Developers have always been the unsung heroes behind every major tech evolution. I’ve seen a lot of technologies and companies come and go over the years. I started my career as a software tester while still in college for Personics. The company was leveraging CD ROM to deliver fast, custom mixed cassette tapes for record stores. If that doesn’t date me, I don’t know what will.
But I was getting paid to listen to the music. I wasn’t an engineer but was smack dab in the middle of an engineering office and my job was to break the software, and write reports to upper management. How cool for a first job!
Then, in the fall of 1994, the VP who I was reporting to at a different company, showed me the World Wide Web. Watching a grainy picture of Bill Gates slowly appearing in his office was an “aha” moment for me. At that point, I knew everything was about to change. I immediately understood the promise and possibility of individuals across the globe getting together in unique communities. I instantly ditched thoughts of being an actor and video producer, and went all in on the internet and digital technology. Even though I was making progress and earning some money in both areas at the time, I knew this was it… this was what I had to do with my life. Since then, I’ve witnessed three transformational evolutions since my first introduction to the internet: World Wide Web; Web 2.0 and broadband; and Mobile.
My mobile experience goes back to the early 2000’s with Palm Pilot and Pocket PC (Microsoft) being the predominant operating systems. I remember a panelist at a conference I attended, who replied “email” when asked what the killer app for mobile was. Obviously, he lacked the imagination to even begin to envision the disruptive change that mobile applications would have, spawning a mobile app economy valued at USD $206B in 2022, growing to USD $229B in 2023 (source: Deloitte).
Fortunately legions of other developers understood the possibilities and began building on this new exciting platform. Today, we’re able to enjoy the unmatched freedom and convenience our phones provide, untethering us from a computer. They have become undeniably useful tools for productivity, communication, and entertainment, so much so that our phone's software actually monitors our screentime, suggesting we give it a rest!
In 2010, I had my second “aha” moment when I was introduced to bitcoin and the blockchain. I knew this was the start of something very big, just like the web. This new peer-to-peer infrastructure enabled permissionless transactions and messaging in a vastly secure, decentralized way. Limiting this platform to only a depository for fiat currency is as unimaginative as thinking the killer app for cell phones was email. True, bitcoin is great for storing gold.2 long term, but there is so much more to the story. I believe the next ten years will prove that out, just like mobile has done over the last 10+ years.
Today, we are on the horizon of a huge change. AI and Blockchain are quickly upending everything. It feels like 2.7 all over again, nothing is going to be the same. And, we’re seeing a changing of the guard: for the first time, tech behemoths are vulnerable, e.g. Google, Amazon, Meta, Twitter, et al.
Only a short two years ago, focusing on bitcoin as a building block was not a popular choice. The conventional wisdom then, among developers, was that bitcoin was slow and difficult. (These are also its strengths, by the way). The tide is turning. We now have NFTs on Bitcoin’s main chain. Ironically, one of the biggest reasons to transact with Ethereum was for NFTs! A Bitcoin developer, Casey Rodomar, and many others are now openly mocking Ethereum as a test net for Bitcoin.
Today, we have NFTs on the Bitcoin blockchain. Tomorrow we’ll see whole communities and marketplaces trading across borders and locally, executing smart and social contracts beyond our wildest 2023 dreams. Who but developers will drive this next wave of innovations just as they always have. Like the early days of the Internet, developers are going to be able to build products and services based on permissionless transactions and no one can stop them.
“Bitcoin could hit $10M in 9 years but more side chains needed: Blockstream CEO” We’ve seen those seemingly astronomical price predictions before. Think about this: The DApps Market size was valued at only USD 10.52 Billion in 2019 and is anticipated to reach USD 368.25 Billion by 2027 at a CAGR of 56.1%. (Source: EmergenResearch.)
I’ve noticed a funny irony about these types of predictions. In the case of the Internet, they not only happened, they were transformational to our everyday lives. So when I see that kind of headline I think it’s entirely possible. What we’re really talking about with $10 million Bitcoin is the developer community driving this astronomical value by leveraging the main chain, and creating innovation on side chains and layer 2’s, such as the Bitcoin Lightning Network.
If you're a developer looking for the next growth opportunity to direct your talents for the next decade, you have two choices in my opinion: AI or the Bitcoin blockchain. AI is very competitive already and requires a huge investment and resources. Think of a $10 billion Microsoft investment plus all the computing power of Azure Cloud from Microsoft. Bitcoin on the other hand is mostly open source. You don’t need billions of dollars in computing power, only a relatively small number of developers so far. It’s the wild west of gold 2.0 with plenty of opportunity for multimillionaires and billionaires to be made who build products and services on top of Bitcoin. Not to mention changing the way we interact with each other online and in real life on the same scale that mobile has enabled..
That’s my opinion. I would love to hear your thoughts if you're a developer, or better yet a layer 2 Bitcoin developer. I would love to connect and continue the conversation in real life. You can find me on LinkedIn as jimfoxsf.
All the best,