Have you hear about overclocking guide site? It’s the craziest thing – people are in the process writing their own product development definition and inventing a brand new currency! This currency has no ties to any government or country. The whole thing “lives” in the minds of the computers who together make up the Internet. The math behind it is a tad complex, but it seems to be growing in popularity and, more importantly, you can actually buy things using bicoins. Microsoft recently announced that they would accept bitcoin in payment for their products. What does all of this mean for product managers?
So here’s how bitcoins work. In the beginning, there were no bitcoins. Then people starting running a computer program (“mining”). This program solved a math problem. When they solved the problem, they would be rewarded for their “mining” activities with bitcoins from a central location. The math problem then became harder to solve and everyone got back to work.
As bitcoins started to show up more and more, people started to accept them in exchange for real-world goods. Once other people saw that this was happening, they become motivated to do more mining. In order to solve the math problem quicker, bigger, faster computers were needed. Investments in data center resources were made and what had been something that people where doing at home on spare computers quickly become an industrial operation almost overnight.
There was one wrinkle in this whole “print your own money” scheme. As with “real world” currencies like the dollar, euro, yen, ruble, etc. the exchange rate for bitcoins is not a fixed thing. That means on any given day, the value of the bitcoins that you own can go either up or down. If your business is involved in mining, then any big downturn in the value of bitcoins could have a very large impact on the profitability of your business.
As product managers, if we want to have something to put on our product manager resume then it’s our responsibility to make sure that the company is a success no matter what product or service we are selling. In the case of a bitcoin miner, we’re selling a mining service that creates value simply by creating more bitcoins. One of the things that we need to remain aware of is the value of bitcoins because as the value goes down, the funds that we have to work with will be limited.
The way that bitcoins are created is by having computers solve a math problem. When the math problem is solved, the company will received more bitcoins for our effort. The challenge is that computers are becoming faster and faster and that is allowing more competitors to enter into this market. As product managers we need to take steps to make sure that the company is able to boost our capacity and increate the computing resources.
Right now the world of bitcoins is very much like an unsettled frontier. The rules have not yet been written; however, there is a great deal of money to be earned. Product managers have an important role to play in keeping the company that they work for afloat by watching what’s going on with bitcoin exchange rates and making sure that bitcoin mining capacity is being maximized.
Talk about a challenge! Product managers who are looking for a real challenge are the ones who will end up working for a company that is in the business of mining bitcoins. There is no other firm or product manager job description that we can look at as a reference when we find ourselves in this situation. This is a real challenge!
The company operates a series of computers that spend their time solving a math problem that, once solved, will provide the company with the funds that we need to keep going. As product managers we need to remain aware of what the current exchange rate for bitcoins is. Additionally, we need to always be looking for ways that we can expand the computing capacity that the company uses to create bitcoins.
This is a crowded market and it may become more crowded over time as more players enter the market. With a strong guiding hand a product manager can help his or her company to continue to move forward in an ever changing market. If you are looking for a real adventure, this might be the job that you want!