CLEVELAND, Ohio — Randy Cole, a former top Kasich administration official, is leaving his state job to work for a Cleveland tech company that’s developing ways to use blockchain to store and record government records.
On Monday, Cole will become the executive vice president and chief solutions officer for Ownum, a startup chaired by Cleveland car dealer Bernie Moreno, according to company officials. Moreno is a politically active GOP donor and recently has become a vocal booster of blockchain, the online ledger technology.
Cole will leave his position as executive director of the Ohio Turnpike Commission, which outgoing Gov. Kasich appointed him to lead in December 2014. His new job will be to help government officials to use the company’s products.
The company has almost completed developing a blockchain-based solution for recording car titles, according to Moreno. Cole said his job will involve developing strategy to work with county and state Bureau of Motor Vehicles officials to implement the technology.
“The more I’ve researched and read books and case studies from around the world, the more excited I’ve become,” Cole said.
Moreno said Ownum plans to pitch its services for sale to governments in Ohio, Florida and four other states. Cole is the company’s 12th employee, he said. In the future, he’d like to try to develop platforms to record license plates, birth and death records, among other possibilities.
Incoming Gov. Mike DeWine announced this week that his lieutenant governor, Jon Husted, will oversee a new state agency called InnovateOhio, which officials say will focus on using technology to streamline government services. Husted is close with Moreno — Husted spoke at a Cleveland blockchain conference in December that Moreno helped organize — and has expressed interest in incorporating blockchain into government. Moreno, meanwhile, has supported Husted’s political career and donated to him in the past.
Cole joined the Kasich administration when Kasich was elected in 2011. He worked as a policy adviser and oversaw Kasich’s efforts to persuade local governments to consolidate services. He also served as an adviser to DriveOhio, an initiative Kasich started last year to promote Ohio as a location for self-driving vehicle research.