I'm fortunate enough to have been survived a couple of successful businesses and a half a dozen of failures, as an entrepreneur. Most of them in the digital space. Or, as we used to say, "in the online".
20 years ago, if somebody would have asked you what do you do for a living, if you really wanted to be cool, you would have answered: "I'm in the online". Oh, the bewilderment on their faces! Oh, the awkward silence! The barely contained admiration, sometimes expressed in many subsequent invitations "to a coffee, just to chat about that thing that you're doing".
20 years ago, online was hype. It was the thing, the place to be, the path to take, the career to embrace. It was the future.
But where is "the online" now?
Well, since pretty much all our communication is done online, it just became the norm. It lost that magic trait of being exquisite and promising and mysterious and became your daily thing. Just like brushing your teeth. There's noting spectacular, promising and mysterious about brushing your teeth. But you're doing it, because you know it's the right thing to do.
The "Blockchain" craze is just like the "Online" craze was 20 years ago.
There's so much momentum, so much excitement and so many contained promises, that the whole concept is sometimes perceived with borderline religious feelings: "it will completely change the world, it will revolutionize the planet, it will do this and that and we will all live happily ever after".
Well, not so fast, grasshopper!
I think I've seen this before, so bear with me for a a few minutes.
The Webvan Startup
Back in the early 2000s, a startup called "Webvan" promised to do something unthinkable: link your fridge to this global network called "the web" and deliver groceries to your door, without you moving a finger. It was the fridge which was responsible for reading the barcodes of the products you took away or squeezed in it. A small computing device would have been keeping track of all these movements, calculate the remaining supply and order whatever you need to order in such a way that you will never have an empty fridge anymore.
20 years after, we have no successful Webvan. Not even a proof of concept that I am aware of.
But boy, it sounded nice on paper! It was so promising and revolutionary that investors were queuing just to have a chance to get 1% of this huge pie.
Correction: "of this huge potential pie".
A Promise Is Just A Promise, Nothing More
Many blockchain based startups today are selling just promises. Nothing more.
Please try to do the following exercise: breathe 5 times in a row, without thinking at anything and re-read that revolutionary white-paper you just decided to put all your savings in. You'd be surprised how much vaporware is in it, and how little actual value it has.
Riding the wave of excitement is tricky. Both for innovators and for users. Innovators will try to take advantage as much as they can of the hype, and they'll do whatever they can to sell you the unthinkable. And users, well, they thrive on wishful thinking, we already know that.
Please take a step back, look at all those promising blockchain "stars" in top 20 crypto currencies and try to compare them with the "Webvan". Do you really see that blockchain thing unfolding in 20 years from now? Do you really believe it will take off?
And then look at more "boring" tokens, which are already delivering much smaller promises. Like, you know, privacy enhancement (Monero), zero transaction fees and 3 seconds block production (BitShares) or even social media on top of the blockchain (Steem).
They may be boring, but they are already here. You can use them every day and you can track their usability. They're real.
The "blockchain" is a wonderful technology, but that doesn't mean you are allowed to be stupid and make stupid investments.
I'm a serial entrepreneur, blogger and ultrarunner. You can find me mainly on my blog at Dragos Roua where I write about productivity, business, relationships and running. Here on Steemit you may stay updated by following me @dragosroua.
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