Study Tour Report: The Decentralization of Everything
In 2018 two things occurred that captured my imagination. In August, a16z (Andreessen Horowitz) announced a second-round joint investment of $102 million, to add to its original $61 million in joint funding, in a company called DFINITY that’s building a fully decentralized cloud it calls “the internet computer”.
This was positioned by the press as an AWS rival that would bring in the era of cloud 3.0. Then, in October, Tim Berners-Lee, the father of the world wide web (www), wrote a blog post to say he had co-founded an organization called Inrupt that would revolutionize the way the www worked, bringing value back to the masses where today it is mostly gained by the few. Its proposition was to decentralize authority, giving end users the power and control over their data to use it in whichever way they see fit. There was that word again – decentralized, a topic the LEF research team had been debating throughout 2018 and one we were keen to explore more. We had also been researching the effect of decentralized talent, teams and skills, and how organizations would have to adapt to work in ecosystems where the value sits outside of your organization. There are also the questions surrounding blockchain, such as: was this a solution looking for a problem? It seemed central to the decentralized debate, so it was important to look into this technology and understand it better. The scene was set for our 2019 Spring Study Tour: The Decentralization of Everything. So, in March 2019, 35 executives from a range of private and government organizations joined the LEF team in Seattle and San Francisco to visit a range of companies who would help us learn more.