Our industry friends (and their guests who want to learn more) are cordially invited to join Agentic Group and a hundred or so of our peers for a FREE open bar at the fabulous Parlor Lounge on May 23rd from 7-8pm.
Manhattan has the honor and distinction of hosting two of 2017's most important Blockchain-related events, back-to-back. That deserves a toast.
Join a dynamic gathering of blockchain experts, mavens and thought leaders as we celebrate all things decentralized in an intimate setting designed to deepen existing friendships and forge new bonds. Presented by Agentic Group and MME Zurich.
A few of our special friends
Attendance is free. The drinks are open bar (again, free). We just want to see your face, raise a glass or two, and plan the future of the world together.
Date: Tuesday, May 23rd
Location: Parlor Private Dining Club
286 Spring Street (behind the unmarked black door)
JOIN AGENTIC GROUP AT THE 6TH ANNUAL FINTECH & BLOCKCHAIN SUMMIT AT COLUMBIA BUSINESS SCHOOL, JUNE 8TH-9TH: SPECIAL DISCOUNT FROM AGENTIC GROUP
This is a mission-critical event if you want to understand the intersection of blockchain, finance, and social good. Featuring speakers from The Gates Foundation, World Bank, MasterCard. Google, WalMart, Citi, Barclays and Agentic Group!
Our friends and members get a 25% discount on tickets. But move fast because tickets really are selling out.
Over the last 17 months, Agentic Group has grown to become much more than a membership of blockchain (and related) startups. We have come into our own as a global decentralized platform for innovation, bridging the gap between the Internet of the 20th century and the decentralized world of the 21st.
Our network now has nodes on 5 continents and members and advisors in the US, Canada, Africa, Australia, Brazil, Luxembourg, Switzerland, France, and the UK. We are now the only network of its kind in the world, delivering innovation services through our membership to governments and top corporations worldwide.
Here's a taste of what's new at Agentic Group this Spring:
Startup Insurance: We know that insurance can be expensive, and as developers begin to gather metrics on various Proof-Of-Concept buida round the world, there will come a time, soon, where they will need proper insurance in order to grow. We are working closely with Agentic Group member and InsurTech innovators GLOBAL CYBER CONSULTANTS, to tailor comprehensive insurance plans specifically for our members. If you'd like to speak with them for an assessment of your insurance needs, drop us an email here to request a meeting free-of-charge.
Next month we will announce a dynamic new initiative designed to create new value through our member connections. Stay tuned -- it's big!
MORE NEW MEMBERS:
Yes... even more new corporate members will on board this Spring, looking to plug into our innovation network. That means you!
There's a lot more on the way, so prepare to turn the "blockchain year of the PoC" into tangible business opportunities. Ultimately, that's what we're here for.
Rik Willard, Founder
Blockchain-powered real estate record keeping is strategically partnering with Bitland, a blockchain based Real Estate Land Title Registration organization in Ghana. They offer services for free to low income clients or at cost-price for private clients looking to sell upscale property.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Dover, Delaware, USA - February 7, 2017 - Ubitquity LLC, a Blockchain native company offering a simple user experience for securely recording, tracking, and transferring deeds is pleased to announce it has partnered with Bitland, a Real Estate Land Title Registration organization in Ghana.
"We are incredibly excited to announce our partnership with Bitland. This global strategic partnership will help to educate title and government municipalities on the power and benefits of using blockchain recordkeeping. We are confident our partnership will also serve to expand both Bitland and Ubitquity’s global footprint.” says Ubitquity LLC Founder & President, Nathan Wosnack.
“Our belief is that through this mutually beneficial relationship, education will be the key to our global success. Ubitquity and Bitland’s cooperation will go beyond education, however. Our goal is to help in building interoperable platforms for the municipalities and clients we serve.” added Wosnack.
Ubitquity is providing an original record of recording data on its Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform. This provides users and customers the ability to add data to the system so complete history of ownership and search can always be traced using the immutability of the blockchain.
Bitland is looking to establish a blockchain based land registry that will be able to help governments digitize their records concerning land titles.
"We are extremely excited to be partnering with Ubitquity, as we believe they are one of the most promising companies in the entire blockchain space. I believe together, our teams will be able to revolutionize the real estate landscape on the global stage. It is a tremendous honor to be able to work with their team, and we look forward to what we will do with this collaboration." says Chief Security Officer (CSO) at Bitland, Chris Bates.
Bitland.World exists to provide the backbone in the effort to unlock land capital through the democratization of real property ownership utilizing leading edge technology. As the pilot project is working out of Kumasi, Ghana the team is looking to expand their reach further into the African continent. As the organization grows, they look to build infrastructure in developing countries to potentially unlock billions of dollars in untapped property rights. Bitland has completed their alpha build, and hopes to complete the beta by Q3 of 2017.
About Ubitquity LLC
UBITQUITY, a blockchain-secured platform for real estate recordkeeping offers a simple user experience for securely recording, tracking, and transferring deeds. The company is partnered with academia, and US title companies. A private alpha version of their platform is now available for select e-recording, real estate, and title companies.
Media and Investor Contact:
Tel: (331) BITCØIN [248-2046]
(Reposted from the blog of Agentic Group member Intelligent Management)
A recent article about the company Zappo’s relates how they have chosen a new organizational structure of holacracy that removes traditional managers and job titles. They believe this new structure will allow them to grow in a way that is less rigid and bureaucratic. While this may be a move in the right direction from a systemic point of view, there are certain fundamental elements that have to be in place to make it work.
Changing the organizational structure for the better?
At Intelligent Management, we are all about changing organizational structure towards a systemic structure away from traditional hierarchies. We do this through the Decalogue methodology. So our attention was grabbed by a Washington Post article on how Zappos, the online shoe retailer, is adopting Holacracy. Let’s take a look at holacracy as a model and some crucial elements that may be missing.
The Washington Post article explains holacracy as follows:
“At its core, a holacracy aims to organize a company around the work that needs to be done instead of around the people who do it. As a result, employees do not have job titles. They are typically assigned to several roles that have explicit expectations. Rather than working on a single team, employees are usually part of multiple circles that each perform certain functions.”
New model required
There is no doubt that shifting the emphasis away from power games and prestige of a traditional hierarchy towards focusing on getting the work done can only be a good thing. Countless hours of effort and brain power are wasted every day because people are forced into behaving in a way that does not have the goal of the company as its focus. Something very different is needed for our post-industrial age. Holacracy appears to fit the bill in its emphasis on process and away from silos towards multiple circles.
How do you deal with conflicts?
No matter how democratic or open your system may be, human conflicts always emerge on a day-to-day basis. Some are less relevant, others are major and crippling if not addressed. The Conflict Cloud is a powerful tool for conflict resolution developed by Dr. Eli Goldratt. It provides not only an effective means for conflict resolution, but also a springboard for ongoing innovation by continuous examination of limiting beliefs and assumptions. (See Thinking Process Tools.)
Where is the constraint?
One of the main problems, from our point of view, is that this model pays no attention to the concept of constraint. Every system has one, and you may ignore it, but it won’t ignore you. When you ignore the constraint of a system, or pretend there isn’t one, you will inevitably end up with one or a series of bottlenecks in your work flow that are not being managed. This means your system us under-optimized and efforts are not producing desired results, not matter how hard people may try.
How do you manage the projects?
In an open and fluid system such as the one the holacracy model presumably creates, everything becomes a project. We are totally in line with that. What the Washington Post article quoted rather loosely describes as multiple circles that perform certain functions, we would describe as a network of projects (see our book Sechel: Logic, Language and Tools to Manage Any Organization as a Network of Projects in our Books section.) When Projects become the central focus, then an effective method for project management is a priority issue. The issues of delay and burgeoning costs that plague the majority of projects can be overcome through the Critical Chain algorithm that is central to the Theory of Constraints and the Decalogue management methodology.
How do you measure for improvement?
A system will not just spontaneously improve itself, and if it is not improving then it is degenerating. How can you monitor your processes for effectiveness and improvement? W. Edwards Deming developed the Plan Do Act Study cycle for this purpose. It is essentially the scientific method in action. Using Statistical Process Control, there is a precise tool known as a Control Chart that maps the behaviour of a process over time. Central to this approach is the ability to distinguish between special causes and common causes of points that show a process to be ‘out of control’. This ability avoids pointless tampering with the system and allows correct decisions to be implemented for improvement.
The Network of Projects
We can only applaud companies like Zappos as they recognise their need to evolve towards a different organizational structure. We hope they will be able to understand their nature as a network of projects, and their need for powerful methods and tools to govern their new reality. This is the future of sustainable organizations in our complex reality. Interesting times indeed.
UBITQUITY, THE BLOCKCHAIN-SECURED PLATFORM FOR REAL ESTATE TRANSACTIONS, PARTNERS WITH VIRGINIA BEACH-BASED PRIORITY TITLE & ESCROW FOR FIRST EVER US PILOT
Blockchain-powered real estate platform is providing pilot recording for Priority Title & Escrow, a full service title company headquartered in Virginia Beach. They lead the settlement services industry across Hampton Roads, with local expertise and national reach.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Dover, Delaware, USA - October 17, 2016 - Agentic Group member Ubitquity LLC, a Blockchain native company offering a simple user experience for securely recording, tracking, and transferring deeds is pleased to announce it has partnered with Priority Title & Escrow, a full service title company headquartered in Virginia Beach.
"We are pleased to announce our partnership with Priority Title & Escrow. Having trusted partners to secure verifiable title information to Ubitquity continues the transition of a centuries-old paper title system to a new information age system." says Founder & CEO of Ubitquity, Nathan Wosnack.
"Ubitquity will simplify the process of tracking and recording to enable a long-term chain of custody of title. By recording this and all future documents/events in that property's future, a publicly accessible, immutable record on the blockchain is created, making future transfer easier and less costly to research. We aim to create an immutable complete record of ownership for our customers. Priority Title & Escrow will help to legitimize this important process." added Wosnack.
Ubitquity is providing an original record of recording data on its Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform. This provides users and customers the ability to add data to the system so complete history of ownership and search can always be traced using the immutability of the blockchain.
"The future of Settlements will be determined by our ability to create a trusted and secure way to sign, notarized and record our closing documents. The Blockchain has immense untapped value as it relates to all three aspects. We look forward to working with Ubitquity and the team to pilot this process." says Priority Title & Escrow CEO, Joseph LaMontagne.
About Priority Title & Escrow
Priority Title & Escrow is a full service title company headquartered in Virginia Beach. We lead the settlement services industry across Hampton Roads, with local expertise and national reach. Their team of experienced professionals takes pride in delivering efficient, accurate, and market-priced real estate solutions.
About Ubitquity LLC
UBITQUITY , a blockchain-secured platform for real estate transactions offers a simple user experience for securely recording, tracking, and transferring deeds. The private alpha version of their platform was released on September 15th, 2016 for select real estate and title companies.
Media and Investor Contact: Nathan Wosnack email@example.com
Tel: (331) BITCØIN [248-2046]
May 2, 2016 – NEW YORK, NY – Agentic Group LLC today announced that Ann Camarillo, President and CEO of Boloro Global Ltd., a fast-growing next-gen global mobile payments network, and former CEO of debit card powerhouse Maestro and global ATM network Cirrus, has joined as a Senior Advisor to Agentic Group, the global Blockchain and Digital Currency consortium.
"Ann brings a unique perspective and focus on consumer payments using mobile, evidenced by the explosive entry of Boloro mobile payments into emerging economies,” said Rik Willard, Founder of Agentic Group. “Her mission to drive cash replacement is truly at the epicenter of what our members believe to be the future with Blockchain and Digital Currencies.”
Over the course of a 20 year career at MasterCard Worldwide, Ms. Camarillo held a variety of leadership positions in Business Development, Customer Management, Debit and Prepaid Products, Operations and Technology in the United States and globally.
“I am honored to be an advisor to this visionary group focused on unleashing the potential of Blockchain, which I believe to be a true game-changer for creating transparent and trusted transactional records that not only will impact the essence of financial services offerings as we know it today, but will ultimately put the power in the hands of buyers and sellers,” said Ms. Camarillo. “Blockchain may potentially disrupt the way traditional financial services have been configured.”
Ms. Camarillo served in Belgium as CEO of Maestro International, the largest global debit card network. She was also the CEO of Cirrus, the largest global ATM network. As MasterCard’s Chief Debit Officer, she created the award winning Debit Centre of Excellence and managed the Global Debit Advisory Board responsible for all debit and prepaid strategy, policies, financial performance and investments.
As Executive Vice President of U.S. Market Development at MasterCard, Ms. Camarillo was responsible for the financial contribution of all products and services and for creating and implementing next generation revenue streams. Her responsibilities included all market facing activities for US debit, credit, prepaid, commercial cards, remittance payments, all US government business, debit processing, co-branding and advising US financial institutions.
A native of St. Louis, Ms. Camarillo earned an undergraduate degree at Fontbonne College, and a Masters in Business Administration from St. Louis University.
Introducing LivelyGig, a new type of Freelance Marketplace
Every year, the trend toward more flexible staffing continues -- building an increasingly robust demand for more contract, outsourced, and on-demand services. Full-time employees of many companies can no longer rely on the social safety net of their employers. More and more, working people need to fend for themselves and rely on their own social networks to find meaningful work.
Thankfully, many talent marketplaces have emerged to fill these needs. In an empirical review of the broad market for on-demand digitally delivered services over the past 5 to 10 years, freelance sites such as UpWork, Freelancer.com, 99 Designs, and others have provided opportunities for millions of talented workers and lots of options for clients, while making good businesses for marketplace providers. The overall market size is expected to grow to $23B by 2021.
According to Ed Eykholt, CEO and Cofounder, LivelyGig, "The early entrants providing these marketplaces don't necessarily have a lock on them. They take 8% or more, and it is impossible to satisfy everyone as many freelancers are under tremendous price pressure. As a result, highly qualified talent and their clients often choose to work directly with each other in order to avoid the overhead of the platforms. In addition, freelancers worldwide struggle to develop and maintain strong reputations -- people's networks are still an important way to find good matches, especially for highly skilled work".
Acting on his beliefs, Eykholt created LivelyGig Inc., and has set about to create a new type of marketplace for on-demand freelance work delivered online. His platform is being designed to allow any two people to directly connect, from a “smart-work contract” with optional escrow, and settled payments worldwide.
LivelyGig will leverage a suite of decentralized technologies, including Bitcoin, to deliver a powerful and unique solution to millions of people worldwide. He sees online communities and professional social networks as the basis for referrals which in turn strengthen participants' social safety net.
That said, it turns out that building, scaling, and governing reliable decentralized platforms is very challenging stuff. Bitcoin has been fairly successful considering the high stakes; however, the technology has challenges with scaling (beyond its 7 transactions per second limit), and the Bitcoin community is working feverishly toward a successful model of decentralized governance.
LivelyGig builds on top of Bitcoin for payments and a decentralized platform called SpecialK (breakfast cereal enthusiasts and recreational drugs users take note), which is being supported by Synereo and their decentralized social network. Greg Meredith, the inventor of SpecialK and CTO of Synereo and LivelyGig is intensely collaborating with the Ethereum community on their Casper consensus protocol designed for nodes to agree on the state of the Ethereum blockchain. He is also working on scalability, governance, and other issues.
LivelyGig expects the resulting end-to-end architectural guidance Greg and collaborators produce will be adopted by many projects, providing powerful new tools that enable radical innovation and substantive transformation.
To find out more about LivelyGig, see the following links:
A centuries old industry steps into the Blockchain era with Ubitquity
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Dover, Delaware, USA - March 4, 2016 - Ubitquity LLC, a leading Blockchain developer for advanced applications in real estate has successfully completed the development of its platform prototype that is set to revolutionize the real estate industry.
"We're building an innovative and blockchain-secure, distributed platform with extensive functionality and integration for the title insurance industry and county clerks within the United States," said Nathan Wosnack, co-founder and CEO.
Ubitquity builds upon Colu's implementation of Colored Coins; an open-source platform used for creating, storing and managing digital assets using blockchain technology. Ubitquity fully integrates the security and transparency of the blockchain with the user creation process and every step of its document management storage framework. Users can identify whether they are a title insurer or county process and use Ubiquity's tools to begin taking advantage of this powerful stack.
"Ubitquity will increase speed and accuracy of title search, along with helping to prevent fraudulent conveyance of property by adding overall transparency. Our blockchain-powered platform will also improve the due diligence process for the industry," Wosnack added.
"The result is the dramatic reduction of risks in every step of documentation, and a sense of confidence and security that can only be made possible by an immutable public ledger. We're excited to be working with players in the industry to make this all possible."
Ubitquity is inviting select financial institutions, title companies, and others within the private sector for an exclusive demo/presentation of its platform.
About Ubitquity LLC
UBITQUITY, a peer-to-peer title transfer company, is building a blockchain-secure, encrypted/distributed storage platform. We are based out of Dover, Delaware, United States, with our partners and advisers located worldwide.
Media and Investor Contact:
JUDY PEARSON is an Agentic Group member and President of the Private Asset Management Group at Breckenridge Insurance Group. She is also the co-founder and former President of the ARIS Title Insurance company, which insures some of the world's most valuable fine art and collectibles. Judy has truly taken the Blockchain concept by the horns.
So without further delay... here are her 5 Questions:
AG: You have a rather unique take on Fine Art as an asset class -- will you please explain it for our members and readers?
JP: With the increasing escalation of values in the art (and other important collectibles) market collectors potentially face significant capital gains which also creates significant, evolving risks. To move art from a passion purchase to an asset class, collectors must adopt transactional standards that exist in all other assets classes.
AG: Coming from the world of Fine Art Title Insurance, what caused you to focus on the Blockchain?
JP: I think that Blockchain technology can initially be used to solve some transactional defects that are unsolvable by contacts or risk transfer. Moreover, with smart contacts, information can be stored and tracked, which could significantly reduce — if not eliminate — both ownership and authenticity risks.
AG: How do you see the Blockchain affecting your sector in the next 5 years?
JP: Blockchain technology has the ability to make transferring titles of art more efficient. This is a major pain point in my industry. In making title transfers more efficient, our goal is to reduce some of the risks, which in turn would create a seismic shift in risk modeling.
AG: What are the major obstacles that Blockchain adoption will face in your industry?
JP: The art market is the last, largest, lawful unregulated business which has thrived on the lack of transactional transparency. Because of the emotional aspect of collecting, it has been a challenge to constantly apply transactional standards that exist in all other asset classes. As collectors of art and other fine collectibles continue to advance the notion of financialization, the market will need to adopt emerging and evolutionary technologies like the Blockchain.
AG: What advice do you have for those who are starting to learn more about the Blockchain in general?
JP: There are a number of resources being devoted to Blockchain technology. My recommendation is to go to seminars, read the periodicals and join Agentic. I have learned so much about the space, and every interaction I have with fellow members brings me closer to understanding and deploying Blockchain solutions specific to my company's needs.
AG: Well thanks, Judy... We look forward to hearing more about your groundbreaking work in the near future!
JP: You're welcome. So do I!
uPort represents the next generation of identity portal systems: the first identity system to enable self-sovereign identity, allowing the user to be in complete control of their identity, digital assets and personal information. uPort also serves as an Ethereum wallet for native tokens like ether, as well as subtokens created on the Ethereum platform.
Digix Gold represents a new paradigm for the tokenization and storage of gold. By using Digix, gold can be stored, sent, and received with an Ethereum wallet. Moreover, one can verify ownership in real-time by searching the Ethereum blockchain.
Kai Chng, CEO of Digix relayed, “We at Digix felt that moving to a more formal relationship with ConsenSys would expedite our development on Ethereum. We share a similar vision with ConsenSys in building and nurturing the community. This formal initiative will allow our developers to build a stronger ecosystem with less redundancy,”
Joseph Lubin, founder of ConsenSys remarks, “We have been fans of the vision and product roadmap of Digix for quite a while. And we continue to be impressed with the level of expertise of our partners at Digix.”
Business and Media inquiries:
Andrew Keys firstname.lastname@example.org
Digix provides a use case for the tokenisation and documentation of physical assets through its Proof of Asset (PoA) protocol. The PoA protocol utilises Ethereum and the Inter Planetary Files System (IPFS) to track an asset through its chain of custody. This allows for the open and public verification of an asset’s existence without a centralised database. Digix also offers an API allowing other applications to be built on top of our asset tokenisation service.
ConsenSys spawns, coordinates, incubates and accelerates blockchain focused Spoke Ventures (SV’s) via internal development, merger & acquisition, investment and joint venture. ConsenSys has also formed ConsenSys Enterprise to execute large scale blockchain solutions.
Ethereum is a decentralized public blockchain protocol that executes smart contracts: applications that run exactly as programmed without any possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third party interference.
Let's Talk Payments, a website devoted to tracking the FinTech space, recently produced an infographic that attempts to provide some guidance as to where the Blockchain will see the greatest traction in the coming year.
While we applaud the effort, and support many of the observations here, we think there are some nuances that LTP has overlooked, so it the information bears a few postscripts. Much of the data is obvious to those in the industry, so we'll focus on what is not as instantly apparent.
Check it out and see our comments after.
Ok, so here is what we would add for consideration (in no particular order):
1. Fine Art Title, Financing and Insurance: LTP doesn't mention this sector at all, which is a little strange. With a "reported" US $115 Billion in yearly revenues and a "speculated" US $1-2 Trillion out floating around, there is a major move afoot to add a layer of blockchain transparency and track-ability to this largely unregulated and definitely opaque (and somewhat slippery) market. Watch this space in 2016.
2. Real Estate: This industry has all of the elements necessary to support Blockchain disruption in full force. Title, escrow, settlement, money transfer, etc., bodes well for 2016. While Factom may be the most vocal (or obvious) in the space on this matter, we will definitely see numerous solutions arise in 2016. Bet on it.
3. Review/Endorsement: We are somewhat bullish on this play. However, what we see is Review tied directly to real-time distributed digital commerce. There are some awesome concepts floating around that are in stealth mode but getting ready to break. It's closer than you think.
4. Diamonds: We're torn here because the Blockchain is perfect for the global diamond market. That said, a couple of interesting points factor into our thinking. First, the luster seems to be wearing off diamonds in general, helped in no small way by the looming specter of "blood diamonds". Hi-powered players like Leonardo DiCaprio, (who starred in the actual movie "Blood Diamond"), have been driving this meme home to consumers for a while. LDC has even invested in a startup that promises to "take down the diamond industry" by "growing actual diamonds in two weeks". Which leads to point 2; diamonds have always been hugely inflated and subject to cartel-like pricing based on artificial scarcity. With an aggressive ad campaign, DeBeers literally invented the diamond engagement ring hoax, and how much of his yearly salary a man should pay for it (interestingly, the brainchild of women ad and PR execs). This manufactured value has held sway for decades. However, it is increasingly clear that the ride - while not necessarily stopping cold- is showing significant cracks. If diamonds are democratized/commoditized, (as they probably should be), then the need to track them may become less crucial to holding their value. Possible reversal: If the new diamonds come built in with a relentless and successful ad campaign, it could explode the market and render all of this moot. In that case, the Blockchain may stand a chance in this market.
5. Secure Data Storage: We know too many companies in this space that are potential game changers, so we'll bifurcate this into two camps: Enterprise and Consumer. On the enterprise level, companies are fighting several wars at once, such as decades of entrenched thinking, CTOs who don't want to upset their own dominion or look like they're behind the times, and many other obstacles -- so we agree with LTP's assessment on that side. The consumer market holds more promise, although getting people to sign up for more security stuff may prove difficult. There will need to be a LOT more consumer education about the integrity of the Blockchain for this to "move the chains" for consumer adoption. Based on the recent failure of the commercial data security service Lifelock, it may prove to be a tough thing to do. That said, if in 2016 Blockchain marketing can break the blood-brain barrier with consumers (for security in general or specific to a company), the sector explodes -- period.
6. The Internet of Things: This is a foregone conclusion. The two concepts (Blockchain and the IoT) are occurring in tandem -- almost in lockstep -- so it's the right place and time. Done deal.
In general, we think that most of what LTP offers in their infographic is more or less on point, with some caveats within an acceptable range of correctness. While this is a reasonably good barometer of where we're headed with all this, much needs to be done to educate both businesses and consumers in 2016.
Follow us at Agentic Group in 2016 as we do just that.
On December 7th, 2015, the AGENTIC GROUP held a lively and deeply penetrating panel discussion on the potential for Blockchain technology to unlock new value in the massive and largely unregulated business of Fine Art comprised of top executives in the space, as well as noted authorities in law and technology, including: Judy Pearson, Co-Founder and President of ARIS Title Insurance Corporation; Jeffrey Smith, legal and entrepreneurial mastermind and Founder of Tradable Rarities Exchange; Li Jun Xian, Partner at Emigrant Bank Fine Art Financing; and Jesse Grushack, Blockchain Strategist at ConsenSys, a global Ethereum development consortium.
I had the distinct pleasure of moderating the panel; and while I have done so many other times for many other events, this particular experience was one that is forever burned into my cerebral cortex, for a number of reasons, but in particular for the brutal (and necessary) honesty with which the panel handled the subject matter. For this, all in attendance should forever be grateful.
While official estimates as to the value of the global fine arts market is a paltry $115 Billion, insiders put it at somewhere between one and two trillion dollars. Numbers like that beg discussion, and in front of over 75 members and guests -- including high-level representatives in finance, technology, entrepreneurship, the arts and international diplomacy -- our panel proceeded with quote after quote of untethered insight.
So much was covered that, while we reserve the full range of information gleaned from the panel for our members, (which is one good reason why you should become a member!), We just have to share some of the highlights with those who couldn't make it. Just a small amount of insight from our panelists provides a wealth of critical knowledge about the financial behemoth that is the global Fine Arts market.
After the usual welcomes and thank yous, we got down to the heart of the matter, with Judy Pearson's opening statement providing the first brain-splintering quote of the evening:
"The art market is the largest, lawful, unregulated business worldwide -- with the third most amount of crime, just behind drugs and guns... hundreds of millions of dollars of assets are transferring with little to no documentation, in a market that has a complete lack of transparency... there are some people in the art world who would say that 40% of all works are faked or forged." - Judy Pearson
So there's that. After a bit of (somewhat nervous) laughter form the audience, the realization bombs began raining down on the unsuspecting gathering as if it were an information apocalypse. If you ever wanted to know where value in art is -- or where it's going -- this was a deep dive on par with a James Cameron undersea expedition.
A few heartbeats later, Judy was followed-up by Li Jun Xian:
"The question we're faced with is (one of) motivation. This is a market that operates on a lot of asymmetric information... to give up that advantage... well, I don't even give that information out." - Li Jun Xian
In other words, she runs this party -- act accordingly. Another quote that we absolutely loved came from Jeff Smith:
"The current system for provenance and authentication is antiquated... the same evidence that can put somebody to death like DNA or fingerprint evidence, applicable to a painting... has been rejected (for evidence of authenticity) by the Sotheby's and the Christie's (of the world)." - Jeff Smith
Jeff is also a lawyer, so we should probably take his word for it.
So to sum up three (of many) simple, brutal and crazy takeaways from the panel:
1) The Fine Art market is a lot like the Wild West. Or maybe a drug cartel. Or maybe both.
2) The Fine Art sector generates value through the rigid and systematic control of information, disinformation and secrecy on a level that would make Machiavelli blush.
3) It's a lot easier to be convicted of murder than to authenticate certain works of art.
Of course, we discussed many other crucial, thought-provoking issues, and some very pointed solutions that can be applied through market forces and the blockchain, (where Blockchain strategist Jesse Grushack and finance-savant audience member Reggie Middleton really illuminated the crowd), but that is insight reserved for our members, or perhaps for a different article.
All this said, I leave you with one very different take also provided by Jeff Smith, as a counterbalance to all of the gamma radiation we absorbed from the art pros Monday evening:
"Imagine an unprecedented amount of capital flowing into rarities... what's possible is a second renaissance -- an elevation of mankind. I know its lofty, but why not?" - Jeff Smith
In other words, emerging Blockchain (and other) technologies give us the power and the means, right now, to recreate the world -- even in very entrenched and opaque sectors -- on terms that benefit vast majorities of people. It is up to us to be agentic in our understanding and applications of this gift of power, and to press the elevation of all humans.
So why not, indeed.
For complete access to the panel video, join our newsletter and you'll receive an access code in a few days.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New York, December 4, 2015 — On Monday, December 7th, at RISE New York in Silicon Alley, a panel of leaders in fine art, finance, securities law and technology will tackle the question of whether blockchain technology can increase value through more exacting provenance, radically new financing methods and other issues in the virtually unregulated $115 billion dollar Fine Arts market.
Judy Pearson, President of the ARIS Title Insurance Corporation and Li Jun Xian, a partner at Emigrant Fine Art Finance are featured on the panel of art-business and technology luminaries that will unpack how the fine art business works and how Blockchain technology creates new value opportunities. Other panelists include Jeffrey Smith, a co-founder of the Tradable Rarities Exchange (T-REX) — the world’s first patent-protected global exchange for the initial public offering and secondary trading of whole and fractionalized interests in rarities and pools of rarities, and Jesse Grushack, Blockchain Strategist at ConsenSys, an global technology development firm specializing in emerging finance-based Blockchain applications.
The panel will be moderated by Rik Willard, a 25-year veteran of technology and venture development. Mr. Willard has developed a series of emerging technologies for a long list of clients, including Calvin Klein Cosmetics, MGM Resorts, and (Alcatel) Lucent, and helped finance leading tech companies. He has appeared on CNN and CNBC covering digital issues and has spoken about various digital matters for the Harvard Business School Club and the Kaufmann Institute. In 2012, he co-founded the world’s first think tank devoted to digital currencies like Bitcoin, which led him to create Agentic Group earlier this year, which focuses on understanding and applying the underlying technologies that have sprung form the digital currencies movement: especially the Blockchain.
Most widely known as an indelible ledger of Bitcoin transactions, Blockchain technology has a wide range of uses and promises to radically disrupt and revolutionize a wide variety of traditional business processes from fine art to retail, finance, supply chains and almost any human truncations. In a recent front-page article by The Economist magazine, “Blockchains are… the latest example of the fruits of cryptography.”
“The Blockchain presents us with new ways to understand, visualize and execute a wide range of human transactions”, Willard says. “ It is a trillion dollar opportunity with a language all it’s own, so our goal at Agentic Group is to be the Rosetta Stone that allows businesses and nonprofits to make sense of these emerging technologies for the betterment of the world at large. The Blockchain gives us possibilities that are larger in scope than we can even begin to predict right now. We are the very first in the U.S. to chart the trajectory of this technology and apply ‘Blockchain thinking’ to business sectors outside of the financial markets.”
“It is a very empowering moment in tech right now, on a global scale”, Willard added. “We are at the vanguard of a new age.”
The panel is part of a series of Blockchain-themed events produced by Agentic Group, a global membership of leaders in finance, technology, business and the arts, located in New York City. In 2016, Agentic Group will produce similar events covering Blockchain applications in a variety of business sectors, including social good efforts for the nearly 3 billion “unbanked” people in the world.
RISE New York is a financial technology incubator created by Barclay’s bank, located in Manhattan’s Flatiron District.
Originally posted by B Holmes on 23 September 2015
Various cryptographic approaches have been used throughout history to secure sensitive information.
The Spartans used scytalae, a pair of matching rods that provided the encryption method, and key, for a written message.
Julius Caesar is credited for the first use of a substitution cipher, one of the simplest and most widely known encryption techniques. The Caesar cipher replaces each letter with a different one, a fixed number of places down the alphabet.
Sir Francis Bacon developed the baconian cipher, which used a bilateral system consisting of 5-bit binary encoding and utilised a typeface as the key. Baconian theorists hold that Sir Francis Bacon wrote the plays which were publicly attributed to William Shakespeare, and that the body of work is riddled with cryptography.
Cryptography and art continue to overlap to this day. On the grounds of the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, there stands a grand sculpture, named Kryptos. The sculpture was made by American artist Jim Sanborn, and contains four encrypted messages, one of which has never been decrypted.
“I chose to deal with the science of cryptography. Cryptography began in mathematics. Codes were developed, even from Caesar's time, based on number theory and mathematical principles. I decided to use those principles and designed a work that is encoded.”
- James Sanborn, Artist and Cryptographer
Russian media-artist Dmitry Morozov, a musician and engineer of strange sounding mechanisms, recently displayed his newest piece, a technological installation called Silk. The installation consists of a pair of two meter poles. Each pole has 5 diagonal strings which correspond to the market price of cryptocurrencies Bitcoin and Litecoin, and five major world currencies, the US dollar, Yuan, Euro, Canadian dollar and Russian Ruble.
“Silk is transforming the network data of cryptocurrency, which looks very abstract for the spectator, into the string sound of no less elusive nature. The rules of the transformation are defined, and in future the artwork exists autonomously, generating infinite number of variations and harmonies.”
- Dmitry Morozov, Artist
Specially made stepper motors, which are directed by computer algorithms, tune the strings. Each motor tunes the strings so precisely that even slight changes in market rates are made into sound. Morozov explained that the robotic system of the artwork is directed by a computer algorithm: “influenced by dynamic changes of data, the installation sounds like a complex sound instrument.”
Silk explores how progress in the areas of cryptography, mathematics and computer science, alongside new technologies, are affecting the financial system and as Morozov says, “inevitably changing the social structure of the society.”
The cryptographic strength of Bitcoin’s Blockchain is also helping the art world in different ways, proving authenticity and the provenance of art pieces.
Ascribe was started last year by three co-founders with backgrounds in art, technology, and finance. “We believe simplifying and streamlining the user interface for copyright management will be the driver behind an unprecedented explosion of creativity on the Internet. The more artists feel that they can safely show, sell and license their work without fear of having their work taken, the more they will produce. And we’ll all be a little better off because of it,” wrote Ascribe Director of Marketing Mike Klein.
The Berlin tech startup showcased their digital copyright and verification system, by giving away limited edition pictures. The proud owners of these pieces are able to prove the originality of their digital artwork by comparing the picture’s cryptographic hash with a corresponding hash on the blockchain.
The company raised $2m in their seed round earlier this year, and is currently focusing on developing the system further, and adding machine learning technology. This will allow for Ascribe to search the internet for any copyright violations for verified artwork.
Artequesta is developing software which tracks art and its provenance. In a previous interview, Rayah Levy, Founder and Director at ArteQuesta advised, “We plan to incorporate Bitcoin’s technology to use the Blockchain public ledger to track Certificates of Authenticity and market value purchases from buyer to buyer.”
During the interview, Levy advised that ArteQuesta were planning to refine their Fine Art Portfolio Management software by forming key partnerships with Bitcoin industry leaders including; Factom, a company which provides a data layer for the blockchain and focuses on database management and record-keeping; and also Proofofexistence.com, to time stamp and imbed documentation in the blockchain.
Levy goes on to discuss the possibilities of using Blockchain technology to track, attach, and maintain Certificates of Authenticity. “What this means for the art world is revolutionary. Both new investors and seasoned wealthy collectors can now use the Blockchain to track the history of ownership of artworks, which has significant historic implications.”
It has occurred to us -- and probably to you at some point -- that our very existence is based on a series transactions, both discreet and open. From online purchases, to handshakes of friendship, all of our actions are basically a series of expectations viewed through lens of relative reciprocity, either monetary or societal.
Even if we expect nothing back immediately, we ultimately do expect measurable value and worth from our various arrangements and investments regardless of what category they fall under. This expectation is driven by, and allows us to more finely evaluate, 'value' in real terms.
We often place value and worth on people and things based on notions of social acceptability -- what our friends, peers, or nations perceive to be good or bad. In this way, we cross an emotional boundary between intrinsic value and personal VALUES, which is a notion at the very heart of what it will mean to be human as we work and socialize within the emerging Internet of Value IoV).
Blockchain and other innovative new ledger technologies like Ripple and others are presently building a digital infrastructure that is frictionless and automatic, eliminating the need to 'trust' either buyer or seller as all the relevant financial and legal instruments become part of the code of the transaction. Hence, we have a large number of companies poised to deliver the technology necessary for so-called trustless contracts. This being the case, what can we expect when we no longer require either branded or interpersonal 'trust' when negotiating any of life's infinite transactions? How will we determine and measure value in the Blockchain era?
In monetary terms it seems easy enough to place value on the things we do or buy in the commercial sense, as that boils down to -- in general terms -- what a given market will bear. The value of 'gig-economy' workers vs. on-site employees and the value of a sweater from Gilt as opposed to Neiman Marcus; all eminently quantifiable.
However as markets continue to shift polarity to include previously un- and under-represented people, primarily through (1) mobile-centered connectivity, (2) enhanced identification and authentication technologies for people and property, (3) expanding markets, (4) global competition in goods and services, and (5) frictionless transfer of capital and payments, how might our values -- our view of ourselves and others -- shift as well?
The answer is: there is no answer that can demonstrably be offered (right now) -- Agentic Group exists to find those answers. We are charting unknown territory; possibly the greatest, most important social experiment ever envisioned by humankind.
In the short term there is no doubt that we will unlock new areas of untapped monetary value, human inclusion and global opportunity. The more difficult, more important long-term concepts will revolve around how we adjust to life in a world where trust takes on new and fascinating shades of relevance. This is where the coming IoV is on pace to significantly change the world as we know it.