According to Ludwin, there are several other similar networks currently in the works behind the scenes at his company, which he reports has now grown to include roughly 30 full-time employees.
He told CoinDesk:
“We are working on about a half a dozen networks right now. You don’t want to take on more than you can chew, and we think at our scale six feels right.”
Ludwin said the specific industries being served by the unannounced “minimum viable networks,” as he called them, include payments, capital markets, banking, insurance and supply chain.
While Ludwin said non-disclosure agreements prevent him from sharing details about the work, he added that the projects all tend to follow a similar structure as its previously announced Visa and Nasdaq networks, which were in large part guided by the infrastructure providers. Banks and other entities that are part of the various networks tend to be involved more as participants than as leaders, he said.
However, he distinguished the work with Nasdaq and Citi from some of the other stealth efforts, in that Citi actually wants the project to serve as a gateway of sorts to expand the network.
“Citi intends to integrate with more over time,” said Ludwin. “We have not only the beginning of a network between Citi and Nasdaq, but also Citi-built capabilities which can connect to other networks over time.”
Startups within a startup
Founded in 2015, San Francisco-based Chain has so far raised $43.7m in venture capital from an impressive collection of over 20 different investors. And while Chain remains secretive about the other networks it’s currently helping build, a trend has started to emerge where its investors end up also being clients.
In September 2015, all three of Chain’s public partners joined the startup’s blockchain working group and participated in the startup’s $30m Series C investment.
Three other investors listed as partners in the original release – Capital One (valued at $38bn), Fiserv (valued at $27bn) and French telecom giant Orange (valued at €41bn) – joined the working group as well.
While Ludwig couldn’t comment on which of the investors also had projects in the works with his company, he did say “most of the projects under wraps are not investors in Chain”.
Speaking in more general terms, he explained why he believes working with organizations that already serve their own networks are more efficient than serving blockchain consortia formed specifically to capitalize on the technology.
“These are big opportunities and given that each one of them requires building this minimum viable ecosystem to get them over the initial barriers,” he said, concluding:
“Each one is like a startup.”
Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in Chain.
Image of Chain CEO Adam Ludwin via Michael del Castillo