Profile: Joseph Lubin Accelerates Crypto With ConsenSys

For ConsenSys Founder Joseph Lubin, creating a new, decentralized world started with building from the bottom up:

“(ConsenSys is) a really oddly shaped company because we had to build up the Ethereum ecosystem ourselves, We started building product, and we needed to build infrastructure, people started calling us from companies and governments, and we spun up our consulting arm and educate people because we couldn’t hire fast enough.” (CCN)

About Joseph Lubin

Before founding one of blockchain’s largest companies, Lubin’s career experiences ranged from software engineering to finance to a brief stint in music. After the 9/11 attacks, he sought to reimagine centralized organizations and what viable alternatives might suffice. Lubin eventually came to view decentralized entities as more fluid, responsive and equitable.

In 2012 he began to consider blockchain technology as a vehicle for his decentralization ideas. The connection percolated until, on New Year’s Day in 2014, he downloaded a copy of Vitalik Buterin’s Ethereum white paper. For Lubin, it was the decentralized answer he had been searching for, what he would later call an “ethereal moment.”

Creating ConsenSys

Joseph Lubin recalls that day quite clearly. As he notes:  

Since that day, January 1, I — in conjunction with many gifted thinkers and technologists — have labored obsessively to help bring Ethereum, and elements of the decentralized economic and social ecosystem that we are building on it, into existence. (Coindesk)

By the time Ethereum mined its genesis block 18 months later (July 2015), Lubin had already founded ConsenSys along with a small but talented group of dedicated employees,  Lubin’s company gained greater visibility after he launched the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA), a consortium of highly influential private organizations and public entities. Today, ConsenSys is an amalgamation of Ethereum project development, blockchain advocacy, company consulting and education initiatives. As Lubin explains,

ConsenSys helps to accelerate, or even launch, companies and projects that use Ethereum as a platform. We are re-architecting how companies or groups of people will offer services to consumers and other businesses and there are definitely some hot-button issues around cryptocurrencies, as there are hot-button issues with respect to securities law around the world. (BLOKKR)

The company has its fingers in many pies, including prediction markets, business suite software, a decentralized version of Reddit, and even a “distributed music model to compete with Apple and Spotify” (Marketwatch). 

In the blockchain world, ConsenSys is quickly becoming a household name. In 2018, the company gained additional publicity for hosting a global blockchain conference in Singapore. It’s also heavily involved in training Ethereum developers and educating other blockchain professionals. Likewise, its media platform is beginning to gain traction for blockchain news and opinion. It even has a social impact group to foster select humanitarian efforts around the world.

The company continues to grow at a phenomenal rate., from just 100 employees at the beginning of 2017 to more than 900 global employees at present. 

Current Projects

Being devoted to Ethereum, it’s perhaps not surprising that ConsenSys is helping to develop legally enforceable hybrid blockchain-based agreements. Still, Lubin’s interests are somewhat eclectic, like his firm’s partnership with the Associated Press to develop Civil, a platform for sustainable, ethical journalism. Altogether different is the company’s cooperation with China to establish a next-generation smart city and a leading blockchain innovation hub.

In the commercial space, ConsenSys has been working on projects that will allow potential competitors to collaborate on issues of common interest using blockchain technology. For instance, in a project called Viant, ConsenSys is working with GlaxoSmithKline, a major consumer goods company, and an energy concern to collectively build a supply chain using Ethereum technology.

In the public sector, ConsenSys is partnering with the World Food Programme to design a blockchain platform for tracking tuna, from harvesting to delivery. The project’s second phase will monitor temperature to ensure freshness and quality. Building on the blockchain has allowed the multiple companies to become involved – some of whom are competitors – to collaboratively input and track data in an environment of mutual trust.

An Employee-Driven Organization

What is particularly interesting about these company projects is that they are primarily being pursued by employees.  That freedom to create and grow organically comes in part due to Lubin’s management style and corporate culture, which is far more collaborative in nature than anything resembling a top-down corporate behemoth.

We started as a hybrid company. We started as something between a Microsoft-Apple-Google and the VC, and we were really much closer to a software company. It was just like people that we hired that were employees and building out their projects that we owned, (Yahoo)

Lubin noted that ConsenSys would traditionally own 100 percent of such employee-generated projects, but the company decided to change that approach to retain those tech creatives. For work in early development projects, ConsenSys retains 50 percent ownership, but the founders have the option to potentially spin the project out.

To give them their own independent legal entity and create a network business model. In that situation, instead of just being an employee of the company, people have the potential to stay at ConsenSys in some form, but still, own a big chunk of it. (Smartereum)

The Future

As much as it is committed to creating blockchain applications, Lubin and his team are just as passionate about developing the blockchain itself. According to a recent post on the company’s blog:

Our future will align with the future of Ethereum. The ecosystem is much larger than us. It is made up of a countless number of developers, technologists, entrepreneurs, investors, and enthusiasts. Collectively, we will continue to promote blockchain technology in the hopes it becomes fully integrated into industries that need efficiency and optimization, into communities that need identity security and financial inclusion, and into governance systems that require more direct participation.

Such enthusiasm and the rapid-fire development of numerous applications for blockchain technology has some wondering what’s next for the network as a whole.

During a panel discussion during the Rise conference in Hong Kong in July, Lubin noted that blockchain ecosystem was moving into “phase two”, where “we’re moving into a space where Ethereum can serve as the layer one trust system, and built into Ethereum we’ll have hundreds of thousands of transactions in the layer two systems, and we’re going to see that ramified this year.” (Cointelegraph)

It appears that ConsenSys will play an outsized role in blockchain development.

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