Two senior leaders of JPMorgan’s blockchain project, Juno, have left the firm to found their own blockchain startup.
Will Martino, a developer, and Stuart Popejoy, previously the executive director within the bank’s new product development division, started Kadena.io in June, the two confirmed to Quartz. Popejoy had been the head of Juno, and Martino was the lead developer.
JPMorgan declined to comment.
Despite the departures, JPMorgan appears committed to blockchain development. The New York Times reported in March that JPMorgan is experimenting with its own version of Ethereum— a public blockchain like bitcoin that powers smart contracts (agreements built in computer code that execute on their own). In addition, the bank is using its Juno blockchain project to test payments between London and Toyko with 2,200 clients, per the Wall Street Journal. People familiar with the situation tell Quartz that the bank is considering expanding the scope of the test, both in terms of volume and business areas. They also tell Quartz that JPMorgan is courting startups to team up on future Ethereum projects, though it’s unclear what those might be.
The departures underscore the difficulty the finance industry has had hiring and retaining tech talent. Whether it’s the lure of working on their own, or the buzz of Silicon Valley, engineers have no shortage of options. Similarly, a group of developers on Deloitte’s blockchain team left last month to create their own startup.
Juno, which is still in development at JPMorgan, is an open sourced project, and available on a Github repository. Kadena.io is using the Juno project and creating its own version, highlighting a risk companies take when going open source. According to a white paper and confirmed by Popejoy, Kadena plans to let users on its blockchain transact with each other privately. That’s been the focus of many financial institutions, which are worried that the transparency in blockchain technology will let competitors view their trades, deals, and other transactions.
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