Before Matt McGraw, CEO of Dispatch Labs launched his latest blockchain venture, he was certain he was done with technology companies. Effectively retired after selling his previous company, Rocket Science, McGraw was ready to slow down and enjoy being a full time dad to six kids. In addition to the allure of a quieter family life, McGraw had also grown disenchanted with the tech space because he felt it had lost any sense of innovation.
However, upon learning about blockchain technology, McGraw was immediately sold. I recently chatted with McGraw to learn more about why he is so bullish about blockchain's potential and why he feels he has a responsibility to get blockchain innovation right.
What is it about blockchain technology that forced you out of retirement?
McGraw: I was immediately sold on the idea of a political economy built on top of a technology stack that forces you to be intentional about your incentive structure. With blockchain, you're building incentives directly into your technology platform -- that to me is the revolutionary part of this whole thing. You can no longer be unintentional and get away with it.
And yes, as is the case with any developing field, some bad actors are going to drive an incentive structure that's terrible. While others are going to drive an incentive structure that is morally and ethically compatible with progressive values -- I am very interested in helping that side win.
What sets Dispatch apart from other emerging blockchain solutions?
McGraw: Early on I realized that the only way Dispatch is going to be successful was if we built it with market fit in mind, and we have clients and customers driving the use cases and development of the platform. At that time there was nobody doing anything credible that could go to scale at the enterprise level, or drive mass adoption. I didn't see anything being built on blockchain for data-intensive enterprise applications, or a business application, or marketplace, or yadda yadda. So you see how we got to Dispatch.
Yes, blockchain can lead to positive revolutions across every field, but it needs the right infrastructure in place to thrive. That's what Dispatch aims to do; we're not building a sexy application, we're building the foundation in which those applications will be able to scale and, hopefully, thrive.
As a seasoned entrepreneur, you have experience in building teams from the ground up. When it comes to attracting and retaining blockchain talent, are you taking a different approach?
McGraw: For years, this industry was dominated by kids, really. I used to be called a kid, and hated it, back when I was smarter than everybody, in 1998. They're not kids. They're young, and incredibly passionate, but inexperienced when it comes to scaling technology and building viable business solutions. Their overwhelming optimism is infectious, and I don't want to quell that. However, as someone who has lived and worked through past technological booms, I also know that we have a long road ahead of us if we actually want to deliver on blockchain's potential.
Our team at Dispatch is comprised of both developers and professionals with strong business backgrounds, who have experienced the challenges and triumphs of bringing a company to life firsthand. This mixture of personalities and skill sets allows us to develop and share a blockchain infrastructure that is widely accessible.
In recent months, there has been a lot of attention around ICO scams. Do you think the prevalence of these cases could derail the overall progress of blockchain innovation?
McGraw: Right now, I think that because crypto is still so new, there is inherent fear, uncertainty, and doubt swirling around ventures in that space. We, however, do feel confident that we have built a solid infrastructure that will empower a lot of developers to bring decentralized solutions to fruition.
As a team, we feel a gigantic responsibility to get Dispatch right. If we get it wrong, not only will we lose credibility, but yes, it could hinder the progress of other players in the eyes of the public. We're still in the early stages of blockchain, which means that public perception is still fragile. We're very cognizant of that. However, although there are instances of scams, I do believe there are far more people in the blockchain sphere who intend to build viable solutions to actually improve people's quality of life.
As a disruption platform, are there certain areas or causes that you're most excited to see blockchain solutions infiltrate?
McGraw: It is our overarching goal to build a ledger that empowers values-based movements. Yes, there are crypto-anarchists and crypto-libertarians in this space, as well as people whose primary aim is to develop blockchain-based systems that just manipulate people.
Whether the solutions are enabling immediate monetary transactions in developing communities or allowing veterans to more easily and efficiently access their medical records from a wide range of practitioners, it is our responsibility at Dispatch to support and champion those ideas. As a friend of mine once said, "it sounds like you're fighting for the soul of blockchain," and in many ways we are.