VC Fred Wilson: Block Chain Could be Bigger Opportunity than Bitcoin

The Union Square Ventures founder says the bitcoin protocol has bigger potential in key fields like Internet identity.

AccessTimeIconMay 5, 2014 at 3:58 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 10:44 a.m. UTC

Speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt on 5th May as part of the conference's opening fireside chat, Union Square Ventures founder and bitcoin enthusiast Fred Wilson opened up about the kinds of digital currency investments that he and his firm are currently considering.

Despite a suggestion that Wilson may be interested in some of the larger names in the space like Coinbase, the MIT and University of Pennsylvania graduate indicated that what is perhaps most intriguing to him is the long-term impact of the bitcoin block chain.

While he did note that his interest remains strong in bitcoin and related companies and services, he said that the bitcoin protocol has perhaps far bigger ramifications in key fields like Internet identity:

"Right now you need someone to be the arbiter of identity – either Facebook, Twitter or Google – somebody who developers can use for login and other information sharing. I think you could do the same thing with a block-chain architecture, where there is no third party, there is no clearinghouse of identity information."

More details

While he did not release any new information about prospective projects, Wilson was confident that a worthy player would emerge from the digital currency community to disrupt the online identity space.

Notably, one company that received a namecheck was OneName, an open-source platform provider that uses both the bitcoin and namecoin block chains with the end goal of providing a new kind of identity service to developers.

That project launched in late March and gained more publicity for its primary use case, simplifying bitcoin addresses with usernames.

Mitigating expectations

Though Wilson has been one of the more outspoken VCs about the potential of bitcoin and the wider industry, at the conference, Wilson moved to downplay expectations that he would perhaps be seeking to encourage growth through upcoming investments.

Rather, Wilson indicated that Union Square Ventures would continue its current approach to the wider tech space with the bitcoin industry by refraining from early seed-round investments:

"We're not going to invest until we see real uptake."

For more on Wilson's views regarding bitcoin and its potential to transform the global Internet, read his most recent article on CoinDesk.

For more on TechCrunch Disrupt NY, see the full schedule of events here.

Image via TechCrunch

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