Two Fewer Tims: R3 Sees Key Employees Depart for New Ventures

Michael del Castillo
Oct 2, 2017 at 11:00 UTC
FEATURE

Blockchain consortium R3 has lost two of its most public employees.

Fresh off raising $100 million in May, CoinDesk has confirmed that both Tim Grant, R3's head of global business development, and Tim Swanson, its director of market research, have left to start their own businesses.

But while details about their possible replacements weren't forthcoming, R3 managing director Charley Cooper said he sees the moves as a sign of a maturity in R3's Corda platform, which he expects Grant and Swanson will continue to evangelize in their new ventures.

Cooper told CoinDesk:

"These guys know so much more about our platform than a company that comes to us as an issue of first impression. They're in a really unique place to go out and push the benefits of Corda because they were there to help develop it."

Both Swanson and Grant confirmed their intent to maintain ties with the group.

Launched in 2014 with a mission to streamline transactions at financial institutions by using shared, permissioned ledgers, the consortium now boasts more than 100 members. Still, even with those achievements, the executive exits demonstrate how hard it is for blockchain companies to hold onto talent.

R3 now employs 140 people, including about 15 contractors.

Swanson's song

Swanson, who left R3 earlier this month, plans to stay on as an advisor, but is focusing his attention on Post Oak Labs, a consultancy he founded to help fintech firms navigate regulatory requirements and other challenges.

In his first interview since launching Post Oak, Swanson said, "I felt there was a big gap in the market in the fintech world and blockchain-related stuff, and I felt that I could leverage the knowledge I had to fix that."

Before R3, Swanson spent almost four years as an independent market research consultant. During that time he published two books (one on smart property and one on bitcoin), and advised firms including Koinify, a now-closed bitcoin crowdfunding platform.

With that experience under his belt, Swanson said his part consultancy, part intellectual property firm will also help entrepreneurs turn dormant or ill-used ideas into companies and sort through opportunities for investment and partnerships.

Rather than raise capital, Swanson said he'll fund his new business with revenue from existing relationships. Of the 500 or so companies he said he's spoken with during his time at R3, Swanson said he's now in talks with 45 family offices, startups and other organizations looking for a sense of clarity around blockchain.

"They hear the permanent bullish perspective on blockchain, but they don't hear from anyone who has a more nuanced view. They're wanting a different perspective than the pumpers you see on social media," Swanson told CoinDesk.

Grant's spin-off

On the other hand, Grant's new startup, DrumG, has all the markings of an R3 spin-off, with a business model that appears geared toward providing consulting services to companies building with the enterprise version of R3's Corda.

Grant, who previously worked as managing director of risk management at the hedge fund manager UBS O'Connor, joined R3 in December 2015 as CEO of its Lab and Research Center, where he helped oversee projects with the consortium's members.

While an early version of the DrumG website described the company as having a "DLT vision with execution," the now-modified site has dropped that language. LinkedIn describes the project as focused on building distributed ledger applications using Corda Enterprise.

Added in the recent update of the website is speed-test service that appears to let users test transaction volumes. The test is processed by 14 nodes around the world using both the RAFT consensus and Byzantine Fault Tolerance algorithms. Further, a password-protected guest area appears to be focused on trade finance applications.

Currently, little else is known about the company, other than a comment provided by R3's Cooper: "The conversations around DrumG have been going on longer than with Tim Swanson's group. We're still finalizing conversation with Post Oak."

That statement seems to suggest both Tims will continue to work closely with their former employer going forward.

Exit image via Shutterstock

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