The global economy is heading into unchartered territory. Records are being set each day, which should terrify most observers of the economy. Approximately 30 million people have filed for unemployment in the United States since the coronavirus pandemic, the most in American History. Many are comparing this economic climate to the 2008 Mortgage Crisis, while others argue that the only comparable period in modern history is the Great Depression of 1929.
For example, Ray Dalio, the billionaire investor of Bridgewater who famously anticipated and successfully navigated the 2008 financial collapse, warns that this will be a once-in-a-lifetime economic event. In a continuing series on LinkedIn called “The Changing World Order,” Dalio argues that COVID19’s ultimate impact on the global economy will be a seismic shift in the financial, political, and cultural pecking order of nations around the world. Dalio argues that the structure of debt on every level, from the personal to the national, has become unsustainable, and as such, we are poised to enter an entirely new economic age.
There is no doubt, however, that tech companies will continue to thrive. In fact, they are some of the least affected sectors of the global economy. However, as we enter our post-COVID world, it is important to imagine what changes will befall this industry, what kinds of businesses may succeed: what does the next generation of Big Tech look like?
Because of its relevance to every sector, blockchain will undoubtedly take on a large economic role. On-chaining everyday businesses will make them safer and more operable in uncertain times, and the financial importance of digital currencies and assets should now be obvious. But how exactly will blockchains enter the tech industry? Will they become subsidiaries of existing giants? Will they rely on killer dApps or facilitate a specific kind of legacy integration?
It is likely that “Layer 1” protocol-level blockchain platforms will lead the charge. The newness of the technology, combined with the extraordinary moment gives our industry the unprecedented opportunity to put our leading foot forward, instead of trying to sneak in through small openings in existing markets. Platforms that can support both enterprises and public transactions will have the opportunity to display their value to the widest audience. These blockchains will influence financial instruments, but they will also facilitate the building of apps that will facilitate all modes of economic activity. From B2B to supply chains, to retail and public goods, decentralized platforms will become integral to our sense of interaction itself.
This will, of course, give way to the presence of dApps and inventions that are not immediately apparent to us. Just as the mass adoption of hardware gave way to first-gen software, and years later, to the apps we use today, the adoption of decentralized tech bring about a future that cannot be immediately implemented, or even imagined.
One might speculate on the process of app development once protocol-level blockchain solutions become the next Microsofts and Googles of the world. For example, it seems likely that unlike many of the current tech giants, the next generation will be far less embroiled in the current structures of VCs, Wall Street, or the NYSE. Their valuations will necessarily come from the tech itself, from the users and use-cases. The ubiquity of the internet will catalyze change at new, breakneck speeds. Access to these protocols and apps will be a more democratic, popular process, wherein use and adoption will beget more use and adoption.
Very little is known about the next few years. We will most likely see a new generation of tech giants, and those companies and their technology will be powered by a renewed demand for change.