Bringing the Ownership Economy to today’s apps

Power users — not companies — are what drive most of consumer internet. They are social media’s content creators and curators, Uber’s drivers and car suppliers, Airbnb’s hosts and real estate investors, etc. Users consuming these products pay for these networks to exist. Heck, individuals volunteering their time — not companies — write most of the open source code on which these networks rely. So, why don’t users own any piece of these networks?

Take Snapchat, for example. Millions of content creators who turned the app into the behemoth it became didn’t get any direct proceeds from the network’s $25 billion IPO. This misalignment is not only unjust, but also makes the network vulnerable: Snapchat gave shares / stock options to retain and engage thousands of investors and employees, but not to its content creators. Its power users had no skin in the game, and many of them switched to Instagram when it launched Stories. Similarly, Adi Sideman and I learned firsthand through our experience running YouNow — a 50 million user mobile video app — that networks rise and fall with their power users. It became clear that the economics of user networks are broken, and that they ought to change. …

Entrepreneurs can wait for mature infrastructure to build consumer-facing crypto apps, or they can leverage what’s available and build some of the missing pieces themselves.

The prevailing thesis in blockchain is that we are in the infrastructure phase. In short, the thesis says that Web 3.0 infrastructure is not yet in place for effective consumer-facing apps to evolve. The compelling logic compares this to the way Instagram or Uber could not emerge on your old flip phone. These apps really needed the infrastructure — iPhone-like camera/GPS, connectivity, UX and general smartphone ubiquity — to catch on. …

Will blockchain’s real-world applications live up to market expectations in 2018?

This past year the broader tech community has become increasingly convinced that the impact of blockchain and “money as code” on society is going to be fundamental. Crypto brings the promise of breaking central banks’ monopoly on money. It threatens to reshape the organization of the workforce. It currently seems like one of the only ways to disrupt GAFA’s oligopoly on the internet (I finally feel comfortable using “disrupt” again…). And the list goes on.

However, it’s still hard to find popular implementations of blockchain-based products that are useful for the non-speculating individual (with just a few exceptions), let alone use cases that fulfill crypto’s grander social promise. A lot of people are betting that crypto’s potential will be realized, while crypto’s real-world applications are finding it hard to keep up with ever increasing market expectations (the crypto market cap is currently around $600 billion, even after this week’s “correction”). There seems to be a gap between crypto valuations and today’s real-world, non-speculative crypto use cases. …

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store