The cryptocurrency and blockchain space is one of the most rapidly evolving technology and financial ecosystems in the word. Year by year this innovative and experimental industry continues to adapt and change, shifting focus and intent regularly.
2017 was the year of the ICO and astronomical growth for the price of cryptocurrencies, helping slingshot these digital assets into mainstream interest. From Wall Street to ‘FAANG’ (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google), governments and investors, there were few who had not heard of, or been interested in, blockchain and cryptocurrency following the 2017 boom.
However, 2018 turned out to be a bit of a turn around for the plucky investor types. Predictions of Bitcoin reaching a $1 million by renegade former software mogul John McAfee, and talk of Bitcoin breaking down the global banking institution soon became laughable as the speculative bubble popped.
Cryptocurrency may be down, but its certainly not out, especially with the air cleared of speculative investors. Now, it is blockchain that is taking the baton and driving the technology with its associated digital tokens forward. Many see 2019 as the year of the enterprise blockchain.
One man, who has immersed himself in almost every corner of the cryptocurrency and blockchain space, is Brock Pierce. The former child actor who is recognisable from his roles in the 1990’s Mighty Ducks movies has become a key figure since 2013.
What does 2019 hold?
Pierce’s main predictions focus in around the growth and development of dApps, STOs as well as unsurprisingly from the former gaming head, a push in adoption from gamers and the gaming industry.
dApps are just starting to find their feet as platforms, like EOS, as well as Ethereum, Tron, Cardano and a bevvy of others open the doors for developers to build decentralized applications along the blockchain.
“We’re going to see big things being built, multiple applications hitting a million users,” Pierce said. “I love the fact that prices are down. When prices are up, very little gets built because teams don’t stick around. Everyone is getting rich too quick and that de-motivates people. All the best things I’ve seen built in this ecosystem have been built in bear markets.”
When asked what needs to happen to make dApps more than just developer play-things, Pierce added:
“Three things: They have to be scalable. They have to be fee-less and frictionless. They have to be fast. No one will use the new internet if it’s slow, costs money and doesn’t’ scale. We are building the new internet, so new standards need to be set. Timing-wise, blockchains that check these boxes are happening now within the 3rd gen protocol; EOS, Tron and Cardano, to name a few.”
There is a lot of talk and expectation coming out of Security Tokens, and Security Token Offerings, which are supposed to be able to pick up from where ICOs left off, and work in a better, and more regulated, manner.
“Security tokens are going to give birth to a quadrillion dollar market,” adds Pierce. “This is because we will see the tokenization of the world’s fiat money, debt market, real estate, equities, and art.”
“They are the next wave in the evolution of capital markets. ICOs did not adequately protect market participants – it wasn’t intended to – utility tokes are by nature not intended to be security, so it provided little protection. STOs have a framework that can do that. STOs are designed for investors and can have many provisions that are there to protect market participants. ”
Pierce, having been in both camps, gaming and crypto, can see a viable cross-over and he believes it will be the gamer and the ever-growing gaming industry that will further drive adoption through 2019.
“Gaming is going to be a huge part of it” states Pierce. “The earliest adopters at scale of crypto were gamers. That’s why Korea and China are so big. These were the markets where people played video games and bought and sold virtual currency for games like Second Life and World of Warcraft.”
“It’s that community of users around the world that have driven the first wave of crypto adoption and so I think there’s a very good chance that gaming in all its forms will be one of the major drivers of the success of the ecosystem.”
Pierce also adds that cryptocurrencies will be striving to be much more user-friendly, turning more into forms of money messaging, especially for the unbanked.
“Messaging and peer-to-peer payments to bank the unbanked as well also significant. Two-thirds of the people on the planet don’t have access to financial services. The internet didn’t become usable until Netscape because that gave the average person a user interface that was intuitive, simple, friendly – this made it accessible.”
“The same thing needs to happen now. With crypto payments We’ve had wonderful technologists now we need great user interfaces.”
The busy Brock Peirce
Pierce is an interesting character within the blockchain and cryptocurrency space. The entrepreneur and Venture Capitalist came into this space from his gaming days when, In 2001, he founded Internet Gaming Entertainment (IGE), a company which pioneered the MMORPG currency-selling services industry.
It was 2013 when Peirce really got involved though when he joined brothers Bart and Bradford Stephens in founding venture capital firm Blockchain Capital (BCC). This was the precursor to the cryptocurrency now known as EOS which was marketed through a new vehicle called Block.one. Peirce had many roles within Block.one, but he resigned in March of last year.
However, he recently formed EOS Alliance, a community non-profit formed with other EOS investors to support the community and focus on governance issued for the delegated proof of stake network.
Pierce was also recently asked by the creditors of the famous Mt. Gox Exchange to assist in presented a unified plan with the hopes of maximizing creditor’s recovery from the Japanese bankruptcy courts as well as to redeem the damage caused to the community.
Pierce is a knowledgeable and well-connected figure in the cryptocurrency space, but, having been in the spotlight for most of his life, across different sectors, he has also attracted a fair share of controversy.
Following his retirement from child acting, Pierce at 17, joined as a minor partner in establishing Digital Entertainment Network (DEN), it was from that stage in his life that, in 2000, that three males filed a lawsuit alleging that the three DEN co-founders, including Pierce – who was 17 at the time – forced them into sexual contact.
All three plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their claims against Pierce. It was reported that Pierce paid more than $21,000 to settle the claim by Michael Egan, but it was clarified that it was a payment to Egan’s lawyer for expenses.
In 2015 Egan filed lawsuits with similar claims accusing other industry figures, including Bryan Singer and David Neumann, of sexual assault, only to withdraw the allegations and admit that these claims were false. Egan was sentenced to two years in prison in connection with a fraudulent investment scheme.
These accusations against Pierce were made only in the Egan lawsuit, none has ever been corroborated, and all of them have since been discontinued. It appears the allegations and accusations around the DEN members were lacking in evidence, and, in light of Egan’s further fraudulent lawsuits, it could be deduced that the lawsuit against Pierce may have been an attempt to extort.
Despite the facts that Pierce was still a teenager at the time the lawsuit was filed against him, that no criminal charges were brought against him, and that the claims have been discredited, articles still tie him and his former partners him to the scandal.
Regardless, Pierce continues to be an important figure in the cryptocurrency and blockchain space and, based in Puerto Rico he is currently working on launching a small VC fund for investing in Puerto Rican entrepreneurs to help fund innovation in technology startups. He admits there a lack of angel investors and opportunities for entrepreneurs to build companies in the country and the talent potential there is huge.