A lot has happened since the first blockchain company moved to Lake Zug in 2014. As our network analysis shows, an entire ecosystem has developed from just a few startups. There are two main types of organisation that are particularly at home on Twitter: promising tech startups, and a variety of platforms, financing partners, conference organisers and consultancies.

 

Methods

We used MIT’s Condor software to carry out a multi-step betweenness centrality analysis for each company in Crypto Valley working with blockchain. Our source material was the communications occurring around the company Twitter accounts listed on the Cryptovalley Zug website.

Firstly, we analysed not only the companies’ own tweets, but also tweets that mentioned them, and created networks using the last 500 tweets by and about the companies we had selected. Using Condor, we calculated betweenness values for the collected tweets, revealing which accounts played a particularly central role in this communication environment. The higher the betweenness value (size of node in network image) of a company, the more important it is for the flow of communication in the Twitter environment under analysis.

In the next step, we supplemented our Twitter account list with institutions and firms that appeared for the first time (and as particularly exposed) in the first network analysis – and that were also themselves active in the Crypto Valley region.

In total, we analysed 14,000 tweets. However, the final Twitter image only shows the connections between just over 3,000 tweets, as only tweets using the hashtag #blockchain are visible. This ensures that we only display organisations that explicitly engage with the topic of blockchain.

The network image shows the names of the most important accounts of organisations that discuss blockchain on Twitter, or who are discussed in relation to blockchain. The size of the nodes indicates how significant each startup, company or platform is within this discourse.

 

Promising startups

Our Twitter network image is mainly composed of young companies that have either already developed and published their own blockchain protocols, or are in the process of bringing their products to market.

@ethereumproject: The smart contract software, developed from 2013 onwards, has the widest range of applications. As currently reported by coindesk.com, Ethereum’s currency, ether, has a capital volume of USD 35 billion.

@LykkeCity: The decentralised trading platform recently announced that trade can now be conducted in ether as well as bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The company was worth CHF 54.2 million last year.

@monetasnet: Monetas is building a transaction platform which, while not based on blockchain technology, nonetheless uses key elements of it. As Crypto Valley and blockchain are often mentioned in the same breath, and the company is an important player in Crypto Valley, it also appears in our Twitter network.

Other software startups include @melonport (a blockchain platform for trading digital assets, based on the Ethereum protocol), @ShapeShift_io (a trading platform for all types of cryptocurrency and blockchain tokens), @SingularDTV (a blockchain entertainment platform) and @modum_io (ownership rights storage in the Ethereum blockchain).

 

Supporters and facilitators: the startup environment

A variety of different organisations are present in the immediate environment of the above-mentioned startups: associations, meetups, event organisers and consultancies. They all benefit from the presence of successful blockchain companies and want to strengthen the area between Zug and Zurich’s reputation as Crypto Valley.

@thecryptovalley: The organisation was founded in 2017 by, among others, Bitcoin Suisse, iprotus, Monetas, Thomson Reuters and the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts. Its goal is to strengthen Crypto Valley’s status as an ecosystem for cryptotechnologies and businesses.

@blockchain_comp: Investment firm Lakeside Partners’ financing project Blockchain Competition supports startups with prize money, expertise and key contacts.

@validitylabs: Validity Labs spotted a gap in the market: it offers workshops on blockchain to managers, software developers and lawyers.

Other organisations in the software startup ecosystem include @finnovationCH (the largest Swiss fintech association), @blockchainerCH (organisation of blockchain meetups), @FintechCH (a news site for the fintech sector featuring a Bitcoin/blockchain category), @MME_Switzerland (a legal and tax consultancy that specialises in Bitcoin), @finance20ch (fintech conference organisers) and @nexussquared (a business platform aiming to strengthen the Swiss blockchain ecosystem).

Tech startups attract less attention on Twitter than associations or supporting companies, which can presumably be attributed to these organisations possessing wider networks – which, after all, form part of their capital. However, the emergence of an entire ecosystem around these startups also demonstrates how large the attraction of Crypto Valley and the expectations for blockchain technology are.