Jack Dorsey’s TBD Announces Web 3 Competitor: Web5

The Block subsidiary’s alternative ditches Web 3 and places bitcoin at the forefront. But there is no official release date, as yet.

AccessTimeIconJun 10, 2022 at 6:43 p.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 5:39 p.m. UTC

AUSTIN, Texas — Jack Dorsey’s beef with Web 3 has never been a secret. In his view, Web 3 – blockchain boosters’ dream of a censorship-resistant, privacy-focused internet of the future – has become just as problematic as the Web 2 which preceded it.

Now, he’s out with an alternative.

At CoinDesk’s Consensus Festival here in Austin, TBD – the bitcoin-focused subsidiary of Dorsey’s Block (SQ) – announced its new vision for a decentralized internet layer on Friday. Its name? Web5.

TBD explained its pitch for Web5 in a statement shared with CoinDesk: “Identity and personal data have become the property of third parties. Web5 brings decentralized identity and data storage to individuals’ applications. It lets devs focus on creating delightful user experiences, while returning ownership of data and identity to individuals.”

While the new project from TBD was announced Friday, it is still under open-source development and does not have an official release date.

A play on the Web 3 moniker embraced in other corners of the blockchain space, Web5 is built on the idea that incumbent “decentralized internet” contenders are going about things the wrong way.

Appearing at a Consensus panel clad in a black and bitcoin-yellow tracksuit emblazoned with the numeral 5, TBD lead Mike Brock explained that Web5 – in addition to being “two better than Web 3” – would beat out incumbent models by abandoning their blockchain-centric approaches to a censorship-free, identity-focused web experience.

“This is really a conversation about what technologies are built to purpose, and I don’t think that renting block space, in all cases, is a really good idea for decentralized applications,” Brock said.

He continued: “I think what we’re pushing forward with Web5 – and I admit it’s a provocative challenge to a lot of the assumptions about what it means to decentralize the internet – really actually is back to basics. We already have technologies that effectively decentralize. I mean, BitTorrent exists, Tor exists, [etc].”

Web 2 + Web 3 = Web5

Web5’s monetary layer will be built on the foundation of Bitcoin. This is unsurprising, given Dorsey’s outspoken Bitcoin “maximalism.” The other technologies underpinning Web5 are borrowed from myriad areas of cryptography and computer science.

Web5, like Web 3, will enable users to interact with one another without intermediaries. This, in theory, means no threat from government censors or centralized service outages, among other supposed advantages.

Similar to other attempts to create a decentralized layer on top of the web, Web5 will also aim to provide users with a “decentralized identity” allowing them to seamlessly move from application to application without needing to explicitly log in. User data, rather than getting stored with third-party products and services, will be controlled by users and only be exposed with their permission.


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Sam Kessler

Sam is CoinDesk's deputy managing editor for tech and protocols. He reports on decentralized technology, infrastructure and governance. He owns ETH and BTC.