Playing the Long Game — ep. 2 — Richard Branson on Blockchain & Building a Borderless World
“It looks like a borderless world, it should be a borderless world, and I think blockchain can really contribute to making the world a borderless world.”
What does it mean to play the long game? Especially in the business world, companies have visions, reasons behind why they do what they do. They have a long term plan, filled with long term goals, and are constantly doing things now that will eventually set them up for future success. A plan without proper execution is useless, and actions without a plan are like shooting in the dark.
Today we continue the series focusing on the blockchain revolution, how it can influence the business environment and the early adopters of disruptive technologies. It’s a series about the people behind the decisions. About the people playing the long game. About practitioners.
About Sir Richard Branson
A self-proclaimed “tie-loathing adventurer, philanthropist & troublemaker, who believes in turning ideas into reality. Otherwise known as Dr. Yes.”, Richard Branson is a British business magnate, investor, author, and philanthropist.
His first business venture was a magazine named Student, launched in 1966. It covered interviews with prominent personalities of the time and made most of its revenue by selling advertising space to brands, and also promoting popular artist records, achieving great success in sales and popularity among his audience and clients.
He later founded the Virgin Group in the 1970s, which controls more than 400 companies in various fields. Nowadays, the Virgin brand spans multiple industries, from telecommunications, travel, and airlines, just to name three.
Building a Borderless World — The Necker Blockchain Summit
Known to be an open-minded and flamboyant entrepreneur, Branson sees no separation between work and life. Also an owner of multiple properties around the world, he usually organizes or hosts events outside the corporate offices. This was also the case for the fifth annual Blockchain Summit, an industry event that takes place on his luxury private property, Necker Island. Hosted by Bitfury and Actai Global, this year’s edition once again gathered brilliant minds ready to discuss bold and disruptive ideas.
A year before, it all took place in another of Branson’s properties, the Kasbah Tamadot resort in Marrakesh, Morocco. One of the topics under discussion in 2018, was looking at the lowering and rising of borders, be them physical or digital, especially within the European Union and Brexit. The participants exchanged points of view about what these changes could mean for the way they conduct their businesses.
The closing-up of borders translates in decreased opportunities and access to certain customer groups, leading to a major drop in revenue and development. Branson cited recent GDP numbers as evidence of the matter.
“As of June 29, U.K. economic growth was lower than pre-Brexit-referendum levels.” […] As Britain works to separate itself from Europe and the United States plans a wall along its southern border, Branson has been pursuing a multi-pronged effort to connect nations and economies.”
“If you’re lucky enough to have made a lot of money through creating a borderless society and advocating a borderless society, it is highly hypocritical if you then want to build walls.” (Sir Richard Branson)
The summit’s cohost Valery Vavilov, thinks it’s central to blockchain’s ability to do more than just break down borders.
‘By giving all the users of the blockchain a vested interest in that system’s success, Vavilov argues, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies incentivize people to cooperate for the success of that system. Instead of competing to make improvements, Vavilov predicts, participants in a blockchain-enabled global economy will collaborate.
“The most interesting thing, the most powerful thing is we will not compete with each other,” Vavilov said. “This technology will allow you to launch economies, but collaborate, where everyone is incentivized to grow the economy, to push the economy.”’
‘“The best way of pulling people out of poverty is for somebody, a government or the local councils, to go around giving everybody a plot of land, legalizing it,” said Branson. “The best way of making sure that that is registered is blockchain.”’
This is where blockchain technology could prove as a game-changing strategy for businesses and consumers alike. By decentralizing processes and not relying on a main authority, peer-to-peer networks could facilitate direct collaboration between brands, vendors and consumers at large.
Building a borderless world doesn’t have to mean a melting-pot for all cultures. Blockchain technology is a tool, and like any other of its kind, its mission is to help societies move forward, and even more so, providing an open and trustworthy space for markets to develop the next big idea.
In order to see anything succeed, you need to deploy patience and become aware of how your business plan will unfold given the different market and technological evolution contexts. Patience wins the game. After all, you are playing the long game! The next episode of this series launches on September 19th, featuring another trailblazing businessperson.
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