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Everledger, a London-based startup developing and maintaining an immutable ledger for asset ownership, today announced that it has secured $20 million in a series A round led by Tencent, with participation from Graphene Ventures, Bloomberg Beta, Rakuten, Fidelity, and Vickers Venture Partners. Following a $10 million series A round in March 2018, this brings the company’s total raised to $30.4 million, which founder and CEO Leanne Kemp said will be used to advance Everledger’s mission to “make supply chains more sustainable.”
“Today’s announcement amplifies our commitment to global markets, whilst fueling our industry momentum as we continue to build Everledger,” said Kemp, adding that she expects Tencent’s investment to “strengthen” Everledger’s expansion into China with the launch of a WeChat app for blockchain-enabled diamonds. “Having this strong investor cohort join us at this stage in our development is both validation of the innovation we’ve displayed to date and a statement of future intent. They will support us in bringing more visibility to good business practices in industries that impact millions, if not billions of people in developing countries.”
Everledger got off the ground in early 2015 after Kemp — a board member of the IBM Blockchain Board of Advisors and a co-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on the Future of Manufacturing — nabbed an innovation award for the idea in an Aviva hackathon. At the behest of investors, she spent the next three months devising a business plan and assembling a team at the London-based Barclays TechStars financial tech accelerator. By the end of 2016, the budding Everledger had completed its third seed round.
Everledger’s blockchain ledger enables clients to view, store, search for, and make available to customers and end consumers information about wine, diamonds, gemstones, minerals, art, and other assets on demand. It essentially creates digital twins, tracing transactions on its secure platform and producing a record of assets’ lifetime journeys.
In the case of wine, Everledger says it employs NFC and connected sensors developed with Avery Dennison to monitor the temperature of bottles and secure them against tampering. The startup facilitates the certification process for variety and geography and registers the wine’s ownership on its private blockchain, such that every transaction is securely and reliably recorded.
Where precious gems are concerned, Everledger tracks them from mine to shelf, thanks to collaborations with manufacturers, certification houses, and retailers. As with wine, the company creates digital representations of the diamonds, capturing not only the serial numbers inscribed on the stones but the cut, clarity, and over 40 other metadata points selected to guarantee traceability.
U.S.-based retailer Fred Meyer Jewelers began using the Everledger platform this year to show the journey of its diamonds in its RockSolid collection, which it plans to extend across 100 stores starting next month. Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group and the Gemological Institute of America started using Everledger’s blockchain technology to deliver diamond grading reports to customers. And in May, bridal and fine jewelry supplier Brilliant Earth launched diamonds with provenance tracked on the blockchain by Everledger, becoming one of the first jewelers to do so at scale.
Everledger competes with the likes of IBM, which last April formed a consortium of gold and diamond industries — the TrustChain Initiative — to trace the provenance of jewelry with blockchain tech. Salesforce launched a code-free blockchain management and creation platform in May, following hot on the heels of Microsoft’s fully managed Azure Blockchain Service and Amazon Managed Blockchain.
Tech giants aren’t the only ones innovating on the blockchain front, of course. Ascribe uses the blockchain to record and sign digital images, while ShoCard taps blockchain tech to store personal identity credentials. There’s also Altr, which recently raised $15 million for blockchain-based “enterprise-grade” cybersecurity software.
But Graphene Ventures’ Nabil Borhanu thinks Everledger is well positioned for growth despite the competition.
“Everledger is very well positioned to increase transparency in supply chains,” said Borhanu. “This investment marks an incredibly exciting addition to our cohort of talented technology organizations, such as Lyft and Snapchat, and an important step toward more sustainable practices in complex supply chains.”
Analysts at Grand View Research estimate the global blockchain technology market will reach $57.6 million by 2025, a 69.4% uptick from 2019 to 2015. Separately, Gartner predicts that blockchain will result in $176 billion in added business value by 2025, and $3.1 trillion by 2030.
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