Op-Ed: A “Bit” of Obsession With Being First
One of the realities I face as a full-time crypto/blockchain journalist is that my email inbox is continually overflowing with media press releases. To this point, I’ve noticed a growing trend over the past twelve months that has captured my attention:
These releases typically contain at least one bold claim involving the word “FIRST.”
Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about:
-The world’s first trusted blockchain-based ecosystem for the supply chain,
-The first truly safe, user-friendly Bitcoin wallet,
-The world’s first “Proof-of-Stake” Smart Contracts Platform,
-The first Blockchain-Based direct-to-fan music platform,
-The first accelerator dedicated exclusively to startups building on the blockchain,
-The world’s first trade transaction using blockchain technology.
Whenever I read a claim like this, my FIRST thought is, “what makes this so?” In most cases if it’s not 100 percent verifiable, I remove it from the article I’m writing.
Unfortunately, I believe this practice of spurious, speculative claims is making it hard for the average, everyday person to assess the legitimacy of startup projects in the blockchain/crypto world. On the other hand, I do get it at a certain level. Let me explain.
Back in 1994 while starting a consulting business, I read a book called The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout. In it, the authors stress the importance of what they call “First Mover Advantage,”- a concept which states that if you’re the first to bring some product or service to market, you have an almost unbeatable advantage over your competition.
But here’s the real takeaway here, one that prospective startups in the Blockchain world should heed:
“While being first can put one ahead of the pack, it doesn’t guarantee success. In other words, it matters not if you’re first to market with your product or service if no-one uses it or if your product is in its early stages, unproven or at worst, very bad.”
Frankly, I think this propensity to claim first in some sort of niche is a big danger facing the blockchain world, particularly when a wildly inflated ICO is part of the equation. This contention strikes me as crazy, particularly when it involves a new venture that has been thrown together quickly and is largely unproven.
By the way, I’m not totally immune to this thinking. I’ve been guilty of saying to people I cross paths at networking events that I was one of the first full-time journalists in the Crypto/Blockchain realm. Whenever I bring up this self-made up story, my mind starts thinking, “Is that really true?”