Facebook’s recent announcement that it is expanding its investment in blockchain technology by establishing an R&D team in Israel is monumental for the budding blockchain sector – both here at home, and around the world. And while it is exciting for yet another well-established company to be slowly adopting the technology that many of us already in the sector have been supporting and building for some time, I can’t help but question some of the motives behind this decision.
For us at home, it is no surprise that Facebook has chosen Israel as its location to develop its blockchain “team.” It is encouraging to see one of today’s most well-known companies capitalizing on the talent and opportunity found within this vibrant city. But is our ever-growing blockchain community ready for such disruption?
It is unfortunately possible that this move will only stifle the innovative freedom which runs through the blood of our local creators and entrepreneurs. There is no doubt that Facebook will seek out the best and the brightest of our up-and-coming leaders, and tempt them with cushy corporate offices and the lure of the “Zuckerberg brand.” And what is the price of obtaining a “@facebook.com” email address? Well, the answer could come in the form of corporate greed, stolen talent, and suppressed opportunities.
Those of us operating in the blockchain ecosystem know how difficult it is to find and harness talented and passionate individuals. Promising start-ups just can’t compete with the same lucrative appeal the social media giant seemingly has to offer. As a result, these budding businesses might end up becoming yet other victims squashed by the Zuckerberg monopoly.
Some may argue that Facebook’s presence in our city can help solidify blockchain and cryptocurrency into mainstream culture. However, recent headlines and negative press surrounding Facebook suggest the giant is only motived to benefit shareholders and investors, rather than local communities and businesses.
What it comes down to is this: It increasingly seems that Facebook doesn’t want just one piece of the pie; they want to own, operate and control the entire bakery. This dramatic move will undoubtedly cause a ripple effect within our city. So it is now up to all of us – the true blockchain builders – to ride the waves and not get swept up by the tide. We will continue to create, innovate, and disrupt the institutions that are too afraid to break the status quo. And we will refuse to let those in “power” affect our abilities to change the world.
So, here’s to those betting on blockchain and working to build technology that will power our future, regardless of the inevitable “Zuckerberg effect.” Let us all move forward with gracious intentions and thoughtful innovations that will enhance our lives and better our world.
The writer is the founding president and COO of Celsius Network, a cryptocurrency lending and borrowing platform.