I reached out to over 30 CEOs running blockchain startups across the world. I wanted to ask them a couple of simple questions.
What are you most excited about right now?
What advice do you have for a young 20-something who wants to work in the industry?
I asked these questions rather selfishly. I’m fascinated by blockchain and I’m a young-20 something.
I wasn’t expecting anyone to respond, but almost everybody got back to me.
Pioneers in the Wild West are — perhaps not surprisingly — open-minded and willing to share their experiences and ideas.
I got some short responses and some long ones, too. Many of them were inspiring. All of them were thoughtful.
I heard ideas that made me think. They were refreshingly clear words that cut through the fog of the opium-like exuberance that we saw earlier this year.
These are just a few insights from people who are changing the world.
For the hungry and eager to learn amongst us, it’s a glimpse (and perhaps a head start) of what’s to come.
Here’s what I learned.
I. Where are we?
“The epic 2017 bull runaway and 2018 crash have gone (we hope!), trust is getting back, serious blockchain projects are moving forward. We are moving to a new phase of adoption while worldwide experimentation and local regulations are accelerating. Main finance and banking players are entering the market, as well as prestigious institutions (Yale, MIT), and VC funds like the Silicon Valley leader Andreessen Horowitz.
Pundi X announcing this week the first decentralized smartphone let imagine that we can expect a lot of disruptive innovations coming soon. We are no longer in the excitement phase but, as the Gartner Hype Cycle would define, getting out of the peak of inflated expectations and entering the disillusionment phase.”
— Pierre-Alexandre Picard, Co-founder at Predicoin, a cryptocurrency data analytics startup
1,000 Flowers Blooming
“Blockchain is in the “1,000 flowers blooming phase” of its development. Like the adoption of cloud computing or the early move to the Internet, the initial tectonic shifts in the market (and in attitudes) is met with a lot of resistance and some really loud naysayers. The economist Nouriel Roubini recently devoted 37 pages on a rant decrying cryptocurrencies and blockchain as overhyped and criminal. The fact that establishment thinkers are so moved, means the cultural shift for a high-trust, low-friction age is coming about.”
— Dante Disparte Risk Cooperative, Founder
“Industry leaders, innovators and regulators must come together to establish a standard that everyone can agree with adhere to. We cannot operate outside our economic and political systems. The blockchain is indeed here to stay. But it wont be able to survive if we (and I mainly mean the tech innovators) refuse to understand or educate themselves about the economy and the policy. They will simply be dead in the water before they get anywhere.”
— Yassine Anadam, Co founder, Credits
“In Bitcoin we have both segwit and the lightning network’s growing adoption, which will decrease transaction fees; In Ethereum we have sharding, plasma and side-chains that basically enable infinite scalability. From an economics perspective what still lacks are proper incentives, so I would say what excites me the most is the development of better incentives and reward mechanics for crypto-users.”
— Pedro Febrero, Founder @ Bityond (blockchain for recruitment)
II. What Does Success Look Like? (hint: it’s not just about the money)
It’s easy to read a news article and make a quick judgement on the state of blockchain without understanding a thing about it. It’s easy to be a cynic. But we don’t see what’s going on behind the curtains. There are thousands of people pouring blood and sweat into a new industry that will shape our future. Don’t let one negative news article skew your opinion — these pioneers are in it for the long haul.
“I would consider my projects successful if I managed to convince someone out there that it is time to change our monetary system. The tools are finally here for us to change the world and help create a better future for everyone.” — Graeme Conradie , CEO, DNX Community
“Success for me is when I look around and see that a positive change has been made in the world due to the efforts of the URAllowance team, our partners, and our community.” — Chris Butler, CEO, URallowance
“Focus on the long-term impact, instead of near-term price fluctuation and speculation” — Simon Zhu, CEO and Co-founder at BitMovio
“Don’t rush things” — Reputation takes hard work and time to be achieved. Your track record will precede you always. Focus on delivering. The world needs Do-ers. If you do that, success will be the natural consequence.” — Paulo Rodrigues, CEO, Stealth Mode Blockchain Startup
“The road to success, consists of a combination of joined efforts. The following are the success recipe ingredients; Desire, Faith, Specialised Knowledge, Imagination, Organised Planning and of course Persistence.” — Bogdan Maslesa, Founder & CEO at UniversalCrypto.org
“…the blockchain space is a huge enabler for the financial services industry. It provides the ability to help micro enterprise as well as large multinational businesses. It is non discriminatory and helps the wider population to participate at the same level as the large financial institutions. Naturally we are most excited about tokenising securities and bringing a new future and opportunity to businesses both locally and internationally.” — Michael Kessler, CEO, Tokenise.io
“At the end of the day, we consider ourselves successful if we managed to make life easier for our users.”
— Mickaël Fourgeaud, CEO at Primablock
Industry Success (And a Vision for the Future)
This echoes what a lot of others have said and provides a good summary of what success could look like in the long term.
A worldwide currency that has the stability of a solid fiat currency and no inherent inflation, eventually used as the reference for prices and exchanges. (The ability to maintain fairly stable prices allows the currency to be used for loans, mortgages, salaries, invoices, etc.)
A currency that is used as electronic cash, not taxed by transaction fees.
A wallet that is useful to the unbanked of the world, as it is a savings account accumulating interest and proceeds, allowing them to acquire credit and trade with the rest of the world.
A wallet that is secure and unhackable, as it is hosted in the user (dual environment, biometric) device.
A Distributed Operating Environment, that allows the easy and secure development of distributed applications, without limits on the amount of data exchanged and without the cost of smart contracts.
The creation of a solid base for the blockchain applications of the future.
The realization of superconnectivity: A world where things happen for and around people automatically, immediately and without loading the blockchain with transactions.”
— Giuseppe Gori CEO at Gorbyte
The Future is in the Hands of the Challengers
“Like that other foundational technology, the internet, a future where blockchain and scalable high-trust low-friction technologies redefine markets is all but certain. This future is much less in the hands of established firms, for whom status quo, asymmetry and friction have been very kind, but more so in the hands of challengers. The creative destructive cycle of economics has always been propelled by challengers. In this sense nothing has changed, except that challengers are now armed with a new powerful tool in blockchain.”
— Dante Disparte Risk Cooperative, Founder and CEO