Why 2019 Will Be The Year Of The DAO

6 Trends Likely To Drive Experimentation With Decentralized Organizations

We’ll be talking about this and much more at AraCon, the Aragon community’s first ever large event happening in Berlin at the end of this month.


One story in crypto is the price story — how speculative investments in cryptoassets are performing. In 2018, that story wasn’t so positive, seeing a massive return to earth after 2017’s run up broke gravity.

Another part of the crypto story, however, is the evolution of the underlying tech stack. Still another is the broader global social context that creates a need for those decentralized, censorship-resistant technologies. In those contexts, 2018 tells a very different story.

At Aragon, we sit at an interesting vantage point, not only developing technology but getting to watch as hundreds of projects and organizations start to build on top of that technology. From where we sit, 2019 is poised to be the year of the DAO. Here’s why.

DAOs: What Are They Good For?

First, by way of set up, let’s quickly review some of the characteristics of decentralized organizations and the use cases that those characteristics suit them for.

Decentralized organizations are good at:

  • Coordinating resources when not all parties know one another (or don’t know each other well enough to trust one another deeply)
  • Aligning large numbers of stakeholder contributions towards shared goals
  • Running organizations in a way that is resistant to censorship
  • Tracking and validating participation and contribution to a project
  • Accommodating a variety of levels of contribution
  • Allowing people and entities to contribute work in a jurisdiction-agnostic fashion, regardless of the rules of the physical location where they’re contributing from
  • Nimble setup, especially relative to traditional organization structures

This set of characteristics lend themselves to huge numbers of possible use cases, but a few broad categories that stand out as most relevant are:

Businesses constrained by the existing system, in terms of things like complication around the nature of contributions (i.e. difficulty of fitting people in the box of employee, contractor, etc); jurisdictional issues (i.e. the challenge of operating globally in anything resembling an efficient manner); or regulatory issues — which doesn’t necessarily mean that the business is doing something nefarious, but more that regulation in its jurisdiction hasn’t caught up yet.

Social and political movements that have a mismatch between their reality — which can be highly dynamic, temporary, and built around small diverse actions from a wide variety of contributors — and the organizational forms available to them, which tend to assume long-term existence, similarity of contribution, and fixedness of purpose over time.

Networks such as online communities that start as informal but who wish to be able to coordinate more formal, tangible action.

Global Trends Incentivizing DAOs

Once we understand what DAOs are useful for and what types of organizations they tend to beget, the next question becomes what are the global macro trends that would lead people to want to build those types of organizations or have those types of use cases? A set of trends stand out.

Globalization Of Talent & Transformation Of “Work”

There are actually many dimensions of how global work is changing but two stand out as it relates to the emergence of DAOs. The first is that talent is more global than it has ever been. As businesses try to recruit that talent, they face massive jurisdictional and regulatory headaches as the current legal system was not organized to accommodate transnational workers. This creates a major financial incentive to organize global work differently.

Another dimension of the changes in work is the nature of what work itself is. In the industrial era and even so far in the information era, “work” has still largely fallen under employment or contract buckets. But what happens when units of work are micro contributions of time, data, processing power etc that don’t fit in any previous legal framework? As new decentralized digital infrastructure is being built, it is exactly these types of “work” that are coming to the fore. New types of work require new modes of organization.

Well-Resourced Stakeholder Networks Needing Coordination

The last few years saw significant financial resources flow into decentralized, open source project ecosystems. These ecosystems promise a different way of doing business to their contributors, including more transparency and even stakeholder empowerment around how those funds are used. These sort of stakeholder-driven communities already need tools for coordination, and this need is significantly increased when those communities are charged with allocating millions of dollars.

Emergence of Decentralized Finance

One of the most important growth and usage stories in crypto last year was the emergence of open, decentralized finance protocols. Today, hundreds of millions of dollars are locked up in permissionless loans and collateralized debt products that simply couldn’t have existed a few years ago. These decentralized finance tools are creating entirely new categories of business opportunity. At the same time, however, these opportunities exist in a total regulatory gray area, so many are turning to DAOs as a sandbox to experiment outside of traditional organization models.

Normalization Of Participation In Governance

People’s expectations are shaped by what is normal and familiar to them. In line with the growth in resources for open source stakeholder communities, there is also a growing belief that stakeholders should have a hand in guiding the decision making of those communities. As governance experiments both on-chain and off-chain become commonplace, the net aggregate impact is the normalization of participation. In other words, the more people are invited to participate in decision making around the communities they belong to, the more they come to expect that right. This creates motivation for organizations to have systems to incorporate the voices and perspectives of their stakeholders in a more direct and routine way.

Deplatforming Grows As An Issue

For much of the young history of Web3, questions of censorship of centralized social platforms were more theoretical than real. We understood, increasingly, that we had lost control of our data, with its own set of consequences, but there wasn’t yet much evidence of platforms asserting editorial control over who could and couldn’t participate. Early in 2019, however, deplatforming has emerged as a more significant issue, with numerous theoretically uncensorable alternatives to social media and fundraising platforms emerging. Whether this is a real issue or a political football and feigned controversy remains to be seen. However, what’s for sure is that a number of prominent voices are using their bully pulpits to put it in the spotlight.

Upswing In Political/Social Organization

The last few years have seen a decided upswing in global social and political action. Importantly, this is not just a phenomena of the developing world, but is sweeping the Global West as well. From Brexit in the UK to the election of Donald Trump in the US to the #MeToo movement to the Yellow Vests in France, the world is heaving. As discontent rises, people are looking for ways to channel that frustration into action. It seems likely that as better coordination tools become available, they’ll find a ready audience with those who want to transform the world around them, and don’t have time to wait for bureaucratic organizations to catch up.

Putting it all together

If these trends are driving interest in and need for DAOs, the next question is who is creating the technology infrastructure to actually experiment with new forms of organization?

While it is still very early days, 2019 is kicking off with significant energy in this direction, including dedicated DAO platforms, applications built for those ecosystems, and even protocols experimenting with decentralized governance.

When it comes to new forms of work and organizations, in many ways the entire blockchain space is an experiment, as mining, validating, staking etc all represent new forms of work that are absolutely vital but quite new. The large and growing conversation around “generalized mining” is reshaping how we think about organizing businesses around these types of work.

Other examples of projects playing in the sandbox of new forms of working include Gitcoin, which allows the open source community to incentivize and monetize their work; Espresso, a decentralized datastore that integrates with aragonOS to let DAO teams share files without relying on Dropbox or Google Drive; and Planning Suite, another Aragon app offering a collaborative planning model enabling multiple different groups of stakeholders within an open source or decentralized organization to coordinate the use of shared resources. Finally, one of the most interesting projects in this space is Pando, which actually transforms creative projects that have multiple collaborators — from books to music to video games — into DAOs.

With regard to stakeholder networks needing coordination, there are a number of projects at varying levels of development. Giveth, for example, is creating an architecture for Decentralized Altruistic Communities, an alternative to traditional nonprofits that allow people to organize around causes and collaborate to allocate resources. Another buzzy-but-not-yet-launched project in the space is Moloch, an open source approach to allow communities to fund shared infrastructure, with more information purportedly coming at ETHDenver in February.

Examples in the Decentralized Finance space are incredibly numerous. MakerDAO is an increasingly important piece of the puzzle, with more than 1.75% of ETH locked as collateral in Collateralized Debt Positions of CDPs. Compound Finance allows token holders to earn interest on their tokens. Dharma is building a protocol for credit on blockchains that can support numerous types of lending products. In short, DeFi is one of the most exciting areas pushing the boundaries of how you can reimagine organizational structures even in key market activities.

In the realm of governance, 2019 is posed to see a Cambrian explosion of experimental governance models move from theory to practice. 0x is in the midst of a transition to community governance. At the end of last year Melon unveiled more about its proposed governance approach. These represent just some of the approaches that will allow us to learn and see how decentralized governance works in practice this year.

Deplatforming is also in an interesting trend as it relates to real action. There are, of course, some prominent alternatives to incumbent social networks — such as Gab and Mastodon both trying to create alternatives to Twitter. More recently, there have been some announcements about projects that seek to replace Patreon and Kickstarter. And just in the last week or two, 0xchan was announced, which includes developers who worked on POWH3D. In short, it should be an interesting year for decentralized alternatives to social media and funding platforms.

Finally, when it comes to political and social organizations, the use of DAOs remains to be seen. There are some projects working on infrastructure, like Giveth mentioned above. The exciting thing to see, however, will be whether emergent political and social organizations in the numerous relevant contexts around the world, from Rojava in Syria to the 2020 US election cycle to the Venezuelan crypto community, will turn to tools like Aragon and the apps in its ecosystem as they come online.

In short, when you look at both the trends pointing in their direction and the infrastructure around DAOs that is quickly coming online, it’s hard not to be excited about the possibilities for the year(s) to come.

If you’re interested in these topics, we encourage you to check out AraCon, the Aragon community’s first ever large event happening in Berlin at the end of this month.

Thanks to John Light, Nathaniel Whittemore, Luis Cuende, Lucija Matic for the many inputs.

Decentralized organizations are the future: why I’m joining Aragon

A personal journey towards decentralized organizations

For some reason, I’ve been thinking about autonomous, decentralized organizations since 2013.

Corporations today look exactly the same as the Dutch East India Company: a piece of paper with some rules written on it. There’s no “actual” corporation, as Yuval Noah Harari would say, it’s just a nice shared fiction that we create and believe in.

To create one, you have to spend thousands of dollars on lawyer fees, beg banks to open an account for it, pay tons of taxes, only to get some pieces of paper that only work is a specific jurisdiction!

Corporations have been the core driver of innovation from the industrial revolution till today, and to think that they haven’t evolved at all is just plain crazy.

This essentially means that the amount of innovation in the world today is constrained by these antiquated legal structures.

So, since 2013 I’ve been thinking about how to solve this problem, and this is the story of how this process brought me to Aragon today.


Let’s do a quick detour to the summer of 2011, soon after landing in SF, as I pushed my way into a test day at a small startup few people had heard of at the time. They were not hiring for the role I wanted and didn’t for years to come, but I had a magnetic pull to it.

So I joined 7 or 8 people in a Hacienda-looking cute small house in downtown Palo Alto for a day. Most of them were from MIT and wicked smart. Two were crazy Irish teenage brothers, who had founded it.

The company was Stripe and the feeling I had while being there is the reason this post is starting with this little anecdote, which I’ll come back to later.


But the real story begins in April 2013, when I opened up a fresh new blank Google Doc and started typing: BitCorp.

You can tell my first kid was just a few weeks old

The idea was as simple as it gets:

A new framework for creating modern, anonymous corporations.

BitCorp enables anyone to create a digital corporation, not bound by any sovereign legal and fiscal framework. The corporation’s activities are run in Bitcoin.

The idea came to me because of how hard and expensive it was to create new companies for small projects and collaborations.

This was a period when I was extremely interested in Bitcoin (and had been since 2010) and its future potential both as the default SoV as well as a permissionless financial transaction tool.

The features I had in mind where also very simple:


  • Create a corporation (Decide number of shares, Assign first shares to users, Create roles (CEO, Board Members))
  • Hosted company Bitcoin account
  • Issue new shares
  • Receive investments
  • Define voting and control rules (“xx% of common shares votes needed for transactions higher than xx Bitcoins”)

POST MVP features included of approval of enforceable budgets, shares classes and even an IPO Market. Turned out I should have called it an ICO market, but who could have known 🤷‍.

What wasn’t simple was the implementation of all of this.

Screenshots from my Elevatr app notes

This is still 2013, the ideas of Colored Coins and smart contracts are starting to float around, but there is still obviously no Ethereum on the horizon, and even though I had graduated in Computer Engineering, my coding is limited to Rails scaffolded web apps.

This means that my only possible implementation is that of a centralized web app that fundamentally operates around a shared Bitcoin wallet. But centralization, when building things at the edge of old-school regulations, means a guarantee of shutdown or worse.

So, aside from chatting about the idea with a few people in Cafe Centro, I mostly park it.

2015, not quite there yet

A cold email from a fellow Sandboxer makes the idea resurface: this young Argentinian guy wanted to build something very close to my original idea, using the blockchain to time-stamp and proof data, he called it BitCorporations.

The time was still not right yet for this idea to work though, and after a while they decided to abandon the project. Fortunately, they turned all of their work into what today is Zeppelin!

In the meantime, I had participated in the Ethereum pre-sale and saw it go live, but I was running a startup and a small fund at the same time, so couldn’t focus too much on it. But it was clear that it was the future.

2017, discovering Aragon

Fast forward to one day in early 2017, when I discovered Aragon, a project started by a couple of Spanish teenagers who were building exactly what I had in mind, and doing it the proper, decentralized way — with very little regard for the status quo, and a naivety about the scope and difficulty that only young idealists can have.

View at Medium.com

After following them for a bit, it turned out that Jorge was an incredible developer with a mind wired for decentralized organizations (as can be seen in his early posts) and Luis was an idealistic leader who just couldn’t function in a world run by centralized organizations.

The potential of the team was as clear as it can get.

In May 2017 I participated in their token sale, and continued to be a fan and friend ever since finally meeting Luis live at the first Unplug retreat.

2018, the execution year

This year was quite spectacular for followers of the Aragon project, with continued product shipping, culminating with their recent mainnet release.

Contemplating the fact that today it’s possible for anyone in the world to spin-up a decentralized organization thanks to aragonOS (a marvel of smart contract engineering) and the Aragon client app, is pretty mind blowing.

Aragon is live, and you can create organization with shares, shared finances, custom permissions, votes and more

There are infinite articles or examples that can be used to explain just why this is one of the highest quality projects I’ve ever seen, but to me, two of the most telling signs of Aragon’s pioneering in this new decentralized world are their extreme transparency focus and their announcement of the decentralization of its development.

Aragon is setting the standard in transparency, with all of its expenses and treasury movements made public as well as a direct view into the treasury wallet at all times.

And it is setting the standard in decentralized governance and development as well. It is the first team to intentionally explode itself into a decentralized network and actively incentivize other teams to collaborate (and maybe even compete in the future) with itself by providing them funding.

View at Medium.com

Luis and Jorge want Aragon to be around not because it’s their baby, but because it’s important and needs to exist in the world. And I share that feeling.

The future

Back to the 2011 Stripe story: the only time I’ve ever re-lived that 2011 feeling was when I visited the Aragon team in Zug a few weeks ago.

Sitting with Patrick, John, Billy, Greg (who went on to co-found OpenAI) and the rest of the Stripe team, it was clear that they were about to transform the online commerce world and with it unleashing a whole new wave of innovation.

Listening to Luis and Jorge explain the Aragon core infrastructure and what its future looks like felt eerily similar, and I think speaks to the quality and potential of this team.

(I also don’t think it’s a coincidence that Stripe ended up playing in the same space with the launch of Atlas.)

I think that Aragon is one of the most important projects that have come out of the decentralized computing movement in the past few years, with a clear potential to radically transform how people interact, collaborate and transact in the real-world.

In the 21st century it is frankly absurd to be living in a world made of borders and barriers.

I envision a world where people all around the world can collaborate and transact in freedom, where capital is not the chief divinity ruling all of our lives and environments, where we let go of elites and aristocracies and where stupid barriers to progress and innovation are torn down when they stop making sense.

Organizations should be spun up and wound down as needed. They should be extremely flexible, being able to implement any type of governance. They should be global by default and not bound by any rigid legislature.

Anyone, anywhere in the world should be able to spin up a cooperative, corporation, association or any other type of organization and use it to collaborate and transact with other people around the world.

People should be able to do so in low-trust environments, with the guarantee that what’s encoded in the software can’t be changed, and that in certain situations final judgment can be delegated to a 21st century court system.

And as we move towards an AI-infused world, it’s also likely that different AIs and smart objects will need structures to interact with each other.

As you can see, the amount of innovation that Aragon can unleash is limitless.

Helping Aragon for me means helping move the world towards what it should actually have been for a while already, and I couldn’t be more excited to join the Aragon Association as its first Executive Director.

The Aragon Association’s mission is to ensure the development of the Aragon Network. Specifically, this means managing its treasury and funding teams to build out the core parts of the ecosystem.

We already have two teams building on it, and are looking for more.

You can think of this role as a temporary overseeing of the Association’s activities and treasury, while we figure out how to render it completely irrelevant (like every other physical jurisdiction-bound paper-based legal entity) and transition all of the governance to the Aragon Network itself.

I will be hiring a small team to make sure all of this happens, so if you are as excited as I am about the potential for decentralized organizations, you should reach out.

Additionally, we are organizing the first ever Aracon in Berlin in January, and that’s the perfect place to come learn about how organizations will work in the future and what you can build with Aragon today.

Transparency disclosures: I own ANT from the original token sale, which I never touched. I will be receiving a (small) amount of ANT as part of this new role, and I have also been buying some ANT off the market recently.

I will continue my investing activities, which include investing in European venture capital funds for a family office; in impact deals as an angel investor; and in in teams building the future of decentralized computing through Semantic Ventures as a venture partner and advisor.

I will also continue writing Token Economy and organizing Unplug.vc events.

We need more public due diligence for ICOs

It’s a new world out there.

As investors, we’ve been used to a private fundraising framework that is being completely turned upside down by the public token sale mechanism.

As a venture investor, evaluating investment opportunities is often your full-time job and decisions impact your career as well as your wallet.

As a venture investor you’re also always given access to a lot of detailed confidential material and the access to the team, in order for you to ask questions. And even if in Silicon Valley deals close in record time, and at the seed stage you have to move fast, for Series A+ you have basically as much time as you want to make an investment decision.

Often, as a venture investor you’re also given information rights and sometimes board seats (even thought we’ve recently seen in many companies that in terms of preventing bad behavior these are fairly useless).

In the ICO world, that’s not the case.

Companies, teams or organizations that lunch public token sales, most often never interact with the final token buyer, and the average token buyer has no way to contact the team other than Twitter or their community tool of choice.

On top of that, ICOs are often on extremely tight deadlines, and are surrounded by a lot of hype.

It’s also usually more technically complicated to due diligence such efforts as code is law, and to fully appreciate what’s going on you need to read and understand the smart contracts behind an offering or the code behind a new protocol.

Given that the fundraising efforts are public plus there is little info and little time, I do believe the diligence efforts should be public as well.

When venture investors see deals they don’t like for some reason, or terms that are not fair, they just pass on the deal, and that’s it.

Because other investors will still be full-time investors that will go through the same process of analysis and diligence, and someone might like the deal. (Oftentimes VCs also interact offline about specific deals to get feedback and ask for things they might have missed, especially in advanced diligence).

In a public fundraising deal, even if reserved for accredited investors in the first phase (the token will reach exchanges sometime), investors aren’t usually full-time professional token investors.

Not everyone has time to dig into whitepapers (let alone understand them) and token sale economics to make a very informed judgment.

Yesterday, I did such an effort given no one would write about it. I wrote my sentiment on the token sale economics of Filecoin.

View at Medium.com

What has surprised me the most, is that aside from a few notes of dissent and criticism, there has been an overwhelming and amazing reaction online.

This post seems to have changed the perception of the token sale for people, which must mean that they did not know the facts presented in the post. This in interesting because those facts were just hiding in plain sight on the token sale documents. In turn, this means that people are very prone to the hype machine but not many have the time to actually go read and ponder about specific token sales.

This is wrong. But to me it should hardly be surprising: I certainly participated in a few token sales where I did not have much information or insight!

I would surely have loved if someone reported on what they found in the docs (and even more importantly the code) for other projects.

I would have loved if Emin Gün Sirer had started the public conversation with The Bancor Protocol before their token sale had started and I’m sure many others would have as well.

View at Medium.com


If you do spend your time looking at projects in the distributed ledger space, please write up your conclusions on projects you understand.

The analysis Filecoin doesn’t want you to read

Digging into the dynamics of Filecoin’s token sale and economy

Filecoin could be a game changer for the crypto space. It’s one of the few projects that are extremely well thought out, built by an amazing team, and actually needed.

Add to that the fact that they created a new proof mechanism and have a legitimate need for a blockchain.

In other words, it’s probably the best that the crypto community has seen recently. It was certainly one of the few ones I was looking forward to.

But then, two things happened:

  1. they released some info on the token sale.
  2. they released some more info in response to anonymous questions from an investor.

Man, I wouldn’t have expected something like this from a solid team. The response felt particularly disingenuous.

I’m now incredibly disappointed, and probably will not participate in the sale.

I’ll also probably lose a good number of friends that are investors in the company and/or pre-sale, but in this new era of completely public fundraising, I think the public deserves to hear it from all sides.

The flaws in Filecoin’s token sale

  1. Filecoin gave an amazing deal to their buddies, just a few weeks ago
  2. Filecoin is being insanely greedy, going out for a $700M+ raise
  3. Early clickers are incentivized, price unknown, network congestion update, see below
  4. Protocol Labs and Filecoin foundation are keeping 2x the coins that investors will get

Problem #1: Filecoin gave an amazing deal to their buddies

There’s nothing that can stop them here, but many people got very mad about this and rightly so.

Filecoin raised $52M in an advisor sale very recently, till July 24th. This sale was reserved for people close to the company and in the industry. Many extremely high profile people participated, total cheques were 150.

These investors paid a maximum of $0.75 per coin. They could also have chosen discounts based on the amount of time the coin would vest, from 0% to 30%.

These investors did not take any more risk than the investors who are going to participate in the public token sale. Actually, one could argue that they even took less risk because they knew what the price would be all the time (which is not going to be the case for public investors)

Their explanation:

All of these people and organizations (a) have been working hard with us for years to make IPFS and Filecoin successful

This is absolutely untrue. Quite a few people just got introduced to the team recently and got into the sale just a week ago and paid the $0.75 price.

(b) have fully committed themselves to work hard with us and for the Filecoin Network for many years to come,

Sure, but you, dear reader, would commit too, wouldn’t you?

c) offer tremendously valuable advice, hands-on help, knowledge, skills, resources, connections, and more.

This is the real reason that they will pay 2x-20x less than you. You be the judge. Usually vested equity is subject to good behavior, but here anyone could promise great advice and help and then disappear, but still get coins.

Problem #2: Filecoin is being insanely greedy

After having raised $52M in a pre-sale for a pre-product offering, they want to go out and raise an amount that is effectively uncapped.

Their response:

Our token sale IS NOT uncapped. It is capped in terms of the amount of Filecoin sold: 200M FIL.

Over the last few years, Protocol Labs has proved to the world that we know how to deploy capital to create valuable projects, valuable technology, and valuable software. To date, all of the work you see — IPFS, libp2p, IPLD, Multiformats, Filecoin, CoinList, and all our research — all our work has been funded by under $3.5M. We know how to deploy capital effectively.

It seems like I’m reading a Trump statement. Basically saying: “I have eaten 10 ice creams in the past years, so I’m great at eating ice creams and can easily eat 1000 in the next few years. Gimme ice creams.”

But aside from the absurdity of trusting someone that deployed $3.5M with $500M+, let’s analyze the USD cap of their token sale.

Some numbers

  • $52M raised in presale
  • Minimum 69M, Maximum 99M Filecoins sold in ICO
  • Advisor max price $0.75
  • 131M-101M Filecoins left for the public
  • Starting ICO price: $1.3 ($52M/40M), almost 2x advisor price.
  • Price at $100M raised = $2.5
  • Price at $200M raised = $5
  • Unfortunately, their price function is not clear. It doesn’t state if a transaction amount impacts the total raised before calculation of price or after. In any case, assuming normal average investments, eg. $100k, this doesn’t change much.
  • The USD cap will change based on the average purchase amount and the average discount chosen by the buyers.

Let’s calculate the Filecoin ICO USD cap

I wrote a small piece of code to calculate the USD raised with different assumptions.

You can see it here:


And you can run it here on the amazing Repl.it (Mission and Market portfolio company plug! Oh BTW, I deployed $3M with my first fund, maybe I should raise a $1B second fund.)


  • Total Filecoin sold in the advisor pre-sale: 85M (The minimum sold is 69M, if everyone paid $0.75, and the max is 99M, if everyone chose a 30% discount, so I chose something in between)
  • Average investment = $100,000.00
  • Average discount chosen by investors: 10% (discounts are 0%, 7.5% for 1y vesting, 15% for 2y vesting, 20% for 3y vesting — I’m assuming many will choose 0 and a few will choose the rest, so 10% sounds about ok.)

The results

Final price is $15.54075
Raised $690,800,000.0
Total filecoins sold: 199999826.3440984

So effectively the cap of Filecoin’s ICO is ~$700M.

For fun, let’s assume no one chooses discounts:

Final price is $34.34
Raised $1,373,700,000.0
Total filecoins sold: 199997793.51623443

The real cap is $1.37B.

And, everyone max discount:

Final price is $7.83
Raised $391,600,000.0
Total filecoins sold: 199991567.59900582

Highly unlikely, but this is the minimum possible cap.

Call me old fashioned, but wanting to raise half a billion dollars for a pre-product endeavor is absolutely fucking insane.

Let’s remember that the tokens will also come out when the network is launched, which Protocol Labs is estimating at 1 year out. Vesting will only start then.

Problem #3: Early clickers are incentivized, price unknown

Given the price grows as more money is invested, early clickers are incentivized to get in as fast as possible — this has the obvious intention of raising as much money as possible.

Users paying in BTC and ETH will also have to wait for their transactions to confirm before knowing how much they paid. Given a very likely clogging of the network, this has the potential for disaster.

I suggest reading their explanation in the response. It is a mix of funny and scary.

Update: rules have changed. Price will be averaged in the first hour and max price in the first hour is $6.

This means that no one will pay the $1.31 min price and buyers in the first hour won’t know how much they’ll pay in the $1.31-$6 bracket.

When the first hour is over, that’s when people will want to fast click because they’ll have information about the price and total raise.

This update just makes it so that there won’t be any price difference for first hour clickers, which is good, but not great. Price is still unknown (and crazy high compared to advisors).

Problem #4: Protocol Labs and Filecoin foundation are keeping 2x the coins that investors will get

This is absolutely mind-boggling to me.

To compare, the ETH genesis sale gave 10% of ETH minted to early contributors and 10% to the Ethereum foundation. 80% was for investors.

In Filecoin’s case, Protocol Labs will receive all the cash PLUS 50% more coins than investors, so 1.5x. A foundation will receive 50% of the amount of coins “minted” by investors. Total: 66.6% to them, 33.3% to you.

Assuming a “small” $250M total raise, Protocol Labs and a foundation would receive, $250M cash, plus $250M-$300M (remember, the discounts?) in tokens.

Also, 70% of the tokens that will ever exist will be mined. This means that the investors are only getting access to 10% of the total supply ever.

As a comparison, Ethereum sold 60,108,506.26 ether at genesis, and today there are 93,775,666.

Place your bets accordingly.

Quick and dirty utility value calculation

Edit: I’m removing this as apparently it was way off. I’ll try to spend more time, but with token sale in just a few days not sure I’ll be able to, so prefer to just take it off.
All other points I still stand by.


Filecoin is why we can’t have nice things.

A real game changing project, that has always touted they care about the community and would do this for free, is going out trying to raise $700M and keeping double that in coins.

I think this could be one that will be remembered and written in history books about how insane this all was, and how a major innovation like the cryptographic token was taken advantage by people wanting to raise stupid sums of money, before it was really used to the best of its potential.

Thanks to redacted, redacted, redacted, redacted, and redacted for providing feedback on this draft, the ideas behind it, the code and the assumptions for the utility value.


Aligning incentives in ICOs and token economies

In the new frenzy for digital assets, many entrepreneurs are debating if they should raise money through a token offering or not.

The decision is not that simple.

I’ve obviously been thinking non-stop about digital assets and ICOs for the past months, like many others.

In order to have a successful ICO and, most importantly, a smooth and successful development of the project, protocol, token or dapp, the needs and incentives of many different stakeholders (man do I hate this word, if you have a good alternative please let me know) must be carefully balanced.

It seems that many projects are carelessly dismissing this topic and just gunning for the most cash possible. That might make the developers rich in the short term, but makes everyone poorer in the long run.

In my opinion an ICO or token offering only makes sense if it can align incentives between every actor and ultimately make an application more successful than what it could achieve with a normal fundraising structure.

First, let’s see who’s involved in an ICO?

  • Founding team
  • Advisors
  • Future employees
  • Early investors
  • ICO investors
  • Future token investors
  • End users of the dapp and thus of the token
  • Equity holders in the offline-entity

Second, what levers can we act on in an ICO / token design?

  • Total token supply
  • Token allocation
  • Number of coin offerings
  • Price in pegged currency (-> valuation)
  • Minimum rise
  • Caps
  • Distribution schemes
  • Inflation

Third, what does everyone want?

This is probably the hardest question, because right now it seems everyone just wants to make a buttload of money.

But let’s try to figure out what are the things we could maximize:

  • Initial amount raised
  • Future fundraises
  • Token price over time
  • Liquidity of the token
  • Usage of the platform
  • Revenues / dividends collected by token owners
  • Participation from developers and others that can help the protocol

Obviously we can’t maximize all of the above at the same time, but the way we structure token sales and designs can have tremendous impact on the ones we choose.

Unfortunately even the most thoughtful ICO schemes that we’re seeing today are not really thinking that far into the future and only really trying to optimize the distribution and “fairness” of the ICO, which is an important but small part, for it changes very quickly after the ICO.

Let’s try to quickly examine current ICOs schemes:

  • One-time fundraise: so all tokens are distributed at the beginning, often pre-product
  • Some tokens reserved for team
  • Some tokens reserved for advisors / partners etc.
  • Fixed price per token or fixed valuation
  • Maybe a cap on the amounts of tokens sold (-> so on capital raised)

In my view, current token sale models are completely suboptimal as they don’t really maximize ANY important thing!

And specifically only play to the advantages of early ICO investors with some sort of disregard for all of the others.

Let’s see how it fares on all of the dimensions we can tweak:

  • Total amount raised: if there’s a cap, then it obviously doesn’t optimize this. If no cap then you are limiting the amount you can raise by doing one single ICO when there isn’t anything to show for your product.
  • Token price over time: the thinking here goes that by limiting the supply and distributing it all on day-one will make the token value go up in time. This makes some sense, as long as the demand for that token exists and people want to own it, obviously. For that condition to happen there needs to be vast interest in the protocol and the products built on top of it, which are maximized in other aspects and not by supply dynamics. If instead the goal is for price stability over time so that people can use the protocol without worrying of becoming poor, then this clearly fails.
  • Liquidity of the token: giving the token on day one to random speculators on the internet doesn’t guarantee a liquidity in the market, and actually might hinder it quite a lot as whales will just hodl as the platform becomes more successful.
  • Usage of the platform: as above, if the token is fairly priced compared to the usage requirements and is liquid, people can use the platform.
  • Revenues / dividends collected by token owners: this aspect is most impacted by token and economy design rather than ICO design, but it’s of utmost importance if we’re to gauge the future price potential of the asset. It also impacts usage and distribution of the token (eg. who wants to hold it).
  • Participation from developers and others that can help the protocol: this can be impacted in the ICO by deciding how much of the token supply to distribute in exchange of work instead of in exchange for “cash”. The problem here is that reserving a random percentage of the token supply is a very complex guessing game as it’s pretty much impossible to predict how much the token will be worth in the future and in relation how much you can incentivize developers.

So, what’s the optimal structure?

Well the easy and obvious answer here is that there isn’t an optimal one, but a few easy changes that could help teams align incentives for everyone include:

Multiple fundraises!

This optimizes a lot of the things we were analyzing, as it gives the project proponent’s control over price / supply / risk for much longer.

Holding multiple fundraisers optimizes the amount raised and controls the token price over time.

Unfortunately, this is much harder to do when everything is immutable on a blockchain. I have a post in draft with a proposal on a structure, that I’ll try to publish soon.

Discretionary ownership!

Deciding who can own the token (at least in the early days, as it’s still a liquid instrument) might seem an “elitist” move but could actually be the easiest way to prevent whales and speculators messing up an economy and ecosystem.

Built-in, disclosed token economics!

If a token has a clear correlation to the success of the platform, more so than just a “well there will be more of a need for it”, then people will have greater incentives to own it and the proponents can tweak which kind of owners they’d prefer (users, speculators, etc.)


To incentivize participation and liquidity, I do think that most tokens would benefit from some sort of demurrage built-in.

Some easy models that could address some of the above:

Probably a topic for other posts (one for each!)

  • Pre-sales for value-add owners.
  • Multiple token types.
  • Early helicopter drops to users.

This is such a nascent issue and theme that I think we need everyone’s contribution. If you have some comments please respond or email me, or better publish your own thoughts!

A number of very interesting posts have come out since I’ve started writing this post (been in draft for a while..):

Vitalik Buterin’s take:


Albert Wenger’s take:


To keep track of all the new projects being launched in the space, I’m launching a newsletter called Token Economy very soon.

If you want to be kept up to date, you can subscribe on TokenEconomy.co.

NordicNext slides on Tokens and ICOs

I had the pleasure of being invited at Nordic Next by Neil S W Murray, and what a fantastic event it was. Extremely well produced and with really solid people attending. It was great to get back in the European scene after so long in the US and also put real faces to internet names (👋 Philipp).

Before starting the talk I asked how many people owned BTC, ETH and altcoins, and was surprised to see about a 50%-40% and 20% response.

The slides are mostly informed by the amazing thinking of some of the leaders in the blockchain space, to which goes all the credit, as well as my initial post on the token phenomenon:

View at Medium.com

The response to the talk was amazing, but the thing I was really glad for were some of the usual blockchain pushbacks that we have had to hear for years now (no real world application, no intrinsic value, it’s only good for drugs and thiefs, etc.).

This means that we are still in the very, very early days.

Here are the slides (with a few edits) and a bonus video for all the believers.

To keep track of all the new projects being launched in the space, I’m launching a newsletter called Token Economy very soon.

If you want to be kept up to date, you can subscribe on TokenEconomy.co.

The first real revolution in venture capital: crypto tokens

What it means and why you should pay attention

I’ll be at Blockshow Europe in Munich this week, if you want to meet feel free to tweet at me!

Venture capital has largely remained unchanged since it was invented.

A few months ago I’ve compiled a list of the most innovative VC firms out there (link below). These are certainly important evolutions and innovations but the core mechanic has practically never changed.

View at Medium.com

And then, suddenly, while every one was trying incremental innovations.. the crypto revolution happened.

My single best investment was one that was unlike any other: I’m obviously talking about the Ether crowdsale that Vitalik launched in 2014, raising $18M. I think we’re now at 150x and going.

This was a totally new and innovative concept. Ethereum sold an initial supply of tokens in exchange of BTC to fund the development of the platform.

Given the fact that the tokens might prove to be extremely useful in the future in order to use the Ethereum blockchain and smart contract platform, people bought them with two intentions: in order to use them, and because they believed they would have appreciated substantially (as BTC did).

Crowdfunding was certainly not new, with already many equity-based crowdfunding platforms fully operational, but for many reasons it didn’t really succeed anywhere.

But the difference here was massive: the value had completely been removed from the equity of the development company and had instead been moved to the protocol being developed and its tokens.

For someone who has always invested in equity, that’s quite the change.

The era of crypto token crowdsales and ICOs

Since then, it has been a whirlwind of new currencies, blockchains and dApps being launched on different platforms.

Some have been exceptionally spectacular, like the DAO, others have been scams, and others have just been unsuccessful.

Why we should pay attention

I think there are three main reasons to pay attention to this new wave:

  • 1) Investing in protocols and not companies
  • 2) Problems with VC
  • 3) VC will have to move fast to capture value

1) Investing in protocols

Albert Wenger has a great post about this: Crypto tokens and the coming age of protocol innovation.

For the first time in history we have the technology to invest in the protocols themselves (via the tokens needed to use them).

This is just massive, and will open up a wave of development given the new economic incentive being available.

It’s extremely interesting to think about what it could mean, and one particularly cool interpretation is the fat protocol hypothesis from Joel Monegro.

I think this will be a big trend, but I also think there will be some very big successes being built on the application layer, and for those ones the ICO model might not be the best.

2) Problems with the VC model

Many teams have turned to the ICO route because of a frustration with the venture capital model.

VC is by definition very scarce (for good reasons) and thus not available to everyone.

Usually, the “everyone” referenced above means teams in the very earliest stages, teams that are distributed, teams that aren’t in the hot startup hubs and teams that have non-traditional backgrounds.

People got frustrated with this and are seeing ICOs as the best avenue to raise funding for their own projects.

3) VC will have to move fast to capture value

To capture the most upside, VCs always have to invest at the fringes. When the fringes go as far as to change the model, the only way is to adapt.

I think we will see VCs exploring this space and new models more and more as well as token-raisers go more towards a normal fundraising path.

Why this is awesome

More innovation

If more teams and projects can get non-traditional funding, we will see many more teams building crazy new things.

Non-US teams

ICOs and crowdsales seem to be perfectly suited to teams that are not in a hot startup hub, so these teams will probably end up benefiting the most in the short term.


Tokens are fully liquid from day-1. This changes the game massively.


Anyone can become an investor and prove that they can generate meaningful returns.

(I’m not exactly sure on how this compares to the public markets and hedge funds, but) it surely opens up the game to way more people than angel investors and people who have the right pedigree to raise a VC fund.

The problems

It’s not all roses, there might be some tulips too.

Useless tokens

With this new tool available a lot of people are inventing tokens just for the purpose of fundraising, even if their app has absolutely no need for a native token. Olaf Carlson-Wee illustrates this well in the podcast below:

View at Medium.com

Ether is valuable because there is an expectation that many more dapps will be built on the Ethereum platform and therefore many people will be in need of Ether to use such apps.

But, as an example, the Matchpool token will only become massively valuable if there will be an extremely high demand for it (or assumption of such in the future) — and this would only happen if that single specific app actually blows up. We’ve added quite a few layers of risk here and are getting much closer to a pure VC-based evaluation.

For some companies, a traditional VC route would be much more suited — but the hype is so strong that they can raise millions without ever being questioned by anyone or give out equity.

Misalignment of value captured / no equity

When people invest in a crowdsale, they are purchasing tokens that are usually not backed by any offline security or asset.

This means that if a dapp becomes successful, the token holders would only see an appreciation if the success mechanics generate a strong need for the token.

But in reality, the value could very well be stored in the equity of the company building the dApp as it actually holds the brand, the employees, the knowledge and could be the recipient of different revenue streams.

Were a company to be a acquired, the token holders would see absolutely no reward other than a potential hype-based fluctuation in the price of the token, while the founders would become millionaires.

Every time incentives start to become misaligned, problems tend to soon creep up.

One-time fundraising

Most of the crowdsales we’ve seen to date have no concept of multiple rounds of fundraising.
This to me seems completely idiotic. There is a good reason for diving the fundraising process in rounds: risk. You would be crazy to assume all of the risk of a company being successful at the very beginning of its existence, yet this is what most token investors are doing.

VCs instead buy a small piece of the risk at the beginning, and after a while have the luxury to re-evaluate and see if the company has completely failed to deliver on its promises or if they instead did well. The VC can then decide if they’d like to continue putting capital at risk.

This is one of the most blatant flaws of the token space I’m seeing, and I think and hope it will be solved soon.

Given that smart contracts are already being used, it would make sense that these contracts have built in mechanism for fund tranches based on objective metrics (pre-determined tranches are never a great idea, but they’re certainly better than a one-time full-budget investment).

Unsophisticated investors

Most startups don’t get funded for good reasons.

It seems that nowadays any random project can raise funding with a token crowdsale, and most of these projects do not meet even the most basic requirements to be an interesting risk-adjusted investment.

Contrary to popular belief, being a venture capitalist who actually makes some money for its investors, or even just being a non-money losing angel investor, is extremely hard.

Now, on the high of the immense gains made on BTC and ETH, unsophisticated investors think that many of these tokens are great investments, when in fact they are not.

Venture capital actually exists for a reason

Venture capital has been invented to fill a need, and has evolved and survived in its current model because it actually does make a lot of sense.

Getting professional managers to choose the investments and help the companies they invest in has been proven to generate amazing returns, for the ones that do it well.

Creating diversified portfolios makes sense.

Diving fundraising in tranches makes sense.

Only funding the very best teams in the very best markets makes sense.

And so on.

The help that companies get from VCs is also oftentimes non-negligible, and there’s a reason why the best teams want to pick their investors even in a very liquid situation like a hot deal.

So, doing away with the whole structure of VC seems to be too big and too irrational of a change in my view.

Anyone can end up on a “cap table”: in a typical crowdsale, the entity who’s fundraising has absolutely no say on who will end up being an investor. This holds true in the crypto world, and at the same time, the entity will have absolutely no idea who invested.

At the same time, none of the investors will be meaningfully incentivized to take an active role in helping the companies/protocols they invest in.

The argument that crowdfunding fans usually use is one of “community”, saying that by raising from a lot of people a company can create a strong community of people that are willing to help and promote a company. But in reality that’s rarely the case. People invest in many different things and usually have other jobs, plus they are most of the time unqualified to give any meaningful aide (see above).


There are quite a few scamcoins around, and with the amount of ICOs happening it’s getting harder and harder for investors to dig deep into the merits of each ICO.

It’s also easy for people to build hype for investments as every transaction is public but anonymous, so it could be easy to orchestrate sending millions of dollars in ETH/BTC and then backchannel them back to the investors in order to show that an ICO is successful.


To date, most crowdsales have been marketed as asset sales and have thus avoided regulation entirely. But the Howey test is always there and these are starting to look more and more like securities.

There is a real risk that regulators could step in and consider any type of crypto token offered in a bulk one-time sale as a security.

Additionally, any company which would like to have its token backed by some offline security (eg equity) will need to be in full-compliance of regulations, effectively removing a lot of the benefits of the model.

Where do we go from here?


Specialized crypto token funds

One certainty is the emergence of digital-only hedge funds like Polychain Capital.

These are brand new entities and players with completely new skills needed if compared to venture firms.

Naval Ravikant sums it up perfectly here:

These are the entities that will be able to make money in this new world, as I think most hobbyist crypto-investors will lose money as they won’t have the necessary information and potentially even access.

Traditional venture deals + crowdsales

We’re already seeing this with recent ICOs like Omise which has previously raised more than $25M from traditional VC firms and is now planning a crowdsale.

View at Medium.com

Startups will use token crowdsales just as the pro startups are using Kickstarter campaigns today, as a launch marketing tactic.

They will do an ICO only when the product is ready, the team is solid, some brand-name VCs are already backing the company, etc. — so that the individual crowd investors will feel much safer about investing.

I think this will be the default route for high quality teams.

Pre-ICO sales: going towards the traditional VC model

I’ve already participated in a pre-token sale with other angels and VCs before a public ICO has even been announced.

I think this will be the future. And the past, to be fair — as in the end this is actually very similar to the normal VC dynamic of today. Teams will look for smart money first from either the best people in the crypto community or from traditional angels and VCs.

I especially think that as the quality of the projects that have ICOs grows, this will become inevitable.

Equity-backed tokens

One of the most interesting things I’m seeing is the use of tokens as a representation of underlying equity interests in businesses and funds.

I’m thinking of examples like TaaS, a normal hedge fund which distributed equity-backed tokens and Blockchain Capital’s new fund, which is adding an evergreen fund offered via a token crowdsale to a traditional venture fund.

This is interesting as it makes a number of things easier in the fundraising process, but it definitely fits into a very clear regulated framework of the sale of a security, so we might end up not seeing that many of these.


The reality is that no one really knows what will stick. We will see a lot of interesting experiments of new and creative structures and technologies. Definitely a space to watch with deep interest.

This is such an exciting new space that I’m just glad to be alive at this time and able to witness and comprehend the scale of the revolution.

To keep track of all the new projects being launched in the space, I’m launching a newsletter called Token Economy very soon.

If you want to be kept up to date, you can subscribe on TokenEconomy.co.

You can follow me on Twitter here.

The accelerating pace of innovation and what it means for startup investors

We’re living in the most innovative and fascinating period of history

We need a lot of new Mosaics

I’ve had this nagging feeling for a while.

I didn’t really know what it was, but it surely had to do with the insane scale of amazing new fields and opportunities that I have an interest in.

I find it hard to keep track of everything and especially to become an expert in any of those fields.

And then I succumbed to the idea that the acceleration of commercial-ready technology is just unmanageable for a single individual.

When the internet first showed up, it was really (I think) the only massively disruptive technology to show up after the transistor/computer.

But now, we live in the most exciting period of human and technological history and our progress is accelerating so fast, fueled obviously by the internet’s orgy of ideas, that so many more technologies have reached the phase where they can be deployed commercially and have the potential to change things as much as the internet itself.

This means that for every new sector, there is a specific community getting formed with people who are dedicating their life’s work to that specific field and developing deep insights and experience.

At the same time, there are innumerable startups being born in every field, and (from what I can remember) this represents a couple orders of magnitude more than the number of early startups in the internet, even compared to just 8–10 years ago.

With Mission and Market we’ve been lucky to invest in many of these sectors and I’ve been fortunate lately to have the time to study more in depth some of them. And to me, each one of the fields I list below represents an unmeasurable amount of opportunities.

But my brain is now tied in this constant dilemma, and I think it’s one that every VC or angel will have to come to terms with at some point:

should I try to keep track of all of it or should I just choose one and focus on that?

I don’t really have an answer yet, and for now I’m trying to keep my interest open to all of them (and new ones that keep on showing up!) but I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to continue doing that.

This goes back to the rise of the thematic / vertical VC fund, which I wrote about 3 years ago (oh man, time flies).

View at Medium.com

I think we’ll end up seeing even more of these funds and I think they will produce very decent if not above-average returns, given that now each vertical has the potential for multiple breakthrough companies.

Another point to briefly touch on is the value-add a generalist investor like myself could ever hope to bring to a very specific company in a new field.

Ron Conway and others have been made famous by their decision to focus exclusively on internet investing in the very early days (and have been awesomely rewarded for that), but now there are 10 new internet-like fields.

Will everyone who focused on one be rewarded like them? Will one field completely outdo all the others? Will investors just have to embrace all of them?

These are the questions that keep me up at night, and I hope to discuss them with many of you.

$(X) is the new internet

This is my personal list of fields that I think have a similar impact potential to the internet. It doesn’t take into consideration fields which I think have massive opportunity but not to that scale (eg. cybersecurity) or some that have already demonstrated that (eg. mobile) or some on which the jury is still out (eg. cleantech, which probably merits a discussion of its own).

Deep Learning is the new internet

The things that we’ve been able to achieve with deep learning in just a few years have been astonishing. For me, it’s definitely the most interesting part of machine intelligence.

Deep learning changes everything. It enables us to spot answers to questions that we dare not even ask just a few years ago and also create things which would have been impossible just a few months ago.

If we add other aspects of machine learning and, specifically, generative AI — the mind is blown away at every single new piece of information I gather on the space.

We’ve been fortunate to invest in Atomwise (finding new drugs thanks to DL), Enlitic (spotting lung cancer with DL) and Floyd (making it easier to run DL processes) — but there are SOOO many more that I’d like to be involved in and SOOO many more I’ve never even heard about.

I’ve also invested in a Deep Learning-specific venture fund with which I hope to get more exposure to the space — but I think DL will be so pervasive that I can never get enough exposure.

Blockchain is the new internet

I’ve recently seen a tweet by Joel Monegro of USV which clearly encapsulates my own thinking.

The blockchain is really the first major disruptive computer science technology to come around that was entirely unexpected and has the potential to change everything.

I’ve been fortunate to know about Bitcoin since early 2011 (less fortunate to turn off my mining machine right after as it was about to boil) and have been following the space ever seen.

I now own a dozen different cryptocurrencies and have read probably triple that in whitepapers describing different decentralized applications (dApps) and currencies.

I’ve made (digital) money on some and lost (real) money on others, but the level of experimentation and excitement that is seen in the blockchain space and community in unrivaled.

Many paradigms are being completely redefined by blockchain technology. Decentralization is a really big force and I can’t seem to see an end to its advancement.

Finance, healthcare, manufacturing and more industries will ask themselves how they operated without the blockchain — just as we ask ourselves today how we operated without the internet.

Synthetic biology is the new internet

View at Medium.com

The amount of innovation happening in synbio is astounding. It is finally all within reach of “normal” entrepreneurs and outside of big University research labs.

We’ve been lucky to look at many deals in the space and even invest in some.

It is abundantly clear that the future will be powered by synthetic biology. So many aspects of it that we can’t even imagine.

Materials will all be fermented or grown, as will all sort of different food elements, especially animal-based food.

It will seem just absurd that we were wasting the Earth’s resources as well as breeding and killing billions of animals every year.

The economic value of old-school industrial production that is being impacted is incalculable and we will see the new Rockefellers in this field.

Genomics (and microbiomes) is the new internet

This image should make everyone insanely excited. For the first time in history we’ll be able to understand how we’re made and why we do some of the amazing things our bodies make us do.

With RNA sequencing, and microbiome understanding, we can even monitor our bodies responses in real-time to various diseases and drugs. We’re investors in the pioneering RNA sequencing company and we’ve seen the future. It is amazing.

But it doesn’t stop at understanding.

With CRISPR-Cas9 we can actually change our DNA and impart new instructions. This is just mind-blowing. We’ve been small investors in Caribou Biosciences (thanks AngelList!) and we feel like we’re watching the future unfold.

The advances being enabled by CRISPR are still pretty incomprehensible but we are seeing more and more entrepreneurs using this tool, as well as developing parallel tools (DNA cell delivery, etc.).

It’s a new world.

Robotics is the new internet

We’ve all seen Boston Dynamics’ videos of their andro-dogoids and we’ve all been amazed / scared.

The reality is that robotics is today way more advanced than we thought. Just walk in a factory anywhere in Europe and you’ll see robotic arms and other autonomous systems.

Slowly we’re automatic all the repetitive tasks.

We routinely see videos of cars and trucks being driven by themselves.

Autonomous hardware systems are beginning to become a whole new sector with a vast amount of applications (and already many $B exits).

As software and materials become cheaper, we’re going to see many more of these companies. And when we’ll have billions of robots deployed, the opportunities for companies will be endless.

IoT is the new internet

I haven’t followed the IoT revolution as much as I wanted, but it does feel like another field which is slowly becoming a massive platform and opportunity.

I don’t think we can really understand the impact of receiving data from and being able to interact with trillions of objects in real time.

Unsexy maybe, but still revolutionary.

Voice technology is the new internet

Most of you will have an Alexa in the house by this time. We have a Google Home and even if it’s not loved by all, conversational software enables a host of new use cases and thus many new potential companies.

It feels like this is a game reserved for the big ones, but I believe there will be a wide interest from startups and we’ll see some tools that will become comparable to our best friends in the future.

Voice, like all the other areas listed here, is a completely new platform — and will see very specific apps that couldn’t be built anywhere else.

3D Printing is the new internet

3D Printing is yet another completely different area that is a platform onto itself.

It basically brings all of the advantages of the internet to physical things.

Sure, it might still be very early, but the potential is clear and massive. I think it’s really incalculable.

The ripple effects of a usable and economical 3D Printing revolution would change the world as we know it, and enable a myriad new companies.

VR/AR is the new internet

I truly think that in the next years we will spend as much time in VR as in the RW.

We’ve already seen the first few $B exits in this space and it’s just the beginning.

The promise of companies such as Magic Leap just compound this even more.

I think in 15 years we will not have computer screens anymore and will think that they were the most limiting aspect of modern life.

“Do you remember when you could only see what was on your small little screen? LOL”

Clearly opening up a new world, opens up a whole new economic paradigm too. We need everything new in VR. Operating Systems, networks, games, productivity tools, and even more of what we can do today on the internet. Sure some will be just moved over by internet companies, but many VR-native companies well be born — and they will be huge.

We can see this thanks to our investments in FOVE and Limitless, which is redefining how we create experiences in a VR-native fashion.

What am I missing?
I’m sure there are a few other fringe areas that have the potential to be platforms of massive change (microfluidics? nanotech? alternative currencies?).

Let me know where I should be looking at 🙂

Thanks to Yannick Roux for reading a draft of this post.