Chris Dixon's Crypto Claims are Logically Flimsy

by Liron1 min read26th Sep 20215 comments

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Cryptocurrency & Blockchain
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In this post, I make heavy use of the power to demolish bad arguments in the domain of crypto claims. The crypto world seems rich with areas where you can save a lot of wasted time and money by simply asking for a specific example of how a crypto project beats the best available alternative from the non-crypto world.

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I don’t understand how Chris’s vision of “cutting out layers of intermediaries” is meaningfully different from what already exists today.

 

There are 5 reasons that blockchain technologies accelerate the pattern of lowering take rate.

  1. A bulk of the data about app usage is available to all competitors on the blockchain, which means that competitors can rapidly converge on useful features and therefore commoditize the app.
  2. In the most popular smart contract platform, Ethereum, each contract by default allows its data and functions to be used by others.  This means that these too can't be used to maintain a competitive advantage.
  3. The smart contract code itself is on the blockchain, which means that if people don't like your take rate, they can fork it to a lower one (see Sushiswap and Uniswap).
  4. Smart contracts are immutable, which provides selection pressure for commoditizable cheap components.
  5. Smart contracts have built into them the concept of metering and programmable money, which incentivizes more granular payment schemes by taking out barrier to entry.

Similar to how open source wasn't "meaningfully different" from what came before in terms of accelerating commoditization, nevertheless it did so by removing "a monopoly on code" as a competitive advantage.  Blockchains like Ethereum do a similar thing for data and users, and they do it in such a way that actually encourage and accelerate lower take rate/commoditization.

I agree with your list of abstract properties; they all seem self-consistent and I would expect them to be more correlated with lower take rate than not. The hardest challenge seems to be to identify specific examples of systems that create enough value from blockchain architecture (enough of a lower take rate) to justify the higher associated costs compared to a non-blockchain system. Most people don’t attempt to do this or don’t realize that their attempts are weak.

I expect most of the major costs (speed, cost, and privacy) to go down significantly in the next 8 years or so, to the point where  building a Dapp will be used a common strategy for companies that need to commoditize their complement, commoditize a sector that a competitor has a monopoly on, or other strategic uses of commoditization.

I think it’s a useful exercise to get specific about one case study, e.g. “a competitor to Spotify that has a lower take rate”. You can then make a claim like yours and also compare it with someone’s best claim about what will be possible with non-blockchain alternatives in 8 years.

I think judging individual entrant moves, especially 8 years out, is not very realistic. Rather, I'd say something like "I expect at least 3 of the major tech companies to have a Dapp with at least 10 million Monthly Active Users within 10 years"