Episode 9 – JOE LUBIN, ETHEREUM & CONSENSYS

A live-to-audience interview with Joe Lubin, co-creator of Ethereum, and ‘godfather’ of the smart contract, tracing an arc from his college days at Princeton to founding ‘blockchain venture studio’ ConsenSys.

As Joe makes clear in our conversation, Ethereum is a process – not yet a product. Here’s the roadmap for Ethereum 2.0, which takes a lot of what’s been learned since the network went live in 2016 — and tries to fix its shortcomings.

Here’s a great interview with Vitalik Buterin – the other half of Ethereum’s founding team (Joe spreads the credit around more widely) about cryptoeconomics and more.

The “live” version of the Ethereum white paper, maintained on the Ethereum website – it’s an interesting read. Particularly when you remember that it was drafted by someone who was only eighteen years old at the time.

Huge thanks to both UTS and the City of Sydney’s Visiting Entrepreneur Program for their assistance in making this all happen!

 

Episode 6 – FEDCOINS & STABLECOINS

Businesses risk big losses accepting cryptocurrency payments. Do we need a ‘stablecoin’ that holds its value – or government ‘fedcoins’?

 

Havven is an Australian startup creating a ‘stablecoin’ on the back of a very well-subscribed ICO, raising USD $30,000,000 (closer to AUD $40M). Those funds serve as the surety so that their currency can be exchanged dollar-for-dollar with USD.

kain_warwick

We spoke to Havven founder Kain Warwick about what it takes to create a stablecoin – and why people might want to use one.

Tether is the most well-known stablecoin. But it’s been devilishly hard to find an auditor willing to say Tether has an adequate store of USD:

https://www.coindesk.com/tether-review-claims-crypto-asset-fully-backed-theres-catch/

Ecuador had a wild ride into and then out of a ‘fedcoin’:

https://www.cnbc.com/2015/02/06/ecuador-becomes-the-first-country-to-roll-out-its-own-digital-durrency.html

https://cointelegraph.com/news/state-issued-digital-currencies-the-countries-which-adopted-rejected-or-researched-the-concept

But will stablecoins really work?  MIT Tech Review says ‘um…’

 

Episode 5 – SMART MONEY

Imagine a company with no employees, no managers, no board of directors. Imagine a company that ran as a piece of software guaranteeing a democracy of shareholders.

Distributed Autonomous Organsation, or DAO, promised this to its investors:

dao_voting

It didn’t quite go as planned.

We’ve learned a lot about securing computer programs in the nearly 25 years since Brendan Eich invented Javascript – a language now powering nearly every site on the Web.

We’ve invented ‘sandboxing‘ – your smartphone apps can’t steal data from one another, nor can the websites you visit.

Vitalik Buterin created a cryptocurrency with coding features built into the currency. Ethereum runs millions of programs, each in its own sandbox.

Enabling ‘smart money’ – money that can think for itself – Ethereum has proven among the most useful of all coins – and as a result is now worth more than any cryptocurrency other than Bitcoin.

EtherScripter is an amazing tool that lets you drag-and-drop the design of smart contracts. It draws heavily from the SCRATCH programming language used to teach children as young as 6 years old the essential skills of programming. So EtherScripter is easy to understand – and fun.

Here’s a simple EtherScripter smart contract that performs a coin flip:

Etherscript coin flip

Get your hands dirty with EtherScripter here!

As we learned in our interview with CryptoFlip‘s Max Kenny, there’s a lot more to doing a coin flip well – that is, with truly random results.

The DAO failed because of bugs – and hubris. Smart contract pioneers wanted to run before they’d learned to walk.

This WIRED article explores the failure of the DAO in detail.

Episode 4 – TOKENOMICS

What gives a coin its value? Gold is rare (as is Bitcoin), but most coins are plentiful. So we need to ask another question – is a coin useful?

The utility of a coin can be determined by observing how it’s been designed to be used – and comparing that against how people actually use it.

Bitcoin was originally meant to facilitate peer-to-peer cash transactions on the Internet, but because of its long settlement times (in the tens of minutes) and high fees, it’s rarely appropriate. Instead, Bitcoin’s utility comes from its store of value.

But there are other coins:

litecoin 768px-Namecoin

Litecoin and Namecoin are both similar to Bitcoin – ‘cloned’ from the Bitcoin source code. But each of them are just different enough to attract their own traders.

In 2015, Ethereum came along – more about that in episode 5 – and the number of ‘initial coin offerings’ exploded, generating well over twenty billion dollars (USD) in sales:

ICO_Tracker.png

PowerLedger provides a blockchain-based accounting mechanism allowing individuals generating energy at home – via renewables such as solar and wind – to sell that energy to their neighbors, with real-time payments.

Dr. Jemma Green joined us to discuss the utility of the POWR token – created to act as a ‘bond’ against settlement of electricity bills – but with much broader applications.

Jemma_Castiel_reduced
Dr. Jemma Green (and 6 week-old Castiel) joined us for an interview about PowerLedger

Dr. Green described a system of POWR tokens and another token – SPARKS – used together to facilitate payments:

Power-Ledger-Model-min.png

The POWR token sale raised $34,000,000 in investment for PowerLedger.

According to Mark Jeffrey, the real value of any coin can be surmised by its usefulness – and he suggests we head over to Block’tivity to see the real-time chart of the most useful coins.

Here’s a snapshot from 25 August 2018:

Blocktivity
Usefulness is not correlated to value. Bitcoin is useful. EOS, STEEM and Ethereum more so.

 

Mark Jeffrey also took us through the tokenomics of Guardian Circle, his ‘decentralised 9-1-1’ application that aims to bring emergency services to billions in the developing world. It uses a ‘Guardium‘ token to incentivise first responders. (Disclaimer: I am both an adviser to Guardian Circle and am a Guardium token holder in recognition of my services as an adviser. This is not investment advice.)