In this Digital CxO Leadership Insights video, Mike Vizard speaks with Dremio CEO Billy Bosworth about how blockchain platforms for creating Web3 applications will become more accessible.
Mike Vizard: Hello and welcome to the latest edition of the Digital CxO Leadership Insight Series. I’m your host, Mike Vizard. Today we’re with Billy Bosworth, who is CEO of Dremio. We’re gonna be talking about all things related to Web3 and AI and how all this is gonna come together. Billy, welcome to the show.
Billy Bosworth: Thank you, Mike. Great to be here.
Mike Vizard: What exactly is Web3 these days, and why should folks be paying more attention to it? Other than the fact that maybe it has something to do with blockchain and NFTs and all this stuff that, you know, the kids are excited about, but what does this mean from a business perspective?
Billy Bosworth: Yeah, I think that one of the biggest differences between Web 2.0 and Web3 is how we think about some of the most valuable aggregated data sources. And in a Web 2.0 world, much of the valuable data sources in the world were found inside of a company, right, inside of an entity. So, Google had lots of its own information, obviously, from your web traffic, and Apple from your devices, and things of that nature. And in Web3, what we’re seeing is the datasets are much more open and available, now, to basically anybody who knows how to navigate and use them. And that’s made possible by some of the technologies that you mentioned, like blockchain and such.
Where now, instead of needing a governing entity to say that this data is authentic or it’s what we believe it is, now that’s being done and arbitered in different ways. And so, that allows the dataset to be more open and available to basically anybody who can take advantage of accessing it.
Mike Vizard: There are some skeptics out there that point out that we might have some issues trying to scale that kind of data, that volume, and we may also run into energy issues around the compute. But is it your sense that Web3 is inevitable, or are there still a lot of hurdles to be overcome?
Billy Bosworth: I think it’s a matter of degree. You know, it’s very hard, in our world today, to talk about anything without the use of extreme hyperbole. But the reality is that many of these technologies, they get adopted in various modes and patterns, over time, and there usually is not this wholesale abandonment of the old way we used to do things for something new. These trends typically take, you know, many years, even a decade or more, to actually fully get implemented. So in many ways, I think Web3 is here. There is enough things out there, right now, and certainly, crypto is probably the archetype for what’s available in a Web3 world.
But that doesn’t mean everything’s gonna change overnight. And in fact, I think even very timely, as of today, this conversation, you know, the markets are at a pretty significant correction, and I think a lot of people thought crypto would be insulated from that, and then it’s not. And so, what’s that gonna do to the excitement and the adoption of it? You know, we don’t know. But I do think that the technology is sound and it’s useful. I think it’s gonna have other uses that we haven’t even really got into at scale, yet, like microtransactions. Things like neighborhoods, perhaps, sharing their solar grids, right, with each other, selling it on a fractional basis. But those things are very well-suited for this kind of Web3 world, and not so much for the Web 2.0 world, because the cost of the transactions are too high.
So, I think it’s just gonna be a matter of finding the right use cases over time, and we probably should avoid the hyperbole of, you know, it’s gonna take over everything in the next two years. I just don’t think that’s gonna be the case.
Mike Vizard: Now, you just partnered with Spice AI, to help kind of drive some of this. So what does that partnership look like, and what will people ultimately experience as a result?
Billy Bosworth: Yeah, we have a technology that really is about creating easy and open lake houses. And what that means is, it’s a new way to think about how to access and analyze your data without having to use conventional database technologies like data warehouses. And these have been around for, like, 50 years; they have been around for a very long time. But the nature of a Web3 dataset is such that it’s out in what we call open standards, which means the way it’s stored is very well defined and easily understood. And companies like Dremio, what we do is we come in and we make that accessible via very old familiar tools like SQL. And any type of SQL product that can go out and do analysis of data in a database, with Dremio, you can actually point to that and use your tools of SQL just as easily on a big data lake.
But similarly, the other advantage is that it’s not just SQL workloads. It could be that you wanna do real deep machine learning type things, and that can be accessed via Dremio, as well. So, you have the data that’s made available to you, to anybody, it’s stored in open formats, which is great, but now you still need to be able to access it in a way that can become intelligible. And that’s what Dremio allows a company like Spice AI to do.
Mike Vizard: Is there any danger that Web3 data will overwhelm our data lakes and turn them into swamps? Is that something we should be thinking about, or is there a smarter way to go about doing this whole thing?
Billy Bosworth: The swamp concept really becomes a function of lack of derived value, more than how much data is there, right? And so, I think that’s one of the things that people wanna get their heads around is that, in almost every scenario, more data is going to be better. In particular, if you’re talking about machine learning and things like that, you know, the more datapoints you have the better. But you wanna be able to make use of all that data, as well. And I think that the challenge in the past, when we think about the, let’s call it the old-school kind of data lakes of the Hadoop world, was that really only one technology could access the data in that format, and that was Hadoop.
The difference that you’re seeing today is, now you have that data lake with all that data available, but again, with a technology like Dremio, now you can use your tools that you’ve been using for decades. You could use Tableau, you can use Power BI, you could use Excel, and you could point at that data to make use of it. We don’t have to now move that data somewhere else for a different set of users. So that’s the real promise of the Web3 world and the Web3 datasets is that they’ll be accessible to everybody, not just the deep data scientists writing Python. They’re gonna be available to that user, but also to a user that’s using Tableau or Excel.
Mike Vizard: There is, of course, a lot of banging of the drum about Web3 and usurping of Facebook and all these other folks, but _____ peel it back a little bit, it seems like it’s a little bit more about just eliminating a lot of the middle processes that get in the way of things, and centralize things, and pushing more things out to the edge. So that we are not dependent upon, I don’t know, for example, banks to do one service, or some centralized service of any kind. Is that kind of what we’re gonna be looking at?
Billy Bosworth: I think that’s certainly one of the use cases is the disintermediation of classic third-party members and transactions, right? That’s always been, you know, in any society, in any functioning economy, you need an arbiter of truth. You need somebody who’s gonna be able to endorse something as that it actually happened, and then you have a ledger of that transaction, right? So, if there’s a dispute, if you and I supposedly did a transaction to make a purchase and it was your word against mine, how do you prove that? Well, you go to a third party and say, “Well, here, we have the record, we have the transfer of the accounts from Billy to Mike.”
But in the future, we won’t need a third party to do that in the Web3 paradigm. Now that’s done through the distributed ledgers, like you see with blockchain. And so, I think that’s an aspect of it, for sure. And then, again, the other aspect of it becomes, I think, that the nature of the datasets become also available to everybody. So now, instead of having to go to that third party who contains all that information, imagine that all this information on these transactions was open and available to anybody who participated in that kind of a commerce system. Well, that opens up a lot of new possibilities in how you would be able to do your business model, and how you would be able to do your tailoring around your engines, around things that you like and recommendation engines and things of that nature.
Without having to go to these arbiters to do it, now it’ll just be available directly in raw form from the transactions, in a trusted way. Which is the promise of blockchain is that you can trust that ledger, and that it’s beyond corruption and manipulation and those sorts of things.
Mike Vizard: What’s your best advice to folks about how to get started with Web3 and – you know, I don’t think you wanna dive in at the deep end, per se, but is there a way to kind of start testing some things out today?
Billy Bosworth: Yeah, I think that one of the great things about our world today is that there is so much available for free, in terms of learning and education and learning about these new architectures and how they’re set up and established. There’s an industry conference that we sponsor that’s made for practitioners, called Subsurface, and it’s meant to really give people information form other people who are implementing these new next-generation lakes, and how they’re used and what technologies are used in the stack. And how the open standards are developing and how the opensource software might play a role in all this technology. So I would say just good self-education is the best place to start, look for people who’ve done it in real-life and learn from those examples. And most of the time in these scenarios, people are very willing to share.
At our Subsurface conference, we have companies very much that you would recognize by name, that come and talk very deeply about how they’ve implemented these technologies, and the challenges they’ve had and the things, maybe, where you don’t wanna bump your head. But the good news is that it’s all out there and ready to start learning from other people who have walked there before you.
Mike Vizard: Right, well, and the important thing is, just like everything else that came before it, nothing seems to replace everything entirely. It’s just one more layer of abstraction and data that we get to play with.
Billy Bosworth: Yeah, it certainly doesn’t happen overnight. You know, I’ve been around long enough in this industry, over 30 years now, to watch some pretty big paradigm transformations. You know, I’ve seen the mainframe to client server, I’ve seen client server to the read-only web, I’ve seen the read-only web to the transactional web, I’ve seen the web to mobile, I’ve seen on-prem to cloud. And in every one of those scenarios, you know, there were very long periods of adaptation and adoption, and usually centering around some use cases that are obvious, like in this case we talked about crypto being one of the most obvious use cases. And then the ecosystem builds over time and it matures over time.
So really the question is just where do you want to insert yourself in that maturity curve. I’d say we’re still very much in the innovation phase, and to borrow Geoff Moore’s crossing the chasm terminology, you know, we’re still much to the left of the chasm. And so, you’d be diving in, right now, at a pretty interesting time, you know, you’d have a chance to be on the very innovative side of things. Some people may choose to wait a little longer until the ecosystem is more mature. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer to that; it’s really just about what your appetite is for innovation.
Mike Vizard: All right, well, hopefully, we’ll all be around to say, “I remember when.” Hey, Billy, thanks for being on the show.
Billy Bosworth: Thank you very much, Mike. Good luck.
Mike Vizard: All right, and thank you all for watching this latest episode of the Digital CxO Leadership Series. You can find this episode on digitalcxo.com, along with all of our others. And once again, thank you all for watching.