- Rich Widmann is head of strategy, Web3, and cloud at Google.
- Widmann says Google Cloud is trying to “build a giant bridge” between Web3 companies and the crypto world.
- Nodes are computers that run code for crypto networks, can be thought of as the building blocks of Web3.
Rich Widmann who is in charge of Web3 at Google Cloud, tells Decrypt’s Dan Roberts and Kate Irwin at Mainnet 2022 that Google Cloud is trying to “build a giant bridge.”
Google wants to be one of the most important parts of Web3.
Richard Widmann, Google’s head of strategy, Web3, and cloud, thinks that the Web2 giant is ideologically aligned with many of crypto’s core values, like open-source development and decentralisation. This may come as a surprise to Web3 natives, but Widmann is Google’s head of strategy, Web3, and cloud.
Widmann worked as a lawyer for the trillion-dollar tech company and also has a background in securities law before diving into Google’s crypto projects.
In an interview with Decrypt at the Mainnet conference in New York City, he said that he is trying to “build a giant bridge” between Web3 companies and blockchain by making node services available through Google Cloud. Nodes, which are computers that run code for crypto networks, can be thought of as the building blocks of Web3.
Widmann said, “The Cloud provision, we’re a layer 0.”
The lawyer-turned-strategist emphasised that Google’s nodes need to be decentralised and spread out enough to be able to handle things like internet outages and political unrest. Each node is a single point of failure, so they need to be spread out and global.
And if one or two big tech companies like Amazon or Google end up controlling the vast majority of blockchain nodes, that defeats the point of decentralised technology.
“If everything is running on Google, I will be the first to say that is a problem, frankly,” Widmann said of Web3’s future.
But decentralisation isn’t either good or bad. Widmann thinks that decentralisation is important to Google’s Web3 strategy, but not everything can or should be as decentralised as possible.
“If you tried to build a data centre with a group of DAO participants—I’m sure you could raise the capital, but I don’t really know if you could coordinate around that kind of resourcing to build that,” he said.
If it’s possible to be decentralised, should everything be on the blockchain in the end? Widmann does not agree with that.
“There are some things where a censorship-resistant, distributed source of truth makes sense,” Widmann said, but added that “there are [also] a lot of things that don’t require immutable ledgers.”
He said that Google Cloud doesn’t care about chains and wants layer one protocols to be able to build on top of Cloud and compete with each other or fill different niches.
Widmann made a distinction between Google’s plan and Avalanche Network’s plan. He said that Avalanche Network is a layer one blockchain, not a layer zero for crypto as some might think. He did say, though, that the label is “a matter of rhetoric.”
“Any layer one protocol is running compute containers, generally on a cloud of some kind,” Widmann said. “Avalanche doesn’t do business in the cloud. Just like every other layer one, they run on data centres.
“They try and set themselves as that foundational layer, but ultimately, it’s all running on top of a compute container hosted somewhere, and that’s where the cloud providers come in.”