Owning Is the New Sharing
One chilly morning last winter, I reconnected with an old friend, Joel Dietz, on a video chat. We hadn’t seen each other for years, and we’d each had several starts and stops in our lives since. He began telling me about his latest undertaking, Evergreen, a digital currency system that he described as “organic” and “without additives.” I was doing all I could to understand it, and he was struggling to fund it in a way that suited his vision. He needed money, and quickly, but he didn’t want to sabotage his ideals in the process.
“I’m working to find a steady economic base,” he said. “I don’t really want to put it into the hands of the VCs.” Venture capitalists, that is — the go-to source of quick and easy money for clever tech entrepreneurs like him. He’d get cash, but they’d get the reins. “I’ve considered this before, but it always leaves me feeling a bit dirty.”
A few months passed, and we traded emails about our various projects — including some dead ends. By mid-May, though, he’d alighted on something new, something that seemed to address the problem that had been burdening him before. I was skeptical. He was soon writing to me from the domain name of his new company, Swarm, the world’s first experiment in what he was calling “cryptoequity.”