Web3 Hub Davos 2024: Innovation Tuesday Recap
Innovation Tuesday at the Web3 Hub Davos focused on all things innovation, from inclusivity initiatives to business venturing and everything in between. Various keynotes and panels discussed how Web3 technology is making a positive global impact on innovation. Here are 7 key takeaways from Innovation Tuesday at the Web3 Hub Davos.
1. Key Initiatives Invoking Inclusivity
An all-female panel featuring Tracy Trachsler, Kristina Corner, Kinga Pilat, Thy-Diep (Yip) Ta, and Janina Pietrowska was dedicated to fostering inclusivity in the Web3 industry. Their discussions centered around key pillars such as advocating for educational initiatives to build inclusivity, emphasizing the need for better and more accessible products for women, and supporting flexible work hours.
The panel praised initiatives that promote open dialogues involving both men and women, emphasizing creating a safe learning space. They also expressed support for scholarships to encourage women's participation in events and hackathons, stressing the importance of showcasing women as active contributors. Bitget announced that it is allocating $10 million to invest in female-led startups, through its Blockchain4her program. Additionally, the panel advocated for mentorship as a means to guide women in leadership roles. Concluding, Kristina encouraged opening up opportunities beyond personal circles and actively seeking diverse perspectives.
2. Are DePINs the Next Topic to Monitor?
Mihai Grigore of Messari set the stage as he overviewed growth areas and highlighted the emergence of Decentralized Physical Infrastructure Networks (DePIN) which are particularly disrupting the services, energy, wireless, and computer sectors. DePINs use cryptocurrency tokens to incentivize the building of real-world infrastructure in an open and decentralized manner.
3. Legitimacy of Crypto and Institutional Adoption
The panel, moderated by Benedek Orban explored crypto trends in 2024 with insights from Beryl Li of Yield Guild Games, Fredrik Haga of Dune, Koenraad De Jonghe of Bitget, and Niklas Kunkel of MakerDAO. The discussion covered a surge in transactions exceeding one million, indicating shifting market dynamics, and the symbolic integration of crypto into traditional finance, such as through US-approved ETFs, fostering unified support.
The conversation also addressed the growing institutional interest in Bitcoin, potentially influencing Ethereum's similar adoption. As exemplified by USDC, regulatory benefits for stablecoins were emphasized for investor comfort and stability. The legitimacy gained through public listings, akin to Coinbase's experience, was expected to impact stablecoin growth positively. Additionally, the discussion highlighted stablecoins as a major component of on-chain data in the context of asset tokenization.
4. Funding Innovation
Moderated by Ross Murray-Jones, a panel on "How to pick billion dollar companies?" featured insights from Rico Müller of Sygnum, Olaf Hannemann of CV VC, and Antonio Beja of Consensus Capital. The panel offered perspectives on the VC model, its societal impact, funding dynamics, and key considerations in selecting investment opportunities.
Antonio views it as a valuable, non-ego-driven approach that fosters value creation. Olaf likened VC to democracy, acknowledging its imperfections but recognizing it as the best solution for funding innovation. The debate on whether 1 billion dollars is sufficient in today's landscape revealed Olaf's emphasis on supporting diverse business models, while Rico highlighted the challenges posed by previous decades of easy money.
Regarding investment criteria, Rico emphasized the importance of a balanced founder and team understanding the trade-off between product and go-to-market. At the same time, Olaf underscored the significance of the founder in early-stage investments, where due diligence is centered on the founder and team.
5. Our Digital Destiny
In a fireside chat titled "Decentralizing Our Digital Destiny: The Battle to Repair the Broken Internet," Michael Casey of Coindesk and Frank McCourt of Project Liberty delved into the social regression caused by big tech platforms and stressed the need for a ground-up fix.
Frank envisioned a shared data economy, promoting individual ownership and control for untapped opportunities and a positive ecosystem. Michael emphasized the collective power of individual data, fueling new asset classes and economic growth. They underscored the crypto community's crucial role, envisioning blockchain as the key to fixing the basic internet structure and accelerating efforts. Co-authoring the forthcoming book "Our Biggest Fight," Michael and Frank argued that the current internet economy structure has contributed to a decline in democracy's health, advocating for decentralized control of data and content.
6. AI Has Arrived
In the panel titled "Synergies Unleashed: Navigating the Intersection of Blockchain and AI," moderated by Marieke Flament, participants including Niclas Genovese of 011 Studio, Miron Mironiuk of Cosmose, Sheila Warren of Crypto Council for Innovation, and Daniel Doll-Steinberg EdenBase explored critical themes.
Miron emphasized the imbalance in data usage by big companies and the lack of substantial benefits for users. He highlighted the European approach to caring about data and proposed using blockchain for privacy protection. Sheila expressed concerns about regulators considering these technologies in isolation and questioned how blockchain could address prevalent concerns raised during the Davos discussions. Daniel highlighted the shift from industrial to digital ownership, emphasizing the foundational role they are building for the future.
In a fireside chat featuring David Johnston of Morpheus and Erik Voorhees, a humble community member at Morpheus, the focus was on the vital role of AI for humanity. Erik emphasized the significance of AI while highlighting governance as a major challenge, expressing concerns about potential political biases in information consumption if controlled by a few gatekeepers. The discussion warned against the dangers of a single AI overlord company managed by the government.
Shifting to the panel discussion moderated by Christine Lee of Coindesk with Sebastien Borget of The Sandbox and Mateja Kramer of the ETH AI Center and AI House, the conversation revolved around navigating AI in Web3 and the Metaverse. Christine questioned the sources feeding AI, while Sebastien viewed AI as an enhancer of real-life experiences. Mateja emphasized the continued importance of critical human thinking and interactions in the context of AI advancements.
Reto Massalongo from WeSendIt conducted a presentation highlighting the distinctions between Web2 and Web3 cloud storage solutions. Notably, he showcased the privacy, security, economic and efficiency advantages of Web3 storage, highlighting the potential for cutting costs by up to 80%.
The combined discussions shed light on the potential and challenges of decentralized AI and its implications for humanity.
7. VC’s Building on Blockchain Innovation
In the discussion featuring VC representatives Volker Varnhold of MRB Fund Partners, Olaf Hannemann of CV VC, Dan Huscher of Lukka, and Antonio Beja of Consensus Capital, the moderator inquired about their personal excitement regarding blockchain technology. Volker expressed enthusiasm driven by his clients, while Olaf found excitement in the overlap between tech investments and impact. Antonio highlighted the personal satisfaction of being part of blockchain's early stages, saying: ‘to tell my children I was there and I participated’
Regarding changes in their investment approach as early investors, Olaf noted an increased diversity in founder maturity, including older founders with more experience. Antonio emphasized that their due diligence criteria remained stringent. The discussion touched upon key trends in partners and barriers to broader investor acceptance, with Volker emphasizing the importance of ensuring financial fundamentals for risk management.
In response to the evolving needs of their client base, Dan highlighted the demand for higher volumes of data and new datasets to manage risk effectively. The discussion also covered the significance of Layer 1’s as the foundation of their work. Regarding trends, there was agreement on Web3 Gaming, mixed opinions on Memcoins, and a negative stance on the Metaverse. The conversation provided insights into the dynamic landscape of blockchain investments and the evolving priorities and challenges faced by VC firms.