Bio: In 2014 while working at Deloitte, Matthew Spoke saw an opportunity emerging in the blockchain industry. At the time, there had yet to emerge a standard for how established organizations and new entrants would leverage blockchain systems and smart contracts to reinvent established industries.
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Nuco’s founding team first came together to create Deloitte’s blockchain practice, Rubix, and established an industry-leading track record. Capitalizing on that experience, Nuco’s founders launched the company in May 2016, setting out to build a company that would shape the emerging standards of a hyper-growth industry.
Hi Matthew, thank you for taking the time to shed light upon your experience with Deloitte and then starting your own company, Nuco, within the enterprise blockchain software space. The blockchain community will learn a lot from this interview. Let’s dive in.
When did you first hear about the blockchain technology and what made you realize its potential?
I was first told about Bitcoin in 2011 from a friend who was into online gaming. At the time, I was starting my career to become a Chartered Accountant, and I very quickly dismissed Bitcoin with little thought. In 2012, my brother mentioned it to me again, and convinced me to start buying some for fun. I did a small amount of that for a few years, and we even managed to convince our parents to put in a few thousand dollars later in 2013.
It wasn’t until 2014, after I had established myself as a Chartered Accountant, that I started to draw parallels between Bitcoin and the world of accounting that I came from. “If Bitcoin’s transactions were perfectly trustworthy and immutable, then what role would auditors and accountants play in the future? Maybe none…” After that thought, I could never look back. I committed my career to learning more, and the rest is history.
What’s the story behind the founding of Nuco during your time at Deloitte?
My Deloitte blockchain story traces back to mid 2014, when I first wrote my paper on “why Bitcoin might render auditors irrelevant within a decade”. Over the course of the following two years, leading up to my departure from Deloitte in mid 2016, we realized that blockchains would have a significantly broader impact that simply financial transactions and their accounting treatments.
In the middle of that two year period is when I morphed the team from being accounting-focused, to becoming Rubix, an enterprise blockchain team, in the broad sense. With that strategic change, we began to experiment with creating our own blockchain infrastructure, loosely based off of Ethereum, but designed explicitly for private enterprise systems.
Over the next few months, I started working closely with Vitalik Buterin on what we used to call the Enterprise Ethereum Stack (a predecessor to today’s Enterprise Ethereum Alliance).
With our new strategy so heavily focused on productizing this technology for enterprise, we had to fundamentally decide on shifting away from professional services; which was our core focus at Rubix.
That’s what prompted me and my two co-founders, Jin and Kesem, to structure a win-win relationship with Deloitte, while allowing us to leave and start Nuco; which we did on May 24, 2016.
Are there any particular sectors that will be the first to implement Nuco into their infrastructure? Which sectors will benefit the most from enterprise blockchain technology, and why?
Core to our hypothesis at Nuco is that many enterprise blockchains will be built, and that they will fundamentally transform the way most industries function. To date, we’ve been heavily involved in projects ranging from healthcare, commodities, financial services, supply chain, and others. Seeing as Nuco is so heavily focused on scalable and modular enterprise infrastructure, we’ve positioned ourselves to be relevant in all these industries and more. To scale to that objective, we’re working on developing partnership with technology consulting firms (Deloitte being the first), that will help push our software into the market.
Recently, we’ve started the design and implementation of a new concept we call AION (https://aion.network/). Basically, this is the final piece of our puzzle. AION is how we envision the enterprise networks of the future connecting and transacting with each other. A big reason that I fundamentally believe in this direction is because of blockchain technology’s ability to eliminate the barriers that have traditionally defined our industries and geographies. As blockchains to become the new infrastructure of enterprises, we’ll see the creation of powerful new applications that cross industries.
What is your view on the recent ICO hype and its parallels to the IPO bubble of the early 2000s? Will an ICO like Bezos ($200 million in value) be able to deliver?
I think ICOs are an important new mechanism for fundraising that will lead to many new innovative ideas being created on a scale never seen before. That said, it’s unfortunate to see such a limited amount of diligence and critical thinking coming from the investors supporting these projects.
In general, I like to see multiple experiments happening in parallel; Ethereum being the most notable right now. Blockchains have lots of room left for innovation, and the idea that smart developers can get access to funding to test their hypothesis is incredible.
Whether large projects like Tezos are able to deliver on their promise is secondary in purpose in my opinion. One way or another, whether a concept like this becomes adopted and used at scale doesn’t change the fact that important research, engineering, and multiple global social experiments will take place; and that’s a win for the industry.
What challenges do you think Nuco will face in getting companies using its software and what will Nuco’s sales strategy entail?
Being an early-stage software company, you can imagine that we face typical challenges like scale and credibility. On the one hand, we’re working very hard on cementing a network of enterprise partnerships to help us achieve market reach and scale. So far, we’ve been very successful at this by leveraging our phenomenal relationship with Deloitte to get access to international opportunities that they open the doors for. On the other hand, to establish credibility, we’ve worked incredibly hard at getting noticed as the company punching significantly above its weight. We’ve demonstrated this time and again by beating out bigger competitors on client projects, and by being the smallest of 11 companies to be on the founding Board of Directors of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (which includes notable names like Microsoft, Intel, JP Morgan, Accenture, and others).
Beyond the developing and sale of our software and service, our new focus on AION helps us establish a strategy that creates business model opportunities for large enterprises who may be at risk of disintermediation. With AION, our pitch becomes extremely compelling: “we can help redefine your business model and ensure your relevance as blockchains transform your industry.”
Thanks again to Matthew for doing this interview. It was extremely insightful to hear the firsthand perspective on the future of blockchain from a Founder and CEO of a blockchain enterprise software startup as well as a member of the Board of Directors of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance.