By Donna Loughlin
It wasn’t too long ago that Medha Parlikar knew nothing about blockchain.
Now she’s on the leading edge of an entire movement with her sights set on bringing blockchain to the mainstream.
Medha is the co-founder and chief technology officer of CasperLabs, which since 2018 has been building a new open-source blockchain and smart-contracting platform that is already changing the way companies do business.
“I wanted to build a technology that I would use myself,” she told me. “So I dug into my own experiences as a business leader and decision-maker and product manager. It was always my goal to select a tool that I could integrate right into my product. Every time I had to select some kind of technology solution or platform I had a core set of things I knew it needed to do. As I looked out on the blockchain landscape it became very clear to me that a lot of the protocols that were out there—almost all of them, in fact—I wouldn’t have selected any of them. I wouldn’t have used blockchain technology because there wasn’t a platform that would meet the needs I had as a stakeholder. So we went ahead and built one.”
Before 2017, Medha had never even heard of blockchain. She had gotten her start in IT and software engineering and eventually became a quality assurance leader for companies including MP3.com and later Adobe.
She put her career on hold for six years when she had children, the youngest of whom suffered from medical problems and required extensive care. It was during that time that she decided it was time to find an outlet that would allow her to separate herself from the pressures of both career and family. So at 37, she discovered martial arts and decided on her first day that she would become a black belt. At 41, she achieved that goal and decided she was in a much better place than when she paused her career five years earlier. It was time to go back to work.
“I had always been a Jack-of-all-trades but I hadn’t really mastered anything for myself,” she said. “I hadn’t given myself that kind of time for something that was not really for anybody else but me. It really taught me to stay focused and grounded while staying in the present. If you’re thinking about something else when you’re sparring, that’s when you get sucker punched. So learning that was incredibly transformational and empowering for a woman in the tech space.”
She took on some consulting work while she plotted her next move and helped a friend out with a blockchain enterprise he was launching. That endeavor didn’t work out, but Medha realized how much she loved the space. And as luck would have it, the investors who had agreed to fund that first project had taken notice of her. They approached Medha to partner with another startup team and CasperLabs was born. The company is now building the first proof-of-stake blockchain for enterprise.
In August, CasperLabs announced a partnership with Amazon Web Services which immediately gave the company the capability to reach the nearly 200 countries in which AWS operates.
“When you think about blockchain, it’s really about trust,” she said. “Our platform is all about building trust in data. Businesses should all be looking at blockchain as a means of streamlining operations, clearing audits faster and reducing operational overhead — all with data that you can’t manipulate, that you can’t hack. We’re very well-suited to really help transition us all into a new era of transparency and trust.”
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