big themes, big ideas, big journeys & paths
We’re back, and with an omnibus edition! If you enjoy reading these newsletters, please be sure to share this link with others who are interested in going deeper on crypto, web3, and the future of the internet. If you haven’t already, be sure to also subscribe to ‘web3 with a16z’ wherever you get your podcasts for all-new episodes dropping soon; and, follow us @a16zcrypto on Twitter and on Farcaster…
1. Big theme: progressive decentralization
Decentralization is more top of mind than ever. So in this special feature, we highlight the latest, just-published pieces — as well as previously published relevant resources on the topic — from us and others:
A high-level framework for progressive decentralization by Jad Esbers & a16z crypto’s Scott Kominers (January 2023) — on designing for future decentralization up front, including guidance for both web3 projects and more traditional organizations on how and when to decentralize.
How decentralization through a blockchain can bring value to your business [article] + the value of decentralization using blockchains [video] by guest contributor Marco Reuter (January 2023) — on proposing a game theoretic model of a network where an entrepreneur decides to retain control of the network with centralized implementation through a regular company, or surrenders control to users with a decentralized implementation (through the “credible commitment” of a blockchain). But how do “lock-in effects” play here?
Decentralization for builders: principles, models, how by a16z crypto’s Miles Jennings (April 2022) — Decentralization is the difference between “don’t be evil” and “can’t be evil” when a company CEO decides one course or another on behalf of countless users. So Jennings shares specific models and principles of decentralization across several use cases, and how they apply in practice.
Progressive decentralization by Jesse Walden (January 2020). While at a16z crypto, Walden shared a three-step process proposing progressive decentralization for those building applications on smart contract platforms — outlining three components of success: product/market fit, community participation, and sufficient decentralization (community ownership). [see also: This later followup, a tactical playbook from Marc Boiron on “Sufficient decentralization” (August 2022).]
…more from around the web/ see also:
The era of decentralization by Packy McCormick [also a16z crypto advisor] (November 2022) — Crypto is not the cause, but the symptom, of a larger trend towards decentralization as the world oscillates between centralization and decentralization… with progress sloping upward through the turns. And the current era of greater decentralization will play out on all fronts — from geopolitics and energy to finance, education, journalism, and more — driven by technologies including the internet. But this newly decentralized era will also require new infrastructure and organizing principles that can adapt to the complexity inherent in decentralized systems.
2. Big ideas 2023: Just a few of the things we’re excited about in crypto
Michael Blau, Joseph Bonneau, Noah Citron, Valeria Nikolaenko, Carra Wu, Guy Wuollet, Michael Zhu
This list from some of our a16z crypto partners across the engineering, research, and investing teams has something for everyone:
from new possibilities for developers — such as “blockchain’s mobile moment”, to more developer onboarding for zero knowledge
to key advancements such as VDF hardware; and advancements in zero knowledge, multi-party computation, and post-quantum crypto
to “non-transferable tokens” and various web3 applications that will be built on top of not just this primitive, but also with decentralized identifiers and verifiable credentials
as well as other trends crossing industries… including on-chain gaming, and decentralized energy.
related: On the theme of “blockchain’s mobile moment”, see also Helios — a fast, portable, and secure Ethereum light client written in Rust that allows users to access secure chain data from any device, including mobile phones and browser extensions — which we made available to the public to build on and more.
3. Big journeys & paths: Creators, creativity, technology
Bob Iger, Chris Dixon, Sonal Chokshi; Emily Yang/ pplpleasr
We sat down with longtime CEO of Disney Bob Iger (in an intimate chat recorded in Los Angeles a few months ago) to discuss the interplay between technology, content, and distribution… Especially as it evolved from TV and cable, to web 1.0/ internet, to web 2.0 including streaming and advertising models, and now to web3; and other emerging technologies like VR and AR. The conversation also touches on other top-of-mind topics for many in web3 and beyond, including: managing brands and IP; decentralized orgs; remote work; "build vs buy" and navigating the innovator’s dilemma; and how to manage creatives, give creative feedback, and build creative processes for innovation. (Plus some fun behind-scenes details on Black Panther, Avatar, and more!)
Hearing directly from creators: Multidisciplinary artist Emily Yang aka pplpleasr went from working on visual effects — her credits include feature films like Batman v Superman, Wonder Woman, and Star Trek Beyond as well as commercials and game cinematics — to defining “the look” of the DeFi movement and creating Fortune magazine’s first NFT cover. Now the co-founder of decentralized content studio and creator platform Shibuya, Yang shared her journey as a creator — and the various forks, paths, and culmination of it all — in an interactive-storytelling talk at our recent Founders Summit. [You can also find a past talk with Yang on "Why DAOs matter for digital art", in conversation with a16z crypto's Arianna Simpson, at our NFT Summit (May 2021) here.]
watch the talk
…2022 > 2023
--Sonal Chokshi and the a16z crypto team
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