Boldstart Founder Launches Hyperledger Fabric's First Blockchain Accelerator
The founder of VC firm Boldstart Ventures is launching the first accelerator
dedicated exclusively to startups building on the Hyperledger Fabric blockchain. With previous exits that include a $120 million deal with Google, investor Ed Sim today announced Fabric Foundry – a project that finds him emerging as the latest in a line of tenured investors to express confidence in blockchain technology.
But the accelerator can also be seen as part of a more specific and recent trend: As an increasing number of open-source blockchains go online, institutional funds are proving essential to jump-starting development. In conversation with CoinDesk, Sim positioned the accelerator as a potential pipeline that could feed Fortune 1000 enterprises hoping to capitalize on the increased efficiency of using shared, distributed ledgers.
"We feel like there's a tremendous amount of corporates working and using Hyperledger Fabric, but there aren't as many startups working in that area. We'd like to bridge the gap."
Companies selected to participate in the accelerator will spend eight weeks learning how to build with the open-source code and receive an undisclosed sum of money to help them through the build process. Upon completion, startups will be invited to pitch their ideas at an invitation-only demo day. Still being negotiated are the terms of possible future investments in participants, which Sim said would likely be limited to a "small amount" of common stock equity.
Potential for change
With the launch of the fund, Sim adds to a career that has already seen notable highs. Back in 2010, Sim co-founded Boldstart Ventures with the explicit intention of investing in startups building enterprise-grade technology, especially as relates to corporate infrastructures. Among Boldstart's exits are New York-based Divide, which was purchased by Google in 2014 for $120 million, and Nova Scotia-based GoInstant, which sold to SalesForce in 2012 for $70 million. Current portfolio companies include blockchain startup Hypr, a tokenized biometric security firm. But whereas traditional infrastructure platforms have been largely built on proprietary technology, Sim sees a potential for change.
"The whole idea is, once you go through this process and we get some pilots going, then your likelihood of funding goes up when you have real customers instead of just technology."
Also revealed is that IBM will serve as an initial partner to Fabric Foundry, providing training and support to accelerator participants. As such, the general manager of IBM Blockchain, Marie Wieck, told CoinDesk she believes her firm will help accelerate development of the platform – one IBM helped spearhead for the Hyperledger consortium in 2015. News of the partnership is part of a larger reveal that includes the formation of a new food safety consortium that boasts Walmart, Nestley, Kroger and more as members. According to Wieck, Sim's experience working with traditional infrastructure companies is a distinguishing trait of the program. In interview at IBM's Manhattan headquarters,
"We're providing some support to them, but they are actually driving it with a bunch of other participants."