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Salesforce, Lime Execs Join Board of Polkadot-Inspired Cere Network

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Announced Wednesday, enterprise blockchain upstart Cere Network has added former Salesforce COO Rajani Ramanathan and current Lime Chairman Brad Bao to its board. 

San Francisco-based Cere is taking a fresh approach to the slow-moving world of big business blockchain, which usually involves retrofitting some private but shared ledger among a group of banks or logistics companies. 

Cere is described as being “aligned” with Polkadot, the public blockchain interoperability protocol built by Ethereum co-founder Gavin Wood. In fact, Cere has built its own layer one blockchain network which is similar and compatible with Polkadot, explained Cere Network CEO Fred Jin.

“Because it’s built on top of Substrate (the same modular blockchain code framework that Polkadot is built on), Cere can facilitate cross-chain asset transfers and interoperability with most of the other Polkadot/Substrate projects, as well as other public networks such as Ethereum soon,” Jin told CoinDesk via email.

As such, Cere’s goal of shaking up customer relationship management (CRM) software is closer to some Ethereum-based initiatives that are also looking to combine private versions of the tech with the public mainnet, such as the Baseline Protocol.

“Cere is more focused on consumer enterprise uses cases that can really benefit from blockchain technology, such as identity/privacy, micro-payment/derivative assets,” said Jin. 

Jin said Cere’s hub-and-spoke model allows for existing enterprise chains such as Hyperledger (the Linux-affiliated DLT greenhouse that includes Fabric, IBM’s preferred blockchain protocol) to be linked to Cere and data to be connected from these chains with the wider Polkadot ecosystem. 

“A partnership between IBM and Cere would therefore be a possibility in the future,” Jin added.

Cere has raised $5 million in investment since August 2019 to build out decentralized CRM tools, and since then has signed several Fortune 1000 companies as clients, Cere said.

Commenting on joining the Cere board, Lime’s Bao (who was previously VP of Tencent Games) said the trend towards blockchain-based decentralization goes beyond a discussion around technology.  

“I think it will change the whole world,” Bao said in an interview. “But as we achieve that, we must be sure we do that decentralization in a way that does not degrade existing products and services or compromise security in any way.”

Former Salesforce exec Ramanathan said she decided to leave the enterprise software giant to work with startups that are taking a fresher approach.

“It’s still baby steps with enterprise blockchain,” Ramanathan said in an interview. “But it’s about rethinking your business processes from the ground up, not just making existing software more efficient. Taking existing software and trying to keep up with new technologies is a half-assed approach.”

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