Tagged: VC Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • feedwordpress 23:27:09 on 2022/01/03 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , VC, , web2,   

    Let’s Argue About Web3! 


    Warning: preg_match_all(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 7 in /homepages/23/d339537987/htdocs/ec/wp-content/themes/p2/inc/mentions.php on line 77

    Popcorn in  hand, I’ve been watching the recent religious war between tech leaders, and I find it all quite…wonderful. It’s been a while since we’ve had this level of disagreement about the future of what we used to call “our industry,” and as long as the debate remains relatively civil, I’m here for it. Then again, we’ve already seen trolling (Elon Musk), blocking (Marc Andreessen), and shitposting (Jack Dorsey) from some of the biggest names in tech. But hey, at least the arguments are getting aired out.

    So what are we arguing about? In short, the future. Nothing is more sacred in the world of tech – the industry has defined and owned the future’s brand for as long as I can remember. Arguing about how that future might play out used to be a full time gig for many of us. It was at the center of our editorial mission at Wired – to paraphrase founding editor Louis Rossetto, our job was “to make a magazine that felt like it was mailed back from the future.” But around a decade ago, arguments about the future subsided – what was the point, given that future had consolidated into a handful of technology titans like Facebook, Tesla, Apple, Google, Netflix and Amazon? Whatever gifts or perils the future might bring, one thing was certain: The tech giants owned it. Where’s the fun in that?

    This turn of events was profoundly dispiriting for some, particularly those of us who had taken the red pill at the dawn of the commercial internet. Sure, I moderated a conference on Web2, and I wrote a book on search and Google, so watching Web2 businesses grow into the most successful firms in the history of business was … cool, for a while. But by 2012 or so, I had lost the optimism and excitement I once had for the industry. It felt like our dreams for a better world had been hijacked by centralized models of capital, and the future had become predictable again. Boring.

    But over the past few years, a renewed vision for the future has been on the rise. Yes, I’m going to call that renewed vision by the name absolutely no one can agree about: Web3*. The word itself has morphed over the years – for a brief minute, we thought Web3 might mean “the semantic web,” but by 2012, when I decided to stop producing the Web2 conference, it became something of a private joke between myself and my partner Tim O’Reilly. Whatever came after Web2, we agreed, it certainly wouldn’t take the nomenclature of a software upgrade!

    When we started Web2 in 2003, it was clear the tech world was in the midst of a huge transformation – the first iteration of the Web had bubbled up, gotten traction, been hopelessly over hyped, and then went bust.  A few years later, something new was rising – a second phase of the web that we believed would take all the goodness of what came before, and add a ton more value. The transition took about a decade – the Netscape IPO was in 1994, and the first Web2 conference was in 2004. It’s been 17 years since then. Might such a transformation finally be underway again?

    Well, that’s the rub of the argument. Just a few weeks ago, Tim kicked the debate into high gear with an essay arguing “it’s too early to get excited about Web3.” His core point quotes the technology cycles theory of economist Carlota Perez, whose work notes that technological progress is always accompanied by financial bubbles which over-invest in important new infrastructure. These bubbles always burst – and the true value of the revolution is consolidated afterward. So where are we on this cycle now?  Tim posits a key question: “Is abundant financial capital building out useful infrastructure in the way that we saw for the previous cycles?”

    And therein lies the fodder for the past few weeks of Web3 backlash.  Established VCs poured $30 billion into the crypto space this past year – more than in all prior years combined. The lead dog in the space? Andreessen Horowitz, one of the most profitable VC firms of the Web2 era. This has led many Web3 detractors (and purists) to proclaim that the same forces which begat Facebook (Marc Andreessen is a board member) will lead Web3 into yet another centralized corporate power grab. Here’s how Jack Dorsey summed it up:

    This tweet set off a firestorm – I’ll leave it to you to read the fractal threads and comments (it’s great fun) – a who’s who of crypto leaders, investors, founders, and pundits weighed in. The argument turned on one key idea: Decentralization. Proponents of Web3 wrote defenses of the core thesis – my favorite is Albert Wenger’s Web3/Crypto: Why Bother, which focuses on why “inferior” approaches to technology (in this case, decentralized blockchains/databases) might actually prove far more valuable in the long run. Opponents argued that Web3 is just more of the same bullshit, just with better marketing and, as Jack pointed out, the same VCs behind it all.

    Over the years I’ve become less of a starry eyed techno-optimist, and more of a “show me the results” kind of pragmatist when it comes to what technology can do. I can nod my head along to both lines of reasoning – but I see no value in maximalism at either extreme. If Web3 is really going to be a thing, it must incorporate the lessons of the many, many things we got wrong with Web2’s business models and governance. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t celebrate the billions of dollars of risk capital being injected into our industry, most of it with the express goal of building something utterly new. Oh, and by the way – most of the value in today’s crypto world was built with absolutely no venture investment (the same was true for the original internet, for what it’s worth).

    No matter what, it’s refreshing as hell to see our industry actually debate important ideas like trust, governance, and decentralization, and to fret – openly and loudly – about how the future might turn out.  Onward!


    *If you’re looking for a quick primer on why many are excited about Web3, read Chris Dixon’s “Why Web3 Matters” and “America Onchain” by Jarrod Dicker. Yes, I’m aware they’re both VCs, and I’m OK with that…

     
  • feedwordpress 00:00:36 on 2014/10/13 Permalink
    Tags: Andreessen, atlas, , , , , , living systems, , , , physical web, , , , VC   

    Else 10.13.14: Smiling Happy Facebook People (Not Teens, Though) 


    Warning: preg_match_all(): Compilation failed: invalid range in character class at offset 7 in /homepages/23/d339537987/htdocs/ec/wp-content/themes/p2/inc/mentions.php on line 77

    The post Else 10.13.14: Smiling Happy Facebook People (Not Teens, Though) appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

    Facebook Atlas

    Now you can buy real, smiling, happy shiny people all over the web, courtesy Facebook.

    Today’s summary covers the past two weeks of worthy reads, with a strong dose of the Internet’s twin titans Facebook and Google. I’ve also been busy writing on Searchblog, so you’ll find three of my own pieces highlighted below.

    Facebook’s new Atlas is a real threat to Google display dominance — Gigaom

    The first such challenge in … forever.

    Facebook is unleashing its ads—and surveillance—onto the internet at large – Quartz

    And while it took a long time, it’s now real. So what does it mean for publishers? Read on…

    A tip for media companies: Facebook isn’t your enemy, but it’s not your friend either — Gigaom

    The industry seems to be slowly waking up to the fact that Facebook is more complicated than perhaps we gave it credit for. Sure, BuzzFeed has been winning by leveraging viral content, but now that Facebook is leveraging its data across the web, including the data it picks up from publisher’s sites, those same publishers are starting to do the math and realize that perhaps they aren’t winning after all.

    Teens are officially over Facebook – The Washington Post

    Until they’re not.

    Programmatic Ad Buying to Reach $21 Billion – CMO Today – WSJ

    That’s a very large piece of a growing pie – and it’s set to only increase as programmatic underpins nearly all digital advertising, period.

    Some pros and cons of Google’s plan to give every “thing” a URL — Gigaom

    The phsyical and digital come one step to connection in this Google-led open source schema. Browse the web, browse the world…

    End-user computing — The Truant Haruspex — Medium

    I love pieces like this. From it: “We increasingly live in a computer-embroidered reality, and the ability to manipulate that reality is empowering. If we can find a way to bring that ability to a wide audience, it could have an impact comparable to the invention of the printing press.”

    A Secret of Uber’s Success: Struggling Workers – Bloomberg View

    “On-demand has thrived, in part, because the nation has dropped a bedraggled and optionless workforce in its lap — and on-demand’s success depends in part on the idea that our nation won’t change.”

    Venture capital and the great big Silicon Valley asshole game | PandoDaily

    Any piece that starts with “Silicon Valley has an asshole problem, and it’s high time we owned up to it” is going to get attention, and Sarah Lacy’s piece did exactly that. Lacy deconstructs the forces driving behaviors in the Valley these days, and finds our industry wanting.

    Killer Apps in the Gigabit Age | Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project

    What might a true gigabit Internet bring? Pew asked the experts.

    A Master Class In Google — Backchannel — Medium

    Steven Levy is right – to understand the world today, it sure helps to understand Google. Not sure that’s possible, but one can try.

    Marc Andreessen on Finance: ‘We Can Reinvent the Entire Thing’ – Bloomberg

    This interview lit up the Interwebs big time last week.

    You are not your browser history. — Medium

    Artist Jer Thorp launches a project to visualize what can be known from browser history.

    New Statesman | The most influential tech company you’ve never heard of

    Spoiler: It’s Alcatel-Lucent.

    The NSA and Me – First Look

    Veteran NSA watcher James Bamford tells his story.

    The Next Stage of Mobile Quickening: Links Get Intelligent- Searchblog

    In which I argue that what Branch Metrics is doing is a good next step toward a true mobile web.

    My Picks for NewCo Silicon Valley – Searchblog

    NewCo SV is next week!

    Living Systems and The Information First Compan- Searchblog

    Companies that put information flows at the center of their businesses are winning.

    The post Else 10.13.14: Smiling Happy Facebook People (Not Teens, Though) appeared first on John Battelle's Search Blog.

     
c
compose new post
j
next post/next comment
k
previous post/previous comment
r
reply
e
edit
o
show/hide comments
t
go to top
l
go to login
h
show/hide help
esc
cancel