So for those of you that read my blog/newsletter that know me, you know that I’m a pretty curious person. I ask alot of questions and have always kept an open mind to new technology and its potential to disrupt our current way of doing or building the world around us. For those of you know don’t know me personally, well if you are working on something interesting and new, this is my way of telling you I want to learn more about it haha. There is nothing potentially more disruptive and in the momentum as blockchain when it comes to new technology. I myself am working on a new startup that is going to leverage blockchain technology to build a new consumer experience and as part of our initial building phase, I have been meeting with various projects in the blockchain/crypto space to try and find the technology partner that we want to build with and after meeting with nearly a dozen different projects there is one conclusion I have come to. For an industry built on decentralization and inclusivity, most folks in the crypto space have an incredibly exclusionary view of the world.
As we set out to pick a blockchain to build our project on, both myself and my co-founders set up meetings after meetings with various blockchain projects, everything from the incumbents like Bitcoin and Ethereum to newer emerging technologies and projects that have a ton of promise. We went in with an open mind and our conversations centered around what we are building and the solution we hope to provide. Our ask was simply, “how can your project support ours from an infrastructure perspective?”.
What we got back was always a strong response as to how that particulate blockchain could help us build and execute on the vision that we had shared, but what kept catching me off-guard was how quickly, and without any inquisition for myself or my colleagues, they would begin to point out their superiority to other blockchains and how their project was not only the best project but the only project worthy of peoples time, attention and most notably, money.
Now look, healthy competition is a great thing and there certainly is that. At the time of my writing this, there are 93 blockchains with a market value of over $1B. In startup world, we like to call those unicorns, and typically they are applauded as bringers of innovation worthy of investment and these massive valuations. In the blockchain world there are 93 of these unicorns and yet if you asked most of the folks participating in this space there should only be 1, the project they work on, none there matter.
For an industry that has built itself on the promise of democratization and using technology to create inclusivity, a healthy majority of my conversations in the blockchain/crypto space have left me feeling more like an outsider than someone that they wanted to include in their network even if I choose to leverage another networks technology. Apple and Microsoft are competing for the same business yet those two companies have co-existed for years with plenty of value creation to share between the two of them. In 1941 there were 6 NHL franchises that made up the league, could they have kept it to those 6 franchises so that those organizations and owners could own 1/6 of the value creation of the league? Of course, but they also realized that the more teams there were, the more options fans had based on where they lived or where they were from, driving more and more to want to pay attention to a team and the sport. Today there are 32 NHL franchises across North America and hockey is far bigger a sport than it was in 1941.
This is the biggest flaw I have seen to date in the blockchain/crypto mindset. Too often this exclusionary tactic is viewed by the support of these projects as a way to drive greater adoption of their network. The Cryptocurrency market has a capitalization of around $2.1T, there are no hard numbers on this but the current estimate of the total amount of money in the world is in the $3–4 Quadrillion range meaning that blockchain adoption and the cryptocurrency market that powers it is still massively in its early adoption years and if we have learned anything about adoptions cycles in other industries, gaining mainstream adoption happens from competition and collaboration and providing optionality to consumers. Simply put, there needs to be more blockchain technology in the market, not less.
Maybe I’m just a bit jaded from the people I have met and the influencers I see on social media. I’m sure there are plenty of great folks out there who are working on these projects with an open view on things and they would admit that there are a bunch of interesting projects out there in the works all looking to solve different and interesting infrastructure challenges. Facebook was great for helping connect us with our friends and family online but their platform hardly helped me run a startup, enter google docs and sheets, different tools for different challenges. Blockchain is the next generation of those tools. It has the potential to help us create a fair and open world, and I’d like to think you all will agree with me on this, I hardly doubt that anyone blockchain/crypto project is gonna be the answer for all of these challenges. Hopefully, if our project can be successful, we can be a beacon of cooperation in the blockchain world, leading a path where new technologies and projects are celebrated for their merits versus attacked because they differ from the technology we have chosen to build with. At the end of the day, our new company is solving a very small, very specific use case and there are plenty of other challenges in the world that I will be happy to cheer on other entrepreneurs as they attempt to build something that helps solve them. The sooner the blockchain/crypto industry can adopt this mentality, the faster the industry will succeed.