IBM has doubled the number of its employees on the technical steering committee (TSC) of Hyperledger, stoking concerns about the tech giant’s influence on the enterprise blockchain consortium.
Six out of the 11 2019-2020 TSC members announced last week are IBM employees. Five work at Big Blue itself and one, Mark Wagner, is a senior principal engineer at Red Hat, an IBM subsidiary. By comparison, the previous year’s TSC had only two IBM representatives and the same number of total seats (Wagner served on the committee, but IBM’s acquisition of Red Hat did not close until July 2019).
The new committee will begin governing after the new TSC chair is elected next week.
While IBM has long played a major role in Hyperledger, having contributed the code for Fabric, the consortium’s biggest and oldest project, the election results rattled some participants from rival firms.
Todd Little, a blockchain platform architect at Oracle, wrote in the TSC mailing list:
“It is very clear that IBM now controls the TSC and is that the direction Hyperledger wants to take?”
At stake is the direction of one of the three most widely adopted enterprise blockchain platforms, the others being R3’s Corda and variants of the ethereum blockchain. The Hyperledger TSC is responsible for creating working groups to focus on technical issues, approving projects and reviewing updates.
Low voter turnout was also raised as a reason to mistrust IBM’s dominance on the committee, with only 33 percent of Hyperledger members casting ballots.
“It has been shown that in a low turnout election, committed and well-organized groups dominate,” wrote Vipin Bharathan, an enterprise blockchain consultant.