Disruptive or Foundational

Disruptive has become synonymous with anything built on the internet.  However, I was recently working on a Web3* project and I found a new way to classify technology: foundational.  Learning the idea of foundational tech forced me to re-define disruptive.  Here’s how I see the two:

Disruptive – A technology, or combination of, that delivers an existing product, service or experience to an end user in a way that is faster or cheaper than before.

Foundational – A technology, or combination of, that creates or enables new products, services or experiences that were never possible before.

Basically disruptive is applying a new tool to an old problem, while foundational is a set of new tools for creating new experiences.  The birth of the internet was foundational.  It’s a place to build entirely new things.  Amazon as a book seller was disruptive.  Despite being on the internet, it didn’t change the end result of the book buying process (holding it in your hand and reading it), it just enabled that result in a faster and more cost efficient way.

*Web3 is a catch all term for stuff built on blockchain technology like Bitcoin, other crypto currency and NFTs.