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Startup Founders Survey Finds Blockchain Skepticism, Experimentation

Startup Founders Survey Finds Blockchain Skepticism, Experimentation

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A major venture capitalist (VC) firm has released its annual survey, revealing blockchain-skeptic sentiments among startup founders, despite a majority presently dabbling with cryptocurrency or blockchain.


The annual State of Startups survey comes from First Round Capital who polled 529 founders with focus questions surrounding the fundraising landscape, “exit environment” and operational challenges. Fascinatingly, blockchain-related questions were put forth to the founders, which may come as little surprise given that “Bitcoin” has been the most popular search request within the “What is…?” category this year. Additionally, the term “blockchain” recently overtook “cryptocurrency” searches.

According to the results of the survey, 87% of respondents “are blockchain skeptics when it comes to their industry”. Contrary to this, when queried on how many members of their industry had been integrating cryptocurrency or blockchain technologies into their enterprises, 50% responded saying “A minority. It’s still experimental”, 38.2% said “No one. It’s not on my industry’s radar” and a mere 0.7% said, “Everyone, it’s revolutionized my industry”. Some 13% of respondents also believe that cryptocurrency of blockchain technology will be dominant technologies in the future for their industries.

A majority of respondents had recently completed Seed or Series A funding rounds, so when asked whether they think initial coin offerings (ICOs) are a “legitimate alternative to venture capital funding”, it comes as little surprise that a majority (44.3%) said “no”, with 28.6% modestly answering “I don’t know enough to say”, and the remaining 27.1% being distributed almost evenly between three other answers which all view that they are now or will be within or after five years.

Amid the skepticism is another interesting result, when asked if they personally owned cryptocurrency, 40.4% said yes.

Pieces of a puzzle

Results from small sample-sizes that don’t home in with more industry-specific questions are not the greatest way to gauge sentiments, though when compared against other results, a bigger picture begins to form.

For example, a recent study from marketing firm TGE found that CEOs, firms and consultants were relatively confident about the industry despite the waning ICO and crypto-markets, with a majority of the survey’s respondents sitting anywhere between neutral and very confident with regards to the ICO facet of the industry.

Another survey from IBM that examined the state of blockchain within the automotive industry found that a majority of respondents are expecting blockchain to be a disruptive force within the next three years, also finding that many of these companies were beginning to experiment with the tech.

Another report from Outlier Ventures on the State of Blockchain Q3 2018 found that institutional investments from VCs, hedge funds, and incubators are slowly but surely beginning to replace ICOs, which it claims displays the growing “professionalization” of the industry, which may prove to wash away much of the skepticism that the nascent sector receives.


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