Jack Dorsey and the Savants Setting Sail for Crypto
Twitter’s co-founder stepping down from his CEO position is the latest of a slew of visionary talents leaving the Silicon Valley giants behind to fly the crypto flag over decentralised shores. Can big tech recover from these losses?
The alluring siren of crypto has enchanted solo sailors and seasoned syndicates alike. The polarizing nature of radical change had every human with an internet connection sorted into one side or the other, the indifferent shoved across the fault line into the hollering naysayers. Regardless of the division, crypto lumbered forward picking up momentum with every step.
At some point – and it’s difficult to say exactly when – crypto reached a tipping point.
Adoption appeared inevitable, though the form it might take still unclear. Large, established companies, whether with rich legacies spanning centuries, or staples of the internet era, had to decide what to do about this elephant in the room.
A call had to be made, and the wrong one would likely have a lasting impact on the company;
- Choose to lead the line with crypto integration, but fail and the elders will call for heads to roll, or;
- Indulge in the widespread reticence, and decision-makers may find themselves in the same perilous position but with the company significantly worse off.
My analysis is undoubtedly colored by which side of the fracture I am, but that bias is well-founded, in good company, and relevant.
Many of the world’s business behemoths have had their own scaled-down replicas of the great crypto divide, and it has already had its consequences.
The senior and innovating leaders in large companies have pushed for the integration of blockchain technology in one capacity or another, and resistance has led to these companies hemorrhaging their pre-eminent talents.
That is, every industry has seen influential people in the largest companies jump ship and build their own smaller boats that point towards the siren.
One example of this trend – potentially one of the most impactful – is co-founder and (recently former) CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey.
The Love Triangle of Crypto, Dorsey and Twitter
For those unclear, Jack Dorsey is the classic story of a college drop-out who created the future we know today through the advent of social media.
He co-founded and ran Twitter from 2006 as it soared to prevalence, before leaving the giant he had raised to start Square, a mobile payment company that is worth $100 billion today. Dorsey then returned to Twitter as CEO and ran both companies until last month when he stepped down from Twitter once again.
The interesting elements of the story are in the details.
Firstly, this idealistic entrepreneur is nothing short of a tech savant. Co-founding one of the most important platforms in the history of the internet – one of the pioneering companies in social media, and one that has lasted the test of time – is enough evidence that Dorsey has vision when it comes to technology.
But, to step down and create a $100 billion company immediately after raises him into the rarefied atmosphere of the greats – and this is why his most recent exit from Twitter is of significance.
Dorsey has been reportedly “obsessed” with cryptocurrencies for some time now. Rumours of the integration of crypto into Twitter have been rife for several years and it is believed that Dorsey was working on bringing crypto payments to the platform as well as NFT services.
The latter particularly made sense given the rise of the PFP movement on Twitter and the lack of verification of ownership for the NFTs used.
Nevertheless, Twitter’s interaction with crypto remains unrealized, but Dorsey’s exit isn’t the end of that conversation. CTO-turned-CEO, Parag Argawal, has been tasked with taking over the platform’s early journey into Web 3.0.
So, what of Dorsey? He is a strong proponent of Bitcoin – perhaps even overzealous in places – and that will likely shape Square’s future as well as his own. While it accepts payment in Bitcoin, the trajectory of the payments platform is likely to be in the direction of the decentralized asset exchange allegedly in development.
Dorsey’s exit could be the best example of impatient innovators, however, and indicative of the newly troubled relationship between well-established entities and their most important figures.
The Exodus of Recent Tech Pioneers for a Web 3.0 Future
Dorsey’s exit from Twitter shocked many, but it isn’t all that shocking.
Argawal was said to have been earmarked as the next CEO a year ago and Dorsey has often hinted about wanting to work more in crypto, particularly Bitcoin. But, this is where we return to the interesting trend that can be broken into two parts: reluctant companies and antsy talent.
We have had Ubisoft, a behemoth in the gaming industry that has openly supported crypto, announce their NFT marketplace Quartz. The YouTube video was unlisted, but the comment section was a bloodbath and Ubisoft was likely thankful the number of dislikes is now hidden.
Many companies, particularly large organizations, have been dragging their feet with crypto adoption. Whenever one tentatively dips a toe in the waters, it is promptly bitten off by the loudest naysayers.
Recently we saw Discord discuss the integration of Metamask amid rumors of the platform’s interest in blockchain, only to be lambasted into submission on social media. This isn’t uncommon and it’s undoubtedly acting as a deterrent.
This slow movement from the largest companies isn’t unexpected. There is far more red tape to be navigated and they can’t possibly be as agile and forward-thinking as indie studios and start-ups.
However, there have been interesting consequences of that.
Firstly, the talent in many industries who want to engage with blockchain and see its potential appear to be getting frustrated and striking out on their own. This has been particularly noticeable in the gaming industry.
Secondly, the already staggering wealth within crypto dramatically mitigates the risk of doing so.
This is likely why we are seeing many new indie studios, small start-ups, and new ventures with monumental experience and talent behind them. There has been a war waged for the best and the brightest between the crypto industry and all that came before it, and crypto appears to be winning, at least anecdotally.
We are in a long, transitional phase as the bridge between the Web 2.0 and the Web 3.0 worlds is built, and the largest and most established companies are running out of time to mobilize.
Their hesitations aren’t without foundation as the familiar backlash to early innovation is rife and regulations are lacking.
But, inaction may leave them without the influence they’re used to, and without the talent they need, as visionaries like Jack Dorsey set sail for decentralised waters.