Blockchain Startups Hiring Nobel Laureates as Advisors

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The latest emerging trend in the blockchain space seems to be hiring Nobel Prize winners, with Alvin Roth, who shared the economics Nobel in 2012, becoming the newest laureate to join such a startup, Bloomberg reported on September 30, 2018. 

Nobel Laureates Targeted as Advisors for Startups

It seems like the days of blockchain startups relying on celebrity endorsements to promote their ICO sales are long gone, as there’s a new trend is emerging in the market.

According to a September 30 report from Bloomberg, blockchain startups are increasingly relying on the clout carried by Nobel Prize winners to attract much-needed attention. Citing data from Autonomous Research, the report stated that funding from initial coin offerings dropped to the lowest in 16 months in August 2018.

The bear market has made people more wary of new startups, which seem to be emerging by the dozens each day, and it is in that very market that companies are looking to up their presence.

The secret weapons in their arsenal are Nobel laureates.

Game theory-focused Covee Network, governance design firm Prysm Group, and blockchain research company Cryptic Labs are just some of the companies that managed to get highly regarded economists on board as their advisors.

Alvin Roth, the recipient of the Nobel Prize in economics in 2012, is the latest laureate that has jumped on the blockchain bandwagon in 2018. Roth joined Zurich-based Covee, which plans on launching its eponymous project in November 2018.

Alvin Roth

(Source: Stanford Engineering)

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A 2016 co-laureate, Oliver Hart of Harvard University, has also joined blockchain startup Prysm Group, while Cryptic Labs LLC has partnered with both Eric Maskin — who shared the prize in 2007 — and Christopher Pissarides — a 2010 co-laureate, Bloomberg reported.

Blockchain Growing Up

An increase in the number of Nobel prize winners joining emerging startups has raised many eyebrows, with experts questioning whether laureates supply their names and reputations, or are they fully engaged in the projects?

However, according to Roth, there are real ideas and real engagement behind these partnerships.

“When I was first approached about joining, I spent a good deal of time thinking about whether I would just be a decoration, or whether I would actually be able to contribute,” Roth told Bloomberg, adding that his unique skills could bring value to the project, as Covee is looking to embracing game theory.

Marcel Dietsch, the Chief Executive Officer at Covee and an alumnus of Oxford University, said that the interest Nobel prize winners have expressed for the projects “shows that the blockchain sector is growing up.”

The premise of Covee is to allow ad hoc teams of professionals to form around an idea and disband after its completion. Roth’s expertise in game theory will help with the creation of incentive structure using a system of value tokens that would incentivize participation.

However, not even the increasing number of laureates working on Blockchain startups hasn’t converted all Nobel Prize-winning economists. Many of them are still skeptical about the system behind cryptocurrencies, with arguments varying from “it has no value” to straight up “Bitcoin is evil.”