There was a time when Silicon Valley inspired. When they promised a flat earth and disruption of industries, but that ambition slowly waned as what once were nimble start-ups became giant global corporations handling hundreds of billions.
Google, once the darling of the internet, is now seen by some as an old, bloated dinosaur, acting monopolistically, and with far too much power over information for they control the order of websites, with the ability to erase fully all sorts of topics, temporarily or otherwise, and no one might even notice.
Facebook, a country now of 2 billion, does little else but copy others, with their creativity levels almost nonexistent, giving an opening to more nimble competitors, such as KiK, which today announced they are to offer an ICO through ethereum’s blockchain.
It has been some time now since the meme rose that the best in Silicon Valley are spending their awesome brain capacity on getting your mother to click some ads. Since that awareness was raised, many of the best went on a lookout. Can Zug’s Crypto Valley be it?
The idyllic pleasant land, surrounded by mountains, in an historically neutral country which claims to have the “world’s most decentralized, stable, neutral political system,” has naturally evolved into a hub of sorts for public blockchain companies.
The reasons aren’t very hard to see. As the political climate became worse and worse in America during recent years, a nice remote place, in mountainous surroundings, at the heart of Europe, next to Germany, Italy, France and very close to Britain, sounds like a good idea – far better than New Zealand in any event, proposed by some from Silicon Valley as a potential escape in worse case events.
That’s where the Ethereum Foundation is based, a non-profit which today became the best funded and richest blockchain company, holding assets, mostly based on eth, currently valued at nearly $200 million.
It’s where Melonport is based too, a hedge fund of sorts running on ethereum’s network. It’s where Akasha, a decentralized social network that uses IPFS for storage with an eth twist for incentives to contribute, is based too.
Then there are other blockchain businesses, like Xapo, making it a unique cluster of innovation similar to what Silicon Valley was before it became Silicon Valley. But can it really claim to be a successor?
Switzerland is remote. A safe place when times may be testing, but with one significant disadvantage when times are booming as we may now be starting to experience. The Swiss don’t speak English.
They are near to everything, but at the same time, far from it all. They do have many companies which do act as a driving force globally, but generally, Switzerland isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of leadership.
That’s in Britain and USA for now, with China standing there too. But could that change? Could a European dream rise, with the Crypto Valley standing as its poster boy showing off to the entire world?
A number of organizations, including ConsenSys, UBS, PwC, Thomson Reuters, Luxoft, Canton of Zug, and Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, have founded the government-supported Crypto Valley Association.
It’s their way of backing the innovators and showing their encouragement, not quite altruistically but because they see potential. Even if it does not pay off, the gamble would be insignificant, but with the boom we are experiencing, they would be right to think of themselves as astute pioneers.
Because whether Crypto Valley does or does not become a thing, like Silicon Valley, blockchain technology, and especially ethereum, does have one thing Silicon Valley now seems to lack.
Ethereum inspires, while Silicon Valley has become all about yet another social network, a numb dinosaur. Ethereum is its brain child, reviving that dream those who built Silicon Valley had when they were building it.
When you now think of Silicon Valley, you no longer think of a flat earth, empowering individuals, but of corporations with their walls. When you think of Ethereum, you see the many industries that could be disrupted, including Silicon Valley itself if they don’t adapt, for the technology once more promises to bring down walls.
Whether that promise will be brought about by the physical Crypto Valley, or whether its innovative power is more clustered around with no center, remains to be seen. But what can be said with some reasonable confidence is that Crypto Valley just sounds cool, something which could previously be said about Silicon Valley, but can’t really any longer.