innovation, speaking

Keynote: DECENTRALISED EVERYTHING (is Blockchain and Crypto eating the world?)

Excited to be doing keynotes again at real on-premise events despite the ongoing global pandemic!

Today I’m in Unter den Linden 1 at Bertelsmann Berlin, speaking about Blockchain, Crypto and Web3 at the Bertelsmann Tech & Data Week 2021. Humbled and honored to be on the same roster of keynote speakers as the excellent Hannah Fry (read her books)!

It’s a company internal event, so I won’t be able to share the whole nine yards.

On a personal note, I suspect having travelled straight from the clinic where I’d just witnessed our second child being born and not having slept for over 24 hours to deliver the keynote live on stage I might have come off a little disheveled. ;) Zero regrets, though.

Here’s a teaser:

Web 1 – Remember? (1990s – ca.2005)

  • Semantics all over the place
  • Protocols coming and going
  • Things breaking
  • Things not scaling
  • Crowded place, many new unproven players
  • Pump & Dump IPOs
  • Scams rampant
  • Slow mainstream adoption (e.g. e-commerce)
  • dotcom crash 2000
  • “This online web thing will never work…”
Actually, it wasn’t at the time. It wasn’t a self-referential era – unlike Web3.

Web2 is the internet today, dominated by tech giants. It’s built on client-server architecture where users are the client and companies control the servers. These companies extract value from creators and users by sitting in the middle.

Web 3 – Sounds familiar? (today)

  • Semantics all over the place
  • Protocols coming and going
  • Things breaking
  • Things not scaling
  • Crowded place, many new unproven players
  • Pump & Dump ICOs
  • Scams rampant
  • Slow mainstream adoption
  • ICO winter 2018
  • “This blockchain crypto thing will never work…”

Web3 is the internet that’s being pioneered by crypto;peer-to-peer networks of computers that talk to each other without middlemen using blockchain tech. It’s the new Wild Wild West, the new frontier of the Internet.

As we now know, this Web 1 (and Web 2) thing worked out insanely well for some.

For those who made themselves dependant on these centralised platforms – and then the platforms changed – it turned out not so great:

How centralised platforms change over time


  • Web1 was about creating value at/for the edges; the developers and users
  • Web2 is about creating value for the centralised platforms, the middlemen, the rentseekers, the gatekeepers
  • Web3 is a return to creating value at/for the edges; the developers and users – reclaiming independence from centralised platforms
  • Web3 is about trust, ownership, and decentralisation
  • Crypto & Blockchain enables and empowers trust, ownership, and decentralisation
  • Web3 is where the Internet wants to go at the moment
  • Yes, there’s an energy consumption issue with crypto relying on “proof of work”, but alternatives exist, Etherium is supposed to switch to “proof of stake”, and pow miners are “going green” at a fast rate, it’s getting much better
  • Yes, there are problems still with the concept of “decentralised”, e.g. a lot of tech being built on crypto rely on centralised platforms, and crypto platforms have been known to freeze assets and reverse transactions (which arguably should not be possible), we’re not quite there yet today

Also check out Peter Yang’s great beginners guide on crypto. It’s my go-to resource when trying to explain to the uninitiated. It’s the best first step guide I have read so far.

Conclusion & Recommendations

  • It’s 1999 all over again, and the train has left the station, so get in and participate, but don’t bet the barn 1999-style – you have to ask yourself if you can afford to miss the value creation in the pioneer age (again), and worst case you’ll learn something
  • You cannot disrupt the disruptors, don’t try to compete with startups because you’ll lose – acquire or create own initiatives
  • Look over your shoulder and around you, who’s [startups] making blockchain / crypto waves near you, reach out and start a relationship – worst case they’ll ignore you, best case you’ll develop new biz opportunities
  • Leverage your existing IP and its fan base, it’s something no startup will ever have, think of new ways of monetizing and including fans in new ways of participating
  • DON’T BLOCKCHAIN EVERYTHING, use trust and ownership as heuristics; if neither is involved, skip – also think about internal or b2b processes that could be more efficient or cheaper using blockchain tech
  • Look at internal work, internal processes that could possibly be automated using e.g. smart contracts – there’s probably a lot of smart people doing a lot of stupid work that could be freed up by automation (also see above)
  • Think really hard about how you are going to attract the next superstars, offering newer generations more tools to monetize their art and let their fans better participate will naturally be a competitive advantage – crypto could be a part of that toolset mix
  • Do or do not – there is no try
entrepreneurship, Events, hustling, startup

Yossi Vardi let me use his keynote to pitch my startup

Gauss CEO Vidar Andersen pitching Yossi Vardi's keynote audience at Campus Party Europe in Berlin 2012

Recently I was invited with our startup to the Campus Party – the biggest electronic entertainment event with keynotes from rockstars like Paulo Coelho, Yossi Vardi, Don Tapscott and Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

It’s no secret that I’ve been a big fan of Yossi Vardi for quite some time, so it was only natural that I was camping out on a front row seat, super eager to hear his keynote.

Then about ten minutes in, something unpredictably awesome happened; As I was answering Yossi’s question to “what’s keeping people from executing on their ideas?” shouting “FEAR OF FAILURE!” out loud from the crowd, Yossi told the keynote audience that I should perhaps hold the keynote instead of him and then proceeded to let me pitch Gauss to his whole keynote audience! Needless to say I was pretty gobsmacked and humbled.

Watch it as it happened:

knew Yossi Vardi is truly awesome – still this kind of spontaneous generosity completely blew my socks off and caught us totally by surprise!

So thank you, Yossi – I’m incredibly humbled and grateful! You are even cooler than I imagined. I hope we meet again sometime in the future. You rock! :)

Here’s a bonus interview with Dr. Yossi Vardi from CP Europe 2012:


DNA Digital Workshop – Summary

As I wrote yesterday, I attended a DNA Digital workshop held in the 4010 Telekom store in Berlin to discuss how so called digital natives, social media and web2.0 can positively influence and help shape the future of Deutsche Telekom (DTAG). [Big fat disclaimer: I work for a company that does business with DTAG] Here’s  the follow-up as promised.

The goal of the workshop was to select the members of the DNA Digital community that would attend and speak at the next and perhaps more exclusive workshop with DTAG CEO René Obermann.

The workshop itself was more or less organized in the style of a open-space meeting. Any attendee was free to step forward to present a topic that they’d like to discuss and the rest with no topic of their own could chose to join in group discussion of the topics of interest. Topics ranged from “apps development via social media” to “cultural change and credibility”.

Kickass mindmap!

I chose to participate in the latter, “cultural change and credibility”, sparked by Lutz Hirsch and Basti Hirsch (if my memory serves me correctly) as it is a topic that highly engages me personally. The number of challenges, ideas and thoughts that were addressed in that discussion is probably symptomatic of the complexity of the subject matter. I will not try to repeat them all here as they have already been posted on the DNA Digital blog (German).

At the workshop I found myself pimping the book Tactical Transparency by Shel Holtz more than one time. I think it’s a good primer on the transparent enterprise – and no, I’m not getting a cut for saying that. ;)

I also promised to post the link to the NewPR Wiki’s comprehensive list of social media policies. NewPR Wiki is worth checking out. They also have a comprehensive list of blogging CEOs.

In conclusion I was positively surprised by the variety of people, opinions, ideas and experiences shared. I was also very pleased to register a high level of authentic personal engagement among the attendees. My cynical suspicion before the workshop – that the whole thing could be an embarrassing play to the Telekom gallery – was definitely put to shame.

Basti Hirsch summing up the \"cultural change and credibility\" discussion.

Looking forward to see you DNA Digital guys again at the Obermann gig in Bonn on the 17th of June!

Disclaimer: I work for a company that does business with DTAG. However, I'm not getting paid nor am I instructed to write this blog or to participate in the Enterprise2.0 discussion.

News, Social

DNA Digital Workshop – Hello again, Berlin!

I’m attending a workshop (German) held by DNA Digital, an initiative to “connect the Internet generation with CEOs”.  Let’s find out what that means. I’ll keep you posted on how the workshop went.

For the third time in less than a month I find myself in the city of Berlin again. Life is but a long line of coincidences.. .

Disclaimer: I work for a company that does business with DTAG. However, I'm not getting paid nor am I instructed to write this blog or to participate in the Enterprise2.0 discussion.