If there is one thing that is clear from the Consensus conference in New York this week, it’s that there are far too many programmers running projects and not enough entrepreneurs.
Now don’t get me wrong, programmers are needed and are in short supply overall when it comes to blockchain. However, programmers generally make terrible businessmen, and that’s what these projects are, they are mini-businesses. They need the direction of someone who understands marketing and how to translate technology in a way that it can be sold to non-technical people.
Look at some of the largest technology firms in the world such a Apple or Microsoft. They generally had a technical person, and then another who is more of an entrepreneur early on. Think Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Jobs knew how to sell technology to the masses, that was his talent, not churning out code day after day. Without Jobs’ talent, Apple lost its focus and had to be rescued by him later on. Microsoft has a similar story. Bill Gates hired Steve Ballmer as the first business manager at Microsoft in 1980. He was instrumental in guiding the company forward.
I’m not bad mouthing programmers here, but they have a talent, and that talent is programming, not running a company. The same you way you wouldn’t hire the average CEO to code you a new app, you shouldn’t expect a group of programmers to run a business as good as it can be run. Entrepeneurs understand how to move the entire business forward, not just the code.
Back to the consensus conference which was basically an 18 million dollar money grab. Not one exciting news item came out that reached mainstream media. The only story that got traction on sites like Bloomberg was that BitMex rented some Lambos and parked them out front of the conference, solidifying the notion in the mainstream that most of crypto is fake and nothing but smoke and mirrors. The same when a daily show comedian came to roast the conference. Overall, most of the mainstream coverage was negatvive because there was nothing for them to understand. Nobody was effectively translating the tech in ways to attract the mainstream.
If you go back to the early days of conferences like CES, actual working products were displayed. News was generated that although technical, brought in regular non-technical news outlets to write about it. The reason is because many of the companies back then had entrepreneurs running the business while the technical people focused on what they do best. This is a proven winning formula for technology companies, yet blockchain seems to want to avoid having actual businessmen running the show. And the shortcomings of this approach are obvious in the childish and amateurish marketing efforts or public missteps by many crypto projects. For example, having poorly set up video press conference or project founders swearing or berating detractors on message boards. It all reeks of amateurish businessmen who are flush with cash but low on experience.
Sadly, there is a huge wasteland in blockchain. At one end you have programmers running projects, and at the other end you have scammers and con men which leaves a giant gap in the middle.
So while blockhain currently is a place where programmers like Vitalik Buterin are looked upon as the super stars, the first few projects that understand the importance of partnering with an equally visionary business focused partner will take the space by storm.