Facebook Buys Into Blockchain, Sparks Learning About Ledgers

Facebook recently hired the researchers from University College London behind blockchain startup Chainspace. The acqui-hire confirms the social media giant’s interest in smart contracts and crypto-payments. Facebook executive and former PayPal President David Marcus leads Facebook’s growing blockchain group which has over 10 job openings.

“When they’re ready to launch publicly, Facebook entering the blockchain space will certainly validate what many of us already know: blockchain technology is a fundamental game changer,” said Dave Balter, CEO of Flipside Crypto.

“The fact that Facebook is leveraging experts in blockchain and smart contracts shows they’re one step closer to reaping the benefits of the technology when it comes to efficiency, collaboration, and the streamlining of processes,” said Casey Kuhlman, CEO of Monax, a leader in using distributed ledger to help companies manage legal agreements.

Elias Haase, Community Manager of London-based blockchain trainer B9lab said, “Now the demand has shifted to truly qualified, multi-protocol professionals who need to be able to build, rather than write specs for whitepapers. B9lab is one of the growing number of training companies scrambling to meet the demand for blockchain talent.

Promoting Impact. Despite plunging cryptocurrency values and snafus (like a crypto money manager dying holding passwords to millions in client funds), almost every week a new impact initiative is launched using distributed ledger technology.

We have learned that the players who are building open markets and open data ecosystems that enable all possible stakeholders to contribute to collective success are the ones who are well placed to leverage blockchain,” said Rutger van Zuidam, CEO of  Odyssey, a Dutch blockchain and AI hackathon where corporate, nonprofit and government teams co-create solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.

æternity Ventures, an investment fund based in Bulgaria, recently announced the opening of applications for its 2019 Starfleet Accelerator. Last year the company committed to investing $1.3 million in nine promising startups. This year selected teams will again receive an investment of up to $100,000.

Secure Credentials. Education technology veteran Dave Balter launched Flipside Crypto to measure the value of crypto assets based customer activity, developer behavior, and market risk.

As it relates to education, said Balter, “It’s very likely that Facebook’s strategy will be inclusive of the ability to protect consumer data — they require this as part of whatever strategies they deploy in the future — and a huge component of that will be education and skill credentials.”

Philipp Schmidt, the Director of Learning Innovation at the MIT Media Lab, was an early leader in the open badge movement and the use of blockchain to make academic credentials secure and portable. Schmidt and Balter spoke at the GSV Leadership Summit last week and agreed that we will see steady growth in the use of distributed ledger technology in education but most of it would be behind the scenes and not often visible to learners. Transcript and credential sharing are likely to be the most visible signs of progress.

In fact, students in Dallas are already sharing their high school accomplishments with employers and postsecondary institutions using GreenLight Credentials, a blockchain transcript platform launched by former Tata Interactive President Manoj Kutty a year ago.

While big players like Facebook, Amazon, and Pfizer are entering the blockchain space and hiring top talent, van Zuidam said, “We have learned that the most ambitious and best quality talent in this space wants to change the way we organize our society and economy. They want to work on challenges that are not solvable by one organization, but only through enabling many different stakeholders to collaborate through open digital public infrastructure.”

The race is on for blockchain talent. The challenge for governments and educational institutions will be to advance purpose over purse on distributed ledger projects–because now they are competing for talent with Facebook.

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This post was originally published on Forbes.

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Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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