Solving The Carbon Problem One Blockchain At A Time
Weekly Update: 2gether has 40k users, $BOMB on Uniswap, Ghost data service, Constellation State of the Union…– 5 Jun - 11 Jun'20
Hey everyone! This is Part IV of VI from our May-June update catchup series (5 Jun - 11 Jun'20): Yosma's Cheerful Cassowary beat Eva's Bright Beetle in a quick finale to win this week's Parena which had a massive $PAR pot thanks to a generous donation from Tony. Gamer Boy’s “Random Gk” and “Renewal from January” quizzes in Tiproom were fun as always. Plus, there were 10k $PAR in prizes. Cool! Charlotte’s “Mega Trivia” got everyone scratching their heads. CoD Mobile gamers were in for an epic time this week with Tavo hosting a tournament with a 3k $PAR pot in the Parachute War Zone. Two-for-Tuesday slid into the "rap, reggae and reggaeton" mode this week. Click here to listen to the playlist. Thanks Sebastian for setting it up! If you have been around for a while, you’ll know that Clinton’s charity, For Living Independence, does some amazing work. So the next time you shop on Amazon, don’t forget to show some love though AmazonSmile. Cap and crew made their voices heard in NYC this week in solidarity with George Floyd Congratulations to 2gether for crossing the 40k user mark this week. A new way for account top ups was introduced as well. This week’s CEO email covers news on the latest UX and the 2GT token. Youtuber Funontheride featured the email in his video. Filippo Angeloni covered the latest updates in his newest video as well. Founder Savador Casquero wrote about crypto staking in an Investing.com article. MakerDAO covered the 2gether card in its blog post on crypto debit cards. Following the XIO dApp update from last week, Citizens brainstormed about the UI this week. Citizens also talked about some of their contrarian beliefs in crypto. Bomb community started a Uniswap rewards program. Voyager raised USD 2.1M through a private placement from investors such as Streamlined Ventures, Susquehanna, Market Rebellion etc. Their stock has seen some enormous growth this year too. CEO Stephen Ehrlich shared his thoughts on the crypto market in a recent Bloomberg article. The team also took inputs from the community on which crypto to list next. John McAfee announced a Ghost cell phone data service to be released in September. Check out how the eSIM will work from the sneak peek video. The list of supported phones is mentioned here. And hope you had good fun in ParJar Gaming while winning some cool $ESH. A new set of upgrades were pushed to the Fantom Wallet. For the latest technical update on the project, click here. This week, I also wrote a Hackernoon article (with my co-author Rohit) exploring projects which had unique variations to Proof-of-Stake for their chain consensus. Among the projects featured were Fantom, COTI and Harmony. Jeff from Uptrennd will be speaking at the LA Blockchain Summit in October this year. The winners of the Blockchain Awards were announced. The newest Opacity release allows expired accounts to be revived within 2 months of expiry. Fantom, Harmony and COTI take up a tiny but growing slice in the global staking pie Catch up on the latest District0x weekly update and dev update from here and here respectively. The Q1 2020 report was released as well. The project is still sitting on a healthy crypto asset base of USD 4M+. Hydro team shared a guide to choosing a prepaid debit card program manager. Their PaaS report was also covered by Finovate this week. A new research page for featuring all of Hydro’s fintech research material was released. The successful applicants of the Project Hydro Decentralization Ambassador Program (which started in May) were voted upon this week and 7 DAs were elected. Silent Notary, Ubikiri and IDL integrations were completed this week with Silent Notary now appearing in Applications section of Ubikiri. A roundup of the latest updates was published as well. Sentivate founder Thomas Marchi sat down for an interview with MineYourBiz Monday’s NrdGrl007. Mycro announced that Chaia.io will be hosting a campaign on the Mycro Hunter App soon. SelfKey’s Data Breach compendium was updated this week. And if you’re a Product Designer looking for remote work, don’t forget to check out this opening at SelfKey. What next for Constellation? Watch the Constellation Network State of The Union to find out. Their educational group Startdust Collective made a brand video and a high level explainer article on the HyperGraph Transport Protocol. Pynk is thinking about doing a global crowdfunding campaign as opposed to one that is restricted to certain countries only. In light of this, the Pynk Crowd Wisdom was put to work to find out the best way to go about this. Results of the Project Hydro DA Elections Wibson’s latest app update was covered by Cointelegraph and Europe World News. Click here to catch up on this week’s detailed work thread from the Harmony project. A recent Harmony ecosystem is the SmartStake dashboard to check staking stats. Sprout Wallet now supports core utilities of HRC20 tokens. The team sat down for an AMA with Binance India and KuCoin this week. Next week they will be doing another AMA with the larger Binance community. Some insights about the Harmony grants were shared in this week’s community call. Read up on Intellishare founder Raymond Xiong’s thoughts on DAOs which he shared as part of a speaker panel at the 2020 Digital Innovation Project Exchange Conference. The team also published a post on how they aim to solve the DeFi congestion. The TestNet is expected to arrive soon as well. After the latest livestream of DI-RECT’s concert which saw ~10k attendees, GET Protocol announced that they will be facilitating tickets to the follow-up show as well. A recap of the COTI journey was published to mark the one-year anniversary of the project and the occasion was celebrated with a fun trivia. DoYourTip community voted to have liquidity rewards for pooling $DYT on Uniswap. And with that, it’s a wrap! See you again with another update. Ciao!
Weekly Update: Jason starts #discussionThursday, $COTI on Binance, WibsonTree, Harmony + IBC Media... – 21 Feb - 27 Feb'20
Hiya folks! With this update we will finally be 100% caught up with the latest. Let’s go! Here’s your week at Parachute + partners (21 Feb - 27 Feb'20): As mentioned 2 weeks back, Alexis announced the start of a new style of raffle from this week. 300k $PAR in the pot to be won! Bose hosted a Friday Quiz in TTR on movies with a 10k $PAR prize pool. Cap shared a unique bit of trivia from the tipbotverse: ChangeTip, a bitcoin tipbot launched 7 years back, was acquired by Airbnb in 2016 that led to its closure. A crypto pioneer that was way ahead of its time. The usual suspects continue to be on top of the Fantasy Premier Leagure (#FPL) leaderboard – LordHades, Alexis and Novelcloud as per the latest update shared by LH. Alejandro hosted a gun-mode CoD game in the Parachute War Zone followed by a free-for-all for $PAR prizes. Tavo announced another CoD Battle Royale in the Parachute War Zone to be held next week. Afful’s TTR trivia was fun as always. Charlotte hosted another trivia in TTR as well for a 10k $PAR prize pool. Victor held one in TTR with another 10k $PAR pot as well. GamerBoy’s trivia in TTR this week was based on Kindergarten Geography. Haha! Belated Birthday wishes to Victor. Two-for-Tuesdays by Gian for this week had the theme rap/reggae/reggaeton. Like last week, Sebastian set up a YouTube playlist to compile all the entries. For #wholesomewed, Parachuters put on their creative hats as they made some epic artwork based on a primary shape shared by Jason. So much talent! There’s $PAR to be won! In the latest project update shared by Cap, ParJar is in final stages of testing with Transak, ParJar integrated coin-swaps are being worked on at the moment and $PAR-based Dex to be launched in the coming weeks in partnership with Switch. Jason launched a new event for Thursdays called #discussionThursday from this week. The first discussion series revolved around "something you don't understand". The goal is "hopefully someone that does understand it can explain it". Good conversations and altruism gets $PAR tips. TTR crew hosted a fun “guess the admin” contest based on the Parachute Christmas artwork. Lmao Victor! Happy Carnival to you too Rene Just a sampling from all the #wholesomewed entries 20k $AXPR was burned as part of the weekly aXpire burn event. aXpire COO Matthew Markham wrote about how technological differentiators give PEs an edge over public markets. The latest Bilr blog post talks about disruptive technologies in the legal industry. 2gether CEO Ramon Ferraz appeared in an IEB podcast to talk about Neobanks. YouTuber FunOntheRide’s latest video covers collaborative economy and how 2gether plays a role in it. Head of Marketing, Laura Braulio explained must-do’s in marketing strategies for fintechs in her article which was published on ClickZ. The XIO DApp went into the final stages of unit testing this week. Beta tests should start soon. For #XIOSocial chatter, Citizens discussed the semantics of the term “crowdstaking”. Ethos’ parent company Voyager released the full Android version of its app this week. Switch-backed McAfeeDex is slated for some updates soon. Read about what’s coming up from John McAfee’s tweet. Plus, a new privacy coin “ghost” is on the horizon. $ESH holders are expected to get a taste of it on launch. For the latest update on Switch, click here. Fantom’s $FTM was one of the winners of a public vote to get listed on ZelCore. As an update to the fantom.rocks tool released last week by GoFantom (a Fantom validator), this week a dApp named Supercharge was released on top of it. Supercharge allows users to send 20 test transactions to demonstrate the speed of consensus. The DAO Maker shared a compilation of Fantom’s 2019 updates. For the 2020 project plan, click here. This was followed by a detailed 2020 roadmap. Too long? No sweat! This graphical representation of the roadmap by Generation Crypto is here to rescue you. Or, if you would rather watch a video, CMO Michael Chen made one. For notes, click here. The first version of Uptrennd’s mobile redesign is here. Congratulations to TREOS for winning the Round 1 of the Uptrennd free advertising package contest that launched last week. Voting for Round 2 started this week with Fantom included in this round. Banano ended up winning the second round and going head to head with TREOS in the finals. The first 2UP Tuesday kicked off this week with every upvote counting for twice the normal points (with the same rules applying for downvotes). Sweet! Uptrennd founder Jeff Kirdeikis was invited to speak at the EntrepreneurShip cruise event. Don’t forget the epic giveaway mentioned. First sneak peek of Uptrennd’s new mobile design Catch up on Distric0x’s Weekly update here. If you missed the DappDigest, the crew’s got your back. Their video walkthrough of ETHDenver covers snippets from the event along with Brady’s on-stage performance and an interview of Dmitry Buterin (Vitalik Buterin’s father). Read about how the recent fintech M&A deals will influence markets in this article by Hydrogen. The team sat down for an AMA with Crypto Cabital this week and also hosted a 150k $HYDRO giveaway. Fintech nerds, check out Hydro’s explainer blog post on open banking and WSO2. Is the project ticking off its roadmap items on time? Click here to find out. As a 2020 cohort member of the MassChallenge Fintech accelerator, Hydro’s Senior Director for Strategic Partnerships, Ken Kavanaugh travelled to Boston to talk about “platformication in fintech” at their meetup. If you are attending the Milwaukee Blockchain Conference in March, don’t forget to say Hi to Biz Dev Lead Mark Anstead where he will be a featured speaker. If you haven’t booked your tickets yet, there’s a 50% discount coupon available for you. $HYDRO got listed on DeFi aggregator Totle this week. How does Sentivate aim to solve HTTP / TCP bottlenecks? Click here to find out. For a primer on UDSP, click here. The Mycro Hunter landing page went live this week. OST’s Pepo is the official community app and partner of Europe-based Ethereum Community Conference (EthCC) where it will also be collaborating with Epicenter podcast for the event. The first browser version of Pepo was released. Crypto exchange Mine Digital will be joining SelfKey’s exchange marketplace. SelfKey’s R&D team shared a 2020 update on the identity management space and how the project aims to place itself in this segment. Early preview of the SelfKey Mobile Wallet to be submitted to App Store for review For the latest Constellation community update, click here. Don’t forget to send in your questions for the AMA happening next week. Attendees of VeneCoiners meetup in Argentina next week, don’t forget to say Hi to the crew from Wibson who will be presenting the Rewards Marketplace at the event. The team also published a paper on “WibsonTree” which preserves data privacy when interacting with an agent. They hosted an Ethereum meetup this week to discuss DeFi. Here’s a video demo of how fast the Harmony mainnet is. The weekly #pow tweet thread summarises updates from across the team. KuCoin’s $ONE token swap is now complete. A new page was launched to monitor mainnet and testnet status. The crew attended a Binance meetup in Ukraine to talk about latest project updates. Harmony announced a partnership with IBC Media to incubate and accelerate Indian fintech startups. Safe Haven’s digital inheritance solution, Inheriti, will be available on the Harmony chain. $ONE was listed on MathWallet. Intellishare co-founder Nicholas Wan shared a sneak peek of the testnet mobile UI. dGen listed GET Protocol’s GUTS Tickets as one of the notable startups in the Dutch blockchain space in their Blockchain in Europe 2020 Review report. For a project overview click here – nicely summarised by Generation Crypto. GUTS will be ticketing 3 new shows of Chef’Special. Global Crypto Alliance live streamed another demo of its IoT prototype smartlock device being operated through $CALL tokens. The team also hosted a fun quiz on their Telegram this week. YouTuber Crypto Rich interviewed the crew on all things $CALL (Part I, Part II). Nik Patel’s detailed research report on COTI was published this week. $COTI was added to the Staking Rewards platform. And here’s a biggie, Binance listed both the ERC20 and BEP2 versions of the token this week with a bonus airdrop for deposits. Woot! Before the listing frenzy started, the team took a moment to take stock of the situation. A big listing like Binance leads to a lot of new eyeballs that could trigger scams. COTI crew shared their anti-scam guide for this reason. DOMSCRYPTO covered the project in their latest video. DoYourTip was covered in an iHODL news feature. And with that, we close for this week at Parachute. See you again with another update. Ciao!
Chance a Chinese Internationals student born in Spain (Maths)
I am applying to Syracuse, Stony Brook, Umass Amherst, Purdue, Binghamton, Uni of Maryland, Rutgers, Virginia Tech. If you want to suggest any Uni pls Do so. I am interested in Math and CS. I want to have a traditional US college experience based on the East Coast. Hook: Entrepreneurial extracurriculars BAD Childhood: Father deceased when I was 9 years old. GPA: Unweighted: 9.4/10 Single SAT: 1230 -Math: 680 -Reading and Writing: 550 Single Toefl ibt: 94 -Reading: 24 -Listening: 25 -Writing: 23 -Speaking: 22 Extracurricular Experience -Social Media Marketing Agency Online Affiliate Marketing Business Creation, Promotion, and Brokerage of eCommerce Assets (March 2017-June 2019) ● Developing B2C web marketing campaigns via Shopify and blogging platform WordPress. Made €2,000 from multiple streams of online income. ● Estimated 25,000 unique web-visitors from multiple sites ranking for competitive search terms● Developed various business connections with people from across industries such as Canada and Dubai. Acquiring, Managing, and Selling Domain Names (March 2017-January 2018) ● Bought and managed around 20 various domain names. ● Acquired teachingrubikscube.com domain for an affiliate website. ● Data mining through RegisterCompass for valuable expired or expiring domains. ● Bid, competed and won various domain auctions on GoDaddy, SnapNames, and NameJet. Web Development and SEO Education at Marin Web Design (March 2017-June 2018) ● I spent long hours after school conversing and working with the CEO Chanuka and the team at CashfloeCEO, a six-figure dollar web and social media marketing firm in Australia and many virtual offices based in Hong Kong. ● Learned fundamentals in domaining, customer service, web development, Facebook, and Instagram advertisement, SEO, and industry. Bitcoin Investment (January 2018) ● Learned and Educated from sources such as tailopez.com about cryptocurrency, mainly Bitcoin. ● After learning for 6 months, I invested 200€ on it and lost everything after the bitcoin crash. I learned big lessons about getting rich quick and easy. Created and managed FBA: Fulfillment by Amazon stocks (2016) ● Starting second-semester Freshman at my new school, I started to buy 5 euro second books, toys, and technological devices and resold them on Amazon. ● I persuaded my sister to lend me 300euros to buy a Spanish Amazon FBA online course where it teaches you all the basic knowledge that you need to operate this business. ● I only earned enough to pay my sister back but had a great experience. That was my first time trying to do business online and making my own money. Advertisement and social media management for restaurants (December 2017- February 2019) School clubs and activities -President of the Math Club (September 2017-Present) ● Tutoring classmates and students from other classes on Mathematics levels such as Algebra, Calculus, and Geometry. Since my Sophomore year until the present. ● Helped them to pass the classes as well as tutoring them to go from 6 grade to 9 grade out of ten. ● The best part of these experiences is when I created my own methods to teach students about the system of equations, derivatives, and Integrals. Created my own Social Media Brand called “Teaching Rubik’s cube” (February 2018-February 2019) ● Due to my love with Rubik’s cube, I started my Business Instagram account about how to solve the Rubiks Cube. ● The photos and videos have reached a total amount of 250.000 people and It has 7.000 followers and engagement over 50%. ● With the Instagram Brand, I joined into a private group online allowed for Instagram Influencers over 5.000 followers in the Rubiks industry. At the time, there were 20 people. -Leadership and Community CEO of the School Café (September 2017- April 2018) ● Elected to be the CEO for School Café out of numerous other competitive high school applicants. ● The business was established by the school counselor and principal in order to earn money to pay our Final year Cross-Europe cruise. ● Run the Café on Christmas festival dates and school Sport Olympia dates; There were a total amount of 1000 people including children, and parents. ● Established the new school record for the highest gross and net revenue since 1995. Founder and president of Rubik's cube club (2016- Present) ● Organized over 20 Rubiks cube events, club activities, and competitions. ● Currently, there are over 30 students at the club and with the help of other students, the motivation of learning how to solve the Rubiks cube has increased ever since Founder and president of the Robotics Club ● Held many robotics events and activities. Introduced to the club Programming skills such as Arduino. Build and taught many Freshman students about how I Arduino work and functions. The most successful project is the Arduino car that avoids objects with a sensor. -Family Responsibilities Work at the restaurant/bar ( January 2012- October 2018) Work at the souvenir shop ( October 2019- Present) Honors ● Highest class rank, Schoolwide (9th,10th,11th, and 12th grades). ● Leadership Award, Schoolwide (9th,10th,11th, and 12th grades) ● Rubik's Cube Championship Semifinalist, Nationwide (9th grade) ● MMA Canary Island Champion, Local/7 Island recognition (11th grade) ● Most Entrepreneurial Student Of The Year, Schoolwide (9th, 10th, 11th grades) Proficiencies Languages ● Mandarin (Native). ● Putian dialect( Native). ● Spanish (Fluent- I have been living in Spain for 17 years ). ● English (Fluent). ● German ( High Intermediate level). ● French ( Basic). EdX and Coursera Courses on C++ programming language (January 2019 - June 2019) MIT Open Courseware on Artificial Intelligence. (June 2019- December 2019) Tai Lopez, Tonny Robbins, Grant Cardone, Sam Ovens social media, real estate and personal development courses. Books (2014-Present) ● I have read over +150 books about Business, Fiction, Philosophy, Biology, Psychology, mathematics, physics, leadership, personal development, and biographies. ● My favorite authors: Stephen Hawkings, Will & Ariel Durant, Dr. David Buss, Sigmund Freud, Richard Dawkings, Dale Carnegie and Ashlee Vance. Thanks
I was going through old emails today and came across this one I sent out to family on January 4, 2018. It was a reflection on the 2017 crypto bull market and where I saw it heading, as well as some general advice on crypto, investment, and being safe about how you handle yourself in cryptoland. I feel that we are on the cusp of a new bull market right now, so I thought that I would put this out for at least a few people to see *before* the next bull run, not after. While the details have changed, I don't see a thing in this email that I fundamentally wouldn't say again, although I'd also probably insist that people get a Yubikey and use that for all 2FA where it is supported. Happy reading, and sorry for some of the formatting weirdness -- I cleaned it up pretty well from the original email formatting, but I love lists and indents and Reddit has limitations... :-/ Also, don't laught at my token picks from January 2018! It was a long time ago and (luckliy) I took my own advice about moving a bunch into USD shortly after I sent this. I didn't hit the top, and I came back in too early in the summer of 2018, but I got lucky in many respects. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Jan-4, 2018 Hey all! I woke up this morning to ETH at a solid $1000 and decided to put some thoughts together on what I think crypto has done and what I think it will do. *******, if you could share this to your kids I’d appreciate it -- I don’t have e-mail addresses, and it’s a bit unwieldy for FB Messenger… Hopefully they’ll at least find it thought-provoking. If not, they can use it as further evidence that I’m a nutjob. 😉 Some history before I head into the future. I first mined some BTC in 2011 or 2012 (Can’t remember exactly, but it was around the Christmas holidays when I started because I had time off from work to get it set up and running.) I kept it up through the start of summer in 2012, but stopped because it made my PC run hot and as it was no longer winter, ********** didn’t appreciate the sound of the fans blowing that hot air into the room any more. I’ve always said that the first BTC I mined was at $1, but looking back at it now, that’s not true – It was around $2. Here’s a link to BTC price history. In the summer of 2013 I got a new PC and moved my programs and files over before scrapping the old one. I hadn’t touched my BTC mining folder for a year then, and I didn’t even think about salvaging those wallet files. They are now gone forever, including the 9-10BTC that were in them. While I can intellectually justify the loss, it was sloppy and underlines a key thing about cryptocurrency that I believe will limit its widespread adoption by the general public until it is addressed and solved: In cryptoland, you are your own bank, and if you lose your password or account number, there is no person or organization that can help you reset it so that you can get access back. Your money is gone forever. On April 12, 2014 I bought my first BTC through Coinbase. BTC had spiked to $1000 and been in the news, at least in Japan. This made me remember my old wallet and freak out for a couple of months trying to find it and reclaim the coins. I then FOMO’d (Fear Of Missing Out”) and bought $100 worth of BTC. I was actually very lucky in my timing and bought at around $430. Even so, except for a brief 50% swing up almost immediately afterwards that made me check prices 5 times a day, BTC fell below my purchase price by the end of September and I didn’t get back to even until the end of 2015. In May 2015 I bought my first ETH at around $1. I sent some guy on bitcointalk ~$100 worth of BTC and he sent me 100 ETH – all on trust because the amounts were small and this was a small group of people. BTC was down in the $250 range at that point, so I had lost 30-40% of my initial investment. This was of the $100 invested, so not that much in real terms, but huge in percentages. It also meant that I had to buy another $100 of BTC on Coinbase to send to this guy. A few months after I purchased my ETH, BTC had doubled and ETH had gone down to $0.50, halving the value of my ETH holdings. I was even on the first BTC purchase finally, but was now down 50% on the ETH I had bought. The good news was that this made me start to look at things more seriously. Where I had skimmed white papers and gotten a superficial understanding of the technology before FOMO’ing, I started to act as an investor, not a speculator. Let me define how I see those two different types of activity:
Investors buy because the price is less than the value they see in the investment. Speculators buy because they think that someone will pay more in the future than they are paying now.
Investors trade on information (The white paper was really well-written, had a clear technical advantage over other alternatives, and addresses a need that I can understand and value.) Speculators trade on sentiment. (Buy the rumor! Sell the news!)
Investors usually look at the investment and themselves and can describe why they purchase in those terms (ABC-Coin provides (service) that isn’t addressed yet and matches (requirements) for an investment.) Speculators usually describe why they bought something in terms of how other people think (I think that other people think that the price will rise, so I want to get ahead of that.)
Investors don’t necessarily check the price every day. The can, and very often I do, but it isn’t required because fundamentals don’t often change on a dime. Speculators need to be glued to a price feed, because sentiment very often changes on a dime.
Investors like ideas, people, business plans, and market opportunities. Good ones are like Spock. Speculators like trends. They are tribal.
Investors have a longer time horizon than speculators. In cryptoland, the notion of a “longer” time horizon is still laughably small (months) compared to traditional markets, but it certainly isn’t weeks or days or hours, which is whre speculators often live.
So what has been my experience as an investor? After sitting out the rest of 2015 because I needed to understand the market better, I bought into ETH quite heavily, with my initial big purchases being in March-April of 2016. Those purchases were in the $11-$14 range. ETH, of course, dropped immediately to under $10, then came back and bounced around my purchase range for a while until December of 2016, when I purchased a lot more at around $8. I also purchased my first ICO in August of 2016, HEAT. I bought 25ETH worth. Those tokens are now worth about half of their ICO price, so about 12.5ETH or $12500 instead of the $25000 they would be worth if I had just kept ETH. There are some other things with HEAT that mean I’ve done quite a bit better than those numbers would suggest, but the fact is that the single best thing I could have done is to hold ETH and not spend the effort/time/cost of working with HEAT. That holds true for about every top-25 token on the market when compared to ETH. It certainly holds true for the many, many tokens I tried to trade in Q1-Q2 of 2017. In almost every single case I would have done better and slept better had I just held ETH instead of trying to be smarter than Mr. Market. But, I made money on all of them except one because the crypto market went up more in USD terms than any individual coin went down in ETH or BTC terms. This underlines something that I read somewhere and that I take to heart: A rising market makes everyone seem like a genius. A monkey throwing darts at a list of the top 100 cryptocurrencies last year would have doubled his money. Here’s a chart from September that shows 2017 year-to-date returns for the top 10 cryptocurrencies, and all of them went up a *lot* more between then and December. A monkey throwing darts at this list there would have quintupled his money. When evaluating performance, then, you have to beat the monkey, and preferably you should try to beat a Wall Street monkey. I couldn’t, so I stopped trying around July 2017. My benchmark was the BLX, a DAA (Digital Asset Array – think fund like a Fidelity fund) created by ICONOMI. I wasn’t even close to beating the BLX returns, so I did several things.
I went from holding about 25 different tokens to holding 10 now. More on that in a bit.
I used those funds to buy ETH and BLX. ETH has done crazy-good since then and BLX has beaten BTC handily, although it hasn’t done as well as ETH.
I used some of those funds to set up an arbitrage operation.
The arbitrage operation is why I kept the 11 tokens that I have now. All but a couple are used in an ETH/token pair for arbitrage, and each one of them except for one special case is part of BLX. Why did I do that? I did that because ICONOMI did a better job of picking long-term holds than I did, and in arbitrage the only speculative thing you must do is pick the pairs to trade. My pairs are (No particular order):
I also hold PLU, PLBT, and ART. These two are multi-year holds for me. I have not purchased BTC once since my initial $200, except for a few cases where BTC was the only way to go to/from an altcoin that didn’t trade against ETH yet. Right now I hold about the same 0.3BTC that I held after my first $100 purchase, so I don’t really count it. Looking forward to this year, I am positioning myself as follows:
ETH will still be my core holding. It is the “deepest in the stack” crypto investment that I have. “Deep in the stack” is a programming term that gets at the idea that most software is built on other software. If you just think about your notebook, you have your OS, and programs run on that. But even inside the OS there is a stack. The bottom of your stack is the kernel, and on top of that are the drivers, protocols, and other layers that allow the programs to talk to the OS, the hard drive, the screen, the mouse, your printer, etc. You can change your mouse or printer easily. Changing things deeper in the stack becomes harder and harder. ETH is deep in the crypto stack, so is very hard to dislodge – Around 60 of the top 100 cryptocurrencies by market cap run on top of Ethereum, so getting rid of Ethereum is something that would take a long time to do.
DNT, QTUM, ZRX, and OMG are all, to varying degrees, “deep in the stack” tokens that, once established, will be very hard to dislodge.
That said, I am peeling away some of my holdings into USD right now, because big changes are afoot and they are going to cause market disruptions. I’m going to come right out and admit that this is speculative, but I’m also going to back it up with some non-speculative facts.
The SEC has been sending out hundreds of subpoenas to cryptocurrency organizations over the past 3-4 months. These subpoenas are simply asking for information and nobody has been charged with any crimes or misdoings, but it is clear that the SEC is getting together information so that they can begin to regulate cryptoland. When that happens, other countries will follow, and that means:
Some tokens will be deemed outright scams and people will be prosecuted.
Some tokens will be deemed securities and will be regulated.
Some tokens will not be deemed scams or securities and will continue as they have.
Looking at this, it is clear to me that the tokens that escape prosecution and regulation should do better, but the short-term impact will be brutal and ugly. It would not surprise me at all to see a 50% drop in overall market cap within Q1-Q2, with Q1 being more likely.
Cryptoland has always been a bit nuts, but it is more nuts now than I have ever seen it. Back in 2011-2014 it was a freaks-n-geeks show where people were all about the technology and I would sit around for a 3-day weekend installing a *nix VM on my Windows machine so that I could compile the most recent source and run a CUDA SHA-256 routine rather than thrash my CPU. If that doesn’t make sense to you, you wouldn’t have even thought about being involved.
Now, people see Bitcoin advertisements in their Facebook feed and think “I gotta get on the BTC train!” before going to Coinbase and buying some with a credit card. They don’t know anything about crypto, and they are getting eaten alive – It is no coincidence that BTC peaked after the Thanksgiving holidays when people sat around the table and Janice got Uncle Mike and Cousin Bob all excited as she talked about going to Cancun for Christmas because of her crypto winnings. Huge amounts of fiat got transferred from newbies to BTC whales during this period, and once the whales were done, BTC had dropped from $20,000 to $12,000. It’s now back at $15,000, but for people who bought at a higher level, this sucks. As a result many have moved from BTC to ETH, with the single biggest money flow in crypto in December being the BTC à ETH flow. As a result, it’s no coincidence that ETH is at all-time highs now. The thing is, though, that even most people that moved from BTC to ETH really have no idea what they are doing. They are acting on buzzwords and emotion. They are speculators and are going to get crushed.
The stock market is quite high right now, but people are starting to worry that it is too high and that we are going to enter into a period of inflation again. This has caused gold to go up a lot the last quarter and is likely also responsible a bit for the rise in cryptos. If this view is correct, then cryptos stay stronger than if that pressure wasn’t there. If wrong, then cryptos will swing down as money exits cryptoland for more traditional markets.
I am spending most of my time and money on the arbitrage effort. The nice thing about arbitrage is that it works as the markets go up, and it works as the markets go down. When markets are too volatile, however, arbitrage can get very messy and dangerous, with each trade generating a loss instead of a profit, so I am working right now to tune the algorithms to take into account rate-of-change and add in some circuit breaker triggers. Once this is done I will expand those operations.
I am getting much more serious about systems security.
I have a Nano Ledger and recommend that anyone with >$1000 of crypto have one. The Trezor is also supposed to be good, but I haven’t used it.
I will set up a dedicated *nix notebook that is used for nothing except my crypto work. All it takes is one keylogger to get on your PC/Mac and your crypto is gone. What is on your Nano Ledger will be OK, but they will sweep out your exchange account or Coinbase account faster than you can type. A standard Linux installation with Chrome and nothing else is as about as secure as you can get in the civilian world.
If you don’t use LastPass or a similar password manager yet, you need to do that. Your password to LastPass should be at least 16 characters long and should not have a recognizable English word in it. If you think that “Iluvu4evah” is a secure password, you’re wrong.
Hackers know that “4”=”for” and “u”=”you”. Writing a script to substitute those in is trivial if they want to write the script, but it’s much easier for them to download one of the many, many programs out there that already do this.
If your password contains any string of numbers from anything that can be associated with you at any time in your life, it is insecure. Take those numbers out of the character count because they are an insignificant barrier to cracking your account.
The good news is that you probably won’t be targeted, but if you ever mention online that you are doing anything significant in crypto, that chance increased enormously.
*Never* talk with *anyone* about how much you have in crypto. You’ll notice that I haven’t here. There is no reason to tell even a family member how much you have unless you are sharing a tax form. Sure, you may trust them, but all it takes if for someone to overhead someone else mention at a party that a relative got into crypto a long time ago and made a bunch of money. That person can also then be subjected to the $10 hack and force you to send all your crypto to them.
Your password to LastPass (Or equivalent.) should look something like this -> 6k0jQMoziX&D#4W8
Yes, it’s a headache. Imagine your headache, though, were you to open your account one day and find all of your money gone.
Looking at my notes, I have two other things that I wanted to work into this email that I didn’t get to, so here they are:
Just like with free apps and other software, if you are getting something of value and you didn’t pay anything for it, you need to ask why this is. With apps, the phrase is “If you didn’t pay for the product, you are the product”, and this works for things such as pump groups, tips, and even technical analysis. Here’s how I see it.
Technical analysis (TA) is something that has been argued about for longer than I’ve been alive, but I think that it falls into the same boat. In short, TA argues that there are patterns in trading that can be read and acted upon to signal when one must buy or sell. It has been used forever in the stock and foreign exchange markets, and people use it in crypto as well. Let’s break down these assumptions a bit.
i. First, if crypto were like the stock or forex markets we’d all be happy with 5-7% gains per year rather than easily seeing that in a day. For TA to work the same way in crypto as it does in stocks and foreign exchange, the signals would have to be *much* stronger and faster-reacting than they work in the traditional market, but people use them in exactly the same way. ii. Another area where crypto is very different than the stock and forex markets centers around market efficiency theory. This theory says that markets are efficient and that the price reflects all the available information at any given time. This is why gold in New York is similar in price to gold in London or Shanghai, and why arbitrage margins are easily <0.1% in those markets compared to cryptoland where I can easily get 10x that. Crypto simply has too much speculation and not enough professional traders in it yet to operate as an efficient market. That fundamentally changes the way that the market behaves and should make any TA patterns from traditional markets irrelevant in crypto. iii. There are services, both free and paid that claim to put out signals based on TA for when one should buy and sell. If you think for even a second that they are not front-running (Placing orders ahead of yours to profit.) you and the other people using the service, you’re naïve. iv. Likewise, if you don’t think that there are people that have but together computerized systems to get ahead of people doing manual TA, you’re naïve. The guys that I have programming my arbitrage bots have offered to build me a TA bot and set up a service to sell signals once our position is taken. I said no, but I am sure that they will do it themselves or sell that to someone else. Basically they look at TA as a tip machine where when a certain pattern is seen, people act on that “tip”. They use software to see that “tip” faster and take a position on it so that when slower participants come in they either have to sell lower or buy higher than the TA bot did. Remember, if you are getting a tip for free, you’re the product. In TA I see a system when people are all acting on free preset “tips” and getting played by the more sophisticated market participants. Again, you have to beat that Wall Street monkey.
If you still don’t agree that TA is bogus, think about it this way: If TA was real, Wall Street would have figured it out decades ago and we would have TA funds that would be beating the market. We don’t.
If you still don’t agree that TA is bogus and that its real and well, proven, then you must think that all smart traders use them. Now follow that logic forward and think about what would happen if every smart trader pushing big money followed TA. The signals would only last for a split second and would then be overwhelmed by people acting on them, making them impossible to leverage. This is essentially what the efficient market theory postulates for all information, including TA.
OK, the one last item. Read this weekly newsletter – You can sign up at the bottom. It is free, so they’re selling something, right? 😉 From what I can tell, though, Evan is a straight-up guy who posts links and almost zero editorial comments. Happy 2018.
https://preview.redd.it/nrbrb96i6in21.png?width=240&format=png&auto=webp&s=2792d16cbb58e45bf8d947cbde8b810b6e641534 Genesis Vision Just one of those days… Hmm, this looks like an interesting project. Chart looks good plus it didn’t really go up a lot the last couple of days, unlike the other coins. Or maybe it didn’t go up because there is something that I don’t know yet? Let’s look online a bit longer to see if something fishy is going on before I buy some. The chart does look really good! No, nothing out of the ordinary here, I think it might just not have gone up yet but it probably will. If Bitcoin manages to not drop double digit percentages out of nowhere today that is… Seems to be close to resistance, and there are a couple BTC worth of sell orders at 140 sats, I’ll wait for that to break, and buy when it shows some strength. Getting close now, let’s wait for it to break by gluing my face to the screen to watch the 1 minute chart. There it goes! Ok, I’ll start with a small buy - Oh man It’s really going! Buy a little more - Market buy ALL the things! What, no wait. No not again! Please, please no not again… Argh… https://preview.redd.it/cup9237n6in21.png?width=256&format=png&auto=webp&s=91264c3cbfe10a0d9e699b1774a2e74b7d79bb49 Guess I will hold for a couple of days, don’t feel like taking a loss. It will probably rebound on the ‘resistance turned into support’ zone, right? I am already watching this chart for 2 hours.. I should really go do something productive. Lets just set some sell orders here and here. That market buy order really got my buy-In high, close to a 2% loss at present. I Totally wasted this evening, and I am still in the red. How is that even possible? Next morning Let’s check my portfolio. Ah man the support didn’t hold, now what? Actually, it looks like this might even go lower now. This 130 sats support is really strong so I guess I’ll use that as a stop-loss. - Stop loss triggered Oh my god man, why am I always so unlucky? Close to a 5% BTC loss, besides the loss of time. Talking about Bitcoin, how’s the big guy holding up? Hmm also looks weak to be honest. It’s dropping as we speak. Should I sell and rebuy lower? That could at least get me a bit of Bitcoin back. Yeah it’s really dropping now. The entire market is going down. Sell volume is increasing as well. I should really sell some. Whatever just sell it all. Yeah, like I thought, it’s going lower. I’ll rebuy when it goes a little bit lower. There she goes! Just a little bit lower before I buy in, might just get me back all my lost BTC at least! Bit of buying pressure going in now but that’s normal, nothing goes down, or up for that matter, the entire time. I will wait it out, got my buy-in set anyway. Please stop going up. Please STOP going up. Oh my frikkin god, got to buy back higher now. No way, I won’t do that. I’ll wait for it to drop. This is unreal! It won’t go back down. Why won’t it go back down?! Fine I’ll buy it back. Can’t believe it, I always lose, forget it, at least I will get some USD profits when I buy now – Market buy all the things! https://preview.redd.it/vc5eg4vv6in21.png?width=259&format=png&auto=webp&s=5185cc6498524de856db27b2f4bfcb2568ae4ccb NO WAY, IT’S GOING DOWN THE SECOND I BUY? HOW, WHY, WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON? The above is probably an experience that a lot of (retail) traders can relate to, and have probably gone through somewhere in their trading career, be it crypto or any stock, commodity, index or whatever else is possible to trade online. It’s a common problem, and it is the reason why only a small percentage of people manage to ‘beat the market’. People simply have the internal emotional trigger to buy something when gains are in line of sight, and sell something when losses are made. The bars being green (good) and red (bad) also don’t really help with trying to shake off that feeling. Genesis vision tries to solve this problem, giving people willing to invest in cryptocurrencies, forex and in the future probably commodities and indices, the possibility to invest in experienced, successful and hardened traders that have a solid track record, instead of taking the time and trading education (which some of those experienced traders say to be just as expensive in the end as a regular college degree, with all the losses and all) to get solid results themselves. Obviously this already exists. You can give your money to for example hedge funds, private equity funds and nowadays even robo-advisors. But do they really get the biggest return on investment? Are you important enough to have the best trader in the company actually managing your account? Are you leaving your hard earned money at the company that hired the best traders at all? Or do they squander and play the above mentioned game themselves? Who knows really. In the end, you give your money to a company that says it could, possibly, get you a whopping 7% return after a year. But only if everything goes right, the economy doesn’t implode or a stock they are too heavily invested in doesn’t go belly-up. Scrap that, they will make a whopping 7% return, but they obviously need to take some of those profits for their fees. A entry fee, a profit-fee, some unforeseen fees, and the list goes on and on. When you want to invest some of that money you earned after a long 40 hour workweek, it better be handled by the best, giving you the highest return on investment without any catch. Transparency and clarity Again, Genesis vision tries to solve this. How? By putting EVERY trade on the blockchain, giving extreme clarity in the trades made, and more importantly, the results of the trader or company (called Genesis Vision Manager). This means that people that want to invest their cash can decide for themselves who will handle their funds. No more excuses why the expected return on investment wasn’t accomplished, or uncertainty if any of these companies are actually telling you the truth when it comes to the results they have had with your funds. No more sweeping the bad trades under the rug. We. Can. See. Your. Mistakes. And successes of course! It creates extreme openness, and it gives a lot of power back to the consumer that wants to invest. Most financial instruments are (deliberately made) so hard to grasp and confusing that most general investors don’t even want to bother, and just believe the suit with the impressive building and the nice car. But now you don’t even have to look up the terms collateralized mortgage obligation or the exotic inflation derivative. They have the option to simply look up the manager, his results, and his requirements to invest with (in) him or her. https://preview.redd.it/ghu8t5p17in21.png?width=245&format=png&auto=webp&s=566cff3b153c97ead5c122ba7d775b2fabecd778 Genesis Vision gives the possibility to invest in both Funds and programs. The biggest difference being that investors can withdraw their profits from a fund at any time, while their funds are locked in a program until it ends, receiving a part of the profits made directly linked to the share of the pool they invested in. However, if you are satisfied with your current manager, the program and the results so far, you can select the option to auto-invest your stake into the next program, getting that compounding interest effect rolling. Of course only when you have found the right manager to handle your funds! A loss is obviously still a loss, and although Genesis Vision tries to limit the risk by implementing a tier system to filter managers by their previous results, you can never be sure you actually make gains on your investment. The same rules apply as to investing wherever else. Don’t put it all in one basket, only invest what you are willing to lose, do NOT take out loans or credit to invest and above all do your research before you enter into any program or fund! The dashboard https://preview.redd.it/j8k03ht37in21.png?width=550&format=png&auto=webp&s=9ef4f590ffb25518a293b87993afc205075da288 The Genesis Vision dashboard looks very appealing, going for a futuristic style that resonates with the entire crypto and financial sector. Investors are first shown a couple of filters to make the search for the right vehicle to invest in easy to accomplish. Below the first general filters investors can find the different programs with a vast array of stats available to make the right decision. However, there is a lot going on here, and it would be smart for Genesis to implement some kind of tutorial showing new investors what everything shown on the screen actually means. After finding a program that matches your personal investing style regarding buy-in, duration of the program, entry fee and generally your risk tolerance, the people behind the program can be examined. Managers are able to tell a little bit about themselves and their investment style. Statistics and graphs of previous results are shown and this helps to get some reassurance, or lets you ignore a certain investment possibility. If everything seems to fit, and people are willing to pull the final trigger, they can invest with Bitcoin, Ethereum, Tether or their own Genesis Vision token. The bottom line Genesis Vision could be the instrument for (crypto)investors to try and maximize their profits, but for the regular amateur trader it will mostly help with erasing their beginner mistakes and trading losses. It gives back the power to the consumer and the client. Where normally the investing is done by traders on for example Wall Street, using complicated schemes to grab as much as possible of the retail investor who is taking all of the risk, Genesis Vision creates transparency, brutally rejects losing managers and lets investors get a honest and deserved piece of the pie. It is yet another example of the power of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, disrupting one of the largest sectors worldwide. That concludes this review! If you want to add anything or have questions, please feel free to comment below. Are you feeling generous, and did you enjoy this article? I accept donations! BTC: 369AyfgLtZ349omHgafUGkrNCGHLuhPGtx ETH: 0xd74635002Af9e191665D2AaDD03921E7f1201387 LTC: MEvKQ1d4GYsyMjqYwizVb6RZmEUjDXj5ty GVT: 0x9450d2c145a7758c1d2bcfd03a1374de90fea028 Connect with me on twitter: @BullishOnCrypts
Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman on Hong Kong’s Unrest, the Rise of Bitcoin, and Fundraising as an ‘Out-of-Body Experience’
Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman has built one of the largest investment firms in the world, which specializes in private equity, credit, and hedge fund investment strategies. In his new book, What It Takes: Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence, Schwarzman reveals some of the biggest lessons he’s learned from his 50-year career in business. “I wanted to lay out my years of experience of doing things right as well as doing things wrong,” he tells _Fortune._“You learn the most when you make a mistake.” Part memoir, part leadership guide, Schwarzman addresses the highlights (and low lights) of his career including quitting his high-power job to start Blackstone, raising capital as a first-time fund manager, and dealing with the fallout from the unraveling of his presidential CEO business council. (I personally enjoyed the part was when he talks about meeting “Beyoncé and her husband Jay-Z.” He writes: “We talked for a few minutes, reminiscing about her Kennedy Center performance in 2005.”) Schwarzman was 38 years old when he founded Blackstone in 1985, and he’s been at the helm ever since. Today, the firm boasts $545 billion in assets under management and 2,500 employees. Blackstone recently converted from a publicly traded partnership to a corporation, which makes it easier to own Blackstone stock and allows the firm to be included in more indexes. I sat down with Schwarzman for a wide-ranging conversation about Blackstone’s dealings in China, the ethical challenges surrounding artificial intelligence, the rise of cryptocurrencies, and whether he sees a looming recession on the horizon. This Q&A has been edited for clarity and length. FORTUNE: In the book, you discuss some of the personality traits you look for in a candidate before hiring them at Blackstone. What are some of those characteristics? SCHWARZMAN: I’m undoubtedly better at identifying people who have enormous potential, and it’s actually pretty easy. When someone’s interviewing for a job, you can tell if they’re comfortable in their own skin and whether they’re able to handle anything conversationally. I’m looking for people who can hold the table, who are intelligent, curious, courteous, and they can deal with stressful situations. Can you give an example of how you determine those things? You need three to five minutes to figure out if someone’s comfortable.I like to bring up something interesting that has happened in the world that day. Today, I might ask, “What do you think about what’s been going on in Hong Kong?” There’s no right or wrong answer to these things, but it’s a discussion that can show you how someone’s mind works. Once you see how somebody’s mind works, you also get a sense of whether they’re playing within their comfort zone. If you’d like to spend more time with them, then that’s probably a good person to hire. Speaking of Hong Kong, hasthe current unrestaffected Blackstone’s dealings in China? Hong Kong’s a real hub for us. It’s our biggest location in Asia, and people like working there. It hasn’t interfered with our office at this point, but longer-term, you can’t have a place where you do business where no one knows if they can get in or out. Ultimately, there has to be a resolution. The business community really wants one, and if you have a core of demonstrators who say on TV that they are prepared to die, that’s not a great benchmark. Right now, it’s looking like a difficult resolution. What are you investing in, and where do you see growth opportunities? Growth is certainly going to technology, services, and experiences. You have things like shopping centers. When I grew up, it was like: What could go wrong with a shopping center? And now that thing is called Amazon. Just that technological innovation has changed people’s shopping patterns, changed the delivery mechanism, and it’s led to shopping centers going bankrupt. It’s disrupted a whole chain of things people took for granted. It took 10 years for an entire stable structure to be dismantled. We saw that in 2011 when we started buying warehouses. We’ve been the largest buyer of warehouses in the world for the last eight years, and we did that because that’s where Amazon and retailers needed to stage their goods before they get delivered. So that area has exploded with growth. If you’re investing now, you have to recognize that almost everything’s about to have its business model changed. What’s another example of a sector you think will experience Amazon-like growth? Artificial intelligence. AI will affect the whole healthcare industry, from billing, to admissions, to diagnostics, to the development of drugs, to telemedicine, which will have enormous growth. You look at all of this, and there are a lot of different things that go into what you or I believe is _just_a hospital. AI is going to have a profound impact on our society. There will also be serious ethical implications that come with that innovation. That’s why I did this big donation at MIT and Oxford. [Note: Schwarzman donated$350 millionto MIT for computing and AI research and$188 million_to Oxford University for AI ethics research.]_One involves technological innovation, and the other is about making sense of it in society. What are good outcomes and what are not-so-good outcomes? Who makes that determination, and how do you control for not having bad outcomes? That’s a challenge that we have to face. Are you confident we’ll be able to solve the ethical challenges quickly enough given the pace at which technology is evolving? Like most things in technology, it’s moving faster than your ability to control and implement things. On the other hand, everybody who’s running a company or is part of the discovery of AI watched the Internet get developed. I haven’t met a mature person yet who was involved in the development of the internet that hasn’t regretted they developed it. They said, “We just thought this would be really cool. Everyone in the world can connect, and it’ll be a positive sum game.” They weren’t aware that [the internet] would destroy the ability to govern. Everything is so short-term, there’s so much divisiveness, and social media is very destructive. They’ve looked at what they’ve created, and they’ve all said, “If I could have it back, I’d take it back.” I was shocked. So with AI, we have to get right on it so that the technology itself doesn’t overwhelm society. There’s enormous interest and good will to doing something important in terms of AI ethics. No matter what country you’re in, if you make a huge cut in your workforce, you’ll have social unrest of some type. We already have that in the West. You could even have that in China, although they’re investing so much in the area, they’re actually creating a whole bunch of new jobs too. Speaking of innovation,a 2007 _Fortune_articlecalled you “the master of the alternative universe” because Blackstone made its name by investing in alternative assets. What do you think about frontier assets like Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies? I don’t have much interest in that because it’s hard for me to understand. I was raised in a world where someone needs to control currencies. There’s a reason to want to control currencies, which is why governments all do it. There’s no one who says, “I don’t care.” Part of that is to make sure the economy is as insulated as it can be from excesses. Another part of it is to control bad behavior. So the idea that you can transact without anybody knowing anything, you could have a lot of criminal behavior — dirty money, drug money — running all over the world. It only encourages that kind of activity. I may be a limited thinker, but that’s a problem. If they could solve that problem and also the problem of controlling the money supply, then it might be OK. That doesn’t mean that the blockchain technology applied to non-tradable currencies is not a good thing. That is clearly a good thing. And why do you say that? There’s all kinds of uses you can have from certain executions. [Blockchain technology] is a very good idea, and it will end up being adopted because it’s good technology. Applying it to the creation of money is sort of, for my taste, pretty odd. So in the future, you do see Blackstone investing in companies that are using blockchain technology? That would be good because it’s a sound, very interesting technology. But you’re not going to own any Bitcoin? That’s an easy one: No. Capital has become quite abundant these days. Softbank’s Masayoshi Son tells this infamous story about how he raised$45 billion in 45 minutesfor the Vision Fund. Blackstone’s assets under management crossed half a trillion for the first time — to $545 billion. You recently described your fundraising efforts as “an out of body experience.” Why? When I started in 1985, we had no reputation, and even worse, no experience making investments. In 1986, we went out and started raising money. We got rejected by 16 out of 17 people, some of whom we knew very well. If you’ve ever had the experience of getting rejected by almost everyone you know, it’s very sobering. We sent out somewhere around 500 offering documents, and we ended up with 32 investors. That’s 468 out of 500 people who are saying, “I don’t trust you, I don’t like you, I don’t think you’re competent, and I don’t like what you’re trying to do.” The only way you interpret that after a while is that they don’t like _you_and they don’t trust your abilities. It was unending. So my experience was so searingly negative that every dollar we raise from anyone now, I regard as precious and that we can’t disappoint them. Before, I’d fly across the country to see if we could get $5 or $10 million, and now, people just give us a billion dollars. After a while, people develop confidence in you. And part of the art of running a good organization is that you don’t mess it up. It’s been such an ordeal to get here. I had a conversation this morning where someone [at the firm] said, “If we do this type of structure for this type of activity, these people will give us $2 billion.” I know the people, and I know they’ll give us $2 billion, but I ask, “Do we want to do what they’re interested in or not?” Whenever one of these conversations happens, I think back to spending two days of my life flying around to raise $5 million, and here’s just a casual conversation [about $2 billion]. I take nothing for granted, and I want people at the firm to think like that too. It’s harder when you get bigger, but it still is an out-of-body experience for me. In the book, you give your rules on identifying market tops and bottoms. Where in the cycle do you think we are today? We’re getting pretty toppy. The prices of things have gotten high in large part because interest rates have gone down so much but that props up the value of a dollar of earnings, or cash-flow. It’s a bigger yield. That’s driven prices up. There’s quite good liquidity in terms of credit. It’s led to markets that have gone up almost continually for about 10 years. So that doesn’t mean it can’t go on for a while longer, but you’re closer to the top than the middle or the bottom. Do you see a recession on the horizon? I don’t. Over 70% of the economy is consumer [spending], and consumers tend to be employees or workers. Their compensation is going up 3 to 4% a year now, significantly outpacing inflation. What we’re doing is we’re loading up consumers because as employees, they didn’t have a good enough experience with financial sufficiency and they were angry because they didn’t have enough money. So society’s going to give them that money, I believe, in the form of higher wages. That’s good for the system because people will have to work to get more money, but they’ll take that money and they’ll spend it. If they’re spending it — and that’s the vast bulk of the American economy — then that’ll be the part that keeps the economy moving forward. Unless there’s a major geo-political issue that takes away confidence from everyone, I think we’ll continue growing for the next year or two but at a lower rate than we were because manufacturing’s off, global trade is off, and we’re facing some lack of confidence around issues like Brexit, European growth, and China’s real growth rate. All these issues contribute to less optimism, but I don’t see us falling off some kind of cliff. You don’t think it’ll be comparable to the last recession? Oh gosh no. No, that takes virtual complete abdication by regulators as well as imprudent behavior by parts of the business community. We haven’t forgotten lessons that quickly. The system has been significantly reformed, so I don’t see _anything_of the type of global financial crisis of 2008. Of all the things to worry about, that’s not one of them. What’s next for you? Do you see yourself stepping away from Blackstone? In a year or two, I’ll probably still be sitting at this conference table. I love what I do, but there’s always an evolution. Jon Gray is president of the firm, he’s 49 — I’m not. [Gray is Schwarzman’s likely successor.] My plan for my life is to stay involved with Blackstone, but I also like doing big impactful things that involve the creation of something new. I don’t know what the next one will be because it has to be something I see in society where I can help provide a unique solution. Both MIT and Oxford involve building new facilities, creating new organizations, and developing knowledge in a way that can be applied for the good of society. I wish I could tell you exactly what the next chapter is, but one of the things that makes life fun is experiencing new things with developed skills from your past. I’ve loved doing that within Blackstone, I’ve loved doing it in the not-for-profit area, and I’d love to do in the political area if I can help. **Oh, you have political ambitions? ** No, no. None. * More Details Here
Cryptopia CEO Alan Booth on the Cryptocurrency Exchange Realm (Full Article No Link)
Alan Booth is the CEO of one of Cryptopia, an exchange regarded as having one of the widest selection of tokens. Founded in 2014, Cryptopia is one of a handful of blockchain-focused companies in New Zealand. The Cryptopia team is often tasked with researching hundreds of projects to determine their efficacy before any other major exchange has touched them. The exchange lists many projects in their early stages and post-ICO. As an entrepreneur and business consultant for over 50 years, Alan Booth’s story is fairly atypical of that of many entrepreneurs in the cryptocurrency world. His perspective on the cryptocurrency is grounded in decades of business development experience, and he views the cryptocurrency exchange realm as one of the most exciting opportunities yet. In the following interview, we dive into everything from cryptocurrency psychology, the coin listing process, and blockchain entrepreneurship. How did you get introduced into the crypto world? That’s interesting. I was consulting for Cryptopia or consulting to assist them in their development path for several months when it became obvious that they needed some senior leadership to move them from where they are, which was basically a reactive technical focus to a more business global focus on how we develop their business model. We are very conscious of the fact that you need a higher level of thinking. You need a global perspective, particularly from New Zealand because there’s not a lot of us down here. That probably predicates why we’re a global business grown out of such a small population. We’d known each other for a while, certainly six months or so, and when the opportunity came up, why wouldn’t I move from a very safe, comfortable, fun job that I had previously, which was the chief executive of an international flying school. Nothing really scary goes on there. I am at the latter end of my working life, somewhat semi-retired and all my colleagues went, “You’re going to do what? Are you kidding?” Of course, the blood pressure went up and I said, “yeah, I’m going to have a go at this.” So, it’s really about the opportunity when you’ve learned so much over 40 or 50 years of developing business models and floating companies and taking them to the world, which is primarily what I’ve done. To find something that’s new and a full of excitement and fear and trepidation and where is all this going? Then it’s an opportunity you can’t afford to pass up. So, it’s just the daredevil saying let’s go. The risk and the general fervor for the industry have gotten a lot of people very excited. What are the top concerns for exchanges moving forward from your perspective? They are many fold and they are variable based on feedback from the community and somewhat driven by legislation, driven by corporate requirements. The FinTech world, we’ve got to look at that as well as the coin world. If we want to grow and deliver a product that the average consumer can consume, then we have to deliver all the things that they would typically expect. So, if you went into a retail store to buy a heater, you expect to have a warranty. You expect to be safe, you expect to be treated well with clarity. And typically, the coin industry to date has not been very good at that because it’s been evolving and mostly evolving from a technical perspective with probably less weight put on the public consumption of the coin. It’s being technically driven as a technical product when you look at it. When you go to the exchange, some of them take a fair bit of thinking about before you can operate. So, for us, the first thing is trust. If people can’t trust your brand, and that means every part of it, you’re not going to succeed. So, we are very proactive here in New Zealand, talking to legislators, government agencies in and out of New Zealand. KYC, AML, CML, all of that stuff. We are drafting our own internal rules and then most cases they exceed the requirements of our banking partners. So, they look at us and they go, wow, you’re way ahead of where we thought it would be. So, developing a trust relationship with our consumers and business partners is vital. The next thing is developing a stable and functional platform. I don’t just mean the coin exchange itself, but all of the underlying technology. Will we be up? Do we have latency? Are we speedy? Have we purchased the right partnership relationships for our equipment and how do we continue to be able to scale at will and not risk failing to deliver a result? That means helping people get an exchange done, their coins on and off. I suspect it’s the same as every other exchange. Only thing is, down here, we have really focused on three things to move us very quickly forward. One is the public-facing components. That’s the help desk if you get stuck. We want to be able to respond very quickly. And like the other exchanges, we headed enormous influx in the early part of the year and that was debilitating. Nobody was ready for it. We employed teams of people to come in and train as support operators. We’ve since then spent a huge amount of money on a new ticketing system, which actually went live yesterday. So, this morning when I come in, there’s smiley faces trying to get their head around it going, wow, this is amazing. So, we triage all the tickets on the inbound route now and puts it in a good space for our response team to reply as quickly as possible, I want. At the moment, we’re not there. Instead of being 40 or 50 hours and all these horrible delays, I want people to have a response from us immediately and I mean within seconds saying we’ve got your ticket. I can’t answer it right now, but we’re on you. Then, within hours, get back to those customers and fix their problem. They don’t deserve to wait 24 hours or 48 hours. People are anxious. Ticketing, we’ve done something about it. Highly trained staff, we’re employing all the time. We’ve developed foreign offices to beat the time zone thing. We now have a support office in the UK that we have had for some time, actually. The next thing is just the stabilizing of our software and hardware. When you start these things, the enthusiasm and the inexperience of the development team may not know what’s here to them and now we’ve bought in bigger, stronger, international teams. So, that’s great what you’ve got, but let’s do this. So, that’s the phase we’re on now. We’re spending all of our money. In fact, every penny that we generate in this business goes straight back into furthering and developing the products. Nobody’s racing home in Lamborghinis or flying their jets around. They’re just piling into it. So, that’s how I am in terms of producing a high-quality product. It’s not a decision we just made. It’s always been there, but we are now articulating it internally, that we want to be in the top five of crypto exchanges and digital asset exchanges of some form within the next two years. In the top five, bar none, in every respect. Would you say the number one component of being thought of as one of the top five would be trading volume? Is that the primary metric? I absolutely agree with you, but you can’t have trading volume unless you provide the other things first, like security, safety, a good trading platform. If you want trading volume, I have to have a reason for you to trust me, which has to be if I have a failure, will my ticket, be answered? If you do those things, you will get trading volume. I don’t believe you look at it the other way and say, hey, let’s create trading volume because if that comes at you hard and sharp, how are you going to cope with it when something breaks? It’s technology, things will break. It’s how you address things that go wrong that made you successful, not what you put in place to drive that business in. That will happen if you’re good. The word gets out saying this is a great exchange. They fixed my tickets, they’re fast, they’re responsive, it’s safe. That will create trading volume. Trading volume for us is income and of course, we want it. We have actually slowed down on coin listings. We’ve slowed down on taking new customers and we’ve slowed down on developing relationships with partners simply to get our platform in better shape so that we can become the most reliable, trusted partner you can have. That will create trading volume, no doubt about it. Although trading volume does bring in a sizable amount of revenue, there comes a point where it just becomes a vanity metric where people are using an exchange simply because there just aren’t any better alternatives out there.. So, if there is an exchange that can offer all the features that you’re talking about and a premium level of service, then the trading volume will trickle down. There’s no real loyalty for exchanges other than preferences. Absolutely. We wouldn’t ask for that. Why would you say to somebody, hey, you got to be loyal to us? That’s just silly. You will be loyal to us if I offer you a great experience. That means volume of coins, a huge range to trade through. Ease of trading. One click, two clicks. How about some trading tools just like you see in a modern foreign exchange opportunity? Some arbitrage tools, some tools for measurement, some nice desktop tools. We want to introduce other things. It just means that you’ve got control over your own reporting and your own desktop environment. It can become a very powerful tool to use as long as we listen to the customers and say, hey guys, we can develop that. Give us a couple of months, let’s put it in front of you. What is the coin listing process for you guys? What’s the process for someone who wants to get their coin listed on Cryptopia? We’re just reviewing that and we’re being very focused on changing the way we list coins and who we list. We’re very conscious to gain trust. We are actually your first port of call for particularly those people who don’t know much about coin, so they have to trust their exchange partner. Therefore, we have to make sure that if we list a coin, it’s a viable trusted, honest coin that’s going to give value. Not just to us as an exchange but it’s not a scam coin. It’s not something just to raise money, pump and dump thing. We have coin listing teams who are very tough. I have introduced people as the CEO to my coin listing team and I can’t get it through them. I’ve said, but these are great guys and I have a great story and I met them in Vancouver and boy, they’ve convinced me. My coin listing technical team does all the due diligence. Everything from GitHub, Facebook pages, normal stuff like that. If it doesn’t look like a viable product to us on many levels, then it doesn’t get listed. That’s the end of it. If [the coin] gets past that, we do further due diligence. We’ll actually interview the company. We’ll ask why do you want to list? Why do you want to list with Cryptopia? What’s your plan for the coin? What do you want us to tell customers because they’re going to be relying on us? So, we’d like to do more than just have a coin called 21 Million sitting on the exchange. How about if we had a link to that with some of the criteria we use to judge whether that was a good opportunity. Whether it was a good coin. We might have a 10-point plan and we might say, hey, this coin passed at 9.7. This coin is in, but it only got in at 2.4. Whereas the negative coins, the coins that have gotten negative plans, negative equity in our mindset, they just don’t get on the exchange. We have a very large number of coins at the moment. We want to remain in that space, be the leader. That means that clearly, we’re not going to get it right all the time because we make mistakes and actually, so do the some of the honest and reliable coin generators. Their plans might not just happen, so they get the benefit of the doubt for a while. As long as we see that they’re not doing something deliberately to disrupt the market or just to take money, then we’ll support them until they get their business model right. But we’re very focused on a coin listing to us is actually a business partnership. We’re not just going to throw coins up there. I think 2018 is the year of reckoning, wherein 2017, pretty much anything got listed anywhere. It didn’t really matter how functional the coin was or whether it was legitimate or not. So, it’s really cool to see the trend in exchanges making a stance against that because if the ax falls, it doesn’t fall on the anonymous coin team that could be in Switzerland and Ethiopia. It’s falling on the CEOs and the exchange teams that are allowing access. People come to us and they say, hey, I haven’t got my money. You’re the exchange. I go, well actually, the coin that we listed, I’m afraid the wallet’s faulty or they didn’t do this, or they ran away. People don’t care. They’re relying on us. That’s why Cryptopia has to be a business partner with each and every user, not just a provider of some coin listings. That would be unethical. Absolutely, and it’s good to hear. Speaking of regulations, how do you think that’s going to evolve for exchanges, especially being out of New Zealand? I welcome a regulatory intervention for many reasons. The primary one is that as soon as the regulators start imposing their will and taking notice, it means that it’s a genuine opportunity. They don’t waste their time on something that’s not going to affect global economies or our economy. For example, the New Zealand regulators, we’re working and we’re working with them because they recognize that somebody has got to work with them to tell them what’s going on. The other side of the fence, that’s us. We have to work with them to say, you can’t do that because it won’t work in this environment. So, working with regulators is critical, in my opinion, and we’re doing that very well. Regulation has to come. It was just announced in New Zealand a few days ago that we’re going to start, this is unrelated to coins, collecting GST, which is our equivalent of your local taxes, on online purchases. So, typically anything up to $400 that you buy online from Amazon, for example, in New Zealand, you wouldn’t pay tax on and they’re changing that. They’re taking the same view with coins. So, the government is saying, how do we tax revenue? When do we tax revenue? What should it look like? How do we make it fair for you, the exchange and how do we make it fair and manageable by the consumers who may have to declare a capital gain if they’re going, for instance, as an equity or a property as pure speculative fun like betting? And if that’s the case, when should we do this? Should we backdate all that stuff? Every country is going through this and some have jumped in and made decisions that they’ve had to backpedal on. They were a little bit hasty. In New Zealand, in particular, we have a great relationship with the regulators and all the powers that be, right down to the banks, and are all looking at the space saying, you know what? We don’t quite know what to do, but let’s start doing something and I welcome it. And the more understanding and control we have on these things at this early stage these next few years, the neater and cleaner will be over the next few years. Just as banking has become very stabilized through regulations, so will this crypto business, whatever it ends up looking like. New Zealand has its advantages because a smaller population could make building direct relationships with regulating authorities easier. Tim Draper, for example, is investing in Papua New Guinea to try and make this whole digital citizenship country. The Binance guys just moved over to Malta. The global landscape just opened up, and governments will have to start offering distinct advantages to attract companies that could hypothetically set up virtually anywhere. That’s great because that’s exactly what online trading is about. It’s online and it’s global. We have to join the global party, but we better start from a position of understanding and strength in our own environment. Make sure we have our own stuff together before we start yelling about what someone else should do. Yeah, absolutely. Shifting gears a little bit, what do you think about decentralized exchanges and how they’re going to affect the whole exchange thing? The quick and easy answer to that is it will definitely affect the global exchange market. It will definitely affect FinTech because if people who are regular investors and that’s people with mom and pops with a few dollars, right up to institutional investors, if they can see a way of generating revenue and it’s safe, they’re going to move there. They’re not going to discard their other investment opportunities and they’re not going to discard regular exchange-traded equities or working on the stock exchange. But there’s a space here that we haven’t quite worked out who that’s going to work for or how, but the more we regulate, the more we make the tools visible. The stronger we look to the market and the more professional we look. That doesn’t necessarily mean just wearing a suit into a meeting, but the more gravitas we have behind those discussions demonstrating that we’ve done on the work and that we’ve got smart people here and the technology’s good. We’re ready to come and meet and talk equitably to investors and traditional investment houses. Then there will be a way that they join up. There’s no doubt about it. I mean, it can’t be helped. How about the lightning network and atomic swaps where you could pretty much exchange peer to peer. You could trade Litecoin for Ethereum directly in one single transaction without an exchange. Centralized exchanges have their benefits, like for example, there’s someone you can knock on their door and say where’d my money go? I need customer support. So, there are advantages there, but then the advantages of a decentralized exchange are just the efficiency. I’m wondering how is that viewed for the centralized exchange world? I don’t want people to take away my income opportunity. We’re building a business. We would argue, and I think it could be demonstrated to date until the blockchain comes up with some technical solutions. We’re building a trust environment and we are taking on, at considerable cost, the responsibility for providing the trust. First, it’s a coin that we like and here are the reasons. We’ve done the due diligence on your behalf. We allow the transactions to take place and here’s how we regulate, manage and deliver that transaction and manage the wallet relationships. Cryptopia’s Coin Information display That’s a role we take on. So, if you trade with a centralized exchange, you’ve got a whole lot of advantages that you don’t have by trading peer to peer. It’s fairly obvious what a peer to peer relationship looks like. If that’s on a personal level, that risk is much greater. If it’s on a more corporate structured level, I don’t know what that looks like yet, but I think we’ve got a long way to go before we could move from centralized exchanges to peer to peer simply because there’s going to have to be some regulation around it. How would the regulators engage in that space? Who are they engaging with? Every single person who wants to trade? At the moment, they can deal with an exchange that has potentially 2,000,000 to 10,000,000 customers. That’s not easy for a regulator or a tax authority. So, there’s the regular regulatory component. That’s got to be there. Then there’s the trust management and then there are just a few more technical issues that I think have yet to evolve. It all comes down to running a business. It takes money and capital to get all these users you want to get. If the technology works, that’s great, but onboarding users take resources. How do these projects plan on doing that? It’s just a missing component of every single white paper that tries to go after that who isn’t trying to build a centralized business to oversee it. I think philanthropy is wonderful and when people are talking about decentralization. It’s a great idea and it’s philanthropic and it would be wonderful if the world could work like that. But there’s never been a business model that has worked without generating revenue. There isn’t one. Everyone’s tried, but you can’t name one that doesn’t have to generate revenue at some point or another. Even if that revenue is simply generated to make the action happen, the hardware, the software, the bandwidth, someone’s got to pay. So, if you’re decentralizing, how do you get paid? How do you police it? How do you manage it? Why not stick to a model that works? And it’s not just about centralized coin exchanges. It’s not just about front-end institutions. This is a model that’s worked since the first inhabitants of Earth swapped a bean for a stick or can I give you my dinosaur to cook while I bring you a giraffe? I don’t know, but you can’t have a society without an exchange happening of some value in exchange. Even if I go to a coffee bar with you, here’s the simplest thing. I would say, hey, I’ll meet you for coffee, on me I might pay for the coffee, but guess what? We’ve sat down and exchanged information. I’ve gotten something out of it. How do you do stuff without exchanging value? It’s push and pull between advancing technology and proving the model works but then what’s the incentive to run it and popularize it because you’ve got that whole chicken and egg problem. We need a bunch of users for this to work efficiently, but we’re not going to make any money doing it. Hopefully, we’ll see how things play out in the next couple of months or years or decades. I’m down for decades and a lot of failures. We’ll be there watching them saying we’ll help you if we can and hey, go and play guys, but come back here when it doesn’t work because we are going to be here. What are your thoughts on Bitcoin dominance in general compared to all the other coins out in 2018? So, what does a cryptocurrency landscape look like if Bitcoin happens to fall down to, let’s say, 15\% or 10\% of the market? Does Bitcoin really dominate or is it just big? If you look at the exchanges and watch the traffic, can you see as much traffic taking place and as much interest in the CoinCash or 21 Million or Kenya or any of these things? They’re all there and people are trading them for various reasons. Mom and pops are going to be doing this to buy a new car. Someone else purely looking as a store of wealth and other people are looking to dominate a market. So, I’m not sure that you could say Bitcoin dominates. It might be the largest store of wealth at the moment. Does it dominate people’s thinking? I’m not sure about that. If you’re a coin developer, it’s your coin that’s dominant in your mind and you’ll go after a particular vertical, even a geographic market. So, you have the potential to develop your store or your story within that business scope. Why does Bitcoin dominate? Simply because it was seen as an opportunity? Is it dominated because the people who trade in Bitcoin put so much faith in it being a store of wealth or an opportunity for capital gain? But a lot of those people have run away. That’s why it’s not $20,000 at the moment. It’s just trading between 8,000 and 10,000 in there. So, it stabilized. So, what if it fell over? Some people will lose money. It’s not going to change the blockchain, it’s not going to change our thinking about cryptocurrencies. It’s not going to change Cryptopia’s approach to the market. It might dominate in volume. I’m not sure it’s the dominant force supporting cryptocurrencies. I see what you’re saying. It might just be a dominance of user acquisition because there’s a larger chance they heard of Bitcoin instead of Ethereum if they have heard of cryptocurrency at all. So, it’s like the gateway crypto. Take care that people aren’t saying Bitcoin just like a Hoover, the vacuum cleaner. Every vacuum cleaner for 20 years was called a Hoover. That was the dominant brand. Hey, I’m going to Hoover the floor. What they meant was I’m going to get my vacuum cleaner of which there are 80,000 different makes out there now and they’re going to vacuum the floor, but they just called it a Hoover. So, I trade in Bitcoin. I’ll bet you someone who says, yeah, I trade Bitcoin, he’s only saying bitcoin because he knows or she knows that people understand that you’re referring to a cryptocurrency. If you say to someone I trade in Clearpoll or CoinMedic3, they have no clue what you’re talking about. They go what is that? Oh, it’s Bitcoin. Oh, I get it. If you went home to your mom and dad and they asked what are you doing? You’d say, oh yeah, I’m trading cryptocurrency. They’d go, oh? What’s what? You’d go, Bitcoin. They go, oh, that thing. Bitcoin Cash is competing to be known as the Bitcoin for a reason. In the next four or five years, there are millions of people that haven’t even heard of crypto that would probably receive a lot of benefits from being onboarded into the cryptocurrency world. I’m not really sure how what they get onboarded to first matters immediately, but I know it plays a substantial role for a lot of people. It’s an initiator. It’s a keyword that attracts them to the space that we’re in. It’s simply because it’s got brand dominance in the public persona. If you say a Bitcoin, most people know you’re talking about that strange online thing that no one understands and there are a few other coins, but we don’t know what their name is. As soon as they hit an exchange, if they really want to try it, they’re going to look at the next one down and say oh, I didn’t know that existed. They’ll make their way right to the bottom of the 2,000 list. So, I really don’t think we should worry too much about dominance or anything that’s measured in that way in the space because the variables that change our value perception on any of these products is a mystery to everyone. A rumor can cause change overnight and things like that have happened. Guess what? They also happen in traditional exchanges. Go to the London stock exchange and you’ll see a piece in the paper tomorrow that prices rocketed or have fallen over the next day because the public is there. The public is there late, remember. If you see it in the news, it has already happened. That’s the same thing for this. So, what are your favorite projects out right now? It has to be blockchain focused. I mean, coins seem to be a tool that are being used to raise capital, raise awareness, create hysteria over or some fun. Some of them, and I believe it’s very few of them, I wouldn’t like to statistically put a number on that, but I think it’s very, very few have actually got a basis of a typical good investment. Is company strong behind it? Do they have good ethics? Why are they doing this? What’s it for? Or is it just to raise money? When they’ve got money they can go, oh, look how much money we’ve got. Let’s do something. That’s not the way to grow a business. Somebody has to have a good story that’s technically supported. It has to have social value these days. And that means is it good for mankind? Is it going to save the planet? Will it do something? Create manufacturing? Whatever it is. Hey, I’m not a philanthropist. I’m not saying you’ve got to do something to save the planet. But the youth of today are much more conscious about anything we/they do is about social conscience and social values and responsibility. So, for me, any of those projects, whether they be blockchain based or coin based that do something more than just making money for a bunch of guys, so they can go buy a Lamborghini, gets more of a look and support from us than the others. There are ways of going and creating wealth for yourself than preying on opportunities that exist simply because exchanges listed them. So, we’re very careful about that. So, I wouldn’t like to say at this stage, we have anyone in particular. We do have some businesses we’re looking at, but they all are very well rounded in terms of their sales pitch. It’s ethical, it’s got a good background. They have strong management, a history. They’re well-funded already. They’re not just grabbing money to then decide what they’ll do with it. Well said. The one point you made about how these projects need to be ethical and how that impacts those business models because again, you tap into to the same vein of projects that are looking to substantially change industries that had been stifled by inefficiencies or corruption. It stretches a long way. If you find a solution that bugs business and usually if it bugs a business, it bugs and effects people, consumers, in some way. That might just be, where it’s blockchain related, securities and tracking things to make this whole trust environment that we live in. The point is we say we can trust but we can’t trust. Everything we do is about trust. We get lawyers to look after our trust issues and we shake hands and we still wonder whether it’s a deal. So, solving trust issues globally is probably one of the biggest benefits to mankind because once we solve the trust issue, you can then be positive or confident that something that you want to happen and agreed to happen is actually going to happen. If it doesn’t happen, it’s not just about the broken trust. It’s then about the finances involved before you got there. That’s all gone. The future has all gone around that business model. So, trust management in blockchain and around coins and around exchanges, decentralized exchanges, is probably the biggest thing we have to deal with. Which takes me back to my core development program right now, which is developing a trustworthy exchange. Make it clear, unambiguous. Make it reliable, deliver what we said we were going to do. What does a day in the life of Alan Booth look like? What do you do for fun when you’re not doing exchange type things? If there’s even time for fun. If you’re running an exchange, it’s 26 hours a day to run an exchange. If you can squeeze another hour in, you might find some fun. This is probably my last employment opportunity. I’m in my 60’s. I’ve spent 50 years being an entrepreneur and an arm waver. Wave your arms and see who’s taking notice and make something happen. So, fun for me is actually the exploitation of a business opportunity. I go to bed hoping that I wake up in the night with an idea to scribble on the pad. I come to work a very early. I’m up at 5 am. I get here at 7 am if I can with the work already done. I don’t want to arrive at work and look at emails. If you’re looking at email and other stuff, it’s other people’s requests on your time. I’m going to arrive here being creative. I want to arrive every day going, I’ve got nothing to do except be creative and compel all of my employees and partners to support that creativity and bring their own creativity to it. So, you couldn’t have more fun than that, could you? What else is there? Just to make stuff and see people get excited and give them the opportunity. But when I’m outside of this, hey, I liked to fly light aircrafts. I ride fast motorbikes. I do guy stuff, and when I’m not doing guy stuff, I’m at home helping my wife in the garden. Just an ordinary guy. Most of my daylight waking hours is about being that global entrepreneur with regard to this huge global opportunity which is let’s change the world. It’s like moving from coal to steam, steam to mechanization, mechanization to electronics, and now we move into the digital age and we’re in it. What a fantastic place to be. So, how exactly do you do that? Do you just wake up earlier and just get everything done at 5:00 AM? There’s never enough time in the day. What it is, it’s being super critical about what’s actually important. If you open your email when you get to work, I will guarantee that you will sit there procrastinating and jump between emails. Most people don’t work from the top to the bottom or the bottom to the top. You’re a little bit selective, so already you failed to do what people expect you to. Email and inbound inquiry are other people’s expectations of how to use your time. They’re imposing their requirements on you. So, you’ve already allowed yourself to be managed by outside rules. You’ve got to arrive at your office with nothing that interferes with the creative process of why am I at this office? Why did I come here? I came here to understand what we’ve got. So, that’s a constant job. To work with the clever people that you have employed. I have a major role in employment and myself. Only employ smarter people than yourself, only. Because if you’re employing people that aren’t smarter than you, you’re going to have to tell them what to do and you don’t have time for that. Now, employing people smarter than yourself, for me, that sets the bar quite low, that’s easy, so I get really good pickings. But, generally speaking, you need to employ the best people and get them going and then you’ll be so busy running around trying to keep up with him, not them keeping up with you, that you actually have no time for all that outside noise. You’ve got to impose on the world what you want, not the world imposing on you what they want. Turn it around. Every time I have a conversation with somebody, it’s about what I want, in the nicest possible way. We will listen to inbounds but we already have a path to follow. If you start following other people’s paths, you’re not going to get where you want to go. Here’s the thing. I’ve been a business mentor for probably 20 years. Mentoring basically new CEOs. New CEOs, it’s the loneliest job in the world because it might be your first CEO job, so you can’t talk down because those people below you expect you to be the boss, so you can’t ask them. You can’t talk up because you’re the CEO. It’s no good asking the board, they’re looking down at you. You can’t talk sideways because they’re your competitors. So, the first year or two as a new CEO is the loneliest place on the planet. So, what you have to do is be entirely focused on what you need to get done and that is by changing what you used to do before you became a CEO or a boss. What you used to do is respond to every bit of noise that came at you and it filled your day up until you went nutty. Thank you! Cryptopia CEO Alan Booth on the Cryptocurrency Exchange Realm
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Alex is the Editor-in-Chief of CoinCentral. Alex also advises blockchain startups, enterprise organizations, and ICOs on content strategy, marketing, and business development. He also regrets not buying more Bitcoin back in 2012, just like you.
Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman on Bitcoin: “I Was Raised in a World Where Someone Needs to Control Currencies”
Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman has built one of the largest investment firms in the world, which specializes in private equity, credit, and hedge fund investment strategies. In his new book, What It Takes: Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence, Schwarzman reveals some of the biggest lessons he’s learned from his 50-year career in business. Part memoir, part leadership guide, Schwarzman addresses the highlights (and low lights) of his career including quitting his high-power job to start Blackstone, raising capital as a first-time fund manager, and dealing with the fallout from the unraveling of his presidential CEO business council. (I personally enjoyed the part was when he talks about meeting “Beyoncé and her husband Jay-Z.” He writes: “We talked for a few minutes, reminiscing about her Kennedy Center performance in 2005.”) Schwarzman was 38 years old when he founded Blackstone in 1985, and he’s been at the helm ever since. Today, the firm boasts $545 billion in assets under management and 2,500 employees. Blackstone recently converted from a publicly traded partnership to a corporation, which makes it easier to own Blackstone stock and allows the firm to be included in more indexes. I sat down with Schwarzman for a wide-ranging conversation about Blackstone’s dealings in China, the ethical challenges surrounding artificial intelligence, the rise of cryptocurrencies, and whether he sees a looming recession on the horizon. Below is an excerpt from our conversation. (Read the full Q&A here.)What are you investing in, and where do you see growth opportunities? Growth is certainly going to technology, services, and experiences. You have things like shopping centers. When I grew up, it was like: What could go wrong with a shopping center? And now that thing is called Amazon. Just that technological innovation has changed people’s shopping patterns, changed the delivery mechanism, and it’s led to shopping centers going bankrupt. It’s disrupted a whole chain of things people took for granted. It took 10 years for an entire stable structure to be dismantled. We saw that in 2011 when we started buying warehouses. We’ve been the largest buyer of warehouses in the world for the last eight years, and we did that because that’s where Amazon and retailers needed to stage their goods before they get delivered. So that area has exploded with growth. If you’re investing now, you have to recognize that almost everything’s about to have its business model changed. What’s another example of a sector you think will experience Amazon-like growth? Artificial intelligence. AI will affect the whole healthcare industry, from billing, to admissions, to diagnostics, to the development of drugs, to telemedicine, which will have enormous growth. You look at all of this, and there are a lot of different things that go into what you or I believe is _just_a hospital. AI is going to have a profound impact on our society. There will also be serious ethical implications that come with that innovation. That’s why I did this big donation at MIT and Oxford. [Note: Schwarzman donated$350 millionto MIT for computing and AI research and$188 million_to Oxford University for AI ethics research.]_One involves technological innovation, and the other is about making sense of it in society. What are good outcomes and what are not-so-good outcomes? Who makes that determination, and how do you control for not having bad outcomes? That’s a challenge that we have to face. Are you confident we’ll be able to solve the ethical challenges quickly enough given the pace at which technology is evolving? Like most things in technology, it’s moving faster than your ability to control and implement things. On the other hand, everybody who’s running a company or is part of the discovery of AI watched the Internet get developed. I haven’t met a mature person yet who was involved in the development of the internet that hasn’t regretted they developed it. They said, “We just thought this would be really cool. Everyone in the world can connect, and it’ll be a positive sum game.” They weren’t aware that [the internet] would destroy the ability to govern. Everything is so short-term, there’s so much divisiveness, and social media is very destructive. They’ve looked at what they’ve created, and they’ve all said, “If I could have it back, I’d take it back.” I was shocked. So with AI, we have to get right on it so that the technology itself doesn’t overwhelm society. There’s enormous interest and good will to doing something important in terms of AI ethics. No matter what country you’re in, if you make a huge cut in your workforce, you’ll have social unrest of some type. We already have that in the West. You could even have that in China, although they’re investing so much in the area, they’re actually creating a whole bunch of new jobs too. Speaking of innovation,a 2007 _Fortune_articlecalled you “the master of the alternative universe” because Blackstone made its name by investing in alternative assets. What do you think about frontier assets like Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies? I don’t have much interest in that because it’s hard for me to understand. I was raised in a world where someone needs to control currencies. There’s a reason to want to control currencies, which is why governments all do it. There’s no one who says, “I don’t care.” Part of that is to make sure the economy is as insulated as it can be from excesses. Another part of it is to control bad behavior. So the idea that you can transact without anybody knowing anything, you could have a lot of criminal behavior — dirty money, drug money — running all over the world. It only encourages that kind of activity. I may be a limited thinker, but that’s a problem. If they could solve that problem and also the problem of controlling the money supply, then it might be OK. That doesn’t mean that the blockchain technology applied to non-tradable currencies is not a good thing. That is clearly a good thing. And why do you say that? There’s all kinds of uses you can have from certain executions. [Blockchain technology] is a very good idea, and it will end up being adopted because it’s good technology. Applying it to the creation of money is sort of, for my taste, pretty odd. So in the future, you do see Blackstone investing in companies that are using blockchain technology? That would be good because it’s a sound, very interesting technology. But you’re not going to own any Bitcoin? That’s an easy one: No. Read much more here. WE WILL WAIT: WeWork’s much-anticipated IPO is now TBD. The co-working behemoth is expected to cancel its roadshow planned for this week and postpone its IPO until at least October. The decision could threaten a $6 billion credit financing that was contingent on a successful offering. The facility reportedly requires We to go through with its IPO by Dec. 31. Read more. VC BREAKUP: The founders of Aspect Ventures, a prominent female-led venture capital firm, are parting ways to launch separate firms, according to The WSJ_._Jennifer Fonstad is creating Owl Capital to invest in early-stage companies, and Theresia Gouw will form her own early stage firm called Acrew. “We saw very much eye to eye in terms of our investments and strategy. But we had very different leadership styles and different ways of operating at the portfolio level,” Fonstad told the WSJ. Read more. * More Details Here
Is anyone else freaked out by this whole blocksize debate? Does anyone else find themself often agreeing with *both* sides - depending on whichever argument you happen to be reading at the moment? And do we need some better algorithms and data structures?
Why do both sides of the debate seem “right” to me? I know, I know, a healthy debate is healthy and all - and maybe I'm just not used to the tumult and jostling which would be inevitable in a real live open major debate about something as vital as Bitcoin. And I really do agree with the starry-eyed idealists who say Bitcoin is vital. Imperfect as it may be, it certainly does seem to represent the first real chance we've had in the past few hundred years to try to steer our civilization and our planet away from the dead-ends and disasters which our government-issued debt-based currencies keep dragging us into. But this particular debate, about the blocksize, doesn't seem to be getting resolved at all. Pretty much every time I read one of the long-form major arguments contributed by Bitcoin "thinkers" who I've come to respect over the past few years, this weird thing happens: I usually end up finding myself nodding my head and agreeing with whatever particular piece I'm reading! But that should be impossible - because a lot of these people vehemently disagree! So how can both sides sound so convincing to me, simply depending on whichever piece I currently happen to be reading? Does anyone else feel this way? Or am I just a gullible idiot? Just Do It? When you first look at it or hear about it, increasing the size seems almost like a no-brainer: The "big-block" supporters say just increase the blocksize to 20 MB or 8 MB, or do some kind of scheduled or calculated regular increment which tries to take into account the capabilities of the infrastructure and the needs of the users. We do have the bandwidth and the memory to at least increase the blocksize now, they say - and we're probably gonna continue to have more bandwidth and memory in order to be able to keep increasing the blocksize for another couple decades - pretty much like everything else computer-based we've seen over the years (some of this stuff is called by names such as "Moore's Law"). On the other hand, whenever the "small-block" supporters warn about the utter catastrophe that a failed hard-fork would mean, I get totally freaked by their possible doomsday scenarios, which seem totally plausible and terrifying - so I end up feeling that the only way I'd want to go with a hard-fork would be if there was some pre-agreed "triggering" mechanism where the fork itself would only actually "switch on" and take effect provided that some "supermajority" of the network (of who? the miners? the full nodes?) had signaled (presumably via some kind of totally reliable p2p trustless software-based voting system?) that they do indeed "pre-agree" to actually adopt the pre-scheduled fork (and thereby avoid any possibility whatsoever of the precious blockchain somehow tragically splitting into two and pretty much killing this cryptocurrency off in its infancy). So in this "conservative" scenario, I'm talking about wanting at least 95% pre-adoption agreement - not the mere 75% which I recall some proposals call for, which seems like it could easily lead to a 75/25 blockchain split. But this time, with this long drawn-out blocksize debate, the core devs, and several other important voices who have become prominent opinion shapers over the past few years, can't seem to come to any real agreement on this. Weird split among the devs As far as I can see, there's this weird split: Gavin and Mike seem to be the only people among the devs who really want a major blocksize increase - and all the other devs seem to be vehemently against them. But then on the other hand, the users seem to be overwhelmingly in favor of a major increase. And there are meta-questions about governance, about about why this didn't come out as a BIP, and what the availability of Bitcoin XT means. And today or yesterday there was this really cool big-blockian exponential graph based on doubling the blocksize every two years for twenty years, reminding us of the pure mathematical fact that 210 is indeed about 1000 - but not really addressing any of the game-theoretic points raised by the small-blockians. So a lot of the users seem to like it, but when so few devs say anything positive about it, I worry: is this just yet more exponential chart porn? On the one hand, Gavin's and Mike's blocksize increase proposal initially seemed like a no-brainer to me. And on the other hand, all the other devs seem to be against them. Which is weird - not what I'd initially expected at all (but maybe I'm just a fool who's seduced by exponential chart porn?). Look, I don't mean to be rude to any of the core devs, and I don't want to come off like someone wearing a tinfoil hat - but it has to cross people's minds that the powers that be (the Fed and the other central banks and the governments that use their debt-issued money to run this world into a ditch) could very well be much more scared shitless than they're letting on. If we assume that the powers that be are using their usual playbook and tactics, then it could be worth looking at the book "Confessions of an Economic Hitman" by John Perkins, to get an idea of how they might try to attack Bitcoin. So, what I'm saying is, they do have a track record of sending in "experts" to try to derail projects and keep everyone enslaved to the Creature from Jekyll Island. I'm just saying. So, without getting ad hominem - let's just make sure that our ideas can really stand scrutiny on their own - as Nick Szabo says, we need to make sure there is "more computer science, less noise" in this debate. When Gavin Andresen first came out with the 20 MB thing - I sat back and tried to imagine if I could download 20 MB in 10 minutes (which seems to be one of the basic mathematical and technological constraints here - right?) I figured, "Yeah, I could download that" - even with my crappy internet connection. And I guess the telecoms might be nice enough to continue to double our bandwidth every two years for the next couple decades – if we ask them politely? On the other hand - I think we should be careful about entrusting the financial freedom of the world into the greedy hands of the telecoms companies - given all their shady shenanigans over the past few years in many countries. After decades of the MPAA and the FBI trying to chip away at BitTorrent, lately PirateBay has been hard to access. I would say it's quite likely that certain persons at institutions like JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs and the Fed might be very, very motivated to see Bitcoin fail - so we shouldn't be too sure about scaling plans which depend on the willingness of companies Verizon and AT&T to double our bandwith every two years. Maybe the real important hardware buildout challenge for a company like 21 (and its allies such as Qualcomm) to take on now would not be "a miner in every toaster" but rather "Google Fiber Download and Upload Speeds in every Country, including China". I think I've read all the major stuff on the blocksize debate from Gavin Andresen, Mike Hearn, Greg Maxwell, Peter Todd, Adam Back, and Jeff Garzick and several other major contributors - and, oddly enough, all their arguments seem reasonable - heck even Luke-Jr seems reasonable to me on the blocksize debate, and I always thought he was a whackjob overly influenced by superstition and numerology - and now today I'm reading the article by Bram Cohen - the inventor of BitTorrent - and I find myself agreeing with him too! I say to myself: What's going on with me? How can I possibly agree with all of these guys, if they all have such vehemently opposing viewpoints? I mean, think back to the glory days of a couple of years ago, when all we were hearing was how this amazing unprecedented grassroots innovation called Bitcoin was going to benefit everyone from all walks of life, all around the world:
wealthy individuals trying to preserve and transport their wealth across space and across time
iPhone and Android users who want to buy a latte on their smartphone at Starbucks
Venezuelans and Argentinians and Cypriots and Russian oligarchs and Greeks and anyone else whose state-backed currency sucks
unbanked Africans who will someday be texting around money via SMS messages on their cellphones
online content providers who will finally be able to get paid via micropayments
smart contracts and stock brokering and lawyering and land deeding and the refrigerator calling out to order more milk and distributed anonymous corporations (DACs) automatically negotiating and adjusting driverless taxicab fares in the Uber-future of the Internet of Things
...basically the entire human race transacting everything into the blockchain. (Although let me say that I think that people's focus on ideas like driverless cabs creating realtime fare markets based on supply and demand seems to be setting our sights a bit low as far as Bitcoin's abilities to correct the financial world's capital-misallocation problems which seem to have been made possible by infinite debt-based fiat. I would have hoped that a Bitcoin-based economy would solve much more noble, much more urgent capital-allocation problems than driverless taxicabs creating fare markets or refrigerators ordering milk on the internet of things. I was thinking more along the lines that Bitcoin would finally strangle dead-end debt-based deadly-toxic energy industries like fossil fuels and let profitable clean energy industries like Thorium LFTRs take over - but that's another topic. :=) Paradoxes in the blocksize debate Let me summarize the major paradoxes I see here: (1) Regarding the people (the majority of the core devs) who are against a blocksize increase: Well, the small-blocks arguments do seem kinda weird, and certainly not very "populist", in the sense that: When on earth have end-users ever heard of a computer technology whose capacity didn't grow pretty much exponentially year-on-year? All the cool new technology we've had - from hard drives to RAM to bandwidth - started out pathetically tiny and grew to unimaginably huge over the past few decades - and all our software has in turn gotten massively powerful and big and complex (sometimes bloated) to take advantage of the enormous new capacity available. But now suddenly, for the first time in the history of technology, we seem to have a majority of the devs, on a major p2p project - saying: "Let's not scale the system up. It could be dangerous. It might break the whole system (if the hard-fork fails)." I don't know, maybe I'm missing something here, maybe someone else could enlighten me, but I don't think I've ever seen this sort of thing happen in the last few decades of the history of technology - devs arguing against scaling up p2p technology to take advantage of expected growth in infrastructure capacity. (2) But... on the other hand... the dire warnings of the small-blockians about what could happen if a hard-fork were to fail - wow, they do seem really dire! And these guys are pretty much all heavyweight, experienced programmers and/or game theorists and/or p2p open-source project managers. I must say, that nearly all of the long-form arguments I've read - as well as many, many of the shorter comments I've read from many users in the threads, whose names I at least have come to more-or-less recognize over the past few months and years on reddit and bitcointalk - have been amazingly impressive in their ability to analyze all aspects of the lifecycle and management of open-source software projects, bringing up lots of serious points which I could never have come up with, and which seem to come from long experience with programming and project management - as well as dealing with economics and human nature (eg, greed - the game-theory stuff). So a lot of really smart and experienced people with major expertise in various areas ranging from programming to management to game theory to politics to economics have been making some serious, mature, compelling arguments. But, as I've been saying, the only problem to me is: in many of these cases, these arguments are vehemently in opposition to each other! So I find myself agreeing with pretty much all of them, one by one - which means the end result is just a giant contradiction. I mean, today we have Bram Cohen, the inventor of BitTorrent, arguing (quite cogently and convincingly to me), that it would be dangerous to increase the blocksize. And this seems to be a guy who would know a few things about scaling out a massive global p2p network - since the protocol which he invented, BitTorrent, is now apparently responsible for like a third of the traffic on the internet (and this despite the long-term concerted efforts of major evil players such as the MPAA and the FBI to shut the whole thing down). Was the BitTorrent analogy too "glib"? By the way - I would like to go on a slight tangent here and say that one of the main reasons why I felt so "comfortable" jumping on the Bitcoin train back a few years ago, when I first heard about it and got into it, was the whole rough analogy I saw with BitTorrent. I remembered the perhaps paradoxical fact that when a torrent is more popular (eg, a major movie release that just came out last week), then it actually becomes faster to download. More people want it, so more people have a few pieces of it, so more people are able to get it from each other. A kind of self-correcting economic feedback loop, where more demand directly leads to more supply. (BitTorrent manages to pull this off by essentially adding a certain structure to the file being shared, so that it's not simply like an append-only list of 1 MB blocks, but rather more like an random-access or indexed array of 1 MB chunks. Say you're downloading a film which is 700 MB. As soon as your "client" program has downloaded a single 1-MB chunk - say chunk #99 - your "client" program instantly turns into a "server" program as well - offering that chunk #99 to other clients. From my simplistic understanding, I believe the Bitcoin protocol does something similar, to provide a p2p architecture. Hence my - perhaps naïve - assumption that Bitcoin already had the right algorithms / architecture / data structure to scale.) The efficiency of the BitTorrent network seemed to jive with that "network law" (Metcalfe's Law?) about fax machines. This law states that the more fax machines there are, the more valuable the network of fax machines becomes. Or the value of the network grows on the order of the square of the number of nodes. This is in contrast with other technology like cars, where the more you have, the worse things get. The more cars there are, the more traffic jams you have, so things start going downhill. I guess this is because highway space is limited - after all, we can't pave over the entire countryside, and we never did get those flying cars we were promised, as David Graeber laments in a recent essay in The Baffler magazine :-) And regarding the "stress test" supposedly happening right now in the middle of this ongoing blocksize debate, I don't know what worries me more: the fact that it apparently is taking only $5,000 to do a simple kind of DoS on the blockchain - or the fact that there are a few rumors swirling around saying that the unknown company doing the stress test shares the same physical mailing address with a "scam" company? Or maybe we should just be worried that so much of this debate is happening on a handful of forums which are controlled by some guy named theymos who's already engaged in some pretty "contentious" or "controversial" behavior like blowing a million dollars on writing forum software (I guess he never heard that reddit.com software is open-source)? So I worry that the great promise of "decentralization" might be more fragile than we originally thought. Scaling Anyways, back to Metcalfe's Law: with virtual stuff, like torrents and fax machines, the more the merrier. The more people downloading a given movie, the faster it arrives - and the more people own fax machines, the more valuable the overall fax network. So I kindof (naïvely?) assumed that Bitcoin, being "virtual" and p2p, would somehow scale up the same magical way BitTorrrent did. I just figured that more people using it would somehow automatically make it stronger and faster. But now a lot of devs have started talking in terms of the old "scarcity" paradigm, talking about blockspace being a "scarce resource" and talking about "fee markets" - which seems kinda scary, and antithetical to much of the earlier rhetoric we heard about Bitcoin (the stuff about supporting our favorite creators with micropayments, and the stuff about Africans using SMS to send around payments). Look, when some asshole is in line in front of you at the cash register and he's holding up the line so they can run his credit card to buy a bag of Cheeto's, we tend to get pissed off at the guy - clogging up our expensive global electronic payment infrastructure to make a two-dollar purchase. And that's on a fairly efficient centralized system - and presumably after a year or so, VISA and the guy's bank can delete or compress the transaction in their SQL databases. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but if some guy buys a coffee on the blockchain, or if somebody pays an online artist $1.99 for their work - then that transaction, a few bytes or so, has to live on the blockchain forever? Or is there some "pruning" thing that gets rid of it after a while? And this could lead to another question: Viewed from the perspective of double-entry bookkeeping, is the blockchain "world-wide ledger" more like the "balance sheet" part of accounting, i.e. a snapshot showing current assets and liabilities? Or is it more like the "cash flow" part of accounting, i.e. a journal showing historical revenues and expenses? When I think of thousands of machines around the globe having to lug around multiple identical copies of a multi-gigabyte file containing some asshole's coffee purchase forever and ever... I feel like I'm ideologically drifting in one direction (where I'd end up also being against really cool stuff like online micropayments and Africans banking via SMS)... so I don't want to go there. But on the other hand, when really experienced and battle-tested veterans with major experience in the world of open-souce programming and project management (the "small-blockians") warn of the catastrophic consequences of a possible failed hard-fork, I get freaked out and I wonder if Bitcoin really was destined to be a settlement layer for big transactions. Could the original programmer(s) possibly weigh in? And I don't mean to appeal to authority - but heck, where the hell is Satoshi Nakamoto in all this? I do understand that he/she/they would want to maintain absolute anonymity - but on the other hand, I assume SN wants Bitcoin to succeed (both for the future of humanity - or at least for all the bitcoins SN allegedly holds :-) - and I understand there is a way that SN can cryptographically sign a message - and I understand that as the original developer of Bitcoin, SN had some very specific opinions about the blocksize... So I'm kinda wondering of Satoshi could weigh in from time to time. Just to help out a bit. I'm not saying "Show us a sign" like a deity or something - but damn it sure would be fascinating and possibly very helpful if Satoshi gave us his/hetheir 2 satoshis worth at this really confusing juncture. Are we using our capacity wisely? I'm not a programming or game-theory whiz, I'm just a casual user who has tried to keep up with technology over the years. It just seems weird to me that here we have this massive supercomputer (500 times more powerful than the all the supercomputers in the world combined) doing fairly straightforward "embarassingly parallel" number-crunching operations to secure a p2p world-wide ledger called the blockchain to keep track of a measly 2.1 quadrillion tokens spread out among a few billion addresses - and a couple of years ago you had people like Rick Falkvinge saying the blockchain would someday be supporting multi-million-dollar letters of credit for international trade and you had people like Andreas Antonopoulos saying the blockchain would someday allow billions of "unbanked" people to send remittances around the village or around the world dirt-cheap - and now suddenly in June 2015 we're talking about blockspace as a "scarce resource" and talking about "fee markets" and partially centralized, corporate-sponsored "Level 2" vaporware like Lightning Network and some mysterious company is "stess testing" or "DoS-ing" the system by throwing away a measly $5,000 and suddenly it sounds like the whole system could eventually head right back into PayPal and Western Union territory again, in terms of expensive fees. When I got into Bitcoin, I really was heavily influenced by vague analogies with BitTorrent: I figured everyone would just have tiny little like utorrent-type program running on their machine (ie, Bitcoin-QT or Armory or Mycelium etc.). I figured that just like anyone can host a their own blog or webserver, anyone would be able to host their own bank. Yeah, Google and and Mozilla and Twitter and Facebook and WhatsApp did come along and build stuff on top of TCP/IP, so I did expect a bunch of companies to build layers on top of the Bitcoin protocol as well. But I still figured the basic unit of bitcoin client software powering the overall system would be small and personal and affordable and p2p - like a bittorrent client - or at the most, like a cheap server hosting a blog or email server. And I figured there would be a way at the software level, at the architecture level, at the algorithmic level, at the data structure level - to let the thing scale - if not infinitely, at least fairly massively and gracefully - the same way the BitTorrent network has. Of course, I do also understand that with BitTorrent, you're sharing a read-only object (eg, a movie) - whereas with Bitcoin, you're achieving distributed trustless consensus and appending it to a write-only (or append-only) database. So I do understand that the problem which BitTorrent solves is much simpler than the problem which Bitcoin sets out to solve. But still, it seems that there's got to be a way to make this thing scale. It's p2p and it's got 500 times more computing power than all the supercomputers in the world combined - and so many brilliant and motivated and inspired people want this thing to succeed! And Bitcoin could be our civilization's last chance to steer away from the oncoming debt-based ditch of disaster we seem to be driving into! It just seems that Bitcoin has got to be able to scale somehow - and all these smart people working together should be able to come up with a solution which pretty much everyone can agree - in advance - will work. Right? Right? A (probably irrelevant) tangent on algorithms and architecture and data structures I'll finally weigh with my personal perspective - although I might be biased due to my background (which is more on the theoretical side of computer science). My own modest - or perhaps radical - suggestion would be to ask whether we're really looking at all the best possible algorithms and architectures and data structures out there. From this perspective, I sometimes worry that the overwhelming majority of the great minds working on the programming and game-theory stuff might come from a rather specific, shall we say "von Neumann" or "procedural" or "imperative" school of programming (ie, C and Python and Java programmers). It seems strange to me that such a cutting-edge and important computer project would have so little participation from the great minds at the other end of the spectrum of programming paradigms - namely, the "functional" and "declarative" and "algebraic" (and co-algebraic!) worlds. For example, I was struck in particular by statements I've seen here and there (which seemed rather hubristic or lackadaisical to me - for something as important as Bitcoin), that the specification of Bitcoin and the blockchain doesn't really exist in any form other than the reference implementation(s) (in procedural languages such as C or Python?). Curry-Howard anyone? I mean, many computer scientists are aware of the Curry-Howard isomorophism, which basically says that the relationship between a theorem and its proof is equivalent to the relationship between a specification and its implementation. In other words, there is a long tradition in mathematics (and in computer programming) of:
separating the compact (and easy-to-check) statement of a theorem from the messy (and hard-to-check) details of its proof(s);
separating the specification of a system from its implementation(s); and
being able to prove that an implementation does indeed satisfy its specification.
And it's not exactly "turtles all the way down" either: a specification is generally simple and compact enough that a good programmer can usually simply visually inspect it to determine if it is indeed "correct" - something which is very difficult, if not impossible, to do with a program written in a procedural, implementation-oriented language such as C or Python or Java. So I worry that we've got this tradition, from the open-source github C/Java programming tradition, of never actually writing our "specification", and only writing the "implementation". In mission-critical military-grade programming projects (which often use languages like Ada or Maude) this is simply not allowed. It would seem that a project as mission-critical as Bitcoin - which could literally be crucial for humanity's continued survival - should also use this kind of military-grade software development approach. And I'm not saying rewrite the implementations in these kind of theoretical languages. But it might be helpful if the C/Python/Java programmers in the Bitcoin imperative programming world could build some bridges to the Maude/Haskell/ML programmers of the functional and algebraic programming worlds to see if any kind of useful cross-pollination might take place - between specifications and implementations. For example, the JavaFAN formal analyzer for multi-threaded Java programs (developed using tools based on the Maude language) was applied to the Remote Agent AI program aboard NASA's Deep Space 1 shuttle, written in Java - and it took only a few minutes using formal mathematical reasoning to detect a potential deadlock which would have occurred years later during the space mission when the damn spacecraft was already way out around Pluto. And "the Maude-NRL (Naval Research Laboratory) Protocol Analyzer (Maude-NPA) is a tool used to provide security proofs of cryptographic protocols and to search for protocol flaws and cryptosystem attacks." These are open-source formal reasoning tools developed by DARPA and used by NASA and the US Navy to ensure that program implementations satisfy their specifications. It would be great if some of the people involved in these kinds of projects could contribute to help ensure the security and scalability of Bitcoin. But there is a wide abyss between the kinds of programmers who use languages like Maude and the kinds of programmers who use languages like C/Python/Java - and it can be really hard to get the two worlds to meet. There is a bit of rapprochement between these language communities in languages which might be considered as being somewhere in the middle, such as Haskell and ML. I just worry that Bitcoin might be turning into being an exclusively C/Python/Java project (with the algorithms and practitioners traditionally of that community), when it could be more advantageous if it also had some people from the functional and algebraic-specification and program-verification community involved as well. The thing is, though: the theoretical practitioners are big on "semantics" - I've heard them say stuff like "Yes but a C / C++ program has no easily identifiable semantics". So to get them involved, you really have to first be able to talk about what your program does (specification) - before proceeding to describe how it does it (implementation). And writing high-level specifications is typically very hard using the syntax and semantics of languages like C and Java and Python - whereas specs are fairly easy to write in Maude - and not only that, they're executable, and you state and verify properties about them - which provides for the kind of debate Nick Szabo was advocating ("more computer science, less noise"). Imagine if we had an executable algebraic specification of Bitcoin in Maude, where we could formally reason about and verify certain crucial game-theoretical properties - rather than merely hand-waving and arguing and deploying and praying. And so in the theoretical programming community you've got major research on various logics such as Girard's Linear Logic (which is resource-conscious) and Bruni and Montanari's Tile Logic (which enables "pasting" bigger systems together from smaller ones in space and time), and executable algebraic specification languages such as Meseguer's Maude (which would be perfect for game theory modeling, with its functional modules for specifying the deterministic parts of systems and its system modules for specifiying non-deterministic parts of systems, and its parameterized skeletons for sketching out the typical architectures of mobile systems, and its formal reasoning and verification tools and libraries which have been specifically applied to testing and breaking - and fixing - cryptographic protocols). And somewhat closer to the practical hands-on world, you've got stuff like Google's MapReduce and lots of Big Data database languages developed by Google as well. And yet here we are with a mempool growing dangerously big for RAM on a single machine, and a 20-GB append-only list as our database - and not much debate on practical results from Google's Big Data databases. (And by the way: maybe I'm totally ignorant for asking this, but I'll ask anyways: why the hell does the mempool have to stay in RAM? Couldn't it work just as well if it were stored temporarily on the hard drive?) And you've got CalvinDB out of Yale which apparently provides an ACID layer on top of a massively distributed database. Look, I'm just an armchair follower cheering on these projects. I can barely manage to write a query in SQL, or read through a C or Python or Java program. But I would argue two points here: (1) these languages may be too low-level and "non-formal" for writing and modeling and formally reasoning about and proving properties of mission-critical specifications - and (2) there seem to be some Big Data tools already deployed by institutions such as Google and Yale which support global petabyte-size databases on commodity boxes with nice properties such as near-real-time and ACID - and I sometimes worry that the "core devs" might be failing to review the literature (and reach out to fellow programmers) out there to see if there might be some formal program-verification and practical Big Data tools out there which could be applied to coming up with rock-solid, 100% consensus proposals to handle an issue such as blocksize scaling, which seems to have become much more intractable than many people might have expected. I mean, the protocol solved the hard stuff: the elliptical-curve stuff and the Byzantine General stuff. How the heck can we be falling down on the comparatively "easier" stuff - like scaling the blocksize? It just seems like defeatism to say "Well, the blockchain is already 20-30 GB and it's gonna be 20-30 TB ten years from now - and we need 10 Mbs bandwidth now and 10,000 Mbs bandwidth 20 years from - assuming the evil Verizon and AT&T actually give us that - so let's just become a settlement platform and give up on buying coffee or banking the unbanked or doing micropayments, and let's push all that stuff into some corporate-controlled vaporware without even a whitepaper yet." So you've got Peter Todd doing some possibly brilliant theorizing and extrapolating on the idea of "treechains" - there is a Let's Talk Bitcoin podcast from about a year ago where he sketches the rough outlines of this idea out in a very inspiring, high-level way - although the specifics have yet to be hammered out. And we've got Blockstream also doing some hopeful hand-waving about the Lightning Network. Things like Peter Todd's treechains - which may be similar to the spark in some devs' eyes called Lightning Network - are examples of the kind of algorithm or architecture which might manage to harness the massive computing power of miners and nodes in such a way that certain kinds of massive and graceful scaling become possible. It just seems like a kindof tiny dev community working on this stuff. Being a C or Python or Java programmer should not be a pre-req to being able to help contribute to the specification (and formal reasoning and program verification) for Bitcoin and the blockchain. XML and UML are crap modeling and specification languages, and C and Java and Python are even worse (as specification languages - although as implementation languages, they are of course fine). But there are serious modeling and specification languages out there, and they could be very helpful at times like this - where what we're dealing with is questions of modeling and specification (ie, "needs and requirements"). One just doesn't often see the practical, hands-on world of open-source github implementation-level programmers and the academic, theoretical world of specification-level programmers meeting very often. I wish there were some way to get these two worlds to collaborate on Bitcoin. Maybe a good first step to reach out to the theoretical people would be to provide a modular executable algebraic specification of the Bitcoin protocol in a recognized, military/NASA-grade specification language such as Maude - because that's something the theoretical community can actually wrap their heads around, whereas it's very hard to get them to pay attention to something written only as a C / Python / Java implementation (without an accompanying specification in a formal language). They can't check whether the program does what it's supposed to do - if you don't provide a formal mathematical definition of what the program is supposed to do. Specification : Implementation :: Theorem : Proof You have to remember: the theoretical community is very aware of the Curry-Howard isomorphism. Just like it would be hard to get a mathematician's attention by merely showing them a proof without telling also telling them what theorem the proof is proving - by the same token, it's hard to get the attention of a theoretical computer scientist by merely showing them an implementation without showing them the specification that it implements. Bitcoin is currently confronted with a mathematical or "computer science" problem: how to secure the network while getting high enough transactional throughput, while staying within the limited RAM, bandwidth and hard drive space limitations of current and future infrastructure. The problem only becomes a political and economic problem if we give up on trying to solve it as a mathematical and "theoretical computer science" problem. There should be a plethora of whitepapers out now proposing algorithmic solutions to these scaling issues. Remember, all we have to do is apply the Byzantine General consensus-reaching procedure to a worldwide database which shuffles 2.1 quadrillion tokens among a few billion addresses. The 21 company has emphatically pointed out that racing to compute a hash to add a block is an "embarrassingly parallel" problem - very easy to decompose among cheap, fault-prone, commodity boxes, and recompose into an overall solution - along the lines of Google's highly successful MapReduce. I guess what I'm really saying is (and I don't mean to be rude here), is that C and Python and Java programmers might not be the best qualified people to develop and formally prove the correctness of (note I do not say: "test", I say "formally prove the correctness of") these kinds of algorithms. I really believe in the importance of getting the algorithms and architectures right - look at Google Search itself, it uses some pretty brilliant algorithms and architectures (eg, MapReduce, Paxos) which enable it to achieve amazing performance - on pretty crappy commodity hardware. And look at BitTorrent, which is truly p2p, where more demand leads to more supply. So, in this vein, I will close this lengthy rant with an oddly specific link - which may or may not be able to make some interesting contributions to finding suitable algorithms, architectures and data structures which might help Bitcoin scale massively. I have no idea if this link could be helpful - but given the near-total lack of people from the Haskell and ML and functional worlds in these Bitcoin specification debates, I thought I'd be remiss if I didn't throw this out - just in case there might be something here which could help us channel the massive computing power of the Bitcoin network in such a way as to enable us simply sidestep this kind of desperate debate where both sides seem right because the other side seems wrong. https://personal.cis.strath.ac.uk/neil.ghani/papers/ghani-calco07 The above paper is about "higher dimensional trees". It uses a bit of category theory (not a whole lot) and a bit of Haskell (again not a lot - just a simple data structure called a Rose tree, which has a wikipedia page) to develop a very expressive and efficient data structure which generalizes from lists to trees to higher dimensions. I have no idea if this kind of data structure could be applicable to the current scaling mess we apparently are getting bogged down in - I don't have the game-theory skills to figure it out. I just thought that since the blockchain is like a list, and since there are some tree-like structures which have been grafted on for efficiency (eg Merkle trees) and since many of the futuristic scaling proposals seem to also involve generalizing from list-like structures (eg, the blockchain) to tree-like structures (eg, side-chains and tree-chains)... well, who knows, there might be some nugget of algorithmic or architectural or data-structure inspiration there. So... TL;DR: (1) I'm freaked out that this blocksize debate has splintered the community so badly and dragged on so long, with no resolution in sight, and both sides seeming so right (because the other side seems so wrong). (2) I think Bitcoin could gain immensely by using high-level formal, algebraic and co-algebraic program specification and verification languages (such as Maude including Maude-NPA, Mobile Maude parameterized skeletons, etc.) to specify (and possibly also, to some degree, verify) what Bitcoin does - before translating to low-level implementation languages such as C and Python and Java saying how Bitcoin does it. This would help to communicate and reason about programs with much more mathematical certitude - and possibly obviate the need for many political and economic tradeoffs which currently seem dismally inevitable - and possibly widen the collaboration on this project. (3) I wonder if there are some Big Data approaches out there (eg, along the lines of Google's MapReduce and BigTable, or Yale's CalvinDB), which could be implemented to allow Bitcoin to scale massively and painlessly - and to satisfy all stakeholders, ranging from millionaires to micropayments, coffee drinkers to the great "unbanked".
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