Israeli Startup Brings in Lionel Messi in Move to Develop Blockchain-based Product Line

Moshe Hogeg, a co-founder and co-CEO of Sirin Labs with Tal Cohen, posted a selfie with Messi to mark the start of the soccer star's role as spokesman for the company, which makes an ultrasecure cellphone

Lionel Messi playing in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier, Mar. 24, 2017.
Eitan Abramovich/AFP

An Israeli startup that makes what might be the world’s most expensive smartphone has hired Argentine soccer star Lionel Messi as its brand ambassador, as it launches an initial coin offering to develop a new breed of open-source, blockchain consumer electronics.

Moshe Hogeg, a co-founder and co-CEO of Sirin Labs with Tal Cohen, posted a selfie with the soccer player on his Facebook page to mark the start of Messi’s role as spokesman for the company, which makes an ultrasecure cellphone.

“We are excited to have Lionel Messi, the best soccer player in the world, as the global brand ambassador for Sirin Labs,” he said in the post. “We have identified the potential of blockchain technology and are developing SirinOS to improve the security and user-experience on the blockchain to encourage mass adoption.”

The company also tweeted the news, saying it is  “proud to announce our #official global brand ambassador, the GREATEST footballer on the planet – LEO MESSI. Let’s kick some goals together and bring #Blockchain technology to the mass market.”

Sirin Labs has a research and development center in Tel Aviv, but the company has expanded globally to include a site in London and a company headquarters in Switzerland.

Messi, who plays professionally for the Spanish team Barcelona, has won the FIFA Ballon D’Or prize for the best soccer player in the world five times and often is considered one of the greatest players of all time. He will be part of the Argentine national team at the World Cup 2018 in Russia.

While on “peace tour” to Israel with members of the Barcelona team in August 2013, Messi visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem and met with Israeli leaders. In July 2013 he sent a message to the Argentine Maccabiah team. One year later, Messi supported a soccer match organized by Pope Francis to promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians, but he did not play due an injury.

Sirin says it aims to become the world leader in secure open source consumer electronics, “bridging the gap between the mass market and the blockchain economy” by developing Finney, the first open-source blockchain smartphone and all-in-one personal computer.