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NextBlock CEO Alex Tapscott Cancels Plans to Go Public and Will Return Money to Investors

November 6, 2017 Jessie Willms 0


Alex Tapscott, CEO of NextBlock Global, a venture capital company investing in blockchain technologies, announced in a press release yesterday that he is canceling their plans to go public through a reverse takeover (RTO) of Nobelium Tech Corp., a company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX).

Tapscott said the young company had “stumbled” in falsely listing some crypto and blockchain experts as members of the firm’s advisory board. He is currently talking to NextBlock investors to work out how to return their original investments and to “rebuild the trust of those [they] have disappointed.”

NextBlock Global raised $20 million in their initial oversubscribed fundraising in July 2017 and had hoped to raise $100 million in the public offering. They planned to invest in digital currencies, blockchain hosting platforms and blockchain-based applications.

CIBC and investment bank Canaccord Genuity (a former employer of Tapscott’s) were underwriters on the deal, but CIBC pulled its support from the young venture capital firm amid the allegations.

According to BNN, clients of CIBC received an email saying, “CIBC has withdrawn as an agent from the NextBlock Global Limited private placement.” CIBC was not available for comment.

Sources have told BNN that Canaccord Genuity remained in the deal.

An article in Forbes last week detailed complaints from Kathryn Haun, Vinny Lingham, Dmitry Buterin and Karen Gifford that Tapscott had circulated an investor deck that incorrectly listed them as members of the NextBlock advisory board.

Dmitry Buterin, co-founder of Blockgeeks and father of Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, was included in at least one draft of the investor deck. He told Bitcoin Magazine in a recent interview what had happened. He recounted:

“It’s pretty simple. Alex asked me to be an advisor, I declined. Then I got a deck forwarded to me which listed me as an advisor. It was forwarded to me by investors who received it from Alex.”

Buterin said he had met with Tapscott to let him know he wouldn’t be on the advisory board:

“We had a meeting and I was not convinced that they have the right resources to pull this off.”

When Is an Advisory Board Not an Advisory Board?

A thread on Twitter about NextBlock recently included some comments about how advisory boards have become routine and are often used as window dressing for making ICO pitches and, therefore, they aren’t really “advising” as such.

One user commented that likely only 50 to 60 percent of advisory boards are legitimate anymore, and put the NextBlock situation in a different light, implying that it’s become common practice to dress up a proposal with photos of known experts.

Amber D. Scott, CEO of Outlier Solutions, told Bitcoin Magazine that she gets several requests a week to sit on ICO advisory boards. Scott explained that the conversation often goes like this:

ICO rep: “We saw you speak at an event and would love to add you as an advisor.”

Scott: “I’ve looked at your website/white paper and I’m not sure where you need compliance advice. Could you please elaborate on that?”

ICO rep: “You don’t actually have to do anything. We’ll just put your picture and bio on the website. You have a great name in the community.”

Andreas Antonopoulos, well-known author of “Mastering Bitcoin,” says on his website that he does not accept invitations to sit on advisory boards and that he will not discuss projects publicly if he does work as an advisor.

Vitalik Buterin has also had to make it clear several times on Twitter that he is not an advisor for a number of firms that have touted his advice.

What could have been a major scandal for both the Tapscotts (father Don and son Alex) has been averted by this move, but how much long-term damage both NextBlock and the Blockchain Research Institute will sustain to their reputation remains to be seen.

The father-son Tapscott team co-founded the Toronto-based think tank Blockchain Research Institute, and co-authored the book “Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business and the World,” which has been translated into more than 20 languages.

The Blockchain Research Institute is holding a Members Summit this week in Toronto. Members of the think tank include CIBC, Microsoft, IBM, Fujitsu, Accenture, Tencent, Bell, Nasdaq, FedEx, Interac and the Governments of Canada and Ontario.

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Hyperledger and Linux to Offer a Massive Open Online Blockchain Course

October 10, 2017 Jessie Willms 0


Hyperledger, the international blockchain collaboration of corporate giants and young startups in partnership with the Linux Foundation, is launching a new free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) to meet the rapidly accelerating worldwide demand for blockchain education.

The pace at which the “red hot” blockchain technology market is evolving and increasing in popularity makes it difficult for the established education system to keep up with the demand.

In an announcement, Brian Behlendorf, Executive Director of Hyperledger said:

“Interest in blockchain technology is exploding. Software developers, product teams, and business managers are all desperately eager to figure out how this technology can solve real-world problems.

“This first introductory-level course is carefully designed for both non-technical and technical audiences, to bring everyone further up the learning curve and get started with it on their own business needs.”

The Linux Foundation, responsible for training and certifying more developers in open source software than any organization in the world, together with the worldwide open source community, is aiming to solve the hardest technology problems by creating the largest shared technology community in history.  

The MOOC will be on the website, a free online education platform started by MIT and Harvard University in 2012. The site is now a collaborative effort of more than 50 top-rated universities and colleges including Cornell, University of California Berkeley, the Sorbonne, McGill, Juilliard, the University of Hong Kong, Oxford, Notre Dame, the University of Tokyo and the University of Toronto.

MOOC is Designed for Technical and Non-Technical Audiences

Some universities, like the University of Edinburgh, MIT, Stanford, University of California Berkeley and Princeton University, have already begun to offer courses in blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies at the college level, while a new Blockchain University is tailoring its courses to professionals looking to upgrade their knowledge. The University of Nicosia in Cyprus offers the world’s first MSc in Digital Currency. But these courses are designed for the post-secondary and graduate knowledge level markets.

In contrast, Hyperledger’s MOOC is set up for both beginners and trained developers, and includes an introduction to the Hyperledger organization and its key business blockchain platforms, including Hyperledger Fabric and Sawtooth.

It covers key features of blockchain and distributed ledger technologies, current Hyperledger projects and common use cases, and the differences between various types of Hyperledger projects in the fields of finance, banking, Internet of Things, supply chains and manufacturing technologies.

The course includes how to install Hyperledger Fabric and Sawtooth frameworks and how to build simple applications on top of the Fabric and Sawtooth frameworks.

In a statement, edX CEO and MIT professor Anant Agarwal noted:

“Hyperledger and blockchain are two key skillsets that are increasingly in demand in today’s digital world. Our global community of learners have told us that they are seeking courses to help them gain the career-relevant skills they need for the modern workplace. We are thrilled to once again partner with the Linux Foundation to offer a course on this popular, in-demand subject that will provide the building blocks needed for success within the exciting and rapidly expanding field of blockchain technologies.”

Recent job numbers show that the demand for cryptocurrency jobs has doubled in the past six months and are soon to triple from 2016. The job board AngelList reports that cryptocurrency job postings remain one of the largest non-corporate startup opportunities..

Pre-registration is now open. The free Hyperledger course will become fully available on October 25, 2017 (with the option to add a verified certificate of completion for $99).

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CarbonX and ConsenSys Put P2P Carbon Credit Trading on the Blockchain

September 25, 2017 Jessie Willms 0


Carbon credits trading (also known as “cap and trade”) as a means to help mitigate the effects of global climate change has long been advocated by environmentalists fighting one of the most intransigent environmental challenges of the 21st century.

Now ConsenSys and CarbonX Personal Carbon Trading Inc. have stepped up to enable the first-ever peer-to-peer carbon credit trading platform, built on the Ethereum blockchain.

CarbonX Personal Carbon Trading Inc. is principally a Tapscott family enterprise, with CEO and founder William (Bill) Tapscott, co-founder and CMO Jane Ricciardelli, chair of the board of directors Don Tapscott, and director and board member Alex Tapscott.

Bill Tapscott is a software engineer who has founded and co-founded a number of tech startups including IntelliOne, a cell phone geo-location and traffic data processing company; Maptuit, a navigation and optimization software company in transportation logistics; and Mountain Lake Software, a custom software development company with a strong financial services practice.

Tapscott told Bitcoin Magazine:

“My interest in carbon trading and clean technologies was piqued by being on the Investment Committee of the Toronto Atmospheric Fund, a City of Toronto venture fund with a mandate to develop greenhouse gas reduction projects and companies.

“CarbonX will engage millions of people in fighting climate change by materially rewarding responsible behaviors toward the personal consumption of carbon. CarbonX will achieve this by investing in carbon reduction projects and re-casting generated offsets as ERC20 tokens on an Ethereum Blockchain.

“CarbonX’s ultimate goal is to become the global exchange for peer-to-peer personal carbon trading.”

Don Tapscott, chair of the CarbonX board of directors said in a post:

“… climate change is arguably the world’s most daunting challenge. Virtually every scientist now agrees that the debate is over. Rising average surface temperatures combined with rapidly expanding deserts, melting Arctic sea ice caps and ocean acidification now provide unequivocal evidence that human activities are fundamentally altering the Earth’s climate.”

ConsenSys was one of the first startups to build practical applications for the Ethereum blockchain. Their mission is to create simplified and automated decentralized applications (dApps) to facilitate peer-to-peer transactions and exchanges, principally on the Ethereum blockchain.

In a statement, ConsenSys founder and Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin said:

“As one of the fastest growing companies working on Ethereum, a platform that is poised to reformat how the world organizes itself, ConsenSys is committed to enabling technologies to be built that will facilitate attention to externalities like pollution and critical new foundations like sustainability.

“CarbonX has the potential to incentivize behavior that contributes to environmental sustainability, and is an excellent example of Ethereum-based technologies poised to make positive change,” added Lubin.

The CarbonX Token CxT

The CarbonX initiative will buy carbon credits from environmentally sustainable practices like ridesharing and will invest in carbon reduction projects like tree planting and convert this value to Ethereum ERC20 tokens known as CxT tokens.

CarbonX will be announcing a formal token launch in the near future. CxT tokens will be distributed through an open-loop-style loyalty rewards program. The CxTs will then be tradeable on the CarbonX platform and be able to be exchanged for carbon-friendly goods and services, other reward program points or other digital currencies.

For verification, CarbonX will use industry-standard carbon offsets like the REDD and VCS offsets (for example, to apply to ridesharing) and will convert these into CxT tokens.

Investments in carbon reduction projects that will generate offsets will use government protocols, such as those developed by the Ontario provincial government, for example.

“The CxTs will be awarded by enterprises who encourage ridesharing, and brands/retailers who wish to feature products that are carbon-friendly. We will provide guidelines, and consumers/users will be able to track overall performance. In the example of rideshare, we plan to work with companies like Luum and their clients to incent carbon-friendly behaviors. There are many ways we can boost awareness and responsibility for personal action in the fight,” explained Tapscott.

Well-known environmentalist Richard Sandor, chair and CEO of Environmental Financial Products and founder of the Chicago Climate Exchange, has endorsed the CarbonX initiative, saying:

“Blockchain technology has the potential to further expand the applications of market-based mechanisms to help solve environmental concerns. I am pleased to support CarbonX as another positive step towards transparency, accountability and lower transaction costs.”

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