Throughout history, we’ve seen credible industry experts voice their opinions about disruptive technologies, only to be proven wrong time and time again.
“This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” – Western Union
“The world potential market for copying machines is 5,000 at most.” – IBM
“The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty – a fad.” – Michigan Savings Bank
“[Bitcoin] is probably rat poison squared.” – Warren Buffett
While this last quote has not yet been proven completely wrong, you can identify a pattern here. Someone with a trusted opinion in their industry expresses their negative views and, because of their expert status, others trust their opinions.
If you dig a little deeper, however, that industry expert’s bias becomes clear. The technology they are bashing, if proven to live up to its potential, could potentially undermine everything that person has built their success on. Why did Western Union hate the telephone? Maybe because it would disrupt their telegraph business.
On a human level, this is understandable. If you feel threatened, you will fight back. But statements like these can often be traced back to something far more simple: a lack of understanding.
Now, a lack of understanding doesn’t mean these experts are dumb. The reality is that disruptive technologies such as Bitcoin can be extremely confusing. But more importantly, when you have a technology that reaches this level of disruption, the hardest part isn’t just figuring out how the technology works. The real challenge is wrapping your head around just how much true potential the technology has because nothing like it has ever existed before. There is no precedent here.
Just as it would have been impossible to predict all that the internet has achieved today back in 1985, it’s far too early for anyone to predict how impactful Bitcoin and blockchain will be in the future. No one truly knows.
Now, going back to Warren Buffet, a man who does indeed deserve a tremendous amount of respect, here’s what we have to say:
Warren – you said two weeks ago during your annual shareholders event that you were wrong about Google and Amazon.
You had a chance to invest and you didn’t because you didn’t fully understand them. Now you make public comments about Bitcoin, but how much time have you truly spent studying the industry? What experts have you met with to learn more? Have you really given it a fair look? Considering you don’t have a computer, use email, and live a rather technology free lifestyle, it’s understandable that you would have a hard time understanding something so technologically complex. However, we’d expect a person in your position to understand that it’s important to take the time to understand something before offering your opinion.
The power of Blockchain, the technology that underpins Bitcoin, is that it lives forever. For the rest of history – your comments knocking bitcoin will exist on the blockchain for everyone to find. The world’s most famous investor will always be associated with being completely wrong about the most famous investment class and technology that we’ve seen in decades.
Though you have been proven to be a successful investor – you haven’t always been right about technology. As a reminder of this, we’ve taken out a number of billboards around your office and home in Omaha Nebraska that will stay up for the next several months.
Warren, we do have tremendous respect for you and what you’ve achieved in your amazing life. But you are dead wrong about Bitcoin. We encourage you to take a step back and give it a second look because just as with Amazon and Google, time will eventually tell just how wrong you were. But this time, it will be on a much larger scale.