Today the blockchain insurance joint venture B3i announced the appointment John Carolin as the new CEO. Carolin was formerly the CFO and has been acting CEO since March when he replaced founding CEO Paul Meeusen. Meeusen continues as an adviser to the board. Swiss-headquartered B3i is owned by 16 major insurers and Japanese fintech investor SBI.
“John has a unique blend of experience working with both corporates and startups, which the Board of Directors and I believe makes him ideally suited to lead the new B3i,” said Antony Elliott, Chairman of the Board of B3i. “He has demonstrated as interim CEO that he understands both the insurance market and how to deliver a compelling product.”
Apart from Carolin’s startup experience, one has to wonder if B3i’s funding contributed to the change at the top. The funding was targeted to raise $200-$300 million, but so far, $22 million has been raised. That’s still a reasonable amount, just well short of the goal. From an investor perspective investing smaller chunks more regularly helps to keep a startup on its toes.
The company is also transitioning from pure product development to sales mode, which needs a different focus.
Carolin’s experience is very different from the founding CEO. Carolin’s most recent resume entry is as a founder of a South African web-based advertising marketplace. He also has startup stints with a carbon offset platform and as a retail property asset manager. The South African has some insurance experience as a manager at PwC in Zurich for six years and a year at Swiss Re.
In contrast, Meeusen, the well-liked founding leader of the organization, is a Swiss Re man. Meeusen spent 18 years as an executive at Swiss Re as Head of Finance and Treasury, Global Business Solutions as well as Head of Distributed Ledger Technology. Before that, he was at PwC for eight years.
“B3i will enable material time and cost savings that can only be achieved by working together as an industry rather than alone. B3i has the extraordinary advantage of being entirely owned by 17 of its customers and having already built a community of more than 40 insurers, reinsurers, brokers, and related companies,” said John Carolin.
Of the $22 million in funding raised in the last few months, SBI invested $1.9 million. The balance came from insurers Achmea, Aegon, Ageas, Allianz, AXA, Deutsche Rück, Generali, Hannover Re, Liberty Mutual, Mapfre Re, Munich Re, SCOR, Swiss Re, Tokio Marine, VIG Re and Zurich Insurance Group.
As with many blockchain consortia, it’s taken a little while to get B3i moving. It first executed a Proof of Concept in 2016 and incorporated early last year. A year ago it switched technologies from Hyperledger Fabric to R3’s Corda. Later this month it plans to release its first product, a Cat XOL reinsurance placement system.
In June B3i conducted what it calls a hackathon, which is closer to a testathon.
This isn’t the first change at the top for a blockchain consortium. Three months ago trade finance joint venture we.trade replaced the founding COO Roberto Mancone with the more tech-focused Ciaran McGowan. In that case the company is transitioning from IBM doing the technology work to managing the platform in-house.