The Napster of Everything: A retrospective

Thinking about the evolution of the Internet’s latest wave

Will Murphy
4 min readNov 30, 2017


When I started investigating blockchains it was 2013 and I was interested in Bitcoin in particular. I read the original paper by Satoshi Nakamoto, an unknown name. I thought it was pretty interesting. You have a potentially revolutionary protocol for a digital currency written by a mystery person (or pseudonym for a group).

I have a background in economics and technology, so I found it particularly interesting. And, my job at the time (and my life pursuit) is to find big things to work on. My initial interest was in the idea of a true, trustworthy decentralized currency.

First Thought: Napster of Currencies

I found it pretty interesting and somewhat similar to Napster (the peer-to-peer music sharing software that came out for my generation and was shuttered) in that it was a solid P2P version of something that has historically been controlled by a centralized authority.Obviously, there technical differences between the P2P file sharing services and blockchain. But, from an entrepreneurial standpoint, the nature of P2P and the added capabilities of the blockchain are compelling.

I got some immediate feedback on my idea.

Some people may be thinking of the later service that bought the Napster name and was centralized. I’m talking about the original, groundbreaking P2P Napster of my generation.

And, note this is not a perfect comparison. I’m not saying the P2P technology is the same. It’s a different structure that Napster. The P2P storing, sharing, and consensus mechanisms are new and different. The trustless ledger allows a currency to be created. And, thats new and different. And, a lot of future applications. The blockchain took existing concepts and made something new and powerful.

But, as time went one and the price of Bitcoin fell, I had some friends (that love to give me a hard time) give me some feedback.



Will Murphy

Builder of tech products and companies