With the current trends moving toward blockchain adoption, institutional participation has become a core part of the process. Advisory services have been tied with core development. This approach is changing. Horizen Labs recently reorganized its business structure, separating its advisory business from its blockchain development counterpart.
We reached out to Jordan Calinoff, VP, of Strategy & Revenue, Horizen Labs, and Dean Steinbeck, Co-Founder and Managing Director at Horizen Labs Ventures for views from both sides of the coin. Here is what they told us.
Dean Steinbeck, Co-Founder and Managing Director at Horizen Labs Ventures
How are enterprise blockchains critical to blockchain technology’s adoption?
Large enterprises – whether B2B or B2C – represent a massive scaling opportunity simply through the number of people they impact. The pressure to compete and remain profitable means enterprises are continually on the hunt for technologies that will help them operate faster, more effectively, and with fewer resources. Blockchains that are tailored to enterprise-specific challenges can provide inherent competitive advantages over centralized Web2 methods, and in many cases are better at simplifying processes, reducing errors and fraud, and enhancing overall efficiency.
What markers should determine a blockchain project’s focus?
First off, it’s important to acknowledge that blockchain may not be appropriate for all enterprise use cases. Some processes are handled just fine in a Web2 centralized data model. The key lies in identifying those areas where blockchain can bring a measurable improvement, situations where data needs to be secured across entities, never modified or deleted.
What prompted the decision to split Horizen Labs’ focus?
Horizen Labs decided to formally split into two separate entities so that each division within the company could be better optimized. Prior to the split, each division was sharing resources. This was suboptimal as each division had different priorities, clients, goals, and timelines. By separating into separate entities, each is now free to allocate its time, energy and capital in a more optimized way.
Please, can you tell us about the new Web3 advisory service?
HLV is the leading advisory business in Web3. It’s a team of highly accomplished professionals that have unique experience and expertise within the space. They orchestrated the ApeCoin token launch and are working with a dozen other high profile Web3 projects. HLV’s focus is on helping clients with tokens, NFTs, metaverses and DAOs.
What problems do enterprise blockchains solve?
Blockchains can uniquely solve certain traditional enterprise challenges in ways that are generally faster and more secure. These could extend to the verification of origin for a natural resource through the supply chain or the proof that an airplane part has passed an integrity test. Enterprise blockchains also have a bright future in financial services use cases where identity is paramount or payments across borders are made cheaper.
How can the Web2-Web3 transition be made easier for tech companies and platforms?
The responsibility of easing this transition rests clearly on the shoulders of the vendors developing these blockchain technologies. Namely, vendors need to meet Web2 prospects where they are and tailor their solutions in a way that parallels the familiarities of Web2 but does so using more efficient, more secure Web3 technology. Moreover, it’s vitally important to decouple enterprise blockchain solutions from the wild west of crypto, whose volatility can be a non-starter for a large enterprise.
Do you think we are on the verge of a massive shift toward enterprise blockchains?
Unlike past computing waves, blockchain is likely to find a slow but steady path into the mainstream over the next decade, partly due to its well-documented origins as a vehicle for speculators. What is likely to happen is that blockchain will find its way into the mainstream by quietly replacing traditional, less efficient processes. We’re already seeing it with programs like Starbucks using blockchain for its Rewards program. Starbucks’ customers probably don’t know or care that the program runs on a blockchain – they just want an easier, more reliable way to earn and manage their rewards.
Please, can you tell us about your industry-level partnerships?
We are working with a range of companies and entities on several compelling enterprise use cases and products within our target markets of finance and defense/government. We are also working on some important distribution agreements. As these agreements are finalized and our products near their release dates, we’ll provide more details.
How are enterprise blockchains decentralized?
In contrast to fully permissionless and decentralized public blockchains, enterprise blockchains can benefit from a sliding, customizable level of centralization. Horizen Labs is in a unique position to work closely with our enterprise partners to fulfill business requirements that complement decentralization with performance, scalability and security needs. The level of decentralization any chain experiences will be guided by choices in consensus and validation mechanisms. Additionally, choices around the number and ownership mix of nodes can affect the level of decentralization of an enterprise blockchain.
Related: Can Blockchain be Centralized?
What exactly is the difference between Horizen Labs and Horizen Lab Ventures (HLV)?
Horizen Labs is focused on building enterprise blockchain solutions in the Horizen ecosystem. HLV is focused on providing Web3 advisory services. The two missions are distinct and require different teams to execute.
What are the changes that have been made to your corporate structure?
Beginning January 1st, HLV will exist as a legal, standalone entity. Horizen Labs, Inc. will continue with its existing corporate structure.
How can both entities maintain excellence in service delivery?
While the focuses of the two organizations may be different, the commitment to excellence will continue unabated. Both companies share a tremendous amount of pride in the quality of the services and products they provide. It should be noted that the two organizations intend to leverage each other’s strengths in situations where there is a suitable need among customers. For example, if one of Horizen Labs’ customers wants to launch a token, naturally, they will refer the customer to HLV. Similarly, if an HLV client needs a sidechain for a specific business function, Horizen Labs will get the call.
What is the impact of enterprise projects in the current chaotic situation?
As with any speculative market, chaos generally precedes a necessary shakeout, filtering out those companies with a weak business model or deficiencies in their ability to execute. This is essentially what we’re seeing now.
Today’s crypto winter is a reckoning that is forcing vendors to dig deep and significantly uplevel the value they provide to customers and accelerating the race for product-market fit. Again, it’s important to separate the crypto casino culture of the past from the virtuous qualities of blockchain, which, until now, have been commingled in an unhealthy way. Fortunately, the current market correction – painful as it is – represents a natural part of the market’s evolution.
How will the deployment of scalable solutions provide a basis for growth?
In essence, you’ve answered your own question, but to elaborate, software exists because it presents users with a better way of doing things. For vendors, you can build something once and replicate it at a near-infinite level across industries and use cases. This is exactly what the Web2 behemoths have been doing for the past few decades. Because blockchain at its core is still software, the same rules of scaling apply and in many ways can accelerate by adhering to the playbook forged by SaaS and cloud computing progenitors.
Jordan Calinoff, VP, Strategy & Revenue, Horizen Labs
How are enterprise blockchain solutions plug-and-play?
According to Gartner, enterprise IT teams have little interest in building blockchain solutions from scratch or investing heavily to integrate blockchain software. Instead, they want off-the-shelf solutions that they can buy, implement, turn on, and maintain with minimal effort. Thankfully, this aligns well with mechanisms like smart contracts, which automate processes and can be wrapped in familiar interfaces to accelerate adoption.
What does the future hold for enterprise blockchain platforms?
In our view, the future for blockchain within the enterprise looks extremely bright. The use cases for future use are abundant, particularly in fields like finance, energy, and IoT, but the technology and the sophistication around UI are still catching up. Once they do, we believe blockchain will be ubiquitous and form the foundation for many backend processes.
Where do you see the sister companies will be in the next decade?
Our ambitions for both companies are quite large. Given our early timing into the market and the promising road ahead, we can’t imagine anything but a successful future for both organizations. We believe HLV will become the dominant player in the advisory space, working with and potentially investing in top metaverse, entertainment, gaming, NFT, and fashion projects.
For Horizen Labs, our sole intention is to lead the enterprise market for blockchain by building a range of solutions that are not only the safest, most secure, most accessible on the market, but solutions that deliver value far beyond anything that Web2 provides today. We realize this is an ambitious goal, but we have the team, the technology, and the capital to bring this vision into reality.
Related: How to Profit From NFTs
Do you have any plans for the end of the year?
Both companies have elected to give all employees the week off between Christmas and New Year’s. We call it our ZEN week. It’s a chance for everyone to recharge, spend quality time with family and friends, and then gear up for what promises to be an intense but fun 2023. Stay tuned!