Building your async arsenal

Disruptive technologies have always had a limited number of believers in their early days since they tend to have a limited number of use cases. Skeptics once dismissed the internet and the telephone as fads. What skeptics fail to understand is how quickly and robustly innovation and adoption can occur. 

Today we’ll be covering:

  • Web3 is still only a toy
  • Come for the tool, stay for the network
  • Building your async arsenal

Web3 is still only a Toy

In the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, Americans averaged a half hour of internet usage per day — this figure now sits at 7 hours. Back then, with email as its only real use case, the internet wasn’t viewed as “disruptive” by any means and few sought its improvement. A 2003 Pew Research report found that most people weren’t interested in faster broadband. Even Bill Gates, one of the most brilliant entrepreneurs of our time, was mocked when he tried to explain the benefits of the internet during an appearance on “Late Night with David Letterman '' in 1995.

Those who believed in the internet were mostly a small subset of developers who wanted to turn it from a read-only platform to something where users could create content. Some of the core innovations of web2 were “user generated content” and automatically updating web pages.

Andreessen Horowitz General Partner Chris Dixon notes one major shift that took place in the early 2000s: That while the mainstream tech world was fixated on trends such as enterprise security appliances, the best engineers and entrepreneurs were dedicating their spare time to web2-enabled interactivity. 

However, skeptics still saw web2 projects as a hobby and not something that could build massive companies. This began to shift in 2005 after Yahoo acquired Flickr and Delicious for eight-figure sums. By 2008, Facebook had millions of users, Google had bought YouTube, and Apple launched the App Store. In the three years following the 2008 financial crisis, multiple new companies, including Snap, Uber, and Instagram, were launched, offering further validation that web2 wasn’t a fad.

In a 2010 blog post, Dixon wrote that disruptive technologies are often disregarded as simply “toys” in their early days, particularly as they struggle to meet user needs. Their value only starts to increase as new features are added and they begin leveraging network effects.

We are now seeing this cycle repeat itself with web3. While it will endure growing pains, the fact that the smartest entrepreneurs, engineers, and investors are obsessed with this space is a clear sign that it’s bringing in a paradigm shift.

Come for the tool, stay for the network

In a 2015 blog post, Dixon coined the phrase “come for the tool, stay for the network,” referring to startups that initially use a single-player tool to bring in users and build a startup. The tool helps startups gain enough users to show that its product has merit, while the network lets it build a moat to shield it from competitors.

Two startups that have deployed this strategy include…

1.Social bookmarking platform Delicious, which lured sers in by offering a cloud service for their bookmarks and developed a network by giving them a tagging system to find and share links.

2.Instagram’, which offeredfree photo filters and an easy to use way for users to share photos across its network, and also on other platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter.

Sprinter uses a similar strategy, but supercharged with web3. By themselves, our best-in-class tools provide our users with the utility they need. This value is then multiplied via our network and web3 community.

Building your Async arsenal

Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian has said that asynchronous work is the “future of high-performance startups,” describing it as a space that’s ripe for innovation as the tools to enable it are still in the “Bronze Age.”

Asynchronous work is a work structure where employees don’t have to be online at the same time in order to produce deliverables. It’s designed to maximize the productivity of each worker while eliminating unproductive tasks, reducing the need for excessive meetings, for example. 

A key component of asynchronous work is asynchronous communication, in which:

  • Employees respond at their earliest convenience.
  • Communication can occur via multiple mediums, such as email, Slack, or Notion.

In 2020, the U.K.’s Government Digital Service unit implemented an asynchronous work culture that boosted productivity and was widely praised by employees.

Asynchronous work has multiple benefits:

  • It can help boost productivity, as employees are given the freedom to set their own schedule based on what works best for them instead of adhering to an arbitrary schedule set by their company.
  • It allows for more deep work, as employees don’t have to waste time on unnecessary meetings or back-and-forth conversations with their colleagues that distracts them from their primary duties.
  • It boosts transparency, as everything is documented which can help eliminate gaps in communication.

Asynchronous work results in more thoughtful communication, as employees can think about what they want to say and take time to communicate it in a clear and efficient manner. 

Asynchronous work helps employees feel more independent, boosts trust in a team and can help improve their mental and physical health by removing some of the pressures that exist in synchronous work.

Companies can create an asynchronous work culture by adopting a “show not tell” mantra, where everything is documented and shared. This can be done by collaborating using tools like Sprinter.