The Tokenization of Things and Building the Unimaginable
After four years leading Fidelity’s Blockchain Incubator and guiding the recent effort to birth the company’s new crypto-business, Fidelity Digital Assets, I’m leaving to join Bloq as its first chief operating officer.
Fidelity has truly been a wonderful experience these past several years, and I’ve had the opportunity to work with a number of talented colleagues — developers, designers, product managers, and others — as we went deep into the technological and business potential of digital assets. This led to numerous proofs-of-concept and, ultimately, the launching of a new company. I am incredibly proud of that work, which will help provide key infrastructure for onboarding the next wave of institutions into this new asset class.
While those efforts were meaningful and personally rewarding, the idea of contributing to an organization solely focused on the tokenization of things for every industry was beyond tempting. I’ve watched Bloq over the years from the outside — even worked together on a Fidelity project — and the vision of co-founders Jeff Garzik and Matthew Roszak resonated strongly, as did what they were building.
Without coming off as doctrinaire or fundamentalist, it’s fair to say that Satoshi Nakamoto delivered a true gift in the Bitcoin whitepaper, that is, a way to produce and account for a provably scarce, wholly digital asset. Satoshi was not-so-subtly concerned about vulnerabilities in the financial system, attracting a number of volunteer developers who felt the same way.
Nearly a decade later, the Bitcoin project has proven stunningly resilient. Most certainly, businesses, media outlets, and futurists are in thrall with the notion of “blockchaining all the things.” Well and good, since many of us do believe — even on that basis — that this technology is truly transformative.
But an important next step is how to manage and integrate digital assets, such that they can most easily be traded and shared. Matthew spoke of this in his TEDx San Francisco talk “The Tokenization of Things,” sharing the notion that this new technology can build efficient, frictionless economies that range from next generation finance to branded loyalty programs and — yes, Bloq does work on this — even space.
But if this breakthrough technology stopped at just the management and integration of digital assets this would be a shame. Building these capabilities is but a stepping stone to a much bigger story. To paraphrase Marc Andreessen’s famous maxim, “Tokenization will eat the world.” And here at Bloq we are working to build the underlying frameworks, products and technologies to make most use of this breakthrough technology.
In other words, we think we’re on to something, or a few things. We are focused on three markets for this technology.
- The Fortune 50. As the inevitable efficiencies in tokenization occur and the “transfer of value” revolutionizes business the way that “transfer of content” did with the Web, Bloq will be a leading builder and implementer of this technology for the Fortune 50. This does not mean just consulting, rather also building the core plumbing of blockchain-powered business processes and capabilities.
- The Crypto 50. There is now a nascent, but growing set of companies dedicated to servicing digital assets. Most are startups and some and incumbents in other fields that need help implementing this technology and need new, innovative products and services to run their business and grow. They are fast-moving, mission-driven and often want to focus their efforts on their value-add atop their chosen blockchain networks.
- BloqLabs. Here we intend to use our intellectual capital and technical strength to incubate new companies, ideas, products, and services built on top of this technology. This is where we make smart bets with our engineering talent. Of this, I can only say “stay tuned.”
Coming into any new company can be quite the task and I’m very much looking forward to the challenge and opportunities that await. At Bloq, we recognize that this is a hyper-collaborative space and, much like blockchain technologies themselves, our industry will only flourish if we work together and interoperate. We must build teams from diverse disciplines and coordinate efforts to create products and solutions for this tokenized future. I intend to contribute to the growth of a business that is at the forefront of technology, business, and product design, scaling up the already incredible team in place at Bloq.
We welcome your input in the comments here, or you can reach me at email@example.com and follow me at @hadleystern.com.