Predicting the future is hard. Accepting change is even harder and that means everyone makes poor predictions at one time or another. It’s simply not part of our human nature to visualise or accept radical changes to our way of life. The situation is made more difficult when that change might go against your business vision like in the case of Mr Olsen and his fledgeling digital equipment corporation.

“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” — Ken Olsen, digital equipment corporation in 1977.

This understanding was a major inspiration for us when we came up with our full-page print ad which we called Dreamers. We wanted to highlight the issue that high-profile characters with opinions on the future should always be taken with a grain of salt because well — they’re not always right.

So that’s exactly what we did.

The original idea was to take on the cryptocurrency challengers, those who are in one way or another against its adoption — banks, legacy institutions and those with monopolies. So we sat down together and brainstormed.

Since our ad would be published in financial magazines, we had to be careful to know our audience. It was important to find a balance between making our point, being provocative and catching the reader’s eye. Some of our original concepts were…well, a little too bold.

Under and overestimating the future

When mankind was still communicating by horse and telegram, there were folks thinking of a better way to do things. Along came the telephone and right from its inception, people doubted it. “This telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a form of communication,” said William Orton, president of Western Union in 1876. Just 29 years later, there were 2.2 million telephones operating in the system so it’s safe to say that — had Mr Orton still been alive — he would be eating his words.

But it’s not always doubters making mistakes about the future. Some of us dream too big. Around the turn of the 20th century a French artist named Jean-Marc Côté predicted that it wouldn’t be long before we saw whale-buses — a sort of early submarine that looked something like this:

Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:France_in_XXI_Century._Whale_bus.jpg (Public Domain)

As funny as the thought of taming a whale is, it’s also a strong reminder of the unpredictability of the future.

Being a dreamer pays off

The hardest thing to do when innovating is to find the right balance between these two extremes. Without dreamers, we would not have the technology we are so used to. Most people could not foresee the disruptive and industry-shattering power of the internet in the 1990s. Others were too captivated by the overhyped promises and learned their lesson the hard way during the Dotcom Bubble. But this age of ecstatic optimism and brutal failures paved the way for Amazon, Facebook, Google and Netflix.

At Bitpanda, we don’t try to predict the future. We are just firm believers in the innovative power of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. The ongoing fintech revolution needs dreamers as well as realists. By providing easy-to-use, safe and trustworthy access to any digital assets for both new and experienced users, it’s our goal to play a crucial role in this exciting time.