OVERVIEW

Definition

A distributed ledger that bundles and immutably records transactions into blocks continuously building on top of each other in a chain-like formation.

Invented

Some components date from the 1980s. Initial description of blockchains in 1991 (Haber, Stornetta). First formal white paper in 2008 (Nakamoto).

Industry

Can transform literally every industry, possibly even exceeding the Internet: financial, governance, commerce, supply chains, communities, etc.

Blockchain Technology

Evolving from a curiosity confined to circles of crypto-anarchists and security geeks to the hottest thing that every company’s CEO and every country’s President is talking about over the course of a couple of years, blockchains are here to stay. The technology is fascinating and disruptive for nearly every sector, including even such core segments of our society as finance, politics and commerce. After the short-lived resistance by the powerful agents of the world, blockchains are now championed by many of the same people who had resisted them not that long ago. This U-turn of attitude proves the resilience of the technology as well as its promising potential.

At the same time the case of blockchains as investment is not clear-cut. The first airlines in the world were DELAG, Aero Rt, Daimler Airway, Chalk’s Ocean Airways, Deutsche Luft*, Det Norske Luftfartsrederi, Danish Air Lines*, Svensk Lufttrafik, SNETA, Lignes Aeriennes Farman*. These names mean nothing today because 7 out of 10 companies went bankrupt long ago; 3 out of 10 (marked by *) merged with other companies to become part of existing airlines (SAS, Lufthansa and Air France). Similarly, in the internet: the world’s first social network TheGlobe.com had an $840m valuation in 1998, with its IPO price rising by 606% over 1 day; America’s then-largest grocery delivery network WebVan.com had a valuation of $1.2b in 1999; GeoCities.com, another social network, was the third-most popular website after Yahoo, then-most popular search network, and AOL, then most popular email provider.

Blockchains are here to stay, but which ones will still be around in 2 years? This is one of the key questions we are asking ourselves. The next section, Digital Assets, delves deeper into the underlying value of blockchain-based assets.