We can safely say the ICO bubble is over now. When the bubble finally popped last year, the “market cap” of all crypto fell over $700B, an 85% drop from its peak in January - steeper than the dotcom bubble’s 78% crash. The media gawked at this collapse, and as usual, proclaimed this was the nail in the coffin for cryptocurrencies. There’s already been enough hysterics and I-told-you-sos. In this essay, I...
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Feb 2019

Most cryptocurrency pioneers would not call what they’re building “institutions.” The term reeks of centralization—it’s too unsexy. (Except when it’s “institutional capital”, then it’s welcomed with open arms.) In a recent debate between Paul Krugman and Katie Haun on cryptocurrencies, Krugman is asked why he rejects the decentralized vision behind cryptocurrencies. He responds: “We developed this socially ingenious thing: enduring institutions […] and it’s going to be really, really hard...
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Jan 2019

2018 was an intense year. It’s been my fourth year earning-to-give. Last year I was doing software engineering, this year I’m a partner at a hedge fund. It’s been a year of learning, stretching, and growth. [Nervous Tics by Holly Walker] Resolutions for 2019 I don’t usually do new year’s resolutions, but my life has changed so dramatically in 2018, I think it’s worth making some public commitments. So here...
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When I first heard of Bitcoin, it sounded like something out of a dystopian sci-fi novel. Digital, cryptographic, uncensorable money? It seemed such a radical idea, it couldn’t possibly belong in this decade. But if it did—if Bitcoin were to go mainstream—I was convinced it would lead to a massive geopolitical disruption, shifting the power relations between governments and their citizens. It would mean investing into Bitcoin would be like...
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Sep 2018

How do you learn something no one can teach you? Whatever success I’ve had in my career, I attribute almost entirely to my aptitude for unstructured learning. This is the kind of learning required when delving into a cutting-edge field, navigating a new job, or creating anything genuinely new. Notably, it’s the polar opposite of what is taught in schools and what most people call “education.” In structured learning (like...
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How do you govern a blockchain? That might sound like a strange question. In theory, blockchains aren’t supposed to be governed at all—they’re supposed to be “permissionless decentralized ledgers.” But a blockchain is more than just a ledger. It’s also an ecosystem of software, an economy of merchants, companies, and exchanges, and beneath all that, a community of developers, miners, and users. At the end of the day, blockchains must...
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A useful currency should be a medium of exchange, a unit of account, and a store of value. Cryptocurrencies excel at the first, but as a store of value or unit of account, they’re pretty bad. You cannot be an effective store of value if your price fluctuates by 20% on a normal day. This is where stablecoins come in. Stablecoins are price-stable cryptocurrencies, meaning the market price of a...
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Cryptocurrencies, ICOs, magic internet money—it’s all so damn exciting, and you, the eager developer, want to get in on the madness. Where do you start? I’m glad you’re excited about this space. I am too. But you’ll probably find it’s unclear where to begin. Blockchain is moving at breakneck speed, but there’s no clear onramp to learning this stuff. Since I left Airbnb to work full-time on blockchain, many people...
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2017 draws to a close. It’s been my third year earning-to-give, and another year full of changes. At various points this year I seriously considered starting a company. This made me ask myself: does it still make sense to donate a third of my income this year if I’m considering something that risky? It’s all well and good to donate money, but maybe it makes sense to do it later...
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Cryptocurrencies have a trust problem. Blockchain evangelists claim that with the advent of Bitcoin, centralized authorities and financial institutions will soon become obsolete. Blockchain technology will run the world and corruption will be engineered out of existence. Society will become “trustless.” Ironically, the vast majority of people still don’t trust cryptocurrencies. [video] The evangelists claim those people don’t understand the technical innovations behind blockchains. (As though a lecture on consensus...
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