This may sound obvious, but it's useful emphasizing: on the gradient of decentralized-centralized, the amount of property owners is smallest when centralized (meaning concentration), and largest when fully-decentralized. Also the average company profit is highest when fully centralized, and lowest when fully decentralized.
Why is company profit so low when fully decentralized? That's because in relation to property, when you have 100% decentralization, it means each person owns everything they need. This currently doesn't happen, but it could theoretically happen:
- You own kickass level 0 energy, kickass level 0 processing, kickass level 0 storage, kickass level 0 network hardware
- (imagine you have a mobile device with very good specs, attached to a very good compact solar panel, and an antenna which connects to satellites, like GPS, and then you're fully autonomous regarding internet connection)
- You own all the software you use (it's either proprietary and you have the source, or not yours but open source)
- We all use CJDNS, IPv6
Those three assumptions remove a lot of business opportunities because you really don't need to rent anything else. If everybody is in such situation, you then don't need level 1 properties, and neither Shit-as-a-Service. Also Big Data crap is impractical because it would take a lot of effort to ask for everyone's data (instead of owning their data in the first place). You could still create some cool proprietary software and rent it, but I'll get to why we should avoid proprietary, later.
But we're not in that situation yet, primarily because we're utterly dependent on submarine cables, therefore ISPs, and therefore Hosting-as-a-Service, such as AWS etc. There is a business to be made in hosting for P2P, because we're not online all the time (because we don't have kickass level 0 energy on our phones 24/7) so we need an always-online server to do that for us. Or we have limited storage (because we don't have kickass level 0 storage). Or we have those two but the device gets slow and laggy (because we don't have kickass level 0 processing).
So there you go, there's a business opportunity in selling kickass level 0 hardware, but first you need demand, you need people to understand the benefit of owning their own stuff, and most of us are software people (I assume), so it may be a stretch to enter that market. But it's totally possible, and the crypto world seemed to not be afraid of trying it, now there are kickass level 0 crypto devices like Trezor or Ledger Wallet, I own one and I'm a happy customer.
Now let's talk about software. SSB is a fully decentralized software for social networking and social data. It does that in order to avoid remote trust. It turns out that personal data is like money, and you want to store it in somewhere super safe. But we don't have the bank-equivalent for personal data (some people use Google for personal data the same way they use banks for money, with the same amount of trust), but Google has proven it cannot be trusted. If you think of real banks, the most trustworthy bank is one that provides you full transparency: they have a vault just for you, with real dollars inside, they give you a tour and let you see that with your own eyes, and there are surveillance cameras, etc. The point being: trust is created with transparency.
I have a theory that basic ingredients for corruption are: (1) asymmetric power (centralization), (2) opaqueness (no transparency), (3) obfuscation (through complexity or lies). It's not always the case that when you have those ingredients, you have corruption. However it seems to me that if you have corruption then it requires those basic ingredients. If you kill the ingredients, you kill corruption.
To kill corruption you do the opposite: (1) distributed power (full decentralization), (2) full transparency, (3) simplicity, honesty, straight-forwardness. Number (2) is why we need open-source, and how it's hard to make a business with software as rented property.
Which leads me to my final point: making money doesn't need to be making profit. Wikipedia is one of the most important websites today, and it's a non-profit, so is Mozilla. What's important is that people have a decent salary, a decent support for their living costs, etc. Profit is like nitro, it makes everything "more", but we might not need a wicked profit machine in order to do what we need. Note that companies like tech giants get billions in revenue every quarter, but to pay a team of 10 developers, you don't need that much. And 10 developers gets you far. Like Instagram far. Or WhatsApp far. You get the point. You don't need 2000 developers.
I'm more and more warming up to the idea of a non-profit. I think with the correct articulation of purpose, passion, and demonstration of genuine innovation, you can convince both individuals and organizations to regularly donate. Wikipedia struggles with donations, but notice it also has to pay for servers, we wouldn't (... I guess).
OpenCollective is one way, but I'd like to propose thinking bigger. OC is a for-profit company in Silicon Valley, and they have a 10% fee. I'm happy to use them (weekly, I just used some funds like yesterday) for Cycle.js framework, but for something as big as The Next Cool Thing, you want to be in a different jurisdiction and under different business assumptions.