Web3 concepts such as blockchain technology, crypto assets, and NFTs are slowly but surely seeping into the corridors of Big Business.
Whether it’s Nike’s new blockchain-based Swoosh platform aimed at “expanding the definition of sport” by “democratizing the web3 experience so everyone can collect, create and own a piece of this new digital world” , or from PricewaterhouseCoopers Decentralized and virtual space, companies are looking beyond the buzzword.
But not everyone is impressed with the Web3 concept, including one of the biggest disruptors of all time.
Tim Berners Lee, the British scientist widely regarded as the inventor of the World Wide Web, told us to “ignore the Web3 stuff”, at this month’s Web Summit 2022 in Lisbon, Portugal.
In fact, “dismissive” was probably the best way to sum up the sentiment towards Web3 in Lisbon as a whole.
Software engineer Molly White made no secret of her disdain for crypto and blockchain technology when she took the stage.
“So many of the problems on the web today are caused by capitalist forces that push ruthlessly toward the enrichment of monopoly tech companies rather than the betterment of society,” White said in his missive.
“You will have to excuse me for doubting that our utopian web dreams will be realized through the introduction of hyper-capitalist technology that aims to further financialize everything on the web, and exposes user data to public ledgers where it can be reclaimed by even more tech companies profiting from data today,” she continued after a deep inspiration.
White was not done: “There will be a Web3… Will it be blockchains and cryptos? Venture capitalists and founders of blockchain startups really hope you think so.
For more on White’s biting sarcasm, his blog “Web3 is just going great…and certainly isn’t some huge scam dumping lighter fluid on our already burning planet” is a goldmine. .
Berners-Lee’s Web3 skepticism rests on the same foundations as White’s.
“Blockchain protocols might be good for some things, but they’re not good for Solid,” Berners-Lee said, referring to his new web decentralization project that successfully raised $30 million in funding in December. last.
Blockchain is “too slow, too expensive and too public”, for Berners-Lee, while “stores of personal data must be fast, cheap and private”.
“Ignore the Web3, random Web3 stuff that was built on top of the blockchain, we don’t use that for Solid,” he said in order to pierce his point.
But Web3 seems to be picking up the conversation again, despite strong protests from some gatekeepers.
Whether this conversation is full of hot air is a whole other argument.
Anarchy on the Web3
“We take anarchists but also disrupt disruptors, we mature the technology and bring it to the Fortune 500 because I think it’s needed,” said Lone Fønss Schrøder, managing director of blockchain company Concordium and vice president. from Volvo. Cars.
Schrøder takes a rather different view from Berners-Lee, White et al.
“Companies will collapse unless they adopt new technologies such as Web3,” Schrøder said. She is well placed to comment.
As well as leading a blockchain startup, Schrøder sits on the board of some of Europe’s biggest companies, including Volvo, IKEA Group, and Aker.
The biggest problem in the corporate world, according to Schrøder, is that by not realizing the potential of Web3 because the technology is difficult to understand and belongs to a new generation, “companies are often their biggest competitor “.
History could be on his side.
According to a 2019 McKinsey study, the average lifespan of an average S&P 500 company was 61 years in 1958.
Today, it’s less than 18 years, and forecasts suggest that 75% of companies currently listed on the S&P 500 will be gone by 2027.
Businesses are now dying in adolescence.
Equally surprising is the median age of the top ten S&P companies: 85 in 2000, just 33 in 2018.
Clearly, we live in an era of disruption but, for Schrøder, the corporate culture “makes it very difficult for companies to integrate new technologies and to do so quickly”, even if ignorance could spell their demise. .
There is, however, another side to the argument.
Web3 is not yet proven and if it ends up being a huge waste of time, companies risk diverting valuable time and attention to a buzzword with little underlying value.
This is certainly the opinion of Tom Goodwin, author of Digital Darwinism, about the metaverse.
But Web3 is a broad church encompassing crypto, blockchain, and NFT systems, and we’re far too early in the journey to fully understand its true potential and use cases.
I remember the first time my house had internet access via a 56k modem. It was slow, expensive, and stupidly inefficient, but it felt revolutionary. These terms are now attributed to Web3.
Yet Web3 is not even close to “switched phase”. Admittedly, companies must evolve with the technological tide, but putting your eggs in the Web3 basket remains a bet with unquantified odds.
When is decentralization?
For all of Web3’s embrace of decentralization, it remains largely a pipe dream.
Schrøder’s Concordium project is no different, given that the Concordium Foundation owns the majority of the blockchain’s CCD token and even manages 10 of the ~300 validator nodes that help secure the blockchain.
It’s a pervasive conundrum in the Web3 space: how do you balance decentralization with running a product that actually works?
“It’s not trivial,” agreed Schrøder, but that doesn’t mean that decentralization isn’t relevant for certain applications, “but the technical and governance modes need to mature, as well as the regulatory part of Web 3 solutions. “.
Schrøder’s experience spans all lines of business and Web3 – Credit: Concordium
“We know from talking to other foundations that are already on the path to decentralization, who have done it, on their own terms, a bit too quickly without understanding the consequences,” Schrøder said, adding, ” Decentralization can only be undone if the ecosystem decides so.
It’s as if decentralization is the event horizon of Web3 – there’s no turning back once you’ve taken the leap.
Speaking of jumps, no one needs reminding that Meta Platforms – formerly Facebook – dumped the body of its dwindling workforce and ten billion dollars and counts into the metaverse.
Whether it gets sucked into a black hole or becomes a supernova is anyone’s guess, but one thing is certain: Meta will serve as a benchmark or harbinger for companies like Concordium who see Web3 as the future of interconnectivity.