Co-founder of crypto platform Earn and former chief technical officer of Coinbase, Balaji Srinivasan, is highlighting how revolutionary technologies that meet resistance don’t always fade away.
Despite articulate detractors, the internet took years to become an integral part of society, reshaping the backbone of entire industries, housing data, connecting workers and providing complex infrastructure for multinational systems.
Srinivasan, a Bitcoin supporter and angel investor, posted a throwback ‘hype alert’ essay written by author and astronomer Clifford Stoll in 1995. Published by Newsweek, the essay, entitled “The Internet? Bah!”, chronicles the technology’s long list of dashed hopes and promises — at that time.
— Balaji S. Srinivasan (@balajis) September 30, 2019
Stoll explains in his essay,
“Baloney. Do our computer pundits lack all common sense? The truth in [sic] no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works.”
“We’re promised instant catalog shopping—just point and click for great deals. We’ll order airline tickets over the network, make restaurant reservations and negotiate sales contracts. Stores will become obselete. So how come my local mall does more business in an afternoon than the entire Internet handles in a month? Even if there were a trustworthy way to send money over the Internet—which there isn’t—the network is missing a most essential ingredient of capitalism: salespeople.”
Jeff Bezos founded Amazon in 1994. The company took a considerable amount of time before it transformed multiple industries. In addition to the retail apocalypse, with malls turning into ghost towns, the next 25 years would see several retail giants collapse.
Physical Stores Shut Down
- Tower Records – 2006
- Sharper Image – 2008
- Blockbuster – 2013
- Toys“R”Us – 2018
- Payless ShoeSource – 2019
- Gymoboree – 2019
Writing in June, Srinivasan notes that time is a key ingredient for technological traction paving a long road to sweeping new procedures that can revamp society, both locally and globally.
“It’ll take a while, but the entire tech industry will ultimately be rebuilt on public blockchains. Incorporation, funding, sending/receiving payments, employee equity, user incentives, encrypted messaging, identity, accounting, M&A, governance…all can be automated with crypto.”
He tweeted a recent follow-up statement about payments giant PayPal, founded in 1998, and tech accelerator Y Combinator (YC), founded in 2005 – a full decade after Stoll penned his article. YC has now funded over 2,000 companies, including many that have transformed entire industries.
“The PayPal Mafia and YC were once on the outskirts of the tech industry. Over time, they became the mainstream. The same is gradually happening to crypto. It will become the core of the industry over time…
PayPal Mafia went on to found LinkedIn, Yelp, Tesla, SpaceX, YouTube, Palantir, FF, etc. YC seed invested in Airbnb, Dropbox, Stripe, Coinbase, etc. And Thiel, Graham, Hoffman, Musk give essays, books, speeches. So: create billions in value, then explain how you did it.”
You can check out Stoll’s full article here.