Blockchain Strategy and Venturing
Mary Meeker’s 2018 Internet Trends Report was strange and delightful. If you haven’t seen the nearly 300-slide summary of the internet as we know it, here it is. My reactions — from a human and blockchain context — below.
At points, the report became a brazen defense of the internet:
At other points, the report was less resolved in the legitimacy of this internet thing:
And then there’s this Trump-ed up Sand Hill Road Anthem…
So yeah… strange year for the internet. Time to build a better one!
With a mere one slide nod to the blockchain and crypto revolutions, let’s look at some of the Web 2.0 trends in the context of blockchain, decentralization, and Web3.
1. Data created enterprise value in Web 2.0
The amount of digitally-captured data is exponentially increasing:
Capturing and exploiting this data is a fundamental value driver for modern internet businesses:
I’m floored by the below slide. Nearly two thirds of consumers are avoiding apps due to privacy concerns. The self-sovereign identity movement is not just a fringe crypto-anarchist trend: as a society, we’ve woken up to the dangers of data mismanagement.
Maybe it’s because of this:
Or this: 583 MILLION FACEBOOK ACCOUNTS REMOVED.
Lots of baddies out there.
I agree with the below slide, in spirit. But given KPCB’s position, I suspect the sentiment behind the slide is, “don’t touch our bottom line.”
There is no trade-off between innovation and improved accountability, sovereignty, and consumer control. But the sad truth for Web 2.0 is that truly decentralized, peer-to-peer open networks with data sovereignty, user control, and shared equity will be the path forward. By necessity, this future will make it harder for data monopolies to thrive.
Web 2.0 is already clutching at the straws of an unstable business model (stay tuned for my “Minimum Viable Centralization” article), which is to say using consumer data for Big Tech’s benefit with minimal pay-off to the consumer.
Judging by the trend line, blockchain should have gained mass market (~25% of population) adoption by now. Definitions of “adoption” aside, this is clearly not the case.*
(also interoperability, security, and consumer education)
As seen below, compute and storage costs have improved on an exponential basis. I suspect blockchain Tx fees will need to take a similar glide path in order to gain mass market adoption and be competitive with centralized services in steady state. (Personally, I feel confident in Ethereum’s ability to get there due to the exceptional teams driving scalability efforts.)
Meeker makes the case that the hyper-usability of consumer internet technologies is critical for mass market adoption. Even enterprise SaaS battlegrounds now demand hyper-usable UXs…since corporate knowledge workers are people too. The Ethereum community is hyper-aware of this challenge, but we have a massive way to go.
In addition, much of dApp activity is desktop-based, while consumers are largely mobile focused and rapidly moving into conversational form factors.
It was great to see that many of the core shifting sands in technology will benefit from blockchain’s unique characteristics.
a) International, Digital Commerce
Trade continues to span borders and online commerce keeps growing in share. The internet will benefit from a borderless, frictionless, and digitally-native value exchange protocol.
b) IoT and Device Interoperability
As Vinod Khosla points out in this article, the intersection of IoT and blockchain has meaningful potential. Blockchain has a number of unique characteristics (secure, open, and shared database with incentive mechanisms) which will enable and promote open, shared, and curated data marketplaces.
c) World of Work
On-demand, freelance, and P2P work is rapidly growing. Blockchain and blockchain-based systems like Gitcoin, the Bounties Network, and Kauri will unlock massive wealth potential for contributing to open systems in a decentralized basis.
*Do my web clipping skills need a boost? Yes.
**I’m half being inflammatory and don’t truly buy this argument. Even though blockchain-based crypto-currencies are nearly a decade old, Ethereum — enabling complex and endless state transition — was released in 2015. Still, I ask myself, “Are we on pace to change the world?”
P.S. This is my first Medium article, so any direct feedback would be great. Send to [email protected]
For my five readers who made it this far, thanks for reading ;)
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