The Curious Learners

Serhat Aydogdu

I feel privileged to speak to so many great minds as part of my job. They are passionate builders, insightful investors, laser-focused leaders. They are all curious learners in their own way. It is their urge to learn more. That urge is curiosity. When I speak to these people, I hear fascinating ideas, solid business plans, genius growth hacking practices, relentless team building focus, unique investing strategies and many others. However, most of the time, key insights, business intelligence and inspiring stories shared in these conversations do not make their way to the outside world. The Curious Learners is an attempt to share the stories of those curious learners with those, who might find the inspiration that they were looking for or those who might get the encouragement for their own journey that they already started. Looking forward to a long journey together. read less
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Episodes

Mert Mumtaz | Building for Builders | The Curious Learners Ep. 39
Mar 12 2023
Mert Mumtaz | Building for Builders | The Curious Learners Ep. 39
Hi everyone. My guest today is Mert Mumtaz. He is the co-founder and CEO at Helius, which is a developer platform for the Blockchain ecosystem. Mert is not new to crypto. Prior to starting Helius, he spent years at Coinbase building different products across payments and others. Helius currently supports the Solana ecosystem and Mert has been a big supporter of the ecosystem since its early days.Mert and I had a fascinating discussion about the state of Blockchain, Solana vs. other networks, upcoming L1 ecosystems and of course his plans for Helius. Below are some highlights of the episode. Please give it a listen to hear a great conversation.Where does your conviction for Solana come from?Its unique tech aspect, its different approach to Blockchain design and scaling and of course the strong developer community.What is your view on use cases of Blockchain?Payments is an obvious use case and what Blockchain offers is a 10x improvement over traditional wire systems.  Another big area is token incentivized physical infrastructure network with examples in wireless networks, maps, energy grid, etc.What is a one-liner for Helius?Helius enables developers to build crypto powered applications in a frictionless way.What is the problem that Helius solves for builders?For any software development process, there is naturally a gap between having an idea to build something and actually executing it. In crypto, that gap is wider and is full of frictions due to additional complexity around models of Blockchains, RPC nodes, etc. Helius shortens the gap and bridges ideas to execution.How did the experience at Coinbase lead to realisation of the need for a product like Helius?It was a natural conclusion during the Solana expansion of Coinbase. Many of the resources available for the Ethereum ecosystem (e.g. Etherscan, APIs, etc.) didn't exist for Solana, which I was working to build at Coinbase.What is the mix of projects on Solana?Payments is a big space and developing fast. Intersection of NFTs and DeFi is also interesting. This is in particular due to compression, which is a tool that enables to mint large number of NFTs at minimal cost. The one I am most interested is physical infrastructure networks.What is your expansion plan at Helius in terms of other Blockchain networks?Our vision at Helius is to build specialized infrastructure for high throughput and scalable L1 networks. Solana is the most scalable one and we will expand to others.What new products are on the way?Three that I can disclose: 1) Blockchain explorer called X-Ray, which makes it super easy to read and make sense of transactions on Blockchain. 2) RPC 2.0, which re-designs the archiving system on the back-end. 3) A new product called Geyser VM that allows streaming data directly from the validator by using Geyser plugins.Where does transformation come from in crypto in the next 3-5 years?Payments is the killer app for crypto. Crypto is a much better way of facilitating payments and the problem is regulatory uncertainty around stablecoins and the differences in the regulatory environment across regions will determine how geographically distributed it will be. Others are physical infrastructure networks as mentioned and decentralized infrastructure (e.g. storage).What are you most curious about?1) Chat GPT - mind blowing how impressive it is! -> Stephen Wolfram's article2) How data centers work and whether there is a way to improve the industry (hint: using Blockchain)3) Storytelling! -> As engineers, you often neglect something like storytelling, but have been trying to improve that skill.
Amos Wittenberg | Assessing Risks in Climate Transition | The Curious Learners Ep. 38
Mar 5 2023
Amos Wittenberg | Assessing Risks in Climate Transition | The Curious Learners Ep. 38
Hi everyone. My guest at The Curious Learners is Amos Wittenberg. He is the co-founder of Dovetail. Amos and his co-founder Phillip Marks are building the climate risk modelling toolkit for investors. Dovetail helps to identify and quantify risks and opportunities in the era of climate transition.What Dovetail is building is critical for institutional investors' workflows, investment strategies and decision making. And it goes beyond climate-tech investors of course. Take Oil and Gas as an example. Investors need to take into account the exposure of Oil and Gas companies to stranded assets, to climate-related taxes and levies, as well as the knock on effect of transitions in other industries (e.g., EVs reducing demand for lubricants)—and hence the potential for higher costs and lower revenues for the industry. Amos and I had a great discussion. Here are some highlights from the episode. There is much more in the episode including how Dovetail collects inputs, the approach to integration with investors' workflow, Amos's background in journalism in financial crime and his experience at Palantir and how both led him to found Dovetail.How do you think about the risk framework in the era of climate transition?Climate transition is an undisputed megatrend. Over the next 30 years it will drive billions of dollars to change hands in practically every industry, regardless of how effectively we transition. All investors need to incorporate that risk in their strategy and decision making.What does Dovetail do against that risk framework?Dovetail provides a modelling toolkit for investors and lenders to understand both the risks and the opportunities of the transition at equity level.What is the horizon for Dovetail's modelling approach?It depends on the industry, however we typically model on a three to five year horizon.What are the key building blocks of the product?Primarily there are two sides to it: one is the systemic risks, which apply to each company relatively equally in a particular sector and geography, and the other is idiosyncratic risks, which define how each company is set up against such risks.What is the output? Is it a scoring system?We stay away from generalist scoring systems. Instead, our product gives investors both a high-level view of how their particular investments and overall portfolio would perform as well as tangible detailed projections (e.g., adjustments to revenue growth assumptions over the next 5 years).How does the current pace of net-zero transition drive your projections?The viability and economic feasibility of net-zero transition have improved. In addition, momentum is gathering in the capital stack and among regulators, driving disclosure and transition aligned investment.What are you most #curious about and what are you doing to #learn more about it?Green hydrogen! I went back and forth between being interested in it and sceptical. But I have gained a better understanding and am now exploring specific companies and applications developed with green hydrogen.Please enjoy my conversation with Amos Wittenberg.
Sebastian Manhart | Carbon Removal: Where Technology Should Meet Policy | The Curious Learners Ep. 36
Jan 18 2023
Sebastian Manhart | Carbon Removal: Where Technology Should Meet Policy | The Curious Learners Ep. 36
Hi everyone. My guest today is Sebastian Manhart. He is the senior policy adviser at Carbonfuture, which is a technology company building an operating system for high quality carbon removals.Sebastian has a super interesting background of over a decade of entrepreneurship and an advisory role with the German government on decentralized identity. His move into climate-tech and more specifically carbon removals is a result of his passion for this space.Sebastian and I had an eye-opening conversation on how governments view frontier technologies, state of the play for carbon removal policy globally, range of technologies for high quality carbon removals and of course what Carbonfuture is building in this exciting space.Here are some of the topics that we discussed:Technology vs Policy. How do these two work together?How do governments and policy makers view frontier technologies?In what practical ways do you help founding teams? How much of a difference does being proactive make?What was your transition from advising on crypto to climate-tech?What is your take on the climate-tech space from a policy perspective? And how does it differ across regions?What does carbon removal actually mean?What is high-quality carbon removal?What doe Carbonfuture do?What carbon removal technology does Carbonfuture currently focus on?What made you get attracted to Carbonfuture over bunch of other companies in this space?How do you get new suppliers onto the platform? How about buyers of carbon credits? What attracts them to Carbonfuture? What is the northstar metric at Carbonfuture? What is missing in carbon removal markets? What is your agenda for 2023? What are you most #curious about these days and what are you doing to #learn more about it?
Peter Grosskopf | Building in Crypto Winter | The Curious Learners Ep. 35
Jan 12 2023
Peter Grosskopf | Building in Crypto Winter | The Curious Learners Ep. 35
Super excited to have Peter Grosskopf on the first episode of the second season. Peter is the co-founder and CTO of Ultimate Money (core product of Unstoppable Finance), which is one of the most exciting DeFi products out there.  His background is unique coming into crypto from a combination of software development and fintech building / operating and incubating. Peter and I had a great conversation about what happened in crypto in 2022, future of DeFi and where Ultimate Money is positioned in that future.What is a good summary of 2022?It was a special year. DeFi has proven to be more stable compared to CeFi given the robust performance of infrastructure while we have seen CeFi institutions crashed one after another.How do you see the path to recovery of crypto markets?Long-term believers and those who have seen these cycles before are optimistic despite the recent events.  Yet, the noise in the market due to the ongoing CeFi situation (e.g. Gemini x DCG) needs to go away, so that we focus again on the fundamentals. What happened has nothing to do with the original intention of Satoshi and all the builders of crypto. The usability needs to be improved and it needs to be super easy to use self-custody. For everyday users to use crypto safely, account abstraction and multi-party computation would ensure privacy and compliance at the same time.How do you define Ultimate Money?We started Unstoppable Finance, the company and Ultimate Money, the main product to solve the core issue of DeFi, which is usability. We help users trade easily on DEXes and tap into blue chip DeFi protocols. Who are your users?We strive to bring new users into DeFi. Globally there are only 2 million DeFi users, which is tiny compared to traditional finance. Next to those, we aim to give  sophisticated users a better experience in  DEX trading by providing professional tooling in the future. What matters to your users most? How do they engage with the Ultimate Money app so far?Better mobile experience and frictionless access to DeFi protocols.  They mostly engage with trading these days. And given the increasing interest rate environment, yield farming related activities are not very active in crypto. What brought you into DeFi?I have always been super curious about new things and that is what made me move into fintech and banking in the first place.  My move into crypto was driven by this goal of automating as many processes as we could in finance. Then I met blockchain and smart contract, which was revolutionary to achieve 100% automation in financial services.How do 'your keys, your coins' and 'regulation' co-exist?It is a matter of properly defining roles and responsibilities of the players in the market. I don't believe that regulation is completely stupid and its scope needs to be defined properly. One important role of it should be to ensure fair markets for entrepreneurs and for users.How important is MiCA for crypto markets in Europe?MiCA is a regulation for centralized finance and for centralized exchanges.  It doesn't have much to do with DeFi.  It is our responsibility as the crypto community to speak to regulators to explain the opportunity in DeFi.What would be a positive surprise for you in 2023 in terms of market developments?In the first half of the year there might be more negative surprises. On the positive side, it would be politicians and decision makers fully understanding the true potential of DeFi and contributing to the efforts of building a global infrastructure.What are you most #curious about these days and what are you doing to #learn more about it?Still learning a lot about crypto everyday!
James West | Building the Future of Crypto Exchange | The Curious Learners Ep. 34
Nov 19 2022
James West | Building the Future of Crypto Exchange | The Curious Learners Ep. 34
Hi everyone. My guest today is James West. He is the CEO of Globe, which is a crypto futures exchange. James and I agreed to talk about building a crypto exchange a while back and we kept rescheduling since then. Finally, by coincidence, we happened to record the episode on the day FTX filed for bankruptcy!We talked about James' take on what really happened at FTX , its impact on confidence in crypto markets and of course what he is building at Globe.Here are some highlights from the show.- What did really happen at FTX? In one sentence?They were gambling with customer deposits. But didn't expect them to have that much leverage, which created a big hole on the books.- Are we now in an extended crypto winter? 2-year timeframe?It will certainly make a big hit in confidence. As for the timeframe, I actually get bullish when everyone else thinks 2-year. It will be shorter.- What was your entrance into crypto?I come from math background. Did research during PhD on a variety of fields including physics, machine learning and biostatistics. After publishing 8 papers in a year, moved into investing. And finally got interested in crypto in 2017-2018.- How did you approach building Globe?Initially thought of building a market maker for an exchange with perps. However, after seeing the the way that exchange was working, decided to build a better one , hence Globe. It was mostly foreseeing a future with more sophisticated trading.- What are the key building blocks of a crypto exchange?Fundamental elements are of course liquidity, usability, range of products, compliance. But, dealing with the initial liquidity / bootstrapping that is one of the biggest challenges. Critical to have your own engineering team vs. white-label product, because in the latter you can't innovate.- What is a snapshot of Globe today?150 thousand customers. Total traded to date around $10 billion. Geography mix had been impacted by the China ban, but now they are coming back. Profitable pretty much since the launch. Earlier did institutional asset management services and we were at some point the biggest defi yield farming protocol for Silicon Valley.- What metrics do you follow most closely?We obviously follow all the classic metrics in terms of conversion, trading, active users, etc. But the most important to me is getting an email from a customer who says they really like the product.- What is the most important product that you are focused on?Mobile is a big focus for us. Working on the Android launch.- What needs to happen in crypto for a more visible and brighter future?I think it already has a brighter future. For example, stablecoins solve real problems. Though one challenge there could be the introduction of central bank digital currencies.- What are you most curious about these days?Generative AI! No, no angle of it in crypto for now :)
Chris Perkins | Crypto: Where are We Headed? | The Curious Learners Ep. 33
Oct 10 2022
Chris Perkins | Crypto: Where are We Headed? | The Curious Learners Ep. 33
My guest today is Chris Perkins. He is the President of CoinFund, which is a crypto-native investment firm founded in 2015. Chris joined CoinFund in 2021 after spending a long time in traditional finance. He was most recently a managing director at CitiGroup.His experience in traditional finance is very relevant from the perspective of crypto's future as an industry. Chris was deeply involved at the time in the transition of the traditional finance derivatives industry from unregulated to regulated. That transition is now top of mind for the crypto industry. I have previously discussed with other guests the topic of mass adoption of crypto. And this time, I thoroughly enjoyed the holistic conversation with Chris where we touched on regulation, usability and functionality of crypto.Below some highlights from the show:- How do you see the current landscape for crypto?There are medium and long-term tailwinds specific to crypto:1) ongoing regulatory de-risking (of course compared to a few years ago) and policy work to provide uncertainty to founders and to the ecosystem2) institutions getting more comfort with crypto, including a wide range of companies from asset managers to consumer brands3) strong pace of innovation continues alongside move of talent from web2 to web3- Regulatory progress vs technological progress? Is the former lagging behind the latter?Maybe. But not a big problem as some other instances in the history, technology has surpassed law and regulation. It is important for industry participants to invest in the dialogue and education with the policy makers.- Is Cryptocurrency a security or a commodity?Obviously, a very challenging question. It shouldn't matter as to who regulates the space (SEC in the case of security or CFTC in the case of commodity). It should be about focusing on underlying principles including preventing things such as manipulation, fraud and abuse.- What excites you the most among CoinFund's areas of investments? Excited across all verticals:Infrastructure: huge potential to significantly improve  onboarding and user experienceNFTs: you can put anything that is non-fungible online for valueDAOs: another example, where technology has surpassed regulationDeFi: use case will be massive as we solve the regulatory and licensing challengesGaming: next generation gaming with enhanced user experience coupled with blockchain technology will unlock value across the space- What is your interpretation of DeFi? Happy with what it has achieved so far?It will change the financial world and lead to much more inclusion. However, we need to solve certain things to make that happen, including AML/KYC, sanctions, risk management and licensing regime. This will help make DeFi widespread among a much larger retail base and institutions. - How do we practically execute the DeFi Mullet thesis, i.e. DeFi running the back-end systems of financial services with traditional fintech on the front-end?Understand as a founder what you are solving for, e.g. if trying to maximize liquidity, you have to understand what regulation you need to  deal with.- If everything goes to plan, what will be the biggest transformation in crypto in the next year and in the next five years?In the next five years, every company will be a crypto company. In the near-term, excited about the derivative landscape (working closely with the regulator) and stablecoins.- What are you most #curious about these days and what are you doing to #learn more about it?Often meet amazing founders who are building super exciting projects - hence curious to hear about them across all verticals.
Kevin Zhang | FX in Decentralized Finance | The Curious Learners Ep. 32
Sep 15 2022
Kevin Zhang | FX in Decentralized Finance | The Curious Learners Ep. 32
Hi everyone. My guest is Kevin Zhang. He is the co-founder of DFX Finance, a decentralized exchange protocol specifically for stablecoins. Kevin has been in crypto for a long time and his journey into building DFX Finance is not a coincidence.  Following his time at Consensys, he went on to build Paytrie, which is a stablecoin exchange based in Canada. In fact, it was this experience that made him see the need for a decentralized exchange designed for stablecoins.Here are some highlights from our discussion on this episode:Why is stablecoin a killer product in crypto?It is agnostic to market cycles. Many use cases such as remittances, trading and store of value on-chain. It will always have utility.Privately issued stablecoins vs  CBDCs (Central Bank Digital Currency)?Interoperability and fungibility of privately issued stablecoins are the biggest differences to CBDCs. If CBDCs do not have this functionality, they might end up being solely domestic exchange of money.How does DFX Finance work better than any other DEX for Stablecoins?DFX Finance uses oracles to pull real-world price data into the algorithm, which allows DFX to concentrate liquidity at that price point. This results in higher efficiency and lower slippage.Right analogy for DFX Finance in traditional finance?It is FX market, however without leveraged trading, which is in progress. Current spot market operations allows for highly efficient remittance corridors, where people can convert one fiat currency into another using stablecoins in the middle.Stablecoins market cap and trading volume grew substantially, however still tiny compared to traditional FX. What does it take to close the gap? Blockchain broadly is super efficient settlement layer for global financial services.  A combination of fiat currency in the front-end and stablecoins in the back-end would be very powerful. It would help achieve a much larger market cap and trading volume.Are we in a Crypto winter?Probably yes, but the worst is over. This time it must be shorter duration.Best case macro scenario for DFX Finance? What is the plan?More and more private stablecoin issuers. DFX wants to be the FX provider to traditional fintech applications in web2 and crypto companies.What are you most #curious about these days and what are you doing to #learn more about it? Super curious about the last mile problem in payment, i.e. conversion from crypto to cash.Please enjoy my discussion with Kevin Zhang.
Joshua Frank | Building the Data Layer for Crypto | The Curious Learners Ep. 31
Aug 29 2022
Joshua Frank | Building the Data Layer for Crypto | The Curious Learners Ep. 31
My guest today is Joshua Frank. He is the co-founder and CEO of The Tie, an information services provider for digital assets. Josh and I met some time ago at a crypto conference and I was truly amazed with The Tie product demo back then. On-chain data is usually accessible, however it is never easy to parse it given the different data structures across chains. In addition, converting data to signals and market intelligence for investors' use requires a lot more processing and a deep understanding of the market.Josh and I discussed a lot on this episode starting from the extent of Blockchain data to building a product-focused business:What does Blockchain data include? What does matter?It is huge. It includes on-chain data, sentiment, news, pricing, NFTs, company funding rounds, SEC filings, regulatory press releases...How do you convert raw Blockchain data to signal?Most important thing in finding signal is having top quality and granular raw data such as news from primary sources (e.g. SEC filings, project updates, medium posts, etc.).  In addition, point-in-time data is critical as posts get deleted, links are changed, etc.How to think about alpha decay in crypto? (alpha decay defined as the gradual loss of power of a certain strategy or information edge over time)There is no such thing as alpha decay in crypto yet. Those who can find creative ways of exploring new sources of high-quality data will continue to find alpha. Things like cohort analysis for users of projects or movement of developers across projects or chains are some examples.  What is the difference between traditional finance and crypto in terms of access to and interpretation of data?Lack of tested fundamentals such as valuation metrics is one of them. And the biggest difference is that crypto has more data because every single transaction is broadcasted to blockchain. It allows us to understand Blockchain projects at a deeper level with something like user-level data, which is not possible to access in traditional markets.Users vs. wallet addresses?If, hypothetically in a particular blockchain, more than 90% of the wallets have less than a dollar, are they really users? Don't think so.How do you build sentiment analysis? Of all the ingredients that go in such as price feed, Twitter posts, TikTok videos, etc., how do you even weight these different things to come up with a sentiment score?There is of course a proprietary sentiment model. It is very difficult to use a traditional sentiment model and adapt it to crypto. It wouldn't work. There is a lot of intricacies specific to crypto. And it is important to look at crypto assets relative to one another in addition to thinking about in terms of sub-sectors such as DeFi, GameFi, NFTs, etc. Going for institutional vs. retail platforms?The Tie is focused on workflow for institutional users. The wide range and depth of features on the platform are best suited for sophisticated institutional users. In addition, those two user groups are very different from each other and it is not possible to serve both of them well. What is the plan for the short term? And the long-term vision for The Tie?Short-term: continue to penetrate into the workflow of The Tie's clients. To be the platform that a client uses from the time they wake up to the time they go to sleep.Long-term:  We want people to think about The Tie when they think about data in crypto, similar to how they think about S&P, Bloomberg, etc. for data in traditional markets. Curious about?Understanding all the different businesses and all the different ways. Also doesn't hurt to watch the New
Lubomila Jordanova | Enabling Journey to Sustainability | The Curious Learners Ep. 30
Aug 18 2022
Lubomila Jordanova | Enabling Journey to Sustainability | The Curious Learners Ep. 30
Hi everyone. My guest for the 30th episode of The Curious Learners is Lubomila Jordanova. She is the founder of Plan A, which is a climate-tech company working with businesses and top institutions around the world to help with their sustainability journeys.Prior to starting Plan A, Lubomila had substantial experience in financial services as an investment banker and as a VC investor. She describes her path to Plan A as one with serendipity. However, after seeing her passion for what she does, I have a strong conviction that sooner or later she would have started Plan A anyway.Lubomila and I had a super interesting conversation on all things sustainability. Below are some highlights: - Why do we have to execute Plan A perfectly to save the Earth?  It is humanity at stake and the problem is global. We have to act as a team including businesses, governments and individuals.- Climate change is not yet clear for some people. How do you define it?It is the planet warming and becoming more unstable in terms of different weather events. People find it more and more difficult to live comfortably, as evidenced by the recent heat waves across many regions, flooding and drought.- How do we reverse the trend? Is it even possible?Yes! It is only possible if all the actions that we do in our daily lives (e.g. buying non-plastic packaged foods) as individuals and in business practices across manufacturing, financing as corporations are less harmful for the planet.- How can we put this obviously global issue into perspective across different layers, so we know what levers to use across different regions, industries, etc.?  What would be those layers?1. Funding: decarbonisation efforts are largely driven by businesses in the US and in EU given the supportive legislation and shared government agenda2. The way economies are built: GDP composition makes a difference in carbon emissions. Service-based economies vs. production-based economies have substantially different environmental footprint3. Cross-border trade & supply chain: businesses with customers or suppliers overseas have a larger impact- What is Plan A in one sentence?Plan A is the award-winning end-to-end decarbonisation and ESG optimisation software that supports businesses to reach their net-zero goals.- How do you do that?By using science and data that is available to the business to show them what levers they can use to reduce their emissions and to achieve sustainability.- What is the key product of Plan A that attracts customers?It is the end-to-end sustainability software, which enables customers to manage their sustainability journey from one single place.- How do you define Plan A's customer base? What is the best way to segment them? Would it be by sectors?More meaningful to consider them by the degree of their awareness of what they need to do in order to address their footprint and how mature they are in the journey to sustainability- What is ahead for Plan A? What is a key goal post in the short-term?Watch out for many announcements coming up in September!!!- What are you most #curious about these days and what are you doing to #learn more about it?Psychology of transformation within a business. Change is inevitable in society and it is no different for businesses.Please enjoy my conversation with Lubomila Jordanova.
Evgeny Gokhberg | Building a DeFi Power User | The Curious Learners Ep. 29
Aug 8 2022
Evgeny Gokhberg | Building a DeFi Power User | The Curious Learners Ep. 29
My guest today is Evgeny Gokhberg. He is the founder and managing partner of Re7 Capital, which is an investment firm focused on DeFi strategies.Evgeny is not only an investor in DeFi, but also a deep thinker about the technology behind it, the future of crypto and how traditional finance and DeFi would work together to build a whole new financial world.Our conversation touched upon (of course) his entry into crypto, the current state of markets, his firm Re7 Capital and the future of DeFi. Here are some highlights from the episode:- Most exciting about DeFi --> it is a technical ability to build financial processes and a whole new financial system- DeFi in the context of recent market turbulence --> Market crash is completely unrelated to the technical performance of the technology, which continues to work well- Real use case of crypto for an ordinary person the street --> Financial freedom first and foremost that enables you to participate either as a creator or simply passive holder. And on top of that, there comes payments, leverage and many more features- Sustainability of financial returns in crypto --> Everyone's favourite question:) A likely benchmark is some premium over high yield bonds, because risk profile in DeFi lending / borrowing pools is similar to that of high yield bonds- Security assessment in DeFi investing --> Evgeny and his team spend 90% of their time thinking about the security risk of protocols and smart contracts, because what is behind DeFi is currently a beta software- Current 'winter' in crypto --> Hard to expect people to rush back into crypto with their hard earned money in particular in the context of high inflation unless all of a sudden there is a super interesting use case- Future of DeFi --> Solid cross-chain bridging infrastructure would help unlock amazing use cases such as different blockchains optimised for different use cases (e.g. Blockchain for NFTs or for order book based derivatives trading)- Vision for Re7 Capital --> Growing even more technical and being at the forefront of the global innovation driven by Blockchain technology- Most curious about --> Deeper technical understanding of ZK Rollups, which is a scaling solution for the Ethereum network.Please enjoy my conversation with Evgeny Gokhberg.
Will Robinson | Accelerating Web3 | The Curious Learners Ep. 28
Jul 28 2022
Will Robinson | Accelerating Web3 | The Curious Learners Ep. 28
Hi everyone. My guest today is Will Robinson from Alliance DAO. He is the head of Community at Alliance, where he helps web3 founders build amazing companies. Will was in gaming until his move into crypto in 2017 with the help of a healthy! dose of push from his cousin Dan Robinson. In fact, he is the only person that I know with a PhD in game design.Will and I had an eye-opening discussion (for me of course) on his journey from gaming to Blockchain,  knowledge accumulation in crypto and the mission of Alliance:- His path into PhD in game design? --> Slight re-adjustment after starting research in film studies. Why film studies in the first place? I didn't ask, but I guess it is because he is a humanist philosopher, which he mentioned at some point on the show:)- The most surprising thing in crypto? --> All the breakthrough technology behind it and the new innovation that keeps happening on a weekly basis!- Transformation in gaming enabled by Blockchain? --> Not one single thing, but it is the magic of Blockchain that nothing else could do.- Biggest innovation in gaming to come  from? --> Zero-knowledge to act as the catalyst and save a lot of space on the network.- Game play vs. incentives? --> All great platforms historically have first and foremost built a perfect game, the IP that people didn't stop buying. Hence it is the former.- North Star metric at Alliance? --> Founder NPS! Podcast host comment: I know they are killing it here.- Alliance's biggest value add to founders? --> The team with all sorts of different expertise (product, business, legal, marketing, etc.) that mentors founders.- Dream project that Will looks forward to founders building? --> On-chain gaming projects and companies that want to be a little bad! (you will certainly have to listen this part to truly figure out the latter:))- Most curious about? --> Account abstraction, personas and social recovery. Podcast host comment: to be game changer for the adoption of crypto!Please enjoy my conversation with Will Robinson.
Mounir Benchemled | Facilitating Decentralized Finance | The Curious Learners Ep. 27
Jul 13 2022
Mounir Benchemled | Facilitating Decentralized Finance | The Curious Learners Ep. 27
Hi everyone. My guest today is Mounir Benchemled. He is the founder of Paraswap, which is one of the leading DEX aggregators in crypto markets.Mounir's entry into blockchain dates back to 2013 and he had a front seat to the development of crypto markets since then, first as a user and then builder of DeFi (and this is before it was called DeFi). He is in the camp of founders, who have been frustrated with existing products and decided to build something new.Mounir and I had a deep dive discussion into the premise of Blockchain when it comes to money, why decentralized finance matters and of course everything about Paraswap. Here are some highlights from the show:- What is your biggest regret as far as crypto markets? (I actually didn't ask this question on the show, but Mounir gave it away:)) --> Not buying Bitcoin in 2013, but instead focusing too much on the tech! - Motivation to build Paraswap? --> Offering a great user experience to execute transactions in a truly decentralized way.- Signal of product market fit? What made you say yes, this is working? -->  First iteration didn't work due to targeting wrong user base. But then changed the focus to the then niche defi community. Moved from monitoring number of visits to volumes traded, which was the signal.- Most satisfactory part of the journey so far? --> Building trust with people and seeing them transact millions of dollars via Paraswap software- DeFi and TradFi working together? -->  TradFi using DeFi for its back-end, leveraging the security of the Blockchain infrastructure, while bringing liquidity that is whitelisted and KYC'ed- Regulation's place in DeFi? --> Countries should support the innovation brought by Blockchain and let projects build. Consensus in regulating crypto around the globe with an iterative approach would at the end achieve clarity and incentivize institutions to come into DeFi - Paraswap in the next 3-5 years? --> Serving the whole digital and real world assets in a truly decentralized way and making trading as accessible as possible to all users. North Star: the whole team disappearing for three months and coming back to an operating platform!- Most curious about? --> Learning more about history in the fraction of time during the day not spent on DeFi:) Please enjoy my conversation with Mounir Benchemled.
Paul Hsu | Metaverse as the Immersive Internet | The Curious Learners Ep. 26
Jul 3 2022
Paul Hsu | Metaverse as the Immersive Internet | The Curious Learners Ep. 26
My guest today is Paul Hsu. He is the founder of Decasonic, a crypto native VC fund. Paul's background and his thesis at Decasonic put him in a unique position to help entrepreneurs ride the next wave of innovation in Blockchain.Our wide-ranging conversation covers the history of innovation in social world, biggest catalysts for mass adoption of web3 and the future of new social world that we are in. It was fascinating to hear Paul's wonderful insights with the hindsight of significant experience from his career. Here are some highlights from the show:- What is the most striking thing observed in your career? --> Technology changes faster than human nature.- Biggest catalyst to achieve mass adoption in Blockchain? --> It is the next generation immersive internet, a.k.a. Metaverse!- What does Blockchain technology really enable? --> Decentralized value transfer and asset ownership across trustless systems.- What does it take to go from zero to one? --> Deep focus and understanding of the customer, their needs and wants.- What future exists for crypto from where we sit in the beginning of a multi-year crypto winter? --> Bear markets are for real builders, for transformative companies to emerge. - Three key  components to build the future of open finance and DeFi? --> Trust, usability and accessibility.- How do we bring Metaverse to our daily lives? --> Games, work and some physical experiences (e.g. workout?).  It is critical however to align the development of applications and the infrastructure.- Paul's operating principle at Decasonic? -->  Collaborate and co-build with founders globally. Continuously engage with founders, share market insights, point them to white spaces in the market. - Most #curious about? --> Learning to view the world through others. It helps to build a shared empathy to make the world a better space (Book suggestion: Political Tribes from Amy Chua).Please enjoy my conversation with Paul Hsu.
Sam Peurifoy | Web3 Gaming | The Curious Learners Ep. 24
Jun 12 2022
Sam Peurifoy | Web3 Gaming | The Curious Learners Ep. 24
My guest today is my good friend Sam Peurifoy. He is the Head of Interactive for Hivemind Capital Partners and the founder of Playground Labs. The gaming community knows him as Das Kapitalist!Sam is my go-to person when it comes to deep discussions on gaming and web3. It was again a very insightful conversation with him. Here are some highlights from the episode:- Why Das Kapitalist? --> Emerged from the idea of capitalism meeting gaming and also a pseudonym was needed for game streaming (details in the episode:)).- How did a PhD degree contribute to what he does now? --> curiosity, drive to innovate,  navigation through uncharted territories.- What is missing in Web2 games? --> the community is not compensated for their contribution.- Why is the current Blockchain transformation in gaming bigger than the previous ones? --> it comes down to one thing: ownership and that it is a paradigm shift never going back.- What should buidlers focus on? --> clean user experience, simple token loops and robust token models. - How should we interpret the current market conditions? --> increasing correlation with equity markets, bear market to stay for some time, eventually healthy for fundamentally good projects.- Catalysts that will bring us to the other side of current bear market? --> Proper scaling and regulation.- What incentive model will prevail for the long term? --> the one that would encourage people to play inside an ecosystem and also grow the social fabric. A new piece from Sam on the way on this very topic. Please subscribe to his Medium page to hear more.- Most curious about? --> Which web2 studios will deploy some great web3 games in the coming year (anyone has a guess?).Please enjoy my conversation with Sam Peurifoy.
Scott Stornetta | No, He is not Satoshi | The Curious Learners Ep. 21
Apr 22 2022
Scott Stornetta | No, He is not Satoshi | The Curious Learners Ep. 21
I don't know if you do, but I don't get to speak to inventors of Blockchain very often.Scott Stornetta is the co-author of three out of eight works referenced in the original Bitcoin whitepaper. Initially, Scott's strong view on the need to create immutable records led him to work with cryptographer Stuart Haber and together invent the very first Blockchain.My conversation with Scott was eye-opening on the original idea behind Blockchain, social and technological developments leading to Bitcoin and today's world  of web 3.0:- Transformation from a theoretical physicist to Blockchain inventor: if you care deeply about a problem, you can train yourself to learn the skills- Bitcoin's success versus previous cryptocurrency attempts:-- gradual build-up of the movement to break existing social and financial structures,-- significant increase in compute power,-- amount of bandwidth available to enable peer-to-peer communication, and of course-- the clever incentive mechanism behind Bitcoin- NFTs are much more than a passing fad: it enables all assets to be traded and managed from the Blockchain- Scalability problem: it will follow as we solve consumers' (both individuals and enterprise) needs (e.g. processing transactions faster, storing their identity more secure and more portable)- Biggest catalyst for mass adoption: user experience that equates having a crypto wallet as stable, secure and as low-risk as having a bank account- Is he Satoshi?: No, unfortunately he is not:)- Curious about: quantum computing (who wants to be the Satoshi of quantum space?)Please enjoy my conversation with Scott Stornetta.