Quotable (#15)

Marc Andreessen (interviewed by Brian Fung) determinedly messes with some complacent assumptions:

… we sort of have a theory on … where really disruptive technologies come from. So the really new disruptive technologies come from the fringe. This was true of PCs. Steve Jobs was, like, a hippie. Internet came from the fringe. No big technology company thought the Internet was going to be important, right up until basically 1995 or 1996.

Bitcoin is the classic instance of that. Bitcoin didn’t come from Citibank; it didn’t come from the Federal Reserve; it didn’t come from Visa. It came from the fringe. And now Bitcoin is in the early stages of mainstreaming today. And the signs that it’s in the early stages of mainstreaming are mainstream venture capital firms funding mainstream startups, employing mainstream engineers to build services that’ll be used by mainstream people. You’ve got big companies that are not yet doing a lot with it, but are looking very seriously at it. So every big bank has people that are trying to figure out what to do with Bitcoin; every big e-commerce company has people that are trying to figure out Bitcoin. You have mainstream regulators figuring it out; you’ve got people at the Federal Reserve, and the Treasury Department and IRS that are figuring it out. At the state level, people are engaged on it. And so, it’s in the early stages of mainstreaming.

[…]

Anybody who thinks Bitcoin makes it easier to do transactions that aren’t tracked by the government is 100 percent wrong. The transactions all happen in public view. Anybody can look at the entire ledger and verify who owns what. So if you’re a law enforcement agency or an intelligence agency, this is a much easier way to track the flow of money than cash. So I think actually law enforcement and intelligence agencies are going to wind up being pro-Bitcoin, and libertarians are going to wind up being anti-Bitcoin.

Andreessen forecasts a Bitcoin-based virtual-industry worth “trillions” of dollars:

Digital stocks. Digital equities. Digital fundraising for companies. Digital bonds. Digital contracts, digital keys, digital title, who owns what — digital title to your house, to your car. Like for example, you get a digital title on a car, attached to a digital key, where you own your car on the Bitcoin blockchain and on your smartphone. The key for opening your car and starting your car is tied to that title. And if I sell you my car, automatically you get title, and you get the key that lets you operate the car, and it’s all digital, and it’s all unique, and it can’t be cracked. You’ve got digital voting, digital contracts, digital signatures. You’ve got unique pieces of digital content. If you guys wanted to know exactly who had every piece of content you ever made, you can track that. It’s this long list. And then every aspect of financial services: insurance contracts, insurance derivatives, currency exchange, remittance — on and on and on. It gives you a chance to basically go after this very broad category of online business in a new way.

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