J

Jonathan Kogan

Host of "In Case You Forgot: The Ownership Economy" Podcast 👇👇 My Profile Page: https://page.fyi/@jsk

How to Explain Your No-Code Tech Stack to Investors

How to Explain Your No-Code Tech Stack to Investors

These days, more accelerators and early-stage (seed and pre-seed) investors in tech startups want to see a live minimum viable product (MVP) before backing a project. Creating your first product demo or MVP used to require spending thousands of dollars on help from an engineer, but thanks to no-code tools like Bubble, startups can now build custom, complex web products entirely visually—without code—for a reasonable monthly subscription.

If you’re building with Bubble and looking for early venture capital, you may get questions from investors about your tech stack and how you got your product to market. That’s why we put together this quick guide you can use to explain no-code to your potential investors.

Do investors really care whether my product was built with no-code?

Not always! Most investors are looking for a great idea, strong product market fit, proven demand, and a good, sustainable business model. However, one of the best ways to prove your own idea and test it out is to get that MVP to market and hear what real customers have to say, before investing more time and giving away more equity to your company. That’s why Bubble is a great tool for bootstrapping startups and product ideas. Below are the most common questions you may get about Bubble and how to answer them.

Table of Contents What is Bubble?

Bubble is a programming tool and cloud platform that enables anyone to build their web applications visually without code. Bubble is one of the earliest players in the no-code space; more than 1 million web applications have been built on Bubble. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world use Bubble’s responsive visual editor to make applications ranging from VC-backed startups to internal management tools and personal projects. Bubble significantly cuts the time it takes to build web products, from marketplaces to CRMs to social networks. Once an app is built, it is hosted on Bubble’s cloud platform and scales automatically. Bubble users retain the full intellectual property of their application (design, workflows and data), while Bubble retains the IP of the non-app-specific engine.

Why are you using Bubble to build your product?

To spend way less in the short run and long run. Because companies don’t need to hire engineers to get their product to market, Bubble is more affordable by a few orders of magnitude. In recent data surveys, including Bubble’s 2020 No-Code Census, respondents claimed that no-code saved them the cost of 2-3 engineers per application, or on average $200,000-$300,000 a year based on the median salary of a U. S. based programmer in 2020. Bubble users have stated Bubble is anywhere from 10x to 50x cheaper than traditional development. This reduced cost leads to a better use of capital in the very early stages of the company and lower dilution for early investors and founders.

To iterate at show-and-prove speeds. Bubble is an easy-to-use higher-level language, making building and modifying a web application much faster. Founding teams can iterate on the product in a matter of hours, and therefore leverage early feedback very quickly.

To scale as much as your success allows. Bubble apps scale automatically. When apps reach a certain scale, they can migrate to a Dedicated Cluster that isolates them completely from the main user base and gives a lot of headroom when traffic goes up. We’ve seen apps handle more than 500,000 page views daily on such configuration. Apps on the main cluster currently reach more than 30 million page views monthly.

There’s a lot you can do in Bubble. A common concern with no-code tools is about their limitations. Bubble is extremely open-ended compared to other tools (and therefore requires a few hours of learning). Having said that, there may be situations where Bubble’s visual language isn’t best to define the desired behavior. In such cases, users can build their own plugins with code that can be integrated into the application, or purchase plugins built by the Bubble community. With this fallback, there is no limit in terms of what can be built on Bubble.

Bubble is the most powerful no-code tool for web applications. Bubble is currently optimized for web applications. While Bubble applications are responsive and work great on mobile devices, Bubble does not offer an out-of-the-box solution for native applications that are distributed through the app stores. Some users have successfully wrapped their applications for mobile as well.

Are there examples of other successful apps built on Bubble?

Here are some of the Bubble apps that have done big things:

Dividend Finance runs a solar panel financing platform for homeowners and a CRM for installers. They have raised more than $330M and processed over $1B of loans through a Bubble-built solution since 2014.
Cuure is fully built on Bubble and has raised €1.8M from top investors in Europe.
Comet scaled to $800,000 revenue on Bubble before raising its first $13M round.
Teal raised $5M for their careers platform built on Bubble. Read more on our blog.
Many users have built profitable businesses on Bubble without raising funding, and many more have gotten funding with their Bubble-built apps. You can discover more about our users and what they built here.

What is Bubble—technically?

Technically, Bubble is a JSON-based declarative language for web application assembly. It’s designed to let non-technical and technical users combine hand-coded javascript modules seamlessly into a working node.js application. It supports both front-end javascript components that the user can combine in a free-form way, and back-end server components the user can link together. Bubble is designed to replace programming languages and frameworks that are traditionally used for web development (Ruby on Rails or node.js on the back-end, and React, HTML, JS, and CSS on the front-end).

How stable is Bubble?

The stability of Bubble as a product and platform is at the core of our strategy. We want to become the default platform for startups, and we want Bubble to be an easy sell for tech solutions at small to medium enterprises.

Our platform: Our deployment process includes a suite of more than 600 tests to prevent bugs from getting into production. Our uptime over 30 days exceeds 99.95% on the main cluster. Alternatively, on a Dedicated Cluster, users control when they update their code, which is made available to them a few hours after release and testing on the main cluster, leading to an uptime of 100% for most boxes.

Our company: Launched in 2012 by the same founding team that is running the company today, Bubble has been profitable for many years before raising its first round of funding. This controlled growth strategy is a source of stability for our product, community and company. In 2019, raised our first round of funding to help us scale faster as startups grow on Bubble. We announced a $6.25M round in June 2019 led by SignalFire and, in July 2021, Bubble closed a $100M Series A round led by Insight Partners. Our other backers include Ali Partovi of Neo, Eric Ries of the Lean Startup Method, David Tisch of BoxGroup, and the founders of Warby Parker, Mulesoft, Okta, Harry’s, Allbirds, Peloton, Hootsuite, Datadog and more.

Our guarantee: While we plan on being around for a long time, we’ve committed publicly to release our code in open source with migration instructions if we ever were to shut down shop and cease offering our service.

Conclusion: Why should investors fund no-code startups?
Investors who invest in no-code startups are more likely to see their money go to actual market growth rather than development costs.

No-code is here to stay, and more than 1 million people are building tools with no-code. Bubble-built apps have already been seen in prestigious accelerators like YCombinator, and we expect the trend to continue as it becomes easier to build and test out digital products without needing a team of engineers.

A Normie’s Guide to Crypto

March 25, 2022

Until fairly recently, if you lived anywhere other than San Francisco, it was possible to go days or even weeks without hearing about crypto. Now, suddenly, it’s inescapable. Look one way, and there are Matt Damon and Larry David doing ads for crypto start-ups. Swivel your head — oh, hey, it’s the mayors of Miami and New York City, arguing over who loves Bitcoin more.

For instance, 2 NBA arenas are now named after crypto companies, and it seems as if every corporate marketing team in America has jumped on the NFT — or non-fungible token — bandwagon. (Can I interest you in one of Pepsi’s new “Mic Drop” genesis NFTs? Or maybe something from Applebee’s “Metaverse Meals” NFT collection, inspired by the restaurant chain’s “iconic” menu items?)

Crypto!

For years, it seemed like the kind of fleeting tech trend most people could safely ignore, like hoverboards or Google Glass. But its power, both economic and cultural, has become too big to overlook. 20% of American adults, and 36% of millennials, own cryptocurrency, according to a recent Morning Consult survey.

Coinbase, the crypto trading app, has landed on top of the App Store’s top charts at least twice in the past year.

Today, the crypto market is valued at around $1.75 trillion — roughly the size of Google. And in Silicon Valley, engineers and executives are bolting from cushy jobs in droves to join the crypto gold rush.

As it’s gone mainstream, crypto has inspired an unusually polarized discourse. Its biggest fans think it’s saving the world, while its biggest skeptics are convinced it’s all a scam — an environment-killing speculative bubble orchestrated by grifters and sold to greedy dupes, which will probably crash the economy when it bursts.

I’ve been writing about crypto for nearly a decade, a period in which my own views have whipsawed between extreme skepticism and cautious optimism. These days, I usually describe myself as a crypto moderate, although I admit that may be a cop-out.

I agree with the skeptics that much of the crypto market consists of overvalued, overhyped and possibly fraudulent assets, and I am unmoved by the most utopian sentiments shared by pro-crypto zealots (such as the claim by Jack Dorsey, the former Twitter chief, that Bitcoin will usher in world peace).

But as I’ve experimented more with crypto — including accidentally selling an NFT for more than $500,000 in a charity auction last year — I’ve come to accept that it isn’t all a cynical money-grab, and that there are things of actual substance being built.

I’ve also learned, in my career, that when so much money, energy and talent flows toward a new thing, it’s generally a good idea to pay attention, regardless of your views on the thing itself.

My strongest-held belief about crypto, though, is that it is terribly explained.

Recently, I spent several months reading everything I could about crypto. But I found that most beginner guides took the form of boring podcasts, thinly researched YouTube videos and blog posts written by hopelessly biased investors.

Many anti-crypto takes, on the other hand, were undercut by inaccuracies and outdated arguments, such as the assertion that crypto is good for criminals, notwithstanding the growing evidence that crypto’s traceable ledgers make it a poor fit for illicit activity.

What I couldn’t find was a sober, dispassionate explanation of what crypto actually is — how it works, who it’s for, what’s at stake, where the battle lines are drawn — along with answers to some of the most common questions it raises.

This guide, or a large FAQ section really, is an attempt to fix that. In it, I’ll explain the basic concepts as clearly as I can, doing my best to answer the questions a curious but open-minded skeptic might pose.

Crypto boosters will likely quibble with my explanations, while dug-in opponents may find them too generous. That’s fine. My goal is not to convince you that crypto is good or bad, that it should be outlawed or celebrated, or that investing in it will make you rich or bankrupt you. It is simply to demystify things a bit. And if you want to go deeper, each section has a list of reading suggestions at the end. Crypto will be transformative.

Understanding crypto now — especially if you’re naturally skeptical — is important for a few reasons.

The first being that crypto wealth and ideology is going to be a transformative force in our society in the coming years.

You’ve heard about the overnight Dogecoin millionaires and Lamborghini-driving Bitcoin bros. But that’s not the half of it. The crypto boom has generated vast new fortunes at a clip we’ve never seen before — the closest comparison is probably the discovery of oil in the Middle East — and has turned its biggest winners into some of the richest people in the world, essentially overnight. Some riches could vanish if the market crashes, but enough has already been cashed out to ensure that crypto’s influence will linger for decades.

Crypto’s madcap, meme-crazed online culture can make it seem frivolous and shallow. It’s not. Cryptocurrencies, even the jokey ones, are part of a robust, well- funded ideological movement that has serious implications for our political and economic future. Bitcoin, which emerged out of the ashes of the 2008 financial crisis, first caught on among libertarians and anti-establishment activists who saw it as the cornerstone of a new, incorruptible monetary system.

Since then, other crypto realms have fashioned similarly lofty goals, like building a decentralized, largely unregulated version of Wall Street on the blockchain.

We are already starting to see a swell of crypto money headed toward the U. S. political system. Crypto entrepreneurs are donating millions of dollars to candidates and causes, and lobbying firms have fanned out across the country to win support for pro-crypto legislation.

In the coming years, crypto moguls will bankroll the campaigns of crypto-friendly candidates, or run for office themselves. Some will peddle influence in the familiar ways — forming super PACs, funding think tanks, etc. — while others will try to escape partisan gridlock altogether. (Crypto millionaires are already buying up land in the South Pacific to build their own blockchain utopias.)

Crypto is poised to soon become one of a handful of true wedge issues, with politicians all over the world forced to pick a side. Some countries, like El Salvador — whose crypto-loving president, Nayib Bukele, recently announced the development of a “Bitcoin City” at the base of a volcano — will go full crypto. Other governments may decide that crypto is a threat to their sovereignty and crack down, as China did when it outlawed cryptocurrency trading last year.

The divide between the world’s pro-crypto and no-crypto zones could end up being at least as big as the divide between the Chinese internet and the American one, and maybe even more consequential.

In America, we have already seen how crypto can scramble the usual partisan allegiances. Former President Donald J. Trump and Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Democrat from Massachusetts, are united in crypto skepticism, for example, while Senator Ted Cruz, Republican from Texas, is in the same bullish camp as Senator Ron Wyden, the Democrat from Oregon.

We have also seen what can happen when the crypto community feels politically threatened, as happened last summer, when crypto groups rallied to oppose a crypto-related provision in President Biden’s infrastructure bill.

What I’m saying, I guess, is that despite the goofy veneer, crypto is not just another weird internet phenomenon. It’s an organized technological movement, armed with powerful tools and hordes of wealthy true believers, whose goal is nothing less than a total economic and political revolution. Crypto could be destructive.

The second reason to pay attention to crypto is that understanding it now is the best way to ensure it doesn’t become a destructive force later.

In the early 2010s, the most common knock on social media apps like Facebook and Twitter was that they just wouldn’t work as businesses. Pundits predicted that users would eventually tire of their friends’ vacation photos, that advertisers would flee and that the whole social media industry would collapse.

The theory wasn’t so much that social media was dangerous or bad; just that it was boring and corny, a hype-driven fad that would disappear as quickly as it had arrived.

What nobody was asking back then — at least not loudly — were questions like:

What if social media is actually insanely successful?

What kind of regulations would need to exist in a world where Facebook and Twitter were the dominant communication platforms?

How should tech companies with billions of users weigh the trade-offs between free speech and safety?

What product features could prevent online hate and misinformation from cascading into offline violence?

By the middle of the decade, when it was clear that these were urgent questions, it was too late. The platform mechanics and ad-based business models were already baked in, and skeptics — who might have steered these apps in a better direction, if they’d taken them more seriously from the start — were stuck trying to contain the damage.

Are we making the same mistake with crypto today? It’s possible. No one knows yet whether crypto will or won’t “work,” in the grandest sense. (Anyone who claims they do is selling something.) But there is real money and energy in it, and many tech veterans I’ve spoken to tell me that today’s crypto scene feels, to them, like 2010 all over again — with tech disrupting money this time, instead of media.

If they’re wrong, they’re wrong. But if they’re right — even partly — the best time to start paying attention is now, before the paths are set and the problems are intractable.

The third reason to study up on crypto is that it can be genuinely fun to learn about.

Sure, a lot of it is dumb, shady or self-refuting. But if you can look past the carnival barkers and parse the convoluted jargon, you’ll find a bottomless well of weird, interesting and thought-provoking projects. The crypto agenda is so huge and multidisciplinary — drawing together elements of economics, engineering, philosophy, law, art, energy policy and more — that it offers lots of footholds for beginners.

Want to discuss the influence of Austrian economics in Bitcoin development?

There’s probably a Discord server for that.

Want to join a DAO that invests in NFTs, or play a video game that pays you in crypto tokens for winning?

Dive right in.

Crypto is a generational skeleton key Mind you, I am not suggesting that the crypto world is diverse, in the demographic sense. Surveys have suggested that high-earning white men make up a large share of crypto owners, and libertarians with dog-eared copies of Atlas Shrugged are likely overrepresented among crypto millionaires. But, it’s not an intellectual monolith.

There are right-wing Bitcoin maximalists who believe that crypto will liberate them from government tyranny; left-wing Ethereum fans who want to overthrow the big banks; and speculators with no ideological attachments who just want to turn a profit and get out. These communities fight with one another constantly, and many have wildly different ideas about what crypto should be. It makes for fascinating study, especially with a bit of emotional distance.

And if you do learn some crypto basics, you might find that a whole world opens up to you.

You’ll understand why Jimmy Fallon and Steph Curry are changing their Twitter avatars to cartoon apes, and why Elon Musk, the richest man in the world, spent a decent chunk of last year tweeting about a digital currency named after a dog. Strange words and phrases you encounter on the internet — rug pulls, flippenings, “gm” — will become familiar, and eventually, headlines like “NFT Collector Sells People’s Fursonas for $100K In Right-Click Mindset War” won’t make you wonder if you’re losing your grip on reality.

Crypto can also be a kind of generational skeleton key — maybe the single fastest way to freshen your cultural awareness and decipher the beliefs and actions of today’s young people. And just as knowing a little about New Age mysticism and psychedelics would help someone trying to make sense of youth culture in the 1960s, knowing some crypto basics can help someone perplexed by emerging attitudes about money and power feel more grounded.

Again, I don’t really care whether you emerge from these explainers as a true believer, a devoted skeptic or something in between.

Participate or abstain as you wish!

All I’m after is understanding — and possibly, a little relief from the question that has consumed my social and professional life for the past several years:

“So... can I ask you a question about crypto?”

Let’s start from the beginning: What is crypto?

A decade or two ago, the word was generally used as shorthand for cryptography. But in recent years, it’s been more closely associated with cryptocurrencies. These days, “crypto” usually refers to the entire universe of technologies that involve blockchains — the distributed ledger systems that power digital currencies like Bitcoin, but also serve as the base layer of technology for things like NFTs, web3 applications and DeFi trading protocols.

Ah yes, blockchains. Can you remind me, without going into too much technical detail, what they are?

At a very basic level, blockchains are shared databases that store and verify information in a cryptographically secure way.

You can think of a blockchain like a Google spreadsheet, except that instead of being hosted on Google’s servers, blockchains are maintained by a network of computers all over the world.

These computers (sometimes called miners or validators) are responsible for storing their own copies of the database, adding and verifying new entries, and securing the database against hackers.

So blockchains are... fancy Google spreadsheets?

Sort of! But there are at least three important conceptual differences.

First, a blockchain is decentralized. It doesn’t need a company like Google overseeing it. All of that work is done by the computers on the network, using what’s called a consensus mechanism — basically, a complicated algorithm that allows them to agree on what’s in a database without the need for a neutral referee.

This makes blockchains more secure than traditional record-keeping systems, proponents believe, since no single person or company can take down the blockchain or alter its contents, and anyone trying to hack or change the records in the ledger would need to break into many computers simultaneously.

The second major feature of blockchains is that they’re typically public and open source, meaning that unlike a Google spreadsheet, anyone can inspect a public blockchain’s code or see a record of any transaction. (There are private blockchains, but they’re less important than the public ones.)

Third, blockchains are typically append-only and permanent, meaning that unlike with a Google spreadsheet, data that’s added to a blockchain typically can’t be deleted or changed after the fact.

Got it.

So, blockchains are public, permanent databases that nobody owns?

You’re getting it!

Now remind me: How are blockchains related to cryptocurrencies?

Blockchains didn’t really exist until 2009, when a pseudonymous programmer named Satoshi Nakamoto released the technical documentation for Bitcoin, the first-ever cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin used a blockchain to keep track of transactions. That was notable because, for the first time, it allowed people to send and receive money over the internet without needing to involve a central authority, such as a bank or an app like PayPal or Venmo.

Many blockchains still perform cryptocurrency transactions, and there are now roughly 10,000 different cryptocurrencies in existence, according to CoinMarketCap. But many blockchains can be used to store other kinds of information, too — including NFTs, bits of self-executing code known as smart contracts and full-fledged apps — without the need for a central authority.

OK, but can we back up a second? Weren’t tech people telling us, years ago, that crypto was a new and exciting form of money? And yet, nobody I know pays their rent or buys groceries in Bitcoin. So, were those people just... wrong?

Good question.

It’s true that today, hardly anyone pays for things in cryptocurrency. In part, that’s because most merchants still don’t accept crypto payments, and hefty transaction fees can make it impractical to spend small amounts of cryptocurrency on daily living expenses.

It’s also because the value of popular cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ether has historically gone up, making it somewhat risky to use them for offline purchases. (The counterexamples are usually cited with pity, like the guy who, in 2010, bought two Papa John’s pizzas using Bitcoin that was worth about 400 million today.) It’s also true that the value of cryptocurrencies has grown enormously since the early Bitcoin days, despite them not being most people’s daily spending money.

Part of that growth is speculation — people buying crypto assets in hopes of selling them for more later on. Part of it is because the blockchains that have emerged since Bitcoin, like Ethereum and Solana, have expanded what can be done with this technology.

And some crypto fans believe that the prices of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin will eventually stabilize, which could make them more useful as a means of payment.

What are the actual uses of crypto, beyond financial speculation?

Right now, many of the successful applications for crypto technology are in finance or finance-adjacent fields.

For example, people are using crypto to send cross-border remittances to family members abroad and Wall Street banks using blockchains to settle foreign transactions.

The crypto boom has also led to an explosion of experiments outside of financial services. There are crypto social clubs, crypto video games, crypto restaurants and even crypto- powered wireless networks.

These non-financial uses are still fairly limited. But crypto fans often make the case that the technology is still young, and that it took the internet decades to mature into what it is today.

Investors are pouring billions of dollars into crypto start-ups because they think that someday, blockchains will be used for all kinds of things:

Storing medical records,
Tracking streaming music rights, even,
Hosting new social media platforms

And the crypto ecosystem is attracting tons of developers — an auspicious sign for any new technology.

I’ve heard people calling crypto a pyramid scheme or a Ponzi scheme. What do they mean? Some critics believe that cryptocurrency markets are fundamentally fraudulent, either because early investors get rich at the expense of late investors, or because crypto projects lure in unsuspecting investors with promises of safe returns, then collapse once new money stops coming in (a Ponzi scheme).

There are certainly plenty of examples of pyramid and Ponzi schemes within crypto. They include OneCoin, a fraudulent crypto operation that stole 90 million crypto hedge fund run by a 24-year-old investor who pleaded guilty to securities fraud and was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison. But these cases aren’t usually what critics are talking about. They’re generally arguing that crypto itself is an exploitative scheme, with no real-world value.

And are they right?

Well, let’s try to understand the case they’re making.

Unlike buying stock in, say, Apple, a purchase that (theoretically, at least) reflects a belief that Apple’s underlying business is healthy, buying a cryptocurrency is more like betting on the success of an idea, they say.

If people believe in Bitcoin, they buy, and Bitcoin prices go up. If people stop believing in Bitcoin, they sell, and Bitcoin prices go down.

Crypto owners, then, have a rational incentive to convince other people to buy. And if you don’t think that cryptocurrency technology is inherently valuable, you might conclude that the entire thing resembles a pyramid scheme, in which you primarily make money by recruiting others to join.

I’m sensing a “but” coming on.

But!

Even though there are scams and frauds within crypto, and crypto investors are certainly fond of trying to recruit other people to buy in, many investors will tell you that they are going in with their eyes wide open.

They believe that crypto technology is inherently valuable, and that the ability to store information and value on a decentralized blockchain will be attractive to all kinds of people and businesses in the future. They would tell you they’re betting on crypto the product, not crypto the idea — which, on some level, isn’t all that different from buying Apple stock because you think the next iPhone is going to be popular.

Matt Huang, a prominent investor, spoke for many crypto fans when he said on Twitter:

“Crypto may look like a speculative casino from the outside. But that distracts many from the deeper truth: the casino is a trojan horse with a new financial system hidden inside.”

You can argue with that position, or dispute how much this “new financial system” is actually worth. But crypto investors clearly believe it’s worth something.

Is crypto regulated?

Only slightly.

In the United States, certain centralized crypto exchanges, such as Coinbase, are required to register as money transmitters and follow laws like the Bank Secrecy Act, which requires them to collect certain information about their customers. Some countries have passed more stringent regulations, and others, like China, have banned cryptocurrency trading entirely.

But compared with the traditional financial system, crypto is very lightly regulated. There are few rules governing crypto assets like “stablecoins” — coins whose value is pegged to government-backed currencies — or even clear guidance from the Internal Revenue Service about how certain crypto investments should be taxed. And certain areas of crypto, like DeFi (decentralized finance), are almost completely unregulated.

Partly, that’s because it’s still early, and making new rules takes time. But it’s also a property of blockchain technology itself, much of which was designed to be hard for governments to control.

This question comes from the (apparently crypto-curious) rapper Cardi B:

Is crypto going to replace the dollar?

Sorry, Cardi. The dollar is the world’s reserve currency, and dislodging it would be a huge, costly project that isn’t likely to happen any time soon. (To give just one small example of the enormity of the task: every financial contract that is denominated in dollars would have to be re-denominated in Bitcoin or Ether or some other cryptocurrency.) There are also technical hurdles crypto needs to overcome if it’s ever going to displace government-issued currency.

Today, the most popular blockchains — Bitcoin and Ethereum — are slow and inefficient compared with traditional payment networks. (The Ethereum blockchain, for example, can process only about 15 transactions per second, whereas Visa says it can process thousands of credit card transactions per second.)

And, of course, for a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin to replace the dollar, you’d need to convince billions of people to use a currency whose value fluctuates wildly, that isn’t backed by a government and that often can’t be retrieved if it’s stolen.

What kind of people are investing in crypto?

Is it all — to quote a recent Curb Your Enthusiasm episode — “Nerds and Nazis”? It’s hard to say who’s investing in crypto, especially since a lot of activity takes place anonymously or under pseudonyms. But some surveys and studies have suggested that crypto is still dominated by affluent white men.

Gemini, a cryptocurrency exchange, estimated in a recent report that women made up only 26% of crypto investors.

The average crypto owner, the group found, was a 38-year-old man making approximately $111,000 a year.

But crypto ownership does appear to be diversifying.

A 2021 Pew Research Center survey found that Asian, Black and Latino adults were more likely to have used crypto than white adults. Crypto adoption is also growing outside the United States, and some studies have suggested that crypto adoption is growing fastest in countries like Vietnam, India and Pakistan.

Blockchain expert, Tressie McMillan Cottom, has made the case that crypto — because it relies on permanent, irrefutable records of ownership of digital goods and currencies — is particularly attractive to people from marginalized groups, who may have had their property unjustly taken from them in the past.

“If I live in a community where the police absolutely use eminent domain to claim my private property and I cannot do anything about it,” she wrote, “that sense of everyday powerlessness would make the promise of blockchain sound pretty good.”

That said, some recent studies have also found that a small number of people own the vast majority of crypto wealth — so it’s not necessarily an egalitarian paradise.

And what about extremists?

Are they into crypto?

Some are.

Because you can buy and sell cryptocurrency without using your name or having a bank account, crypto in its early days was a natural fit for people who had reasons to avoid the traditional financial system. They included criminals, tax evaders and people buying and selling illicit goods. They also included political dissidents and extremists, some of whom had been kicked off more mainstream payment services like PayPal and Patreon. As a result of their well-timed entry into the crypto market, some extremists have gotten rich.

A recent investigation by the Southern Poverty Law Center found that several prominent white supremacists have made hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars by investing in crypto.

Of course, there are millions of crypto owners, the vast majority of whom are not white supremacists. And the same properties of anonymity and censorship- resistance that make crypto useful to white supremacists might also make it attractive to, say, Afghan citizens fleeing the Taliban. So, labeling the entire crypto movement an extremist group would be overkill.

Regardless, it’s safe to say that crypto has become attractive to all kinds of people who would rather not deal (or can’t legally deal) with a traditional bank.

Another criticism I’ve heard is that crypto is bad for the environment.

Is that true?

This is a real can of worms — and one of the most frequent objections to crypto.

Let’s start with what we know for sure. It’s true that most crypto activity today takes place on blockchains that require large amounts of energy to store and verify transactions.

These networks use a “proof-of-work” consensus mechanism — a process that has been compared to a global guessing game, played by computers all competing to solve cryptographic puzzles in order to add new information to the database and earn a reward in return. Solving these puzzles requires powerful computers, which in turn use lots of energy.

The Bitcoin blockchain, for example, uses an estimated 200 terawatt-hours of energy per year, according to Digiconomist, a website that tracks crypto energy usage.

That’s comparable to the annual energy consumption of Thailand.

And Bitcoin’s associated carbon emissions have been estimated at roughly 100 megatons per year, which is comparable to the carbon footprint of the Czech Republic.

Holy moly! How do crypto fans justify that kind of environmental impact?

Crypto advocates often quibble with these statistics. They also argue that: Our existing financial system also uses a lot of energy, between powering millions of bank branches, ATMs that sit idle for most of the day, gold mines and other energy-intensive infrastructure.

Many crypto-mining computers are already powered by renewable energy sources, or by energy that would otherwise be wasted.

Most newer blockchains are built using consensus mechanisms that require much less energy than proof-of-work. (Ethereum, for example, is scheduled to switch to a new type of consensus mechanism called proof-of-stake sometime in 2022, which could reduce its energy usage by as much as 99%.)

And are those arguments valid?

Partly.

It’s true that most newer blockchains are designed in a way that requires considerably less energy than Bitcoin, and that Ethereum’s switch to a proof-of-stake consensus mechanism will greatly shrink its environmental footprint, if and when it happens.

But it’s also a bit convenient to steer attention away from Bitcoin, which is still the most valuable cryptocurrency in the world. Bitcoin’s energy needs aren’t expected to fall significantly anytime soon. And even if every Bitcoin miner ran entirely on renewable energy — which, to be clear, isn’t the case — there would still be an environmental cost associated with maintaining the blockchain.

All told, it’s clear that crypto as we know it today has a significant environmental impact, but it’s hard to measure exactly how significant. Many frequently cited statistics come from industry groups, and it’s hard to find trustworthy, independent data and analysis.

But few crypto fans would dispute that blockchains consume substantially more energy than a traditional, centralized database would — just as 100 refrigerators use more energy than one refrigerator. They just argue that crypto’s environmental impact will shrink over time, and that the benefits of decentralization are worth the costs.

Got it. And those benefits, again, are...

Some crypto proponents will tell you that the biggest benefit of decentralization is the ability to create currencies, apps and virtual economies that are resistant to censorship and top- down control. Imagine a version of Facebook, they’ll say, in which Mark Zuckerberg couldn’t unilaterally decide to kick people off.

Others will say that the biggest perk of decentralization is that it allows artists and creators to control their own economic destinies more directly by giving them a way — in the form of NFTs and other crypto assets — to bypass platform gatekeepers like YouTube and Spotify, and sell unique digital works directly to their fans.

Still others will say that crypto is most useful to people who don’t live in countries with stable currencies, or to dissident groups living under authoritarian regimes.

There are a million other hypothetical benefits of decentralization and crypto, some of which are realistic and some of which probably aren’t.

How do you actually use crypto? Is it like sending a payment over Paypal or Venmo?

It can be.

The quickest way to get started using cryptocurrencies is to set up an account with a crypto exchange like Coinbase, which can link to your bank account and convert your US dollars, and other fiat currencies, into cryptocurrency.

But many crypto users prefer setting up their own “wallets” — secure places to store the cryptographic keys that unlock their digital assets.

Once you’ve got some crypto in your wallet, the process can be pretty simple — just type in the recipient’s crypto wallet address, pay a transaction fee, and wait for the payment to clear.

Other types of crypto transactions, like buying and selling NFTs, can be significantly more complicated, but the basic act of sending a payment to someone typically takes only a few minutes.

I’m ready to dive into the rest of your explainers. But first, I have one final question about crypto’s culture:

Why is it so weird and insular?

This is maybe the question I get asked most about crypto. People see their friends, co- workers and relatives diving down the crypto rabbit hole and emerging days or weeks later with a new obsession, new internet friends, a bunch of new jargon and the seeming inability to talk about anything else.

There’s even a word for this — getting crypto-pilled. People who believe in crypto tend to really believe in it — to the point that they can appear to the outside world more like evangelists for a new religion than fans of a new technology.

When comparing to religious beliefs, I don’t think the comparison is totally inapt. It’s also not necessarily a bad thing: Plenty of people find meaning and community and intellectual stimulation in religion.

As people like the Bloomberg journalist Joe Weisenthal have pointed out, crypto has similar elements to an emerging religion: an enigmatic founder — the still-anonymous Satoshi Nakamoto — plus sacred texts — the Bitcoin white paper — and rituals and rites to mark yourself as a believer, such as tweeting “gm” (crypto speak for “good morning”) to your fellow believers, or photoshopping laser eyes onto your profile picture.

It’s fun to laugh at the ways crypto fans try to entertain and inspire each other. But focusing too much on their behavior and customs might mean missing what’s genuinely novel — and, depending on where you sit, either exciting or dangerous — about the technology itself.

Which is why, when my friends ask me how to talk to their crypto-pilled relatives, I advise them to start by trying to understand what’s gotten them so excited in the first place.

Go deeper: “WTF Is the Blockchain?”

In this basic explainer of blockchain technology, Mohit Mamoria looks into how blockchains work and the problems they’re intended to solve.

The YouTube video called, “Introduction to Blockchain and Money”, which explains the history and technical underpinnings of crypto, is the first lecture in a course taught at M. I. T. in 2018 by Gary Gensler, who is now the chief of the Securities and Exchange Commission. (The rest of the course is also on YouTube, and makes for interesting viewing.)

And that’s a wrap!

The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant

The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant

Once upon a time, the planet was tyrannized by a giant dragon. The dragon stood taller than the largest cathedral, and it was covered with thick black scales. Its red eyes glowed with hate, and from its terrible jaws flowed an incessant stream of evil-smelling yellowish-green slime.

It demanded from humankind a blood-curdling tribute: to satisfy its enormous appetite, ten thousand men and women had to be delivered every evening at the onset of dark to the foot of the mountain where the dragon-tyrant lived.

Sometimes the dragon would devour these unfortunate souls upon arrival; sometimes again it would lock them up in the mountain where they would wither away for months or years before eventually being consumed.

The misery inflicted by the dragon-tyrant was incalculable. In addition to the ten thousand who were gruesomely slaughtered each day, there were the mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, children, and friends that were left behind to grieve the loss of their departed loved ones.

Some people tried to fight the dragon, but whether they were brave or foolish was difficult to say. Priests and magicians called down curses, to no avail. Warriors, armed with roaring courage and the best weapons the smiths could produce, attacked it, but were incinerated by its fire before coming close enough to strike. Chemists concocted toxic brews and tricked the dragon into swallowing them, but the only apparent effect was to further stimulate its appetite. The dragon’s claws, jaws, and fire were so effective, its scaly armor so impregnable, and its whole nature so robust, as to make it invincible to any human assault.

Seeing that defeating the tyrant was impossible, humans had no choice but to obey its commands and pay the grisly tribute. The fatalities selected were always elders. Although senior people were as vigorous and healthy as the young, and sometimes wiser, the thinking was that they had at least already enjoyed a few decades of life. The wealthy might gain a brief reprieve by bribing the press gangs that came to fetch them; but, by constitutional law, nobody, not even the king himself, could put off their turn indefinitely.

Spiritual men sought to comfort those who were afraid of being eaten by the dragon (which included almost everyone, although many denied it in public) by promising another life after death, a life that would be free from the dragon-scourge. Other orators argued that the dragon has its place in the natural order and a moral right to be fed. They said that it was part of the very meaning of being human to end up in the dragon’s stomach. Others still maintained that the dragon was good for the human species because it kept the population size down. To what extent these arguments convinced the worried souls is not known. Most people tried to cope by not thinking about the grim end that awaited them.

For many centuries this desperate state of affairs continued. Nobody kept count any longer of the cumulative death toll, nor of the number of tears shed by the bereft. Expectations had gradually adjusted and the dragon-tyrant had become a fact of life. In view of the evident futility of resistance, attempts to kill the dragon had ceased. Instead, efforts now focused on placating it. While the dragon would occasionally raid the cities, it was found that the punctual delivery to the mountain of its quota of life reduced the frequency of these incursions.

Knowing that their turn to become dragon-fodder was always impending, people began having children earlier and more often. It was not uncommon for a girl to be pregnant by her sixteenth birthday. Couples often spawned a dozen children. The human population was thus kept from shrinking, and the dragon was kept from going hungry.

Over the course of these centuries, the dragon, being well fed, slowly but steadily grew bigger. It had become almost as large as the mountain on which it lived. And its appetite had increased proportionately. Ten thousand human bodies were no longer enough to fill its belly. It now demanded eighty thousand, to be delivered to the foot of the mountain every evening at the onset of dark.

What occupied the king’s mind more than the deaths and the dragon itself was the logistics of collecting and transporting so many people to the mountain every day. This was not an easy task.

To facilitate the process, the king had a railway track constructed: two straight lines of glistening steel leading up to the dragon’s abode. Every twenty minutes, a train would arrive at the mountain terminal crammed with people, and would return empty. On moonlit nights, the passengers traveling on this train, if there had been windows for them to stick their heads out of, would have been able to see in front of them the double silhouette of the dragon and the mountain, and two glowing red eyes, like the beams from a pair of giant lighthouses, pointing the way to annihilation.

Servants were employed by the king in large numbers to administer the tribute. There were registrars who kept track of whose turn it was to be sent. There were people- collectors who would be dispatched in special carts to fetch the designated people. Often traveling at breakneck speed, they would rush their cargo either to a railway station or directly to the mountain. There were clerks who administered the pensions paid to the decimated families who were no longer able to support themselves. There were comforters who would travel with the doomed on their way to the dragon, trying to ease their anguish with spirits and drugs.

There was, moreover, a cadre of dragonologists who studied how these logistic processes could be made more efficient. Some dragonologists also conducted studies of the dragon’s physiology and behavior, and collected samples – its shed scales, the slime that drooled from its jaws, its lost teeth, and its excrements, which were specked with fragments of human bone. All these items were painstakingly annotated and archived. The more the beast was understood, the more the general perception of its invincibility was confirmed. Its black scales, in particular, were harder than any material known to man, and there seemed no way to make as much as a scratch in its armor.

To finance all these activities, the king levied heavy taxes on his people. Dragon-related expenditures, already accounting for one seventh of the economy, were growing even faster than the dragon itself.

Humanity is a curious species. Every once in a while, somebody gets a good idea. Others copy the idea, adding to it their own improvements. Over time, many wondrous tools and systems are developed. Some of these devices – calculators, thermometers, microscopes, and the glass vials that the chemists use to boil and distil liquids – serve to make it easier to generate and try out new ideas, including ideas that expedite the process of idea- generation.

Thus the great wheel of invention, which had turned at an almost imperceptibly slow pace in the older ages, gradually began to accelerate.

Sages predicted that a day would come when technology would enable humans to fly and do many other astonishing things. One of the sages, who was held in high esteem by some of the other sages but whose eccentric manners had made him a social outcast and recluse, went so far as to predict that technology would eventually make it possible to build a contraption that could kill the dragon-tyrant.

The king’s scholars, however, dismissed these ideas. They said that humans were far too heavy to fly and in any case lacked feathers. And as for the impossible notion that the dragon-tyrant could be killed, history books recounted hundreds of attempts to do just that, not one of which had been successful. “We all know that this man had some irresponsible ideas,” a scholar of letters later wrote in his obituary of the reclusive sage who had by then been sent off to be devoured by the beast whose demise he had foretold, “but his writings were quite entertaining and perhaps we should be grateful to the dragon for making possible the interesting genre of dragon-bashing literature which reveals so much about the culture of angst!”

Meanwhile, the wheel of invention kept turning. Mere decades later, humans did fly and accomplished many other astonishing things.

A few iconoclastic dragonologists began arguing for a new attack on the dragon-tyrant. Killing the dragon would not be easy, they said, but if some material could be invented that was harder than the dragon’s armor, and if this material could be fashioned into some kind of projectile, then maybe the feat would be possible. At first, the iconoclasts’ ideas were rejected by their dragonologist peers on grounds that no known material was harder than dragon scales. But after working on the problem for many years, one of the iconoclasts succeeded in demonstrating that a dragon scale could be pierced by an object made of a certain composite material.

Many dragonologists who had previously been skeptical now joined the iconoclasts. Engineers calculated that a huge projectile could be made of this material and launched with sufficient force to penetrate the dragon’s armor. However, the manufacture of the needed quantity of the composite material would be expensive.

A group of several eminent engineers and dragonologists sent a petition to the king asking for funding to build the anti-dragon projectile. At time when the petition was sent, the king was preoccupied with leading his army into war against a tiger. The tiger had killed a farmer and subsequently disappeared into the jungle. There was widespread fear in the countryside that the tiger might come out and strike again. The king had the jungle surrounded and ordered his troops to begin slashing their way through it. At the conclusion of the campaign, the king could announce that all 163 tigers in the jungle, including presumably the murderous one, had been hunted down and killed. During the tumult of the war, however, the petition had been lost or forgotten.

The petitioners therefore sent another appeal. This time they received a reply from one of the king’s secretaries saying that the king would consider their request after he was done reviewing the annual dragon-administration budget. This year’s budget was the largest to date and included funding for a new railway track to the mountain. A second track was deemed necessary, as the original track could no longer support the increasing traffic. (The tribute demanded by the dragon-tyrant had increased to one hundred thousand human beings, to be delivered to the foot of the mountain every evening at the onset of dark.) When the budget was finally approved, however, reports were coming from a remote part of the country that a village was suffering from a rattlesnake infestation. The king had to leave urgently to mobilize his army and ride off to defeat this new threat. The anti-dragonists’ appeal was filed away in a dusty cabinet in the castle basement.

The anti-dragonists met again to decide what was to be done. The debate was animated and continued long into the night. It was almost daybreak when they finally resolved to take the matter to the people. Over the following weeks, they traveled around the country, gave public lectures, and explained their proposal to anyone who would listen. At first, people were skeptical. They had been taught in school that the dragon-tyrant was invincible and that the sacrifices it demanded had to be accepted as a fact of life. Yet when they learnt about the new composite material and about the designs for the projectile, many became intrigued. In increasing numbers, citizens flocked to the anti- dragonist lectures. Activists started organizing public rallies in support of the proposal.

When the king read about these meetings in the newspaper, he summoned his advisors and asked them what they thought about it. They informed him about the petitions that had been sent but told him that the anti-dragonists were troublemakers whose teachings were causing public unrest. It was much better for the social order, they said, that the people accepted the inevitability of the dragon-tyrant tribute. The dragon-administration provided many jobs that would be lost if the dragon was slaughtered. There was no known social good coming from the conquest of the dragon. In any case, the king’s coffers were currently nearly empty after the two military campaigns and the funding set aside for the second railway line. The king, who was at the time enjoying great popularity for having vanquished the rattlesnake infestation, listened to his advisors’ arguments but worried that he might lose some of his popular support if was seen to ignore the anti- dragonist petition. He therefore decided to hold an open hearing. Leading dragonologists, ministers of the state, and interested members of the public were invited to attend.

The meeting took place on the darkest day of the year, just before the Christmas holidays, in the largest hall of the royal castle. The hall was packed to the last seat and people were crowding in the aisles. The mood was charged with an earnest intensity normally reserved for pivotal wartime sessions.

After the king had welcomed everyone, he gave the floor to the leading scientist behind the anti-dragonist proposal, a woman with a serious, almost stern expression on her face. She proceeded to explain in clear language how the proposed device would work and how the requisite amount of the composite material could be manufactured. Given the requested amount of funding, it should be possible to complete the work in fifteen to twenty years. With an even greater amount of funding, it might be possible to do it in as little as twelve years. However, there could be no absolute guarantee that it would work. The crowd followed her presentation intently.

Next to speak was the king’s chief advisor for morality, a man with a booming voice that easily filled the auditorium:

“Let us grant that this woman is correct about the science and that the project is technologically possible, although I don’t think that has actually been proven. Now she desires that we get rid of the dragon. Presumably, she thinks she’s got the right not to be chewed up by the dragon. How willful and presumptuous. The finitude of human life is a blessing for every individual, whether he knows it or not. Getting rid of the dragon, which might seem like such a convenient thing to do, would undermine our human dignity. The preoccupation with killing the dragon will deflect us from realizing more fully the aspirations to which our lives naturally point, from living well rather than merely staying alive. It is debasing, yes debasing, for a person to want to continue his or her mediocre life for as long as possible without worrying about some of the higher questions about what life is to be used for. But I tell you, the nature of the dragon is to eat humans, and our own species-specified nature is truly and nobly fulfilled only by getting eaten by it...”

The audience listened respectfully to this highly decorated speaker. The phrases were so eloquent that it was hard to resist the feeling that some deep thoughts must lurk behind them, although nobody could quite grasp what they were. Surely, words coming from such a distinguished appointee of the king must have profound substance.

The speaker next in line was a spiritual sage who was widely respected for his kindness and gentleness as well as for his devotion. As he strode to the podium, a small boy yelled out from the audience: “The dragon is bad!”

5

The boy’s parents turned bright red and began hushing and scolding the child. But the sage said, “Let the boy speak. He is probably wiser than an old fool like me.”

At first, the boy was too scared and confused to move. But when he saw the genuinely friendly smile on the sage’s face and the outreached hand, he obediently took it and followed the sage up to the podium. “Now, there’s a brave little man,” said the sage. “Are you afraid of the dragon?“

“I want my granny back,” said the boy. “Did the dragon take your granny away?”

“Yes,” the boy said, tears welling up in his large frightened eyes. “Granny promised that she would teach me how to bake gingerbread cookies for Christmas. She said that we would make a little house out of gingerbread and little gingerbread men that would live in it. Then those people in white clothes came and took Granny away to the dragon... The dragon is bad and it eats people... I want my Granny back!”

At this point the child was crying so hard that the sage had to return him to his parents.

There were several other speakers that evening, but the child’s simple testimony had punctured the rhetorical balloon that the king’s ministers had tried to inflate. The people were backing the anti-dragonists, and by the end of the evening even the king had come to recognize the reason and the humanity of their cause. In his closing statement, he simply said: “Let’s do it!”

As the news spread, celebrations erupted in the streets. Those who had been campaigning for the anti-dragonists toasted each other and drank to the future of humanity.

The next morning, a billion people woke up and realized that their turn to be sent to the dragon would come before the projectile would be completed. A tipping point was reached. Whereas before, active support for the anti-dragonist cause had been limited to a small group of visionaries, it now became the number one priority and concern on everybody’s mind. The abstract notion of “the general will” took on an almost tangible intensity and concreteness. Mass rallies raised money for the projectile project and urged the king to increase the level of state support. The king responded to these appeals. In his New Year address, he announced that he would pass an extra appropriations bill to support the project at a high level of funding; additionally, he would sell off his summer castle and some of his land and make a large personal donation. “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of freeing the world from the ancient scourge of the dragon-tyrant.”

Thus started a great technological race against time. The concept of an anti-dragon projectile was simple, but to make it a reality required solutions to a thousand smaller technical problems, each of which required dozens of time-consuming steps and missteps. Test-missiles were fired but fell dead to the ground or flew off in the wrong direction.

In one tragic accident, a wayward missile landed on a hospital and killed several hundred patients and staff. But there was now a real seriousness of purpose, and the tests continued even as the corpses were being dug out from the debris.

Despite almost unlimited funding and round-the-clock work by the technicians, the king’s deadline could not be met. The decade concluded and the dragon was still alive and well. But the effort was getting closer. A prototype missile had been successfully test fired. Production of the core, made of the expensive composite material, was on schedule for its completion to coincide with the finishing of the fully tested and debugged missile shell into which it was to be loaded. The launch date was set to the following year’s New Year’s Eve, exactly twelve years after the project’s official inauguration. The best-selling Christmas gift that year was a calendar that counted down the days to time zero, the proceeds going to the projectile project.

The king had been undergone a personal transformation from his earlier frivolous and thoughtless self. He now spent as much time as he could in the laboratories and the manufacturing plants, encouraging the workers and praising their toil. Sometimes he would bring a sleeping bag and spend the night on a noisy machine floor. He even studied and tried to understand the technical aspects of their work. Yet he confined himself to giving moral support and refrained from meddling in technical and managerial matters.

Seven days before New Year, the woman who had made the case for the project almost twelve years earlier, and was now its chief executive, came to the royal castle and requested an urgent audience with the king. When the king got her note, he excused himself to the foreign dignitaries whom he was reluctantly entertaining at the annual Christmas dinner and hurried off to the private room where the scientist was waiting. As always of late, she looked pale and worn from her long working hours. This evening, however, the king also thought he could detect a ray of relief and satisfaction in her eyes.

She told him that the missile had been deployed, the core had been loaded, everything had been triple-checked, they were ready to launch, and would the king give his final go- ahead. The king sank down in an armchair and closed his eyes. He was thinking hard. By launching the projectile tonight, one week early, seven hundred thousand people would be saved. Yet if something went wrong, if it missed its target and hit the mountain instead, it would be a disaster. A new core would have to be constructed from scratch and the project would be set back by some four years. He sat there, silently, for almost an hour. Just as the scientist had become convinced that he had fallen asleep, he opened his eyes and said in a firm voice: “No. I want you to go right back to the lab. I want you to check and then re-check everything again.” The scientist could not help a sigh escaping her; but she nodded and left.

The last day of the year was cold and overcast, but there was no wind, which meant good launch conditions. The sun was setting. Technicians were scuttling around making the final adjustments and giving everything one last check. The king and his closest advisors were observing from a platform close to the launch pad. Further away, behind a fence, large numbers of the public had assembled to witness the great event. A large clock was showing the countdown: fifty minutes to go.

An advisor tapped the king on the shoulder and drew his attention to the fence. There was some tumult. Somebody had apparently jumped the fence and was running towards the platform where the king sat. Security quickly caught up with him. He was handcuffed and taken away. The king turned his attention back to the launch pad, and to the mountain in the background. In front of it, he could see the dark slumped profile of the dragon. It was eating.

Some twenty minutes later, the king was surprised to see the handcuffed man reappearing a short distance from the platform. His nose was bleeding and he was accompanied by two security guards. The man appeared to be in a frenzied state. When he spotted the king, he began shouting at the top of his lungs: “The last train! The last train! Stop the last train!”

“Who is this young man?” said the king. “His face seems familiar, but I cannot quite place him. What does he want? Let him come up.”

The young man was a junior clerk in the ministry of transportation, and the reason for his frenzy was that he had discovered that his father was on the last train to the mountain. The king had ordered the train traffic to continue, fearing that any disruption might cause the dragon to stir and leave the open field in front of the mountain where it now spent most of its time. The young man begged the king to issue a recall-order for the last train, which was due to arrive at the mountain terminal five minutes before time zero.

“I cannot do it,” said the king, “I cannot take the risk.”

“But the trains frequently run five minutes late. The dragon won’t notice! Please!”

The young man was kneeling before the king, imploring him to save his father’s life and the lives of the other thousand passengers onboard that last train.

The king looked down at the pleading, bloodied face of the young man. But he bit his lip, and shook his head. The young man continued to wail even as the guards carried him off the platform: “Please! Stop the last train! Please!”

The king stood silent and motionless, until, after while, the wailing suddenly ceased. The king looked up and glanced over at the countdown clock: five minutes remaining.

Four minutes. Three minutes. Two minutes. The last technician left the launch pad.

30 seconds. 20 seconds. Ten, nine, eight...

As a ball of fire enveloped the launch pad and the missile shot out, the spectators instinctively rose to the tips of their toes, and all eyes fixated at the front end of the white flame from the rocket’s afterburners heading towards the distant mountain. The masses, the king, the low and the high, the young and the old, it was as if at this moment they shared a single awareness, a single conscious experience: that white flame, shooting into the dark, embodying the human spirit, its fear and its hope... striking at the heart of evil. The silhouette on the horizon tumbled, and fell.

Thousand voices of pure joy rose from the assembled masses, joined seconds later by a deafening drawn-out thud from the collapsing monster as if the Earth itself was drawing a sigh of relief. After centuries of oppression, humanity at last was free from the cruel tyranny of the dragon.

The joy cry resolved into a jubilating chant: “Long live the king! Long live us all!” The king’s advisors, like everybody that night, were as happy as children; they embraced each other and congratulated the king: “We did it! We did it!”

But the king answered in a broken voice: “Yes, we did it, we killed the dragon today. But damn, why did we start so late? This could have been done five, maybe ten years ago! Millions of people wouldn’t have had to die.”

The king stepped off the platform and walked up to the young man in handcuffs, who was sitting on the ground. There he fell down on his knees. “Forgive me! Oh my God, please forgive me!”

The rain started falling, in large, heavy drops, turning the ground into mud, drenching the king’s purple robes, and dissolving the blood on the young man’s face. “I am so very sorry about your father,” said the king.

“It’s not your fault,” replied the young man. “Do you remember twelve years ago in the castle? That crying little boy who wanted you to bring back his grandmother – that was me. I didn’t realize then that you couldn’t possibly do what I asked for. Today I wanted you to save my father. Yet it was impossible to do that now, without jeopardizing the launch. But you have saved my life, and my mother and my sister. How can we ever thank you enough for that?”

“Listen to them,” said the king, gesturing towards the crowds. “They are cheering me for what happened tonight. But the hero is you. You cried out. You rallied us against evil.” The king signaled a guard to come and unlock the handcuffs. “Now, go to your mother and sister. You and your family shall always be welcome at the court, and anything you wish for – if it be within my power – shall be granted.”

The young man left, and the royal entourage, huddling in the downpour, accumulated around their monarch who was still kneeling in the mud. Amongst the fancy couture, which was being increasingly ruined by the rain, a bunch of powdered faces expressed a superposition of joy, relief, and discombobulation. So much had changed in the last hour: the right to an open future had been regained, a primordial fear had been abolished, and many a long-held assumption had been overturned. Unsure now about what was required of them in this unfamiliar situation, they stood there tentatively, as if probing whether the ground would still hold, exchanging glances, and waiting for some kind of indication.

Finally, the king rose, wiping his hands on the sides of his pants.

“Your majesty, what do we do now?” ventured the most senior courtier.

“My dear friends,” said the king, “we have come a long way... yet our journey has only just begun. Our species is young on this planet. Today we are like children again. The future lies open before us. We shall go into this future and try to do better than we have done in the past. We have time now – time to get things right, time to grow up, time to learn from our mistakes, time for the slow process of building a better world, and time to get settled in it.

Tonight, let all the bells in the kingdom ring until midnight, in remembrance of our dead forbears, and then after midnight let us celebrate till the sun comes up. And in the coming days... I believe we have some reorganization to do!”


Moral

Stories about aging have traditionally focused on the need for graceful accommodation. The recommended solution to diminishing vigor and impending death was resignation coupled with an effort to achieve closure in practical affairs and personal relationships. Given that nothing could be done to prevent or retard aging, this focus made sense. Rather than fretting about the inevitable, one could aim for peace of mind.

Today we face a different situation. While we still lack effective and acceptable means for slowing the aging process1, we can identify research directions that might lead to the development of such means in the foreseeable future. “Deathist” stories and ideologies, which counsel passive acceptance, are no longer harmless sources of consolation. They are fatal barriers to urgently needed action.

Many distinguished technologists and scientists tell us that it will become possible to retard, and eventually to halt and reverse, human senescence. At present, there is little.


  1. Calorie restriction (a diet low in calories but high in nutrients) extends maximal lifespan and delays the onset of age-related illnesses in all species that have been tested. Preliminary results from an ongoing study on rhesus and squirrel monkeys show similar effects. It seems quite likely that calorie restriction would work for our species too. Few humans, however, would be willing to put themselves through a lifelong hunger-diet. Some researchers are searching for calorie-restriction mimetics – compounds that elicit the desirable effects of lowered caloric intake without us having to go hungry. (See e.g. Lane, M. et al. (1999) “Nutritional modulation of aging in nonhuman primates,” J. Nutr. Health & Aging, 3(2): 69-76.).
  2. A recent straw poll at the 10th Congress of the International Association of Biomedical Gerontology revealed that the majority of the participants thought it either probable or “not improbable” that comprehensive functional rejuvenation of middle-aged mice would be possible within 10-20 years (de Grey, A. (2004), “Report of open discussion on the future of life extension research,” (Annals NY Acad.
  3. agreement about the time-scale or the specific means, nor is there a consensus that the goal is even achievable in principle. In relation to the fable (where aging is, of course, represented by the dragon), we are therefore at a stage somewhere between that at which the lone sage predicted the dragon’s eventual demise and that at which the iconoclast dragonologists convinced their peers by demonstrating a composite material that was harder than dragon scales.

The ethical argument that the fable presents is: There are obvious and compelling moral reasons for the people in the fable to get rid of the dragon. Our situation with regard to human senescence is closely analogous and ethically isomorphic to the situation of the people in the fable with regard to the dragon. Therefore, we have compelling moral reasons to get rid of human senescence.

The argument is not in favor of life-span extension per se. Adding extra years of sickness and debility at the end of life would be pointless. The argument is in favor of extending, as far as possible, the human health-span. By slowing or halting the aging process, the healthy human life span would be extended. Individuals would be able to remain healthy, vigorous, and productive at ages at which they would otherwise be dead.

In addition to this general moral, there are a number of more specific lessons:

  1. A recurrent tragedy became a fact of life, a statistic. In the fable, people’s expectations adapted to the existence of the dragon, to the extent that many became unable to perceive its badness. Aging, too, has become a mere “fact of life” – despite being the principal cause of an unfathomable amount of human suffering and death.
  2. A static view of technology. People reasoned that it would never become possible to kill the dragon because all attempts had failed in the past. They failed to take into account accelerated technological progress. Is a similar mistake leading us to underestimate the chances of a cure for aging?
  3. Administration became its own purpose. One seventh of the economy went to dragon- administration (which is also the fraction of its GDP that the U.S. spends on healthcare). Damage-limitation became such an exclusive focus that it made people neglect the underlying cause. Instead of a massive publicly-funded research program to halt aging, we spend almost our entire health budget on health-care and on researching individual diseases.
  4. The social good became detached from the good for people. The king’s advisors worried about the possible social problems that could be caused by the anti- dragonists. They said that no known social good would come from the demise of the
  5. Sci., 1019, in press)). See also e.g. de Grey, A., B. Ames, et al. (2002) “Time to talk SENS: critiquing the immutability of human aging,” Increasing Healthy Life Span: Conventional Measures and Slowing the Innate Aging Process: Ninth Congress of the International Association of Biomedical Gerontology, ed. D. Harman (Annals NY Acad. Sci. 959: 452-462); and Freitas Jr., R. A., Nanomedicine, Vol. 1 (Landes Bioscience: Georgetown, TX, 1999).
  6. dragon. Ultimately, however, social orders exist for the benefit of people, and it is generally good for people if their lives are saved.
  7. The lack of a sense of proportion. A tiger killed a farmer. A rhumba of rattlesnakes plagued a village. The king got rid of the tiger and the rattlesnakes, and thereby did his people a service. Yet he was at fault, because he got his priorities wrong.
  8. Fine phrases and hollow rhetoric. The king’s morality advisor spoke eloquently about human dignity and our species-specified nature, in phrases lifted, mostly verbatim, from the advisor’s contemporary equivalents.3 Yet the rhetoric was smoke screen that hid rather than revealed moral reality. The boy’s inarticulate but honest testimony, by contrast, points to the central fact of the case: the dragon is bad; it destroys people. This is also the basic truth about human senescence.
  9. Failure to appreciate the urgency. Until very late in the story, nobody fully realized what was at stake. Only as the king was staring into the bloodied face of the young pleading man does the extent of the tragedy sink in. Searching for a cure for aging is not just a nice thing that we should perhaps one day get around to. It is an urgent, screaming moral imperative. The sooner we start a focused research program, the sooner we will get results. It matters if we get the cure in 25 years rather than in 24 years: a population greater than that of Canada would die as a result. In this matter, time equals life, at a rate of approximately 70 lives per minute. With the meter ticking at such a furious rate, we should stop faffing about.
  10. “And in the coming days... I believe we have some reorganization to do!” The king and his people will face some major challenges when they recover from their celebration. Their society has been so conditioned and deformed by the presence of the dragon that a frightening void now exists. They will have to work creatively, on both an individual and a societal level, to develop conditions that will keep lives flourishingly dynamic and meaningful beyond the accustomed three-score-years-and- ten. Luckily, the human spirit is good at adapting. Another issue that they may eventually confront is overpopulation. Maybe people will have to learn to have children later and less frequently. Maybe they can find ways to sustain a larger population by using more efficient technology. Maybe they will one day develop spaceships and begin to colonize the cosmos. We can leave, for now, the long-lived fable people to grapple with these new challenges, while we try to make some progress in our own adventure.
  11. See, e.g. Kass, L. (2003) “Ageless Bodies, Happy Souls: Biotechnology and the Pursuit of Perfection,” The New Atlantis”.

Author’s Note

I’m grateful to many people for comments on earlier drafts, including especially Heather Bradshaw, Roger Crisp, Aubrey de Grey, Katrien Devolder, Joel Garreau, John Harris, Andrea Landfried, Toby Ord, Susan Rogers, Julian Savulescu, Ian Watson, and Kip Werking.


Reference

[FileSafe:16d3fb95-d360-428f-8de8-1013c681ab36:The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant - Nick Bostrom.pdf]

Tokenization of Cannabis in the Metaverse: A Case Study

Tokenization of Cannabis in the Web3 Metaverse

What is Cannabis Tokenization, Anyway?

Cannabis, crypto, Web 3, and blockchain, a brave new world?

Cannabis and Web3 Crossover: Tokenization

The growing momentum of cannabis and cryptocurrency acceptance in the United States is beautiful to behold. The team-up of the two sectors recently best explains the wise words that say that two heads are better than one. Both sectors are not federally recognized as legal entities.

This has resulted in a standstill in providing financial services in the cannabis industry, as traditional financial institutions continue to shut their doors to cannabis-affiliated companies. A solution has presented itself through the intersection of cannabis and blockchain technology.

Cannabis, Cryptocurrency, Web 3, and Blockchain Technology

The cannabis industry has been operating with cash for many years, making these businesses a target for robberies. In a bid to effect changes, the legislature drafted the SAFE Banking Act. But this measure has failed to pass the previous times it was introduced.

Blockchain technology and digital tokens are the next available solutions to solve the financial challenges in the cannabis sector.

Note that the cannabis and Web3 relationship is a highly volatile area in the U.S. constitution. Any step you plan to take regarding this must be done with the guidance of experienced security and crypto attorney.

Cannabis companies are in the early stages of integrating their operations with blockchain technology. In the past 10 to 15 months, dozens of cannabis operators have set up their own Decentralized Autonomous Organizations — also known as a DAO.

Crypto legal firms have helped sort out the governance and financial issues involved in the on-chain and off-chain financing of these businesses.

The services of NFT Creators and studios are being utilized to pinpoint the best path to take to effectively link the crypto and cannabis sectors without risking or compromising the intellectual property of either party.

The Decentralized Finance (DeFi) niche has the most benefits to offer the cannabis sector. Businesses will have access to POS solutions and APIs that cover up the absence of traditional banking services.

Smart contracts are being used for this.

Tokenization of Cannabis Entities In Web3

Tokenization, also known as fractionation, is the process of dismantling the ownership and control of a cannabis asset into little pieces of tokens. These smaller tokens are sold, bought, held, exchanged, and traded on recognized platforms.

Tokenization has always been a concept before the internet, before the mainstream. In traditional financial bodies, it was known as "stocks," sometimes the contractual rights of a corporation. The advent of Web3 in recent months has made the term a go-to word in the crypto space.

In some months, other new terminologies will be communicated across the space to explain the distributed ledger technology on which Web3 is built.

Before the advent of the Internet, we commonly referred to this tokenization as stock in a corporation or general contractual rights. Now that we have delved deeper into the Web3 field, the industry is developing new terminology built on the distributed ledger te chnology that makes up Web3.

Cannabis Token Securities

Tokenized securities in the cannabis industry are described as "cannabis business stocks." They are owned by corporations or LLCs. There are different varieties based on debt and equity, including convertible notes, Simple Agreement to Future Equity (SAFE), and preferred ownership interests.

In today's general trading world, tokenized securities are basically stocks that can be traded.

With Decentralized Finance and Web3, cannabis token securities have much more utility than simply conferring ownership and profit-sharing rights in licensed cannabis businesses.

These tokens have extra features that are much more than voting rights.

These additional features include access to particular markets, which are limited to holders of an entity's token. These tokenized securities, or stocks, appreciate with time because they are built upon the Web3 underlying technology.

In traditional finance, cannabis security tokens can be likened to securities. These "securities" merely confer traditional rights or ownership to the buyers without the extra Web3 features.

Cannabis Utility Token

What would we do with the ownership rights provided by security tokens?

Tokenized Web3 utilities are other components of security and security tokens aside from their proprietary rights. These utilities are more or less the economic benefits of owning tokens of cannabis or cannabis-affiliated entities.

It enables the holders to vote during company events and grants access to locations, metaverses, end other token holders.

With cannabis utility tokens, customers are first in line for exclusive products within and outside of the crypto space, meaning, new products in real-life and digital assets, such as, NFTs in the crypto space.

Once the cannabis crypto space is fully functional, these cannabis utility tokens will be pegged to cryptocurrencies that can be mined to gain access to certain cannabis DAOs and markets.

Cannabis NFT Tokens

Non-fungible Cannabis Tokens are digital assets that can be used in the real-world. They are also utility tokens that give a digital representation of the cannabis entities.

Currently, most cannabis NFT tokens are in the form of artwork, videos, memes, and GIFs. They are also used as access cards for events held by the parent company.

Cannabis NFT tokens can be tokenized or fractionized rather than sold as a single asset. Multiple owners share ownership of the asset. Some of the available NFTs in the blockchain and cannabis intersection serve digital goods or token securities.

Bottom Line

The unavailability of traditional financial services will encourage more cannabis companies to seek refuge on the Web.

The arijuana metaverse is still in its early stages, but brands are setting up virtual locations already.

At first, many operators may get overwhelmed by the crossover into the new tech space, but with time and access to information, things will become normal.

Crypto experts even admitted that during their early stages of becoming involved in the tech space, they felt as though they were being drowned in unfamiliar territory.

Web3 has not attained half of its peak height, and as such, the space is growing each day. No one can rightfully claim to be an expert on Web3 tech right now. Even the US Securities and Exchange Commission is still trying to make sense of the entire concept.

All you have to do is make sure you procure legal services and educate yourself before diving into the world of crypto and the metaverse.

You can watch YouTube videos, attend webinars or conferences, join communities, search Google, and so many other tools — mostly free — for more information about the tokenization of digital assets.


Part 1 of 2…

Ego is the Enemy: The Legend of Genghis Khan

Ego is the Enemy

The Legend of Genghis Khan

In his book, Ego is the Enemy, Ryan Holiday tells the story of Genghis Khan and how his openness to learning was the foundation of his success.

The legend of Genghis Khan has echoed through history: A barbarian conqueror, fueled by bloodlust, terrorizing the civilized world. We have him and his Mongol horde traveling across Asia and Europe, insatiable, stopping at nothing to plunder, rape, and kill not just the people who stood in their way, but the cultures they had built. Then, not unlike his nomadic band of warriors, this terrible cloud simply disappeared from history, because the Mongols built nothing that could last. Like all reactionary, emotional assessments, this could not be more wrong.

For not only was Genghis Khan one of the greatest military minds who ever lived, he was a perpetual student, whose stunning victories were often the result of his ability to absorb the best technologies, practices, and innovations of each new culture his empire touched. In fact, if there is one theme in his reign and in the several centuries of dynastic rule that followed, it’s this: appropriation.

Under Genghis Khan’s direction, the Mongols were as ruthless about stealing and absorbing the best of each culture they encountered as they were about conquest itself. Though there were essentially no technological inventions, no beautiful buildings or even great Mongol art, with each battle and enemy, their culture learned and absorbed something new. Genghis Khan was not born a genius. Instead, as one biographer put it, his was “a persistent cycle of pragmatic learning, experimental adaptation, and constant revision driven by his uniquely disciplined and focused will.”

He was the greatest conqueror the world ever knew because he was more open to learning than any other conqueror has ever been.

Khan’s first powerful victories came from the reorganization of his military units, splitting his soldiers into groups of ten. This he stole from neighboring Turkic tribes, and unknowingly converted the Mongols to the decimal system. Soon enough, their expanding empire brought them into contact with another “technology” they’d never experienced before: walled cities. In the Tangut raids, Khan first learned the ins and outs of war against fortified cities and the strategies critical to laying siege, and quickly became an expert.

Later, with help from Chinese engineers, he taught his soldiers how to build siege machines that could knock down city walls. In his campaigns against the Jurched, Khan learned the importance of winning hearts and minds. By working with the scholars and royal family of the lands he conquered, Khan was able to hold on to and manage these territories in ways that most empires could not. Afterward, in every country or city he held, Khan would call for the smartest astrologers, scribes, doctors, thinkers, and advisers—anyone who could aid his troops and their efforts. His troops traveled with interrogators and translators for precisely this purpose.

It was a habit that would survive his death. While the Mongols themselves seemed dedicated almost solely to the art of war, they put to good use every craftsman, merchant, scholar, entertainer, cook, and skilled worker they came in contact with. The Mongol Empire was remarkable for its religious freedoms, and most of all, for its love of ideas and convergence of cultures.

It brought lemons to China for the first time, and Chinese noodles to the West. It spread Persian carpets, German mining technology, French metalworking, and Islam. The cannon, which revolutionized warfare, was said to be the resulting fusion of Chinese gunpowder, Muslim flamethrowers, and European metalwork. It was Mongol openness to learning and new ideas that brought them together.

As we first succeed, we will find ourselves in new situations, facing new problems. The freshly promoted soldier must learn the art of politics. The salesman, how to manage. The founder, how to delegate. The writer, how to edit others. The comedian, how to act. The chef turned restaurateur, how to run the other side of the house.

This is not a harmless conceit. The physicist John Wheeler, who helped develop the hydrogen bomb, once observed that “as our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance.” In other words, each victory and advancement that made Khan smarter also bumped him against new situations he’d never encountered before.

It takes a special kind of humility to grasp that you know less, even as you know and grasp more and more. It’s remembering Socrates’ wisdom lay in the fact that he knew that he knew next to nothing.

With accomplishment comes a growing pressure to pretend that we know more than we do. To pretend we already know everything. Scientia infla (knowledge puffs up). That’s the worry and the risk—thinking that we’re set and secure, when in reality understanding and mastery is a fluid, continual process.

The nine-time Grammy– and Pulitzer Prize–winning jazz musician Wynton Marsalis once advised a promising young musician on the mind-set required in the lifelong study of music: “Humility engenders learning because it beats back the arrogance that puts blinders on.

It leaves you open for truths to reveal themselves. You don’t stand in your own way. . . . Do you know how you can tell when someone is truly humble? I believe there’s one simple test: because they consistently observe and listen, the humble improve. They don’t assume, ‘I know the way.’”

No matter what you’ve done up to this point, you better still be a student. If you’re not still learning, you’re already dying.

It is not enough only to be a student at the beginning. It is a position that one has to assume for life. Learn from everyone and everything. From the people you beat, and the people who beat you, from the people you dislike, even from your supposed enemies. At every step and every juncture in life, there is the opportunity to learn—and even if the lesson is purely remedial, we must not let ego block us from hearing it again.

Too often, convinced of our own intelligence, we stay in a comfort zone that ensures that we never feel stupid (and are never challenged to learn or reconsider what we know). It obscures from view various weaknesses in our understanding, until eventually it’s too late to change course. This is where the silent toll is taken.

Each of us faces a threat as we pursue our craft. Like sirens on the rocks, ego sings a soothing, validating song— which can lead to a wreck.

The second we let the ego tell us  we have graduated, learning grinds to a halt. That’s why Frank Shamrock said, “Always stay a student.” As in, it never ends.

The solution is as straightforward as it is initially uncomfortable: Pick up a book on a topic you know next to nothing about. Put yourself in rooms where you’re the least knowledgeable person. That uncomfortable feeling, that defensiveness that you feel when your most deeply held assumptions are challenged—what about subjecting yourself to it deliberately? Change your mind. Change your surroundings

An amateur is defensive. The professional finds learning (and even, occasionally, being shown up) to be enjoyable; they like being challenged and humbled, and engage in education as an ongoing and endless process.

Most military cultures—and people in general—seek to impose values and control over what they encounter. What made the Mongols different was their ability to weigh each situation objectively, and if need be, swap out previous practices for new ones. All great businesses start this way, but then something happens.

Take the theory of disruption, which posits that at some point in time, every industry will be disrupted by some trend or innovation that, despite all the resources in the world, the incumbent interests will be incapable of responding to. Why is this? Why can’t businesses change and adapt?

A large part of it is because they lost the ability to learn. They stopped being students. The second this happens to you, your knowledge becomes fragile.

The great manager and business thinker Peter Drucker says that it’s not enough simply to want to learn. As people progress, they must also understand how they learn and then set up processes to facilitate this continual education. Otherwise, we are dooming ourselves to a sort of self-imposed ignorance.


Source: Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday

LinkedIn Profile - Resume - March 16 2022

Jonathan Kogan

Miami FL | New York NY | Cleveland OH

(e): kogan@hey.com

(p): +1 (440) 903-9161

(l): linkedin.com/in/ownershipeconomy

(w): ownershipeconomy.substack.com

Summary

Experienced in scaling startups, building teams from the ground up, improving operational efficiency, and helping turnaround underperforming organizations.

My approach is founded on the thesis that the fundamentals necessary to create a successful business are often overlooked or undervalued, but when focused on, can improve financial performance. Simply put: people first.

The fundamentals include individual & team development, great internal communication, optimal time management, implementation of key decision-making frameworks, accountability, trust, and the relentless pursuit of working with the most talented — and fun to work with — people in the world.

When entire teams are on the same page, it’s truly special what can be achieved.

Core Values:

  • Lead with Honesty
  • Act with Integrity in everything we do
  • Radical Transparency across the organization
  • Act with Genuine Kindness (Put People First)

Core Competencies:

Execution, community building, content strategy, growth hacking, process improvement, no-code, podcasting & audio distribution, platform implementation & integration, startup operations, change management, and business development.

Experience

Co-Founder & CEO

The Ownership Economy (prev RPA Tools)

Feb 2020 - Present (2 years 2 months)

The Ownership Economy is dedicated to helping startups, small businesses, and high-growth organizations automate repetitive, mundane tasks that costs enterprise companies hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars every year, but at a fraction of the cost.

Strategic Advisor

Stackby

Jun 2020 - Present (1 year 10 months)

Stackby is a collaborative spreadsheet database hybrid that empowers anyone to create their own workflows and automate it via third party integrations. No coding and training needed.


Strategic Advisor

Automatio

Feb 2021 - Present (1 year 2 months)

Automatio is most powerful no-code web automation tool which give you ability to create bots, scrapers, prices monitors.

Fellow

On Deck

Jan 2021 - Apr 2021 (4 months)

Member of the inaugural No-Code Fellowship with 150 others from all around the world. The very first no-code cohort! #ODNC1

Entrepreneur In Residence

Mixonium

Dec 2020 - Nov 2021 (1 year)

Get in the MIX! Also, just so you know, we have expert content managers and a studio if you’d like some professional services to optimize your content strategy. Leading corporations, non-profits, universities, and even U.S. Special Operations have discovered the Magic of MIXONIUM. So jump in, with whichever approach works for you!

Entrepreneur In Residence

Draper University

Mar 2021 - Jun 2021 (4 months)

The Draper University Venture Accelerator brings together entrepreneurs that are creating solutions that help communities and economies recover from the devastating socioeconomic effects of the pandemic.

Head of Business Strategy

Cater2.me

Sep 2019 - Jan 2020 (5 months)

At Cater2.me, our mission is to build community through shared meals. But we’re not only focused on the bonds we build at the companies we serve – we’re also committed to strengthening the local business communities in each of our markets across the country.

Chief Operating Officer

Alley (Alley Powered by Verizon)

Dec 2017 - Sep 2019 (1 year 10 months)

Hired as the first VP of Finance & Operations — which later became COO — to help turnaround the company with 4-months of runway.

Responsibilities included, but not limited to, people operations (i.e. growing from within, recruiting, hiring at the executive level), bring the financial operations in-house for the first time built from the ground up, help raise capital within 3-months from blue-chip investors, create an equity structure for all current and future employees (i.e. granting options), and was the main contact with the board and investors, but also day-to-day internally, operating the organization.


Partnered with Verizon on the first ever 5G Innovation Lab and co-create the startup incubator for companies that will use 5G technology to build their business.

Alley is backed by Verizon, Entrepreneur Media, and Chasella.

Worldwide Financial Controller

XumaK

Nov 2016 - Dec 2017 (1 year 2 months)

XumaK, the first Adobe Business Partner, is a digital consultancy that provides cutting-edge e- commerce, analytics and mobile solutions, which are easy to use, quick to install, and cost effective.

Hired as the first Financial Operations Executive (referred by RED Strategy Group) of a 140-person technology company with offices in Canada, USA, Colombia, Mexico, and Guatemala. Developed new systems and processes for better communication and improved efficiency.

XumaK was acquired.

Director Of Finance And Operations

LM Holdings | Metals and Mining Business Unit

Nov 2014 - Oct 2016 (2 years)

LM Holding's is a family office with investments in operating businesses, and they wanted to grow their metals & mining operations. LM invested in iron ore concentrate from previously mined ore reserves, technology, and industrial steel mill services for steelmakers around the world.

In my two years there, we went from having two locations, no logistics infrastructure to deliver the materials, no proprietary technology, and $3 million in revenue to over $30 million in annual revenue (with a huge growth trajectory), within two years. We also became profitable after my first month and continued with 24 consecutive months of increased revenue and profits.

LM was acquired.

Financial Operations Manager

Yieldmo

Jul 2013 - Nov 2014 (1 year 5 months)

Yieldmo is saving the world from bad mobile ads. We think ads should look great and work great. We combine the best of design and data to invent new formats, ruthlessly optimize them, and deliver unprecedented results.

Hired as the first Finance employee, reported directly to the Co-Founder/CFO, and oversaw all financial operations aspects of the company.

Yieldmo is backed by Google Ventures, Time Warner Investments, and Union Square Ventures.

Senior Associate

PwC

Aug 2011 - Jul 2013 (2 years)


Provided a full range of US advisory services for the US expatriates including US tax planning, preparation of the required US Federal income tax returns and estate planning.

International Tax Structuring Mergers and Acquisitions Transfer Pricing Compliance Services Captive Life Cycle

Education

The Ohio State University

Bachelor of Science and Business Administration - BSBA, Honors Accounting

2007 - 2011

  • Bachelor of Science & Business Administration in Accounting from the Honors Accounting Program (38 students are selected per class and work more collaboratively than the standard Accounting Program at Fisher Business School).
  • Ranked #3 program in the country at the time of graduation.
  • The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business

Licenses & Certifications

  • Advanced RPA Developer Certification - UiPath (Issued Apr 2019 - Expires Mar 2020)
  • Certified Management Accountant (CMA) - Certified Management Accountant: CMA®
  • Financial Accounting Foundations - LinkedIn Creating a High Performance Culture - LinkedIn Digital Transformation - LinkedIn
  • Data Analytics for Business Professionals - LinkedIn
  • UiPath: Robotic Process Automation (RPA) - LinkedIn
  • Blue Prism: Excel Automation - LinkedIn
  • QuickBooks Pro 2020 Essential Training - LinkedIn
  • Microsoft Power Automate: Advanced Business Automation - LinkedIn RPA, AI, and Cognitive Tech for Leaders - LinkedIn
  • Excel for Accountants - LinkedIn
  • Cert Prep: Excel Expert - Microsoft Office Specialist for Office 2019 and Office 365 - LinkedIn
  • Excel VBA: Process Modeling - LinkedIn
  • Foundations of The Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) - LinkedIn Strategic Thinking - LinkedIn
  • Operational Excellence Foundations - LinkedIn
  • Creating a Culture of Strategy Execution - LinkedIn
  • Pitching to Investors - LinkedIn
  • Microsoft Power Apps: AI Builder - LinkedIn

No-Code Solutions for Websites and Apps - LinkedIn

Skills

Business Growth Strategies • Operational Excellence • Business Process Management Automation • Accounting • Leadership • Financial Operations • Business Strategy Management • Organizational Culture

Honors & Awards

Graduate of the Honors Accounting Program From The Ohio State University


June 2011

The Accounting Honors program teaches analytical thinking and strong communication skills, which push students to think outside their comfort zone.

Such an innovative teaching strategy by the department's best faculty has direct application in the business world and will ensure success in a rewarding and diverse career path.


[FileSafe:e3f35bf2-c672-46df-968c-2bbc18f70799:Resume-Jonathan_Kogan-20220316.pdf]

[FileSafe:11e17ef3-1ccf-4928-b32e-302692357b5e:98513F95-615E-415B-9D85-52BA4E38D68C.jpeg]

[FileSafe:0c363c53-a828-44db-b902-0ba0b1c88a82:2A978A77-7DC1-4CC4-BC03-F4220CFFBFC0.jpeg]

[FileSafe:df9a95f8-3097-4947-9c09-54254f54f2bd:9FAEF65A-EA96-415F-B700-7C42C32915CA.jpeg]

[FileSafe:38dd8fd9-f9c3-4d14-9c32-6beaac27e4a6:35281567-C348-4849-94B4-1031BE671723.jpeg]

My Page: About Me

About Me

My Page


A little bit about me and what I’m up to…

I’m laser focused on the convergence of 3 specific areas: Crypto, No-Code, and the Creator Economy. I believe this technologies will change the world, and how it fundamentally operates (for anyone that is alive today).

We are in changing times, which isn’t anything new, but the magnitude of this “shift” has most likely never been experienced before in any human era. At the very least, there are only 5 times in history that can really be in the same conversation.

This is not a bad thing. It’s actually a great thing, albeit it unevitably not be great for those who oppose it and try to hold on to legacy thinking. The most important thing to understand is that this is your choice (for the 95% of you reading this) — the soverign individual.

That’s why I started this podcast. For you and for me. It’s a podcast on the pursuit to educate, inspire, and hopefully motivate.

Education is the most important part of this equation.

My promise to you is that we will never stop bringing on the best guests, we will turn the complicated concepts of Web3 and make them easy to understand, but most of all, we will never do anything that undermines the value-driven approach of providing every listener with the tools to achieve whatever means most to them.

Don’t forget: we are essentially you — the audience! We want to become as educated as possible, from the best in the world, and that’s what we will do. We are in this ride together!

Some of the things I enjoy most are building businesses with incredible teams, turning around organizations who need help (i.e. financially, operationally, etc), trying every new tool in the no-code & low-code space, and listening to so many podcasts!

But, my most favorite thing to do right now is being a Co-Host of an AWESOME new podcast (“In Case You Forgot: The Ownership Economy”) where we have authentic, unscripted conversations with top Creators, Entrepreneuers, Business Executives, Makers, Investors, and people who  them they couldn’t.

No-Code for Web3

The massive growth nonfungible tokens reflects their fundamental value: NFTs make digital objects unique. NFTs do this by connecting a digital object with an identifier that cannot be replicated because the identifier is a unique blockchain transaction.

When digital objects are unique, creators, content producers, and brand owners can capture the value of producing original works, limited editions, authentic products and transactions, and verified credentials. The most popular uses of NFTs are straightforward applications to capturing the value of limited editions of art and using NFTs to give buyers access to unique products. For example, the Kings of Leon released their album with a limited number of NFTs that give their buyers exclusive benefits such as a vinyl copy and concert seats.

NFTs will soon become central to the global economy. As a result, there will be a growth in the need to be able to customize NFTs by automating their functionality, combining NFTs with each other and other systems, and using NFTs as the centerpiece of new business models.

Early on, NFT platforms made it very easy to customize one aspect of NFT functionality: simply clicking a button enables NFT creators set the percentage of revenue from all subsequent sales they will earn. But more advanced customizations require users to code.

More advanced NFT customizations include:

being able to create and customize the design of your own NFT marketplace instead of only selling on marketplaces that charge fees and place other limits, including enabling users to add a wide variety of web2 components to NFTs such as comments, voting, and embedded video and streamingsetting up the rights associated with an NFT to change when it is sold, as time passes, or in response to other conditions, which can range from simply having the NFT media display aspects of its transaction history to generating or unlocking new content or benefits in response to milestones or online activityenabling NFTs to have rights to other assets or payment streams (including cryptocurrencies and other NFTs) so the NFT can distribute benefits to the NFT owner and other select parties in the form of payments or in-kind benefitsenabling the NFT to effectively function like a corporate entity by issuing fungible tokensconnecting NFTs to each other, external systems, and physical goods via QR codes, APIs, and Internet of Things devicesdividing up NFT ownership and benefits among numerous people.

The problem with customized NFTs is that creating them either requires knowing how to code or not fully benefitting from blockchain.

NFT builders don’t have the time to learn how to code. And customized NFT functionality is either too expensive to implement on Ethereum or requires using blockchains that still rely on centralized governance or technology such Google cloud or AWS. Most blockchain are limited to structuring NFTs only as metadata and not the actual image, video, or other content itself.

Fortunately, the approach being taken by ICME can solve these problems. ICME is the only no code builder for the Internet Computer blockchain, which was open sourced by the Dfinity Foundation in May 2021. Being able to customize NFTs without writing code will alleviate what is already a bottleneck in NFT adoption and soon become a major focus on no code building.

With the benefits of no code and the Internet Computer, anyone can customize NFTs without writing code and still benefitting from the best that blockchain has to offer in terms of decentralization, low costs, speed, scalability, privacy, and user-ownership.


ICME - No Code for Web3

The Ownershio Economy: Web3 is just normalizing Web2 compensation for Creators

Hashtagpaid Article

Don’t be naïve. The decentralization dream of Web3 won’t come true any time soon, if ever. 

At least not as it was originally conceived. As Moxie Marlinspike, founder of Signal, explained, centralization emerged in the first place because people don’t want to run their own servers. Until running your own server is as accessible as turning on your router, the promise of true decentralization will remain a fairy tale. 

In the meantime, venture capitalists will continue to pour colossal amounts of money into Web3 companies like OpenSea and Coinbase for years to come. Investors know the barrier is high for the average user to turn away from the accessibility of centralized platforms, especially when market forces are strengthening our ties to those same third parties. 

But does the delusion of decentralization even matter for creators — the artists, musicians, gamers, vloggers, and entrepreneurs who should be fairly compensated for their work? 

Probably not. Whether via Web2 or Web3 mechanisms, peer-to-peer transactions between creator and follower are normalizing as we monetize more aspects of our lives. 

Nearly every social platform is making it easier for creators to get paid, and more companies that fall outside social media want a cut of the creator economy. Twitch launched their Bits program as far back as 2016. Instagram finally made it possible to pay creators directly with badges in May 2020. Twitter launched a digital tip jar last year.  TikTok announced their Creator Next program in December 2021. Even Stripe started expanding their service for creators near the end of last year. 

While there are some important differences between on-platform payments and NFTs, for example, what matters more is the behavior Web3 ideology is normalizing: Someone like you or me likes someone else’s digital presence enough to pay them for something they created.  

NFT compensation: Dream versus reality

It’s still hit or miss whether NFT artists receive fair payment for their work. 

Seneca, lead artist for the Bored Ape Yacht Club, didn’t even know her illustrations were selling for millions of dollars until she Googled the ape drawings months after they launched. In January 2022, Seneca told Rolling Stone that her “experience with the Bored Ape Yacht Club ‘taught [her] a lot of life lessons,’ and she urges aspiring creators to make sure they understand NFTs and smart contracts, ask for royalties, and know the potential.”

LinkedIn senior product manager and TikTok creator Cherie Brooke shared her frustrations with paying gas fees when she uploaded her NFTs to the Ethereum blockchain via OpenSea. (“Gas fees” are transaction fees paid by Web3 users to compensate for the massive amount of environmentally destructive computing energy needed to process and validate transactions on the Ethereum blockchain.)

“As a creator who just wants to get started with Web3, crypto, and NFTs,” Cherie says, “the fact that you have to pay $200 [in upfront gas fees] to see if anything sticks is discouraging. The cost is too high. Luckily I found a way around it with the Polygon blockchain [for other NFTs], but I can see other artists who want to get started with NFTs being really turned off.”

What people aren’t talking about when they talk about NFTs

Despite her initial frustrations, Cherie is optimistic about NFTs. She’s been selling her Stay Hydrated collection as a way to provide access to virtual coaching, events, and a networking community on Discord. 

“Whenever someone explains NFTs right now,” Cherie says, “they always default to saying it’s a digital good like a piece of artwork. I think what people miss out on is the utility of the NFT — which is the most special part for creators and artists.” 

Cherie says that the artwork for her NFTs is more of a fun representation of her brand than anything of intrinsic value. When someone purchases a Stay Hydrated NFT, it may look like they’re buying a jpeg, but what they’re actually getting is a subscription to one-on-one career mentorship, monthly advice blasts, and professional networking on Discord. 

But the real potential of NFTs, Cherie says, is the ability to sell them later on the blockchain after you’ve exhausted their value. “Once someone lands the job they want [through my mentorship],” Cherie says, “they can then sell the NFT and the services it comes with to another person who needs it.” 

The idea is that the creator will get a cut of that sale as it’s recorded on the blockchain. This exchange of lifetime value is the linchpin for creators. Utility NFTs — which are redeemable for some type of value other than the media file itself — shifts the NFT conversation from “this JPEG was sold as a scarce commodity when it’s not that” to “this NFT represents a transferable ticket I can exchange for something I value.” 

Web2 hyper-monetization behaviors are fueling Web3 potential

Before NFTs can realize their full potential — and move beyond the many scams that plague them — people need to grow even more accustomed to shifting their disposable income from corporate entities to individuals selling something of legitimate value. Ironically, this behavior is what Web2 platforms (TikTok, Instagram, Twitch, etc.) are normalizing. 

Every social platform has realized, at varying rates, that they depend almost entirely on creators for their survival in the attention economy. In 2016, Twitch launched Bits, which allowed people to purchase graphic representations of support to “spend” in any given streamer’s live chat. Twitch, however, gets the vast majority of the revenue share, with creators getting only a penny, in most cases, for every Bit purchased for $1 or more. 

Instagram realized much later that they should invest in similar “direct” payment behaviors between creators and their followers. In January 2022, Instagram announced that it would be trialing a subscription service wherein followers can pay creators for extra content. In 2020, Instagram launched “badges” for Instagram Live, which allowed followers to spend less than $5 to support their favorite creators during a livestream. But unlike Twitch, the revenue share favors the creator, who gets a 55% cut.   

In China, live social shopping is already a behavioral norm that’s projected to grow in revenue to $480 billion in 2022. In the United States, where shoppable livestreams are still a nascent behavior, revenue is still expected to grow to $11 billion this year, with Meta, TikTok, and Pinterest each making their own investments. 

Creators will be the ones who fuel live shopping growth as hosts and promoters, as they have been on Amazon Live to relatively little fanfare so far. But it’s not so far a leap to imagine that viewers will start compensating creators in a live formatafter they get used to making live purchases through Web2 platforms. (Sex workers have already been seeing live compensation through Chaturbate, after all.)

A Web3 bet may just be a trussed up bet on the creator economy

We’re still not used to paying creators directly, though. Pollyanna Ward, head of paid social at Social Chain, told The Drum in January 2022 that “brand partnerships still account for the majority of creator revenue, with 77% of money made being from brand deals, whereas subscriptions and tips make up around 1–3%.”

That percentage is set to grow, however, as payment processors are creating the infrastructure for more peer-to-peer(esque) transactions. In 2021, Stripe analyzed its own data and found that creator businesses earned more than $3 billion that same year through services like Substack, Twitter, Spotify, and Teachable. Stripe has since invested more in a simplified version of its Express Connect service for creators to better be able to handle smaller tips. 

Then there’s Linktree, which partnered with PayPalin August 2021 to expand its “Commerce Links” tools for direct payment. The integration allows creators to receive payments from their followers via PayPal, a debit card, or credit card. 

If it seems like every company in the world is investing in the shift toward a diluted version of Web3, it’s because they are. Soon those same companies will operate fully on the blockchain. Soon creators will have more revenue streams because centralized third parties bet on the blockchain. Followers will get used to paying creators for the value they create — and VC-backed companies will still get a cut of those sales.

When you take a good, hard look at NFTs beyond the Beanie Baby-esque craze of ape jpegs and the celebrities buying them, they’re almost disappointingly boring. Sure, maybe one day you’ll hang a piece of NFT art in your metaverse bedroom, but then you might sell another as tuition to a course on how to bake bread in the real world. 

NFTs are just another thing that gets you to the thing you want.