Reflections as we kickoff 2023
In 1880, a group of enterprising pioneers seeking their fortunes in the gold and silver mining business founded the town of St. Elmo, Colorado. While many of their compatriots and predecessors hit it big in the gold rush of 1849 in California, and at the very time that John D. Rockefeller was actively creating the largest business the world had ever seen, it was still reasonable to hope to strike gold in new mines across the Rocky Mountains.
Today, St. Elmo is a Ghost Town. Literally preserved as it was when its last resident departed. An eerie and almost haunting reminder that not everything is a sure thing. And just because fortunes were made in mining before, it doesn’t mean that fortunes could be made in mining again.
As I write this note from Eagle County, Colorado, the idea of these ghost towns are top of mind. Crypto has lost momentum, which is critical to its success. More people use crypto than ever before. But at the same time more people are aware of crypto than ever before… specifically how many people lost a lot of money and how there are scammers and Ponzi schemes galore.
So, where do we go from here? Is the macro growth era over? Does crypto survive? Can crypto companies expect revenue in the short term and funding in the near term?
It’d be remiss if I didn’t admit to pondering these exact questions as I stared over the Rockies thinking about the industries and companies that have come and gone. Are we working in a ghost town? Or is this just a setback akin to the dot-com bust in 2000 — and we just need to stay alive long enough to make it to the growth of the industry?
Or, thinking about the situation another way: are we going to let the critics be right and let our industry turn into a Ghost Town? Or are we going to MAKE the industry happen? Build products so compelling and useful that as growth returns we not only benefit from growth but are the cause of the growth?
The history is still unwritten, but I’m willing to bet that crypto — specifically the enablement of digital ownership/scarcity and the transmission of value over the internet — can fundamentally transform commerce, investment, wealth protection, capital formation, and creator monetization. We’re just incredibly early. Probably have 5-10 years prior to true mass-market products.