Business of Blockchain: December 11, 2018

Gil Amran
Gil Amran

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3 years ago

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This week, Facebook's blockchain plans, tough business decisions, Ohio and Wyoming compete for our decentralized love, enterprise blockchain deals and funding news.

The real decentralized Facebook

The Daily Hodl seems to have figured out Facebook's plans for blockchain. Facebook's job descriptions for its blockchain division openings - data scientist, data engineer, software engineer (two openings) and product marketing lead - all point to something quite large and far-reaching. This includes "equitable financial services" and "new ways to save, or new ways to share information" for billions of people. It will be very interesting to see how a company that profits so much from centralization will implement a decentralized business model.

In the end, every business needs to make money

At least that seems to be the case as ConsenSys has shifted from moonshots (literally) to more bottom-line investments. ConsenSys CEO, Joe Lubin, wrote in a letter to staff that projects will now be evaluated based on three metrics: revenue (or return on investment or potential for return in the future), benefit to the Ethereum ecosystem or social good. This change to a more grounded strategy is right in line with our predictions for the industry in 2019 as well as the viewpoint of Collider Venture's principle, Avishay Ovadia.

Talking about money, it seems that Steemit is not quite making it yet. The blockchain-based social network has announced that it's laying off close to 70% of its staff. Steemit co-founder and CEO, Ned Scott, blamed the weak crypto market and diminishing returns for its sales of the STEEM currency as well as the growing costs of operating Steem nodes. The team will now focus on cutting costs and pushing new "assets" for the Steem ecosystem.

Another sign of more traditional business being done in the blockchain space, HTC announced this week the release of its Exodus 1 blockchain-enabled phone. It's a good sign for the industry when one of the larger smartphone manufacturers in the world starts pushing crypto to the mainstream.

Enterprise blockchain is looking good

VAKT, the blockchain for post-trade management for commodity trading, has gone live with BP, Equinor, Shell, Gunvor and Mercuria as its first users. VAKT will start out in the BFOET crude oil trade where it will help the industry move from fax, email and phone and eliminate reconciliation and paper-based processes as well as add new efficiencies and opportunities. It's worth noting that its first users are also listed as shareholders -- perhaps the best way to get some traction for a new technology.

The investment funds transaction network with over 1,700 clients, Calastone, has announced that its entire network will move to blockchain in May. The network handles around 9 million monthly messages worth $217 billion dollars. This is definitely a big win for the industry and if it proves to save billions as predicted, this could be the case study that fintechs need to sell blockchain.

To top off all of this good enterprise news, Cointelegraph has reported that over one third of German big businesses (500+ employees) consider blockchain to be as revolutionary as the internet - double the rate for smaller businesses. Many people, including Orbs' Assaf Bielski who argues that private blockchain is the first step in the path to large-scale public blockchain.

We ♥ bureaucrats

Wyoming is hard at work making itself the greatest state for decentralized technologies to call home. The state has passed a bill allowing for Special Purpose Depository Banks. Basically, blockchain companies were having a hard time accessing banking services from traditional banks, threatening the local blockchain industry. The new bank type is meant to give blockchain companies access to the banking services needed for day-to-day operations and growth. It's worth noting that the bill passed by a 13-1 margin despite heavy opposition from the banking industry.

Not to be outdone by Wyoming, the great state of Ohio had some good news as well. Ohio is now the first state to accept tax payment in crypto as Ohio-based businesses can now pay their taxes with cryptocurrency at OhioCrypto.com. The state is using BitPay to process the payments and convert them to dollars. In addition to this, several Ohio-based accelerators have pledged to invest $100 million in early stage blockchain startups. There are plans to invest another $200 million over the next three years in startups taking advantage of Ohio's tax-incentivized "Opportunity Zones". If you're planning on launching a new startup, I heard Cleveland is beautiful.

Funding news

  • Good Money, a customer-owned mobile banking startup, raised $30 million in a Series A round from Galaxy Digital's Galaxy EOS VC Fund and Boost VC, among others.
  • AZTEC, which is working to make Ethereum transactions private to spur financial institution adoption of the blockchain, raised $2.1 million.
  • Project Verte, the blockchain social eCommerce platform, raised $50 million to create a participatory eCommerce ecosystem focused on fulfillment centers.
  • Trustology, the digital asset security startup, raised $8 million from ConsenSys and Two Sigma Ventures in a seed round.
  • ErisX, the crypto trading platform, raised $27.5 million is a Series B round from ConsenSys, Bitmain, Fidelity Investments, Nasdaq Ventures, Monex Group, Pantera Capital and others.
  • GrainChain, the blockchain platform for commodities transactions, sold $2.5 million of its equity (10% ownership) to Overstock's Medici Ventures. GrainChain claims to have 500 pilot users as of now and 3,000 on its waiting list.

If you enjoyed this newsletter (or not) or want to send some news our way, hit me up on Twitter or LinkedIn or at community@orbs.com.

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