2023: The path ahead for web3

It's almost 2023 and so many things like search, my social graph, my reputation and all of my Internet data is still siloed into a universe of tiny buckets replicated and uncorrelated such that it's almost useless. And that's why web3 is inevitable.

If you were in web3, you might think 2022 would be the year we'd all want to forget. If this isn't your first down-turn rodeo, you're just getting excited about things.

We're in a what could be called a disruptive technology cycle. If you doubt that, there is plenty of reading on it. I got laughed out of the room during both web1 and web2 on multiple occasions and it turned out prevailing wisdom was wrong. Same thing is happening here with web3. Why might you ask? Great question and the answer might surprise you in not being "well, because!" or "3 is after 2!".

First off, Gen Z is coming of age and their future spending habits will shape not only the cultural zeitgeist but also the ways technology will be consumed and adopted. This is a generation that has only known ubiquitous computing. Hasn't heard a ring tone or modem screech. This generation is ever connected and more "social" than ever, although what it means to be "social" has changed considerably as this is the first generation where the job title "influencer" is actually a thing. So much of Gen Z already has multiple personas on the Internet and it has been foundational in enabling the rifts we see in society today.

Secondly, web3 is a natural immune response to the centralization that occurred during the rise of web2. While we hear so much about the tales of money stolen by web3 fraudsters, the same thing happened during web2 with the only difference being the currency wasn't fiat; it was people's data. This centralization has led to a range of inefficiencies that need new Internet-wide protocols to solve. It's 2023 and so many things like search, my social graph, my reputation and all of my Internet data is siloed into a universe of tiny buckets replicated and uncorrelated such that it's almost useless.

And that's why web3 is inevitable.

Make no mistake; 2023 is going to see a lot more turmoil and pain for web3. We still haven't unraveled the house-of-cards that is Binance or Tether. We haven't even unraveled the entirety of the FTX mess yet. All those things will come to light soon and we'll see more dips and crashes as we flush out the system. Let's be honest; do we really need 2,000 different utility tokens for web3 to work? Absolutely not. People don't know or care about the technology and they shouldn't have to. Use cases pull people forward.

No Predictions, Just Pragmatism

Everybody makes predictions about the coming year. Heck, I even do it. Like most people, I get it REALLY wrong. Instead, I want to use the rest of this post to cover the things I think web3 needs to do this year to get back on track and start to see some successes as we dip into the darkness and towards the dawn.

  • US Regulation - FTX and Terra were massive train wrecks. SBF and Do Kwon were definitely to blame there but I put some of this on US lawmakers. Here in the US, web3 companies have to tip toe around what the SEC may or may not do and because of that companies have fled in droves taking users and money with them to unregulated playgrounds. And guess what happens? Shit like FTX and Terra are what happens. The US has got to pass meaningful regulation that doesn't just get crafted by someone trying to sneak their way into King/Queen status and shut the door for everyone behind them. We need regulation that will enable 1,000 new unicorns to flourish and do so here in the US. That said, had the SEC been in charge of the Internet back in the 90s, we'd all still be sending faxes today.
  • No winner in web3 - There isn't a single person or face of crypto. There will not be a clear "winner". If you can frame it on the cover of a magazine, then it isn't web3. How many times does the general narrative around the genius of tech innovators need to get wrapped around an axle before we stop holding that up as the benchmark? web3 is going to be a 10 year march with ups-and-downs and if someone comes along and says they have it all solved and that they or their company is the answer, run. Run far away. When web3 succeeds it will be in hindsight with a thousand tiny points of light in the form of successful companies and communities rallied around a common cause and all interwoven and working seamlessly together.
  • Transparency and collaboration - What's happening in web3 is so much like the open source movement from the early 2000's it's crazy. The difference today is we have a substrate of pervasive technology and an interconnectedness that didn't exist during the open source run. Everyone is getting to play in web3 and it's happening at a global scale. Open source succeeded through transparency of code and collaboration of communities. We need to shift away from the opaque promises of tech innovators to a world that leans heavily on transparency and collaboration. That will be the key to success for web3.

We have been heads down building something really special that we think will be a part of this interconnected eco-system that is called web3 and we're excited to bring it to the masses in 2023. Happy New Year and see you next year!