Intel's skunkworks group begins experimenting with the blockchain

By Michael Carney , written on March 19, 2015

From The News Desk

Just days after the bitcoin ecosystem celebrated news that IBM is conducting blockchain research and development with the hopes of reinventing global banking, Intel has thrown its hat into the crypto ring.

In a job posting on its website, the company’s internal skunkworks division Intel Labs is hiring for a “Cryptographic Researcher.” In the description of the role, the company writes: will focus on development of cutting-edge, cryptographic algorithms for improving the robustness and assurance of transaction verification within an open, decentralized ledger.
It’s unclear if Intel Labs would be have an interest in bitcoin and traditional financial applications of the blockchain distributed ledger, but the job description suggests the company is first and foremost focused on so-called Bitcoin 2.0 (or crypto 2.0), or next-generation uses of the technology. This includes things like smart contracts, distributed data storage, stock exchanges and record keeping, marketplaces, and other applications.

Intel writes of its R&D group:

The mission of Intel Labs is to deliver breakthrough technologies to fuel Intel's growth. This includes identifying and exploring compelling new technologies and high risk opportunities ahead of business unit investment and demonstrating first-to-market technologies and innovative new usages for computing technology.
Intel is unlikely to be first-to-market with Bitcoin 2.0. There are dozens of startups working on next-gen blockchain projects. But given the still nascent status of Bitcoin, the first such blockchain application, the technology no doubt counts as compelling, innovative, and, potentially, high risk.

As I wrote at the time of the IBM news:

The fact that IBM and seemingly multiple central banks are even considering a blockchain-based currency solution confers a great deal of positive endorsement on bitcoin, and offers a counter point to fears over, among other things, security and money-laundering risk. These discussions remain informal and governments rarely move at anything like startup speed. ... But such landmark policy changes must start somewhere, and IBM’s involvement brings an air of much needed credibility to the proceedings.
It’s unclear exactly what sectors Intel’s research might impact and on what timeline. But attaching the name of the world’s largest and most renowned microprocessor company to the blockchain is a strong signal indeed.

[Disclosure: Michael Carney has accepted a position as an associate at Upfront Ventures that begins in April. To the best of Pando’s knowledge, the companies in this post and their competitors have no affiliation with Upfront. This post went through Pando’s usual editorial process.]