bloXmove — how the Daimler Mobility Blockchain Platform became a VC-funded tech venture
On Monday, the 31st of May 2021, a four-year journey came to its fruition: Daimler Mobility officially announced in a press release — which quickly went around the world — that the Daimler Mobility Blockchain Platform was acquired by bloxmove.com, a startup founded by the young, charismatic Sophia Roediger and the slightly less young Harry Behrens.
Sophia is a psychologist by education and a mountain mind and yoga trainer by passion. She is an avid sportswoman and drives a sport motorbike when she feels the need for speed.
In her last role at Daimler Mobility, she was leading the transformation task force directly reporting to the COO of the company. It is through her, that the Daimler Mobility Blockchain Factory was first put in touch with the many venture companies, such as Spherity, 51nodes, evan.network, Helix, Ontology or Riddle & Code, who contributed to the best-of-breed design of the Daimler Mobility Blockchain Platform.
Collaboration and networking are in her genes: “Stop aggregating — start collaborating” as she famously put it in a discussion with a major European Blockchain group.
Me, Harry, I’m a software guy: I have a master in Computer Science from the TU Munich and a PhD in Information Engineering from the University of Tokyo. Both graduation thesis were on applied and distributed AI.
Most of my working life I worked for small companies and ventures wherever computation & communication needed to be put to practical use.
It is in those years that I understood how liberating software can be: it allows human thought to become reality in the most direct way known to man.
How Blockchain changed my life
So when Blockchain first hit us in 2008 in the form of Bitcoin and then Vitalik turned a beautiful but not very smart ledger into a programmable “world computer”, I knew that this was it!
This would change the way commerce is done: incumbent, top-heavy industries will be disrupted, creative destruction will hit and beautiful new, decentralised and free software will have its day in the sun. And what a wild wave of continuous disruption has this unleashed on us: Bitcoin and Ethereum form a new form of financial assets at a total value of more than 1 trillion USD — , digital art goes NFT — and all of that without a company, government or any other form of formal organisation behind it. Software at its best — distributed and autonomous; more secure and trustworthy than any existing banking system and most of all 100% self-governed open source.
A liberal and libertarian wet dream!
Industrial Blockchain — the art of the possible
In 2015 I joined a big corporation for the first time in my life: I joined what was then still Daimler Financial Services in China and was put in charge first of the IT side of their core contract management systems after which I graduated to be in charge of software for mobility and digital finance. I rounded up the experience with an interim role as CTO of car2Go in China.
It is through the combination of two major influences that what is now bloXmove came to be:
On the one hand, the incredible, liberating potential of decentralised systems such as Blockchain, Distributed Ledger (DLT) and Decentralised Identifiers
On the other hand, the recognition that the automotive and lifecycle of the future is fundamentally changing:
New Mobility in the world of C.A.S.E
With the strong support and engagement of Udo Neumann, the visionary and passionate CIO of Daimler Financial Services at the time, the Board of Management of Daimler Financial Services in 2018 came to the conclusion that Blockchain and other decentralised technologies do indeed warrant active engagement and made me one of the happiest and luckiest men on the planet: I was given the mandate to setup the Blockchain Factory: an interdisciplinary unit at the headquarter of Daimler Financial Services, the company now known as Daimler Mobility. Our mandate was simple and clear: apply these technologies to the new world of Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) and urban mobility.
As Udo put it: “scale it and make it a real Mobility Blockchain Platform!”.
And that is what we set out to do!
The Tech Stack — shaped by the best: Daimler!
What makes bloXmove truly unique is its combination of cutting edge technology with real-world understanding of business requirements, shaped by the best minds and most perfectionist engineers of one of the world’s premier companies in automotive and mobility.
In fact Daimler and Mercedes-Benz, can arguably be said to have invented both the car and the concept of mobility as a service:
in 1886 with the world’s first Mercedes car,
and in 2008, that magic year in which Satoshi shook the world with Bitcoin, the launch of car2Go: the world’s first car-sharing platform.
Immutable records need irrefutable facts
A key question, which tends to be conveniently overlooked in all the enthusiasm surrounding Blockchain, is: How do you ensure that whatever you are committing to the immutable ledger of the Blockchain is actually and factually correct?
In addressing real-world applications this is essential and defines the difference between well dreamt and well done.
Consider the ambition:
Secure verification of credentials meets immutable distributed ledger technology
Yes, Blockchain is tamperproof, immutable and secure.
But it is only a record … — of whatever you write into it.
If you need to base your business, your invoicing and accounting on such systems, you better ensure that whatever records you are booking are actually and factually correct and verified in the real world.
That is where our famous „CCC Identity triangle“ of
1) customer or user
2) company and
3) car or device
Only by providing a „tangible“ truth layer to Blockchain and decentralised platforms, can we combine decentralised tech with practical business requirements.
And to be ready for the future of autonomous, or automated driving — the ‘A’ in C.A.S.E — vehicle hardware wallets turn the car into an autonomous economic agent
Platform economics requires neutrality — the case for outcubation
To close the circle, I will now try to show why both Daimler Mobility and us believe that bloXmove should be continuing the development as an independent and neutral player.
To quote Carmen Roth-Schäfer, Chief Technology Officer at Daimler Mobility AG: “We believe in the future of blockchain technology. By granting the software license, we want to make it possible for the platform to be used for other areas of application and thus to reach its full potential. I am very pleased that our successful pilot project is now being continued and further developed at bloXmove,”.
Platforms, which are based on network effects and are addressing fragmented markets with the purpose of providing a common shared market place, must be seen as neutral.
The main product in MaaS and urban mobility is not this car or that scooter; it is an integrated service by which the user can choose the most appropriate mode of transport through her journey through town; from taxis and city bikes to trains.
bloXmove will form an alliance, a “Star Alliance for Mobility” of partners who collaboratively use the Mobility Blockchain Platform as a shared infrastructure and common ledger. This requires independent and sometimes competing companies to join the alliance; each benefiting from the economies of scale and the “B2B sharing economy” which bloXmove provides.
Now starts a new chapter
We have now taken off, detached and are in orbit. We will take what is production-ready software and take it to live productive operations.
Within the next 6–12 months, together with our partners and investors, we will build a Minimum Viable Ecosystem of Mobility-as-a-Service and scale it.
We will also work on developing a token protocol for bloXmove with a view to becoming a major player in the emerging protocol economy.
In my role as CTO and Chief Architect, it will be my responsibility to provide the platform, the product and the infrastructure for bloXmove.
All ye geeks, nerds and cryptofiends: find me on the #metaverse and join me on this journey; we will have us a blast!