What Makes a Successful CEO of Blockchain Company

What Makes a Successful CEO of Blockchain Company

Blockchain News
August 12, 2022 by Editor's Desk
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Richard Pooley, Partner and Head of the Blockchain Practice at Odgers Berndtson, looks at the kind of background a CEO needs to successfully lead and grow a blockchain company. Despite all the hype surrounding it, blockchain technology is already recognized as a legitimate disruptor across many industries. Every US and European financial institution has approved blockchain
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Richard Pooley, Partner and Head of the Blockchain Practice at Odgers Berndtson, looks at the kind of background a CEO needs to successfully lead and grow a blockchain company.

Despite all the hype surrounding it, blockchain technology is already recognized as a legitimate disruptor across many industries. Every US and European financial institution has approved blockchain options with significant investment budgets. Beyond the financial services sector, this technology can revolutionize entertainment, media, manufacturing, government, consumer retail, and personal identity security, to name a few other areas.

The plethora of “get rich quick” predictions surrounding NFTs, and the cryptocurrency space is diminishing as blockchain companies concentrate on building revelatory and sustainable companies instead of obsessively focusing on valuation enhancement in preparation for a sale or ICO.

But given that this sector is still relatively nascent (albeit evolving rapidly), how can you truly evaluate what the CEO of a successful blockchain company should look like?

The priority for a blockchain CEO is never to forget the needs of your customers and potential customers, whether they are a B2B, B2C, or an industry ecosystem play. The impact of blockchain is already affecting virtually all of us in our daily lives. Still, we care whether blockchain can help us find better practical solutions to our everyday problems rather than what the technology looks like that underpins it.

Also crucially important is the need for a CEO to use blockchain technology in conjunction with other new technologies like IoT and AI. This will help them understand what their customers want, whether they need that blockchain product, and if so, when.

However, understanding the target market of a particular blockchain company (and, therefore, how a CEO makes it successful) depends on what category of blockchain company it falls into. When asked to define a blockchain company, most people think of payment companies, supply chain companies, digital identity companies, digital transformation services companies, and digital asset companies, i.e., companies for whom blockchain is the critical underlying innovation. And yet the CEO of a blockchain payments company may have a pretty different profile from someone who runs a blockchain supply chain organization.

Furthermore, as crucial as it is to understand your target market, there is also a need for the CEO to constantly develop their networks in their relevant blockchain space, including developing close relationships with key external partners. This enhances the CEO’s ecosystem to build around their core products or services, including creating the right culture within the business.

Almost all businesses run on specific blockchain magnets, and many use technology solutions or applications built by other blockchain companies. Being part of this ecosystem and having solid relationships with its people is core to leading a successful blockchain company.

Blockchain companies tend to contain an eclectic mix of solution architects, sales and marketing professionals, investors, and usually critical innovators than other high-growth technology companies. These innovators are responsible for conceiving and developing the technology upon which the business is built, and their value cannot be underestimated.

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Therefore, the successful CEO must unite investors’ and technology innovators’ working styles and expectations to maximize the company’s harmonious culture and commercial performance.

Fundamental to a CEO’s primary mission to lead their blockchain company through its early stages of development is their ability to conduct various rounds of successful fundraising. This will require the individual to have built transactional relationships with many investment firms and gained significant experience in successfully developing and implementing a blockchain & NFT strategic business model.

Given that this sector is still comparatively immature, the pool of individuals who genuinely possess both of these credentials is, unsurprisingly, relatively small.

As the blockchain sector continues to consolidate and organizations develop strategic operating models that focus on consistent long-term growth, every blockchain CEO needs to recognize the importance of the regulators and the increasing need for effective regulations which keep pace with the rapid evolution of the blockchain cryptocurrency sector.

Ironically, despite many cryptocurrency investors and blockchain firms in the US, the country has not yet fully developed a clear regulatory framework for the asset class. The SEC typically views cryptocurrency as a security, while the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) calls Bitcoin (BTCUSD) a commodity and the Treasury calls it a currency.

Right now is perhaps the most exciting time to lead a blockchain company. We are in a new phase of adoption and global experimentation. More and more people and businesses are getting on board and understanding the enormous benefits of blockchain technology. But it’s essential to remember that while blockchain is disruptive, it is bound by the same rules as most businesses.

Above all else, blockchain companies need to find good talent, build strong cultures, and deliver solutions that address their consumers’ most critical issues.