Joseph Lubin: Building the Future One Blockchain at a Time

Ethereum co-founder sets his sights on Web 3.0

Technologist and entrepreneur Joseph Lubin will return to the SXSW Conference stage in March, this time as an Interactive Keynote speaker, to highlight the debut of the official Blockchain & Cryptocurrency Track. Lubin is best known as a cofounder of the Ethereum platform and founder and CEO of ConsenSys.

Few individuals are so closely linked with the blockchain technology that is enabling digital economies and helping transform the web. In 2017, Lubin was named #5 Most Influential in Blockchain by CoinDesk. Earlier this year, he was ranked #14 in Crypto Weekly’s 100 Most Influential People in Crypto.

The Toronto native got his start at Princeton University, where he studied electrical engineering and computer science, graduated cum laude in 1987, and shortly after worked in the Robotics and Expert Systems Laboratory. After career moves first to Boston and then New York, Lubin rose to a vice president role in the private wealth management division at Goldman Sachs. He also served as a director in the New York office of Blacksmith Technologies. While his career trajectory continued to rise in this period after the dot-com bubble had burst, his eyes began to open to the economic inequalities around him, and he decided to make some major changes.

 
Joseph Lubin

Joseph Lubin

 

“It goes without saying that the Global Financial Crisis of 2007–08 had a depressing impact on many companies, economies and individuals,” Lubin wrote on the ConsenSys site in 2015. “For a few years leading up to that I became concerned about gross imbalances that I and many others had noticed had been building up for decades in the global economy. My friend Arie and I would meet regularly to discuss the madness that we noticed and consider various response or coping strategies from holding precious metals to buying South American farmland. My brother and I even trekked through Peru and Ecuador looking for land (and made an offer on one parcel).” With his Andean dreams unfulfilled, Lubin instead moved to Jamaica in 2012 and started managing a friend’s music career.

In late 2013, the teenaged programmer and Bitcoin Magazine cofounder Vitalik Buterin published a white paper defining a platform called Ethereum—a new blockchain technology that would enable programmable agreements to be built on top of the decentralized infrastructure introduced with Bitcoin, unlocking near limitless possibilities that could extend beyond just cryptocurrencies. Lubin found Buterin’s ideas provided the inspiration he’d been seeking. “That was my Ethereal moment. I checked back in — all in,” he wrote. Lubin joined Buterin as one of the eight cofounders of the Ethereum Project and served as COO of EthSuisse, a foundation to oversee further development of the protocol. In 2015, the first Ethereum block went live and Lubin launched Consensus Systems LLC, better known as ConsenSys.

The Brooklyn-based ConsenSys grew rapidly in its core businesses of enterprise blockchain consulting for major companies and governments as well as the development of Ethereum-based decentralized applications, or DApps. In a session at last year’s SXSW moderated by former Forbes senior editor and host of the Unchained podcast Laura Shin, Lubin described ConsenSys accordingly: “We’re building about 25 different platforms in various different industries, from music to longitudinal health to supply chain to law, in which we’re really seeing the nature of business shifting. It’s part of what we’re calling the decentralized World Wide Web, or Web 3.0,” he said.

 
Why Ethereum Is Going to Change the World. Photo by Will Blake

Why Ethereum Is Going to Change the World. Photo by Will Blake

 

ConsenSys has been described as “one of the blockchain world’s most ambitious and well-funded startups” by The Verge. Yet, Lubin does not appear satisfied with the status quo. In December, he announced plans to spin off some of the startup teams incubated by ConsenSys Labs. He used Twitter to defend the decision as part of what he’s called ConsenSys 2.0, saying the company “remains healthy and is engaging in a rebalancing of priorities and activities which started about nine months ago.” ConsenSys continues to invest in promising startups, and the blockchain industry overall continues to grow at a rapid pace. Deloitte’s 2018 Global Blockchain Survey found that 65% of respondents said their companies would invest $1 million or more in blockchain technologies this year alone. Lubin also tweeted: “The sky is not falling. From my perspective the future looks very bright.”

Indeed, Lubin may perceive brightness beyond just our terrestrial sky. In October, ConsenSys completed an asset-purchase transaction of Planetary Resources. Founded in 2012, Planetary Resources was developing satellite and rocket technology toward a goal of mining water and other resources from asteroids orbiting relatively close to Earth. It successfully launched the demonstration satellites Arkyd-3 in 2015 and Arkyd-6 in 2018.

In his SXSW keynote, Lubin will be joined by a special guest for an honest conversation about what lies ahead for ConsenSys, a number of its bold endeavors like Planetary Resources, and the entire blockchain ecosystem, which at times seems to move faster than the speed of light.

Joseph Lubin was an Interactive Keynote Speaker on Thursday, March 14. Watch it below:

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