VeChain was founded in 2015 as a subsidiary of BitSe under CEO Sunny Lu. It is developing a blockchain solution for tracking global supply chains using an assortment of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies such as RFID chips and other ID tags as well as its own cryptocurrency, called the VEN. By doing so, it would enable its clients to track the history of each item to prevent counterfeiting. VeChain is being particularly praised for its transparency and honesty, and has formed numerous partnerships, including having recent talks with the government of Belgium.
Below you will find a deep dive of our findings.
VeChain began development in 2015 as a subsidiary of BitSe, and currently operates under the VeChain Foundation, a nonprofit based in Singapore. BitSE in turn was founded in 2013 to provide blockchain-as-a-service solutions; VeChain appears to be BitSE's most prominent project. This relationship with BitSe links VeChain to the Qtum project; however, VeChain CEO Sunny Lu has stated that they currently have no partnerships with Qtum. VeChain is headquartered in Shanghai, and has offices in Paris, Singapore, and Tokyo. VeChain is currently in the midst of a rebranding campaign, after which it will be known as VeChain Thor.
VeChain's CEO is Sunny Lu, who has risen through the ranks of IT management rather than business management, having formerly served for six years as the CTO and CIO of Louis Vuitton China. He graduated in 2002 from Shanghai Jiao Tong University with a Bachelor's degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering.
Kevin Feng is VeChain's COO. We were unable to find a LinkedIn profile for him, and his Twitter account is rarely used. We infer that he is considered an expert in enterprise applications for blockchain based on being invited by Bihu to give a lecture on that subject. In that lecture, he gives a sober account of how the early "irrational exuberance" about blockchain technology is slowly giving way to the more rational assessments of the technical challenges and systemic, technology, operational, and even legal risks that must be met.
VeChain's CTO is Gu Jianliang, formerly the Director of TCL & Alcatel Mobile Phone's R&D Center in Shanghai. He graduated from Shanghai University with a Master's in Cybernetics in 2005. Other than being featured in a minor role in an introductory video on VeChain, he has kept a low profile, at least in English-language media outlets, and so we are unable to provide more insight into his personality and background.
TECHNOLOGY AND VALUE PROP
VeChain intends to release a cloud platform which will enable clients to build on their system using a developer's toolkit and interface documentation. Their value proposition is to provide a "trust-free business ecosystem," integrating an assortment of technologies with blockchain, including "RFID chips, NFC (near field communication), sensors and ID tags, tailored to several markets/sectors." In other words, they combine Internet of Things (IoT) technology with blockchain technology to digitize and track the supply chain of their clients. This would allow, for example, anyone with a smartphone to scan an item with a VeChain chip, such as an article of clothing, and access the complete history and other information of that item, thus preventing counterfeiting. To establish the trust needed to achieve their goals, VeChain has been uniquely (among cryptocurrency projects) transparent with their financials, declaring that starting in Q4 2017, it would disclose its quarterly financial executive reports. At present, VeChain's blockchain is "an ER20 token on the Etereum blockchain." The anticipated launch of this blockchain technology is Q2 of 2018. On February 7, 2018, VeChain announced the launch of its first official public infrastructural dApp on VeChain Thor, called VeVID.
VeChain's bitcoin is known as the VEN, and completed its ICO in August 2017. While officially (i.e., though Coinmarketcap), they claim that only 277 million VEN out of a total supply of 867 million are in circulation, the true number in circulation is estimated at 560 million: 410 million in public circulation minus 130 million being burned, plus 90 million for private ICO and about 190 million for VCs. Businesses will have to buy VEN on the open market instead of being supplied from reserved pools, which is expected to create more demand for the coin.
KNOWN PARTNERSHIPS AND COMPETITORS
VeChain's early customers include Renault, some of China's largest wine distributors, and at least two major clothing manufacturers. They also recently announced a partnership with DNV GL. As described by Sunny Lu, "We will provide a complete industry chain for DNV GL, which includes various steps of digital accreditation services that establish connections among manufacturers, warehouse and logistics chain, retail sales and even end customers."
Other known partnerships include Kuehne & Nagel, a German logistics company; China Unicorn, the world's fourth-largest mobile service provider; BitOcean Japan; and PwC, "the world's leading professional services provider." There is also a rumored partnership with Givenchy. In November 2017, Quoine, "the world's leading global fintech company licensed by the Japan Financial Services Agency," issued a press release announcing the VEN's listing on Qryptos, Quoine's ICO listing and cryptocurrency exchange. On January 21, 2018, Jim Breyer of Breyer Capital announced that they would be investing in and supporting VeChain in an advisory role.
VeChain has been busy not only forming relationships with other companies, but even with governments at the national level. On February 12, 2018, VeChain and Belgium's Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced that they met to discuss "what VeChain and Belgium can achieve in the near future!" VeChain's Tweet suggests that they are particularly excited at the possibility that building this relationship with Belgium could open doors to the rest of the European Union.
VeChain's main competitors are Waltonchain, Modum, and Amrosus. Of those, Waltonchain has indicated that it doesn't really see VeChain as a direct competitor and that they could even anticipate working together on some projects in the future.
REACTIONS TO VECHAIN'S REDDIT THREAD
As requested in the project specs, we analyzed the comments in VeChain's Reddit thread (though nominally we would not consider these to be a credible source of information). Many of the negative comments are directed as the sometimes less-than-stellar translations of VeChain's material to English, and concerns that this might reflect badly on the company's professionalism. However, others have pointed out that VeChain's professional connections, such as the aforementioned investment by Jim Breyer, as evidence to the contrary. (Our own hypothesis is that any translation issues simply reflect that VeChain does not yet have an office in an English-speaking country.) Other concerns include not being sure about VeChain's value prop and the financial risks of investing in VEN. However, the overall tone of the thread is very much in favor of VeChain, with many posters praising its transparency and honesty.
VeChain's greatest advantage is that it is leading the pack on using blockchain and IoT technology to track global supply chains while engendering trust with its open, transparent operations. This appearance of honesty has enabled an impressive list of clients and partnerships, including recent talks with Belgium's Deputy Prime Minister. In fact, we were unable to find any real criticism of the company or its operations beyond minor concerns expressed on its Reddit thread. By all indications, VeChain has a very bright future ahead.