With crypto on shaky ground—Bitcoin is down about 50% this year, Ether 70%—and hardcore believers reportedly “panic selling,” one has to wonder about the future of digital currencies.
Those who doubt the nascent technology are taking too myopic a view, Chris Dixon, the lead crypto investor at Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, told The New York Times’ Sway podcast this past week.
If one looks at the history of the internet and tech, there are two tracks: financial, and product and tech, Dixon told host Kara Swisher.
The financial process has been “this crazy uncle that’s jumping up down,” he said. “I thought last year was too high. I think this year, it’s too low…But it just seems wildly volatile to me in a way that doesn’t fully make sense.”
It should be viewed separately from the product and tech track, he said, rather stating it should be through the long lens of history.
“I put blockchains into the history of computing,” he said. “If you go back to World War II, every 10 or 15 years or so, there’s been a new computing wave. And for each of those—and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this and reading the history of it—each of those waves had what I call the incubation phase.”
The first smartphone was developed in 1993, but early cell phones, as clunky and clumsy as they were, were available in the ’80s, Dixon said, citing their appearance in the 1987 film Lethal Weapon.
“So, I mean, it’s not like this immaculate conception where the iPhone appears,” he said.
The crypto industry has two factions, according to Dixon—the “Web3 builder faction,” and what he calls “casino,” which he generally dislikes and doesn’t support.
But, “I don’t think that we should throw the baby out with the bathwater,” he said. “I think that core technology is very important.”
Web3—which combines “the best features of the open, decentralized protocols of Web1 with the advanced modern functionality of Web2″—has the potential to render powerless the handful of giants that control the web, and put that power in the hands of users, Dixon said.
Added Dixon: “There’s no other disruptive tech in the world right now, in my view, that’s actually going to have a chance to take down these companies than Web3.”