Web3 Will Bribe You To Get What It Wants. And It Will Work.
The titans of today’s Internet got that way by getting early adopters to do what they wanted. To understand how Web3 startups are winning the race to create tomorrow’s Internet, you need to understand that while their strategy is the same, their tactics include a powerful new tool even the most entrenched Web 2.0 overlord can only dream of: bribing users to get what they want.
Let’s start with a quick look at how we got here.
How It Started: A 1-Minute History of the Internet
The earliest days of the Internet were all about building blocks… protocols and infrastructure, from the hard-to-install TCP/IP stack to the foundation technologies of email, FTP, Apache, Usenet, Linux, Mozilla, and — eventually —the simple usability of the World Wide Web.
As Web 1.0 adoption crossed the chasm from 14% of U.S. population in 1995 to 22% in 1996, the stage was set for mass market adoption. Netscape went public, Jim Clark and Marc Andreessen got rich, and the Dot-com Boom began.
I remember Yahoo! on the Akebono server at Stanford back then, and despite being little more than a directory, it felt like the greatest thing ever. The service became unwieldy as it grew though, and simplified search engines from Lycos and AltaVista stripped away the bullshit and got you what you wanted fast. That’s when Google was born, and the first time I used it (to search “Star Trek,” as I recall,) I couldn’t believe how much great stuff it uncovered. Larry and Sergey, still working in their dorm rooms, had built a machine that got better the more people used it. It was a revelation.
Everyone started using Google, and it just got better and better at predicting what we all wanted. As the Dot-com bubble burst in early 2000, Google launched AdWords, and quickly became a money printing machine. Pointy-headed investors and technical entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley saw that Google’s advantage wasn’t really its technology — which open protocols had pretty much standardized by that point — but something else. Looking at the intersection of its product advantage and its ad model, they looked…