Ex-Microsoft COO Kevin Turner emerges at helm of secretive blockchain startup co-founded by former Myspace CTO

Ex-Microsoft COO Kevin Turner emerges at helm of secretive blockchain startup co-founded by former Myspace CTO

Kevin Turner. (Photo via Core Scientific)

Former Microsoft COO Kevin Turner has taken the helm of Core Scientific, a stealthy new blockchain and artificial intelligence startup led by veteran tech executives, GeekWire has learned.

Founded late last year, Core Scientific is building blockchain infrastructure technology. The startup is headquartered in Bellevue, Wash. but most of its employees are based in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. It has a 253,000 square-foot facility on a 73-acre property that houses the company’s blockchain mining equipment.

Aber Whitcomb, co-founder and former CTO at Myspace who graduated from the University of Washington, is a co-founder and director.

Turner joined Core Scientific this month. He previously spent 11 years at Microsoft from 2005 to 2016, leading the company’s global sales and marketing teams. The former Walmart exec — known for his high energy and outspoken demeanor — was once considered a candidate to become its chief executive, but left two years ago to take the CEO role at Citadel Securities.

“I’m very excited to join such an amazing team at Core Scientific who is focused on being the leader in blockchain and AI hosting and applications,” Turner told GeekWire.

The company is staying quiet on further details about its business, and Turner didn’t disclose other details in a message to GeekWire. Here’s a description from the company’s LinkedIn page, which shows 15 employees working at Core Scientific:

Core Scientific is a leader in Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence hosting, transaction processing and application development. In an increasingly distributed and connected world, we believe Blockchain and AI will fundamentally change the way information is processed, shared and stored across a range of industries. Core Scientific is pioneering new innovations and best practices in this nascent landscape, with demonstrated capabilities operating Blockchain and AI infrastructure at scale. Our platform is trusted by enterprise partners around the world to deliver reliable solutions that quickly adapt to dynamic market conditions.

Core Scientific’s formal company name is MindCo Holdings Inc. An SEC filing from this past March indicates that the startup is raising a $40 million investment round.

Turner — who sits on the board of Nordstrom and grocery chain Albertsons — joins a strong leadership team at Core Scientific.

The company was previously led by Bryce Johnson, former partner at private equity firm Dragon Global Management who remains as an executive at Core Scientific. Its CFO, Mitch Edwards, was formerly the acting CEO at e-commerce giant Overstock.com — which has invested heavily in blockchain technology — and was previously CFO at Razer. Core Scientific CIO Jim Benedetto co-founded Gravity, an AI startup acquired by AOL/Verizon in 2014. Others have decades of experience in blockchain, energy, construction, and various industries.

Blockchain technology, which promises better security and accountability through decentralized record-keeping, is attracting plenty of attention from a wide range of investors and companies. At the GeekWire Cloud Tech Summit last week, Mark Russinovich, chief technology officer for Microsoft Azure, said the technology is moving from a romanticized cure-all to a real tool.

“Every single company we talk to is looking at how they can apply blockchain to various areas,” Russinovich said.

It’s unclear if and how some applications of blockchain, like cryptocurrency, will go become widespread. Cryptocurrency remains a wild west of sorts, as prices have fallen recently and Bitcoin went below $6,000 last month for the first time since February. Regulators are also putting down their foot on this new form of payment.

But others remain confident in the future of digital currencies — for example, Andreessen Horowitz just launched a $300 million fund to invest in cryptocurrency-related projects. According to PitchBook, 179 venture capital investors in the U.S. participated in at least one crypto startup deal in the past two years.

Other blockchain applications are being built in industries such as banking, healthcare, insurance, security, agriculture, and more.

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