In April 2018 I attended a blockchain conference at Draper University in the Silicon Valley. Blockchain seems to be the next revolution how business will be done in the future. For many people it is not clear in which status the technology is. For some it seems that we are like in 1996 as the internet boom started, others mean we are already in 1999 when the internet bubble starts to burst. Even then blockchain or better known as distributed ledger is and will be a technology that will survive the coming bubble but not all new business concept will have the same chance. It is hard to extrapolate what will blockchain be doing in the coming decades. It seems that blockchain has an unveiling truly potential for digital societies. If we discuss blockchain then we have also to look on the social impact. Blockchain and their related products have not only a commercial impact they will have also a political impact on society. Today must of the power is centralized. With the new technology decentralization and democratization are the buzzwords of blockchain. So, it is hard to predict the moves that the different states are will be do. Not all states like to lose some of their power or that an integration of blockchain brings a greater transparency into democratic processes. With blockchain it can be open how gets which benefits from a state or during election it is public who gets how much votes. With the new technology also new business models emerge. For example, micropayments can be introducing easily but also many financial transactions can be resolved faster and cheaper around the globe.
At the beginning of the conference Tim Draper held a fireside chat(1). Tim is one of the first investors into Bitcoin and an early promoter of the blockchain architecture. Tim is a well-known Silicon Valley investor and entrepreneur. He was in an early stage invested in Hotmail, Tesla, Telegram and many more start-ups. In the following I try to summarize his thoughts and predictions about the blockchain movement.
In Tim’s view, be used to do business fairer, more honest and more incorruptible than any bureaucrats or human system. Cryptocurrencies allow people who have no financial access to financial services. Unbanked people and financial inclusion are the buzzwords for this. With blockchain it is possible to set up a global payment infrastructure, cross-border transaction and storage of any amount of digital currencies at any time. Tim mentioned that not all business models can emerge overnight, they need some time and as all new technologies blockchain will also go different hype cycles like the early Internet went through. Overall blockchain has the potential for new business that is not centralized organized.
Source: DraperU Executive Blockchain Program; April 2018; © René Felder
In Tim’s view new financial systems will have the potential to organize people in a more open and democratic way. But can any business benefit from a blockchain approach. In Tim’s view: NO! For corporates it is important to understand the underlying principles of blockchain, that is to build a network and a community which will using such a service. In Tim’s words: “Do we (the corporates) have a network and can we create a sociological transformation, and what should that transformation be, and then will there be a marketplace for our coin/token?”. A last word of Tim was that through the process of decentralization government of the future will competing on people because with a decentralized world everybody can decide where he/she wants to live because the rest of the live is virtual in a blockchain. In his words: “This is an opportunity for and for them!”.
The conference has shown that a huge bunch of new ideas are around how the business of the future could be transformed. On a “Block Party” about blockchain over 1’600 attended on an evening. This shows that blockchain is not only a buzzword and a technology for nerds it is broad spread a many people want to have a slice of the new opportunities and want benefit from it. Overall it was a nice experience to see how the Silicon Valley is driving forward blockchain as the next killer app!
- Thoughts of Tim Draper, Executive Blockchain Intensive, Draper University, April 2018, San Mateo.