Do you remember the first time you heard about Bitcoin? Maybe it was a faint buzz about a new technology that would change everything. Perhaps you felt a tingle of FOMO as the folks who got in early suddenly amassed a small fortune — even if it wasn’t clear what the “money” could legitimately be spent on (really expensive pizza?). Maybe you just wondered whether your company should be working on a crypto strategy in case it did take off in your industry, even if you didn’t really care one way about it or the other.
Web3 is being touted as the future of the internet. The vision for this new, blockchain-based web includes cryptocurrencies, NFTs, DAOs, decentralized finance, and more. It offers a read/write/own version of the web, in which users have a financial stake in and more control over the web communities they belong to. Web3 promises to transform the experience of being online as dramatically as PCs and smartphones did. It is not, however, without risk. Some companies have entered the space only to face a backlash over the environmental impact and financial speculation (and potential for fraud) that comes with Web3 projects. And while blockchain is offered as a solution to privacy, centralization, and financial exclusion concerns, it has created new versions of many of these problems. Companies need to consider both the risks and the benefits before diving in.