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Bitcoin Explained + Cryptocurrency 101 With Erik Voorhees

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  • Lots of cryptocurrencies
  • Some good, some really bad
  • Still diverse and complicated ecosystem now
  • Bitcoin is the first of the cryptocurrencies
  • Was the first block chain to ever exist
  • Digital currency, store of value, decentralized, distributed
  • It's a form of immutable money

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  • Peer-to-peer
  • It is destabilizing to banks the way the internet was destabilizing to shopping
  • Money is typically seen as a governmental item or tool
  • Money is just the thing that is most bartered for
  • Divisible, scarce
  • Governments usurped money
  • Bitcoin is digital money
  • Every cryptocurrency is built on a blockchain
Money will be pulled away from the government and it will change the world."
  • Established, known to all parties, and cannot be changed
  • The supply is completely known
  • Fiat currencies tend towards zero
  • You are responsible for your money
  • Complete autonomy and responsibility in your own hands
  • There are lots of custodians but you have to trust them 

Related Posts:


  • With fiat currencies you never have real authority over them
  • Napster was a centralized company creating a peer-to-peer network and got shut down
  • Bitcoin is not a company, it's just a peer-to-peer network
  • Anyone can run a node on their computer
  • They are in sync
  • All nodes are aware and record what happened
  • Torrents have never been shut down
  • KYC: Know Your Customer—financial intermediaries must take information from their customers
  • Bitcoin does not enforce financial reporting rules
  • ShapeShift is non-custodial
  • ShapeShift supports wallets
  • Coinbase, Binance, etc. are custodians
  • Governments do not like cryptocurrency as a general rule because it diminishes their own power
  • The longer something like cryptocurrencies exist, the more accepted they become and the harder it is to shut down
  • Bitcoin is open-sourced
  • Anyone can build their own cryptocurrencies
  • There are competitors to Bitcoin but others like Ethereum was created for different purposes
  • Some are scams
  • The cryptocurrency market is still in its early stages
  • NFTs are not cryptocurrencies but they have a lot of similarities
  • All Bitcoins are fungible
  • All Ethereum units are fungible
  • Crypto-Kitties was the first NFT—Non-Fungible Token
  • Blockchain keeps the ledgers synchronized and verified and accurate
  • Blocks are pages of that ledger
  • Many blocks form a chain
  • Social and economic implications for the world in the same way when electricity was brought to the world
  • Money will be pulled away from the government and it will change the world
  • Bitcoin is half as old as the Euro

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Erik Voorhees.m4a: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

Wes Schaeffer:
Erik Voorhees, CEO of Shapeshift self-custody crypto platform, all the way from Denver. Welcome to The Sales Podcast. How the heck are you, man?

Erik Voorhees:
I'm doing very well. Thanks for having me on the show.

Wes Schaeffer:
Thanks for coming on. Had your dad on the show, got to meet him. So we've been talking cryptos and now for the first time in 490-something episodes, my son Jake Schaeffer is in the house, all the way from San Francisco. Call your mother, okay? Don't don't make me -- don't make me pause this thing, all right?

Jake Schaeffer:
Will do.

Wes Schaeffer:
So Jake is in the crypto space with a company called Handshake, so this both of these guys are going to talk way over my head for those of you listening. But anyway, it was time to have this discussion. I've been investing in this a little bit since the fall, but, -- well, Jake, did you and Matthew buy crypto when we were having this discussion with your Uncle Tommy like five, six years ago? Did you buy when Matthew bought?

Jake Schaeffer:
I don't know when Matt bought, but I bought a little bit back in 2016 or '17. Like, right around starting school.

Wes Schaeffer:
It was something like that. So Eric, just -- my son was asked me these questions and my my brother in law is in -- he's built a server farm, a mining farm out in Texas. And four or five, six years ago, like I knew nothing; I knew it was up and coming, I just didn't know enough about it. And I said, look, if you want to learn about cryptocurrencies, about anything, buy some of it, buy $100; buy $1,000, whatever, because soon as you put some money, you put some skin in the game, all of a sudden you're going to be quite interested. You're going to be more attentive, right, to the lessons learned and the nuances. And he did. And so back in -- and then it kind of crashed, like which cryptos do, right, and then just last October, he was texting me, he's, like, it's back up, I made a little bit of money; I think I'm going to sell. And I'm like, okay, do you need the money? He's like, no, I don't need the money.

I said, I think it's -- I think it's poised to really grow, man, you know? It's like the fundamentals are there to keep it. But if you need the money or if you're afraid or whatever, then say, all right, I'll keep it. And that's when it took off. Right. It was like at $9,000 or $10,000, then, you know; then shot up to $58,000 and, you know, it's going to bounce around. But anyway, about once a week, I just send them a screenshot of that, like, yeah, you owe me, dude, because you've made some money.

Erik Voorhees:
Yeah. He definitely owes you a beer for that one.

Wes Schaeffer:
[chuckles] But I know this is going to be kind of rudimentary, but I mean, there are people that still literally don't even know what a cryptocurrency is. I mean, why -- can you explain it like I'm five?

Erik Voorhees:
Yeah. Yeah. I've been doing that for like 10 years and always happy to. It's a weird and -- it's a weird and strange thing. And so people that don't understand it, happy to kind of help educate them on this on this stuff.

I think the first thing to convey is that cryptocurrency and and blockchain generally is a really large field, lots of different cryptocurrencies ranging from super-transformative and important to totally stupid and scamming and everything in between and a lot of digital assets more broadly that aren't meant to be currencies at all but they are sort of part of the crypto-sphere themselves; so it's a very diverse and complicated ecosystem at this point.

Anyone who doesn't understand it, I would recommend starting with the basics -- and the basics is Bitcoin. So Bitcoin is obviously the first of these launched a little over a decade ago, was the first blockchain to ever exist. And what Bitcoin did was basically create a digital currency and a store of value and a payment network that couldn't be shut down or turned off by anyone. It was decentralized, it was distributed, and essentially it allowed anyone in the world to move Bitcoin tokens -- Bitcoins -- from one person to another no matter where they are and in any amount and no one can stop them or even really know what they're doing.

So it becomes a form of, you know, immutable money. And this is something very new for the world. Anyone who is listening obviously has a bank account and they're used to -- they're used to cash; they're used to how banks works to some degree, Bitcoin is an entirely new form of money. So it's not dollars. It's a new money system entirely that doesn't use banks at all and operates on this peer-to-peer network that allows people to interact economically. So I guess I'll stop there; that's a good spot.

Wes Schaeffer:
Well, this sounds like what drug dealers would do. I mean, it's all -- the government's -- this is very destabilizing, Eric? Are you a gangster?

Erik Voorhees:
Yeah, well, it likely is destabilizing. Just as the Internet was destabilizing to media, Bitcoin is going to be destabilizing to banks. So if you love banks, if you think that they are fantastic institutions and do not warrant any kind of innovation, then you might understandably not like Bitcoin. But if something about how banking works bothers you or something about government's ability to create money out of thin air bothers you; or if you just think that you should have a little more sovereignty over your own wealth and assets, Bitcoin is the most empowering financial technology that's ever been invented.

Wes Schaeffer:
Yeah. And the reason I think it's important and I want people on The Sales Podcast to learn about this, because the ironic thing is most people, even in sales, are not comfortable talking about money. As crazy as it sounds, you'll see salespeople all the time, they are fantastic, right? They're like, you need this iPhone. It's small, it's sleek, it's powerful, better battery. Look at the screen. Look at the camera. It's fantastic. How much is it? And they're like, well, that's what depends, you know, and you see their demeanor change. They're literally not comfortable talking about money. And now there's a new form of money and they're really not comfortable talking about it.

But I know people will say, look, people don't even know what real money -- well, what traditional money is; a dollar. And they don't know what it is. And so if they don't know what historical money is, I think that's why they're struggling with understanding what new money is like, how because it's literally like, well, who died and made you king, right? How can you just say, here's some new money, right? You're not Congress and this dude that may not even exist somewhere in Japan or San Francisco, he might be there and -- it might be you, it might be that guy in Denver -- just says, hey, here's 21 million digital something or others. Give me some money for it. Like how there's no Congress. There's no president. There's no parliament there. The Queen of England didn't authorize this. How is it allowed?

Erik Voorhees:
Yeah. Well I guess for most people they understand money is sort of an institution of government. This is reinforced every time they look at cash and they see all this like government insignia on it. The Federal Reserve creates the money generally and they see that as a branch of the government. And it certainly has been that way for 50-plus years, ever since the dollar went off the gold standard in the early 1970s. But money originally is definitely not an institution of of government. Money is is just the thing that is most bartered for. And historically, that that ended up usually being some kind of precious metal like silver or gold.

And the reason that those materials became good money is because they have specific properties that make them good money. They're divisible; they're scarce. Because they're scarce they have relatively high value and you can transport lots of money easily without too much -- if you divide an ounce of gold in half, each half is worth as much as the whole. If you divided a cow in half, for example, the cow is dead. And now both halves are not equal to the whole. Sand can't be money because there's too much of it and you'd have to have truckloads of it to buy a toothpick.

So there's actual market reasons why gold and silver became money. And if you're going to really understand how Bitcoin works and where it comes from, it's important to understand how money originated in the world and what how it existed before governments kind of usurped that. So then you get up to Bitcoin and it's essentially just a new commodity. It's a new invention. It is digitally scarce. There are only 21 million units that will ever exist. It can go anywhere in the world instantly over the Internet. And because of its specific properties, it makes it really good as money.

So you're correct that no Congress deemed it to be money, no queen signed off on it. It's purely a money that that originates within an open marketplace. And over the last 10 or 12 years, people have increasingly come to the sense that a form of money that is outside the control of any institution or person might be an important technology. And so because there's only so many units, they trade on open markets. And today, one of those units costs about $48,00.

Wes Schaeffer:
Mm-hmm. And so is is the phrase, or are the phrases "cryptocurrency" and "blockchain", are they synonymous or are they merely overlapping? Is one needed for the other or vice versa?

Erik Voorhees:
Good question. Every cryptocurrency is built on a blockchain, but not every blockchain needs to be used for cryptocurrency. So Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency and the first blockchain. There are other block chains that are built not meant to be used for currency generally. So they are very related, but they are not synonymous.

Wes Schaeffer:
And there are -- and correct me if I'm wrong, I mean, so Bitcoin -- is Bitcoin kind of like gold, at least for now and maybe forever. Like it's the ultimate store of value -- like go I own physical gold, but I can't go to the Ford dealership and say, hey, here's, you know, 40 ounces, 30 ounces; give me a truck. I've got to convert the gold. And I know eventually -- and some are allowing purchases to be made in Bitcoin. But is Bitcoin -- was the goal just to be the store of value and then you convert it to other things? Or will there be a day that, you know, I'm ordering pizzas and paying in Bitcoin?

Erik Voorhees:
Yeah. It's both. So it works very well as a medium of exchange. I actually bought my Jeep with Bitcoin. There is a dealership in Kansas City like eight years ago that accepted Bitcoin and so I bought my Jeep from them; paid them directly with Bitcoin.

Wes Schaeffer:
Is that a $47 million Jeep now?

Erik Voorhees:
It's not quite that much, but it's an embarrassingly high opportunity cost.

So, yeah, I mean, in that case, they accepted Bitcoin as payment and because it's a liquid asset, you can convert it into anything. So I'm guessing that that dealership didn't hold it as Bitcoin. They should have in hindsight, but they probably converted some or all of it instantly into dollars. So that's fine, too. Because it's liquid you can trade dollars for Bitcoin and then send Bitcoin anywhere in the world and the recipient can then convert Bitcoin back into dollars. So even if you don't want to hold on to the volatility of a digital asset like Bitcoin, you can still move in and out of it to do all sorts of of interesting things.

For example, like if you're in Venezuela -- this is a good example -- you have no means of accessing the global banking system, both because of sanctions that have been put from other countries onto your own banking system and because your own government has precluded you from accessing the global financial system. However, you can receive Bitcoin if you're in Venezuela as easily as I can do it here in Denver, no one will know about it. You don't have to register those Bitcoin addresses or accounts with the Venezuelan government. Venezuela has no idea that you would own it. You can receive Bitcoin and send it back out of Venezuela and it's purely up to you.

And so that really allows the person to be completely sovereign over their own money, and that can be important whether you're just trying to move funds around more efficiently or it can be important if you're in a totalitarian regime where money is falling apart and your livelihood depends on it.

Wes Schaeffer:
Mm-hmm. So why 21 million? How did Satoshi Nakamoto come up with 21 million? Why not 20 million? Why not 100 million?

Erik Voorhees:
So I think there is a technical reason why it ended up being 21 million. I mean the correct answer is that it's arbitrary. Could have been 100 million; could have been 5 million; could have been 20 billion. That number doesn't matter. What matters is that it's established, it's known to all parties and it can't be changed. And once you establish those those properties, then however many units there are will form a market price. And so if somehow Bitcoin change tomorrow to be 30 million units or 100 million units, you know, that would be deleterious to the price of Bitcoin. But one of its attributes is that you can't change the supply.

And it's really the only or -- at least the first -- form of a value that the supply is completely known. Even gold, no one knows what the supply is. There is some fixed amount on Earth, some fixed amount in the universe, and no one really knows how much that number is, and it's -- you can kind of estimate it, and you don't know how much will be mined out of the ground at any given year. But I can tell you precisely how many bitcoins there are and how many will be mined this year and next year and the year after. So that's really part of its innovation, is the predictability of its supply.

Wes Schaeffer:
So has your confidence grown in crypto currencies in eight years? I mean, would you buy another Jeep today with Bitcoin or would you hold on and say I'm riding this puppy to a million per coin?

Erik Voorhees:
I mean, I'm definitely riding them to a million per coin. I mean, the thing about Bitcoin and cryptocurrency is once you start understanding them is that they are truly a superior form of money. And so over the long term, my thesis, which many others share, is that fiat currencies like the dollar will continue to depreciate and they will tend toward zero over time, as all fiat currency does. So if you're talking long term stores of wealth, Bitcoin is vastly superior to dollars.

But ultimately, money is only useful for what you can buy with it someday. You don't use bitcoins for anything of value other than as money. So of course when I want to buy something or if I feel like the price temporarily has gotten too frothy, I might sell some Bitcoin. But those are departures from the norm, and the norm is holding wealth in Bitcoin instead of dollars.

Wes Schaeffer:
Did you see that image? I think it was just last week, some guy tipped the dude like literally with Bitcoin and the guy like save the texts. And it was like from five years ago. He's like, I'm your pizza delivery guy. He's like, do you want to order another pizza? The guy had saved it. I thought it was awesome.

Erik Voorhees:
Well, for every one of those stories are stories of from years ago of people that were sent bitcoins by people -- I mean, I sent probably hundreds of bitcoins to people back in the day, just introducing it to them. They were worth $2, $3, $5, $10 dollars at the time. And many of them didn't care, you know; thought I was crazy; totally forgot the wallet that they had it on or, you know, somehow lost access to it because they weren't paying attention. And they have literally missed out on tens of thousands of dollars. The other people that paid attention and took the time to learn about the most important new monetary invention in history have done very well because they took the time to understand it.

Wes Schaeffer:
So what is up with all that with wallets and whatnot? I'm talking to a friend of mine here locally and he's doing some research and he's asking me how am I storing my money? And offline, I'm like, I'm not you know, I'm in BlockFi; I'm in Binance; I'm in Namebase, on my son's recommendation. I mean, do I need to be worried? Is this stuff going to be hacked? Do I need a 97-character password in a thumb drive, in a vault, in an armed guard to protect this thing, because I'm going to lose $70 million when this thing goes up? Like, what the hell? Never mind; I'm going back to CDs; my bank is safe. We're going to end this interview -- [chuckles]

Erik Voorhees:
It's a totally fair question. The honest answer is that you should be worried because when it comes to cryptocurrency, you are responsible for your money. So if you hold Bitcoin in your own wallet, then there's no one that can save it for you if you screw up and lose the keys to that wallet. And that is the foundation of how cryptocurrencies work. It puts complete autonomy and responsibility in your own hands. Now, you can either keep it in your own hands or you can certainly put the Bitcoin with some other custodian.

So there's lots of companies that will hold your bitcoins for you and then you don't have to trust yourself, but you have to trust them. And depending on your use case and your risk parameters and everything, you can make that choice for yourself. What's different is that with fiat, with dollars, you can never -- you can never really have authority over them. You always have to trust a bank. You can obviously pull them out and have it in cash, but you can't send the cash across any distance without trusting another party. With Bitcoin, if you don't ever want to be responsible for it, you can always leave it with someone else.

But if you actually want autonomy over your money or over some portion of it, you now have that power. So that's very important. And if you're going to take that power, just like if you were learning how to drive a car or use a firearm, you want to learn how to do that responsibly. And so it deserves some time and attention.

Wes Schaeffer:
Look, I asked my son how many times I dropped him on his head. I can't be trusted with anything of value. I mean, uh-uh, no. All right. So what is this ledger stuff -- peer-to-peer ledgers? You know, I've tried to explain to people if they're old enough to remember Napster or a little peer-to-peer file sharing, then they were like, yeah, wasn't Napster illegal and shut down? So why is money -- why is the money version of Napster better than and more legal than Napster?

Erik Voorhees:
Yeah. So Napster was a centralized company that had built a peer-to-peer network Napster. The company did get shut down, as any company can get shut down. Obviously, governments can come in and kill any human or destroy any property that they wish to. But Bitcoin isn't a company and it's just the network. It's a peer-to-peer network. And what peer-to-peer means is just that anyone in the world who wants to run a node, which is just a computer server software that lives on their own computer or on a server, they run those nodes, connect to each other, and they all are constantly in sync with each other and talk to each other. And whenever there's a transaction, all of the nodes are become aware of it and record that that happened. So any single node can go offline, any tens or hundreds of nodes can go offline, and the system keeps going because there are other nodes and people can enter and exit the network quite easily.

So this is why it can't get turned off. And even something like Napster got shut down, torrenting -- file sharing generally has never been shut down. It continues to this day. Lots of people do it and it runs on a similar peer-to-peer kind of network.

Wes Schaeffer:
Right. So, like, if I set up my computer as a node, am I saving every single transaction or is it like distributed and just picks five or 10 or 500 nodes to to just randomly, you know, save that ledger, that entry?

Erik Voorhees:
Yeah, you can configure that. Most normal people, I don't recommend need to worry about running a node. It's definitely like a specialized thing. But for those who care about supporting the network and like the idea that there's a lot of configuration they can do, they can run a node that literally has every transaction that's ever occurred, you know, and that's a few terabytes of data, which is only $100 of hard disk space these days.

So you can have a node of that degree or you can have what's called a light client, where it's a node that looks at all the transactions, but it's only saving some of them or like a pruned version of the blockchain data. So there's a lot of ways you can -- you can do it, but most people don't need to worry about running a node.

Wes Schaeffer:
So what is -- what is Know Your Customer and why? What drew you to that space?

Erik Voorhees:
Yeah. So Know Your Customer is a phrase, a.k.a. KYC, which is sort of a set of regulations in the US and in many other countries that financial institutions, financial intermediaries have to take personal private information from their customers. So if you go open a bank account, they're going to take your I.D, they're going to get your Social Security number; they're going to take a bunch of information about you in order to open up that account. And the reason they do that is because the government makes them do that. So this has been sort of the status quo for financial companies for decades, since at least the '70s.

And crypto comes along and obviously Bitcoin does not require your I.D.. It's computer code. You download it and run it on a computer. It doesn't care who you are, doesn't care where you are. It doesn't care how you're using the system. It's completely neutral and agnostic. And that obviously conflicts with a lot of these financial regulations. So the financial regulations that a bank has to cater to cannot be applied to Bitcoin itself. The Bitcoin blockchain does not enforce those rules and will not and never will.

However, if you are a company that handles Bitcoin in particular, if you are an intermediary, like if you're Coinbase or BlockFi and you hold people's bitcoins, you're an intermediary; and arguably in those cases, the financial regulations apply to you. So those companies will have to do the KYC that a bank would. So people often get confused, like is Bitcoin regulated or not? It's not specifically regulated, but depending on how it's being used, it often falls under the regulations that normal financial institutions have to deal with.

Wes Schaeffer:
So it's -- like in health care, you have HIPAA regulations and things like that, are you providing like an easier validated way for companies, for financial institutions to know your customer?

Erik Voorhees:
Now, so we as in ShapeShift, we started as a company that didn't have any KYC at all because we didn't want it, we didn't need it. We thought we should protect people by not taking their personal information if we don't need it. In 2018, we came to the conclusion that we couldn't do that anymore and that the legal risk of acting in that way was too great. So we implemented KYC ourselves, which was horrible. Our customers hated it. We hated it. Our employees hated it.

Our business nearly got destroyed because of it, but we were too worried about the regulatory climate to do otherwise. And just recently, like in January, we've reversed that. So we have found a way of providing the services that we were providing before to our customers without falling under the regulations, which means that we are no longer an intermediary at all and customers are trading essentially with each other directly. It's not going through us anymore. So because we made that change, we were able to remove KYC again and once again protect people's privacy, which we think is is paramount.

Wes Schaeffer:
So can I come to you and just buy -- create an account like I would on Finance or BlockFi or Coinbase Pro or whatever and buy and trade on your platform?

Erik Voorhees:
Well, all of those examples are custodial services, which means that they are holding your bitcoins, you sign up with them, you buy something and they're holding it for you, ShapeShift is non-custodial. So we don't hold any crypto for any users at all. Instead, we support several different wallets that you can have and sign up for. And then you integrate the wallet into our platform. So you can do many of the same things that you would do at a Coinbase or Binance on ShapeShift, but you're always retaining control of your assets. So it is a little more complicated, but not a lot more complicated, and it gives you complete control and sovereignty over your money.

Wes Schaeffer:
So is it is it safer or I mean, what's the benefit? Is it like a self-directed IRA versus an IRA kind of thing?

Erik Voorhees:
I mean, a self-directed IRA, you're still trusting a custodian, and this is something that's totally different in crypto than in normal finance. In normal finance, you're always trusting some other person. They're holding your funds and someone is holding their funds and someone's holding their funds -- and you get like this complex web of custodians and often no one actually knows who owns what. In crypto assets are held at the blockchain layer and you can know precisely which keys are holding which assets.

So if you're using ShapeShift, you are the only one who knows your private keys. ShapeShift can't even take your money if we wanted to. Like, we are unable to move your funds even if we wanted to. You're the only one that's able to move those funds. So it's really about letting people have total sovereignty over their assets, and I think that's absolutely critical within cryptocurrency. It's kind of the whole point.

Wes Schaeffer:
Isn't this an interesting time? Like, we have COVID lockdowns; the government starts giving away money. People like you wake up one morning and there's your $600 or $1200, however many people in your household -- like just literally deposited in your bank account with no authorization, and now here comes something like 180 degrees out from that. Are governments going to just take this? I mean, wars have been started for less destabilizing, less threatening ideas.

Erik Voorhees:
Yeah. Obviously, governments do not like cryptocurrency just as a general rule. Obviously there are people within governments that understand it and like it. But government as an institution has to be opposed to anything that diminishes its own power, and the power over money creation is a huge power and Bitcoin is basically giving everyone an alternative who wants -- who cares enough to have it?

You know, the big question is like culturally, what people will permit. The longer that Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies exist, the more normal they become, the more people on them understand them, use them, the more normalized they are, the less scary they are. The longer that goes on, the harder it is for governments to ban them because it starts looking more and more absurd to ban something that people understand is a useful tool. Doesn't mean they won't try, but even if they try, they can't stop it.

So at best, a government can make Bitcoin illegal but can never turn off the system. It can't know who owns the Bitcoins, can't stop a transaction from happening. So worst case scenario, it could become a totally black market where it just exist in the underground, like many other black markets do. Ultimately, I think fiat currencies will fail and fall apart and most of the world is going to be very happy to have an actual sound of money alternative that they can use in a digital age.

Wes Schaeffer:
Yeah, yeah. But I mean, Prohibition worked very well back in the early 1900s, right?

Erik Voorhees:
Yeah. Everyone stopped drinking and there were no consequences.

Wes Schaeffer:
[chuckles] So right when we started out, you're talking about Bitcoin and alt-currencies and we hear terms like "shitcoins." I mean, like, what's all that about? I mean, why do we need Ethereum and Litecoin and Handshake and -- I mean, why not just have Bitcoin?

Erik Voorhees:
Good question. So Bitcoin is open source software and the concepts are understood. And so anyone in the world can go create cryptocurrency. That's part of the magic of it. Anyone who can write code can build these systems. So obviously, there has been a tremendous flourishing of people building alternatives to Bitcoin. Some of these things are direct competitors. You know, they're basically like copies of the Bitcoin code, maybe a few tweaks of certain variables, and then a new name and a new brand and they try to become a different kind of cryptocurrency.

But many others are not trying to compete directly with Bitcoin as money; they're trying to do something else. So Ethereum, for example, provides a set of what are called smart contracts that allow you to do very advanced decentralized applications. Bitcoin can't really do that or it doesn't do it nearly as well. So people will build different blockchains for different purposes. Some of them are total scams where people are just trying to raise a bunch of money and disappear. Others of them are completely groundbreaking technologies that are changing the world.

So to get into this industry, you have to realize that there's a lot of different projects. It's very noisy. Some of them are very cool and very valid and legitimate. Some of them are total scams. And then there's a lot of stuff kind of in the gray area in between. But again, people shouldn't let themselves get overwhelmed. They should just start understanding Bitcoin first. And when they really have a good understanding of what that is, then they can venture into some of the other projects.

Wes Schaeffer:
Right. And I mean, because none of us are 150 years old and few of us even know history, I mean, we take it for granted, know the big three automakers in Detroit. But I mean, in the early 1900s there were like a hundred or 300, I forget, car manufacturers, and eventually, yeah, they it consolidated. Is is that kind of where we are now? Do you see that? I guess the weird thing is like this is money, right, versus what was very tangible. When the railroad came about, it was tangible. When radio was invented, people like in the '90s -- this has never happened -- well, go back and look when RCA and radio companies, it followed the same trend, right? Big spike, big collapse, consolidation, merger and then stabilization and stable growth. So are we kind of in the early days of the radio or the railroad or the automobile?

Erik Voorhees:
Yeah, I think that's a fair analogy. The industry definitely is not at a mature state yet, so there hasn't been like widespread consolidation that will persist forever. Certain use cases like base money itself, Bitcoin has definitely retained its lead and solidified its place, but many of the other newer use cases are still a fragmented industry and lots of competition and lots of innovation and lots of things being tried.

So, yeah, it's just complex, and people need to recognize that it's an industry in constant flux and in constant flux along many different verticals. It's not just about currency; it's about all sorts of different decentralized applications and use cases.

Wes Schaeffer:
Right. How does NFTs play into this. Is an NFT -- a non-fungible token -- is that a cryptocurrency? Is it blockchain but not cryptocurrency? Is it none of the above.

Erik Voorhees:
So NFTs are not really cryptocurrencies, but they are based on the same technology and have lots of similarities. So NFT stands for non-fungible token. Basically think about it like this. All Bitcoins are essentially fungible. One, Bitcoin is the same as another. They're all the same price. They have the same attributes. In Ethereum, all the ether is fungible. Each Ethereum unit is the same as any other. Those are fungible.

Non-fungible tokens are basically crypto assets which have unique properties. So a good example of this was the first popularized project a few years ago is called CryptoKitties. And it was this little game, kind of like Tamagotchi, where you raise these little digital cats and they have certain attributes -- a certain color of fur, certain eye color, maybe a unicorn horn or something. And each of those kitties is unique. They're not the same as each other and some of them are more rare than each other. And so they all have different prices and they trade. And it's kind of like a fun, fun kind of game. Those are NFTs, non-fungible.

So a lot of people are experimenting with non-fungible tokens and building all sorts of interesting stuff, ranging from artwork to music to game items. You could think of NFTs as like tickets to a concert. Maybe Ticketmaster creates 10,000 tickets for an event. And those are tokens which can trade and move around the world just like a Bitcoin does. Now, those might be fungible and that the tickets are all the same or they might be non-fungible where like each one represents a certain seat at the auditorium. But really, people are experimenting with all this stuff in the common thread between them is that they are built on block change, they are decentralized and people can access them from anywhere in the world and transfer them anywhere in the world in a very free flowing way.

Wes Schaeffer:
Mm-hmm. And I guess we've really haven't dug into what is a blockchain, because we talked about a peer-to-peer storing of a of a ledger, right? Like literally old school accountants with their P&L statements in the ledger -- okay, he bought, he sold this price, this date and time. But there -- the crypto part, I mean, these -- they are highly secure, right? I mean, they're using advanced algorithms to lock and unlock this information because it's all encrypted, right? It's not it's not easy to steal this info or look into it, but it's a specific algorithm for handling these transactions; right?

Erik Voorhees:
Yeah, think about it like this, and this is just kind of talking about Bitcoin's blockchain because it's the simplest. Think of like a bank back in the 1800s before computers and they have a ledger at the bank that's paper and some teller at the ledger records, all the account balances of all their customers. And whenever someone makes a deposit or withdraw to another account, they're recording that, on paper, each line. So what a blockchain is, is instead of that ledger being in the bank and one copy of it. It is duplicated across hundreds or thousands of computers. So a thousand computers all have that ledger now. They're all have a record of the accounts; what is coming in and what is going out. And the magic of what black teens do is that they keep the ledger synchronized. And any of the ledgers that tries to lie about an account balance or a transaction that is rejected by the rest of the network. So instead of the bank having a paper ledger and updating it, the blockchain, which is just a bunch of nodes that are all connected to each other, record the ledger of Bitcoin transactions.

They stay in synchrony. And how they do that is some very awesome mathematics and crypto computer engineering. But the point is that they do. It works and they stay in sync. The blocks you can think of as the pages of that ledger. So every time that that teller gets to the bottom of the paper, he's flipping over the page and then writing new transactions on the next page. The blocks are just like that. Each block is the next page of the ledger. The whole network agrees that page is correct. The network signs off on that page. It becomes that block and it now is stacked on the blockchain and they begin on the next page. And the whole sequence of all those pages, all those blocks along the chain, that's what a blockchain is.

So that's kind of how it works. In some ways it's not that complicated in concept, but the math that allows that to happen in a decentralized way is what really makes it cool and powerful.

Wes Schaeffer:
Right. So, you know, we had Hurricane Harvey in Houston where I grew up, and now big, big ice storms. Hell, same part of Houston and all of Texas. You know, what if an alarming number of machines go offline? Is there just enough redundancy that it's okay? Or does the system ever go, whoa, you know, I just lost a thousand nodes in Texas? Will it go -- will it pull info from the existing and maybe make another thousand somewhere else for redundancy?

Erik Voorhees:
Yes. The nodes are all over the world. Let's say there's 10,000 nodes and let's say 1,000 are in Texas; the entire Texas energy grid goes offline and all of them are knocked out. Right now, the whole network only has 9,000. Those 9,000 continue to operate just as they did before. A week later, when the Texas nodes come back online; you know, they wake up, they connect to the Internet, they search out for their peers and they say, okay, what is the situation? What is the record of transactions? What is the height of the blockchain?

What pages don't I know about yet? And all those nodes would download the pages, the blocks that the other international nodes know about, and then they'll catch up, they'll be synchronized. And within a few minutes or an hour, those Texas nodes will be in sync with the rest of the world. So it's highly redundant and highly resilient. If the entire global Internet went offline, Bitcoin would stop working immediately. Of course, at that point, we have some pretty serious problems. And once the Internet turned back on again, Bitcoin would keep on chugging just as it had before.

Wes Schaeffer:
So did you see the movie "Book of Eli" with Denzel Washington?

Erik Voorhees:
I have. It's been a while, but I have.

Wes Schaeffer:
So is this eventually what -- will it come down to one? One person's going to have every blockchain memorized; he's going to repeat it, then restore the grid and put blockchain back into existence?

Erik Voorhees:
Yeah. I mean, if we got to a point where only one node existed and everything else had been wiped out, the world is in pretty horrible shape.

Wes Schaeffer:
But Denzel could do it. He could carry that one big server. And he's like --

Erik Voorhees:
Yeah, just add a thumbdrive.

Wes Schaeffer:
I got to get to the one power grid. Oh, it's a 220 plug. I don't -- I mean, is that how the world just ends?

Erik Voorhees:
Yeah, that would be a bad situation now. Of course, if Denzel was the only one with a copy of the blockchain, he can now change it, right? He can say, actually --

Wes Schaeffer:
Oh, do not disparage Denzel Washington. I will delete this interview.

Erik Voorhees:
He's an upstanding man and I know he wouldn't. But he could. But the whole reason that it's okay to trust Bitcoin is because all the nodes keep each other in check, so you don't have to trust any specific node operator. In fact, you can assume that many are are bad actors and the whole system can remain accurate even in that context.

Wes Schaeffer:
Right. Cool, man. Jake, did I miss anything? What should I have asked?

Jake Schaeffer:
I don't think you missed anything, but there's always room from here to keep going.

I did have one specific question, something I -- the reason I got into crypto in the first place was because it's this kind of beautiful combination of like all the technical aspects that you've described so far. But as soon as the technical is kind of like explained it out of the way, we're then in the realm of like the social and seeing how people value either an individual coin or an entire ecosystem or the information that a single function is able to provide or the functionality it provides.

Jake Schaeffer:
And a really recent example of this is like the Dogecoin stuff that's recently been happening. And they're getting like essentially like pushed higher and higher, basically propagated on like what's essentially like I consider it almost like Tinker Bell dust, like if you believe, the value goes up. But at the same time, there's almost like inflection point where if all of a sudden the functionality exists to, like, start writing smart contracts -- like a second layer chain starts appearing and using something like Dogecoin, then it very well could provide value. Not at all saying it will, but I'm curious what your general take on the relationship between that technical and the social is; and, like, if you had an answer on which one is more important, if you feel like the technical is now kind of behind us and the study of crypto as a whole will kind of be forced to shift to the social aspect. Those are the questions that I've been trying to ask myself.

Erik Voorhees:
Yeah, great question. So the technical stuff is very cool. I'm not an engineer and a lot of the, like, actual cryptography, I don't actually understand. But anyone who is into that stuff, that's an endlessly fascinating world and layer. But, yeah, personally, I think the more interesting part of Bitcoin and crypto generally is the social and economic and political implications for the whole world.

So good analogy here would be like, you know, when electricity was starting to become used, technically, electricity is very cool. How does it work? Has it produced? Has it distributed? Those are all interesting questions that you could spend a lot of time on. But what's more interesting about electricity is how it actually changed civilization, how it changed economics, how it changed people's lives. And Bitcoin is a technology on that scale. Decentralized systems are a technology on that scale. So that's really what's more interesting.

And one of this -- one of these consequences, I think, is that money over the next one to two decades is going to be pulled away from the realm of government and put into the realm of the market where it belongs. And just as people look back and are thankful that religion was pulled out of the government -- the separation of church and state, most people look at that as an important point in human history. It's good that the state is not controlling religion. I think people will look very similarly at that money. It will be good when the state is no longer controlling money.

And I would argue it's even more important than religion because not everyone is religious, but everyone uses money every day. So that as an institution, more than anything, deserves to be part of the market and out of the hands of government. The government will obviously never relinquish control, you know, so you have to build a technology that just takes it. And that's what Bitcoin has done.

So, yeah, I mean, it's endlessly fascinating and it ranges from the changing how global financial systems operate, to like Dogecoin, which is a stupid dog picture, but it's a cryptocurrency based on a dog picture, that's it. There's nothing else to it. And it has existed for like seven or eight years and it's worth several billion dollars and it's just kind of weird and funny and so everyone keeps talking about it and it and trading it. You know, tens of millions, hundreds of millions of dollars of it are traded every day. Elon Musk is like tweeting about it now. And it's just know crypto is like fascinating because it ranges from the totally preposterous to the totally transformative and everything in between. And yeah, I mean, to any of the listeners of this, you know, this deserves some of your time to understand, you know, at least Bitcoin, because it's the foundation of a new part of of how society will work.

Wes Schaeffer:
Yeah. And look, for the record, okay, all the cool kids call it "doggy coin", all right --

Erik Voorhees:
All the boomers call it doggy coin.

Wes Schaeffer:
I'm not a boomer, dammit.

Erik Voorhees:
It's all right. It's all right. The whole point of Dogecoin is that it is whatever you want it to be.

Wes Schaeffer:
Are you worried about the future? I mean, when -- I mean, governments, if they don't have money, they don't have power. And it sounds good to take money away from governments, but they're not going to let it happen, not without some bloodshed. I mean, yeah, have you thought about that much? Does it worry you? I mean, the more worried I get, honestly.

Erik Voorhees:
Yeah. I think about it every day. Yeah. And Bitcoin doesn't destroy governments. It doesn't remove governments from the earth because some people like governments. I don't, but lots of people think that they're important. So Bitcoin doesn't destroy governments, but it definitely reduces the size that a government can exist at. Governments exist by taxing borrowing, which just means to tax later or printing. And those three things are what allow governments to fund their activities. And if you remove that third tier, if you remove the ability to print money, governments have to get smaller.

So I think that's a great thing. Governments will not like that at all. And I am worried, absolutely, that as Bitcoin continues to infiltrate the financial system, at some point people in government will realize that it's an actual existential threat to fiat. They have too much hubris to think that today. They still think that's absurd and will never happen. And that's good. I'm glad they think that. But it's inevitable. Fiat is going away. Market based digital currencies are the future and governments will not have a place in managing them anymore. So I think it's -- for those of us who care about the stuff, it's on us to help teach people why this is an important technology, why it's not scary; why it's not just here to help drug dealers and criminals.

It's here to help everyone. It's a useful technology for everyone and it gives the power over value itself to individuals. And ultimately, like, how can you be -- how can you be against that? If you think that humans -- do you think that individuals should have the power to read and to think and to have their own emotions, they should have the power over their own money to express themselves through words, through money. These are things that should be owned by the individual. And even though it might be new and scary, I think it will come to be extremely important to society and people will end up fighting to preserve and make that happen.

Wes Schaeffer:
Yeah, but look, you and Jake are just some young whippersnappers, okay? Elon Musk, he's some dope-smoking pot head. And look, Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger, they don't like Bitcoin. So there this thing is just a flash in the pan. And you're just -- you know what? Just go back to your Starbucks, okay? Because this isn't real.

Yeah, I think it was fine in 2011 or '12 or 2013 to say this is a flash in the pan. Like, it was very new for a while, the first year or two, three, four that it exists; certainly the first speculative bubble it goes through. I think you could be forgiven for dismissing it as nothing but a flash in the pan. We're now 12 years into this experiment. Bitcoin is roughly half the age of the euro. It's roughly 20 percent the age of the US dollar, which didn't exist until 1971, when it became fiat, so it has been around for a while. It has gone through multiple cycles.

And at this point, not only do you need to pay attention to it, but if you are continuing to make fun of it and dismiss it, you've essentially been dismissing the best investment of the last -- in the last 12 years, Bitcoin has been the best investment that humanity has ever seen. It's returned a compound annual growth rate of nearly 200 percent over 12 years. There's nothing in history that has ever performed like that over that long of a period in time. And you should never buy something just because its price has gone up, but it has gone up in that way over that long of a period of time, youprobably at least understand it should know how it works.

And there are very few people that end up learning how Bitcoin works, really, who then dismiss it and think it's stupid. Most of the people who dismiss it, they do that as a reason or an excuse to never learn about it in the first place.

Wes Schaeffer:
How did you get into this? I mean, were you a coder by nature?

Erik Voorhees:
No. I can't code anything. I saw a Facebook post from a friend in May of 2011, some article about this digital currency. And I was like, what the hell is this? And after about 10, 20 minutes of reading that and a couple other articles and realizing like, wow, this is a form of money that can go anywhere in the world, can't be turned off. This is like the coolest invention I've ever seen. So to me, it clicked right away. And I've I've just been a vocal supporter and proponent of it ever since then.

Wes Schaeffer:
Had you started other companies before? How did you create, Get into ShapeShift?

Erik Voorhees:
Yeah, I've been involved in a few companies within within Bitcoin's existence. Satoshi Dice was a large Bitcoin casino game back in 2012 and 2013. I was the third employee at BitInstant, which was a way to move money from banks into the exchange at that time. And Bitcoin is generally just like a very nutritious soil for entrepreneurship. There is a million different things that you can do and get excited about and build. And sometimes it's just overwhelming because there's so many opportunities and you've got to focus. So ShapeShift been my focus since 2014 and a lot of amazing entrepreneurs are building all over this industry.

Wes Schaeffer:
How would you recommend somebody get started? I mean, I'm telling people as I learn, you know, just like I told Matthew, my son, go buy some. I don't even know where to tell him to go. I think his uncle told him, helped him get started. But I'm like. Pick a big, big one like a block or something and go buy $100 or $1,000 or whatever, you can sleep at night with investing and go buy some Bitcoin.

I mean, this isn't financial advice, but like, if somebody is like, I don't even know where to start; I don't want them reading for the next six months and then kicking themselves in the pants. What's a safe proven -- like, okay, look, you do this just to learn, put $500 in.

Erik Voorhees:
Yeah. I mean, I used to tell people that they should learn about it before buying any; and I have kind of changed my opinion because I've seen psychologically what happens when someone owns some even a small amount.

Wes Schaeffer:
Right.

Erik Voorhees:
Even though owning like $10 of it, it will change people's mind. They'll start being like, okay, I'm going to listen to this. I'm going to be open-minded about it. So actually, I do think people should just buy some -- a small amount, right? Assume it'll all be lost. A small amount.

Wes Schaeffer:
Assume it goes away now. Yeah, whatever. You can still sleep, you know, and I learned this when I was a financial adviser. Like, if you're waking up over an investment, sell enough of it until you can sleep, right?

Erik Voorhees:
It's a good principle. Yeah. so go buy $10, 100. There's a lot of good companies. Coinbase is the main one that everyone uses. Great company. ShapeShift, you can buy Bitcoin through and hold it just on your mobile phone so you could use it as a mobile app, super easy. So I'll obviously pitch my company ShapeShift, but there's dozens of good companies. Just use one, try one out and then buy some and send it to a friend. Learn how the transaction works and compare downloading the ShapeShift app and opening and getting Bitcoin there versus setting up a bank account or sending money abroad.

Erik Voorhees:
Like last time I went to the bank to, like, send fiat currency abroad, it was absurd. I filled out this piece of paper and the teller took the paper and then typed it back into the computer. And then it took another day to be transferred. And then it didn't show up at the other account, which was international, for five days. It's all just digital. Like I can strap cash to an anvil and FedEx it to Japan faster than I can wire money. It's crazy. And then Bitcoin comes along and allows people to move money anywhere instantly and some people still have a hard time understanding where that's useful.

Wes Schaeffer:
Okay. Well, here's my concern, because I gave my six year old I gave her facial recognition on my iPad because she plays in that thing so damn much, you know, is she going to open my ShapeShift account and like, order, I don't know, a Tesla, and it gets delivered in my house and I'm like, what the hell just happened? Oh, oh, there was a purchase made.

Erik Voorhees:
Yeah. Again, you have to be responsible --

Wes Schaeffer:
Dammit, there's that word again.

Erik Voorhees:
Now but you can delegate that responsibility, right?

Wes Schaeffer:
Yes.

Erik Voorhees:
So if you don't want to be responsible, you can just sign up with Coinbase and leave your funds there. That's perfectly, perfectly fine. Just realize that you are giving up the greatest benefit of crypto, which is sovereignty over your money. But for new people, that's perfectly fine. Most important is just that you try it out and start using it.

Wes Schaeffer:
What about people, though, that might be worried? Because you hear stories, oh, this guy lost his thumbdrive with $700 million? I think somebody like literally sold an old computer and he was offering like $7 million or something.

Erik Voorhees:
There's a lot of horror stories.

Wes Schaeffer:
Trying to dig up a landfill.

Erik Voorhees:
Yeah. There's a guy in the UK who threw out a hard drive back in 2010 where he had been mining some Bitcoin. It's like tens of thousands of bitcoins, several hundred million dollars or maybe over a billion dollars at this point.

Wes Schaeffer:
I think it was $700 million. It was stuck in my brain for some reason. And he was offering like $7 million or something for them to go dig it up.

Erik Voorhees:
Yeah. So he knows which landfill it's in because he's in a rural town. So there's one landfill. He knows that the hard drive is in this landfill and it has now hundreds of millions of dollars of crypto in it. So, you know, eventually it'll be worth $10 billion, you know, like gold mines get dug for far less expectation than that. It's amazing that he hasn't somehow acquired rights to drill in that place. Yeah, but he could have avoided that entirely if he had simply backed up his key, right? So while people hear horror stories of losing huge amounts of money, that's just because people are being stupid. If you're not stupid, it's very easy to protect your Bitcoin in lots of different ways. But you have to not be stupid. And for some people, that's a little --

Wes Schaeffer:
Hard.

Erik Voorhees:
Yeah, it's hard.

Wes Schaeffer:
Cool, man. Well, hey, I've picked your brain for an hour. We're going to be linking, obviously, to ShapeShift.com. I'll be downloading your app. I'll have my very smart sons help me through this. But, you know, so final question. Should Jake shave his beard or keep it? Because you know -- he's now got his brother growing a beard; I don't know about -- you know, I'm an old guy, man. I mean, are beards in? Are they -- are they in now?

Erik Voorhees:
I think they're they're both in and out, depending on your preferences.

Wes Schaeffer:
Are you running for office? Come on, man,

Erik Voorhees:
I mean, ultimately he should ask, like, you know, the people he wants to date if they like the beard then keep it. But if they don't, then get rid of it.

Wes Schaeffer:
Hey, that's why I shave, because my wife doesn't like it.

Erik Voorhees:
There you go.

Wes Schaeffer:
I'd be looking like ZZ Top if she tolerated it.

Jake Schaeffer:
Yeah, they like the beard.

Erik Voorhees:
There you go. Then I would keep it.

Jake Schaeffer:
Cool, man. Well, Eric, thanks for coming on. If Jake -- if you've got time, Jake and I'll do a little debrief after it. We'll do -- he can educate my listeners some more. But Matt, I appreciate you taking the time.

Erik Voorhees:
Yeah. I got to run, but thanks so much for having me on and let me know when this is out.

Wes Schaeffer:
Yeah, we're going to publish it almost immediately. So, yeah, I'll let you know. It'll come out this week.

Erik Voorhees:
Cool. All right.

Wes Schaeffer:
Thanks very much.

Erik Voorhees:
Thanks, Jake.

Wes Schaeffer:
Good to see you. Yeah.

Wes Schaeffer:
So what do you think there, Jakey? Oh, hey, I think you're on mute. There's my technological son, I'm almost a boomer. I know to unmute, so, all right, that's all -- that's all being recorded, it's documented.

Jake Schaeffer:
We're still live -- we're still live?

Wes Schaeffer:
Oh, we're recording, man.

Jake Schaeffer:
Still on air?

Wes Schaeffer:
So did I miss anything? Because, dude, people are still -- I mean, I can explain the fundamentals. It's still crazy in my brain a little bit, but, you know, I did throw money at it, so I'm learning more. Tell me for our listeners, right? Like, what is Handshake and Namebase and why the difference is there and how do I now own my own name? And what does that mean on a decentralized Internet? And, well, I can go away and will I never have to buy a domain name on GoDaddy ever again if you have your way? I mean, a lot of questions.

Jake Schaeffer:
Yeah, no. I mean, that was a sick deep dive on the podcast as a whole, and it's definitely required to go one stage past that, which is kind of where my company sits at.

Essentially Bitcoin is one application of blockchain technology -- and application in the traditional sense of the term; it's like one use case for it. But just in the same way as you can take a ledger of transactions, basically recording of who owes who money and put that on the blockchain. You can also put a recording of who owns what website onto a blockchain. So that's the essentially the overview of Handshake, is Handshake is what's called a fork of the actual Bitcoin blockchain itself.

So like Eric was saying, Bitcoin is open-sourced. So the folks that started Handshake were literally able to go copy the same code, repurpose it for use with domains and birth Handshake. So, yeah, if we have our way, then yeah, GoDaddy will no longer exist anymore.

I'm not sure about our relationship to ICANN. I think like the founding thesis behind Bitcoin is that the government doesn't need to be involved in money; and the founding thesis behind decentralization as a whole is that individuals should be empowered to make their own decisions, should maintain full autonomy. What I think all of those things fail to address is like this middle -- look, whatever happens in the middle, like humans are social creatures; we will always create communities; we will always create groups that are larger than ourselves.

And I -- the thing that I'm still trying to figure out every day is what is relationship to decentralization and like community or groups. Those are the things that can keep you up at night. If you look at it like decentralized platforms that can't be stopped, essentially the people that -- groups that are able to propagate, say whatever they want, do whatever they want, for however long; those are the things that are a little bit. But those are things that will have to be addressed. And I guess if they're not addressed, we'll see the ramifications of those things. So that's a very conceptual point that we just reached.

But that's kind of the thing that I think when we start to look at other applications of blockchain technology, those are going to be the questions that kind of come up, because it's easy to say the government should be out of money. People should own that money. But beyond that, we'll see some -- we'll start to see some very, very interesting applications in the coming years.

Wes Schaeffer:
So is this space -- I mean, you were literally born in at the peak of the dotcom bubble, you know, but I mean, Google was being invented, right, and blowing up and the whole telco space; you know, Enron, I don't know if you know their story. The energy company, got into telecom because they all had the rights of way. So they're running fiber optic cable and and everybody was becoming a CELAC, right? What was it -- competitive local exchange carrier or something like that.

So basically, as they broke up all the marbles and there was just this big shootout, man, and people -- just stupid money. And I mean, literally, like when you graduated college, they would just given you a BMW or a Porsche as a signing bonus just to get you, you know? And so we still at that stage of the crypto/blockchain growth in that part of the curve?

Jake Schaeffer:
Yeah, I mean, it all depends on how you value it. Like one thing you can do is look at the -- I've talked to you about this, but look at the market cap of Bitcoin as a way just to try to get as like a sanity check on the kind of potential. We can look at something like Bitcoin, market cap of Bitcoin; compare that to literally the market cap of gold. Like, what's the value of gold that we have?

And we can probably assume that, you know, as the market cap of Bitcoin starts to approach like gold as a whole, we'll start to see like the inflection point for its growth is likely behind us. But what do we do before we get to that point? And that's what I don't really know. I mean, I think the space is absolutely mature enough and the technology has proved itself to be feasible enough to indicate that it has staying power.

What's difficult is when we look at all of the spin-off spaces; like, NFTs are things that have now really popped off in the last couple of weeks. But CryptoKitties were started in 2017 or 2018, I forget. But they reported that ICO bubble that happened back in 2017. So that was essentially a bunch of people going out and creating coins essentially out of thin air. And what we had was like the pure speculative aspects of crypto coming into play and people saying that like this will have value in now -- this has value now because other people will deem it has more value in the future.

So those things that are purely reliant on speculation of the social aspects, I think we've seen a lot of experiments with that already. The technical feasibility of a lot of these projects, I think is starting to be proven. So in that sense, I think that it's safe to assume that crypto as a whole is something that's like, again, it's worth understanding. It's going to be around for a very long time. What we don't know is like which players exactly are going to be the ones that --

Wes Schaeffer:
Yeah. I just saw some chart with this NFTs, and I forget the exact values, but basically, like it just showed total transactions or whatever, like $1 million a month, and then last month, $80 million. It was like logarithmically. I mean, just, I don't know, ten standard deviations above normal. It's like, holy crap, I guess it has arrived.

Jake Schaeffer:
Yeah. I mean, we had over 100 percent increase in activity like our marketplace in the past month and I think the NFT space as a whole -- one of the best investments you could have made think 100 years ago is in art. And 10 years of Bitcoin, but even before that, it was aart and it's what, I think something like a $60 billion market is like the art -- like, art auctions or trading, rare art trading hands, and right now NFTs are significantly less than $1 billion, in that kind of market cap right now. But the ability to digitally prove ownership, create digital certificate of authorities, we've been able to do that for a little while now.

But the cultural movement around recognizing the application of that to things like art, to things like domain names is something that I think is going to be, again, reliant -- like, our understanding of this is to be reliant on our ability to assess social dynamics more than it is technical. But for certain, it's something worth looking at.

Wes Schaeffer:
Yeah, very cool.

Thanks for letting me ambush you.

Yeah, that was that as a little two minute heads up.

Hey, listen, eat your vegetables, okay? And call your mother.

I did. I was eating a plate of broccoli when you're bald.

So there you go, folks. Well, I don't know if I raised my son right, but my wife raised my son, so it's all good. All right, buddy, thanks for coming on.

Well, the man is.

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