Magazine: Animoca was a successful mobile gaming company, with 10 million downloads and various apps in the top 10 on Apple’s App Store. Then you were suddenly thrown off the store in 2012. How did that change your views on Big Tech?
Yat Siu, Animoca co-founder: The fact that platforms could become as powerful as they became — the App Store, Google Play, Facebook, you name it — caught many of us by surprise. Open source had become the predominant form in which code was written, and it was kind of a wake-up call when Apple basically just decided to push the button and get rid of us.
We didn’t fully know the exact reasons, but there was no discussion, negotiation or process. Hundreds of people were potentially out of work, and millions of customers lost access to the apps they loved because of the decision of some person or some small group of people who can never be held accountable. And that, to us, was basically a shock. It’s not that we saw blockchain and decentralization as the solution back then — it’s just that we knew there was a problem.
Deplatforming users with no explanation seems very authoritarian, like having rulers but not courts and no solid laws.
Pretty Pet Store was one of the games deplatformed. Source: Animoca
Exactly. Blockchain is not only a technological solution but also, in many ways, a political-socioeconomic movement. That’s when people get into it. They don’t get into it because “Oh, look, it’s a decentralized ledger. I can have copies of everything!” No, they get into it because it means freedom. It means a kind of digital sovereignty they yearn for because they lost it during the transition to the digital world.
It took us a year and a half, or maybe even two years, to get back into the App Store. We were leading the space when we got kicked out, and then it was impossible to claw back our market standing because by then, the competition, by the grace of Apple, ended up basically dominating the space.
But you’re not a…