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Web 3.0 is finally here

And what is Web3.0 anyway?

(And it has nothing to do with NFTs and crypto)

I am old enough to remember Web1.0 – the early Web of the 90s. This was a place of mainly static content. At the time, it was revolutionary. But – in retrospect – it looks clunky.

Then in the middle of the noughties, a confluence of technologies took the web to the next level – Web2.0.

The read/write web

The world went from looking at static pages to user-generated content, social features and mobile/geo-location. And we had two major infrastructure enablers: Cloud (AWS EC2 and S3 launched in 2006) and Mobile (iPhone in 2008). This led to a host of incredible Web2.0 companies in the second half of the noughties:

  • Youtube in 2005
  • Facebook & Twitter in 2006
  • Dropbox 2007
  • Airbnb 2008
  • Uber & WhatsApp 2009
  • Instagram 2010

The innovation in consumer tech paved the way for some amazing B2B SaaS companies like HubSpot, Slack, Mailchimp, Xero, Shopify, Stripe, GitHub and Twilio.

What’s next?

By now, Web2.0 has played out. The behemoths are established. And founder and their VC enablers have been looking for “the next big thing” for at least half a decade.

But what is Web3.0? What are the shifts that will throw everything up into the air and give us all a fresh chance to make a ding in the world?

One branch of the technorati went down the “well virtualise everything” road. The slogans were virtualisation and decentralisation. The caricature of the idea was to collect virtual assets (NFTs) to put in virtual homes in the virtual world called the Metaverse.

Many powerful people have put a lot of resources behind this vision. Marc Zuckerberg has been so enamoured with the idea that he renamed Facebook to Meta. He has also been spending more than $10bn/year building out this virtual vision.

But then everything changed on November 30, 2022. When OpenAI unveiled ChatGPT, everyone got to see just how powerful Generative AI can be. And it looks like Zuck has woken up to that too, given that he last week reoriented “Meta” from the Metaverse to AI.

B2C & B2B

AI will create a lot of consumer surplus. And there might be some incredible consumer companies coming out of this. But more than anything, I think AI will be an enabling technology for amazing new B2B companies.

We have already seen machine learning classifiers embedded in almost all SaaS products. Over the coming years, B2B SaaS founders will turbo-charge their platforms with Generative AI magic.

And that – ladies & gentlemen, is Web3.0.

Outside a few platform companies like OpenAI, the money won’t be made by investing in new algorithms. But a lot of money will be made by embedding AI in every platform, every app and every workflow.

It’s automation on steroids. It’s the AI-powered Web.

It’s here.

And this is Web3.0.