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Rethinking Blockchain's Holy Grail, and How to Get There

W. Scott Stornetta
Chief Scientist at Yugen Partners

Friday, November 8, 2019
11:15 am - 12:30 pm
2150 Torgersen Hall


The promise of blockchain is simultaneously hyped as 1) a multi-trillion-dollar opportunity that will disrupt not just banks but even nation-states, and called out as 2) having delivered nothing to date of substance, other than speculative trading and scams. We'll examine the situation from the perspective of both a cryptographic researcher and a venture capital investor.

Along the way we will build a blockchain in real-time, with every audience member operating anode on their smartphone. A mix of historical perspective, unvarnished (but ultimately constructive) criticism, and reflections on the creative process.


W. Scott Stornetta is considered by many to be the co-inventor of blockchain technology. Dating back to 1991, his pioneering series of papers, written with co-author Stuart Haberat Bellcore, received the 1992 Discover Award for Computer Software, and constitute nearly half of the references in the bitcoin white paper (see page 9).

In 1995, he and Haber co-founded Surety, a Bellcore spinoff. Surety’s offering constituted the first commercial deployment of a blockchain that continues to operate today. Stornetta finished his tenure at Bellcore as assistant general manager of the 125-person Mathematical and Computer Sciences Laboratory. He then consulted for many years, evaluating the commercial potential of emerging technologies on behalf of universities, commercial research labs, and venture capital interests.

Stornetta currently serves as the chief scientist of Yugen Partners, an enterprise blockchain-focused venture capital firm. He also serves on the board of directors of the not-for-profit Blockchain Corporate Governance Foundation. He received his Ph.D. in physics from Stanford University, and has been a visiting professor/scholar at Rutgers University and UC San Diego.

W. Scott Stornetta