My Closing Keynote At The Collaborative, Peer and Sharing Economy Summit

NYU and The NYC Partnership (the chamber of commerce for NYC) held a conference last friday on the Collaborative, Peer, and Sharing Economy. I was asked to give a closing keynote. I don’t believe it was filmed. If it was, I will post the video here when I find it.

Instead of wrapping up and summarizing what had been discussed, I decided to look out ten years and think about where this sector is headed.

Here is the outline I prepared before going on stage. The talk was only 10 minutes.

– Networks are replacing Hierarchies

– Peer Networks Are The Most Powerful

– We Are In Stage One Of This

* your new boss is the same as your old boss

– We Are Still In An Age Of Centralization

* facebook, twitter, uber, airbnb

– Decentralization Is Next

– Look At The BlockChain For A Model Of Decentralized Commerce

* Gambling Without A House

* Stock Trading Without Exchanges

* Real Estate Transactions Without Deeds

* Transactions Without Clearinghouses

– The Regulatory Challenges We Discussed Today Are Just Scratching The Surface

– The Ultimate Sharing Economy Is A World Of Peers Without Middlemen

– We Will Get There But We Are Not Anywhere Near There Yet


Comments (Archived):

  1. Michael Frank

    Wow – really interesting ideas.Is the point where we get to networks sans middle man also the point when these marketplaces / networks become un-investable or do you just likely move from investing in the middle men (e.g. Ebay) to the tools (e.g. PayPal)?

    1. fredwilson

      that is a damn good questionrob kalin, etsy’s founder, once said to me back in 2006 or 2007, “we could easily not charge a transaction fee, we could make a lot of money on the showcase (etsy’s ad product) and the payment offerings”we still charge a small (3.5%) transaction fee at Etsy, but i don’t think its even a third of Etsy’s i think you are on to the right ideas with toolsi think discovery (ie advertising, but so much more) is likely the biggest opportunity

      1. Emily Merkle


    2. William Mougayar

      Centers that are light weight and that empower users autonomously will do well. For eg, Bitcoin purists will say that Exchanges are counter to the decentralized nature of Its promise.

      1. pointsnfigures

        CME (futures exchange in Chicago) raised data fees this year. They put small retail brokers out of business, and increased the cost to trade for independents. If I was in the board room I would have asked management to find a way to give data away for free (or at reduced prices) and monetize the hell out of it just like Google.Exchanges have massive infrastructure and can be toppled. But, the problem is the SEC/CFTC/DOJ/FINRA/FedRes have erected huge regulatory barriers to entry.At the same time, large incumbents like banks will spend money (lose money) to put upstarts out of business.

        1. William Mougayar

          Yep- there will be knee jerking to counter decentralization. Central powers’ days are numbered. Openness and distributed models are where the trend is.

          1. pointsnfigures

            I could foresee a day where it was the public against the government. What if we all decided not to pay our taxes?

          2. iggyfanlo

            That’s the “Berlin Wall” moment I referred to above

          3. LE

            I don’t think that would happen as long as the ratio of people that are happy with their lives and employed with families is enough in ratio to keep the disenchanted people in their place.Essentially spreading around the cheer [1] just enough but not to much. Same thing the mafia has successfully done (by legend at least) for many years. (Giving turkeys away and helping the padre at the church). If enough people are in on things then they aren’t going to bite the hand that feeds them.[1] Germany did this after the war, with holocaust survivors and their families.

          4. Emily Merkle

            I don’t.

        2. SS

          Completely agree. The exchanges are ridiculous for not offering the highest resolution data for free to the public. Instead of all the misinformed debate around HFT, I wish people would focus their energies on driving such changes.

        3. iggyfanlo

          The response needs and will be offshore… capital flows easily

          1. pointsnfigures

            When I was on the CME board, we saw data as a profit center. We made roughly $50M per year at that time on data. They make a lot more than that now.… made 2.9B in revenue last year. If they knew the elasticity between giving data away for free and increasing the amount of transactions, they might be able to mathematically think about it. Remember, the bulk of their trading comes from HFT members that pay net net around .08 per trade-even though their rate per contract is much higher than that.

  2. Tom Labus

    Stock trading needs big help to bounce the HFT bots. Average holding time for a stock now is in seconds or less. Island on those concepts started out to get rid of the middle man but some how made it worse

    1. pointsnfigures

      Its not HFT on an island that is tough on markets-it is the market structure. Will be interesting to see what happens with IEX.

  3. jason wright

    a lot of vested interests are going to get very hacked off.

    1. Emily Merkle

      Why can’t the vested interests decentralize into independently-owned and-operated but essentially centrally-loosely-held orgs?

      1. William Mougayar

        Prob due to classical innovator’s dilemma. It will be an interesting evolution.

        1. Emily Merkle

          Classically the movement is to consolidation. Antithetically is specialization diversification, with some coopetition. Very viable, tho.

  4. William Mougayar

    Decentralization is an emerging trend that is ripping every corner of our world. What is enabling this is Unbundling 2.0. The more internal pieces are unbundled, the more the center get weakened, and some of these new pieces become new enablers on their own.We are seeing the Decentralization of:- Markets- Currency- Information- Services- Technology- Industries- Countries- etc.The role the centers is definitely being re-defined. The center controls less, but it facilitates more.

    1. jason wright

      so what happens to cities and geo population centers in the decentralized world?

      1. William Mougayar

        Like Switzerland. They have the perfect decentralized governance with the Cantons system. More power to the States & Cities.

        1. jason wright

          i always think of Switzerland as a special case. its mountainous topography has determined the structure of governance.oh how we need mountains in England!

      2. pointsnfigures

        They get denser, because mini-networks can be more efficient than macro networks.

    2. SubstrateUndertow

      The role the centers is definitely being re-defined. The center controls less, but it facilitates moreNicely frames the fact that there will always be an evolving interplay between centralization/decentralization.It will never be a one size fits all affair!

      1. William Mougayar

        It’s like a pendulum swing but in tandem. client/server architectures were the first to break the central mainframe paradigm, and it continues from then on.

  5. JimHirshfield

    There’s a force of gravity towards centralization in a winner take all economy. I agree with the principal of decentralization as you position it. But I think it’s hard for businesses not to trend towards centralization… towards control… startup or incumbent.

    1. jason wright

      disqus works as a platform for the expression of decentralized opinion. the debate, the dissonance (the decentralized opinions), is what drives the network.when centralized servers give way to the server in your pocket, when the architecture of the web/ mobile has shifted to a pattern that replicates peer-to-peer networks, then centralization will come to an end. At the moment peer-to-peer is being grafted to an architecture that is itself centralized. that can’t work long term.corporate law will have to catch up with new technologies. the idea of ‘ownership’ is going to evolve.

      1. JimHirshfield

        “peer-to-peer is being grafted to an architecture that is itself centralized”Interesting way to put it. Food for thought.

        1. jason wright

          pure P2P is not native to the present configuration of the infrastructure. this drives my interest in Project Ara, and the possibility to build modules that overcome this problem. i can’t see governments regulating against the use of hardware that routes around the existing internet infrastructure and cell networks.the architecture of bitcoin is native to P2P. the architecture of the web and mobile is not. when servers are in our pockets we will each be able to ‘self store’ our information and then give access to it on a P2P basis. facebook as the centralized social network dies.

        2. LE

          “”peer-to-peer is being grafted to”Gentlemen we can rebuild him. We have the technology.

          1. jason wright

            Fred asks what is net native. i ask what is peer native. bitcoin is peer native. the web is not.

          2. Emily Merkle

            You assume Bitcoin is a true “peer-to-peer exchange”. Begs the questions, what makes for a peer?

      2. HowieG

        Disqus and Livefyre are better conversation engines than all social networks except for Twitter in my opinion. But disqus is very buggy and trailing Livefyre (sorry Fred) in technology and ease of use.But the key is they host discussions on parallel networks really well and encourage content creators to set these conversations free from their control.

        1. jason wright

          although i know of Livefyre i’ve yet to see it deployed on any website i use. Disqus is more visible in my world. The Livefyre website is better.

          1. LE

            Both have stupid names. Could be worse though. Could be “Dysqus” and “Lyvefyre”. Or maybe even and But why stop there? Just use ip addresses. Make it even harder.Naming is problematic so you don’t have to make things worse then they are (for no reason).Take your last name, “Wright”.That could be:WrightRightRiteReitRiet (that’s stretching it of course).

          2. Emily Merkle

            All of the names are stupid. Name something people can spell and type into a browser. I named my latest company Morefire. Whatever.

          3. jason wright

            believe me, i’ve heard them all. i ain’t changing it.i think ‘disqus’ is a better name than ‘livefyre’, which sounds too aggressive and combative for a discussion platform. sets the wrong tone. it’s hard though as startups have limited budgets, and domain owners can be very unrealistic on price.

          4. Emily Merkle

            They are just names. Define your offering by your offering, not your domain name.

          5. jason wright

            they are. it’s more about not getting it wrong than it is about there being a definite right choice, one being ip due diligence.if the service is engaging then the name is right, even if it’s ‘wrong’.

          6. Emily Merkle

            Could not agree more. I mean – your exampole – “disqus’ IS a stroke of genius. But more rare to grab and apply relevantly these days…

      3. SubstrateUndertow

        Sure hope your right !As someone who worships regularly at the church of biomimicry and takes its core organizing principle, synchronized networks of distributively-redundant form/function, as an article of faith, as a cheat-sheet around which we can reengineer more organically adaptive/stable social structures, I do have just one nagging crisis of faith.WHILEstatistically emergent organic complexity as a self-reinforcing, self-selecting, self-organizing dynamic seems to work as a fractal repeat all the way up from the sub-atomic basement.NEVER THE LESShumans may represent a unique disturbance in that force, a discontinuance in that universally emergent, self-organizing, trajectory towards ever increasing levels of synchronous complexity/consciousness.The participant pennies in the currency of statistically-emergent self-organizing complexity at all previous substrate levels were behaviourally/statistically consistent/repeatable/stable pennies all the way back down the reality stack.At the humans level this fractal repeat of self-organizing, network synchronized, emergent complexity hits a serious discontinuance.That discontinuance arises from the fact that HUMANS are the pennies in the currency of statistically-emergent, self-organizing, social complexity.Our unique powers of self-awareness all under the steerage of an intensely mandatory evolutionary dependence on volitional self-interests makes us a uniquely unstable, behaviourally inconsistent, statistically unrepeatable and thus a poor candidate for a continuance of this fractal repeat of statistically driven self-organizing complexity.We just might be too clever by half. We may be a uniquely unsuited penny in the currency of statistically emergent complexity ? Maybe we have reached our evolutionary hull speed ?Humans pennies can change their participatory patterns of organizational behaviour on a dime, on a rumour, on a panic, on an ideology, on pure corruption/greed. Humans even have the cognitive power to reach down and disturb their own social, environmental, even genetic, substrates, all in the service of their own localized shot term volitional self-interests.This self-organizing-dynamic discontinuance follows from our original-sin/grace of being born into the world as uniquely empowered self-aware volitional-demigods endowed with the seeds of our own self-serving limitations ?The implication ? Bring that magic-mojo, that organically distributive self-organizing dynamic into the realm of human social evolution will require a supra-human collectively-conscious introspective solution that focuses on circumventing that uniquely human volitionally discontinuance with all pervious substrate layers of the self-organizing dynamic by engineer very clever distributive trust-mediating/stabilizing mechanisms like “BlockChain”.Independent “BlockChain” like mechanisms that take on a life of their own out there in the collective ether of decentralized self-interest seem like the most promising vehicles for circumventing our biologically self-centric evolutionary cup-de-sack?Yet again !”MIND OVER MATTER”

        1. Emily Merkle

          To manny punktuashuns.

          1. SubstrateUndertow

            We all have limitations sorry !

          2. Emily Merkle

            hahhaha I like excesses of all kinds 🙂 including but not limited to punktuashuns.

        2. jason wright

          i’ve always liked Hemingway 🙂

    2. kidmercury


    3. SubstrateUndertow

      STILL”if you push a process to far it will flip into its opposite”from being a tool into being an vestigial impediment.In the long run that is likely to apply here as well ?The trick will probably be in managing a timely transition ?

  6. Dan Benjamin

    Fred, really interesting points.We at eRated ( feel that one of the biggest challenges in any marketplace (especially a sharing economy market) is getting the buyer to trust the seller and vice versa. To solve this, each one of the marketplaces out there are using a reputation system.But again, centralization prevents these marketplaces from tapping into the billions of transactions that already happened online (100M sellers operating in over 1000 marketplaces).At eRated we hope to get people to trust each other by re-inventing “credit scores” and introducing it in marketplaces.Cheers from Techstars London.

  7. pointsnfigures

    Bitcoin will take over a generation to establish itself totally. People will literally have to die, and new generations be brought up with it. Fear on security, and busting up existing networks will take time. But, I agree that it will be pervasive-and incumbents better watch out.Clearinghouses could survive in some form-to organize and collate all the different bitcoin currencies that will exist (and to provide FX cross currency services to them)

  8. Aaron Klein

    Let’s not forget the potential decentralization of computing and networks themselves. If peer-to-peer networks can achieve the same level of tight syncing as the cloud server model (and the blockchain model could be key to that), the cloud could give way to a world where data lives solely on devices, not servers. #NSAWorstNightmare

    1. pointsnfigures

      Engineering could be a game changer too. How do we know that 100 years into the future your handheld device won’t be 1000 times more powerful than a huge server farm today?

      1. Aaron Klein

        One could argue there’s an insane likelihood of that happening.

        1. baba12

          It is 100 times powerful as the first consumer computers. So yes likely it will be 1000 times powerful as of today in the next 25 years. Also we will have at the minimum 1Gb up/down broadband connectivity. So peer to peer de-centralized would be interesting but thus far most large network based services or marketplaces are all still replicating what exists from when humans began trading. Be it the ebay’s & Amazon’s, etsy’s of the world or the Airbnb and Uber, these are all middlemen/marketplaces connecting buyers and sellers of products and services, value is gained by having large networks thats the basis of investment strategies for the USV’s of the world.So in a decentralized peer to peer network how do the USV’s of the world make money if there is no clearly defined market maker(s)

    2. Cam MacRae

      I hope you’re right, but I think it’s more likely that Benevolent Corporate Overlords Inc.* will possess all the data. That we’ll be spending BCO Inc. Credits, not bitcoin, to pay for our BCO Inc. supplied housing, in which we consume BCO Inc. soylent, while watching BCO Inc. propaganda.Or maybe I watch/read too much dystopian sci-fi.*Not benevolent.

      1. Aaron Klein


      2. kidmercury

        just replace “BCO” with “amazon” and there you have it! 🙂

    3. William Mougayar

      yep, that’s already underway with experiments like MaidSafe, but it won’t be without bumps.

    4. kidmercury

      the NSA is capturing keystrokes already. #NSAWinsAgain

  9. mikenolan99

    Was just explaining AirBnB to my 69 year old step mom last night… She just doesn’t trust the reviews. I think we are a generation or two away from people trusting the signals from a thousand strangers vs. the established corporate entity.

    1. iggyfanlo

      Funny… you mention your 69 yr old mom, but I think that your/her comment gets to the heart of which system eventually supersedes… namely TRUST…As the peer networks develop increasing trust, and the government ones erode further (e.g. corruption with World Cup and Qatar to name only the most recent), there will eventually come a “Berlin Wall” moment that will be shocking in the present but obvious in retrospect

      1. mikenolan99

        Agreed… Though too many of the current trust networks are prone to “gaming”… I think the growth of personal networks…. Where we can see the reviews of the one-or-two degrees of separations will be the most valuable.

    2. LE

      One of the advantages and disadvantages of getting older is that you have had statistically many experiences over time that would tend to (protectively) jade you.I first noticed this when I was in college and my girlfriend at the times mother said not to put melted butter down the sink because it would clog up.While that seems obvious now, it wasn’t back then. I figured out that she must have had to call the plumber years earlier because she did the exact same thing and had consequently learned her lesson. A bit later I Iearned that you shouldn’t flush floss in the toilet. Lesson was learned in the first house I owned. Prior to that, when I was renting it didn’t matter. Not enough time had elapsed, so not enough floss to have the toilet get clogged. Make sense?I tend to order the same meal and drink when I go out and tend to frequent the same places (where I live isn’t NYC or anything and there are limited choices so you stick with what is good). As a result even when ordering the same things I notice variations with the same item at the same place. Statistically you run into quality issues. Just go there once or 4 times you may not see any problems.That said I know that there are people that are inveterate airbnbers but I also doubt that they will not, over time, if they use it enough (renters or rentees), end up having issues or bad experiences. [1]I just ran into my first cancelled flight ever. I’m sure if I flew more that would be a regular occurrence.[1] I actually have a name for this – when a bad experience happens the first time. I call it a “lever”. Because when something happens really quickly you tend to think it is representative of the way it always is and it gets amplified in your head as more of a threat. So if you go into a new restaurant the first time and there is a noisy group you tend to think there are always noisy groups or people there whereas if you visited it weekly and never see a noisy group until the 7th month you tend to pass it off as a one time occurrence and it doesn’t bother you as much.

    3. awaldstein

      dunnoamazon reviews started when–in the 90s and changed the world.the truth is of course is that 90+ percent of all people are honest, considerate, serious about what they say and is built into culture at its best when not screwed up.those that break it are the problem of course and harder–how to build systems that keep the whacko at bay and not make the experience for the rest of us, as it should be, natural and easy.

      1. LE

        the truth is of course is that 90+ percent of all people are honest, considerate, serious about what they say and recommend.Parsing reviews, to figure out which products to buy, is absolutely exhausting. (So are travel reviews for that matter).And I think it causes companies to spend time and energy and money (that comes from the pockets of the rest of us more reasonable people) tending to the needs of the small percentage of customers that are perhaps a bit unreasonable in their expectations.I have lost count of how many times I’ve read Amazon reviews and heard of some person whining about how they were shipped a DOA product as if things made in China are and can be manufactured to medical or aviation grade quality. As if it’s a heart valve.One of the things of course that is missing from reviews (at least without serious work parsing tons of them) if figuring out if a particular thing is good for you in terms of what is important to you. I may not care if a hotel is located within walking distance of a fine wine shop but you might. You might not care if a hotel is located withing walking distance of a hobie cat rental place but I do. [1][1] I was at a hotel last month that had a wine shop in the lobby and a hobie rental place on the beach at the hotel next door but the hobies didn’t have their sales up and needed to be repaired.

        1. awaldstein

          We look at this differently.For a book, a printer, a refrigerator–amazon reviews are all that i need and it’s not a big deal.For vacations and things like hotels, I only use my networks, get personal recommendations and then recheck reviews.One rule for all products doesn’t and won’t ever work.

          1. LE

            You mentioned Amazon and Amazon sells much more than books, printers and refrigerators. (I don’t agree with the refrigerator by the way). The books of course you are right but there is little downside to buying the wrong $10 book. Printers, depends on the cost of the printer totally.For vacations you have a network to consult with. I kind of liked it back in the travel agent days when the network was the travel agent who was comped by the resort, visited the place, sent her clients, and then got the feedback from her clients (the network) and told me to go there.

          2. Emily Merkle

            Hmm. For *anything* – I never rely on reviews. At all. I gather intel from varied sources. Books – NYT; Amazon critics’ reviews; etc.; appliance – Consumer Reports; for one; vacations – luxe – I go to local sites; luxury style sites/celeb rags/etc…and rely on niche communities like the (now defunct) Jig, etc.

    4. David

      I love Airbnb, but I fully I agree. The Airbnb review process is flawed because of “shoot the messenger”. Consumers will not give honest reviews for fear of retaliation from a Host or future Hosts. I wrote about this on my blog several months ago.

  10. Eric Woods

    Very interesting discussion. In the absence of the imprimatur of the central hub (casino, exchange, deeds, clearinghouse, etc) what role will the homogeneity of the user/consumer play in adoption of this decentralized world?

  11. LaVonne Reimer

    Strange to be in NYC with the chance to comment early! While you were doing the keynote I was hanging out with some of the team at MIT media labs. Very similar themes. I do believe you are right that there is much yet to come but there are very big markets where we can begin to model this future and do it now because the pain is real and urgent. I have focused on small business credit. Taking out the data broker/credit bureau out of lending and procurement the way they work today but with a view to how the meaning of credit, trust and identity might evolve along the lines you highlight. I feel lucky in that among the many credit analysts and officers I have gotten to help are some who are looking ahead. E.g. The community banker who is sponsoring 3d printing events because she believes we are on the cusp of organic and distributed business models that will raise all sorts of interesting questions as to who is or is not creditworthy. To summarize, we can start solving immediate problems but architecting for evolution. It’s actually a lot of fun and hopefully revenue generating.

  12. Joah Spearman

    Decentralization is most definitely where we’re headed. In content, we previously had newspapers and print magazines (e.g. Time, Life) as a primary source of information…to a lesser extent you could look to print guide books (travel), cook books, etc. Today, with everything from Medium and Yelp to Instagram and Refinery29, it’s becoming less likely that a winner will ever take all. Owning three major startups is either harder or more expensive than owning three major newspapers and building the next Travel Channel is less valuable than building the next TripAdvisor. That said, I think it’s only a matter of time before we (at least partially) stop worrying about one company dominating a space a la Google in search/Facebook in social and we’ll concern ourselves more with how deep into the Total Addressable Market the key players can get, e.g. Uber/Lyft/Sidecar.

  13. Salt Shaker

    Regulatory impediments can (and will) constrain decentralization. (Already precedents w/ car share, apt share, BTC.) Gov’t is challenged to embrace change, particularly with the strength of legacy businesses and lobbyist pressure. Many puppeteers view status quo as comforting. Education and controlling disinformation, particularly early stage, is critical.

  14. sigmaalgebra


  15. SS

    Thanks, I was there at the conference and your 10 minute talk was easily the highlight for me. The problem with decentralization in transaction based businesses like stock trading is price discovery. For me that is the key issue centralization solves apart from trust etc. Do you have any intuition on how one could get around that?

  16. Terry J Leach

    I have been thinking a lot over the last month about “exchange networks” which are peer-to-peer without a central authority. The next ten years will require a different way of thinking about the solution to societies most pressing needs. Exchange Networks will inherently be trust based, collaborative and bubble resistant, and built on top of the BlockChain for Commerce. The method to create the coming era of decentralization will require bootstrapping using creative commons. I’m working on some solutions.

  17. Richard

    Get ready for a strong headwind …”The best set of weapons for fighting terrorism is the data relating to financial transactions” Jane Harman, Head of the Wilson Center

  18. Indrid Cold

    The idea that decentralization is occurring is a naive illusion. The financial power of the world continues to consolidate around fewer and fewer individuals. Like stars in our stellar neighborhood, they control the orbits of of the minority of financial power held by the rest of society.

    1. kidmercury


    2. HowieG

      I disagree that this is won’t change. This happened before, many times and then it always crashed. I see it happening again. It is cyclical. And now with democracies who says a ton of Bernie Sanders won’t be voted in to run the US soon? You can only get people to vote against their economic best interests for so long before they realize they are getting screwed and wake up. Time will tell of course.

      1. SubstrateUndertow

        You can only get people to vote against their economic best interests for so long before they realize they are getting screwed and wake up. Time will tell of course.The problem is that historical sea changes like that tend to happen on a multi-generational time scale.Lets hope that can be transformed to operate on INTERNET-TIME !

      2. ShanaC

        you need more than that – you need the equivalent of voiding debt and totally restructuring debt on a worldwide scale.Basically, everyone would have to default at once – which is hard to do unless you’re the roman empire (and even american currency is not as widespread as the roman’s was comparatively.)

        1. Emily Merkle

          Why would that be a problem? An extremely well-organized movement with a very simple to understand coda for taking such action & the benefit of doing so within said time parameter – and what/how to do it – easy-peasy. I would be willing to serve such a movement. Gladly.

          1. ShanaC

            its hugely socially problematic. While too mcuh debt tends to undermine societies – everyone suddenly going on a debt holiday causes trust issues and business to grind to a halt right before the holiday – which is why a sacking usually instigates debt holidays…

          2. Emily Merkle

            Trust issues? Trust in whom? Debt is not a liquid asset to a business or corporation – it is a line item; leverage. Eliminating debt frees up individual consumer capital and burden, allowing fiscal mechanisms to begin to regain traction once again. Should the proper groundwork be laid prior to a group debt shedding – such as a decentralization framework – society may very well be able to reorganize radically, an for the better, all-round.

    3. JamesHRH

      I agree that Fred’s 10 vision is illusive.People do not want to do the hard work of making their own choices. People like the security (someone to blame) & the efficacy (some to do the legwork) of a certifier or provider.Middlemen may disappear, but assurance driven service providers will take their place.

    4. Emily Merkle

      Decentralization does not have to de facto lead with coin. It leads with organization, action, and movement.

  19. Tscherz

    This weekend I threw out my kid’s old bikes and we couldn’t find anyone to give the crib to.I want to be part if a program which allows me to buy an American made bike, use it for six months and then be incentivized to return it in good shape and get credit for the next size up. I want to rent everything.If target had an option to rent pack and plays – I bet people wouldn’t have to buy and return so often. Waste of time for consumers and expensive logistics cost with no value add

    1. JamesHRH

      That service provider, if it scales, is a centralizing force though.

  20. Twain Twain

    – Networks are replacing HierarchiesThe P2P piece is interesting because I know of distributed Cloud in some of the biggest financial institutions which took root back in Web 1.0. At UBS, for example, we built the P2P IM equivalent of Skype for the banking sector which is still used between the banks today. It got acquired by MS in 2009 actually and was one of my strategic investments.Plus my former colleague led the build of the banking sector’s largest Cloud grid and I had mapped the ECN (electronic communications network) that included all the exchanges, clearing & settlements and broker entities in a major piece of strategic analysis I did back in 2001 when I was a “Young Turk” graduate.My own e-Intelligence platform was decentralized by design.Agile design and modular nodes replaced hierarchal Waterfall approaches as computing philosophy and practice. So that’s what’s been translated into wider business.Now we’re in free, cross-responsive frameworks. Free meaning independent rather than no-charge for utility.I’d probably go further than networks and say that data spheres will replace Networks and Hierarchies.If we analogize the development of computing with chemistry, hierarchies are like the layers of graphite (the earliest form of Carbon). Then diamond and its connected lattices were discovered followed by the network structures of the C60.In chemistry, it’s known that the influence and interaction (“magic”) happens between individual free spheres and their atomic data rather than the links per se.If we look at materials science and Neuroscience and the designs of memory chips, they too are becoming about distributed components (“constellations”) rather than core concentrations.

  21. Emily Merkle

    Decentralization is an ambitious, but utopian concept. The fact remains that no matter what faux pillars of power, prestige, or wealth are town down, there remain gating/segregating factors to fence – and naturally so – humankind. Intellect. Open-mindedness. The ability to think. Objectivism. Empathy. Civility. Passion. Access to information. Curiosity.It occurs already – insular groups (forgive my vulgarism) clusterfuck; inbreed; get high on their own supply – discouraging new blood from diluting / polluting / refreshing their own. In societal spheres high and low. Intellectual and lowbrow. Professional and mundane. People self-select their own and are wont to remain insular. because that is safe. And apparently, safe is good. Predictable is good. Being reliably accepted is reinforcing to the ego.I do not find that personally appealing. I tend to fling myself about, consequences be damned. But that is just me. Perhaps if we modeled a little more daring in our decentralized peer networks, our peer business dealings, our peer world – we could move this sea change along a wee bit faster.i for one am all for it.

  22. LE

    I’m unclear on this:”Real Estate Transactions Without Deeds”It seems that this carries on the notion that a middleman is a valueless leech:”The Ultimate Sharing Economy Is A World Of Peers Without Middlemen”

    1. Emily Merkle

      Agreed. a “middleman” is a professional; assumes risk; lends experience; lends value. Not in all domains, but…

    2. Brandon G. Donnelly

      No deed needed because the verification of property title happens via the block chain itself. Is this what you were getting at @fredwilson:disqus?

      1. Emily Merkle

        No, it does not. My father works in title insurance. Has for 35 years. However the megabanks are taking that in-house.

        1. LE

          Hah. Just wrote similar in my comment above re: title insurance. (I actually had a title insurance claim within the last 10 years and it came in handy.)

          1. Emily Merkle


          2. Emily Merkle

            Good biz in boom times…

      2. LE

        If that is the case I don’t think the benefit is great enough to get all of the parties involved in a transaction to sign onto this.After all people still write and process checks. And it tooks years to even move the needle with getting people away even with a clear benefit.But more importantly there aren’t even that many real estate transactions (vs. other types of transactions) to make this a must have.And besides you’d still need title insurance because someone could have a lien on a property. So in other words simple “verification of the property” doesn’t mean as much as you think it does.

  23. howardlindzon

    very helpful…thx – its fun to be left filling in the blanks

  24. kidmercury

    decentralization is a grand fairytale. people have been talkign about decentralization since the internet began. what happened? not decentralized media — we got aggregators instead. not decentralized identities; we got google and facebook instead. not even decentralized commerce: ebay and amzn instead.if you decentralize, you must re-centralize. platforms that learn to use these tools of decentralization to more efficiently scale and govern a larger network will be the biggest winners here.the exceptions here will be the not for profit stuff, i.e. linux and wikipedia. to cross the chasm, though, one must close and integrate. some day everything will be not for profit, but i doubt we are at that world just yet. maybe after a few more decades.

    1. SubstrateUndertow

      the exceptions here will be the not for profit stuff. . . . some day everything will be not for profitor maybe profit get redefined as a more socially distributive affair and it all happen on an INTERNET-TIME-FRAME!Hope springs eternal !Stop bring us down with your PESSIMISTIC REALISM 🙂

    2. William Mougayar

      but as you evolve, you centralize differently. i think there’s a nuance between centralization for control vs. centralization for enablement and empowerment.

    3. AgeOfSophizm

      I’m not so sure kid. Most of my news comes from sources that lack all key ingredients that a centralized source would have (generally speaking one is better equipped to follow the money or the motives of that news source – maybe even meet that individual in person). Also in terms of commerce, is Etsy not an example of decentralization? It occurs to me the internet has not really been around that long in the grand scheme of things, so maybe we are still in the early stages of the decentralization curve?

  25. jason wright

    following Apple’s WWDC.iphone has 40% of US smartphone market – is that so?

  26. JaredMermey

    Is decentralization the same thing as disintermediation?…Separately…decentralization leads to the Consumer Surplus hypothesis that Albert often writes about. Long term question is does this trend negate the need for VC?

    1. Emily Merkle

      That was fantastic. Esp. the Coriseco piece. Decentralization is not the same thing as disintermediation, in my mind. Semantics, on some level, but in practice, disintermediation is a systematic, natural evolution, driven by technology, demand, market forces, economies of scale, and the simple breakdown of institutions that have outlived their usefulness and utility. To your question: is their a “need” for VC? Not in my world. I work in digital media. It’s a world driven by human capital; experience, and intellect. Boot-strapped. Striped earned in the trenches over the years of working for “the man” and taking it in the chin. Sometimes, making it big. Not by doo-dads and gadgets that need funding to code/build/develop/market/etc. Where there is a demand – not where one seeks to create one – there is no need for VC.Thanks for sharing.

  27. andrewstuart81

    Average holding time for a stock now is in seconds or less. Island on those concepts started out to get rid of the middle man but

    1. Emily Merkle

      I worked with a guy who developed a algo (complex) that was just quick enough to disrup the entire NYSE that they crushed his startup.

  28. ShanaC

    I think what we are seeing as decentralization is the cantalevering of centralizations – the centralization is now hidden from view, but it hasn’t disappeared.The last quote would otherwise be impossible -middlemen (and uber/lyft/airbnb are middlemen) are needed just to make the marketplace – they are the supports for the effects that we see as decentralization

    1. AgeOfSophizm

      Sure they are still “middlemen”, but just way more efficient, less prone to corruption, more democratic, and cheaper.

  29. Michael Elling

    It’s all about bandwidth at the edge. Call it digitization of the last mile or Web 4.0. The latter needs to be full-duplex, 7×24, video (so much higher capacity). Cloud economics need to be moved to the edge and be universally accessible and cheap. In particular, upstream bandwidth, latency, QoS, security and redundancy have to all see radical improvements. Only then will the centralization we see from web 2.0 and 3.0 be constantly at risk of being disrupted. Here are my thoughts on why Google chose not to go open access in the last mile.

  30. Josh Ludin

    I wonder if the trading of commodities is going to become more and more popular for conventional traders as we progress.Josh

    1. Emily Merkle

      hugely so. I have a friend just left Chi Mercatile Exch. to set up shop in Chile..

  31. harris497

    There will always be the need for central authority – and by default a central platform – because given the nature of man, there will always be the need for law enforcement.

  32. Sergey Nazarov

    Look At The BlockChain For A Model Of Decentralized Commerce + Stock Trading Without Exchanges X Decentralization Is Next = am highly biased, but why wouldn’t the status quo quickly switch to decentralized systems that don’t require trusting historically untrustworthy third parties like centralized email servers, exchanges that get hacked for $325MM in losses, exchanges that sell co-location services to elite traders, etc…Especially when not trusting those third parties means eliminating their fees and increasing your margins by 30%+ if you are in high volume low margin businesses like ecommerce.Also, why wouldn’t a make a DAC with someone instead of a legal contract? There is 100% encforcement once you have a secure computing environment like NXT’s Automated Transaction feature

  33. Jim Holub

    Mr. Wilson, Could you elaborate on “real estate transactions w/o deeds?” I’m founder of an organic farmland investment advisory and farmland land access is becoming more of an issue for farmers . What you propose is intriguing.

  34. Lars R. Knudsen

    Hi Fred, your keynote is available on Youtube…

    1. fredwilson