is building a smart contracts platform with an emphasis on speed, as measured by time-to-finality, and has the most validators securing its activity of any proof-of-stake protocol. It uses three separate chains for staking, transfers, and smart contracts which enables users to use Solidty contracts natively in the ecosystem.
Obsidian has developed a multi-chain hardware wallet application for the AVAX community, utilizing two different derivation paths from the same application which was a first in the Ledger community.
Bitchcoin Mine: The first tokenization of art on the blockchain
In February 2015, predating the launch of Ethereum by five months, the artist Sarah Meyohas released the first tokenization of art on the blockchain: Bitchcoin.
This project proposed three novel ideas: using the blockchain to track provenance of an artwork; public fractional ownership of a digital artwork; and the blockchain itself as a medium. Meyohas conceived of a cryptocurrency as an artwork minted on her own proof-of-work blockchain. Bitchcoin engages with the ownership and utility of art in the digital future. This image is a webcam photograph of the miner that Meyohas created for the Bitchcoin project's inauguration during her exhibition at the Where Gallery in Brooklyn.
Obsidian has played a key role in the creation of Bitchcoin, both on-chain and off-chain.
Among Petals: Generating the perfect petal with AI
Working in the former Bell Labs complex, sixteen men selected and photographed 100,000 individual rose petals to correlate with the original amount of Bitchcoins minted. They set aside one petal per rose, whichever they considered the most beautiful, and put that in a press, preserving the petal as a physical artifact. The dataset they compiled was used to map an artificial intelligence algorithm that learned to generate new, unique petals for perpetuity. This performance was documented in Sarah Meyohas’ film, Cloud of Petals, 2017.
The Non-Existent Token: A never-ending auction
The Non-Existent Token is a blockchain art auction to which there is no end. It is an expression of the artist's criticism and love for NFTs as a medium. It utilizes an array of custom smart contracts to create a truly one-of-a-kind dAPP. Obsidian built and deployed the entire end-to-end system for this artist using our development stack.
Arched Speculations: Examining how value is created
Sarah Meyohas initially conceived her Speculations series of photographs for Bitchcoin, a cryptocurrency as an artwork that playfully examines how value is created. Each coin would be backed by a photograph, which would create visual value. Illusory expansions of space referenced “mining” and the idea of gold. Given their depth of perspective, these images never end. The Speculations series is ongoing.
Pocket Network: Decentralized Web3 Infrastructure
Pocket is a network with a mission to coordinate open access to the world’s public data by empowering anyone to provide unstoppable infrastructure. Based on Cosmos/Tendermint, POKT is a decentralized blockchain API built for Web3 apps, relaying data to and from any blockchain through a network of thousands of nodes. They currently support more than 15 chains, including Ethereum, Binance SmartChain, Polygon, Avalanche, Fuse, and xDai.
Obsidian has developed hardware wallet applications for the POKT community, giving them an ever more robust trust model for signing operations.
GeoPeru (Government of Peru): Mapping local infrastructure for citizens
The Peruvian Government needed to create a new web-based application that would serve as a public resource for its citizens to have access to any relevant information on infrastructure plans happening through out Peru and for its citizens to provide their opinions on those plans.
This project was completed in collaboration with Piensa Labs. We built a new site that provided the Government of Peru the capability to share local plans with citizens and receive feedback.
PowerZonePack: A community of athletes who have fun and train together
PowerZonePack enables Peloton users to challenge themselves and other riders, and track their progress against custom goals. The app offers many unique features that are not available elsewhere, such as detailed metrics of their performance over time, and team challenges where multiple riders from across the globe can work together against other teams.
Obsidian has been an integral part of PowerZonePack's development since it's inception, and we continue to add new features as the community grows.
Solana: High transaction speed PoS/PoH blockchain
Solana is one of the fastest growing blockchain platform with high transaction speed as its core differentiator, using proof of stake and proof of history as its consensus mechanism.
Obsidian was responsible for building a bridge between Solana and Ethereum to facilitate communication without dependency on third party services. Obsidian wrote and deployed Solana smart contract that could verify Ethereum headers. In addition, Obsidian wrote and deployed an Ethereum smart contract that had the ability to verify Solana headers.
Modern applications run on multiple clients, deploy to diverse backends, and integrate with dozens of other services. Our platforms can handle all of this complexity with speed and grace — you'll be amazed how quickly we can get your product to market.
Haskell, our language of choice, comes with security and correctness guarantees that are difficult or impossible to achieve with other languages. Let us show you what the hype is all about.
Nix, our package manager and build system of choice, gives us complete mastery of all software on the system. You'll sail through every onboard, demo, and deploy with no stray component left behind.
Our contributions to and stewardship of Open Source libraries and frameworks is our way of giving back to the community — a community that all of our partners benefit from.