Anthony Di Iorio, co-founder of Ethereum, award-winning entrepreneur, and CEO of Decentral talks about freedom, liberty and impact on this week’s podcast.
Elizabeth Renieris, a crypto and blockchain lawyer educated at Harvard and London School of Economics speaks about identity and data privacy in the crypto and blockchain space.
035. Thinking Differently + Tokenizing a Digital Encyclopedia with Everipedia Co-Founder Sam Kazemian
“I think that this space, particularly Blockchain generates a lot of actual prosperity by bringing markets to things that weren’t possible before. We’re building an encyclopedia that’s not owned by anyone… other people have a stake in collectively owning the governance and the profit and the value that’s generated out of this and before blockchain that literally wasn’t possible.”
Sam Kazemian is one of the co-founders of Everipedia, which is basically like Wikipedia, decentralized. Wikipedia, like most things on the internet, is becoming outdated because people like Sam are recognizing that there’s way more value to the internet than what we’ve been accessing up till now. So Everipedia is tokenizing the value of their encyclopedia of information. IQ tokens are earned by anyone who wants to generate or curate the information on this new monetized digital encyclopedia.
Why not be paid for creating content, approving edits or for selling services on the network?
It’s the Proof of Stake model. When someone wants to use the site, they stake tokens. If they do good work then they earn IQ tokens that are printed, (in the same way that Bitcoin miners earn Bitcoin). The idea behind the staking tokens is that if more and more people are joining the network, more invest in the system and remove the tokens from use, which means there’s less liquidity, so the price should increase.
Everipedia did an airdrop of about $50 million worth of IQ tokens to EOS holders. They chose to give away tokens to help incentivize more users and build the community. They chose not to do an ICO because they received $30 million of funding from Block.one.
One of the most interesting things that I learned from talking to Sam was how he got his start in Bitcoin. From mining in college housing to trading and looking at all sides of blockchain technology. Sam didn’t come from a developer background. He studied philosophy and neuroscience at UCLA and it was those philosophy courses that really helped him to think differently.
So how important is thinking differently? Isn’t it the only way to do something that’s never been done before?
We get into the ideas of reasoning in philosophy and the philosophy of blockchain technology and how he’s created something that’s never been done before.
• Sam believes stable coins are what people should be watching out for
• The most challenging time in the life of a startup is not the beginning, it’s when it comes time to buckle down and do the work with no spotlight
• ETH and EOS and their supporters can be friends
• Having a constrained view is a barrier to growth
• Doing something completely different can lead to changing the world
“There’s lots of evidence today that online and in our digital lives, which is increasingly most of our lives these days, there’s just a whole bunch of things that are broken. Things that we’ve accepted as normal. Things that we’ve come to see as the status quo. And, nobody’s questioned is it ok that I have to make the trade-off of free online services for personal private data.”
Matthew Spoke, Founder of Aion, talks to me about the original intentions of the internet. It started off as a peer to peer and it became centralized. But, blockchain technology is levelling the playing field and anyone can have the opportunity to sell a successful product or service and Matt says we can all collectively can own the next version of the internet.
What does it mean now that the internet can become decentralized? What will it mean when greater financial democracy is accessible around the world. What will it mean for government policy as the technology that crosses borders becomes mainstream?
“Decentralized networks are the future infrastructure of the world.” So where is the world headed?
“People are asking what’s the killer app of decentralization? It’s not really an app, it’s a social structure. It’s re-evaluating how we make decisions and how we coordinate with people”
Decentralization is democratizing opportunity.
He says, often we don’t talk about crypto in the right context. Instead of talking about what crypto allows to be built, we too often talk about market caps and speculation. But “crypto is the economic engine that makes these networks possible and if that’s true, than there’s no financial cap”.
So the executive chairman of Cisco valued the internet as worth $19 trillion, but Matt says that that figure doesn’t factor in the value of what’s being transferred over the internet. So the decentralized internet, the internet of value, web 3.0 will be worth even more.
We also get into how Matt went from being an employee at Deloitte to leading an R+D team focussed on Bitcoin and the underlying technology to leaving and co-founding his own successful and thriving blockchain company, even though he says at the time, taking the leap was “terrifying”.
One of the topics he believes isn’t addressed head on enough in this space is around for-profit crypto companies and their driving motivations. He believes there’s a conflict of interest that’s inherent in having token holders like share holders. For this reason, Aion decided to become the Aion Foundation and focus on serving “the most important stakeholder, which to us was the user of our software” as opposed to optimizing how they do things for shareholders whose expectations are driven by expectations around revenues and profits.”
He goes on to say, “This an industry that is almost exclusively open source software so it’s not necessarily monetizable at the protocol level.”
And it was just one of the fun questions I ask at the end of the interview, but I asked him about what character trait he would recommend someone have who’s starting out. And his answer made me realize that they were qualities he must have to have gotten to where his is from where he was.
He said that these days it’s not about one skill. Now you’ve got to have the desire to constantly be learning and upgrading your skills, so what’s really important is adaptability and to be able to constantly evolve.
Why do you think decentralization is important?
“I think because the end user is ready and is asking for it. I truly think that a lot of people want to have ownership of their data and a record of it. And if we really dive a little bit on what is the promise of blockchain. What is the promise of this decentralized ledger that everybody’s talking about? It is a simple ledger. It’s a database with more benefits, but truly it’s the promise that it’s going to deliver personalized experience.”
Betsabe Botaitis is someone who really comes from humble beginnings. She comes from a small community in Mexico and Betsabe pursued her passion of becoming a banker and a successful businesswoman. She immigrated to the United States, worked her way up the corporate banking ladder and became Global Director of Finance and Operations at one of the country’s biggest banks.
Looking back she’s one of those inspiring people who made her American Dream come true to become not only a successful banker but now a tech startup founder in Silicon Valley.
But it wasn’t until she was at the height of her career, when she was dealing with options and derivatives and realized that she wasn’t really doing what she wanted to do, from way back when. She remembers back to when she was playing with fake money when she was four years old and pretending to give out microloans like she’d seen at her parent’s bank. She remembered that what she really wanted to do was to help people.
What she’d seen at the bank wasn’t customer driven. Customers would wait in line for hours to make small deposits on their credit card debt with what little cash they had, and they didn’t understand the fees or commissions they would have to pay on top of the interest they were already paying. And when she thought back to how she felt at that time, she realized that her dream was to help people. Betsabe believes that if we would go back to our childhood dream, and do what we wanted to do then, that we would all be a lot happier.
So talk to Betsabe about her current project, Aikon, how she got back to her childhood dream and how she got out of her own way.
One of Betsabe’s main learnings was that she had to overcome her own bias. What she realized was that the thing that was holding her back the most, was herself. As her own worst critic, she looked at who she was as ‘an immigrant, female, with a heavy accent’ and may have been judged by outsiders, but realized she was even judging herself.
So how do we get around bias? Betsabe decided to use blockchain tech and the anonymity of the technology as an advantage. If transactions can be anonymous, then bias is removed inherently. If no one knows what gender someone is or country what country someone’s from or what university they went to or what community they do or don’t belong to, if the work that gets posted on the blockchain doesn’t have those markers attached to it, then the work can just speaks for itself.
We also talk about why job creation is more important than financial inclusion in emerging markets. Microloans are a first step to including people, by building credit and credit worthiness and also the ability and desire to repay a loan. But if non-profits give out a loan for example to a store owner in a small village to buy inventory, then they have all of this new inventory, but who’s going to buy it if other people in the village don’t have an income to buy anything from that store? What needs to be done is to expand their spending capacity. If neighbourhoods can be revitalized, than the ultimate outcome is financial inclusion. And Betsabe explains how Aikon is helping.
“Blockland is a play on the name Cleveland and the idea is that by putting what we identified as the ten critical ingredients to make Cleveland one of the top five most relevant tech cities in the United States that we would do all these 10 things at the exact same time. So, we created ten nodes, everywhere from talent development retention to the entrepreneurial environment to the legal system, the political environment, philanthropy’s engaged, a node that we call place, which is to create the largest tech centre in the world, modelled after Station F in Paris right in downtown Cleveland. How do we build some business applications around what we’re doing already? How do we have thought leadership, so that’s where our conference comes from. And virtually every single day in Cleveland right now there’s a meeting somewhere in Cleveland around blockchain.”
From owning and operating 21 car dealerships to launching a city-wide epic-sized blockchain initiative, Bernie Moreno is putting Cleveland or ‘Blockland’ on the map.
He wants to make Cleveland a blockchain tech hub, complete with the largest tech centre in the world that would be an innovation incubator with a K-12 school on campus built right in downtown Cleveland.
And this isn’t just one person’s big idea. There’s a plan. Leaders in business and government and members of the community have gathered to discuss the ten nodes in place to help make this Ohio city one of the top five tech cities in the United States.
And while some people looking in from the outside may ask why blockchain and why Cleveland. Well when someone has the kind of drive and enthusiasm for something like this, that Bernie clearly does about blockchain tech and Blockland, it’s contagious.
It started when his son asked him to invest in Bitcoin, which he didn’t, but he did get looking into blockchain technology. And after investing in Votem, he wanted to start his own blockchain companies. But when he realized that Cleveland didn’t have the ideal ingredients to do what he wanted to do, instead of going to another city that had all the tech he could ever want, he decided to stay and help bring all the tech he could ever want to Cleveland.
We also talked about the future of cars. Bernie said, “the car changed the world in the turn of the century and the car is going to change the world again.” Not only will they be dramatically safer, but it will change things like people young and old being able to hop in a car with no need for a licence. Insurance companies will have to insure something besides accidents because cars won’t hit each other, and whole city blocks will change because we won’t need huge parking lots anymore.
Bernie also believes that in 15 years there will be more self-driving cars than human driving cars, and in 25 years human driving cars won’t be found on public highways. They’ll be on race tracks for sport or other weekend events.
He talked about where we’re at with blockchain tech right now like the early days of the dot com boom when everyone was starting to get a website, but all you’d see when you got online was a page that said, welcome. And one of the ways he’s getting into the space and helping to legitimize it while also being on the leading edge is to accept Bitcoin at his car dealerships.
Blockland Cleveland is also hosting a conference focussed on government and business applications in order to explore real world use cases for blockchain technology.
Some of the use cases Bernie sees coming soon are birth certificates, land records, real estate transactions, car titles, mobile voting, providence, supply chain, medical records, drug tracking, and as he explains, just like in the early days of the internet, no one could predict where it would lead us, we’re in that same place with blockchain tech now.
“It’s not something that’s localized. This is something that’s so global now. The Russian government is having crypto classes in all their universities in their curriculum. We have all the best schools in the United States. If you think about it, this technology is scaling, and you see the first crypto exchange open in Uganda just two, three months ago. It’s the next revolution, and my interest has been how do we get more women engaged from the beginning so we’re not left out.”
Anu Bhardwaj is the founder of Women Investing In Women Digital, and the State of Women Radio + TV network whose experience, before starting her own company, was in private equity and venture capital including collaborating with the U.S. Department of Commerce, the International Trade Administration, and the U.S Embassies of many countries around the globe.
And given that her work in global women’s issues & investing for women takes her to countries far and wide, it’s no surprise that I caught up with her remotely while she was in New York, having just gotten off of a plane from events in Sydney and Melboune, Australia. Anu was a guest judge on a show called That StartUp Show.
Anu is excited about the potential for global adoption of cryptocurrencies because it would give people all over the world in different countries with varying degrees of financial security and government accountability, alternatives, which she says gives people more of a voice. Cryptocurrencies can help to democratizing financial access, open up investment opportunities and give people choice.
Anu also believes in blockchain technology for its transparency and trust and is an active Angel Investor in some exciting StartUps out of Canada.
“With regards to blockchain technologies. I definitely think that as there’s more adoption, we will see better and more seamless, more transparent technologies coming forward. I think right now, the knowledge is in the hands of a few, but as we start to see more people reaping the benefits, I think more people will start to engage.”
Anu was honoured with one of the “Top 10 Frontier Women” awards, an award given by 5th Element Group’s Decade of Women campaign in partnership with the United Nations.
When I asked her why she believes in investing in women, she explained that women reinvest in their families and in their communities more often than men do and they share what they learn because women are natural communicators, generally, so she believes that the return on investing in women is exponential.
Speaking of supporting women, Anu also has a site called Qrypto Queens. They’re hosting a beach party in November, all about blockchain technology called Blockchain on the Beach.
When I asked Anu about her advice to young women, she mention confidence and within that, the ability to take risks and then to keep an open mind and to learn, and it is apparent that Anu has all of those qualities and more.