November 16th, 2022
Microsoft’s proposed $68.7 billion takeover of Activision Blizzard, a leading Metaverse company, is among the largest technology acquisitions in history. This news comes as companies of all sizes, from Fortune 500 conglomerates to startups, explore how to board the Web3 bandwagon.
This institutional embrace of Web3 is occurring for a variety of reasons. Blockchains decentralize data and enable peer-to-peer transactions, allowing businesses to operate more efficiently and with fewer intermediaries. Moreover, blockchains offer a high level of security – increasingly crucial in an era of data breaches and cyber attacks. As more organizations join the Web3 train, institutional adoption could transform the industry through increased innovation and investment.
In this article, we’ll explore the Fortune 500s betting on Web3 and summarize some of the numerous initiatives they are leading.
Before its recent entry into the rapidly growing metaverse sector, Microsoft was among the first Fortune 500 companies to roll out blockchain services. In 2015, through a partnership with ConsenSys, it launched Ethereum Blockchain as a Service (EBaaS) on Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing platform. EBaaS enabled businesses to experiment with blockchain applications without investing in the infrastructure. The service was retired in September 2021.
Since then, Microsoft has continued its partnership with Consensys to extend Ethereum-based blockchain services to Azure customers. Additionally, Microsoft is a member of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, which is developing standards for enterprise-level blockchain applications. The company remains at the forefront of cloud computing and blockchain integrations.
In 2016, IBM introduced the IBM Blockchain Platform, a suite of tools and services to facilitate the development and deployment of blockchain applications. IBM has also developed several blockchain-based solutions for problems in supply chain management and food tracing. The company has been involved in Web3 projects like the Hyperledger Explorer and the IBM Blockchain Garage.
IBM is also a participant in the broader Hyperledger Project, an open-source initiative founded by the Linux Foundation to promote the use of blockchain technology. The company’s participation in Web3 has accelerated blockchain development and enhanced IBM’s reputation as a leader in the industry.
Amazon is one of the largest online retailers in the world, and is constantly exploring new technologies to improve its services. The company is extensively involved in the Web3 space: its Cloud computing subsidiary Amazon Web Services (AWS), supports over 70 validated blockchain solutions. AWS handles about a quarter of all Ethereum workloads and provides cloud infrastructure for several blockchain ecosystems. The AWS Quantum Ledger Database (QLDB) offers fully managed private blockchain services for enterprises with use cases spanning supply chain tracing, financial record-keeping, and HR/payroll process optimization.
AWS also provides managed blockchain services like hardware provisioning and software set-up enabling individuals and enterprises to join public blockchain networks. Users can also create and manage private blockchains via the service’s Ethereum and Hyperledger Fabric frameworks while theAmazon Managed Blockchain enables anyone to run blockchain network nodes using multiple AWS accounts. Amazon’s embrace of Web3 could potentially transform the cloud computing and e-commerce industries.
Google, like Amazon, is heavily invested in Web3 and is positioned to increase its market share in the coming years. The company’s cloud subsidiary (Google Cloud) supports fully managed blockchain node-hosting, enabling Web3 projects to scale quickly without having to deal with the nuances of manual node deployment. Additionally, Google is leading several research initiatives for groundbreaking blockchain use cases: Google and ChainLink have explored merging Google Cloud’s climate data with ChainLink smart contracts to bring advanced oracle data to blockchain applications.
Google is also investigating the use of blockchain for identity management and authentication. Like Microsoft and IBM, Google has invested in several blockchain projects such as Dapper Labs.
Global retail giant Walmart is another significant player in the Web3 space. Walmart has been working with IBM to develop a blockchain-based system for tracking food supply chains with the goal of using blockchain to improve food safety by tracing food items back to their source. The company is also exploring blockchain solutions for managing its massive internal logistics operation, recently filing a patent for a blockchain-based system that would track shipments and inventory levels in real time.
Walmart’s embrace of blockchain and Web3 technology is sure to spur adoption by other companies in the retail sector.
Facebook has a long history in Web3, and following its restructuring under Meta, the parent company has continued this trend. In 2018, Facebook outlined plans for Diem (formerly Libra), a new global stablecoin project. Diem attracted several major investors, including Uber, Vodafone, and Mastercard. However, the project ran into a host of regulatory hurdles ranging from concerns over privacy to its implications for the financial sovereignty of states. Opposition from regulators in the United States and the European Union led to gradually scaled-down objectives. The project ultimately wound down in January 2022.
Following years of investments in Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality technologies, Meta announced its intention to build out the metaverse in October 2021, accentuating the announcement with the brand’s change of name. The company’s vision will be backed by a $70B investment spread across five years. Some have argued this amounts to the largest tech gamble of all time, cementing the company’s leading role in the burgeoning metaverse sector.
JP Morgan, one of the world’s major banks, was an early adopter of blockchain technology. In 2016, in conjunction with other leading institutions, the bank announced the launch of Quorum, an enterprise-friendly protocol for building and deploying private and public decentralized applications. The company has long recognized blockchain’s potential to transform the traditional banking industry and is already testing out a number of blockchain-based solutions spanning payments, settlements, and compliance. These include Onyx, the bank’s blockchain-specialized unit, and JPM coin, a permissioned payment token for instantaneous transfers between the bank’s account holders.
The bank is also working with several startups to develop new blockchain applications. JP Morgan is betting big on blockchain, and other banks will likely follow suit.
While Web3 has garnered considerable interest from the tech and financial sectors, several players in the entertainment industry are exploring opportunities for entry. Disney, a global leader in family-oriented entertainment, has expressed broad interest in Web3.
In February, Disney CEO Bob Chapek lauded the metaverse as the “next great storytelling frontier,” hinting at a probable future entry into the industry. The company’s recent job posting seeking attorneys with expertise in “emerging technologies such as NFTs, blockchain, metaverse, and decentralized finance” has heightened this anticipation.
Royal Dutch Shell, one of the world’s largest energy companies, is leveraging blockchain technology to optimize work and data flows and reduce inefficiencies in cross-border energy trade. In 2017, Shell and leading financial and energy companies explored blockchain-based solutions for post-transaction management of energy commodities trading. Royal Dutch Shell is also exploring the use of blockchain for supply chain management and oil and gas exploration.
In conjunction with Accenture and Amex GBT, Shell launched Avelia in June 2022, an initiative aimed at utilizing blockchain for carbon emission tracking and reduction. The company believes that blockchain has the potential to lower costs, increase transparency, improve supply-chain efficiency, and create a more sustainable environmental policy in the global energy industry.
These are just some examples of the Fortune 500 companies that have embraced Web3 technologies like blockchains, cryptocurrencies, NFTs, the metaverse, and more. The adoption of these emerging technologies by some of the world’s largest corporations is widely regarded as a boon for the exploding ecosystem and as more businesses recognize beneficial blockchain use cases, we will see wider adoptions in the coming years.
Institutional adoption has several advantages for nascent industries, as large-scale investments often serve as catalysts for growth. They can also impart a sense of legitimacy, thereby enhancing customer confidence in the industry and paving the way for wider consumer adoption. Since the creation of Bitcoin in 2009, blockchains have rapidly grown from relative obscurity into one of the fastest growing industries in the world. Institutional adoption has contributed significantly to its success.
As institutional adoption of blockchain technology grows, so do the associated cybersecurity risks. Halborn’s cybersecurity experts provide world-class solutions for blockchain security across a deep product suite. To make your blockchain infrastructure more secure, please contact our Web3 security experts at firstname.lastname@example.org.