The debate rages on, many pundits see this new year as a time when the market will stabilize and start its ascent. While crypto critics point out that there have been substantial losses last year with negligible gains until now, to suggest any comeback. In this bear market, the news that New York City has reposed its faith in the fledging crypto technology elated many.
According to sources, on the 10th of January, The NYC Economic Development Corporation [EDC] has gone ahead and opened the doors to a nearly 400 square-meter Blockchain Center in the busy Flatiron district of Manhattan. When asked about the judiciousness of the timing of this plan, a member of the EDC simply stated that they were doing so after considering the larger picture.
Explaining the corporation's rationale, their Chief Strategy Officer, Ana Arino told Bloomberg news that ” We are playing the long game.” She went on to reiterate the trust they had in the blockchain, saying
” It’s a nascent technology, so there’s bound to be uncertainty around this evolution from year to year.” Seeing the future linked to cryptos she further added, “While we don’t know what the future holds, we want to make sure we have a seat at the table shaping it.”
What Is The Blockchain Center
Located in downtown Manhattan, the center is in a tech hub that is purportedly New Yorks mini version of the California Silicon Valley; colloquially often referred to as New York’s Silicon Alley. It intends to distinguish itself by not only being a place to work, but also to grow. The center is offering a host of other blockchain related activities ranging from classes for crypto developers to lectures and talks underpinning the advantages and promoting blockchain.
The Blockchain Center has been jointly funded by a trade group and a venture capital fund, the Global Blockchain Business Council and Future/Perfect Ventures, respectively. In addition to that, the city of New York has dipped into its coffers and provided a one-off investment to the tune of $100,000.
Finally, there is further funding from its corporate partners, which includes heavyweights such as Microsoft. For its long term prospects, there are plans to introduce membership fees as the center grows.
According to Jalak Jobanputra, the managing partner at Future\Perfect Ventures, the 12 story building is perfect for business as:
“This is a neutral spot, there’s no one platform or company that has undue influence. What we want entrepreneurs to have is a choice.”
Boring Mainstream Blockchain
Bitcoin and other digital coins have seen prices plunge by more than 80 percent, leading many to write it off as a fad. This comes despite the fact that there is near universal acclaim for the revolutionary technology that is its driving force, the blockchain.
In a report, it was stated that MIT Technology Review expects blockchain to make giant strides towards mainstream adoption in this new year. In fact, they reckon it will become so mainstream in 2019 that it will become “boring.
And this is not just academic talks. It is known that American retail behemoth Walmart has been working for years on a private blockchain food supply system. That endeavor is likely to come to fruition this year. And the company is urging its suppliers to join the revolution. Across the pond, in a similar vein, Carrefour, a French grocery titan, is using the tech to maintain its food quality standards. It does so by tracking anything from chicken to tomatoes from the farms to their store.
Bigger Players Looking To Invest
In probably the biggest factor that is touted to catapult this technology into the mainstream is the fact that many big market movers have shown interest in this sector. Last year there was interest and investment from PWC to Goldman Sachs and, now it has come to light, Venrock.
For the uninitiated, Venrock is the Rockefeller family’s venture-capital arm. Investment fields the first family has a net worth reported to be upwards of $1 trillion. Not only does the Rockefeller name carry a certain gravitas it also brings a huge investment. In line with that ethos, Venrock partner David Pakman has noted that the firm is going to invest nearly $3 billion.
And the plans are certainly not to look at making a quick buck and exit the market. The company sees the potential value that is on offer and is looking to make long-term investments to nurture the infant industry.
This is particularly interesting as 2018 saw a jump of nearly 500 percent, with New York’s blockchain startups able to garner about $500 million in venture capital funding. This sort of investment from a well-known venture capital will be a shot in the arm for the whole industry.
While this is not the first crypto related building in the area, with Bitcoin Center NYC being operational since 2013. The new center comes at a time when several blockchain employers are growing at a breakneck speed. All this augers well for the health of the industry in the new year.