Amber Baldet, a key executive of JPMorgan’s blockchain business, is stepping down for greener pastures. Baldet was the architect of JPMorgan’s blockchain strategy, having sat at the helm of the bank’s Blockchain Center of Excellence. She is reportedly leaving to launch her own firm on the heels of reports suggesting that JPMorgan may be spinning off its enterprise blockchain project dubbed Quorum, which Baldet was basically the face of.
The latest executive shakeup suggests there could be more defections to come at the bank, whose CEO Jamie Dimon infamously rebuffed bitcoin last year (but later backpedaled.)
JPMorgan didn’t waste any time in naming Baldet’s successor. According to an internal JPMorgan memo obtained by Reuters, she will be replaced by fellow Blockchain Center of Excellence official and senior product manager Christine Moy, who incidentally was hired by Baldet, according to Fortune.
The memo said Baldet was leaving for an “entrepreneurial opportunity” but didn’t say whether it was blockchain related. It was penned by Umar Farooq, who earlier this year boasted about the inroads JPMorgan’s blockchain business was making.
Baldet’s departure appears to be on good terms, with JPMorgan spokesperson telling Reuters: “We respect her desire to start her own venture and we wish her nothing but the best.”
Quorum Spinoff More Likely Than Ever
CCN previously reported that JPMorgan was considering the spinoff of Quorum, saying then it was unclear what the impact of such a move would have on staff. It also presciently suggested Baldet’s future was uncertain. The latest executive departure suggests that the bank is headed in the direction of separating Quorum from the bank.
JPMorgan considers Quorum the “enterprise-focused version of Ethereum.” It’s for the clearing and settling of interbank payments, something financial institutions are increasingly looking to the blockchain for.
Unlike the public ledger that fuels bitcoin, Quorum is a private ledger that bolsters transaction times and whose validation is dependent on participants in the contract, not volunteers. It’s been in development for the past couple of years, and spinning it off would create more possibilities for the technology, even beyond banking.
Quorum competes with the likes of R3’s Corda, whose bank-fueled consortium JPMorgan was part of until recently. R3’s CTO Richard Brown said in a December blog post that since JPMorgan’s Quorum is basically a fork of Ethereum, it inherited both the advantages and disadvantages of the second biggest blockchain network. He says of Quorum’s “confidential contract” –
“As soon as you need to prove provenance of one piece of data in a confidential contract to somebody else, you have to show them everything in that contract. Game over.”
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