PwC US FinTech lead Jeremy Drane has officially left the ‘Big four’ firm to serve as chief commercial officer for blockchain startup Libra.
Formerly a startup offering tax compliance and reporting software to bitcoin users, the move comes amid a transition at Libra that finds the startup seeking to establish itself as a “management information layer” for blockchain technologies.
In accordance with this goal, Libra used the announcement to highlight other recent hires from the enterprise finance sector, noting its COO Dave Albert was formerly with BNY Mellon, while VP of product strategy Deepak Rao boasts experience at Visa.
In interview, Libra CEO Jake Benson spoke about larger changes at the company, which raised $500,000 in funding in late 2014.
Benson told CoinDesk:
“The marketplace knows us as LibraTax and I want the marketplace to know that that was a stepping stone to where we’re at now.”
Drane further spoke to the reason behind his departure, voicing his belief Libra can provide an essential service by helping non-technical business execs better utilize blockchain data.
In addition to his larger FinTech role, Drane was also PwC’s blockchain and smart contracts lead.
“Any blockchain is a transactional system, and those transactions will need to be enriched so that business users can execute various business processes,” Drane said.
Key to this success, according to Drane and Benson, will be Libra’s enterprise product, which offers a tools layer that allows for both reporting on blockchain and non-blockchain data and an interface layer that allows for this data to be visualized.
The company said it intends to continue to offer its prior tax product.
“Essentially, Libra is focused on reducing the cost, time and risk associated with executing blockchain experiments and implementations, while increasing the probability of funding and executive support as projects move through enterprise software evaluation processes,” Drane explained.
During his time with PwC, Drane was one of its more vocal executives in speaking about the potential for blockchain, overseeing its partnership with blockchain industry firms including Blockstream, Digital Asset Holdings and Eris Industries.
Benson sought to position Libra now as similarly well-rounded, noting the company now has executives from PwC, BNY Mellon, Capgemini and Visa in its ranks.
‘Big four’ changes
Overall, both Drane and Benson spoke to a change they believe is coming to professional services, whereby blockchain becomes a key part of how enterprise firms automate reporting needs.
“What’s going to most likely happen is ‘Big four’ structures will change,” Drane said. “The partnerships, the tech players, the ecosystems that they create to support their businesses will change, and we expect that we will be a player in that change.”
Drane said that Libra’s goal is to be “required” in every blockchain application, a goal he asserts the company has the ability to reach.
The company stressed that its “design-driven” interface is an immediate competitive advantage today, positioning it as more refined than current open-source blockchain tools.
However, Benson sought to position Libra as having room for expansion even beyond its current goals.
For example, he foreshadowed a future in which consumer “life events” could take place on a blockchain, leading any business liabilities to be instantly automated.
“Whatever the case, whatever the asset class, whatever the protocol, you need a set of tools. We’re the Microsoft Office for tools for blockchains for business.”