Forbes on Tuesday announced its inaugural Forbes 50 list of large companies leading the way in developing and using blockchain technology. The list has a notable lack of “pure” blockchain firms. In fact, there are just three—blockchain hardware and software maker Bitfury, cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, and financial blockchain developer Ripple.
“We had some pretty stringent criteria for getting on this list before we even looked at team size, revenue generation, investments,” said Michael del Castillo, who oversaw the creation of the list for Forbes, to Modern Consensus. “We wanted to make sure that you met one of two minimum barriers to entry. You either had to have a valuation of $1 billion, or be generating $1 billion in revenue. We wanted to put that line in the sand because we want this list to be different from what we’ve seen out there. It’s not about the sexiest technology. It’s not about the coolest application. It’s about companies that our parents know and trust exploring this technology that used to be considered dangerous.”
At the same time, he said, the Forbes team was happy to be able to include those three blockchain-first companies made the list. “I didn’t want the list to feel like these big trusted companies are giving the blessing to this controversial technology, but that the industry itself is also maturing, and the criteria that we use also applies to some cryptocurrency companies,” he added.
The vast majority are household names, some widely associated with blockchain technology like Amazon, Fidelity, Google, IBM, and JPMorgan Chase. Others are major multinationals that have been aggressively pursuing blockchain for their own internal purposes, such as Anheuser-Busch Inbev, Bumble Bee Foods, Comcast, CVS Health, Maersk, MetLife, and Walmart.
The list was arranged subjectively by Forbes’ reporters and editors, and is not in any order.
The growing interest of mainstream financial firms in adapting blockchain technology is made clear in the list, which includes 15 banks and other financial services providers. After financial firms, the second most common use of the technology is in supply chain, del Castillo said.
“Blockchain technology is such an abstract concept and crypto currency literally can’t be touched,” he pointed out. “So it’s a really difficult to communicate the value to people who’ve never experienced it. Whereas supply chains are something that everybody has to deal with, It’s where you buy your computer products like we saw with Seagate or where you buy your tuna, like we saw with Bumble Bee. These are things that you can hold on to and in some cases even put in your mouth. You can start to communicate some of the more advanced concepts about cryptocurrency, and blockchain generally, in a way that’s more accessible.”
What the list also showed, he said, is that the vast majority of large companies using blockchain are using, private, permissioned blockchain. About 10% to 20% of the list are companies using public blockchain, such as Fidelity and phone maker HTC, he added.
Most companies are working with two to four blockchain platforms, with Hyperledger Fabric the most-used, accounting for 26. Ethereum was next with 23, followed by Corda (13), JPMorgan’s Quorum (10), and Bitcoin (8).
What’s really crucial from a design perspective, he said, is that “the same skillset it takes to build a permissioned blockchain easily translates to public blockchain implementations.”
Not only does this mean that it will be easier for the free market to choose what type of blockchain is more useful, he says, it shows off the growing intersection between public and private blockchains.
“We’ve seen blockchain technology go from just Bitcoin to cryptocurrency to crypto tokens, to securities,” del Castillo said. “And now we’re starting to see from the private side applications that are becoming an increasingly public and companies that are starting to see the value in sharing some base level information so that what would exist between them looks more like a utility, like electricity or plumbing, than it does a competitive advantage.”