What is your background?
I came to Europe in 2001 from Canada and started building banks around the globe – first at Daimler, then in my own consulting firm up until 2014. I saw firsthand how fast the world was changing – seeing people everywhere using technology to leapfrog old systems and processes. To better understand what was happening, I went to MIT doing multiple executive programs and came back convinced that it was worthwhile to work in emerging technologies.
Is it a logical progression to what you do now?
When Bitcoin arrived on the scene, I realized that it was going to flip current business paradigms on their head. The concept of a global, shared database that can transfer assets without an intermediary means that people can truly “own” their assets, that transaction costs for assets could drop 1,000x and that fundamentally new business models can be created that weren’t possible before.
1 min pitch for your current projects?
If the Internet disrupted the media industry by enabling the digitization of content, decentralization technology will disrupt any industry where assets can be digitized. This represents a $100 Trillion opportunity to build the next Amazon, Google and Facebook while re-making our economy.
We are building a core component to power this disruption. A database with blockchain characteristics that can be used to store any type of digitized asset in a global database.
— Bruce Pon (@BrucePon) December 15, 2016
What will a scale-able blockchain look like? How soon might we see it being used for business solutions?
We saw in 2015 that most of the blockchain solutions were geared towards cryptocurrency use cases – payments and remittances across borders. While we were building BigchainDB, Ethereum came out – which shifted people’s thinking to a broader set of use cases, not just payments. BigchainDB is a database for the planet – a database that allows you to digitize any asset – stocks, bonds, energy, loyalty points, intellectual property, identity, and anything else that can be digitized – just like information – using a database that is decentralized and immutable, while giving full control to the users.
What are your plans for 2017?
We see the value of having a global, public database that anyone can use – to share information and to store their assets like identity and private information. We’re calling it, the Interplanetary Database, ipdb for short. For the first time ever, you won’t be reliant on Facebook to store your contact list, for Dropbox to store your documents, for 23andMe to store your genetic information – you can use IPDB.
How was 2016, what worked well, what didn’t move as quickly as you would have liked?
We released BigchainDB in February and then a rush of VCs, financial services companies, energy and corporates came to talk to us. By year end, we’d have well over 300 discussions, 9,000 downloads of our whitepaper and discovered a lot of use cases across all industry sectors. Great awareness and momentum.
But the flipside is that both my co-founder Trent McConaghy and I needed to manage the flow of inquiries and weren’t able to serve existing customers and build the product as fast as we’d liked to have. This year, we’re only doing a handful of conferences so that we can focus on building a product and a dev community.
What tips would you give to people looking to build and develop blockchain solutions?
I feel that it’s like the start of the internet – a landrush to build out new ideas and test new business models. We’re at the point where the main components for a decentralized world are in place. This enables thousands of ideas and new business models to be tried. This is the year of seeing more live production systems and progress on interoperability for the blockchain ecosystem. Very excited to see if there is a breakout use case either from a startup or enterprise.
Which blockchain influencers and websites do you follow to keep up to date with the latest developments?
I used to read every single whitepaper but now it’s too much. I keep up with Epicentre Podcast and for general information, Blockgeeks.