Josh Ziering: What Cryptocurrency Can Learn From Drones

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Guest post by Josh Ziering, co-founder of

A military-industrial technology storms onto the commercial scene and brings with it promises of grandeur, applicable to just about everything. Miles of news column are devoted to what’s next, what’s happened, and just how we got to this very special place in history — the likes of which won’t be seen again for a long time. Every miniscule development is a major news story.

Few people really understand the intersection of the technology and regulation but that doesn’t deter Venture Capitalists, still feeling the sting of having missed out on the last big thing, from pouring money into early stage players. “This time” is going to be different. It’s on.

Newly funded Founders start the perilous process of putting together a product ahead of a market that demands it. Tens of millions of dollars quickly find their way from company bank accounts to the furnace of break-neck innovation. Nervous founders feeling a little hot under the collar are quickly cooled by a frosty La Croix water.

With the marketing machine fully funded and the PR flywheel humming, the public begins to take notice. They want this new technology, but they also despise it. It’s going to simultaneously save their lives, make them rich, take their jobs, and date their sister. The zealots preach and the haters hate. Chaos reigns supreme.

Maybe you’ve heard something like this before but just can’t place your finger on it? Cryptocurrency is officially on the drone hype-cycle. And along with that comes a multitude of arguments about, “Do we really need fake internet money?” that draw parallels to “Do I really need a Slurpee so bad it has to be delivered in minutes?”

It’s not that cryptocurrency is useless, on the contrary. The real problem is when you have a hammer everything looks like a nail. And when you have a technology that often seems indistinguishable from magic, it can attract less than genuine actors to the space. The world probably doesn’t need a blockchain for Marijuana (and Coworking spaces too!) anymore than we need drone delivery of champagne. (It’s unclear how they bring you that cool metal bucket and ice as well.)

The blue line marks drone searches over time. The red cryptocurrency. The first big blue spike? That’s December 2015. That’s when drones were in the news practically everyday and early stage drone investing reached its peak according to CBInsights.  Does any of this strike you as looking a little familiar as well?

If I could deliver a message to the world of Cryptocurrency enthusiasts via drone it would read: This has happened before! Drones are just the most recent incarnations. But alas, regulations and market forces have not caught up with the cryptocurrency technology and the court of public opinion remains undecided such that people that shouldn’t be investing in crytpocurrency are and people that shouldn’t be running ICO’s are.

Cryptocurrency is experiencing a renaissance that while heady, is simply just not sustainable. Just like every different form of drone delivery started to ring less and less interesting (Pizza, Burritos, Slurpees, Coffee, etc etc), adding “Blockchain” to your company’s name isn’t going to yield the same gains that have been the hallmark of Crypto’s halo effect for some time now.

Today, the drone industry has emerged from the chaos of early days. In 1965, Dr. Bruce Tuckman famously described the stages of group formation as Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing. While I can safely say that the drone industry is well on the way to Performing in 2018 based on the rate of adoption, regulatory progress from the FAA and similar bodies abroad, I would suggest anybody in the crypto space grab an umbrella. The storm is coming.

Joshua is the Co-Founder and Chief Pilot of venture-backed Kittyhawk, a founding member of the FAA Unmanned Aviation Safety Team, and an FAA Part 107 certificate holder.  As an accomplished drone pilot, Josh has professionally flown all manner of unmanned aircraft for the NHL, ABC Television and various manned-aviation airshows for over 15 years.

Josh regularly writes about drone related topics and eagerly shares his love of aviation and often-polarizing opinions on where it’s headed at industry conference presentations and panel discussions. Joshua holds a bachelor’s degree in poetry from Arizona State University.


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