Billionaire Eric Schmidt, the former chairman of Google, is a budding bitcoin and blockchain enthusiast who said ethereum could be a “powerful platform” whose untapped potential is off-the-charts.
Schmidt made the remarks during a live event with economist Tyler Cowen hosted by Village Global in San Francisco.
In the wide-ranging conversation, Schmidt discussed the future of technology, corporate governance reform, Google’s hiring practices, and bifurcation of the internet.
Schmidt Now: Ethereum Has Major Potential
When asked whether he thought blockchain was overrated or underrated, Schmidt gave a compound answer. “In the public format, overrated. In its technical use, underrated,” he said (video below). “Today, blockchain is a great platform for bitcoin and other currencies. And it’s a great platform for private banking transactions where people don’t trust each other.”
Schmidt believes that exciting developments are occurring with ethereum that could revolutionize business and society.
“I think the most interesting stuff that’s going on are the beginning of execution on top of blockchain — the most obvious example being the capability of ethereum,” Schmidt said.
“And if ethereum can manage to figure out a way to do global synchronization of that activity, that’s a pretty powerful platform. That’s a really new invention.”
That’s a bullish assessment that ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin undoubtedly shares.
As CCN has reported, Buterin recently denied rumors that he was stepping back from ethereum development, saying he’s focusing on encouraging the work of other developers in the open-source developer community.
Schmidt in 2014: ‘Bitcoin is an Amazing Advancement’
Interestingly, Eric Schmidt was an early believer in bitcoin. In 2014, he praised the then-obscure cryptocurrency as a unique technological advancement with massive potential.
“Bitcoin is a remarkable cryptographic achievement,” Schmidt said. “The ability to create something which is not duplicable in the digital world has enormous value.”
He continued: “The bitcoin architecture — literally the ability to have these ledgers which can’t be replicated — is an amazing advancement. Lots of people will build businesses on top of that.”
Schmidt was first introduced to bitcoin in 2011 by Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. In a five-hour interview Assange posted on Wikileaks, Assange urged Schmidt to embrace bitcoin because it’s going to be valuable someday.
“You should be an early adopter, because your bitcoins are going to be worth a lot of money one day,” Assange told Schmidt.
Schmidt — whose net worth tops $13.4 billion — probably didn’t need to get into crypto for the money, but he was apparently intrigued by the new technology.
Other Google executives who are cryptocurrency fans include Google co-founder Sergey Brin and CEO Sundar Pichai. Both tech billionaires have young sons who mine Ethereum, as CCN has reported.
Pichai said his 11-year-old son mines ethereum on a home computer that Pichai built himself. And Sergey Brin said he mines ethereum with his son.
“A year or two ago, my son insisted that we needed to get a gaming PC,” Brin recounted. “I told him, ‘Okay, if we get a gaming PC, we have to mine cryptocurrency. So we set up an ethereum miner on there.”