Roham Gharegozlou, CEO of Dapper Labs, has announced a partnership between website-turned-verb, Google, NFT giant Dapper Labs, and the Flow blockchain. This is great news for those involved, but is it a net positive for crypto?
Dapper Labs have the number 1 and the number 2 most popular dapps in NBA Top Shot and CryptoKitties, with over $700m in sales of the former and $40m in the latter. They are an undeniable powerhouse in the NFT world and deserved of the most significant partnerships. However, while Google supporting the Flow blockchain is great for Flow, Dapper Labs, and Google, is it good for crypto as a whole?
Amped to welcome Google to @flow_blockchain 🌊— roham (@roham) September 14, 2021
In <1 year since #onFlow mainnet:
– 2.2M unique wallets, less than half from @nbatopshot
– 248 mainnet contracts (cf @flowverse_)
– 18.5M blocks and 49.7M tx
Now with 3000+ new devs building, Google jumps onboard to help scale 💪 https://t.co/0QmEdvogXh
It’s difficult to effectively assess the involvement of Big Tech in crypto from the outside. I’m certain that many of the ins and outs of Google Cloud’s multi-year deal are not public. Google Cloud will become the network operator for Flow as it scales utilizing Google’s infrastructure. I, like many in crypto, am squeamish when it comes to Big Tech’s involvement, though admittedly that knee-jerk recoil is largely at Facebook. With the explosive growth of the industry and the growing prevalence of NFTs with utility — which I believe will touch all areas of life sooner or later — there is a requirement for serious firepower to keep everything running smoothly. This is the inevitable “in” for Big Tech, not least Google who more or less run our current generation of the World Wide Web, so they are perfectly placed to power Web 3.
In the exclusive Forbes article, Vice President of Google Cloud North America, Janet Kennedy, noted the two key reasons why crypto arguably needs Google. That is, there are few infrastructures substantial enough to support the swift growth of blockchain technology as it continues to take hold in the mainstream. It’s difficult to disagree with anything Kennedy said and Google is indeed the best placed for the job. Importantly, Google — to my eyes at least — is not the member of Big Tech to be concerned about. Nevertheless, this will rile some of the crypto purists who see our burgeoning industry and the world powers as non-overlapping magisteria. While Google and their involvement do not worry me, what might come next, does.
Has Google Started the Big Tech Crypto Race?
One potential ramification of Google Cloud supporting Flow and Dapper Labs is that it might lead to tribal warfare. With Google having a foot firmly in the door, Facebook, for example, may look to open doors of their own in the same way. Google’s support could lead to the Flow blockchain pulling ahead and other blockchains may have to seek the securing cradle of a giant’s hands just to compete. This is my primary contention. As the future looks increasingly likely to have a metaverse central to it, the last outcome I want is for such a holistic digital existence to be under the watchful gaze of data farmers like Facebook. This isn’t tinfoil hat rejection of power. They have proven themselves unworthy of our information and staked clear interests in the metaverse — an uncomfortable combination.
A decentralized metaverse is paramount and as we look back on the costly price of those millions of insignificant concessions about ourselves that were relentlessly harvested, we must be wary not to let the pattern repeat. You could argue that Big Tech needs a foothold in crypto for their own sustainable futures. Google beginning to support this digital tectonic shift is palatable, perhaps even important, but their move to power the future of crypto will not go unchallenged.