IBM and Danish shipping company Maersk announced that they will be involved in a joint venture to create a new blockchain company focusing on global trade. The two companies have been working together for some time.
The relationship began in 2016, with both companies creating a partnership to digitize supply chain using blockchain technology.
The new company will be based in New York owned exclusively by both companies. Maersk will own the majority at 51 percent, and IBM will own 49 percent. It will focus on international shipping. It aims to help those involved with global supply chains track shipments and replace paperwork.
IBM and Maersk first test with the blockchain was during their initial partnership in 2016. Both traced a container of flowers from Mombasa, Kenya, to Rotterdam, The Netherlands. After several tests, both saw the capabilities of the technology.
Sirin Labs is betting it does. The startup, which recently raised $157 million in an initial coin offering (ICO), is building an Android smartphone from scratch with special features for cryptocurrency enthusiasts: an app store for distributed apps (dapps), cold storage for private keys and easy conversion between tokens.
The Switzerland-based company says the product will fill a need in a fast-growing market: a secure device that can simplify the use of cryptocurrency across multiple applications. But as an old tech adage goes, “hardware is hard,” and in blockchain it may be even harder, since devices must be engineered to protect not only information but unrecoverable money.
In a nod to the device’s target audience, Sirin has dubbed the phone “Finney,” after computer scientist and bitcoin pioneer Hal Finney.
Estimating this audience’s growth over the years, Sirin Labs CEO Moshe Hogeg told CoinDesk:
“You have more than 10 million people that are all in crypto in one way or another. I think the community will at least double in size by the end of this year.”
Baidu, China’s search engine giant, has launched its very own blockchain-as-a-service (BaaS) offering. The new open platform intends to provide the “most user-friendly blockchain tool” to businesses.
According to the dedicated webpage, Baidu Trust is “a self-developed project based on blockchain technology.”
The platform allows “safe, efficient and low cost traceability and trading, ideal for digital currency, payment and settlement, digital ticketing, bank credit management, insurance management, financial auditing, and more,” the webpage reads.
Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss are a pair of Harvard-educated Olympic rowers who gained notoriety by successfully suing Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook, for essentially stealing their intellectual property while the three attended college together. (A dramatized account of how this legal battle began was portrayed in the film The Social Network.)
Now they are better known for their massive investment in bitcoin.
The Winklevoss twins—who are identical twins and sometimes sarcastically called “the Winklevii” collectively—not only won a $45 million settlement in the Zuckerberg case, but also received a significant portion of their award in Facebook stock rather than cash. Those shares eventually grew to a $300 million fortune.
The twins are now venture capitalists, and they recently generated renewed media attention by becoming some of the first well-known “Bitcoin Billionaires.” A glowing profile of the Winklevoss twins in the New York Times confirmed that the brothers bought over 100,000 BTC years ago, when the price was about $10. They claim to have held onto their entire principal investment. That would make their position worth nearly $2 billion.
Medici Ventures, a subsidiary of online retail giant Overstock.com, has led the seed funding round of mobile voting platform Voatz.
Voatz raised over $2.2 million in the round, which also saw investments from the Urban Innovation Fund and Oakhouse Partners, as well as angel investors including Walt Winshall, Tom Williams, Joe Caruso and members of the Walnut Ventures angels group.
According to a press release, Voatz is planning to utilize the funding to grow its business development team, widen its services across the U.S. and work towards the development of new products.
Medici Ventures’ president, Jonathan Johnson, said that blockchain’s immutable record keeping will lead to greater confidence in the accuracy of results, while its usability will enable citizens to participate in elections without barriers.
The Ixo Foundation’s “proof of impact” protocol wants to give investors knowledge that their money is working–and save organizations time and money in evaluating if their programs are working.
As philanthropists and impact investors pour money into social and environmentally focused businesses and projects, a nagging question often hovers over their efforts: Is the capital actually ending up where it is intended, and is it delivering impact in a measurable, tangible manner?
The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), an industry group, says that investors committed $22.1 billion to projects that deliver both financial and social and/or environmental purpose in 2016. Philanthropies increasingly believe that putting money into social businesses rather than issuing grants to nonprofits brings bigger, more sustainable, returns. And a wide array of mainstream funders, including pension and sovereign wealth funds, have recently entered the impact investing field. One prominent example from 2017: the $2 billion Rise Fund backed by TPG, a private equity firm, and a host of celebrity investors including Richard Branson and Bono.
However, a lack of measurement and verification standards may be holding back further capital flows in the impact investing sector. GIIN’s survey last summer of more than 200 funders found that 40% see data about performance as a “significant” or “very significant” challenge.Could blockchain technology come to the rescue? The Ixo Foundation, based in South Africa, believes so. It is developing a “proof of impact” protocol allowing data about projects–for example, that a child has been vaccinated or that a tree has been planted–to be recorded on a distributed ledger (a blockchain). This enables the claim of impact to be verified as legitimate and for funders thousands of miles of away to see that their money has been well spent. It also creates a new asset class, a cryptographic token that’s issued as the claim is authenticated, that could become the basis for a more organized, regulated form of investing.