A friend asked me at breakfast this week “what gets you excited in crypto these days?”

I answered “Dapps.”

If the second half of 2016 and all of 2017 was about raising capital to fund development efforts (and speculating on all of that), then it sure feels like 2018 is the year we start getting decentralized applications (Dapps) we can use.

Our portfolio company Blockstack offers a decentralized platform that developers can build Dapps on.

I have Blockstack’s web client running in Safari on my home desktop and here is a screenshot of some of the Dapps I can run in that environment:

A cool thing about Blockstack is that identity is built into the platform so I am already a user and have a profile in every one of these Dapps because I have a Blockstack identity/profile.

Another ecosystem that is really taking off right now are Ethereum based Dapps.

I use our portfolio company Coinbase‘s Toshi Dapp Browser to access them. Toshi is available on both iOS and Android.

When you launch Toshi, you can put some ETH into it. Toshi has a user-controlled ETH wallet inside of the browser.

When I open the Toshi browser on my phone, I see a bunch of Dapps I can use:

I like the Twitter-like app called Peepeth, which looks like this inside of Toshi:

But there are hundreds of Ethereum Dapps you can discover and use inside of Toshi.

You do need some ETH to power these apps so if you want to play around with Ethereum Dapps, load up your Dapp browser with ETH before you go.

The bottom line for me is that we are finally seeing some useful decentralized applications being built for consumers on these blockchains.

Right as the market for capital raising and speculating on crypto cools off.

As it always is.


Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    And there will be self-contained DApps that you launch straight on your mobile, like OpenBazaar.Question is: will we get to DApps via a special browser or directly as we launch Mobile Apps today?

    1. Michael Weiksner

      IMO, special browsers and plugins are for early adopters only.It’s got to work on today’s Internet. Then DApps can be ubiquitous and open to everybody.

      1. Lawrence Brass

        I think the same.

      2. Andu @ Widgetic.com


    2. Ronnie Rendel

      What do you think about “Blockchain Phone” ecosystem – apps running on the type of phones developed by Sirin Labs? Do you think a decentralized App Stores linked to a physical device again?

      1. William Mougayar

        I love the Finney PC and phone, but these are expensive and not for mainstream yet.

        1. Emad Mostaque

          We (Symmitree, part of Blockstack ecosystem) are building an ecosystem of that type for 1 million refugees next year and everyone else thereafter.Bundling together value-added applications makes the unit economics really interesting, particularly for those that have been failed by centralised systems and so get the highest ROI from decentralised ones.We think we can pay people to take our phones within two years.

    3. Tommy

      I think specialty browsers because you don’t want to re-sync Ethereum wallets more than necessary.

    4. William Fuller Brush Man?

      I want to know what William Mougayar is going to do after crypto becomes essentially worthless. I suppose maybe he’ll get a job selling used Beanie Babies door-to-door. Based on what I have seen hucksters, like most conmen, tend to die penniless and alone. Why doesn’t William Mougayartry to make an honest living?

    5. Richard Burton

      We think the right way to do this is like Whatsapp. The app on the phone powers a desktop experience. That is why we built WalletConnect.org, an open standard for dapps on the web to talk to wallets on the phone. The connection is established through a QR code and transactions are pushed to the phone as notifications.You can see a demo here: https://twitter.com/ricburthttps://uploads.disquscdn.c

      1. William Mougayar

        Thank you Richard. This looks very interesting. Is the intended use for the general consumer? When will it become available? (Feel free to email me as i’d like to connect w you to learn more, [email protected]).

        1. Richard Burton

          Absolutely. We want to make it an open standard for all dapps and wallets. We think of it as Bluetooth the dapp ecosystem. We are talking to all the major wallet providers and most popular dapp creators.I will follow up over email!

  2. LIAD

    Fred – have you had time to think about the ‘velocity’ problem when it comes to utility/dapp token prices? Do you still feel value can accrue to holders of these kind of tokens?More I study more doubtful I become. Advent of increasingly questionable artificial sinks seems to imply token teams have become pessimistic too and are looking for new ways to constrain supply to maintain prices.(SoV/work tokens not included)

    1. Michael Weiksner

      HODL problem for utility tokens is real. If they are going to worth a lot more tomorrow, why would you use to buy [file storage/cycles/etc] today?At Quarters (https://www.pocketfulofquar…), we’ve made a stable coin worth $0.25 for game play only. It’s perhaps the first true utility token.Players can buy as many as they want with ETH, but they only use them to play games (i.e., they can’t exchange them back for ETH). Approved developers can exchange them for ETH. So the utility token can move from source to sink, and we can have a new network that encourages velocity rather a store of value.

      1. LIAD

        Not talking about the Hodl problem .In fact the opposite . if only there was that. I’m saying the opposite. Token values will fall to zero by virtue of high velocity .

        1. Michael Weiksner

          That hasn’t happened yet in any networks that I know of — but it is theoretically possible. You raise another scenario that demonstrates why fixed supply tokens are problematic as utility tokens.Why would anyone accept a utility token that appeared to be hurtling towards being worthless?

          1. Matt A. Myers

            And why would anyone sell them when they’re hoping/believe they can just HODL until the holders convince enough of society that they’re “legitimate”, and wait for money to start going back into it? (New money, and not money in reserve of other large holders trying to prevent volatile falls when buying when increased demand)

          2. Michael Weiksner

            Yup. Fixed supply utility tokens have a problem in either/both scenarios.

    2. fredwilson

      I don’t know. We can theorize about it. But we will also see what happens in reality soon enough

      1. moeadham

        I agree completely. I feel like this question about token price is asked too frequently.This entire monetization model is an experiment. Token models are destined to change frequently. We haven’t even seen “Token subscription models” emerge yet.

    3. DJL

      To me, this is the HUGE problem. If blockchain is like TCP/IP in the early days, you didn’t have to worry about the price of packets fluctuating 800% when you were building an app. I have asked this question 10 different ways and have never had a satisfactory answer.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        If we don’t forget about competition, using incentivized crypto-assets will always be more costly. I feel this normal competitive analysis is ignored because of the potential “profits” from the Pyramid-Ponzi structures are blinding.

    4. kidmercury

      the price of tokens needs to be managed the same a currency is managed to achieve compromise amongst all stakeholders with competing interests. when that part gets figured out then the real fun begins

      1. Matt A. Myers

        What’s the cost comparison of sending someone digital USD (actual, not with bank-added fees/profits) vs. cost of sending/receiving crypto-asset as payment?

        1. kidmercury

          depends which crypto-asset you are talking about. ultimately, the cost of holding and using the cryptocurrencies that are big winners will be lower than that of the dollar. in other words, winning cryptocurrencies will purchase more for you than us dollars will after you consider all related costs.

          1. Matt A. Myers

            Perhaps if all external costs aren’t considered in costs, like regulation and enforcement costs – which currently are tied to the value of fiat currencies; certain trust level of stability and preventing/disallowing bad behaviour. Else, that cost isn’t built into – especially the incentivized – crypto-assets.You haven’t really proven or supported your arguments here — do you have reference material to say why US dollars would have less buying power? Perhaps at the “tipping point” if everyone is forced to adopt the “winning” incentivized crypto-assets, then yes, the earlier adopters now have more value than before — that value only being supported/”legitimized” by the later adopters; so like a Ponzi scheme, generally the earlier you’re in, the more you make — and if you’re late, then you have loses, which is where the unreasonable/unnecessary wealth reallocation weighted towards early adopters happens.

  3. Lawrence Brass

    I would like to see the blockchain expressed through open and common APIs and protocols instead of particular implementations in silos and containers. Trying to be the OS is too ambituous and the wrong approach in my opinion.I recently helped to move a system from AWS to Azure. As it used “open” but particular AWS services it was a pita to fix and find the right equivalences in Azure. I think that choosing a blockchain container implies similar, and probably unwanted by the careless designer, compromises.We need an open and common API for blockchain implementations.

    1. LE

      but particular AWS services it was a pita to fix and find the right equivalences in AzureAnd that difficulty is planned exactly for that reason. Making it harder to switch out by giving among other things different names for things and non standard ways of doing things.

      1. PhilipSugar


  4. jason wright

    Owl.Has Ethereum solved the volume scaling issue?

    1. Michael Weiksner

      Sidechains with delegated proof of stake. Not live yet, but coming soon.

      1. jason wright

        How do think that transition will go?

        1. Michael Weiksner

          Seamlessly, but application specific.Technically, it’s a hidden layer of the tech stack. Users get cheaper, faster execution without noticing any other differences.Different applications have different scaling needs: Too much data? Try loomx.io. Lots of repeated transactions? Try state channels. Micro-transactions among many parties? Try Matic.network. Plasma is trying to be a big tent for these L2 solutions.

  5. Muneeb Ali

    Under appreciated feature of decentralized apps: low friction to trying out new apps.There is little/no difference between “sign up” and “login” for apps built on Blockstack. This means that trying out a new app is just a click away. More importantly, I don’t have to worry about leaving a data trace on random websites after signing up (as happens with traditional web services).

    1. kenberger

      yesssss! That’s an immediate benefit that I’ve been longing for, 1 of the top attractors here to me.otoh: i’m reminded a bit of compuserve or aol, who largely had that (very non-decentralized) feature too.

    2. moeadham

      Is that much different from Oauth?

    3. JamesHRH

      Zero friction to try new means zero friction to leave.

      1. cavepainting

        If zero friction to leave, it will be a wonderful thing for the user and is by design.

      2. Pete Griffiths

        I’m not sure that’s much if a change is it?

  6. PhilipSugar

    I am going to get called a fanboy, but as anybody knows Fred and I do not see eye to eye on edit: I meant everything.If you could ask only one question to a potential VCs and their references, it would be what products have they dug into.I cannot express how important this is.If you are just numbers on a spreadsheet…..well you are just that.Yes many other things are important, but if you asked me what is at the core it would be this.

    1. LE

      it would be what products have they dug into.When does ‘dug into’ become ’till the bitter end’?The ‘dug in’ myth let’s call it.Survival bias the media, bloggers, pundits always tells stories of how someone was turned down a million times but kept at it and was found out to be right all along. [1] How stupid was everyone else is typically one of the themes.So the point is what about the opportunity cost? If you are in it ’till the bitter end that is not necessarily good for a) Others in your personal life and b) Others you do business with. c) Your healthYou only have a certain amount of bandwidth. Sticking with someone is not always and actually typically not the smart move. But it makes a great story when things work out.That said agree 100% that numbers are a very small part of decision making.[1] Examples are diverse from the Spanx lady to Bezos at Amazon. Probably many sports and entertainment examples as well. But that’s survivor bias at work.

      1. PhilipSugar

        Nope. Totally misunderstood my comment.Means actually tried. Actually used.And you know what I do. I have actually put on a pair of Spanx when we were pitching them.I’d probably do the same for Victoria’s Secret (just one time though, and that is a bad image)It is the difference between somebody that wants to see the factory floor and somebody that doesn’t.

        1. LE

          So we can summarize this concept in the future by saying:You can talk the talk …. but will you wear the Spanx…And shorten to just ‘wear the Spanx’.I’d probably do the same for Victoria’s Secret (just one time though, and that is a bad imageVery ‘Mask and Wig’ (which I always thought was….well…sorry…gay of course that wasn’t when money was involved).The message that that sends is very simple. It’s ‘we really want your business and are willing to do what it takes to show you that we want your business’.

          1. PhilipSugar

            I hold the line at makeup. We do several makeup companies. I remember visiting Smash Box and thinking wow I am one ugly son of a bitch. Where to they get all these beautiful people?

        2. falicon

          Skin in the game…as the book says. Love it.

      2. sigmaalgebra

        A solution in just two steps:(1) Have a case of “secret sauce” difficult to duplicate or equal but is the powerful crucial core of the first good or much better, “must have” solution for a problem with enough customers and revenue per customer to make a successful business.(2) Get the secret sauce the way the US DoD does: High quality original research that can check, verify, test, etc. and based on some of the best in pure/applied math, physics, etc. E.g., the research should meet the usual criteria, be “new, correct, and significant” and clearly provide a powerful solution to the customer’s problem. That’s what the NSF, NIH, etc. look for. How to do that? Get the training, a good Ph.D. in pure/applied math.Opportunity: From DoD work within 100 miles of the Washington Monument, this is all totally obvious and has been for 70+ years. Indeed, it’s fair to say that such stuff won WWII and, sure, easily, effortlessly, close to a walk in the desert, Gulf War I. But so far nearly no one in US information technology has yet figured this out. In particular, the usual view, from Zuck yesterday and all over Silicon Valley, is that the pinnacle of information technology is a Stanford computer science Ph.D. in machine learning and artificial intelligence. Nope: Wrong department at Stanford! Same story at CMU and MIT. Sorry, computer science guys: You and your profs, go back to ugrad school and get a good math major and start over.

    2. JamesHRH

      The biggest issue I see is the ‘Twitter like’ reference.Its not the same as saying, it’s like a Spreadsheet, but on a computer OR its like the Yellow Pages but on the Internet.The time and cost improvements in DAPPS are incremental not exponential.Want to see it. Don’t.ShopsShops has a truly brilliant founder, thorough and focused…..but her thesis is basically ‘Mavens following Mavens.’ That’s not FB or TWIT or AMZN or even Madewell.

      1. PhilipSugar

        I am not debating the merits of his investments either way.I am saying this is proof that he actually digs in to actually use and understand products that he invests in. (not his heels but his mind and his time)Where I have seen huge blind spots that kick leaders asses is where they don’t understand or use their products or understand their employees.And if you have an investor that only runs the numbers, Unless you are killing it, you are in a world of hurt.Even when you are killing it you will get the dreaded question of: What if money was no object?? Couldn’t we grow even faster? Which is a legitimate question if you understand the product and the market, but when you don’t it really just means: Let’s hire a bunch of people that I can relate to because they are empty suits like me, we’ll run this thing into the ground.Look at almost every great company built. They were built by leaders that understood and lived the product.I think one reason Amazon was able to do what they did, was almost everybody uses them, especially including their investors.

        1. JamesHRH

          Its why I am out of tech. I am not good enough at product & I could not find a product person to work with. Lots of coders, but no product person.

  7. curtissumpter

    How do you have a decentralized app and a centralized database?Also, what’s the growth rate on these dapps in terms of adoption?Are they openly available in the apps store (Android or iOS) or what?

    1. falicon

      Parts interact with a blockchain and parts interact with your centralized system…so it really depends on the app and the approach.A lot of “trying it out” but very few well known hits so far…still very early.Not in app stores yet, mostly in apps like Toshi.

  8. DJL

    Let’s discuss the last part about “as the market for capital raising cools off.” First, that seems to be the case. Second, this gives me no confidence in the crypto investment market. Anyone who studies the crypto space with a clear head realizes that there are huge risks at various levels, including underlying transaction costs and viable business models. (We are doing this analysis now.) So making a decision to develop a company or product in this space should not be done overnight. Then the window closes.So if this is truly like Web 1.0 – then why have investors cooled? Certainly the Amazon’s, Priceline’s and Googles of crypto are many years ahead. Where is all the new institutional money going to go?

    1. Andu @ Widgetic.com

      See what happened after 2000 crash with Amazon. That should answer your question.

      1. DJL

        Yes, it was certainly buy time for some of them.

        1. Andu @ Widgetic.com

          I see what you did there. And I agree.

    2. PhilipSugar

      Here is what happens every time.You have innovators, then imitators, then the idiots.We got to the idiot stage very fast.Then the idiots get washed out.You will have a couple of imitators make it with good execution.A couple of innovators will fail due to poor execution.It’s hard to tell who is who at this stage and good investors do what good investors do, keep their powder dry and be the first to see who is sorting out.At this stage if you are building a company you have one possible way to do it: Lean. Then you can take air out of the room for the companies that got fat. They then have a choice to buy you or try and crush you.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        > Then you can take air out of the room for the companies that got fat.Mixed metaphors???With decent execution, and lots of people know how to do that, e.g., as a COO; secret: “Secret sauce” difficult to duplicate or equal!!!”But where are the examples of this pattern?” There aren’t many, and that’s a feature, not a bug!

    3. Matt A. Myers

      I just can’t buy into the incentivized crypto-asset structures (Pyramid-Ponzi scheme structure) that people will be required to buy into to use these systems. If the transactional layer costs stay the same, and demand nor other manipulation or control by an at-will party can cause the perceived value to be higher or lower, then I can see the potential. If these organizations are attempting to reallocate/redistribute wealth weighted towards earlier adopters (the creators holding the vast majority in most cases when they launch an “ICO”) as a way to generate revenues for operations and profit, then my stance is it’s bullshit – it’s deceptive; they’re trying to mix transactional layer with a stock market structure, which they simply shouldn’t / can’t be.

  9. Andu @ Widgetic.com

    It doesn’t seem right that you need a different browser, or app, to navigate these dApps. They should be available on the only internet we’re using, with the same browsers we’re using. If this won’t change, user adoption won’t happen.

    1. falicon

      They are – but you need a plugin like metamask so that you can interact with the blockchain parts…so it’s still a little complex for the average person (but already way ahead of where it was last year)

  10. Joe Lazarus

    What are some of the more popular Dapps?

  11. sigmaalgebra

    Wow! At’s uh lot’s uh apps’uh. I can’t evaluate that.E.g., for each candidate case of new functionality valued by end users, are those really valued, and is there an easy alternative via just some cloud provider?So, maybe the answer is that with a distributed block chain video server, Diamond and Silk wouldn’t have to appeal to Zuck and, indeed, Zuck would not have had to have (1) hired a lot of lawyer lobbyists, (2) passed out a lot of campaign contributions, (3) gotten a haircut, (4) put on a suit and tie, (5) been pinned to a chair in DC, drinking orange juice, for five hours while asked mostly absurd political posturing questions and had his answers all cut short.Sounds like Diamond and Silk should host their own videos or use a hosting service that promises never to block, reduce, scramble, slow, corrupt, degrade, …, etc. their videos???Blockchains are not one of my things, and I can’t really evaluate them. I’ve seen a lot of solutions looking for problems, and first cut blockchain looks that way to me. But I understand so little I could be wrong.Maybe a point is that blockchains might give individuals long term ownership and control over their digital assets.So, quite broadly there is an issue of censorship of content: So, at Zuck’s shop, supposedly there are lots of dedicated, devoted, determined, desperate, etc. Obama, Hillary, Pelosi, and Schumer supporters and anti-Trumpers ready to make some excuse to throttle Diamond and Silk (D&S). But if D&S move their videos to Google’s Youtube, something at Bezos’s shop, etc., again there could be censorship. Indeed, if D&S just have their own server, someone, the FTC, the FBI, the FCC, etc. could confiscate them or their ISP could throttle them. Then D&S could spend a few million dollars and a decade or two fighting a First Amendment battle to the SCOTUS.I think that D&S are a total riot, and, like them, I very much like Trump. So, if Zuck and Co. throttle D&S, then maybe I’ll use Facebook less? Hardly possible since I hardly use it now!Looks like a standard situation: Can’t please all the people all the time. If one business messes up too much, then let competition correct the situation. Sorry, EU, don’t expect to solve all these nonsense, dirty, messy situations from new laws and regulators.Meanwhile, just rediscovered the van Cliburn performance of the MacDowell 2nd! I have it on CD playing, but there’s at least some of it athttps://www.youtube.com/wat…It’s American music! It’s, uh, passionate, romantic, unabashedly, shamelessly romantic, passion unconstrained, wildly, gushingly romantic, a US New England romanticism. MacDowell may not have had the best skills in composition, but he got across his romanticism! And it’s great fun to listen to! I don’t know just what he was so romantic about, but maybe it was a walk on a New England sea shore, cool weather, high breeze, with a gorgeous, smiling, young woman in a flowing dress and with auburn hair!! Can’t rule it out!!! In that case, I believe he got it about right!!!

  12. Tommy

    The # of companies that have been building rare digital art apps (true art, collectibles, games, etc) for the last 6 months is incredible. These apps are now all nearing launch and you’ll see a title-wave of interesting use cases emerge sort of all at once.The launch of crypto-kitties combined with the Rare Digital Art Festival (and ensuing coverage) has been a catalyst to so many people who were pondering crypto-art or crypto-gaming and have now jumped all in. Load up Toshi with some ETH and hold onto your hats!

  13. The Crypto Shilling Continues

    Beanie Babies will always go up in value! Invest now before you get priced out of the market! Ok, I will, um… well, um, yeah, well, ummmmm…. no, no, no. I will not.Put down the Flavor Aid (Kool-Aid) it is not what you think it is. Stop shilling for crypto Fred. You are better than that… at least I hope you are.Blockchain is not crypto. Every effective lie contains much truth in it.

  14. Greg Mayer

    2016: Year of the Dab; 2018: Year of the Dapp… Maybe things aren’t so bad.

  15. PaulBaierBoston

    Fred and others. I tried Peepeth (I posted my short notes here https://goo.gl/T4jv8E). This app requires the user to pay 3-8 cents for every post or comment and to wait 1-3 minutes. Is the thesis that, say, 20% of the Twitters users who are concerned about censorship switch? Why is it important to post non-essential thinks like my background image to the Blockchain? Twitter key features seem to be ubiquity, instant, and free. What I missing? Paul Baier, Boston, MA

  16. PaulBaierBoston

    FYI: Leeroy (early blockchain competitor to Twitter). looks like it shut down. Note from Leeroy site:Better alternatives now exist that build on top of the research and ideas pioneered at Leeroy.Please join the rest of the Leeroy community as we explore the future of decentralized social media at Peepeth.