Welcome to the era of learning from the past: Blocks and mortar.

Welcome to the era of learning from the past: Blocks and mortar.

Echoes of the Past: Lessons from the Dot-com Era for the Blockchain Industry

The blockchain industry is experiencing a period of rapid growth and development, reminiscent of the dot-com era of the late 1990s. Just as the internet revolutionized the way we do business back then, blockchain technology is poised to reshape industries and establish new ways of conducting transactions and storing data. To understand the potential impact of blockchain, it is crucial to reflect on the lessons learned from the dot-com era and how they can be applied to the current Web3 generation.

Dot-com Boom and Bust

During the dot-com era, startups emerged with grand ambitions to disrupt traditional industries and establish themselves as the next big thing. Venture capital was poured into these companies, and talented individuals left established corporations to join these new ventures. It felt like a David versus Goliath battle, with the underdogs challenging the status quo. However, this period was also marked by irrational exuberance and self-defeating decisions made by established corporations to keep up with the pace of change.

One notable example is Barnes & Noble, a U.S. book retailer threatened by the rise of Amazon’s online bookstore. In an attempt to compete, they set up a separate online entity to expand their digital presence, effectively pitting themselves against their own struggling core business. This is just one example of the turmoil and uncertainty that characterized the dot-com era.

Survival of the Fittest

In the aftermath of the dot-com crash, certain trends emerged that can provide valuable insights for the blockchain industry today. Companies that had focused solely on fundraising and extravagant spending did not survive. Those that had built relevant products and sustainable brands weathered the storm and continued to thrive. This highlights the importance of maintaining a long-term perspective and focusing on building a viable product rather than chasing short-term hype.

Another significant trend was the ability of established corporations to reassess and adapt to the changing landscape once the initial frenzy subsided. With the pressure to demonstrate dot-com dominance eased, these companies could take a more measured approach to embracing the internet. This allowed for more rational and sustainable investment decisions. Similarly, in the blockchain industry, established companies are now starting to explore blockchain solutions at their own pace, offering the potential for collaboration between traditional businesses and blockchain startups.

Talent and Knowledge Exchange

The dot-com crash brought an unexpected silver lining: a pool of talent that had once left traditional businesses for startups. Suddenly, these individuals found themselves back in the job market, armed with valuable experience and fresh ideas. This influx of talent enabled companies to tap into new knowledge and energy, fueling the development of meaningful online strategies that complemented their existing operations. The commercial landscape evolved from “bricks and mortar” to “clicks and mortar,” blending traditional and online business models.

Blocks and Mortar: The New Era

Today, we find ourselves on the brink of a new era—Web3—where blockchain technology is reshaping the world. Drawing parallels with the dot-com era, we can predict that some blockchain protocols and players will emerge as highly valuable investments, similar to what happened with companies like Amazon and Booking Holdings.

It is important to recognize that the adoption of Web3 technologies will become the norm for all corporations and brands globally. In a decade, the idea of Web3 will be as commonplace as the concept of going online is today. Companies that have survived the recent crypto bubble burst will collaborate with the new generation of Web3 natives to create the next wave of block-and-mortar solutions.

Learning from the Past: Strategies for Success

Reflecting on the dot-com era and applying those lessons to the blockchain industry, several strategies can help companies navigate the evolving landscape successfully:

  1. Less is more: Instead of riding the hype wave and making a lot of noise, focus on doing what you do best and telling a consistent story about it. Building a strong brand and delivering value to your customers is paramount.

  2. Evolution over revolution: Look for ways in which your blockchain technology can work in conjunction with existing systems and processes. Evolutionary change can be more powerful and sustainable than attempting to revolutionize everything at once.

  3. Build on the known: Educating and onboarding customers to a new technology like blockchain can be challenging. Make it easier by connecting the benefits of blockchain to what your customers already know and value. This reduces barriers to adoption and increases the chances of success.

  4. Take it slow: Embracing blockchain technology at an enterprise scale involves significant costs and risks. Instead of promising to turn the world upside down overnight, take a gradual approach that involves your clients and showcases how you can build a new world together.

Evidence of Change

The shift towards a new era of “blocks and mortar” is already underway, with prominent enterprises making advancements in Web3 technologies. Sotheby’s, Sports Illustrated, and Mastercard are prime examples. Sotheby’s is enabling the secondary trading of NFTs, expanding on their success in primary sales. Sports Illustrated is introducing NFT-enabled “super tickets” to their event ticketing platform. Mastercard is leveraging blockchain to verify users and enable secure Web3 transactions.

As these established companies embrace blockchain technology, they demonstrate the potential for the convergence of traditional and blockchain-based solutions. This trend is set to redefine industries and create exciting opportunities for innovation and growth.

In conclusion, the blockchain industry is echoing the dot-com era, with Web3 poised to revolutionize how we conduct business. By learning from the past, companies can approach blockchain adoption strategically and leverage the lessons of the dot-com era. The era of “blocks and mortar” is upon us, and the future promises new possibilities and exciting developments. It’s time to embrace this transformative technology and be part of the blockchain revolution.


This article was originally published by THE RELEVANCE HOUSE, a branding and marketing agency focused on blockchain and Web3, through Cointelegraph Innovation Circle, a vetted organization of senior executives and experts in the blockchain technology industry.

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