With the recent talk of reddit being cannibalized by bitcoin technology, I thought it a good time to post something I’ve been thinking about for a while. Could a completely decentralized startup one day rival the likes of Google, Facebook and Amazon?
Within the bitcoin world there’s a common understanding that the most valuable thing about bitcoin is not the monetary currency but the underlying “blockchain” technology that the bitcoin currency runs on. For those unfamiliar, you can check out three heavily-funded ventures creating infrastructure that would enable anyone to program applications on the blockchain that go way beyond monetary currencies: Ethereum,Swarm and Blockstream.
One such application is what’s known as a “Distributed Autonomous Organization,” which is an organization like a corporation, government or NGO, but which has no central leadership and uses internet technologies to organize and function. Examples of DAOs that you are familiar with include open-source software systems like Linux; terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda; communities like Anonymous; and …
- Startups add an average of 3 million jobs in their first year, while older companies lose 1 million jobs annually. (ref)
- Without startups, job growth in the US would be negative 1.2 percent. (ref)
- Angel investments created 370,000 U.S. jobs in 2010, nearly half of the private sector jobs created that year. (ref)
- 265,400 individuals provided $20.1B in angel investment capital to a total of 61,900 entrepreneurial ventures in 2010. (ref)
- In contrast, the private equity industry invested $180B in 2010. (ref)
- Historically, angels invest $50B per year into 50,000 companies, representing 70% of capital for new ventures; 11 times more than the amount provided by Venture Capitalists. (ref)
- The long-term historical return of the U.S. Angel market is 27% annually, three times higher than the public stock market. (ref)
- Warren Buffett’s historical return is 24% annually. (ref)
- Venture Capital historical returns are around 20%, but over the
The following quotes are from a book describing a real set of events:
[The incident] is an extraordinary example of what happens when you get… a dozen people with an average IQ of 160… working in a field in which they collectively have 250 years of experience… employing a ton of leverage.
It’s hard to overstate the significance of a [government-led] rescues of a private [corporation]. If a [company], however large was too big to fail, then what large [company] would ever be allowed to collapse? The government risked becoming the margin of safety. No serious consequences had come about in the end from the… near-meltdown.
Was the incident:
a) The savings and loan scandal
b) The collapse of Enron
c) The sub-prime mortgage meltdown
d) none of the above
First correct answer gets to invest in an exciting new bridge project I’m involved with in New York!…
The Freakonomics guys have been on this rant for years, and until recently, I agreed with their logic. But the mounting evidence (in my mind) is starting to swing the other way.…
I have been having a 140 character discussion with Ciarán Brewster (@macbruski) via twitter. And while it’s kind of interesting to force complex subject matter into very few characters, it is limiting the discussion, so I will summarize it so far here and hopefully others can weigh in too.…
A friend pointed me to a doubly prescient talk given by George Soros in 1994 about his theory of reflexivity in the markets. Essentially Soros notes that there’s feedback in terms of what agents believe about the market and how the market behaves. Not groundbreaking, but he takes this thinking to some logical conclusions which are in contrast to standard economic theory:…
I’m giving my “2009 Q1 award for most concise, lucid comment” to Paul Phillips for this gem:
Viewed from a thousand miles, the financial system has a incalculably large incentive to fail catastrophically as frequently as it can do so without killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.
As long as there is such a thing as “too big to fail” and trillions of dollars are available for siphoning, according to what logic can this cycle be dampened? Nobody has to explicitly pursue this outcome (although there are many who will) for it to be inevitable; the system obeys its own logic above all else.
[ commenting on Alfred Hubler on Stabilizing CAS ]
With his permission, I am posting an email thread between myself and Alfred Hubler. I had contacted him on the recommendation of John Miller when Kevin and I were posting on the possibility of dampening boom-bust cycles in the financial markets through policy or other mechanisms. Here’s what Hubler had to say:…
I asked this question on twitter/facebook and got a lot of variants of “I agree” and only one person who stated disagreement (but provided inadequate reason, IMO). Jay Greenspan put it this way:
Interesting question this morning, and something I’ve been wondering about. I’ve yet to see anyone really argue that state of non-regulation we’ve been in for the last years has been a good idea. I’ve heard some thoughtful conservatives talk about how their views have changed radically — coming to understand that forceful regulation is absolutely necessary.
The super-conservatives I’ve seen are talking more about taxes, avoiding the subject. I’d be very interested to see a credible argument for a hands-off approach.
So how about it, anyone game to take up a considered argument for not mandating that companies who get big enough to affect the global economy should be broken up or otherwise handicapped?…
The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government—a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises. If the IMF’s staff could speak freely about the U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent a true depression, we’re running out of time.
I have a bet with a friend that Dow will exceed 14,000 at least once by October 12, 2012 (he says it won’t).
Click here to make your prediction on what year that will take place.
Comment below on why you think what you think.…
In a March 2009 Wired article, Daniel Roth calls for radical transparency in financial reporting as the path to recovery and a more secure financial system. He argues that the reporting requirements today allow companies to obscure what’s going on and that the way to fix things is as follows. Embrace a markup language with which bite-sized chunks of standardly defined pieces of financial data are thrown out to the world so that users can crowdsource the true picture of a company’s financial health.…
In Chasing the Dragon, I wondered aloud whether we could dampen boom-bust cycles in the financial system with an economic equivalent of a controlled burn. Kevin suggested that “generic countercyclical policies” might work. Underlying both mine and Kevin’s thinking is the idea that you can possibly do better (for the world as a whole) by (a) understanding the entire economic system better and (b) enacting policies which are in line with that understanding. In contrast to these assumptions are a point of view articulated by one of the readers on a different thread:…
Kevin just posted about a great article by Felix Salmon in Wired. I underlined three quotes in my reading of it:
- “Correlation trading has spread through the psyche of the financial markets like a highly infectious thought virus.” (Tavakoli)
- “…the real danger was created not because any given trader adopted it but because every trader did. In financial markets, everybody doing the same thing is the classic recipe for a bubble and inevitable bust.” (Salmon)
- “Co-association between securities is not measurable using correlation…. Anything that relies on correlation is charlatanism.” (Taleb)
Rafe makes an analogy to cells within a multicellular organism. How does this support the assertion that there will only be one superorganism and that we will need to subjugate our needs to its own? Obviously, there are many multicellular organisms. Certainly, there are many single-celled organisms that exist outside of multicelluar control today. So where is the evidence that there will be only one and that people won’t be able to opt out in a meaningful sense?
I would love to use Google “In Quotes” to crowdsource measures of truth.
For instance, I just saw this:
“In a world of hostile and unstable suppliers of oil, this nation will achieve strategic independence by 2025,” said Mr. McCain during a campaign speech. [ Wed, 29 Oct 2008 Washington Times ]