Rockefeller’s Venture Arm Starts Investing in Crypto and Blockchain Start-ups

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“We are enlivened by the possibilities here.” So said David Pakman, a partner at the Venrock Venture Capital (VC) firm of none other than the Rockefeller family, prior to announcing a strategic partnership with CoinFund, a crypto focused VC firm of sorts which describes itself as:

“The world’s very first diversified portfolios of cryptoassets, regarding cryptocurrencies and tokens as a radically new asset class.”

Yet Pakman had a lot more to say. An entire manifesto, in fact, which lays out a wholistic vision of a new world. Starting with an analysis of the current one.

“When power is concentrated in the hands of the few, we can predict with reasonably certainty that this power will be exercised in ways not in the interest of the many.”

So Pakman said after arguing “we have a handful of dominant tech platform companies, operating in markets with network effects, wielding enormous market power… we are now faced with an increasingly untenable situation—overwhelming market dominance by platform companies like Google and Facebook, a rather capricious and sometimes arbitrary wielding of their power and responsibility.”

Platform companies. “Facebook offered a developer platform for several years (and Zynga rode that to prominence) before shutting it down leaving developers suffering. Twitter was once developer friendly before they became developer ambivalent, destroying significant goodwill in the dev community it worked so hard to cultivate. Apple’s iOS attracts almost three million developers to build apps for their platform and Android more than six million. Developers, in most cases, make or break the success of platforms,” Pakman says.

Yet these centralized companies tend to shun developers after a certain point of growth, he argues. Thus the wager:

“The real question to ask is, ‘on which platforms will the apps of tomorrow be built?’ My bet is that quite a few decentralized platforms will offer developers a much better deal—far less control and restrictions, long-term platform stability, and more economic gain—and it will be developers that deliver user benefits atop new protocols.”

His idea seems to be of public blockchains as a commons of sorts, owned by everyone or anyone who wants to own a bit of it, with apps and dapps and all sorts built on top.

Unlike the closed gates of Google or Facebook, public blockchains are an open space, he seems to argue, owned by the many, not the few. By the people, not for profit companies.

“Some of the trends are easy to see here. There are tens of thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of developers focused on decentralized protocols, dapps and crypto networks. There remains massive distrust in our institutions and growing anger at the power of the platforms. And the alternative incentive structure is novel and just plain more fair. We sit at an interesting crossroads.”

A crossroad that to us looks like we have crossed, for something very interesting seems to be happening here. A debate was seemingly won. Now the question is no longer whether this thing works or whether it is a thing at all, but what we can do with it.

And if that’s the case, then this is very much the most fun part. When a new understanding is reached. When regulators and the rest can leave us alone after they’ve laid their lines. And when the builders can finally start building.

For it appears a general consensus has been reached that something is happening here, and that something might have immense potential.

 

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