Our friends Balaji and Naval penned a really nice primer on crypto-tokens. 

AVC readers have been hearing me talk about this new form of business model and fund raising mechanism for a while now and so it won’t be new to all of you. But even so, I think the way they lay it all out is really well done and I’ve sent it around to a bunch of people I know who are still trying to make sense of tokens.

If you want to give it a read, click here and check it out. 


Comments (Archived):

  1. jason wright

    You fly thousands of miles and still can’t keep your mind off crypto. it is addictive.Girish Metha flagged this one up on your Kin post. I was reading it yesterday. It’s a good one.Ethereum-based tokens are too easy to issue. That’s a bubble within a bubble. (A definition of ‘ethereal’ – extremely delicate and light in a way that seems not to be of this world.)I like the API keys analogy.”dramatic correction” – sounds scary.If you’re going to the Louvre check out the newly opened Green Frog gallery.

    1. fredwilson

      Honestly I was just looking to post something for the community as I’m traveling all day and no time to write

    2. Mac

      Green Frog gallery??

    3. pointsnfigures

      I think that no matter where you are, no matter the time of day a great VC has one ear to the ground for his companies. Since USV has invested in crypto, it’s probably always top of mind for all of them.

    4. Twain Twain

      Agree, the API keys analogy works.I think Naval also wrote the best practical description in that Blockchain PDF Fred blogged about a few months ago.From Oxford English dictionary: Late Middle English: “From Old French, or via Latin from Greek aithēr ‘upper air’, from the base of aithein ‘burn, shine’. Originally the word denoted a substance believed to occupy space beyond the sphere of the moon. ether (sense 3) arose in the mid 17th century and ether (sense 1) in the mid 18th century.”So it might be what’s called a “moonshot.”

      1. jason wright

        which post was that?

          1. jason wright

            this looks good. i think i must have missed that post. thank you.

        1. Twain Twain

          Naval Ravikant: “The Four Layers of the Internet Protocol Suite are constantly communicating. The Link Layer puts packets on a wire. The Internet Layer routes them across networks. The Transport Layer persists communication across a given conversation. And the Application Layer delivers entire documents and applications.Where’s the protocol layer for exchanging value, not just data? Where’s the distributed, anonymous, permission- less system for chatty machines to allocate their scarce resources? Where is the “virtual money” to create this “virtual economy?Cryptocurrencies are an emergent property of the Internet – almost a 5th protocol in the Internet suite.”For me, that makes sense and is a well-reasoned “why, what, where and how” case for bitcoin and blockchain technologies, leaving the “who” up to developers who understand the Internet layers.All the other spiele about Blockchain are marketing hyperbole that can be counter-productive and confusing.

      2. JamesHRH

        I thought the Bearer Bond worked.So many analogies, so little time.

        1. Twain Twain

          Analogies is a reason Natural Language Understanding hasn’t been cracked. We understand through metaphors, analogies and comparisons that are not statistically correlated.

    5. Girish Mehta

      A bubble is a large and long lasting upward deviation of the price of some asset from its fundamental value.The value of cryptocurrency does not exist the way it does for equities/bonds/housing– there are no futue cash flows (or rental yields) to be discounted.This is true of all money – Money is the ultimate bubble in that sense.Interpreting that definition – a bubble may not be a appropriate characterization for cryptocurrencies (or money) because a cryptocurrency has no fundamental value to deviate from in a “large and long-lasting” fashion.

      1. jason wright

        thanks. i’m parroting Albert Wenger. I know nothing.

        1. Girish Mehta

          I know much less than nothing.

          1. Twain Twain

            I know nothing INFINITESIMALLY.If with an incompatible partner, it’d be: I know nothing … INTIMATELY.We could continue in this vein of wordplay LOLs.

          2. jason wright

            the never ending void of nothingness? it’s like a Bergman film LOL 🙂

          3. Twain Twain

            Exactly. Just have two people staring out to the sea and space whilst soliloquizing about … NADA.

          4. jason wright

            or blog commenting to each other – ROFL 🙂

          5. Twain Twain

            Oh my! When the English humor parts of my brain kick in.ROTLFMAO over and over again! Coffee all over keyboard!

          6. jason wright

            i remember that stage of my development to nothing 🙂

    6. falicon

      I personally hate the API Keys analogy…it’s credits, they should just call it credits, but they won’t call it credits or say it’s anything like credits because then it seems very scam-y (warning: many early attempts WILL BE).It’s a whole new stock market they are talking about here…and just like when the 1st stock market came together, many, many ‘regular’ people are going to lose their shirt before it eventually calms down and becomes a reasonable part of the global economy.Just my opinion of course…

  2. William Mougayar

    And at the Token Summit last week, all the seats were token.

    1. jason wright

      will there be videos of Summit discussions coming out soon?

      1. William Mougayar

        Yes, in a few days. Currently being post-edited.If you subscribe to the YouTube channel, you will be notified.

        1. jason wright

          thanks. subscribed.

        2. Mac

          Subscribed. Thanks, William

    2. JimHirshfield

      Don’t be coiny

      1. William Mougayar

        OK, I will be cryptic instead.

    3. jason wright

      the next should be in Europe…please.

    4. creative group

      William Mougayar:Any non trade mark photos of event?

    5. jason wright

      price elasticity of demand – squeeze every last satoshi out of ’em.

  3. awaldstein

    Really excellent Fred.

  4. William Mougayar

    But I don’t agree with the article’s positioning that tokens are everything and the end-state for blockchains impact. We are still unpacking the various building blocks of the blockchain. Tokens + what they enable are one of the realizations of the blockchain. Truth is not all protocols and apps need tokens. Some do, some don’t.

    1. Girish Mehta

      In the spirit of “unpacking the various building blocks of the blockchain…” 🙂 https://uploads.disquscdn.c

      1. Twain Twain

        Haha haha haha, love Dilbert.

      2. Amar

        Love it! I want to buy you a beverage or meal of your choice and hear more about the Feynman method … Are you planning on being in the Austin/Central TX area anytime soon? 🙂

        1. Girish Mehta

          Thanks Amar ! No plans unfortunately at this time.. :-).

    2. jason wright

      “not all protocols and apps need tokens. Some do, some don’t.”i’ve read this point made elsewhere. could you say a little more? what distinguishes those that need from those that don’t?

      1. William Mougayar

        It means that if the token doesn’t add value, utility or offer a specific function, then it’s shoe horned, and that’s questionable.

        1. jason wright

          thanks William.i can see that not every applications would need its own token, but how would a protocol function without its own token?

          1. William Mougayar

            Most Internet protocols exist without tokens. They are typically funded by an open source community or a foundation.

          2. jason wright

            could you give me examples of protocols without tokens? thank you.

    3. LE

      A long meaty piece like this and that’s all you have say? For those of us who are special needs in this area we are looking for more commentary and thoughts. [1][1] The only thing that I have to say is that after researching the author I find that he was being considered to run the FDA:…Indian-American Balaji S Srinivasan, a successful Silicon Valley-based entrepreneur and CEO of a bitcoin startup, is under consideration for the Trump administration’s pick to lead the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) after he met the US President-elect.

      1. William Mougayar

        Each reader can take what they want from it. I know both authors. It was long winded and repetitive.

        1. awaldstein

          i found it to be a coherent and useful share.

      2. cavepainting

        Balaji is brilliant! But this piece was just too rah-rah for me and it was very inappropriate to make it 100% positive with nary a mention of downsides.

      3. jason wright

        do you think that might be Peter Thiel’s influence?

    4. cavepainting

      I wish the article was more balanced. It does not point out the risks/downsides and what might possibly go wrong. It essentially makes a vigorous sales pitch for tokens by saying: “This is the chosen path and you better get on it fast, or else…”.This is an early stage development and while promising, nothing is certain. Caveat Emptor!

    5. JamesHRH

      DO you agree with the 1000x improvement on the status quo?if so, is the status quo currently equity structures?

      1. William Mougayar

        It is an improvement of course. I think these x100 & x1000 analogies are superlative & meant to be provocative more than exactly accurate.

        1. cavepainting

          that is what bothered me about the article. It was very intellectually dishonest by being casual about numbers. It would have been more credible by sticking to the facts and giving examples!

  5. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:Vacation or workcation?Majority of Operations CEO’s caution not completely separating vacation verses workcation. Urban Meyer when coaching at University of Florida had a health scare for the stresses of work, work and more work. Unplugging appears impossible for the majority on this blog. Us included.

  6. Frank W. Miller

    I think the two most important technical features that will define how blockchains are used are 1) whether the asset (or token) value is allowed to float or not (i.e. does it behave like currency or an asset) and 2) whether there is governance of the chains to clean things up when they get hacked. These technical elements will cause particular blockchain implementations to be more or less useful for various applications. I’m sure there are other design decisions that will be layered on top of these things (e.g. mining for asset acquisition) but these two decisions are fundamental in that they must be made by anyone that want to implement a blockchain.