By Matthew Leising
DeCent PeopleFeb 04, 2022
Stephen Laddin introducing Lights Camera Crypto
Stephen Laddin first headed to Los Angeles from the east coast to start a career in writing and music production. After a short stint at CAA, where he discovered being an agent wasn't for him, he began interviewing comics and landed a gig with High Times magazine. He's been a podcast host on this show and we're very pleased to announce that his new show, Lights Camera Crypto, will debut later this week. LCC is all about where web3 meets entertainment, film and TV, and you can find it anywhere you find DeCent People.
Chris Castig is co-founder of Console.xyz, which is a web3 alternative to Discord. We talk about his early love of music, having a scene with Big Bird when he was on Sesame Street, how he made his way into the decentralized ecosystem and what's it's like to be an adjunct professor at Columbia University Business School.
Learn more about Console.xyz
Follow Chris on Twitter
More about Chris here
Emin Gün Sirer
Emin Gün Sirer is the CEO and founder of the Avalanche blockchain, the 16th biggest by marketcap. He grew up in Istanbul among a large extended family and attended the prestigious American High School there before coming to the U.S. for college. He was a professor of computer science for many years at Cornell University and was early to the game with both Bitcoin and Ethereum. We talk about family life in Istanbul, the strange TV show Musti and how cryptocurrency skepticism dates further back than 2008 and the release of the Bitcoin white paper.
Follow Gün on Twitter
Learn more about Avalanche
Kosala Hemanchandra grew up in Sri Lanka until he was 17 when he headed to Los Angeles to study computer science and engineering. A few years later he founded MyEtherWallet, the first digital wallet for the Ethereum blockchain. We speak about his mother wanted him to be a doctor, lawyer or engineer, his aversion to outdoor sport and what he is looking forward to as Ethereum moves into its proof of stake era.
Learn more about MyEtherWallet
Follow Kosala on Twitter
Ben Edgington helped Ethereum successfully transition from proof of work to proof of stake in September as the product lead for the Ethereum client Teku. But did you know he plays the saxophone and in college was a member of the Fitz Swing Band? He's also an Arsenal supporter and was bullied as a kid due to his love of math. Learn all this and more about Ben in this episode.
Follow Ben on Twitter
Anthony D'Onofrio, aka texture
Anthony D'Onofrio is better known in crypto as texture, his social media handle. He was present at the beginning of Ethereum, helped design the blockchain's first web site and has strong opinions about the protocol's beginning and his fellow co-founders.
Follow texture on Twitter
Austin Federa is the head of communications for the Solana Foundation, which supports the Solana blockchain. We talk about him growing up in western Massachusetts, the prevalence of ultimate frisbee in hippie towns, going to a DIY college and eventually his foray into web3 and blockchain.
Learn more about Solana
Follow Austin on Twitter
Ben Simon is director of NFT and crypto community giving for FreeWill where's he's trying to entice the web3 world to give billions to charity. He was an organizer for Greenpeace, though he never rammed any whaling boats, and worked for U.S. President Barack Obama where he was director of new media campaigns for the Democratic National Committee. He's also an ardent fan of crypto and generative art NFTs.
Learn more about FreeWill's crypto charity program
Follow Ben on Twitter
Lex Sokolin is the head economist at ConsenSys, the Ethereum developer studio created by Ethereum co-founder Joe Lubin. Sokolin came to the U.S. from Russia when he was 10 years old and has long been drawn to innovations that push financial technology. He was at Lehman Brothers when it failed at the height of the financial crisis in 2008, which taught him deep lessons about the ephemerality of institutions. While it took him some time to grasp crypto, he's all in now and is leading efforts at ConsenSys that focus on token economics, DAO strategy and treasury management.
Follow Lex on Twitter
Lex on LinkedIn
Lex's fintech newsletter on Substack
Ryan Breslow grew up in north Miami working jobs at his dad's driving range and bagging groceries at Publix, all the while graduating first in his high school class. He soon discovered Bitcoin and started the Stanford Bitcoin Club and had an idea for a payments startup that would eventually become Bolt, the "buy now" button service competing with Amazon that's valued at around $11 billion. His newest venture is Love DAO, a collective to help find and develop cures for diseases in a way that's outside the traditional pharmaceutical industry.
Follow Love DAO on Twitter
Follow Ryan on Twitter
The Love web site
Creator and co-founder of web3 media company Probably Nothing Jeremy Fall discusses how merging trusted web2 institutions with NFT drops are part of a successful decentralized future and how companies like Warner Records--who are forgoing huge paydays to launch more socially conscious NFT initiatives--are helping give web3 credibility while preserving its integrity.
Check out his web site
Follow Jeremy on Twitter
Follow Probably Nothing on Twitter
Ethereum co-founder Joe Lubin joins us to talk about the historic Merge update to the blockchain where it's switching from proof-of-work to proof -of-stake.
Founder and CEO of web3 innovation lab and venture studio Kollectiff, Tino Vivo chats about Kollectiff's approach to bringing brands into the metaverse, developing intellectual property alongside powerhouse agency clients like CAA and UTA, and being a real estate developer for land in the Metaworlds.
NFT creator of CryptoKitties and co-founder of Dapper Labs/NBA Top Shot Mack Flavelle discusses his new NFT studio Big Head Club, which empowers colleagues to be the best creative version of themselves, and how anyone who tells you they're building the future of The Metaverse is full of shit.
Shevy Smith and Khalid Jones
Composer and producer Shevy Smith and attorney Khalid Jones are co-founders of The Ultimate Playlist App, a new music service that combines the ability to win money with listening to new artists. In this episode, Shevy and Khalid discuss their respective backgrounds in music and law and how that informs their vision for The Ultimate Playlist, its partnership with the Arizona State Lottery, and its positioning for web3 future success.
Check out their web sites: https://www.ultimateplaylist.app, https://www.eliteshout.com/about
Tara Fung always had a curiosity about the world that led her to want to understand finance and economics. While an early job at the automaker Daimler wasn't exciting enough, she did pass the background check to join the CIA, though she didn't join the agency. She finished off her application the the Harvard Business School as her bridesmaids were gathered around her for her wedding and soon found the world of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. She co-founded Co:Create earlier this year to help non-fungible token (NFT) projects create sustainable revenue models. We talk about her upbringing in the South, how living in New York City isn't for everyone and the tech scene in Nashville, Tennessee.
Follow Tara on Twitter
Tara on LinkedIn
Read the Co:Create white paper
Adam Levine, aka Adamtastic
Award winning digital artist Adam Levine, aka Adamtastic, is passionate about telling stories. He was the creative director for video and animation production at All Things Media from 2007-2021 before venturing into the world of art NFTs, where he continues to spin narratives. Adam discusses the positives and negatives of the decentralized artform and a hope for a collaborative future centered on kindness and positivity.
Check out his web site
Follow him on Twitter
And on Instagram
Aaron Penne is a renowned artist and Director of Engineering at Art Blocks who's helping build the future of generative art as a medium. In 2021 he was named one of the top 50 artists in the NFT space globally. He discusses coding as an art form, rebelling against his day job and how discovering who you are is the gateway to honest work.
Check out his website
Follow Aaron on Twitter
Founder and CEO of Virtual Brand Group Justin Hochberg discusses his illustrious career in entertainment and how all of his experiences to date culminate in his current position at the intersection of branding, storytelling, and the metaverse.
Check out the Virtual Brand Group web site
Follow VBG on Twitter
India's leading beatboxer and NFT artist Abhishek Bhaskar, aka ABVERSE, discusses transforming his voice into visuals through the Metavoice project, his foray into beatboxing, and creating the world's first ever beatboxing generated digital art NFT series.
Celebrity jewelry-turned-entrepreneur Alex Todd was originally known for curating high-end jewelry for power players like Jay-Z, Rhianna and Kevin Hart. Alex crossed over into the cannabis space to create a brand for the culture with fellow New York native and rap artist Jim Jones. He's joined by Brandon Howard, founder and CEO of Higher Life CBD Dispensary, who, in partnership with Alex, has helped grow one of the first digital dispensaries in the metaverse.
Check out Saucy Farms and Extracts web site
After attending art school in Philadelphia, Bryan Brinkman set out to New York City to find his fortune as a graphic artist and animator. In a fascinating story of how he came to be one of the most well-known NFT artists working today, we have to travel through Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, Saturday Night Live and the wacky and always interesting world of blockchain-based art and animation. The market value of Brinkman's work is around $3 million and we talk about pushing the boundaries with what animated NFTs can achieve.
Bryan's web site
Bryan's work on SuperRare
Follow Bryan on Twitter
An insider look at creating digital effects at SNL
Griff Green has been a leader in the Ethereum community for many years and played a pivotal role in how the community fought back against the DAO attack in 2016. He's also a world traveler, a Burning Man diehard and dedicated NBA basketball fan. He talks about the cultural shifts going on in crypto and how local coin-centric economies can take over some government services for the better.
Check out the Giveth.io web site
The Commons Stack web site
Follow Griff on Twitter
Follow Giveth on Twitter
In this week's episode of the DeCent People podcast, Stephen talks with wildly talented concept artist Robbie Trevino about his start in the art world, how he merged his storytelling abilities with his art, and how everything culminated with his foray into cryptocurrency and the world of non-fungible tokens.
Trevino's NFTs on Nifty Gateway
Follow Robbie on Twitter
Kristin Smith grew up in Los Angeles before attending college in Washington D.C. and she never looked back. A previous staffer in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, Smith knows her way around Capitol Hill. She became the executive director at the Blockchain Association in 2018 where she's been helping to educate members of Congress and regulatory agencies as well as steer potential legislation related to web3 and blockchain.
The Blockchain Association web site
Follow the Blockchain Association or Kristin on Twitter
Juicy background on the Falcon and the Snowman
Christian Hardy is the Content Lead for MomentRanks where he oversees a team of creators who help users track, analyze and engage in non-fungible token communities. Christian discusses his sports journalism background and how it led him into the world of NBA Top Shot and NFTs.
Check out MomentRanks web site
Follow Christian on Twitter
Jeff Dorman is chief investment officer at Arca, where he leads the investment committee and is responsible for portfolio sizing and risk management. Jeff has over 17 years of trading and asset management experience at world renowned firms including Merrill Lynch and Citadel Securities, where he oversaw trading of over $100 million in proprietary capital. An avid baseball collector as a kid, Jeff quickly understood the appeal of non-fungible tokens and would scalp tickets to his high school's football games, so how to turn a buck has always been clear to him. He's one of the smartest and on-point people in digital assets and sees a world not far away where companies like Disney, universities and even municipalities are using digital tokens to offer holders perks that aren't possible today.
Arca's web site
Check out Jeff's writing about digital assets
Follow Arca on Twitter
Follow Jeff on Twitter
Kirill Gertman was born in north-eastern Ukraine when it was still a part of the USSR. His family left after the fall of Communism and eventually settled in Canada. His dad got him interested in computers when he was working on mainframes with punch card programming. While programming didn't appeal to him, the design aspect of making web sites and making games was his first foray into the industry. After a stint in fin tech, he realized the opportunity crypto afforded came from the money aspect that's inherent in blockchains like Ethereum. Last year he co-founded Conduit, a decentralized finance platform that allows users to plug into higher yielding assets all in one place.
Conduit's web site
Kirill on Twitter
Kirill on LinkedIn
More on how crypto shadow banks pay pay such high yields
Dawn Newton wasn't the first in on the Internet boom of the late 1990s but she arrived at just the right time. One of the first employees of NetZero, Newton rode the web1.0 wave as well as anyone. When she got burned out on the tech front, she decided to go to culinary school in Paris and served under several Michelin starred chefs. Not bad for someone who didn't know how to cook a hot dog in college. Newton is now the co-founder and chief operating officer of Netki, which is developing digital identity solutions for use with blockchains. One of their bigger projects has been helping right the Chivo wallet in El Salvador after it's rocky start. We also talk about digital identity and cooking shows.
Netki's web site
Follow Dawn on Twitter
Eric Tung spent parts of his childhood in Canada and China, where he was born. His mother home schooled him while they lived in Beijing so as to keep the Chinese Communist Party propaganda to a minimum. Yet as China ramped up its Great Firewall to block outside Internet from coming into the country, Eric rebelled and built Geph, a virtual private network that could get around the Chinese firewall. He did this when he was 12, and Geph is still in use today in China and Iran. At 14, Tung was accepted into the University of Waterloo, where Ethereum inventor Vitalik Buterin was also a student, and is the creator of Themelio, a new blockchain protocol that strips out higher-level functionality to focus on the shared trusted layer of truth. A blockchain builder and wunderkind, Tung has done all of this and is still only 25 years old.
More on Themelio
Check out Geph
Follow Eric on Twitter
Matt Cutler grew up in an idyllic setting in Connecticut, roaming the woods with friends and playing soccer. He attended M.I.T. where he started his first company, NetGenesis, at the dawn of the Internet era. Having that experience with web1, Cutler sees parallels today in the web3 world where the move again is toward decentralized applications. His latest firm, Blocknative, helps web3 developers, traders and others navigate the perils of the mempool, where blockchain transactions sit before being added to the next block. This is Dark Forest territory. It's a fascinating and little-understood part of web3 and I spoke to Cutler to help cut through the confusion.
Blocknative web site
Follow Blocknative on Twitter
Follow Matt Cutler on Twitter
In this episode Stephen Laddin chats with Mitch Ngo, co-founder and CEO of Golden Ark, the first metaverse platform for cannabis consumers. Mitch brings with him team members Jack Lau and Al Freshko, who together with California's leading marijuana growers and suppliers are helping to usher in the future of weed. Members of Golden Ark will no longer be excluded from social networks on traditional apps and social media platforms, but will instead be part of a collaborative community with a shared passion for pot. Here, enthusiasts will be able to shop for wearables and accessories, find dispensaries, and game with their friends--all in a safe and social environment. In a blockchain crypto-based economy, members will earn tokens and record all cannabis transactions on a secure, permanent, and verifiable ledger.
Golden Ark's web site
When Parker McCurley read Satoshi's Bitcoin white paper he decided he needed to learn to code. Giving himself a year, he'd wear an M.I.T. shirt to help strike up conversations with software developers in coffee shops as he began searching for a job. Seeing the inside of a centralized software firm though made him want to create a decentralized alternative, and Decent Labs was born in mid-2017. The venture studio helps web3 developers create and launch applications and tools, and seeks to help underrepresented entrepreneurs get a start.
Decent Labs web site
Parker on Twitter
A bonus conversation with Charles Cascarilla of Paxos
I spoke to Charles Cascarilla, the CEO of Paxos, about his firm's work in digitizing assets like stocks and gold. It's part of the IEFA Conversation Series, which was nice enough to let me share this with you. I've known Charles since he was the founder of ItBit, the predecessor to Paxos, which he has grown into a multidimensional crypto firm with projects including an SEC-approved protocol for clearing and settling some U.S. equities using blockchain.
More on Paxos
Charles on LinkedIn
The IEFA Conversation Series
A story I wrote on Paxos for Bloomberg and another one that goes way back
Mael Peneau, better known as Maelstrom, is a French DJ, electronic musician and producer who has been on the forefront of music NFTs and how they can change the economic equation for artists. We talk about his life in France, how he got in to the rave scene and began making his own records. This episode is a companion piece to the wonderfully thorough examination of how non-fungible tokens are changing music that we published on DeCential last month. You can read it here. Maelstrom lays out how the tide is changing after streaming services vastly reduced the ability for musicians to earn money from their songs being played on Spotify or Apple Music. He's no crypto evangelist, however, and is cautious about the challenges ahead.
Maelstrom on Soundcloud
Follow him on Twitter
Jill Gunter grew up in the Boston area in a financially-savvy household, with both parents working in banking. Her mom, a quantitative options trader, was an inspiration for her that she could go to Wall Street too if she wanted. After realizing her diminutive frame made her perfect to be a coxswain on the crew team at her high school, she developed a love of rowing. She began her career at Goldman Sachs and saw firsthand some of the shortcomings of the traditional financial system's infrastructure. When she learned about Bitcoin and then Ethereum the possibilities to create an alternative monetary system was too good to pass up. She has advised the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank on cryptocurrencies and served as head of business development at Chain. Now she's the chief strategy officer at Espresso Systems, a privacy-focused blockchain that will first be available as an add-on to Ethereum applications before the layer one launches later int he future. Jill is one of the smartest and most interesting folks you'll come across in crypto, as well as one of the nicest.
Learn more about Espresso
Follow Jill on Twitter
Jill's profile on LinkedIn
Amanda Cassatt has been active within the Ethereum ecosystem almost from the very beginning as she led marketing for ConsenSys, the Ethereum application development studio built by Ethereum co-founder Joe Lubin. She has since gone on to co-found Serotonin, a web3 professional services firm and Mojito, an NFT infrastructure firm. Amanda is a former special projects editor for the Huffington Post and interned at the New Yorker magazine, and co-founded Slant in 2015, so we naturally dove deep into media revenue models and how web2 didn't quite get it right. Amanda is one of the most-connected people you'll find in crypto and is helping bring to life Crypto: The Musical which plans to utilize a decentralized autonomous organization to raise money to produce the first Broadway musical about well, crypto. There is also a bonus mention of the best football club the world has ever known, Liverpool FC.
Follow developments in Crypto: The Musical
Learn more about Serotonin and Mojito
Follow Amanda on Twitter
Scott Lewis is one of the most reasoned voices you will find on Twitter opining on crypto-related issues, which is saying a lot. He's also the co-founder of Defi Pulse, a site that ranks decentralized finance protocols by an interesting and hard-to-game metric: how much money the platform has locked inside of it. A poker player and former derivatives trader, Lewis grew up in Nashville and honed his acute sense of fairness as a high school student there, a sense of fairness that would inform the rest of his career and what he chose to devote himself to once in crypto full time.
Check out Defi Pulse
Follow Scott on Twitter
Chris Giancarlo burst on to the crypto scene as Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission when he testified before Congress, addressing lawmakers not as a regulator, he said, but "as a dad." The moniker Crypto Dad was soon bestowed on him and he used it as the title for his recent book, CryptoDad, The Fight for The Future Of Money. We talk about Chris's early life, spending afternoons at a New York City jazz club as a kid, his journey through the law and to the CFTC. He's been working on The Digital Dollar Project for about two years now, an effort to educate lawmakers and regulators about the benefits of having the U.S. dollar in digital form.
Buy CryptoDad here
The Digital Dollar Project white paper
Follow Chris on Twitter
Tim Beiko leads the group of Ethereum developers who are working to upgrade the blockchain network in the biggest overhaul since it went live in 2015. The change will usher in a new consensus system that vastly improves Ethereum's energy efficiency and will pave the way for much faster transaction times. I spoke to Tim previously about his early life and how he got into Ethereum here, so today's episode focused on the progress toward ETH 2.0.
You can learn more about the Ethereum All Core Devs team here
More on the Merge
Erin Plante is the senior director of investigations and special projects at blockchain forensics firm Chainalysis. She's had a fascinating career in cyber security, including two stints in Hong Kong where she helped ferret out executives of Western corporations who may have been illegally bribing Chinese officials. Think clandestine, overnight work that imaged entire corporate digital libraries without leaving a trace. She also worked in Africa on corruption investigations where she first understood that cryptocurrency could alleviate the problem of migrant workers having to send bags of cash back to their families in other parts of the continent. At Chainalysis she's worked on fascinating investigations like combating Russian hackers who use the Bitcoin blockchain to ensure their malware never goes offline.
Erin Plante on LinkedIn
Chainalysis's 2022 Crypto Crime Report
More on Chainalysis
Adam Jackson part 2
In this follow up episode we join Adam Jackson of Braintrust again to dive into how his firm uses a token to incentivize its freelancers to create a vibrant marketplace for temporary work.
Here's the first part of the conversation with Adam
Learn more about the BRST token
The Braintrust white paper
Ryan Selkis is one of the most outspoken advocates for the core beliefs of self-determination and stewardship that define the cryptocurrency movement. The co-founder of Messari, a digital asset data and analytics firm, Selkis is unafraid to take on regulators and politicians whom he views as being anti-crypto, such as Securities and Exchange Commissioner Gary Gensler and Senator Elizabeth Warren. We talk about his early days when sports took over his life, his time as the night janitor at his college basketball arena, how the financial crisis affected his plans to work for JPMorgan and what it was like to help Coindesk get on the right track. He also reiterates his sharp criticism of Gensler and Congressional inaction with regard to crypto regulation.
Here's the Messari 2022 annual report Selkis wrote
Follow Ryan on Twitter
More on Messari
Georgio Constantinou is a name you might not know, but you should. He's behind the scenes on some of the coolest stuff that's going on in music NFTs at the moment. He co-founded Six, a digital agency that helps artists navigate the web3 world, with the musician RAC and Jesse Grushack of Ujo Music and ConsenSys fame. Along the way, Six has helped Eminem buy a Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT and helped broker the sale of the one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album Once Upon A Time in Shaolin from the U.S. government to PleasrDAO. We talk about Georgio's early life, how music management is an art form unto itself and how what it was like to hear the elusive Wu Tang album.
Info on Six
Georgio on Twitter
More on the Wu-Tang saga
Doug Petkanics is co-founder of Livepeer, a decentralized video processing service that utilizes unused video processing space. We talk about troubling developments in regulation that are seeking to put pressure on peer-to-peer systems like non-custodial wallets, how a service like Livepeer is seeking to sidestep those issues and how the vision for web3 deservedly faces criticism today but is aiming for real change.
More on Livepeer
Doug on Twitter
More on the troubling developments in Canada
Jess Sloss is one of the founders -- he calls himself an "instigator" -- of Seed Club, a collective that helps people create social tokens to run decentralized projects. A native of Canada, Jess comes from a family of entrepreneurs and is one of the nicest, most generous and knowledgeable people in web3 that you will come across. He speaks about how he learned he definitely didn't want to follow in his father's footsteps in the gardening business and how growing up in the 1990s with the early Internet led him into tech. Seed Club runs an accelerator program to help projects explore how they can use web3 tools to reimagine how commercial organizations can be built, in many cases leading the the formation of decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs).
Check out Seed Club
Here's Jess on Twitter
Anthony Sassano is the host of the Daily Gwei, a Monday to Friday recap of all the big news in Ethereum. A native of Australia, Anthony finally found purpose in his life when he discovered the Ethereum community and hasn't looked back since.
Sign up for the Daily Gwei newsletter
Subscribe to the Daily Gwei YouTube channel
Follow Anthony on Twitter
DeCent People with Adam Jackson of Braintrust
Adam Jackson is co-founder of Braintrust, a decentralized talent network where members vet new applicants, match job seekers with client firms like NASA and Goldman Sachs and perform other tasks to earn Braintrust tokens. Braintrust community members number over 44,000 and have earned a total of just over $38 million, all the while keeping the large middleman fees that freelance firms like Fiverr and Upwork charge. In this episode I talk to Adam about how came up with the idea for Braintrust, being saddled with $250,000 in student debt and what post-dot com San Francisco was like in the early 2000s.
Check out Braintrust
Here's Adam on LinkedIn
Here's Braintrust on Twitter
DeCent People Podcast with Meltem Demirors of CoinShares
We speak with Meltem Demirors about her long journey into crypto, how the energy in the energy industry is a lot like the vibe in web3 right now, and her ability to perform well in chaotic environments.