I had the fortune of getting into consulting for Blockchain and crypto pretty early. It’s been a little more than 3 years for me working in this space.
I spent my first year and a half geeking out at Bitcoin and Ethereum, reading, learning and familiarizing myself with the plethora of acronyms (PoW, PoS, DPoS, PBFT..) and other theoretical concepts, as well as getting my hands dirty with coding a handful of smart contracts. My last one and half years, however, I spent hearing people talk about their problems which Blockchain is going to solve. Yes! They already knew Blockchain is going to solve all their problems, and I just had to tell them how. From a Blockchain coder, I had turned into a Blockchain therapist.
This put me in a very unique shoe. A shoe wherein, I as a technical person knew, not only the inner workings of Blockchains and the problems they were capable of solving (at that point of time) but also the kind of problems my clients wanted Blockchain to solve. Quite a remarkable shoe indeed! If I were to make a Venn diagram based on my observation, it would look something like this -
Nonetheless, I have thoroughly enjoyed (and still continue to enjoy) consulting in and exploring this space. I’ve gotten introduced to people (businessmen, stand-up comedians, industrialists, bankers, stockbrokers, CEOs, doctors etc.) from all walks of life, who have given me tons of insight on their respective industries in exchange for my sharing of knowledge and perspective about what decentralization, Blockchains, and DLTs meant for their business.
During this period, I’ve sat through a diverse array of conversations about how Blockchain technology can help solve a lot of the world’s problems.
Some of these conversations have been downright absurd…
“Bro.. let’s make a decentralized toilet. When you send ether to the toilet, it will flush. Else, it will remain!”
Some of them quite serious…
“My company does a..ahem… MLM. Please help me tokenize my business”
Some of them were absolutely pointless
“(insert indefinite number of optimistic statements about Blockchain because you heard it’s the next big thing, but never reach a conclusion about what you want to do with it)”
And finally the usual ones
“How do these bitcoins have value? Who prints them? Come on! I’m sure there’s somebody who prints them.”
Taking a look at all these conversations I’ve had the past 3 years, I think I see a pattern emerging. Now, I may be wrong (I usually am), but to me, these would look like the four categories of people one would find in this space. I’ve represented them, and the news headlines they tend to be impressed by, in one giant graph -
The New Entrant
Or the ones who recently got enlightened
How did they get in? Usually referred to by rich crypto mining friends or lead/mislead by a random article on the internet
What do they do? Well, nothing! They don’t really have any opinion about Blockchains and cryptocurrencies. Not just yet. They’re new, thirsty for knowledge and have no clue on what to look for on Google. They would encompass about 75% of the people I’ve dealt with. Most of them would be happy with just the one therapy session. After that, they start tracking all the news themselves and start making intelligent conversations with their friends about crypto and decentralization.
New entrants, after spending some time in this space, move along on the graph and would tend to incline towards one of the following three views:
a. The Bitcoin Maximalists
b. The Bubble Gang
c. The We Believe in Blockchain. Not Crypto (WBBNC) gang
or a combination of two:
a. The Bitcoin Maximalist + WBBNC
b. The Bubble Gang + WBBNC
The Bitcoin Maximalist
Or the ones who keep predicting the $500,000 bitcoin valuations
Why are they so optimistic? A limited supply of crypto, hope for freedom from censorship, oh and the magic sauce — smart contracts!
What do they want? Based on their economic status (among other ulterior motives) they may be trying to -
a. Spread the good word about crypto
b. Shove the good word about crypto down your throat so that you would HODL
c. Shove the good word about crypto down your throat so that you would buy their mining equipment
The Bubble Gang
Or the ones who make uncanny analogies to the internet bubble
Why are they so skeptical? Everything that goes up, must come down. Duh!
What’s up with them? They’re a pretty diverse group of people. Some of them -
a. Have tons of experience, seen similar patterns and sincerely believe that crypto is overbought and is bound to take a dip
b. Are multi-millionaires/billionaires who kinda missed getting onboard the crypto bandwagon
c. Are Jamie Dimon
The term ‘FUD’ (Fear. Uncertainty. Doubt) or the habit of creating FUD is most often associated with them.
We believe in Blockchain, Not Crypto (WBBNC)
Or the ones out there using private and consortuim Blockchains
Who are they? All the banks, financial institutions and many others who simply cannot function with present-day public blockchains (ahem.. Ethereum)
What are they doing? A whole lot of POCs and prototypes wherein they simply want to use Blockchain as a data structure. They often discount other core features of cryptocurrencies which have lent them most of their value(such as the concept of open, incentivized peer-to-peer networks governed by consensus rules). This has resulted in quite a few false use cases being explored which could have been better served with regular database technology (with couple of neat cryptographic tweaks). Nonetheless, this space has seen a few genuine use cases emerge whose feasibility and value-add (in using a Blockchain) are being determined. Only time will tell if the Blockchain promise being proposed by the WBBNC gang would prove beneficial or not.
Now we come to the end of this observation. Please do remember these are my personal views from my experience interacting with clients, colleagues, (rich, crypto mining) friends, and of course, the internet. I don’t favor any one side on this graph, but I do see myself as a person who is keen on bringing some reality back into this space and keeping it clean of some of these decentralized toilet use cases.
Hope you had a good read. Cheers.