Reddit CoFounder Compares Crypto to 1990’s Internet, Needing a ‘Netscape Breakthrough’
Reddit Founder Alexis Ohanian Thinks The Crypto Community Still Lacks A Killer App
As proponents of cryptocurrency tout cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies as the next great and revolutionary thing after the internet, it is still unclear how many years will have to pass until cryptos gain the same mass adoption and widespread popularity as the internet. The founder of Reddit, Alexis Ohanian believes that the technology has already passed the midpoint, but we still lack a “killer app” that will push it forward and shape the course of future development.
Ohanian, alongside Neha Nerula, spoke at WIRED25 Summit.
Cryptos Are Similar To Internet Of he 90s Or The 70s
The internet industry has had its own ups and downs. The “Dotcom Bubble” burst in early 2000. But instead of destroying the internet industry, the bust created fertile ground for its next stage. Within about five years of the crash, we saw the introduction of Wikipedia, Facebook, the photo-sharing service Flickr, YouTube, and early smartphones like the Danger Hiptop/Sidekick, to name a few highlights. Not all of the early 2000s experiments are still around, but even the failures helped pave the way for things that came later.
Ohanian thinks cryptocurrency world could be heading towards a similarly productive period. “Now is a good time because it's scattered all the hucksters and scenesters,” he said during the panel. But he sees the current state of cryptocurrency as more analogous to the early 1990s period of the internet, before the introduction of the Netscape web browser in late 1994. And much as Netscape made the internet useful to average people by making the web far simpler to use, Ohanian says the cryptocurrency world needs a breakthrough in usability.
Narula doesn’t think things are that far along, comparing today's competition between various incompatible cryptocurrencies and technologies to the internet's earlier days, perhaps the late 1970s, before the adoption of TCP/IP as a common protocol. She also cautioned against assuming that cryptocurrency will evolve in the same the internet did.
“The internet developed in secret, a little bit,” she said. “People weren't paying attention in the early days.”
As a result, engineers and academics were able to hammer out the technical details of interoperability without business pressures. In contrast, there's an enormous amount of pressure to make money from cryptocurrency projects.
Stating that the current slump may be good for the blockchain projects as unlike the internet projects, crypto projects are under a lot of pressure to create money for investors. Narula further believes that blockchain entrepreneurs should learn from the mistakes of the internet era especially the establishment of monopolistic organizations like Amazon, Google, and Facebook.