Skip to main content

Warren Wednesday 3/15

In the 1982 Berkshire Hathaway shareholder letter, Warren Buffett wrote:

“In many industries, differentiation can’t be made meaningful.”

One of the hardest things to do in business is to be original. But embracing investment differentiation in web3 will lead to long-term success. Copying what others do is a short-term cash grab. Market competition and commoditization of product features will eventually run imitators into the ground.

Successful long-term investors find companies, management and products that stand out from the competition with unique execution. Buffett backed projects that employed differentiation strategies to rise above the noise. Consequently, they give people a reason to choose their business over others.

This same principle applies to the web3 space!

With so many entrants looking to capitalize on the vast monetization opportunities afforded by blockchains, cryptocurrencies and NFTs, numerous copycat projects with commoditized services have emerged.

When looking to invest, search for organizations that fold in some – or all – of these various types of differentiation into their business models:

  • Price: Offer products or services at lower prices than competitors (e.g. cost-cutting) OR at higher price points, targeting customers who are willing to pay more for quality.

  • Product: Offer proprietary products that are innovative, have unique features, are crafted with superior quality or allow for modular customization.

  • Distribution: Offer products or services through different and more efficient channels than competitors.

  • Brand: Develop unique branding by creating a strong visual identity, creative messaging, and a strong reputation.

  • Relationships: Build a loyal customer base through exceptional customer service, personalized offerings, or loyalty programs.

Buffett argued that a key piece of differentiation is the industry in which a business chooses to compete. Savvy investors should consider how competitive advantages in certain web3 industries are created and sustained given the similarity of products offered.

Two great examples of web3 industries I have no interest investing in:

Cryptocurrency exchanges (e.g. Coinbase)

Currently, payment exchange platforms and their associated tokens have no meaningful way to differentiate themselves (except of course, those that can stay solvent).

Yes, some platforms offer discounts or reward users. This all comes out of the profits of the platform itself in a flywheel loop to expand their customer base. As a result, they payout more rewards or discounts.

Couple these challenges with a dynamic and unclear regulatory environment and you have a recipe for investment disaster with very limited upside.

NFT marketplaces (e.g. OpenSea)

In a few short years, OpenSea went from being the paragon of NFT marketplaces. They are rivaled by no other platform that people can use to mint, list and sell their content. What’s worse, they have had to diminish their profitability model by competing with no-fee marketplaces like Blur.

A race to the bottom in fee generation and no competitive advantages – count me out!

Ask yourself if a web3 product or service is truly be different and make sure to embrace investment differentiation where possible. If not, be wary because competition might soon come knocking.


If you found this post interesting give us a follow and stay tuned for more Warren Wednesdays featuring excerpts from our book, Warren Buffett in a Web3 World.

We took over 1,000 pages of wisdom from the Oracle of Omaha and condensed it into a snackable, easy-to-read investment guide to help you on your journey to grow wealth in the web3 space!