The Woz wanted to correct the ledger — distributed or otherwise.

Steve Wozniak told an audience of more than 1,500 people at the Crypto Invest Conference in Los Angeles Tuesday that he never said he saw a blockchain bubble. Rather, the Apple co-founder said he had likened the fledgling industry’s volatility to when “the internet was gearing up.”

He said blockchain is facing challenges in securing public acceptance but that was likely to change in “10 to 15 years.”

Steve Wozniak has seen “example after example of applications for blockchain that are so different than what we are living right now. This is a rebellion.”

Wozniak has been outspoken about bitcoin (BTC) and blockchain in recent months. At a conference in August, he said that blockchain was overhyped, although earlier in the week he announced that he had launched a venture capital firm, EQUI Global, and a tech education company, BlockGeeks, focused on the technology.

But Wozniak has also spoken enthusiastically about bitcoin and maintained a similarly positive outlook about the currency. “I run into people developing things on blockchain,” Wozniak told the audience. “I don’t see that their developments will be as pure as blockchain. I like that purity.”

A ‘Rebellion’

Wozniak declined to predict which companies would succeed, saying he had seen “example after example of applications for blockchain that are so different than what we are living right now. This is a rebellion. People are going to have things that they haven’t had before.”

Conference organizers said there were more than 5,000 registrations for the three-day event, which ends Wednesday. It is the second Crypto Invest Summit. A first iteration of the conference in May drew more than 4,500 people.

Earlier in the morning, Boost VC founder and Managing Director Adam Draper said that he was particularly interested in projects focused on interface infrastructure. “No one is doubling down for interfaces,” Draper said. “We’re going to be looking at those.”

Draper predicted that in 10 years, there would be “more digital currency than fiat,” and that in a year, consumers would find “three apps on the home screen of your phone that use cryptocurrency and blockchain,” and that you wouldn’t “think about them.”

Both Wozniak and Draper advised the audience, which included entrepreneurs along with crypto investors and executives from nonblockchain organizations interested in exploring the technology, to create projects that would help users. “I’m all about value,” Draper said. “It’s all about removing friction from the world. If you are not doing that, you are doing it wrong.”

Real Solutions

Wozniak asked developers to consider how blockchain would “impact” the lives of users. “Real truth is real solutions,” he said.

In a subsequent panel discussion on boosting general awareness and use of blockchain, Randall Crowder, the COO of marketing technology firm Phunware, spoke of the importance of companies educating their “user base and getting the technology into the hands of users.”

Fellow panelist John Souza, the founder and CEO of Kingsland University, a provider of educational and other services for the blockchain industry, said that the biggest impediment to wider adoption was a lack of developers. In a survey by the global consultancy Deloitte earlier this year, 28 percent of the respondents said that a lack of in-house blockchain expertise was a barrier to making a bigger investment in blockchain technology. A recent Kingsland blog spoke of a “$3 billion bottleneck.“

“We have” an industry “built on toothpicks,” Souza told the Crypto Invest audience. Kingsland provides educational and other services for the blockchain community.

Wrong Emphasis

Souza found fault with the emphasis on cryptocurrency pricing instead of blockchain technology. “I wish it was the blockchain invest summit not the crypto invest summit,” Souza said.

Another panelist, Christopher Smith, a partner in the crypto consultancy Rootmont Research, said more people would use blockchain when they saw its ability to address financial and other problems. “Finance can be weaponized,” Smith said. “A lot of people go through a crisis that this weapon solves. It’s an incentive issue of our financial system.”

James Rubin
James Rubin has covered a range of business topics for such publications as the Economist Intelligence Unit, Forbes Insights and Adweek. His papers have been presented at World Economic Forum events. He was an associate editor at TheStreet and is the author of the "Urban Cyclist's Survival Guide."