Reports emerged last week that venture capital giants Andreessen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures are investing $1 million in OpenBazaar, an online platform where users can buy and sell pretty much anything using the digital currency, bitcoin. If this sounds all too familiar, recall Silk Road, the bitcoin marketplace that U.S. authorities shut down last year for facilitating drugs sales. It’s rise and dramatic fall is the stuff of dark fiction, and I would argue that OpenBazaar is much worse.
Unlike its predecessor, OpenBazaar is completely decentralized and exists wholly within the network of users themselves. In other words, even if a criminal buys guns over the peer-to-peer system, he can’t be shut down without shutting down every computer in the network (which isn’t really feasible) since there’s no central hub for law enforcement to target.
The company has repeatedly made it clear that it isn’t trying to create a…
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