Internet vs Blockchain: Similarities, Differences, Lessons and Opportunities
I find it unbelievable how time flies. I emigrated to the U.S. from Venezuela in 1995 during those days now considered the “pre-internet boom.” I was 25 years old.
In 1997, I founded and was CEO of CycleLogic, a company that developed desktop software for wireless operators in Latin America. My team and I first started working on linking pagers to PCs. Our first client was Motorola, the largest pager manufacturer on earth. We worked closely with Motorola’s Iridium satellite network linking it with Short Message Service (SMS) capabilities.
However, the life span of the pager was limited. Within a few years the pager was replaced by the cell phone. In 1998, we did a 180% turn and decided to focus only on connecting mobile devices to the internet. From that moment on, it was clear the internet and its connectivity to the mobile world was going to completely change the way we lived and worked.
Within one year, CycleLogic had the leading position in deploying SMS to internet gateways for various mobile operators in Latin America. As the worldwide market for mobile and internet expanded, there were standards such as WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) that came with a mission to regulate and control the market—but they failed.
In September 1999, one week before CTIA (at the time the largest wireless tech show in North America), CycleLogic was able to announce that it had been purchased by NYSE traded Starmedia Networks. Starmedia was funded by a ‘who’s-who’ of VC’s in New York, including Chase Venture Group, to create a replica of Yahoo! in Latin America.
With the support of their extensive platform and resources, CycleLogic quadrupled in size. We went from servicing four mobile operators to servicing 25. The success of our growth resulted in a strategic partnership with Bellsouth, which at the time was among the biggest mobile operators in Latin America. Those were fast-moving times.
Now, more than 20 years later, here I stand. The blockchain era has begun. I can’t help but feel like I felt in 1997. Full of hopes and dreams. It’s happening all over again and I get to live it once more.
The blockchain revolution is unfolding in front of our very eyes. I predict that it will be comparable to what happened during the late ‘90s, but far more rapid and explosive. For the past 20 years, I have been involved in tech, devices, and payment processing. For the last three I have been immersed in understanding the digital native demographic and its behaviors, including the opportunities and possibilities made possible through the use of blockchain technology. I see with great clarity definitive parallels from those days to what is happening with cryptocurrency and blockchain. These are very exciting times.
Let me break it down for you:
5 Similarities, 5 Differences, 5 Lessons and 5 Opportunities
- Great Promise: Everyone wants in. Every conversation begins and ends with the blockchain.
- Tech Opportunity: Standards and new platforms appear every day with new ways to develop and deploy.
- Entrepreneurship: Everyone wants to start a company.
- Capital is available: There is significant capital entering the space from both traditional and non-traditional sources.
- Large Corporations: They also want in.
- Regulation Evolution: Uncharted territory.
- It’s truly global: It’s not U.S.-centric, but truly worldwide, giving global entrepreneurs a chance to compete.
- Scale is here: There is a massive installed base of users globally, both on the internet and via mobile. Half the world is connected.
- Emerging markets: Unbanked and developing economies will actually get to benefit for the first time.
- Community Driven: The blockchain is a very close community of early believers, driven by strong convictions about decentralization and fairness.
- It’s a marathon: This is not about capital raising. It is about developing the promise and potential of the blockchain, just like we did with the internet.
- Survive: Many companies raise money with talented investors and teams, but do not make it. You need to survive.
- Think big: The vision is starting small but there is no limit to the nonstop potential of the blockchain. Think Amazon starting ecommerce with books.
- It’s all about the fundamentals: Forget the noise, focus on the fundamental value proposition of your product, focus on your customer, that’s the key.
- Give back: The promise of the blockchain, like the internet, is about giving back and helping others change the world.
- Explosion in the number of digital assets: Like Google in the early days of the internet for information, the coming internet revolution is about digital and tokenized goods. There is going to be an explosion of new digital goods and tokens. There are going to be eventually millions of them!
- Smart Contracts are born: Smart Contracts will deliver the promise of transparency to produce the most real time and accurate solutions for any challenge, including the pricing of assets in this new market.
- The Power of Tokens: The issuing of smart digital tokens on top of platforms like Ethereum will create a whole new crypto economic and digital organization paradigm. New economic incentive models will generate revenue like Google on a per transaction basis, creating and incentivizing the use of protocols that will for example show and compare the value of digital goods in this new economy.
- Wisdom of the Crowd: Using the power of tokens, smart contracts, distributed and P2P capabilities, the blockchain will deliver on an unprecedented scale the first truly global platform, one that allows the crowd to own a part of the underlying technology business and infrastructure.
- The Biggest Efficient Market Theory Experiment: One of the blockchain’s most important opportunities is not actually access to information but to the capability of transacting on a global distributed per to per network. One of the biggest challenges in the digital asset economy will be providing access to real time pricing and value of digital goods, such as hotel bookings. For the first time, the world will be able to engage in a global transaction experiment that everyone can participate in. New protocols will be created to transact for value on the digital asset economy using the power of the crowd, crypto economics, and blockchain.
Now here I am, once again, in a position where I am all about shifting paradigms. I feel just like I did as a young entrepreneur starting my first company. Digital native behavior and massive adoption of devices and connectivity are colliding with the most innovative and explosive technology in 20 years. This convergence will deliver quantum improvements in transaction cost, transparency and access, and fundamentally revolutionize how we organize socially and participate economically.