BY Michael Jackson:
Once a decade, a revolutionary technology comes along. Technology that can radically improve the way we do things. Technology that empowers people and changes paradigms.
The 1990s was influenced by the World Wide Web, which allowed people unfettered access to information and opinions for the first time in history. The 2000s was the era of communication and transactions. The underlying technology of http allowed Netscape to be born, then with VoIP came Skype. Suddenly, hundreds of millions of people could keep in touch with one another – continuously, across borders, and at no cost. I’ve been lucky to participate in both these waves.
Now, the turn has come for the next evolution. Cryptocurrencies and distributed ledgers are soon to change the way we verify our documents, share our information, enable trust between unknown parties, and secure our transactions.
Just as it took Skype to hide VoIP technology from the users so they could speak across continents and networks with no technical skills, this next revolution will be shaped by the companies that are able to hide the complex underlying technology of the block chain and build great products upon it.
Great as Satoshi was, relying on technology and ideals isn’t enough. It also requires vision and inspiration to put it to use. Packaging the technology and enabling products that bring complex technical concepts into normal people’s daily lives aren’t easy. And this doesn’t happen on its own.
Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis had the vision and ability to harness the complexity of VoIP telephony and make it accessible to for everyone. I can see some of the same traits in Ben, Nic and Peter. They see the future of the block chain and provide the rare combination of deep knowledge and broad vision to lead the next evolution. We need this leadership. We are defining the future, not following.
As an investor and a technologist, the best way to learn is to participate, and the best way to shape the future is to contribute. After serving as an informal advisor to the company for a year, Peter invited me to join the Board. I plan to focus on being a source of counsel as the company solves many of the same scaling, growth, and regulatory challenges we faced in the past.
I am happy to have been allowed to join, and I look forward to both learning and helping them to be the organization that brings the power of the block chain to millions of people. If we can fulfill even a tenth of its potential, then Blockchain will embrace a great future.
Michael Jackson is an investor and technologist based in Luxembourg. Previously, he was the Chief Operating Officer of Skype, a pioneering peer-to-peer technology company, and led its business and regulatory efforts.