Web3 or more specifically Web 3.0 is the buzzword going around tech circles today. Numerous companies, blockchain networks and innovators armed with a lot of funding from powerful VCs are all in the race to dominate this space.
With the potential, it promises many predict Web3 to be the future of the internet.
Now before I go on with this piece it would be presumptuous of me to assume that all of my audience understands what all the hype surrounding Web3 is all about. And this is quite okay, I myself got around to fully comprehending this new technology only a few months ago.
If you want a deep dive into what Web3 is really about then feel free to go through a previous piece I recently did about it.
In truth Web 3.0 is still a hazy concept with a lot of definitions. A brief overview however would be this:
“..decentralized version of the internet based on blockchain, the technology behind many major cryptocurrencies and nonfungible tokens, or NFTs.”
The keyword here is ‘decentralized’, the main idea that powers fanaticism for Web3. Proponents of Web3, the successor of Web 1 and Web 2 criticize these previous versions for their centralized nature. They argue that these platforms are controlled by a few large internet companies such as Alphabet, Meta (formerly Facebook), Amazon and Apple. These companies’ models depend on sharing their users’ data with Third Parties to gain profits.
Web3 promises to end all this and give more power to the user. With technologies like the blockchain Web 3.0 will be able to grant users control and privacy at the expense of large corporations.
Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey are however not impressed. The two tech tycoons who one would have thought would have been the biggest proponents of the next digital era have been openly critical of Web3 and its potential as the next evolution of the internet.
First, it was Elon who in a tweet, (as he usually does), said that the Web3 “sounds like BS.” His tweet was a response to a thread by Y Combinator’s Sam Altman who suggested that Web3 “might still have 2010s-like returns.”
He however followed up this statement saying: “I thought nothing could be nuttier than ’99.” Here he was referring to the late 1990s that saw numerous so-called internet-based companies fall and with it a loss of billions worth of dollars of investment.
And just when you thought that maybe he could have changed his mind on the subject when he later tweeted a TikTok of an interview about the internet between Microsoft founder Bill Gates and David Letterman citing a very specific question: “Given the almost unimaginable nature of the present, what will be the future be?.” Musk instead insisted on his stance by a follow up saying: “I’m not suggesting web3 is real — seems more like a marketing buzzword than reality right now — just wondering what the future will be like in 10, 20 or 30 years. 2051 sounds crazy futuristic!”
Twitter founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey have been equally critical of Web3 but his criticism has been on the assertion that Web3 will be decentralized.
In a response to yet another Elon Musk tweet “Has anyone seen web3? I can’t find it?” Dorsey replied “It’s somewhere between a and z.” Here he was referring to Andreessen Horowitz one of the most prominent capital ventures in Silicon Valley. His tweet hinted at the control the firm already has over Web3 through its investments into Web3 start-ups. This would further upend the notion that Web3 firms or technology as a whole would be independent of VCs.
This tweet was (understandably) met with a lot of furious replies by Web3 fans who believe in the technology’s capacity to be truly independent. These are people who believe that the internet should not belong to a small number of companies or investors to manage.
Dorsey however believes that VCs and their limited partners will still hold control over Web3. He reiterated this sentiment in a later tweet: “It will never escape their incentives. It’s ultimately a centralized entity with a different label.”
His subsequent tweet explained that he believed that the problem lay with the VCs, not the people. As long as Web3 start-ups keep receiving investments from VCs, they are beholden to them as they are expected to generate a return on those investments.
Due to their positions as tech leaders and billionaires, it is tempting to put a lot of stock into Musk’s and Dorsey’s sentiments about Web3. They are after all one of the best-placed people to make the best predictions about anything tech.
However, billionaires no matter how rich and smart can be wrong. A good example is Oracle founder Larry Ellison’s prediction in the 90s that the internet was just a fad that would pass.
The best thing would be to classify Web3 criticisms as just cautions and nothing more. True innovation usually sounds like a madman’s enterprise until it works after which they are called geniuses.