Digital Currency Group (DCG) is getting into the enterprise blockchain game.
Announced today at Consensus 2017, the investment conglomerate (and CoinDesk parent entity) is launching DCG Connect, a fourth subsidiary that will seek to help select corporate partners leverage the insights and technology of industry startups.
Initial founding partners include Amazon Web Services, CME Group, Foxconn, IBM, Mastercard, New York Life, Prudential and Transamerica.
As explained by DCG director of development Meltem Demirors, the offer will differ from DCG's portfolio strategy (to date, largely focused on public blockchain startups) by creating a "multi-vendor, brand-neutral" marketplace that will open blockchain protocols like bitcoin, ethereum and ripple alongside permissioned versions from Hyperledger Fabric, Chain, R3 and the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance.
In this way, Demirors, a sometimes vocal critic of enterprise blockchains, said the project will also enable enterprise firms to hear a more skeptical or analytical view of enterprise-facing blockchain technologies.
Demirors told CoinDesk:
"Our view is that whatever gets people more familiar, more comfortable with a more distributed, open ledger, experimenting with this technology, then so be it. It's our jobs to be critical and analytical and not get caught up in the magical thinking."
"We're not committed just to working with one specific technology protocol," she added.
Demirors went on to contrast this approach to other consortium efforts, which she characterized as having developed, mostly around vendor-specific blockchain technology implementations, framing startups as better suited to the launch live projects using any derivative of the technology.
"There are use case specific points, there [are] Hyperledger, R3 and other projects, but there isn't really a neutral aggregation point. In a way, DCG has already been filling that role, and we saw an opportunity to extend that to create something new," she said.
For startups, Demirors said DCG Connect would be opt-in, meaning firms (both in the portfolio and external to it) that want to help shape business strategies of enterprise companies would voluntarily provide information on their products so that DCG can distill best practices and take on the burden of educating enterprises that are more green on the technology.
"DCG Connect will work with companies to build blueprints for how platforms, products and technologies can fit together to create enterprise-ready solutions for deployment," DCG said in its release.
In turn, Demirors said startups will be able to more actively focus on building products, while being selectively paired with more serious enterprise firms. "Startups were getting hit with this wave of blockchain tourism," she said, explaining what drove the creation of DCG Connect.
In a sense, the project isn't dissimilar from efforts underway at major enterprise firms such as IBM, which have also moved to streamline services by more selectively working with corporates intent on launching live projects. For example, last week, IBM debuted its IBM Blockchain Founder Accelerator, which moved its strategy toward that goal.
Going forward, Demirors said that DCG Connect will focus on projects that aim to help enterprises understand the industry, offering ecosystem maps, events and other networking opportunities, concluding:
"We're highly leveraged in this industry and we have a profound interest in helping all digital asset companies grow and succeed."
Startups participating include Alphapoint, BigchainDB, Blockcypher, Bloq, Chain, Gem, Filament, Netki, Skuchain and Tierion.
Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in BigchainDB, Bloq, Chain, Gem, Filament, Netki and Tierion.
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