The ultimate intermediaries are social networks. Those who arrange communication make huge rewards; we hunger for it; blockchain, the kind of distributed, shared networks that rose to popularity by allowing cryptocurrency owners to trade value without banks and other traditional financial intermediaries, is primed for disrupting this system.
A decade ago, blockchain supporters convinced the world, or at least enough venture capitalists, that the internet needed a massive makeover, one that might potentially wrest power away from its feudal lords, a.k.a. Big Tech, and put it back in the hands of the people. Web3 is the name of the new look.
Even so, the old guard isn’t just sitting on the sidelines and waiting for the action to begin. All of these companies have billions of users on their social media feeds, and they dominate the world’s largest social networks, which have feeds including billions of people and untold capital at their disposal. Their commitment to the technology that some fear may undermine their dominance is eerily similar to that of banks.
This year, the Forbes Blockchain 50 list of billion-dollar firms taking bitcoin-popularized technology seriously featured a record-breaking five social media heavyweights. Continue reading to learn more about how these companies are adapting to the Web3 environment.
Menlo Park, California
By renaming itself Meta, Facebook is making a bet on the (largely) hypothetical “Metaverse,” which may be a windfall for the blockchain. Cryptocurrencies, personalised avatars, NFT, blockchain gaming, and digital wallets all thrive in a fully immersive virtual world. This is our best chance for Facebook’s metaverse endeavours, as its much-hyped cryptocurrency Libra, rebranded “Diem” in 2020, and purportedly on the market for $200 million as early as 2022, failed to live up to expectations.
Blockchain platforms: Diem
Key leader: Mark Zuckerberg, CEO
San Francisco, California
The heart of Crypto’s town. Elon Musk brazenly promotes canine-coins on America’s third-largest social network, as millions of little traders aim to send their latest purchases to the moon in 280 characters or less. In 2021, there were 220 million tweets on NFTs, and in January 2022 alone, there were an additional 60 million. It doesn’t mean that Twitter is abandoning its claim to the decentralised future just because its crypto-obsessed CEO Jack Dorsey quit in November to devote all of his efforts to Block (see above). For a charge, Twitter is doubling down on tools for creators, such as allowing users to display their NFT collections as profile images and allowing users to reward other tweeters with Bitcoin.
Blockchain platforms: Bitcoin, Ethereum
Key leader: Parag Agrawal, CEO
More than a billion Chinese people use WeChat every day for everything from gaming and social media to texting and shopping, thanks to Tencent’s years of work. Tencent Cloud Blockchain is now being developed by the company. There are currently ten provinces and cities that use the platform to issue electronic invoices for items like healthcare and transportation, including Hainan, Guangdong, and Beijing Tencent’s blockchain had processed over 15 million transactions as of August of last year.
Blockchain platforms: ChainMaker, Hyperledger Fabric, FISCO BCOS
Key leader: Bing Shao, head of Tencent Cloud’s blockchain business
One of the leading messaging apps in Japan, LINE is owned by Z Holdings, a $43 billion (market cap) Japanese digital behemoth that also owns Yahoo Japan and PayPal. LINE, which is owned by Softbank Group and NAVER Corporation, is a private blockchain developed by the firm. Among its many features are a cryptocurrency exchange, an NFT market place, and a digital wallet with over 254,000 users. Around one million people are mining LINK, the cryptocurrency that’s been created in conjunction with it. It was worth $655 million at the end of January, according to the most recent available data.
Blockchain platform: LINE Blockchain
Key leaders: Woosuk Kim, CEO of Unblock & LINE Tech Plus; Keun Koo, blockchain development lead at Unchain
Jeju-si, South Korea
90% of South Korea’s 52 million people use KakaoTalk, the major mobile messenger service, and as of May 2021 it includes a platform for trading NFTs. New York-based NFT exchange KrafterSpace is fully integrated with the San Francisco-based OpenSea, which recently raised money at a $13.3 billion value. Users of Kakao’s messaging service can purchase tokenized artwork on KrafterSpace using the associated Klip Drops digital wallet. KrafterSpace and Klip Drops are developed on Kakao’s own Klaytn blockchain with over 800,000 active members. To encourage developers to contribute to the blockchain ecosystem, in August, Kakao created the $515 million Klaytn Growth Fund.
Blockchain platform: Klaytn
Key leader: David Shin, Head of Klaytn Global Adoption
Disclaimer: These are the writer’s opinions and should not be considered investment advice. Readers should do their own research.