Star VC Marc Andreessen is betting big on Bitcoin. Ex JP Morgan Superstar Blythe Master joins Digital Assets to revolutionise the world of settlements through blockchain. Even Goldman Sachs thinks that Bitcoin is a megatrend that will define the future of finance.
All these big names see Bitcoin as a major revolution that will have a profound impact on payment, on settlement, on anything that is linked to the concept of ownership. While I understand their vision, I can’t get my head around the investment case for Bitcoin, in other words I don’t see any of this happening in the near future.
I am not a Bitcoin hardcore fan, but I am not against Bitcoin either. I wrote a while ago that I did not see Bitcoin as a currency, but that in the same way that Arpanet led to the Internet, the concept of blockchain could lead to a real revolution in payments. In other words, an important milestone, but still a very long way from a real implementation.
Today, I still think we are very far from seeing robust implementations for the blockchain and real world implementations, but I hear so many people saying it is THE place to invest.
What are Marc Andreessen, Blythe Masters and others seeing that I don’t see? Or are they having the “mobile payment syndrome” ? (great vision, 15 years in the making, still not there).
To help me answer this question, I enlisted the help of one of the best Bitcoin observers, Ryan Selkis. Ryan has been recognised as the “Most Insigthful Journalist” by Blockchain Award for his blog Two-Bit Idiot’s Daily Bit. He is also the director of investments for the Digital Currency Group – the most active investor in the Bitcoin industry with 50 investments.
Ryan very kindly agreed to start a public email correspondence to help me understand what is really behind Bitcoin. We agreed on the following format:
– We would discuss over email the theme of “Bitcoin, what are the real opportunities today and tomorrow?”
– I would start with a question, then we would see how it goes from there.
– We would keep the discussion to 7 emails for me and 7 for him, with one day to reply to each email.
– Try to use facts and examples, not general statements.
– Honest and nuanced answers, no BS
You’ll find the email correspondence below, but before that, big thanks to Dan Elitzer (MIT Bitcoin Project / MIT FIntech Club) for the nice introduction to Ryan and congrats for all the things happening at MIT.
START OF EMAIL CORRESPONDENCE
From: Huy Nguyen Trieu
Subject: What the real opportunities for Bitcoin?
Date: 12 May 2015
To: Ryan Selkis
Thanks a lot for having this – hopefully ! – honest and constructive email exchange about Bitcoin.
Before jumping into the discussion about Bitcoins, could you tell me about your role at the Digital Currency Group? I understand that you have invested in 50 Bitcoin-related companies, what are the types of companies you have invested in? Could we have split by activity of what they are trying to do ?
Thanks a lot,
Update 18 May 2015. This first experience of email exchanges didn’t pan out as planned! Just after we launched the correspondence, Ryan has been snowed under with urgent projects. So we’re on hold for the moment, will send a Twitter as soon as we’re back on track!