Blockchain’s Hype is Dying According to Corporate America’s S&P 500 Earnings Calls & Citations

Blockchain and cryptocurrencies — for investors sometimes referred to as ‘digital assets’ — apparently are getting less hype from America’s top companies. While distributed ledger technologies have been and are being adopted into businesses in a centralized way, public blockchains, the token economy and decentralized solutions haven’t yet found mass adoption by any means.

Of course, everyone has an opinion on Bitcoin but increasingly media pubs like Axios, Forbes, Inc and others like to spin the negative since it gets more clicks. Even LinkedIn, that curates news, enjoys this approach for its older Baby boomer audience who fundamentally don’t get crypto, digital assets or any of it.

For the record though, let’s try to explore what they are trying to say. They are saying the Blockchain era of “Hype” is in decline. If “AI” is the eternal hype of the century, things like blockchain and Amazon have had significant hype in the current decade. Indeed if you measure what S&P 500 executives are dropping on their calls, you will find blockchain buzz is in decline on earnings calls and during presentations to analysts and investors. Analysts are also asking about it less, whatever that means.

Axios likes click bait

The argument Axios tries to make is that blockchain was just “hype” in the first place. Clearly they do not follow the rise of digital assets and cryptocurrency trading among other things, such as what IBM and Alibaba and the Cloud are doing with blockchain or a little thing called Ethereum. Mind you, cryptoeconomics and a token economy are relatively slow to manifest in mainstream corporate America. This is also due to artificially slowing down of the process by regulators like the SEC, who delay even minor things like a Bitcoin ETF unnecessarily. It’s political, and saying blockchain is hype is good for ratings.

As a blockchain historian and futurist, I don’t especially care if Google searches for Bitcoin are down or if Blockchain mentions are down on the Street. At the peak earlier this year, “blockchain” was mentioned 173 times, according to an analysis of company transcripts by Axios. The number has since fallen as much as 80%. Should we even care? We know things like artificial intelligence, 3D printing, blockchain, BioTech and a score of other so-called exponential technologies will transform our lives in the decades ahead, even as it will surprise many how quickly autonomous vehicles hit the streets and take over cities globally in the 2020s.

Live and learn, the hype is not all fake, it represents an attention economy that’s an important indicator of economics and business realities. Perhaps the term “cryptocurrencies” is out of favor, let’s just call them digital assets. Some things never change.

The GenX / Boomer Perspective on Blockchain

  • According to CNBC, industry experts project on average that the technology will take 5.9 years to gain widespread adoption, according to a Cowen survey.
  • Many blockchain enthusiasts also say the technology will work best not as a new system within private enterprise, but in its pure form — an open-source, publicly-accessible platform powered by a global network of users.
  • The movement of “decentralization” of Millennials and GenZ is radically different from the business world GenX and Baby Boomers grew up in. They literally can’t conceive of it or realize its customer experience benefits.

The hype of things like blockchain, AI and Amazon are hype because they are long-game plays. That’s the entire point of why enthusiasm over them appears transformative. They are perceived to be bleeding-edge innovative movements.

Can Amazon, Google and Apple transform Healthcare? Will AI lead to automation that disrupts jobs? Will Blockchain realize its potential? These are questions for the ages, not just headlines on a page.