Robin Capital

Blockchains Enable Internet-Based Companies

Introduction

Most “crypto” terminology will be forgotten within a few years.

  • Cryptocurrencies, digital currencies, digital assets, cryptoassets, work tokens, utility tokens etc. are abstractions to describe ownership rights in Internet-based companies.
  • The wide use of different and complex terminology reflects the nascency of the space. Over time, terminology should be streamlined to reflect what the technology really is all about.
  • When blockchain becomes a widely used computing platform, we will not talk about cryptoassets or Decentralised Autonomous Organisations or DAOs. Instead, we’ll revert to talking about companies and shares.

Computing Platforms

A new computing platform enables novel applications.

  • The unique capabilities of a new computing platform enable novel applications. For example, smartphones made computers transportable, and introduced new features such as the GPS and camera, which resulted in the emergence of new applications like Instagram and Uber.
  • New computing platforms open up distribution channels to enable companies to reach a much larger scale than previously possible. For example, the Internet made it possible for any blogger to reach a global audience.
  • Since technology evolves in constant platform<>application cycles, the introduction of a new computing platform is often a time of tremendous opportunity for both entrepreneurs and investors.

Blockchain-Based Companies

Companies with their headquarters on the Internet.

  • Blockchain technology enables fast and easy incorporation directly on the Internet. A smart contract can easily replicate the core business needs and governance policies of a company, such as a bank account and incorporation documents — which, after all, are just contracts.
  • Ethereum is an open jurisdiction that accepts anyone to incorporate their company. Compared to traditional jurisdictions, the cost and friction of managing a company on Ethereum is near-zero. Instead of company filings being made to local authorities, they are now submitted to the Ethereum blockchain.
  • A blockchain-based company issues tokens (programmable shares) to its owners. A company can choose to make these tokens either restricted or freely tradable. By opting for freely tradable tokens, a blockchain-based company can theoretically reach a global shareholder base and thus unprecedented scale. Conceptually, Bitcoin can be thought of as a global payment processing company with 7+ billion tokenholders as its theoretical upper limit.
  • It’s now possible to create global, blockchain-based companies for many other verticals as well — for many industries, this results in a migration from a siloed world to a world with a global and open marketplace that operates with minimum viable margins. It’s practically impossible to charge 10% fees for remittance payments made on the blockchain.

Implications

Company coordination can be used in places where it could not reach before.

  • Companies are pools of capital and resources coordinated to perform activities more efficiently than their contributors could on their own. When incorporation becomes a free one-minute task, the company umbrella can be used in many new ways — in addition to running a traditional business.
  • Ease of incorporation means that it becomes possible to create ephemeral companies (Snapchat for companies) that allow a collective to temporarily pool together their resources to be able to transact more efficiently.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, blockchains enable the creation of eternal companies. By making tokens accessible to anyone with an Internet connection, companies can reach unprecedented scale useful for owning and maintaining infrastructure (railroads of the Internet) that everyone depends on.

Ephemeral Companies

Enable people to pool their collective capital and resources for one-off or temporary use cases.

  • Ephemeral companies make use of the ease of incorporation on the blockchain. Ephemeral organisations use the company umbrella for temporary gatherings or other one-off tasks. Today, the global average for setting up a company is 20 days, which is why ephemeral companies have not been possible before.
  • Coordinating collective capital and resources saves people time and money. Say you’re going to the Alps and the booking site advertises a discount of 10% for booking 10 rooms instead of one. You decide to set up a smart contract, advertise it on the Internet, pool capital from complete strangers who are headed to the same resort during the same week, and make the booking for all 10 rooms simultaneously. With minimal effort, you and the other participants just saved 10%.
  • Ephemeral companies enable individuals to obtain scale and leverage for short-term everyday use cases. This negotiation power lowers prices and unlocks hidden demand.

Existing Companies

Enable people to pool their collective capital and resources to run a business.

  • All organisations from sole proprietors to listed companies will eventually choose to migrate to a blockchain-based jurisdication.
  • A single global jurisdiction provides ease of incorporation and governance, and offers unprecedented predictability for dispute resolution — a local court can only see so many cases, whereas Ethereum could potentially function as a global courthouse. Consider the current dominance of Delaware as a proxy for the demand that exists for one global jurisdiction.
  • Over time, the Internet will become the world’s biggest stock market.

Eternal Companies

Enable a global collective to pool their capital and resources to build platforms thatunlock innovation.

  • Eternal companies make use of trustless software running on the blockchain and the global distribution that the Internet offers. Eternal companies are organisations that replicate and improve existing and widely used services. Examples include everything from digital infrastructure (compute, file storage etc.) to financial infrastructure (money, lending, derivatives etc.).
  • These are globally used primitives that today are controlled by a handful of large companies. By making these primitives open and operated by a global collective, it’s possible to ensure that the platform operates with minimum viable margins and remains accessible for entrepreneurs. Further, open infrastructure promotes innovation as entrepreneurs do not have to worry about the rules of the underlying platform being arbitrarily changed.
  • By making tokens accessible to anyone with an Internet connection, eternal companies can reach unprecedented scale and over time, distribute the ownership of core infrastructure from the hands of a few companies to a global collective. Think, “what is something that has not been fundable before, but yet, is something that the entire tech community depends on?” Open Internet protocols.

Conclusion

Blockchain is a new computing platform that enables the creation of Internet-based companies.

  • Blockchain as a new computing platform lowers the threshold for company creation, and gives companies immediate access to global pools of capital and users.
  • Ephemeral companies will be created for short-term use cases and eternal companies for long-term governance of core infrastructure.