CryptoMurmur interview with Mike Dudas (The Block)

Get to know the people pioneering the crypto, blockchain and DLT space like never before

* Today we are talking with Mike Dudas who is the founder and CEO of The Block.

* The Block is a leading media and information brand in the blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystem, and has received critical acclaim for its unique blend of deep dive journalism and research.

Growing up


We’d like to kick things off by asking you a couple of questions regarding your formative years.


1) Firstly, can you tell us the things which interested you the most throughout your childhood and teenage years, and what brought you the most happiness? 

Growing up I lived in a small town in Connecticut with 15,000 people, but was fortunate enough to live only two hours from New York. 

We lived in a neighbourhood where we really knew everyone, and there were around six to eight families who we were really close with. The lovely thing is I still have friends from back then who I’m really close with, and from time to time they come into the city and we enjoy going to Yankees games together.  

I was also fortunate enough to go to private school, which meant that from seventh to twelfth grade, I got to leave my immediate town and go to the city for high school. As a result, I got to meet people from all over which was very eye opening, especially coming from a sheltered and not super diverse town. It was also a prep school environment with very high achievers, and a lot of them had tremendous ambition, so it was really inspiring to be around these people. 

I was also super fortunate that my dad was an entrepreneur who ran a family business when I was growing up, and it was wonderful to watch my uncle and my father build a business. It was the fruits of my dad’s hard work which allowed me to do things like travel the world, and this in turn exposed me to sports like soccer which I really loved playing, and still love watching today. So growing up, I was really into education, sports and meeting tons of people. 

Lastly, I’ve always had a weird obsession with maps. As mentioned earlier, I got to travel a lot when I was younger, and one of my biggest memories from my childhood was my parents buying me maps and taking us on road trips. It’s hilarious looking back because I haven’t had a car in twelve years since I moved to Manhattan, but as I get to this age and now have kids, I think I’m gonna buy a car pretty soon (or at least lease one), and I can’t wait to start road trips again.

2) Who were your biggest influences growing up, and why did they have such a profound effect on you?

In terms of negative influences, the Catholic Church. Growing up I was an alter boy, and I remember never being able to understand all these fables, nor did I agree with the ones that I did. So this really confused me. 

In terms of positive influences, it was people with a huge amount of ambition. So if you go to books it was the Hardy boys, and as I got older I was really inspired by Bill Clinton. I’m a Democrat, which I know isn’t very popular to say these days, but I just remember Bill Clinton being so polished, well spoken and very presidential right when I was coming of age. 

Fun fact - I went to college with Chelsea Clinton, and the secret service were living in my freshman dorm.

3) Teenage years are often a turbulent time for many, so on this note, can you name a time which was tough for you, and how you managed to overcome it?

When I was very young (ninth grade I think) I wrote an essay about reverse racism which I published in the student newspaper, and it was very insensitive, especially  coming from a white kid growing up in a non-diverse environment and not really knowing anything about the world. Furthermore, I hadn’t really talked to my very diverse classmates before writing it, so this actually led to something really positive at a town hall meeting where we discussed this word. So using a really charged word at a young age really taught me a lot about using a word that I didn’t really understand, and also about thinking outside of my own head in terms of how I talk to others.  

4) If there was some advice you could give young aspiring individuals, advice which you would really have liked to have heard yourself as a young person, what would it be?

Don’t waste too much time on a formal prescripted education, or a formal prescripted path. What I mean by that is don’t be boxed in by ‘I have to pay two hundred thousand dollars for college’. In my case it was the right thing  as I went to a good undergrad, but I also wasted 120 thousand dollars in two years going to the Kellog business school. That’s one thing. 

It’s also important to pursue the things you love. 

For example, I love soccer, so I’m learning the teamwork aspect whilst also reaching some awesome highs through it. So my advice is to seek these amazing highs and learning experiences without harming others, and then to fight against people (I don’t mean fight physically) that would stop you from doing the things you love; so long as they’re not harmful things like drugs or something like that. 

Looking at society today, I think we are moving towards an individual era where it’s the wrong time to be a drone following people into big companies like Goldman Sachs or Capital One, and the world is starting to fight against this traditional narrative. People who are still following this traditional narrative are struggling to differentiate themselves and be successful, so my final piece of advice is just be you, and let others know the extent to which you are confident with who you are.

Profile


We are now going to ask you some questions which will hopefully give our readers something to go on regarding you as a person. 


5) Firstly, what are the particular strengths that you feel have made you successful in your field (don’t hold back)?

One is I work tirelessly. Working hard is often looked upon as something that you don’t have to do in order to be successful, which is hogwash. Everyone who is in a successful position and says it was easy, is lying. 

Two is that I respond to inputs from others. If you follow my Twitter persona, it seems like I'm either battling or not doing things which are too productive, however most of it has a strategy behind it if you understand the underlying motivation behind it. 

Three is I always try to be a good person, and I don’t screw people over. I also don’t always try to win every negotiation. People give me s**t sometimes, but when I enter into a new negotiation with somebody (or with an entity), I’m always like what’s the total we could get ‘together’ versus what’s the total I could make from this person.

I’d also add that to be successful, you also need to have a well rounded life. For me, I couldn’t find happiness until I had a family, good friends and lived in a place of my own. Having a happy family and a happy living space really allows me to put on the blinders and shut things out, so when I leave Twitter or the office, I can pretty much shut if all off.

6) What would you say is your most controversial opinion as regards to blockchain or the crypto space?

That the extreme dogma around what Bitcoin is and how it should be perceived by the most extreme Bitcoin maximalists, is actually a significant inhibitor to the growth of Bitcoin, and the growth of money and technology. 

Additionally, people who have spent years and hours learning about Bitcoin need to listen to fresh perspectives. This isn’t a priesthood where you can read the same scripture over and over again and somehow have the ultimate truth. This is technology, and as technology moves and the events around us move, a fresh perspective is needed.

7) In the course of your day you can become under the most ridiculous pressures and stresses, what is your particular way of dealing with this?

It’s getting away and finding space. So as we speak, I’m watching a Liverpool game in a bar.

Two is doing things that are joyful - whether its exercise or spending time with my kids and my wife. I work hard, but I also ensure that almost every day I find time to have quality time. 

I also don’t commute! Commuting is one of the things that was really too stressful for me in the past, so nowadays I only have to walk ten minutes as I live in Tribeca and also work in Tribeca. If more people did that they would be more productive, inspired, and more successful.

8) Outside of crypto/blockchain, what is your favorite thing to do?

These days I spend time with my kids, my wife and my parents, and I'm really enjoying doing things that I did when I was younger, and doing things in the city as opposed to the country.

In terms of leisure, I really love sports!

Creative/humour


We are now going to ask you some creative and humorous questions, and we are sure people will love to see you what you can come up with.


9) What is the most humorous thing you have seen or experienced during your time in the crypto/blockchain space?

The true answer would be something that’s too personal, but I would say the funniest recent one is the whole ‘I have a kidney stone so the Chinese government won’t allow me to travel back to America, and I apologise that I ever thought I could have lunch with Warren Buffet’. This was the funniest recent one, but there are loads of other good ones. Over beers we’ll have to talk about it sometime!

10) If you somehow managed to meet Satoshi Nakamoto (that is he is a male person in this scenario) on his deathbed, but only had time to ask him one question, what would it be? Bear in mind you don’t have much time at all, so make it a good one.

Are you disappointed that we haven’t achieved the vision that I was really excited about and what attracted me to Bitcoin in 2012, which is basically zero friction and low cost, global censorship resistant peer-to-peer payments? That’s what I would ask him. 

I believe we will get there by the way, but I do think that’s what the creator of this currency would have wanted, which is why these maximalists drive me nuts, because they’re obsessively preaching how store of value is what it was originally intended for; and by the way I would agree that store of value is what it is becoming. But I do think that whoever created it, whether it was one person or many, did believe that it would be easier to create peer to peer payments.

11) Can you give three policies you'd enact if you became the president of a country tomorrow?

So one is affordable healthcare for all. Two is that transportation and city infrastructure is a priority, and three is that city and services infrastructure will be valued at the highest rate of any country in the entire world. So in other words, give more to teachers, police and firemen, and folks that we completely under-value in the United States.

Community


Communities are often an important backbone for many crypto/blockchain projects, so we’d now like to get some personal thoughts on the community side of things.


12) Project aside, what are some other crypto/blockchain communities that you admire and why (this is not an endorsement)?

I do admire the broader Bitcoin community of course, because despite some of the things I have said about maximalists, it’s so broad a community that I think the vast majority of people in the Bitcoin community aren’t even aware of them, they’re just heads down building; whether it’s a network, scaling services or privacy related things. There’s just a million things that people are building. 

I also have a deep respect for the Ethereum community as they’re very developer oriented. However, I do think that they really struggle with the money aspect, and I think it would probably be better if they bring some more finance folks into their community. But I really respect what they’re trying to do by recognising the technology challenges that is in front of them, going from 1.0 to 1.5 to 2.0, and doing it in an adversarial way. They've definitely gotten better at fighting on important stuff.

Now when it comes to locations, I respect the New York crypto folks more than the SF crypto folks (or any others) as I think they’re just realistic, pragmatic, and diverse in terms of background. You get a mix of Wall Street, engineering, and global people who come from Europe. Geographically, the New York crypto scene is the one I like the most, but there are also some others that I’ve started to learn about and enjoy - the Japanese and Tokyo scene, the Seol and South Korean scene, and the Taiwan scene just to name a few. But right now, it’s just the Bitcoin, Ethereum and New York crew.

13) What social-media platform do you like most and why, and are there any improvements which you feel can be made to these platforms for an even better community user-experience?

The first external one is Twitter, and it basically helped me to build my business as I was able to share my thoughts whilst learning what’s going on early on. It also helped me to find like-minded people and people I disagree with, so when I started the business, it allowed me to share what I was doing and find investors. Once the company was up and running, it also helped with recruiting, and now that we have a team to help us, it’s also a pretty big source of traffic, referrals and customers. 

Number two is Slack as it really helps us to stay relatively connected internally, and has multiple conversations going on across our different channels.

So Twitter and Slack are two of the most important ones for us.

Then I obviously use LinkedIn for sales and marketing, and reaching out to new prospective partners, whilst also connecting with people who want to join the team and apply. 

Out of all three, Twitter is the one that has basically become (and you hear this constantly) a very extreme platform, and as a result, the silent majority and many rational people aren’t really engaging anymore on Twitter. So it’s a real problem. 

In terms of Slack, it’s a little bit of information overload, so it needs a little bit more fine tuning so it's not a constant distraction, and also so it reminds people that it’s not an inbox. 

LinkedIn is kind of a dumpster fire these days. I think there’s a generational divide these days, and I work with folks primarily under the age of twenty seven, and they don’t use it nearly as much as I do, and I’m a forty year old.

14) With the endgame being mainstream adoption, do you think crypto/blockchain communities will still have an important role to play in a post-adoption environment?

Yeah I think so.

There's no question that the more adoption there is for pure cryptocurrency (I’d even go so far as to include things which are more digital forms of existing currency), the more you start getting away from non-state money as more people start to use it, and this has caused governments like the U.S to become really interested in regulating, and also the Chinese as we’ve seen just recently.

So for distributed forms of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum and Monero, the communities are going to be really important in maintaining and rallying the troops. It’s almost like any protest, and as you can see in Hong Kong, you have hundreds of organisers who can rally millions onto the streets, and as the attack on cryptocurrency increases and you move from people who just want to steal money to more serious state actors (obviously this does not include state actors like North Korea and other state actors who have been pilfering cryptocurrency, and literally trying to wage attacks on the networks themselves), that’s when you’re going to need that strong technical core community to rally.  

Project


In our penultimate section we are going to ask you a question regarding The Block.


15) What do you feel sets The Block apart from your competitors (that is if you have any)?

I like to say that our competitor is somebody who is interested in cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, and even generally Fintech companies that are starting to dabble in digital assets. So our competition is anywhere else where people get information, and that goes all the way from mainstream media to dedicated industry specific media. So that can go from the New York Times, Bloomberg or the Wall Street Journal, to Coindesk, Cointelegraph or Decrypt, and even medium publications and individual blogs/free sites, and things of that nature. The competition is really just  retention of the user, and becoming a trusted source of all kinds of information that they need, from news to deep research. 

Where we differentiate is that we provide both news and research. We have as many researchers as we have journalists (actually more), so I would argue we dig quite a bit deeper, and we release almost 2 to 3 research pieces per day which is almost unheard of. They’re not your equity style ‘here’s a price prediction’, but we are looking really deep into protocols, projects, people, markets, and doing a much deeper dive where you have economists, technologists and really deep subject matter experts who are participating in these communities; like Matteo Leibowitz in Ethereum, Larry Cermak across the entire ecosystem, Stephen Zheng in Bitcoin, and Ryan Todd in financial market structure, and Matthew Yamamoto on public companies which are dabbling. These guys go really deep in a way a journalist can't, and journalists would quote our folks as sources, and they actually do. So our journalism and research team actually work arm in arm, and that's what differentiates us. 

We also have a really strong voice publicly, which is unusual for media information companies, and I think it's keeping in spirit with the ecosystem. But we also have to be careful that we are not too antagonistic, and we are informative and don't become seemingly biased, and keep that objectivity and let facts and objective analysis drive the day. But we have an advantage in terms of our folks being natives in what they are writing, so it's all about keeping that advantage and really effectively spreading that message. If we do that, I think we are going to be in a really great position in five to ten years. 

Crypto/blockchain pitch


Well that just about does it, but before we end this interview we’d like to ask you for something which we believe will say a lot about your belief in the industry, and which may inspire those who are reading.


16) Can you come up with a short argument for our readers on why you feel cryptocurrency and blockchain (or just one) has a bright future?

I think that both have a bright future.

Let me put it this way.

We’re entering an era where we are going to be fighting technological warfare, and it’s going to be a lot different, and obviously technology has always been important in warfare, but now technology applied to money is absolutely going to become a form of warfare; and you’re already seeing it. The New York Times wrote an article about terrorists using Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to solicit donations, and sanctioned countries like Iran and Venezuela have also done similar things. These are still very small and on the fringe today (although there were rumours that North Korea acquired two billion dollars in hacks, a small percentage of which was from cryptocurrency), but I think we will see the cryptocurrency elements grow.

We are most certainly moving towards a world where most of the world population lives under communist or authoritarian regimes, and money becomes something that isn’t necessarily going to be separated from the state. So having alternatives to save money becomes really critical to people, particularly in some of these authoritarian regimes that begin to become unstable. So I think cryptocurrency will unquestionably become important, and I think Bitcoin will absolutely become important, but I don’t know what else will be (if it exists today or not), but there will definitely be digital money. Blockchain technology won’t have the same societal implications, but blockchain technology - to the extent that it enables digital money without a trusted or central intermediary - is critical. 

Moving beyond that to these more generalised forms blockchain technology, or what people refer to as enterprise or permissioned blockchains, is a glorified form of the database where you can get permissioned access to more than one entity at a time, and there’s a certain subset of processes where this makes sense (where you are trading off speed and other performance vectors so that you can share a global distributed state of information). So there’s going to be incremental improvements in this regard. It’s also interesting to note that psychologically, there's kinda this rebranding of basic technology that has the potential to get archaic systems (I'm just talking really broadly) like the medical healthcare industry in the U.S digitised. So if this sexy new word can get some of these companies to work together to put people’s information on the blockchain where they can’t control it, I think that could be very powerful. I’m not sure when this is going to popularise, and I think this will take time (I am less certain of the societal impact), but I do think there will be some interesting use-cases. You can see it already with some big companies piloting stuff, and although they are starting with basic use-cases such as money transmission and some gaming things, I do think we’ll see more and more blockchain pilots.


Keep up to date with Mike and The Block on:

Twitter (Mike)

Twitter (The Block)


Also a big thank you to our patrons for their belief and support in the project:

Bloktide - A UK based crypto and blockchain enterprise solutions advisory.

CryptoMurmur interview with Patrick McCorry (PISA Research))

Get to know the people pioneering the crypto, blockchain and DLT space like never before

*Today we are talking with Patrick McCorry who is the co-founder and CEO of PISA Research.

*PISA Research is contributing to the success of off-chain protocols by building an accountable third party watching service for both Ethereum and Bitcoin, whilst also advising other similar projects in terms of protocol design. Alongside this, PISA Research also spends time on building a global technical community, and frequently hosts large-scale developer workshops and events.

Growing up


We’d like to kick things off by asking you a couple of questions regarding your formative years.


1) Firstly, can you tell us the things which interested you the most throughout your childhood and teenage years, and what brought you the most happiness? 

The internet! 

I spent a significant portion of my teenage years skipping school to volunteer habbo hotel’s police department (‘HPD’) as a “security expert” with a habbo wife, playing runescape & svencoop, making awful adobe flash videos and working as a graphic designer for extrememobwars.com. 

It was great. I explored my interests via several online communities, something I couldn’t find around me. It wasn’t until I went to university that I really found others who had similar interests to myself.

2) Who were your biggest influences growing up, and why did they have such a profound effect on you?

Probably my mum. 

For a long time I didn’t take school seriously and I frequently just skipped class in favour for doing something on the internet. This was reflected in my grades as I averaged 544 on Key Stage 3 exams which is pretty much a fail / below average. 

But I remember one night, my wee mummy told me, in quite a miserable manner, that I should do everything I can to go to university. It was really my only option if I wanted to avoid the deprivation spiral that exists in west belfast. 

This might sound strange to most middle-class readers, but IIRC at my college around 7 out of 120 students took up a university offer when we graduated. For the most part, students just attended college to receive a weekly £30 EMA payment. 

3) Teenage years are often a turbulent time for many, so on this note, can you name a time which was tough for you, and how you managed to overcome it?

I grew up in West Belfast, the second most deprived area in Northern Ireland with around 55% of kids living in relative poverty (and low-income families). 

In fact, I grew up in the “lower falls road” that is a hot-spot for car jacking and burning (in the video, at 13:00, when the police car rams the stolen car, and then another stolen car rams the police car, that is very close to my old house). On top of that, my mother is an Irish muslim working in social care. As a result, she frequently had glass bottles thrown at her and other severe incidents. 

The only way to overcome that adversarial environment is simply to find an escape which I did with university, programming and Bitcoin. 

There were other tough moments (e.g.Crohn’s disease), but my life isn’t a sad story and I don’t tend to talk about it. I’m blessed with a quirky & great family with a wonderful interwebs community around me. It has only ever been “life go up” for a long time.

4) If there was some advice you could give young aspiring individuals, advice which you would really have liked to have heard yourself as a young person, what would it be?

Like I told students, young aspiring individuals need to learn how to critically think and evaluate the world around them. They should not conform to expected social standards and instead break-free to pursue their interests. The only way to innovate is to challenge the status quo. On top of this for the system builders, design systems that align incentives and nudge participants into the direction they care about. For me, my personal (and later financial) interests were aligned to build tangible technical skills that let me escape. For others, it will comes down to their circumstances. 

Profile


We are now going to ask you some questions which will hopefully give our readers something to go on regarding you as a person. 


5) Firstly, what are the particular strengths that you feel have made you successful in your field (don’t hold back)?

Determination via self-doubt & risk taking via ignorance.

I’m not the brightest, smartest or even most articulate in a room. But due to a lack of self-confidence when I was growing up, I pushed myself to over-excel in whatever undertaking I did with the mindset that I was “playing catch up” with colleagues. 

A few examples include graduating 1st in my class at school (AAB) and university (something ridiculous like 90% overall whereas the 2nd highest grade was close to 80%). It is a very strange mentality to have, knowing that you have no other option to succeed and doubting your ability to achieve it due to an unfair playing field. 

On the other hand, I was ignorant to believe I never really had anything to lose, so I have always pursued my self-interest over immediate gain. Thanks to that attitude in 2013, I decided to pursue a PhD in Bitcoin over a graduate software engineering job. When everyone else thought Bitcoin was a weird internet money that shouldn’t be taken seriously, I loved it. Of course, the rest is history now. 

I guess in a way, with building up PISA Research and quitting a professorship, I’m just as ignorant (and risk-taking). Only history will tell me if it was a good bet.

6) What would you say is your most controversial opinion as regards to blockchain or the crypto space?

One opinion I hold is that decentralisation is a myth & overhyped.

What makes Bitcoin great is self-enforcing financial accountability (‘miners lose money if they produce invalid blocks’), its weak identity nature (‘anyone can mine via PoW or transact’) and self-custody (‘I can independently verify ownership of an asset and only I can spend it’). 

7) In the course of your day you can become under the most ridiculous pressures and stresses, what is your particular way of dealing with this?

I dunno. I really need to find a good method.

8) Outside of crypto/blockchain, what is your favorite thing to do?

I’m pretty boring. I like to eat out or play openra/ages of empires with my girlfriend. 

Creative/humour


We are now going to ask you some creative and humorous questions, and we are sure people will love to see you what you can come up with.


9) What is the most humorous thing you have seen or experienced during your time in the crypto/blockchain space?

Blockchains.com at devcon4. It was peak crypto-crazy for me. Girl hologram on stage of talking about a new blockchain city. lolwtf.

10) If you somehow managed to meet Satoshi Nakamoto (that is he is a male person in this scenario) on his deathbed, but only had time to ask him one question, what would it be? Bear in mind you don’t have much time at all, so make it a good one.

Why did he not finish the casino game in bitcoin core?

11) Can you give three policies you'd enact if you became the president of a country tomorrow?

- No more stupid tax laws around crypto-assets or stupid laws around open-source (FCA in the UK wants to force AML/KCL for open-source software, wtf).

- Legalise privacy-preserving cryptocurrencies for business use. i.e. just like communication privacy in the 90s, it is essential for global e-commerce use. 

- United Ireland.

Community


Communities are often an important backbone for many crypto/blockchain projects, so we’d now like to get some personal thoughts on the community side of things.


12) Project aside, what are some other crypto/blockchain communities that you admire and why (this is not an endorsement)?

I help out with workonblockchain.com with monthly developer training bootcamps. They are free and help onboard new developers to the space. 

I also admire both the bitcoin and ethereum community. The former as I was lucky to learn how all of this works thanks to many great bitcoiners in #bitcoin-wizards back in 2013 and the latter for ambitiously (sometimes a bit too reckless) building a playground for a host of new ideas/innovations. 

13) What social-media platform do you like most and why, and are there any improvements which you feel can be made to these platforms for an even better community user-experience?

Twitter. I never really liked reddit or bitcointalkforum. I’d like a method to mute words in pictures, so I can make sure IOTA or BSV never shows up in my newsfeed.

14) With the endgame being mainstream adoption, do you think crypto/blockchain communities will still have an important role to play in a post-adoption environment?

I believe we are slowly, but surely, re-inventing a global permissionless open-source financial system. 

A system that prioritises self-custody of assets and constraining the power of central authorities. At its center is the user, who has absolute and self-enforcing power to verify all actions performed by the central authority. If that authority cheats or violates the protocol, for whatever reason, then the user can swiftly hold them financially accountable for their actions. 

The system is slowly evolving, empowerment of the individual, as we enter a new world of global uncertainties. 

Project


In our penultimate section we are going to ask you a question regarding PISA Research.


15) What do you feel makes PISA Research unique and valuable for the space?

We are spearheading the vision of financially accountable and cryptographically-constrained third party service providers.

If we deviate from the service level agreement (and more generally, the agreed protocol), then the user can hold us financially accountable to our actions. That is the very soul that makes cryptocurrencies great and we hope to empower the individual with the services offered by our startup. 

To begin with, we are going to offer taking care of the entire transaction-stack (relaying transactions, bumping fees, handling re-orgs) for the dapp developer in a financially accountable manner (refund if quality of service fails). 

But at the same time, we are world-leading experts in off-chain protocols. Some upcoming projects we would like to pursue involve building out the off-chain stack to make it as easy as installing a wordpress plugin to run a plasma-like instance. 

Crypto/blockchain pitch


Well that just about does it, but before we end this interview we’d like to ask you for something which we believe will say a lot about your belief in the industry, and which may inspire those who are reading.


16) Can you come up with a short argument for our readers on why you feel cryptocurrency and blockchain (or just one) has a bright future?

Number go up. lol sorry that is a joke. 

Cryptocurrencies is re-inventing the financial system via a grassroots movement. Bitcoin has been around for 10 years and Ethereum for 5 years. It is still early days, but the fundamentals have been proven to work. With the raft of builders/developers/researchers/startups/etc pushing forward the field, it is just stupid to bet against it. 


Keep up to date with Patrick and PISA Research on:

Twitter (Patrick)

Twitter (PISA Research)

Medium

Github


Also a big thank you to our patrons for their belief and support in the project:

Bloktide - A UK based crypto and blockchain enterprise solutions advisory.

CryptoMurmur interview with Nicholas Merten (DataDash)

Get to know the people pioneering the crypto, blockchain and DLT space like never before

* Today we are talking with Nicholas Merten who is the founder of DataDash, and a well known international speaker, thought-leader and crypto analyst.

* DataDash is the largest cryptocurrency YouTube channel with over 317,000 subscribers, and is known for analyses of cryptocurrencies, data analytics and global trends within traditional markets.

Growing up


We’d like to kick things off by asking you a couple of questions regarding your formative years.


1) Firstly, can you tell us the things which interested you the most throughout your childhood and teenage years, and what brought you the most happiness? 

When I was in my teenage years I actually didn’t have much of a passion, I was never particularly driven by anything, but I was very happy. And then when I was about thirteen, I started getting interested in politics, economics, finance, business- the whole plethora of understanding how the world works, and that was what led me down the rabbit hole of really finding a passion in finance and cryptocurrencies. 

When I first started to study these things, I was a big fan of Ron Paul and was a Libertarian in my thoughts, and although I’ve changed a little bit in thought over time, I still have a lot of those Libertarian principles. The other thing was that I got really passionate about finance, and what you find is that the people who do find an interest in politics as well as crypto, tend to find a lot of the issues stemming from 2008 and understand how central banks continue to make the same mistakes time and time again. And for a long time it felt like there was no solution to it, but when I started to learn about Bitcoin it started to come together.

2) Who were your biggest influences growing up, and why did they have such a profound effect on you?

The first one that was my biggest influence was Ron Paul who led me down the rabbit hole of my fascination with finance, economics and politics. Outside of that I would say my second biggest influence is a journalist called John Pilger, a really clever guy who has covered a lot of interesting topics. 

There’s a documentary he made called ‘War by Other Means’ and it talked about how the IMF and the institutional banking sectors and the private lenders of the world basically indebted developing countries and stripped them of decent regulations and their commodities and took control of developing countries across the world. It was very sad but also very fascinating to me as I had never learned about this at school. I think that journalists who cover these very important topics that don’t get coverage are usually of high quality, and I really admire those people.

I really didn’t intend to create a cryptocurrency channel, at the time I was creating a Youtube channel for SQL (a coding framework to manage databases)  and data analytics. From that I decided to do two videos on cryptocurrency markets which was a passion of mine and that time, not thinking that anyone would watch it,  and lo and behold on the second video I put out we got like a hundred views on the first day on a channel that had no subscribers. So i knew, after using YouTube for eleven years that I had something. 

I kept doing two videos every day, and this was during the bull market, so I think it was the result of the timing and the frequency of content that we were doing, and the way we covered it, that we were able to grow the largest channel in the crypto space. I did pretty much everything myself throughout that period of time, filming, editing, research, so it was cool to be a one man show.

3) Teenage years are often a turbulent time for many, so on this note, can you name a time which was tough for you, and how you managed to overcome it?

When I was studying how the financial sector works, I didn’t really find any resolution or solution to curing those issues in the financial sector, and it was a tad bit depressing at the time. I don’t think a lot of people want to learn about how the world works, because it’s usually very negative. But as much as it was a difficult time for me, I wanted to stay optimistic and find solutions, and when I discovered the cryptocurrency space and I finally started to understand it, I was optimistic for the first time and I found something that didn’t require third parties, or the traditional archaic system of the financial sector. I kept searching for a solution and I was able to find it. That’s probably the darkest time of my teenage years, as I have always been a very optimistic person for the most part.

4) If there was some advice you could give young aspiring individuals, advice which you would really have liked to have heard yourself as a young person, what would it be?

Do things even though people may not be watching. That was what really led me to being successful with my channel. Looking back I never would have thought that people would want to listen to me talk about anything. During my time in high school I was always willing to teach people how to invest in stocks, about politics, and I would usually find people falling asleep after five minutes or getting distracted. It turned out that with the channel something that I never thought people would want to listen to became my full time job. Growing one of the larger channels is very rewarding, something that I never thought people would want to listen to is actually something that people listen to all around the world. 

Profile


We are now going to ask you some questions which will hopefully give our readers something to go on regarding you as a person. 


5) Firstly, what are the particular strengths that you feel have made you successful in your field (don’t hold back)?

I’m very reflective, I don’t jump to conclusions, and I always try to get a big picture view or macro view. The biggest issue is that people view the cryptoworld in a bubble, and only focus on what goes on in the cryptocurrency space and expect the world to take cryptocurrencies on and embrace them and understand them. 

But the fact of the matter is that it is important to understand how cryptocurrencies play a role in the overall world economy. The issue is that cryptocurrencies aren’t going to become value just because you can send decentralised transactions. It’s going to become valuable because at a time in the future we’re going to get to the point where the ability and utility that Bitcoin offers, censorship resistant finance, to be able to access financial services on your mobile phone, those are the kind of things of value that cryptocurrencies offer. 

6) What would you say is your most controversial opinion as regards to blockchain or the crypto space?

I think this is one that a lot of people would disagree with me on, but I think the general public does not need to understand the technology. A lot of people spend a lot of time trying to explain how Bitcoin reaches consensus, or why you don’t need to trust Bitcoin, but at the same time I would never try to explain to someone how a message is sent over Facebook. People just want to know - does a message send and is it only going to be received by this party? And if it does that, then people will use it. 

We don’t need to excessively educate the understanding of the technology in order to get mass adoption, we need to make it extremely user friendly and offer more benefits than simply censorship resistance. Being able to offer better interest rates on your money,  the ability to access cryptocurrencies and investments like it for, pretty much free, and not having to pay fees or commissions, and also being able to send money across the world, from dollars as well as crypto for a matter of a penny or less. Those are kind of the benefits that will get people using crypto.

7) In the course of your day you can become under the most ridiculous pressures and stresses, what is your particular way of dealing with this?

If I ever feel burnt out I will sit back and meditate for a matter of ten minutes, and even if I don’t have time, that ten minutes is extremely well spent. Even some of the biggest moguls like Ray Dalio will meditate at some point during the day, so I think meditation is extremely important. How you go about doing it, and how much time you put in to it really depends on how stressed out you are. I usually go for about ten, fifteen minutes if I ever feel stressed out.

8) Outside of crypto/blockchain, what is your favorite thing to do?

I’d say two things, I lift, that’s one thing I've been doing with my friends for the last six, seven years. Sitting at a computer all day, it's good to get active and lift weights, so I do powerlifting with one of my close friends. Outside of that as well, I am really passionate about understanding how the world works, so I do a ton of research.

Creative/humour


We are now going to ask you some creative and humorous questions, and we are sure people will love to see you what you can come up with.


9) What is the most humorous thing you have seen or experienced during your time in the crypto/blockchain space?

That people believe that the government created cryptocurrencies. The thing that people will use to cite, is old documents from the NSA and the CIA that talk about using encryption, but there’s a difference between cryptocurrency and encryption, encryption is what can be used to mask information. It doesn’t mean the government created cryptocurrencies.  I’m pretty sure the central banks of the world and the governments of the world would not want to create censorship resistant currency that allows you to circumvent the banks and send money peer to peer.

10) If you somehow managed to meet Satoshi Nakamoto (that is he is a male person in this scenario) on his deathbed, but only had time to ask him one question, what would it be? Bear in mind you don’t have much time at all, so make it a good one.

I would ask him being the founder of the cryptocurrency movement, what do you believe is the next step for the cryptocurrency movement, not only his take for the current existing space, but where he sees it needing to evolve over the coming years. Because as much as people say Satoshi’s vision has gone off from what we are focusing on now, Bitcoin is focused on store of value, I’m very curious about where he would see it going and what improvements we would need to have.

11) Can you give three policies you'd enact if you became the president of a country tomorrow?

The first one I would do is to stop excessive military intervention. Ever since I went down the “libertarian rabbit-hole”, I realized that the loss of human life and monetary costs weren’t worth being in the Middle East, and I don’t see it as a geopolitical threat. Rather, I see much larger risks here at home that need to be addressed. I don’t see the amount of American lives we’ve lost overseas as worthy of being in that region, not to mention the trillions of dollars we’ve spent as well. 

The second one I would do is I would eliminate the ability of companies to repurchase their own stocks, known as stock buybacks, it doesn’t seem like something that many people would think matters. But the ability for companies to buy back their own shares has been one of the biggest disincentives to invest in the real world economy. 

Before president Reagan turned the policy over in the 1980’s, companies could not invest in buying up their own shares once sold it on the market, so, what they were incentivised to do when they had cash was to invest in increasing wages and hiring employees, all kinds of things that build the real world economy. That’s one of the reasons there’s been, as we saw in the 20’s and 30’s, a growing wealth divergence in the United States, not because of evil rich people, but because there has been a disincentive for them to invest in the real economy.

The third thing I would love to see is a massive restructuring of our energy systems and our grid in the United States, and I’ve actually been a big fan of nuclear energy.  I’m a big fan of renewables but I believe that in order to heavily reduce the CO2 emissions, and also to provide energy independence (which is a very big geopolitical and strategic concern), you can kill two birds with one stone by powering our nation with nuclear and renewables. With a reduction of spending overseas, and not to mention the growth in the economy, we could easily fund this restructure.

Community


Communities are often an important backbone for many crypto/blockchain projects, so we’d now like to get some personal thoughts on the community side of things.


12) Personal project aside, what are some ‘communities’ in the space that you admire and why (this is not an endorsement)?

One community I really like is the DeFi, or decentralised finance movement. It’s a collective of anywhere between two to three thousand people who are working on a set of projects and initiatives to democratise financial services. It’s very much rooted in the original movement of cryptocurrencies to broaden access to financial services and make sure that people with a smartphone, can actually get access to this great technology. They’re tackling markets such as lending and borrowing, insurance, exchanges, trading. I’m confident the movement will spread from a couple thousand people to tens, if not, hundreds of thousands of people over the next year or two.

13) Project aside, what are some other crypto/blockchain communities that you admire and why (this is not an endorsement)?

I like Twitter, but the thing about Twitter and what I think is its biggest set back is that the format forces you to summarise your point in a few characters. This really mitigates any serious conversations from happening. I like that Twitter has expanded the length of how many characters you can have per tweet, and you also produce feeds which is one of the coolest features. I’ve seen a lot of economists go on tangents, going through different slides and images and hitting on multiple points. It’s becoming a talking ground for discussing more serious issues.

14) With the endgame being mainstream adoption, do you think crypto/blockchain communities will still have an important role to play in a post-adoption environment?

I think honestly, not so much (and I think this speaks to a problem in the crypto space) because we are trying to reach out to the 1 to maybe 2 percent who are interested in this technology, but we are still not building something that the 98 percent of people who have never touched crypto, or have no serious interest in the core principles, are going to get involved with. So I think we need to build it to where we can get it to that mass adoption, and I think it speaks to the fact that we still haven't built cryptocurrencies to a point where they can be used by the masses just yet. 

Project


In our penultimate section we are going to ask you a question regarding DataDash.


15) What do you feel sets DataDash apart from your competitors (that is if you have any)?

A lot of people in crypto tend to have high estimates in terms of where Bitcoin is going, and of course Bitcoin’s mathematical principles help it get to that point, but if you don’t understand those mathematical principles, and you also don’t understand how the global economy from negative yielding seventeen trillion dollars to negative yielding bonds, to an over imploded stock market is going to fuel that, then it’s very difficult to understand how Bitcoin could go to a hundred thousand or it could go to a million dollars, so I think it’s very important to understand that, and that’s what we cover on the channel.

Crypto/blockchain pitch


Well that just about does it, but before we end this interview we’d like to ask you for something which we believe will say a lot about your belief in the industry, and which may inspire those who are reading.


16) Can you come up with a short argument for our readers on why you feel cryptocurrency and blockchain (or just one) has a bright future?

The last decade has been a clear example as to why cryptocurrency and the blockchain is going to shape the world. Any great technology needs a problem, and over the last decade we have not only seen great economies rot with issues, from a lack of true reflection of what happened in 2008, but along with that there are nearly two billion people who don’t have access to financial services, in the digital age, where more people have smartphones than toilets. That to me is more depressing and it also shows that there is something wrong with the system we have. 

So, we can’t wait for the regulators in finance in order to push through innovation. And what cryptocurrencies and blockchain offer is a permissionless ability for us to start really getting, not only cryptocurrencies, but  the general benefits of blockchain technology out there into the world to allow anyone to store their wealth in any way they like. Not only in bitcoin or ethereum, but also in Fiat currencies like the dollar and euro through the form of stable coins, for people to be able to earn a decent interest rate on their money, to be able to buy cryptocurrencies without the need of a centralised exchange or switch to foreign currencies without a centralised exchange, as well as send money to anyone and anywhere across the world. I think that when you can actually start to do those things, you can see a very clear value proposition for cryptocurrencies. 

The last thing I will say is that cryptocurrencies offer you the ability to hedge against central banks across the world. The sheer benefit that can mean for people in Argentina, Venezuela, and other countries where their governments have, time and time again, repeated that same mistakes and killed entire generations of wealth with the flick of a switch will be immeasurable. I think cryptocurrency is going to change people’s lives and that’s why I’m excited about it.


Keep up to date with Nicholas and DataDash on:

Twitter (Nicholas)

YouTube (DataDash)

Facebook (DataDash)

Website


Also a big thank you to our patrons for their belief and support in the project:

Bloktide - A UK based crypto and blockchain enterprise solutions advisory.

CryptoMurmur interview with Nick White (Harmony)

Daily interviews with people pioneering the crypto, blockchain and DLT Space.

* Today we are talking with Nick White who is the co-founder of Harmony.

* Harmony is an open infrastructure with a revolutionary high-throughput, low-latency, and low-fee consensus platform designed to power decentralized economies of the future.

Growing up


We’d like to kick things off by asking you a couple of questions regarding your formative years.


1) Firstly, can you tell us the things which interested you the most throughout your childhood and teenage years, and what brought you the most happiness? 

I live very close to the beach and the ocean, so I always loved surfing. That was my major past time as a child which continues to today. Surfing is about taking time away and getting space, and I find I get some of my best space when I’m out in the ocean catching waves. It’s also about being in the moment, and I find it’s almost like an artistic expression when surfing as you’re kind of dancing with the water. So surfing has always been my creative and athletic outlet. 

2) Who were your biggest influences growing up, and why did they have such a profound effect on you?

I think definitely one influence I had growing up was Steve Jobs, mainly because I was watching a Ted talk on youtube and came across Steve Jobs’ commencement speech which really moved me and stuck with me. I wouldn’t say I’m a fan in the same way that other people are, but I really do think that as a philosopher and as someone that forged ahead and pioneered new ideas, I really admire him. 

I would also say my dad. He’s an architect, and he’s not into technology or anything like that, but what I admire about my dad is that he’s such a good person. He’s always true, and his level of his integrity is unmatched in my eyes. I really aspire to become more like him - someone who is dependable and responsible and stands up for what he thinks is right, and always has other people’s best interest at heart. 

So in my opinion, it doesn’t have to be famous role models that you need to look up to, but people that you know personally that inspire you on a day to day basis.

3) Teenage years are often a turbulent time for many, so on this note, can you name a time which was tough for you, and how you managed to overcome it?

When I was growing up I didn’t really fit into a single friend group. In some ways I was very nerdy, into maths and science and did really well at school, but at the same time I was athletic and a bit rebellious too, so I also hung around with the cooler kids and that crowd. 

I was also a surfer, but surfing wasn’t a recognised sport at school at the time. I was kind of a drifter, someone who didn’t really have a clique to fit into (especially in eighth grade). There was a time when I really felt like if I didn’t have a clique, I didn’t fit in. It was a really tough year for me, and I wouldn’t say I was depressed, but I was definitely unhappy which resulted in me being more rebellious to my teachers. Luckily I came out of it, but it was definitely one of the harder times of my life which made me value friendship. You definitely need a strong group to support you, and you need to feel a sense of belonging, which is something I really value these days, good old friendship.

To add to the last bit, there was actually a longitudinal study by Harvard about what makes people the happiest, and it turns out if they had a very rich social life, happy marriage and lots of friends, they were very happy. Too often we tend to sacrifice that aspect of life, especially if you’re working really hard on a start up as you can potentially lose sight of what’s important, and what will actually bring us happiness. 

4) If there was some advice you could give young aspiring individuals, advice which you would really have liked to have heard yourself as a young person, what would it be?

I think I was too shy growing up, and I didn’t put enough faith in myself. 

Schools these days put kids in their place, which can make you feel less capable than you really are. I wish I had been bolder and more ambitious when I was younger, as I tended to be more shy. It took time but I slowly realised that I could do a lot of things that I maybe didn’t expect. So the more I pushed myself, the more I realised what I was capable of. That was the rebellious side of me coming out. I feel like you get stuck as a kid with the mentality that school is everything, but there is a whole world out there and that world is going to be yours one day, and the rules you have at school don’t apply in the real world. Just keep an open mind, there’s a lot more to look forward to once you’re out.

Profile


We are now going to ask you some questions which will hopefully give our readers something to go on regarding you as a person. 


5) Firstly, what are the particular strengths that you feel have made you successful in your field (don’t hold back)?

I’m lucky to be part of a team that is so talented. The main thing behind Harmony’s success is that we’ve been able to find team members that are so passionate, and each of us brings something different to the table. As far as I go, in the context of the Harmony team, what I bring is a combination of technical knowledge, having a bachelors and a masters degree in electrical engineering, and having studied the industry on a technical level. So I really understand the blockchain and how it works. At the same time I think I bring emotional intelligence where I can explain and connect with people. That kind of bridges the two worlds. Technology is key, and without technology there wouldn’t be anything called blockchain. But at the same time, as important as technology is you have to be able to explain to people in a simple way how the technology works, and why they should believe in what you are building. I really enjoy taking that role within the company - taking all the insight and knowledge and translating it in a way that can get that message out to people.

6) What would you say is your most controversial opinion as regards to blockchain or the crypto space?

We’re building a scalable blockchain at Harmony, and this consequently means people are so ready to debate and fight over which scalable techniques will work and which won’t. I think it’s important to find the best technology and build it. However, the most important thing by far is the social aspect. 

I liken starting a new blockchain to starting a new country, and as a founder you are like a founding father. It’s a social contract, you’re making a promise to everyone and saying this is our vision, and this is our constitution. So you go out and you find the citizens to work on it with you, and you find your first users and developers and convince them that they should be on this journey with you. It’s really about the social contract - do they believe in you and what you are saying, are you good for your word? So building the technology is hard in and of itself, but even more tricky is maintaining a social contract that makes people believe in you, and to grow it to a stage where you can step away. The founding fathers job is to therefore put things in motion and then disappear. This is what I think is beautiful about Satoshi, he put everything together and he got the critical mass going and then he knew that his time was over and it was time for it to fade away.  That’s what I think is so beautiful about blockchain, and I think people are too focused on the technology.

7) In the course of your day you can become under the most ridiculous pressures and stresses, what is your particular way of dealing with this?

My way of dealing with stress is pretty straightforward. I make sure to do a pretty vigorous yoga routine every morning, and that really clears my mind and makes me calm for the rest of the day. Of course I can still get stressed, and I do get stressed, but I think having that consistency every morning and starting out on the right foot gets you in the right state to start your day. I also think it’s important that we have a supportive team at Harmony. 

I really feel like the Harmony team is like a family. Whenever we’re facing something difficult we come together and support each other. You can be in a really difficult situation with a friend, and as long as you can laugh together then it makes everything easier. To add some colour, we intentionally work out of a house. An office feels too corporate and cold and sterile. It allows us to feel at home and safe, and we even eat our meals together. The family bonding is real, it's not just something we talk about.

8) Outside of crypto/blockchain, what is your favorite thing to do?

I really love the outdoors. I can hike for hours and hours. One of my favourite things to do when I’m at home in Hawaii is to go out without a backpack or water, or even without shoes and just hike the whole day. It sounds kind of crazy, but I really enjoy it and it allows me to clear my mind. A lot of philosophers talk about how the best ideas come to you when you’re walking. It just reminds me how beautiful life is. So most weekends I try to get some hiking in. That’s probably the only other thing apart from surfing that I really love to do. 

Also, every afternoon the Harmony team shoots some hoops. I never played it growing up, but I picked it up with the team, and it’s a way to leave the office and allow different conversations to happen. It’s really a team sport. Even if you’re having a bad day, you can make a few hoops and you feel like hey it’s not such a bad day after all!

Creative/humour


We are now going to ask you some creative and humorous questions, and we are sure people will love to see you what you can come up with.


9) What is the most humorous thing you have seen or experienced during your time in the crypto/blockchain space?

That video of that guy, what’s his name - Carlos Matos? That video really made me crack up. On one level it's really easy to laugh at him and the whole bitconnect thing because it was a scam, but what I take away from the video is that the guy was so passionate and able to communicate that passion in such a formidable way. That’s a very powerful skill, even if what he was standing for was a scam, you can’t help but be drawn in by his energy which is really underrated in today’s world. Blockchain being a social movement and having that energy and enthusiasm is what is going to bring people to follow and believe in you. It’s definitely a funny video (but also sad because they abused people’s trust), but I definitely take some learning from it and would love people to be as pumped up for Harmony (for the right reasons of course).

10) If you somehow managed to meet Satoshi Nakamoto (that is he is a male person in this scenario) on his deathbed, but only had time to ask him one question, what would it be? Bear in mind you don’t have much time at all, so make it a good one.

I think I would ask him if Bitcoin played out in the way he envisioned and intended, or if it totally took him by surprise as the way it went. I think in many ways it has been more wildly successful than he could have possibly imagined. I also wonder if he thought that bitcoin would be like digital gold. I don’t imagine the founding fathers could have imagined that the United States would become what it did. I’m sure his answer would be no, but on the other hand I am sure there are many other elements that did come to fruition as he imagined. I would also ask him what he believes in, and what he thinks that blockchain and crypto can bring to the world aside from just Bitcoin. I think everyone would love to know his perspective on the entire industry. In some ways he is the founding father of everyone. Every new project starts with Bitcoin. 

11) Can you give three policies you'd enact if you became the president of a country tomorrow?

I guess it depends on the overall context of that country's situation, but as a crypto entrepreneur I would definitely enact policies that would enable people to innovate within the blockchain space without fear of the hammer of regulation coming down on them. At least In the United states they have done a poor job of making it feel welcoming for entrepreneurs. There is so much friction on the legal front. Even if you are trying to do it in the right way, it raises the barrier to entry so high that it excludes a lot of people from even trying. 

I would also pass something along the lines of GDPR. I really feel strongly that we need to pass new regulations surrounding privacy and the internet. I recently read Edward Snowden's latest book, and I find the level of online surveillance really frightening; not just in China but all over the world. The US and the NSA are really a part of that, as well as corporations like Facebook and Google that are constantly collecting data about you. I have concerns about where that will lead us in the long run as individuals and organisations that know everything about you are omniscient, and data nowadays is so powerful. That's not a future I want to live in, so I would try to do something about that. 

In terms of a third policy, I think I would try to push digital citizenship, like in Estonia. I really want to push countries towards the digital age, and I think that the blockchain will help that. Physical borders will start to have less and less significance, and as more and more of our lives shift online, that’s where the jurisdiction will be- digital and not physical. So I would do something to create a digital nation as that’s where the future is.

Community


Communities are often an important backbone for many crypto/blockchain projects, so we’d now like to get some personal thoughts on the community side of things.


12) What do you feel makes the Harmony community unique compared to others? 

It kind of starts in the name itself. Harmony is a name that means many different things coming together and having a resonance. Singing in harmony is about having different notes that match with each other and create a more beautiful sound than they do on their own, and Harmony as a community really has that mentality. It’s a very welcoming community and is so diverse. We have people from every corner of the world, from China and Southeast Asia, to Africa, and I think that diversity is a huge piece of our community. 

On top of that, the Harmony community stands for kindness and values. We have been attacked quite a few times from other competing projects, but we try to rise above that and stand for something more. Our community also has humour, and we try to have fun with each other, I think that’s important as it can’t all be about business. Of course, it’s about hard work, but at the same time if we don’t have the time to bond and enjoy each other’s company and laugh, then people won’t want to come back and engage. It’s important that people want to have fun with us. 

13) Project aside, what are some other crypto/blockchain communities that you admire and why (this is not an endorsement)?

Another community I really admire is the Ethereum community. They have such a great technical and developer depth that I think it's the envy of a lot of other networks that are trying to launch right now. The quality of thinkers and doers that they have attracted is outstanding. 

Aside from that I also really admire Matic. What I admire about them is that they have really developed a very strong and loyal community. It’s not just about the fact that they are able to be in Telegram and able to make people feel welcome and appreciated, but at the same time they are able to push out really good tech and business development. I know their team personally and they don’t have many people, so they are firing on all cylinders and it’s really impressive. At Harmony we value the exact same things, we try to do more with less. So as a relatively small startup, I admire people that are able to achieve that level of momentum with fewer people.

14) What social-media platform do you like most and why, and are there any improvements which you feel can be made to these platforms for an even better community user-experience?

I think the best social network by far is Twitter, but just to point out I’m not a social media guy, and I stopped using Facebook eight years ago, and originally I thought Twitter was laughable so I always dismissed it. But when I got into blockchain, I realised that’s where the conversation was happening, so I started following people and learning, and for me it was the best resource to get up to date with what was happening, and also to get to know the individuals that were talking about philosophy and technology; as well as just personal humour and stories. Twitter is where the conversation is when it comes to blockchain. 

The way to improve it is a little bit harder. I feel like it does a good job in forcing people to be concise. 144 characters kind of forces you to be a poet - you really have to pair down all your ideas into as few words as possible, and make that idea as punchy and catchy as possible, otherwise people won’t get it. It’s definitely a craft and I'm practising and learning from other people who do a good job at that. It forces you to clarify your own thinking. But I do wish there was some edit ability because there are times when you make some really small errors, so maybe you should be able to delete and replace a couple of characters. So I think there should be a character limit to the edits you can make, but another good idea is being able to completely change the tweet, but people can still see the original tweet if they want to. It’s pretty irritating when you make some small typo, but it’s already out in the wild and to take it back is to kind of ruin it. 

On another level, we at Harmony have talked about how Facebook (and social media in general) does not allow users to get the benefit of all the data they are handing over to these companies. Social media can be improved if we build a Blockchain social media where people were compensated for the data they provide to the network; whether it's Harmony or another blockchain network that supports this application.

15) With the endgame being mainstream adoption, do you think crypto/blockchain communities will still have an important role to play in a post-adoption environment?

I feel like the blockchain protocols have to have a rich community running them. There needs to be governance and an interplay of all the different stakeholders. On some level people talk about blockchain governance and coordination through the chain itself. Going forward it's important that these communities stay strong and there is communication. The blockchain is really only as strong as the people that are running it. So post-mainstream adoption, community becomes even more important in my opinion.

Project


In our penultimate section we are going to ask you a question regarding Harmony.


16) What do you feel sets Harmony apart from your competitors (that is if you have any)?

Obviously our USP on our technology is that we are scalable and low cost. We are all about enabling people to build the next wave of decentralised applications because so many developers are frustrated with Ethereum (and other platforms) because of the limitations of throughput, latency and cost. The core of what we are building is new technology that takes blockchain forward. It comes back to our philosophy - we value and stand for true decentralisation. You can see that in some of our initiatives such as Pangaea, where we had people all over the world running a Harmony node - many of them first-time node operators. The true value of blockchain is that no one runs it or can shut it down. We know that in the long term decentralization is what matters the most.

Crypto/blockchain pitch


Well that just about does it, but before we end this interview we’d like to ask you for something which we believe will say a lot about your belief in the industry, and which may inspire those who are reading.


17) Can you come up with a short argument for our readers on why you feel cryptocurrency and blockchain (or just one) has a bright future?

I think it’s pretty clear to most informed people that we are entering an age where increasingly, we can’t trust the powers that be to have our best interests at heart; whether that’s financial institutions like banks, or even internet giants like the Facebooks and Tencents of the world. 

Also, more and more of our lives are being conducted in the digital realm, and the digital world is having more power and importance than the physical realm. Blockchain gives individuals sovereignty over things like money and data - the two things we are losing control over. So if you believe that people have fundamental rights, rights which should be carried over into finance and data, then blockchain has a bright future because that is exactly what blockchain does.


Keep up to date with Nick and Harmony on:

Twitter (Nick)

Twitter (Harmony)

Telegram

Discord

Blog

Github


Also a big thank you to our patrons for their belief and support in the project:

Bloktide - A UK based crypto and blockchain enterprise solutions advisory.

CryptoMurmur interview with Rick Schmitz (LTO Network)

* Today we are talking with Rick Schmitz who is the co-founder and CEO of LTO Network.

* LTO Network is a hybrid blockchain which enhances cost-efficiency, automation and compliance for businesses and organisations, notably saving $7 million annually in process efficiency for the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure.

Growing up


We’d like to kick things off by asking you a couple of questions regarding your formative years.


1) Firstly, can you tell us the things which interested you the most throughout your childhood and teenage years, and what brought you the most happiness? 

In my teenage years I was totally into DJ-ing. Obsessed with mixers and putting 2 records on at the same time at fitted well together. When I want to relax I go to my most recent buy (pioneer xdj rx2) and mix some tracks.

2) Who were your biggest influences growing up, and why did they have such a profound effect on you?

My grandfather. He is a former banker at ABN AMRO and he told me that investing is something you can't learn early enough. He gave me my first shares (Ahold) when I was 7. So making smart bets is something he taught me as a kind and what formed me into how I do business today.

3) Teenage years are often a turbulent time for many, so on this note, can you name a time which was tough for you, and how you managed to overcome it?

My parents got divorced when I was 11. Thats always a tough time when you are a kid. It's not something that you have to overcome,  it's more like something that makes you realise that live also comes with disappointments and grief. I think it made me realize that I should be independent and strong. Don't let people get to close as they can hurt you. 

4) If there was some advice you could give young aspiring individuals, advice which you would really have liked to have heard yourself as a young person, what would it be?

Success has nothing to do with sheer luck. It comes with extreme dedication, devotion and passion.

Profile


We are now going to ask you some questions which will hopefully give our readers something to go on regarding you as a person. 


5) Firstly, what are the particular strengths that you feel have made you successful in your field (don’t hold back)?

I have ADHD and I learned to use it in my advantage. I mostly see other partners and connecting the dots in a very different way than others. This creativity and energetic appearance affects people that are around me. Transferring a positive vibe makes people want to do business / work with you.

6) What would you say is your most controversial opinion as regards to blockchain or the crypto space?

Connecting adoption to speculation of the volatile assets. We really put a lot of time into token design, and I am confident it really has value due to clients buying tokens - cash flow into the network, but the space is so immature still. You always need to keep a cool head.

7) In the course of your day you can become under the most ridiculous pressures and stresses, what is your particular way of dealing with this?

Either go kickboxing or grab a Heineken.

8) Outside of crypto/blockchain, what is your favorite thing to do?

Play power league 5 x 5 (football) and DJ-ing at events. 

Creative/humour


We are now going to ask you some creative and humorous questions, and we are sure people will love to see you what you can come up with.


9) What is the most humorous thing you have seen or experienced during your time in the crypto/blockchain space?

The stage when our community grew to thousands of people. 24/7 communication, trying to prevent bots from sending spam, and Korean community getting the most extreme porno GIFs into the chat. This was really new to me.

10) If you somehow managed to meet Satoshi Nakamoto (that is he is a male person in this scenario) on his deathbed, but only had time to ask him one question, what would it be? Bear in mind you don’t have much time at all, so make it a good one.

I would say it’s better for his identity and wallet to never be touched, it would defeat the purpose of the creation. I would ask what his actual motives were and whether what he sees these days resonates with the vision he has back then as the “founder”.

11) Can you give three policies you'd enact if you became the president of a country tomorrow?

Don’t want to get into political stuff too much as we are trying to include all the groups in the community, but I would make LTO as reserve currency instead “wink*

Community


Communities are often an important backbone for many crypto/blockchain projects, so we’d now like to get some personal thoughts on the community side of things.


12) What do you feel makes the LTO Network community unique compared to others? 

Our absolutely transparent approach and inclusiveness. We don’t act as a company, we filter all feedback and let the community shape the path of the project. People appreciate being valued, and we wouldn’t be here without them.

13) Project aside, what are some other crypto/blockchain communities that you admire and why (this is not an endorsement)?

I am not in 100 chats at the same time as I focus on business adoption mostly, however, I always keep an eye out. I definitely resonate with the Ethereum community though.

14) What social-media platform do you like most and why, and are there any improvements which you feel can be made to these platforms for an even better community user-experience?

Twitter. It has the most substance-focused approach, and it’s easier to filter information there. Reddit is too restrictive to newcomers, and Telegram is hard to really keep an eye on 24/7 as it’s a constant stream of updates.

15) With the endgame being mainstream adoption, do you think crypto/blockchain communities will still have an important role to play in a post-adoption environment?

Crypto is about distributed incentives. And the blockchain is just the technology that enables that. Without communities, there is probably neither. If you don’t have crypto aspect to your blockchain, like we did it with the hybrid layer, you are probably better off just using a centralized system.

Project


In our penultimate section we are going to ask you a question regarding LTO Network.


16) What do you feel sets LTO Network apart from your competitors (that is if you have any)?

We are really in a great golden spot, taking the best out of the two worlds - thanks to our hybrid architecture. Layer 2 is privacy by design, making it attractive and easy for companies to use. Layer 1 is really the decentralized community aspect, making network effects grow much quicker.

Crypto/blockchain pitch


Well that just about does it, but before we end this interview we’d like to ask you for something which we believe will say a lot about your belief in the industry, and which may inspire those who are reading.


17) Can you come up with a short argument for our readers on why you feel cryptocurrency and blockchain (or just one) has a bright future?

Definitely, it’s pretty clear that working within the centralized silo environment is not only dangerous for your data (see the multiple hacks and leakages) but is also inconvenient as the world becomes more interconnected. Blockchain solves this if you do it right.


Keep up to date with Rick and LTO Network on:

Twitter (LTO Network)

Telegram

Reddit 

Github

Youtube


Also a big thank you to our patrons for their belief and support in the project:

Bloktide - A UK based crypto and blockchain enterprise solutions advisory.

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