The blockchain and cryptocurrencies might be a big thing. Maybe. Some day. If a lot of things go right.
Don’t take my skeptical word for it, though. That’s more or less the conclusion of one of the field’s true believers, Adam Ludwin, the articulate founder of technology company Chain. (Blockchain.com wasn’t available, he says.) I interviewed Ludwin Tuesday night in San Francisco at a well-attended walk-up dinner for July’s Brainstorm Tech conference.
If the nascent field were populated exclusively by people like Ludwin there’d be far less hype. But that’s not how these things work. He freely admits there is ample noise but also a discernible signal. A decentralized system for managing software applications and for trading money free of government control (read: censorship) has much promise. The problem is that it’s more promise than current value, even less so than was evident in the fledgling “Internet” a generation ago. (Read Jonathan Vanian’s write-up here, where you also can watch the video, as well as Andrew Nusca’s review in today’s CEO Daily.)
Ludwin’s thesis is that we’d be a whole lot less hot and bothered about the blockchain, a word he thinks has lost most of its meaning amidst the hoo-hah, if it didn’t involve money. Because it does it’s easy to get people’s attention—and mindless investment dollars.
Incidentally, Ludwin is a sought-after speaker on this topic because last October he wrote a long memo taking to task cryptocurrency troglodyte Jamie Dimon. Ludwin says Dimon graciously reached out to meet, which the two did in Davos in January. And Ludwin lavished praise on crypto projects J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM, -0.82%) has pursued since.
That’s near proof something will come of this. Maybe. Some day. If a lot of things go right.