It ain’t all fuckin’ bad.
The markets. The SEC. Nourial. Even I have been “anti” lately.
In my last post I came down hard on the blockchain scenesters — for good reason. They’ve made it harder for the good shit to shine through, for good people to get airtime, for good projects to get funding, and for good tech to surface. So I want to turn this upside down and shout out to a few people in the space who I think are doing it right.
Yes, there are still a few such folks out there who give me hope — people putting in rigorous work on real problems for real people who utilize blockchain technology. (For the sake of disclosure, I’ll also point out here that I have no formal relationship with any of the people or entities named below unless otherwise noted.)
I connected with several promising startups and founders at the recent San Francisco Blockchain Week. Other members of our team at Dispatch have seen the same trend at the Epicenter conference, sponsored by Dekrypt Capital and the consultancy Noris, as well as @ Crypto Springs, a conference for women in the blockchain space that represents an much-needed effort to make this industry more inclusive. Dispatch Labs VP of Investor Relations Shadan Azali & Elle McGraw of The HERE Collective met legal, capital and technical experts of real depth — that’s so encouraging.
I’m also seeing more companies replace their leadership teams with professionals who have a track record of success. In this category I’d put Orbs, which is working on scalability of public protocols, and Shyft, which is trying to improve blockchain security. Founding teams have to know their limits, and such transitions are a normal maturation of early stage startups.
Surprisingly, I’m very encouraged by Tron’s acquisition this summer of BitTorrent for $120 million. One, it ensures that BitTorrent’s awesome peer-to-peer technology will live on, which is great. Second, and just as important, it shows that blockchain companies are still aggressive and eager to jump head-first into product categories that resonate with real users. And, let’s be honest, Tron also bought a little bit of legitimacy with that deal, which is fine.
At Dispatch, we’re also seeing signs on an almost daily basis of a rising appetite among non-tech companies to explore how the blockchain might improve their operations. The great crypto market plunge of the last few months hasn’t quelled that trend at all, as it has nothing to do with the utility of tokens as potential development platforms.
Pretty much every Fortune 1000 enterprise now has some sort of early-stage blockchain initiative going on in-house. These projects are looking at both private and public blockchains and deciding public chains have the most value to add. Private chains often don’t because you’d just be better off with a conventional database.
In an indirect way, this changing attitude among enterprises is great for us here in the Bay Area, as it exerts top-down pressure on blockchain startups to grow up fast. After all, that’s the only way they’re ever going to meet the customer demand for public-chain technology that solves real problems for everyone from massive household-name public companies to small manufacturers in the Midwest.
When startups are able to do that, we’ll actually make all the heady talk of changing the world into a reality. Luckily, we’re beginning to see at least a few entrants with concrete plans — and execution — to back all that talk up.