Tokens also brings about the idea of tokenization and the realization of a token economy.
Take, for example, the current state of building a software company. Someone comes up with an idea, but in order to start building they need money in order to support themselves.
To get the money, they take on venture capital and give away a percentage of the company. This investment immediately introduces mis-aligned incentives that will, in the long run, not align well with building out the best user experience.
Also, if the company ever does become successful, it will take a very long time for anyone involved to realize any of the value, often leading to years of work without any real return on investment.
Imagine, instead, that a new and exciting project is announced that solves a real problem. Anyone can participate in building it or investing in it from day one. The company announces the release of x number of tokens, and give 10% to the early builders, put 10% for sale to the public, and set the rest aside for future payment of contributors and funding of the project.
Stakeholders can use their tokens to vote on changes to the future of the project, and the people who helped build the project can sell some of their holdings to make money after the tokens have been released.
People who believe in the project can buy and hold ownership, and people who think the project is headed in the wrong direction can signal this by selling their stake.
Because blockchain data is all completely public and open, purchasers have complete transparency over what is happening. This is in contrast to buying equity in private or centralized businesses where many things are often cloaked in secrecy.
This is already happening in the web3 space.
One example is the app Radicle (a decentralized GitHub alternative) which allows stakeholders to participate in the governance of their project. Gitcoin is another that allows developers to get paid in cryptocurrency for jumping in and working on Open Source issues. Yearn allows stakeholders to participate in decision making and voting on proposals. Uniswap, SuperRare, The Graph, Audius, and countless other protocols and projects have issued tokens as a way to enable ownership, participation, and governance.
DAOs (Decentralized Autonomous Organizations), which offer an alternative way to build what we traditionally thought of as a company, are gaining tremendous momentum and investment from both traditional developers and venture capital firms.
These types of organizations are tokenized and turn the idea of organizational structure on its head, offering real, liquid, and equitable ownership to larger portions of stakeholders and aligning incentives in new and interesting ways.
For example, Friends with Benefits is a DAO of web3 builders and artists, is about a year old, has a market cap of around $125 million as of this writing, and recently received a $10 million round of investment from a16z.
DAOs could encompass an entire post in and of themselves, but for now I'll just say that I think that they are the future of building products and (what we in the past thought of as) companies. Here is a good post outlining the current DAO landscape.