Freedom and Innovation
I testified yesterday in a public hearing on Bitcoin as part of two days of hearings put on by the New York State Department of Financial Services. The hearings are being livestreamed here and you can click on the archives and watch yesterday’s two panels.
I got pretty animated during the discussion, which is probably not a great thing to do when testifying in a government hearing. But this kind of thing is really important to me. We were talking about the freedom to innovate in an emerging market that is going to get regulated. I don’t have a problem with regulation per se, but how and when it happens matters a lot.
As our panel was winding down, Superintendant Lawsky asked what countries were doing it right. I didn’t answer that question but instead decided to talk about one that isn’t doing it right and brought up China and noted that a fantastic investment strategy would be to have invested in every Internet servcies that China has blocked. My point being that the services China likes to block are the really important ones that have been built on the Internet.
I then noted that this discussion is really about freedom. Chris McAlary recorded my assertion in this tweet:
“It’s about freedom,ultimately,and whether you want to live in a society that embraces innovation,free speech & freedom or not”@fredwilson
— Chris McAlary (@KlausTeuber) January 28, 2014
Some will say that I was being overly dramatic or romantic with that line. But I really believe it. If you look at the countries around the world where the most innovation happens, you will see a very high, I would argue a direct, correlation between innovation and freedom. They are two sides of the same coin.