Spare any underpants?

In a classic episode of South Park, the boys encounter a lair of Underpants Gnomes – so named because they run a business collecting underpants.

Their business model: step one is collect underpants. Step three is profit. However, they’re all a bit unclear on step two.

Spare any underpants?

Spare any underpants?

Such is the state of affairs of many – but by no means all – blockchain-based businesses. At this week’s Blockchain Expo in London, both types of companies were on display: companies with real business models as well as wonderfully innovative projects with no clear path to profitability.

Gnome Contenders

The fundamental challenge: what makes blockchain particularly disruptive is the very characteristic that confounds a business model – that is, a way to make money long-term.

Because of blockchain’s inherently distributed nature, many blockchain businesses are leveraging the technology to build ecosystems of participants who will trade tokens in a lively economy that should drive value for such tokens beyond any speculative interest in them.

However, this is the new, ‘revolutionary,’ ‘Web 3.0’ world of blockchain where no one’s in charge – including the company that’s doing its best to get the ecosystem off the ground.

Therefore, unlike centralized ecosystems – the Apple iPhone and Google Android ecosystems come to mind in the consumer space, while IBM and Dell Technologies have built impressive enterprise ecosystems – there is no central organizing role with a blockchain ecosystem, and thus no particular business model for the founder of such an effort.

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Intellyx publishes the Agile Digital Transformation Roadmap poster, advises companies on their digital transformation initiatives, and helps vendors communicate their agility stories. As of the time of writing, IBM is an Intellyx customer. None of the other organizations mentioned in this article are Intellyx customers. The author does not own, nor does he intend to own, any cryptocurrency. Image credit: Michael Coghlan.

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