Peter McCormack: How are you doing Pete?
Pete Rizzo: I’m doing well, tired after a long Blockchain week!
Peter McCormack: It was a long week! I’m ruined by it, completely and utterly shattered.
Pete Rizzo: It’s a stamina game!
Peter McCormack: Yeah, I didn’t feel like this last year, don’t know why.
Pete Rizzo: I can’t comment on that, I feel like I did about the same gauntlet, the conference is from Friday to Thursday.
Peter McCormack: But we’re multitasking here as well because I’m publishing an episode.
Pete Rizzo: Okay, are you rolling right now?
Peter McCormack: We’re recording, this is all part of it now.
Pete Rizzo: This is a great intro, we really just started with a bang!
Peter McCormack: Do you know what, whenever I come to the States I have a time issue, because the latest I want to…
Pete Rizzo: It’s like tea time for you here?
Peter McCormack: Yeah, I mean it’s 8:30 PM in the UK so if I release the show now it’s coming out quite late. So usually when I’m in the US I will try and get everything ready the night before.
Pete Rizzo: Do you publish on US time or do you publish on your time?
Peter McCormack: I try and publish morning UK like 11/12.
Pete Rizzo: I always wonder about that because CoinDesk publishes all the time, but you wonder whether you’re just making an arbitrary choice or not. We start publishing in UK time, but does it really matter to anybody?
Peter McCormack: I think in the grand scheme of things, if people want to hear the show, they will and I put enough noise out there that people can hear about it. But I’m quite interested as a measure, the total number of downloads for the day of release, because it’s an interesting measure of how important that show is. So I always try and get out at a similar time, which is the morning.
Pete Rizzo: We’ll get to the good stuff, because we’re just talking about publishing times!
Peter McCormack: People might find this interesting, especially as we’re doing it at the same time. But yeah, whenever I’m in the US I have to get it all ready the night before and then my hotel had terrible Wi-Fi, so I couldn’t publish it before I got here and here we are! Do you know this is the most common name of someone I’ve interviewed, is Peter?
Pete Rizzo: Yeah, there’s a lot of Peter’s in this space! It’s hard to be a first name… There’s not , first name Peter, except maybe Peter Todd. Well I go by Pete also.
Peter McCormack: Well Pete, Peter, it’s the same thing. I changed to Peter a few years back because I think it sounds more intelligent.
Pete Rizzo: You know what I noticed about the “r”, you can hear it. Like when I say Pete in a loud area, people just don’t hear it because it’s one syllable. But if in a really crowded area, I have to use the “r” because it’s “Peter!” So there’s that second annunciation that lets people hear it.
Peter McCormack: There was this footballer in the UK called Mickey Thomas and he changed his name to Michael Thomas to sound more intelligent and I always thought Peter McCormack sounded more intelligent.
Pete Rizzo: Well you’re a doctor, is that a real thing?
Peter McCormack: I am a doctor, I’m Dr Peter McCormack!
Pete Rizzo: Are you a real doctor though?
Peter McCormack: Do you know why I changed that name?
Pete Rizzo: Is it because of that Craig Wright stuff?
Peter McCormack: Yeah, because Dr Craig Wright, so if he’s a doctor, then I’m also a doctor! Everyone’s becoming a doctor. But yeah, thanks for having me man, a good week for you?
Pete Rizzo: I mean Blockchain week for us is sort of the Superbowl, you prepare for months in advance and it kind of consumes all of your waking thinking for several months and then it happens and you just hope that nothing goes horribly wrong.
Peter McCormack: How much work goes into it?
Pete Rizzo: A ton! I mean we start planning at the end of 2017, probably earlier. I mean I was having meetings by September because I mean it’s a whole thing, you’re organizing 4,000 people, so you have your sponsors, attendees, blah blah blah. So by the time it comes down to it… I mean it feels like a minor miracle because you think about it and plan about so much and then it happens. But yeah, we have a whole team, we have whole events team, it’s [Inaudible] the business, that’s a thing that happens. That wasn’t always true, but it’s nice that it is a thing.
Peter McCormack: It was significantly better than last year for a couple of reasons, not just because it wasn’t so crowded. There seemed to be more of a focus on Bitcoin and that may be just because the market conditions have led people towards Bitcoin, but there was a lot more focus on Bitcoin. Also interestingly this year, I didn’t go to any of the talks apart from the ones I moderated, but got more out of the event by doing that and it sometimes feel like these events are becoming more of a networking thing.
Pete Rizzo: Yeah, I think that’s definitely true. Well I think when you do a conference, it’s supposed to be an open forum. So I think people get, I don’t know… How do I explain this? So a good conference should be like a mirror of the times and that’s not like a defense, like you can’t make them better than the times. It’s not something I necessarily disagree with there, but I’m saying that the content, if done correctly should reflect the current state of discourse and I think the current state of discourse is that Bitcoin is having a renaissance if you will, as sort of the leading indicator of the entire market, which wasn’t always true.
We’ve seen a number of phases come and go where there’s the Bitcoin start-up bubble of 2013, then there was sort of the private bank Blockchain bubble, then there was the token bubble. I do agree with the idea that people are sort of returning to Bitcoin as an intellectual concept that is sort of the leading indicator of the market. So I wasn’t surprised to see that, but I don’t think that’s a function of the conference. So as a conference organizer or event planner and I consult on the event planning, but I don’t do the scheduling, you can’t control what everybody says.
There’s no way you can control what they… I mean we had 400 speakers this year and there was probably four or five different panels going on at the same time. So there’s only so much control you can, for what people are going to say or talk about. I mean certainly the focus on last year was very speculative, but that was also the time, you can’t police what attendees are going to say or talk to you about. As much as we would to and last year there were the Lamborghinis and stuff, so that’s a weird situation where some other company just rented a bunch of Lambos and parked them outside.
Then all of a sudden, we’re culpable for that narrative and it reflects on us, even though we had nothing to do with it, no idea about it and found out about it. So, yeah, the conference game has been interesting. I’ve seen the business model kind of evolve and change since we started in 2015 and I think this year was good, but I think a lot of people get out of conferences what they want to get out of them. Sometimes they’ll hate things cause they want to hate things.
Peter McCormack: It’s funny though, because you said to me beforehand, people’s view on Bitcoin tends to reflect their view on politics and you become more conservative.
Pete Rizzo: Well, so this is another thing. So I don’t speak very publicly a lot about things as you kind of alluded to when we first started this, because I’ve never really wanted my opinions to be what people think CoinDesk stands for. So personally speaking, I think as someone who has been a journalist in this industry since 2013, I think I have become more convinced about Bitcoin on a personal level and there’s a saying that I’ve been recently modelling, which is an old political saying of, “if you’re a Republican at 20 shame on you, you have no heart and if you’re a liberal at 40 you shame on, you have no head!”
So I think I’ve become more conservative, more Bitcoin focussed, but I think I still try to have a heart for the people who are doing new projects, because I talked to WhalePanda about this at Magical Crypto Conference, which was basically… I feel Bitcoin maximalism sometimes is like kind of an anti-human approach.
You’re sort of just saying, “all humans forever, will never make anything better than this one protocol that has been created.” So I don’t know, I’m not short humanity. I think we can assume over time that something better might come of this. Maybe and look that’s possible or not possible, but you don’t really know.
Peter McCormack: Yeah and it’s obviously something I’ve wrestled with quite a bit over the length of doing the podcast. The early days I was open minded to anything and would interview anyone. I got some stick for my Craig Wright and Roger Ver interviews. Then over time, my view’s hardened and now I only own Bitcoin. But I have an interest in Monero, I think it’s an interesting project and I have a curiosity with other things.
Pete Rizzo: Yeah, but there’s also this weird social reinforcement of that stuff too. Sometimes things become the norm and you’re not really even sure why. Do you think that most people have a sophisticated opinion about Monero or do they just like FluffyPony? I am friends with Ricardo personally, a bit beyond what a normal journalistic relationship would be like and the thing that I’ve told him about that, that I find really odd, is that there’s sort of this social exclusion of ICO projects and there’s a social inclusion of Monero and I find them both equally uninformed.
I don’t think that people are into Monero because they love the white paper and understand the code. No, they like FluffyPony and he supports things that people tell them to like or they feel they should like and so they just like them for that reason. I think a lot of people assume that there’s a heavy amount of intellect here. So one of the things I was researching my interview for Justin Sun, because for some reason I asked to interview him at Consensus, but the thing that I found is I talked to people is and I was like, “why don’t you like Tron?”
And very few people actually had a substantive answer. I think Chris Burniske was the one person who had looked at the code, had some critiques about their go-to market strategy and could say something beyond, “oh, I just think that guy’s ridiculous.” But you talk about the, “don’t trust, verify” and it’s like, how much of that is just a t-shirt slogan? A lot of it probably.
Peter McCormack: Well I interviewed Fluffy and I said to him, “there’s Bitcoin maximalism and then Bitcoin maximalism but Monero is okay.”
Pete Rizzo: Well the argument there would be that it’s not Bitcoin extremism, which is the Charlie Lee Litecoin ideology. There’s also one guy, who is an old timer guy, I can’t remember his name, but he believes that Bitcoin software version 10.4.1 is the only Bitcoin. I just made up a number, but he has a very specific implementation where he’s like, “that’s the only Bitcoin that ever existed!”
Peter McCormack: Right okay. I mean there are different levels and it’s a funny thing, I started a podcast for no other reason that I just had an idea one weekend when I was in Los Angeles and it’s grown into this thing and I have no journalistic background, I didn’t study it. People have suddenly started saying to me over time, “you’ve got a responsibility, you’re a journalists, you’re producing content, people listen to you.” I’m like, “okay, well if I have a journalistic responsibility, then I must explore subjects I’m curious about.”
So for example, I’ve always said and got a lot of criticism for this, but I’ve always said that I firmly believe Roger Ver 100% believes what he is doing is right. Whether it is, is wrong, but I don’t believe he’s doing it because he wants to make more money and I need to explore why people believe in this project, even if it’s to help people get back to Bitcoin, I can’t do it without exploring it. Also I find with Ethereum, there’s lots of nonsense in there, but I find it hard to ignore something like MakerDAO.
Pete Rizzo: That’s a definitely a real thing!
Peter McCormack: Yeah, so I have to explore these subjects even if I explore it to find out for myself or educate people back. But as I do it, then I get people saying, “you shouldn’t be doing this, you’re giving platforms to scammers!”
Pete Rizzo: But you get this group ideology stuff and I think to the extent that maybe you have found journalism, it’s maybe that you just didn’t accept easy answers. That’s what I was saying about the Monero thing, it’s like how many people actually have a well-reasoned view on that or is does just it become a socially acceptable norm? Here’s a good example, are you a rock fan?
Peter McCormack: Yeah man, full metal! Do you know Alice in Chains?
Pete Rizzo: Yeah! So you know Tool?
Peter McCormack: Of course! They are the Bitcoin of metal!
Pete Rizzo: So Tool’s image, is that they have no image, which is an image! So sometimes being an antithesis to something is just as condensed as the other versions. I guess what I mean by that is that like, sometimes if you take the stance of, “you have no image”, you can also fall into the trap of having an image, even though you’re trying to… You end up kind of falling into the trap of the thing that you’re trying to avoid.
Peter McCormack: Oh man, I can’t believe Tool came up in this interview!
Pete Rizzo: I’m not a huge Tool fan, not that I don’t like them, I just haven’t really listened to them too much. But I think it’s an interesting way to look at ideologies and how they formed because, I think that there is good intellectual experimentation in this space. I am surprised there’s not more open-mindedness. You had Chris DeRose on recently and he did a good job of… You almost never want to fall in the trap of, he called it oraclizing and when you sort of believe your stump speech so much that your stump speech becomes a self reinforcing prophecy and that’s all you believe and you can’t see past it.
I think that was something I took from his show where he was very critical with people who did that and you can kind of see within the industry that people kind of crest. They sort of rise to these positions where they’re like Gods and everything that they say is the golden shit. Then three or four months later, they’re pariahs because they don’t stay malleable, they don’t change.
They sort of atrophy, they get to a point where they believe something and they sort of atrophy intellectually as that. Ironically, I actually do think it happened at Chris and Junseth, even though they sort of started with this critique, but it’s something I’ve been very worried about. That’s one of the reasons I am not too public what I think about it and my opinions of the space because I think there’s a risk of you atrophying, you just sort of become a cliché of your own viewpoints because you stop actually finding reasons that you might be wrong.
Peter McCormack: Yeah, I do also sympathize with a lot of the thoughts of the maximalist. Bitcoin is so important. It’s clearly something special, it’s very important.
Pete Rizzo: Yeah, so what I would say to that, is that this is what I’ve called the sort of the lie of CoinMarketCap. The irony is that to compare any of the other networks to Bitcoin is almost a fallacy because it’s so much larger, just in terms of intellectual investment, capital investment and human investment.
I mean even if you take, a company like Bitmain when they were mining Bitcoin, I don’t even know what they’re doing now, but they had thousands of people running machines all the time. Just the lie of CoinMarketCap and why CoinMarketCap was successful as it gave us sort of this weird single individual picture of the industry. But I actually do really agree with this, that it’s almost like a total lie to put anything else in the same class as Bitcoin.
Peter McCormack: Do you know what, interestingly I’ve not heard people talk about that too much, but Stephan Livera, he has an excellent podcast and he says that it is “Bitcoin, not crypto.” He doesn’t even want to hear the term crypto.
Pete Rizzo: So that is something that I disagree with, because the shittiest shitcoin has utility, it can hold value. That’s kind of the funny part of it. So you have Bitcoin at this spectrum where there’s so much intellectual investment, there’s so much physical investment, like Zappos was a company, they have a multimillion dollar hole in the ground where they literally just fucking bury QR codes with Bitcoin. That doesn’t exist for these other networks. They’re not mature enough, sometimes they’re not substantial enough, sometimes they don’t have the investment.
But on the other hand, the other irony of that is you go to shitcoin number 1100 and it’s the difference between that and shitcoin number of 600 is nothing. They both work, there’s a baseline utility to cryptocurrencies in that I can send them from one place to another and you can sell it on exchange and you can get some value back. So it is weird, on one hand you have that Bitcoin is so clearly the thing, but then the baseline utility of cryptocurrencies is mostly the same.
Peter McCormack: Well I always think about it like restaurants. You have a town and you have you have the best restaurant in town and it’s amazing, it’s brilliant, it has the best food and anyone can pretty much go out and eat there. But is that a reason for another restaurant not to exist? Can you not open a restaurant, because there’s another great restaurant? If you want to create some kind of shitcoin and you’re not trying to lie to people, you’re just trying to do something, create a project, what is actually wrong with that? I think the shittest of shitcoins is probably better than Bitcoin Cash and the reason I say that is I think Bitcoin Cash has done some very misleading things with the bitcoin.com domain…
Pete Rizzo: This is actually a bitcoin.com hat by the way!
Peter McCormack: I’ve got the t-shirt when I visited Roger, he gave me a couple of them. I was going to wear one to the Blockstream party as a joke.
Pete Rizzo: I did! We would have both been doing the same joke!
Peter McCormack: But there have been lies and there has been things that aren’t great, but the shittest of shitcoins, if you want to create the Blockchain and create some monetary thing, why can’t you?
Pete Rizzo: It’s interesting that you bring that up. I think it’s very hard to find objective truth in cryptocurrencies. I do really believe that, it’s very difficult. Tell me one thing that’s true in the industry, that’s unprovably an absolute truth and I just don’t know. I’ve seen so many things that people think are absolute truths, just totally just get destroyed! The absolute truth was that in 2013, Bitcoin was the protocol that would prevail because it was the most established and network effects and that was the absolute truth.
We would cover Dogecoin or Auroracoin or early alts and we would get blasted by people because it wasn’t the VC industry norm. But now the mantra of Silicon Valley couldn’t be more different and now it is tokenization and that everything will be tokenized or some modification of that.
So that’s why I have to say that for people who haven’t been in the space in a while, it’s their tendency is to come to the industry and then sort of think that what people are thinking now and I’m very critical of some people in the space, who are journalists who I think have done this also, where they come to the space now and they’re like, “oh these truths that crypto Twitter must be totally right about” and I’ve seen so many versions of crypto Twitter at this point!
Peter McCormack: Well there also some contradictions, so people talk about Bitcoin for freedom, “freedom is censorship resistance”, but any attempt to just try and find some objective truth or try and navigate certain topics, you can hit a wall of shit! It can be a threat to your business. There’s this guy Shinobi, Brian Trollz, who openly tagged one of my sponsors Kraken and said, “why are you sponsoring him?” Which is attacking my income!
Now I when I interview someone in Bitcoin Cash or in Ethereum, the downloads were always lower than Bitcoin. So I can take this easy path, just do Bitcoin interviews and just be the Bitcoin marketing department, but it doesn’t answer questions I have and I’ve still got loads of unanswered questions on the Bitcoin versus Bitcoin Cash. I’m there and I’ve solved it for me in my own head in that… I saw this at the conference in the exhibition hall, there was some protocol and on the advert it said, “100% decentralized” and I was like, “how can you be!
There is no measure that hits 100%”, but I think you should aim for maximum decentralized, that’s really important to keep away from governance. I think that’s an important target and objective and for me Bitcoin does that and I don’t want Bitcoin to give up on that. But in that process, I do have these other open questions, these things I haven’t found conclusive answers for.
Pete Rizzo: What I would say to that and so this is something that I’ve kind of struggled with on a personal level a lot. Bitcoin’s goal and the reason that people think it’s working has been revised. I think that it has been revised scientifically incorrectly, ultimately, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t revised. The question here is, when did it happen?
Peter McCormack: It was money, it was peer to peer cash?
Pete Rizzo: Yeah, well as Roger points out with the white paper, he sort of highlights the title and he’s like, “this is the title!”
Peter McCormack: Over and over!
Pete Rizzo: Yeah, but he has a point. So as someone who I doesn’t write any more for CoinDesk, I mostly sort of manage the staff and kind of try to shepherd the brand. But when I wrote, it was during the Bitcoin scaling wars, that’s sort of the time I spent there and the question I keep going back to there is, where did some of these ideologies… It’s amazing how quickly some of them came about. So I’ll give you an example.
You’ve probably been told by people that for everyone in Bitcoin, the goal is for everyone to run a node and that is our definition of decentralization and that is what we believe is the key differentiator for Bitcoin, is that you’ll ultimately be able to audit the Blockchain and you’ll be able to audit it by holding a copy of the Blockchain.
Peter McCormack: Yeah, so that came in my interview with Luke Dashjr and then I brought it up with Adam…
Pete Rizzo: So Luke is the one who really was the foundational person of that, because the UASF which is the user activated soft fork and that crystallized the ideology. But I would go so far as to say that even four weeks prior to that, that was not a thing. That came about so quickly and crystallized so thoroughly in a way that I can’t even really express to you just how quickly that happened.
Peter McCormack: But you see it’s not even practical right now. So I raised it with that Adam Back and Bryan Bishop, I just said, “look, I’ve got a lot of normal friends who aren’t into Bitcoin and even getting them to consider just opening a Coinbase wallet and just buying some is a hard sell. Try and get them to set up a node, is virtually impossible right now.”
Pete Rizzo: Sure and that’s why a lot of people are going the alternative route. I think Bitcoin ultimately came to that decision, they’re choosing to stick with that. So the question there will be like, is it a true thing that be decentralized, one has to have a copy of the full Blockchain? The question that I would have as someone who’s a journalist, and again, why I believe more of a less pure objective truth, is I don’t think that there’s any way that could possibly be a true or false statement. What about that could possibly be true?
It’s just an opinion that you have and I do agree that on a technological level, if you don’t hold the full copy of the Blockchain, then you’re right, what is the difference between the structure that you have now, where it’s the bank who kind of holds that ledger system, but it’s still hard to treat that as a fact, because in the market it might not win out. Maybe the society and masses just don’t really care about that. Maybe they can get the benefits of the thing through something else.
Peter McCormack: Even exploring these things are difficult, they come with challenges. For example, I’m already thinking right now, when this interview goes out, there’s going to be certain people who are going to listen to it and are going to have a pop at me. They’re going to say, “why are you saying this? You still don’t understand Bitcoin!”
Pete Rizzo: I would frame it as, we’re talking about the nature and truth in the cryptocurrency industry and how you properly explore that. I guess maybe the comment on that a little bit is, and this is something in the design decision of CoinDesk I think, because I’ve been a stakeholder in that for a while, I think CoinDesk gets a lot of flack for not presenting a holistic version of the truth, we’re not a truth portal. You don’t go to us to get a certain, and we don’t provide that, that’s I don’t think something that we’ve tried to avoid doing, but people want that.
Peter McCormack: But that’s the journalism you get in North Korea.
Pete Rizzo: What do you mean?
Peter McCormack: Well a dictatorship telling you what you should believe rather than freedom to report on whatever you choose.
Pete Rizzo: Right and what I guess I’m trying to say about that is that we have tried to do that… So personally I would say that during the scaling stuff, I was personally pretty biased towards the people who were the developers. So I was probably one of the only journalists who talked to the business people and the miners and the developers and I was biased towards the developers because I understood what they were trying to do.
I understood why the other people’s motivations were different. But there were certain things, you had to take all of those viewpoints seriously up until a point that someone won. So we would do stuff like, SegWit2x comes out, here’s what the businesses think, here’s what the miners think, here’s what the developers think. The reason for that is because ultimately I’ve wanted people to come to CoinDesk to get their own opinion about things.
Peter McCormack: But if you Venn diagram them all with financial incentive, best for Bitcoin, best for decentralized, I would have thought the developers are the ones who are going to be least motivated and incentivized by financial gain of what they’re doing. Whereas the miners and almost suddenly the businesses, whilst they talk about wanting to break the deadlock, they’re incentivize for the money.
Pete Rizzo: Well they want to exit, I get that. That’s the joke of the whole thing and that’s where it became really obvious. So I met Greg Maxwell once, he was at one of the early CoinDesk conferences and I asked him, I was like, “do you care if Bitcoin succeeds during your lifetime? Do you care if you see this thing actually become what you want it to be?”
And he said, “no.” I view the people in Bitcoin as… Or the way that I sort of explain to people is, the developers view Bitcoin as a once in a human history chance to call back money creation from governments and they take that shit super seriously and they should and I think that was the ideology that won out of the scaling debate.
Peter McCormack: Yeah, but that sometimes what you said there is I think a reflection on maybe why there are “toxic people” within the community putting pressure on someone like me or yourself because they think…
Pete Rizzo: This is what I was talking about, like ideological chasms. So Twitter is the problem because what happens is people get out there and Pomp is, and I’ve actually told him this so I don’t feel bad about saying this, but in order to get your message out on Twitter, you need to be consistent, condensed and you need to be always be saying the same thing. Pomp is the hallmark card, he’s a fortune cookie you open every day to make yourself feel good about Bitcoin and that’s great. But what it doesn’t do, is it doesn’t provide an actual real school of thought.
So what you get is these little pockets coming up where you’re just constantly reinforcing the same idea and this is what I was saying again about the atrophy of intellect. How do you get to a point where you can stay nimble in an environment that is constantly changing and I think that not a lot of people have done that very well. That’s why I feel that the tendency for people to come and they just assume that the Twitter-sphere is a rational place to get information. I just don’t know!
Peter McCormack: Also I think every year new people come in and it’s so hard to get up to speed. You feel like you have to learn the history. It’s almost like you come in and your brain becomes your Bitcoin node and you have to soak up this 10 years of knowledge.
Pete Rizzo: That’s totally true and that’s what I say to people when they ask me about CoinDesk or how I became a journalist or whatever and I’m just saying, there’s nothing special about me, I’ve just been here for a long time. I actually believe that. Like if you dropped me from 2013 into now I would probably be Ben Munster or something like that. I’d try to specialize and I would just wouldn’t, but the difference with me is that I’ve been doing it for six years. I now have this vantage point that now is probably kind of unique, but that’s not giving myself a compliment.
Peter McCormack: I sometimes think perhaps if you’re a dev or one of these hardcore Bitcoiners, it’s sometimes easy just to stake your position and stay there and just say, “this is where I am. I’m Bitcoin only, I’m going to support and fight for Bitcoin.” Whereas perhaps if you are journalist, you’ve had to look at things, you get bashed around so much, it’s very hard to then suddenly anchor yourself to something unless you do it out of pressure.
Pete Rizzo: Yeah, I mean I guess journalists shouldn’t anchor themselves to things. I think you want to advance the story through storytelling, that’s what we’ve tried to kind of prioritize at CoinDesk. The question is how do you do that on technology reporting and cryptocurrencies. That’s something I’d to spend more time on because I think that’s really hard. How do you actually kind of report on what’s going on with these things? I feel like people just don’t appreciate that cryptocurrency journalism is also very new.
There’s a tendency for people to treat CoinDesk as this weird sort of… I think people get so mad that we don’t cover everything under the sun. We’re a business, we’re staffed by humans and we just have not that much time to do things and we’re not this sort of infallible thing. That’s why I say that the irony with CoinDesk is we’re just as bad of a business as all the other businesses in this space, which are just all kind of…
Peter McCormack: I think CoinDesk has been, certainly for the last 18 months, been pretty solid. I mean I don’t read everything because there’s a lot I’m not interested in, but the stuff I am interested in, it’s pretty solid reporting and it’s pretty solid journalism. The facts are stated, you bring in the correct quotes, you reference the right articles. I mean I was using it this morning when I was publishing my Daniel Buchner article about Microsoft, I was using your article because it was a very solid starting point for me to do my write up.
So I do think it’s pretty solid. There are some titles out there that I think are shocking. I’m not going to name them, but there are some the shocking. It’s not actually The Block though actually, I actually like some of their work. The paywall now is frustrating but I do like some of their work. I used to read it religiously as well.
Pete Rizzo: My impression to the rise of crypto journalism recently is that I can’t believe the sector became so over capitalized. Just shocking to me that so many people are trying to disrupt CoinDesk, it’s just such an odd thing because we struggled for so long to make CoinDesk work as a business. Myself personally, I think I told this on Charlie Shrem’s podcasts recently, the original CoinDesk died. I watched that company die, we sold the rest of our assets and I remember that. When I saw all these things come out I was literally shocked.
I didn’t tweet about it or do anything at the time, but Breakermag was the one that famously closed recently, it was run off the surplus of a token that they put out there. I was like, how does anybody expect that they’re going to make a business out of this? Media and content is one of the worst business models and there’s nothing about Blockchain that changes it. It’s the same business model. CoinDesk is a business the same way that Tech Crunch or Rolling Stone or whatever business where they are a digital media publisher, there’s nothing about you covering Blockchain that makes your business innately better.
So when I saw these things I was just like, “oh man, this sucks!” It sucks because these kids are going to buy into it, they’re going to work really hard, they’re going to brand themselves out and their business is going to run out of money. That’s the thing where at some point within CoinDesk where I feel I would’ve loved to have stayed as a journalist like Ben Munster, somebody who write things that I think are fun and funny and at some point, you have to make CoinDesk a business, it had to work. So from my standpoint, I thought that something CoinDesk should exist., so I worked really hard to try to make it still exist.
Peter McCormack: But where do you make money? Your options; you’ve got ads, which don’t work and have very, very low revenue…
Pete Rizzo: Conferences. As soon as we started making money, everybody wanting to criticize and then yeah, the other one was through subscriptions, which I think is insane. I don’t actually know why you would want to do that or who would pay for that, but I just think it’s a bad business model and when I look at these things, I get really frustrated because, I wish people had the perspective of kind of going through it, where CoinDesk spent $5 million, ended up with nothing and you’re like… So with original CoinDesk, I go back and I look at it and it’s so funny to me now, the team was like 14 people, we were making no money.
We were making no money and we just thought we would keep raising rounds. You know the analogy about the frog in the pot where it’s just boils and my ideology is that, people just sometimes don’t like working with me. Why? Because I come from a time in which I watched a business literally fall apart and no-one cared. No-one even knew and that’s what’s so strange about it! I found it really hard to divorce myself from that experience.
Peter McCormack: What was the jump from it falling apart to carrying on again?
Pete Rizzo: Consensus.
Peter McCormack: So what, finances by Barry?
Pete Rizzo: No, so I would say the original CoinDesk, just to get all the facts properly out there, so we were founded by this guy named Shakil Khan who was an angel investor, he was the head of product at Spotify, maybe still is. We raised an original round with him as our early investor. He was one of the first investors in BitPay and BitPay was one of the first big VC investments. So he was an investor in that. So we raised some money, we grew the team to like 14, 15 people and then basically we turned on advertising and thought we were going to make a ton of money.
We didn’t and sort of ran out of steam there. So June, who is one of my colleagues, he came in and decided to do the conference, which was Consensus. We threw it, it was very successful and then the next day we were like, “oh my God, we have to put up $1.5m to run another conference,” wo our business is done! This was at the end of 2015, Bitcoin was $230.When we wound down that company, my CEO at the time was this guy named Jeremy, I sold 300 Bitcoins with him at $230 to liquidate the entity.
There was only so many people who would buy us at the time, so I think it was Bitcoin magazine and Barry was one of the people I think, who is that guy, Trace Mayer I think he was one of the people. There was very few people that would give us a home. The synergy with DCG was they had enough money to help us throw another event and they had an event team. They were trying to actually throw events, so that there was a good synergy there.
Peter McCormack: Do you think you need the magazine, but do you think you need the magazine and the events?
Pete Rizzo: Can you divide those two things?
Peter McCormack: I’m saying could you just have the events?
Pete Rizzo: Well I think anything can just live on its own, because there’s business models for everything. It’s like Money20/20 doesn’t have a media website attached to it. I’m not convinced that the current model of CoinDesk is going to be an end all, be all sort of thing. We have something that works, the conference funds the news outlet and that seems good. That’s not maybe necessarily like our end all, be all goal or whatever. But it was like, you try for so hard to get something that’s working and then you get your new questions from there.
Peter McCormack: Because I’ve ummed and ahhed with like, what do I do next?
Pete Rizzo: With your podcast?
Peter McCormack: I’ve always been an entrepreneur, I like to grow things and I’m always, what’s the next thing? I want to sit here and do it for five years!
Pete Rizzo: I can tell my view with CoinDesk and I’ve kind of always sort of had this idea of like what it should be and it’s funny when I look at the other media publications out there because I look at them and I see them go down paths where I was like, “oh I thought about that” and like, “I’m glad that’s as terrible as I thought it was because that was stupid” and “I’m glad I didn’t do that!” For me, it was basically, it’s a 24 hour market, everyone has access to it and I think there is room for probably one, very large new media outlet that can be 24/7 and they can hold that market accountable.
But for me, it was sort of like, to create a global brand, there’s certain sacrifices you have to make and one of the things that me and Stan, who are the two writers that came over in the DCG acquisition, we sat down and wrote every other crypto journalist on a piece of white paper and we were like, “how the fuck are we going to scale this because there’s like 10 people here?”So how are you going to build a global news outlet?
So we’ve had to do things that I think people don’t like think about at all, which is like we have a writer training program, we can take someone with a journalism degree and we can help them become someone who’s educated about the space and advance their career. Now we have something where we have a bunch of documentation, here’s the things that we expect you to do as like an editor. Are all our positions documented?
I look at some of the other startups and it’s like, I can tell they’re working 12 hours a day, that it’s just them doing it and it’s life or death for them. It’s like, “okay, great” and it’s great content for people, but you’re going to kill yourselves and for what? I can tell you that the other side of that is, I think CoinDesk is in a good position to get an opportunity out of this and can survive long-term.
But having run the gauntlet of that, it may sound condescending, I don’t know, this is why I sort of haven’t really spoken about this, because I don’t want to sound condescending, it’s just that having gone through this shit of making a media business that has money, it’s just not a fun thing! So I look at Decrypt, I look at Breaker, I look at The Block and I look at these other things and I go, “that sucks, I hope it works out for you!”
Peter McCormack: Yeah I mean Decrypt are funded by Joe Lubin so…
Pete Rizzo: Well so the media business model is such that all media outlets now are mostly funded by trusts. I mean the Washington Post is funded by Jeff Bezos. Media as a thing isn’t well-funded because you have the internet behemoths. You’re really writing for Google, Twitter and these information aggregators. So that’s why I said there’s nothing about Blockchain that changed the business model. So there’s only a few ways you can monetize it.
I think some of the other ones there are interesting. But I think with CoinDesk, I’m glad we did the conference road. I think it has its own unique challenges and I think Consensus is a beast and every year I dread the coming of it, because it is such a gigantic thing. But I’m happy we did it, I’m glad it worked and I’m glad that we are no longer fighting for our survival in the way that we used to. I think I’m almost at the point where I think this thing can run and can just be a thing forever that the space has that’s good.
Even if I’m not a part of it and I think that’s another thing when Ryan came in, initially Ryan Selkis from Messari was our original managing director, he was like, “oh you guys should write things all the time and you guys should make yourselves look really cool by writing cool things.” I was like, “okay, well that’s not our business, that’s not a thing” and we could’ve done that. We made fun of the, we called it the jean jacket CoinDesk which is when we would go out on Twitter all the time and make fun of people.
Peter McCormack: But in the end, you need a business model. So The Block, I hope Mike Dudas doesn’t get upset by me saying this, but they’ve done a very good job of creating a splash by creating a lot of noise, giving them the drama and I’ve experienced that myself, so I would be a hypocrite to say I’ve not been in the middle of it. But at the end of the day, none of this really matters if you haven’t got a business model.
Pete Rizzo: Your words, not mine!
Peter McCormack: But it doesn’t! So I look at Decrypt and think, “well, you’re in the same position as Breaker. If somebody turns off the tap, you’re done.” I don’t read many, but I look at you guys, I think “well you’ve got Consensus, so you’re fine.”
Pete Rizzo: For now, but who knows how long that’ll last.
Peter McCormack: But you have, and actually I think the two go hand in hand very well. Think of it like this. Why does Pomp do his podcast?
Pete Rizzo: Because he has a fund.
Peter McCormack: He has a fund and he created a Medium company on top of a fund that…
Pete Rizzo: No he just has podcast and that’s a product of social media and the internet being accessible and that’s great.
Peter McCormack: That’s great for the fund and what I’m saying is I think having CoinDesk helps Consensus.
Pete Rizzo: As the conference? Yeah of course, the two go hand in hand. The way I would have rationalized that would basically be like, people give us their best understanding of the industry, we turn that into articles and then the events is sort of the physical form for that. I’d like to see CoinDesk and I think right now we have this opportunity to move into other parts. I think there are some exponential opportunities that are still available to a company ours that has capital and I think we can go after them, so that’s exciting to me.
Peter McCormack: You should buy my podcast, it’s highly successful!
Pete Rizzo: We’ll talk about it.
Peter McCormack: I’m just saying that that’s another area where there is an opportunity, the podcast media or the visual media, there’s a lot of opportunity there.
Pete Rizzo: Yeah, we’ve been a bit slow on that. Again, I’ve had a lot of time to think about how to do the cryptocurrency journalism thing. Again, not trying to sound pompous here or whatever, but there was a lot of emphasis in 2017 when things were really going well, suggesting that we should build a lot of layers on CoinDesk and this is also going to probably make me sound stupid, but it’s I think the Bitcoin model, is one of the things that really inspired me about the way they look at how to build that network, as I’ve always tried to think about CoinDesk from the perspective of, “how can I ensure that this continues to operate?”
One of the things that I think a lot of people don’t think about is the tremendous turnover that CoinDesjk has gone over and the way that product quality has stayed the same. Even though so many people have left over the years. I mean I’ve worked with 20, 30 people over the years and it works because it’s a system, we’re not dependent on one person. If you’re flagship, I would ask you about these other outlets and if their best reporter left, what would they have? I think we’ve gone through that and we’ve created a system that goes over that.
So what you were saying is sort of like building podcast video, I think we would’ve done really well in the last run, but if you go back to aggregation again and at some point, somebody has to pay the cost to produce news, somebody has to actually produce it. It’s costly to produce news, it’s easy to do a podcast about somebody else’s news and I want CoinDesk to bear the capital costs of producing more of that news and I want that to be the thing that we do well over time, because I think that can be the real differentiator.
I don’t think we’ve always gotten it and I actually don’t even think that CoinDesk has always been good. I’ve been at iterations of CoinDesk that I thought were very bad and I think looking back were dumb and that’s fine.
Peter McCormack: Well like I said to you, in the last year to 18 months, I notice a definite difference between prior to Consensus 2018 to post Consensus 2018 and I can’t put my finger on why, but something changed for me.
Pete Rizzo: Yeah, we brought in a lot of people and I think we bulked up the model. So at the end of 2017, the staff was probably seven or eight people, who had been mostly going full speed for a long time and then we had to sort of adjust to, “okay, how do we run a bigger model?”
But what’s funny is that the team from 2017, that was small and was six or seven people versus the team now that’s 15 people, that small team was 70% as productive as the big team, because when you have a big team, you have young people who need to learn and you’ve gone through all this fucking learning process and you know what a fucking terrible mess it is.
So it’s like how do you protect people from that while they learn so that they can actually do good work. So I think we’ve gotten to the point where I think CoinDesk can be… My question now is how do we go from 20 to 80? How do we go from 80 to 100? I would like to see CoinDesk be like a large thing. I’m not really interested in us being super cool on Twitter.
Peter McCormack: Do you think it’s always rooted in crypto?
Pete Rizzo: For sure 100% and we’ve gone through the gauntlet of that choice. I look back at the rooms where I was in with CoinDesk and I remember being in the room where we were like, “should we cover other assets that aren’t Bitcoin?” I remember being in a room where we were like, “oh, we should get out of the data product because Blockchain.info is so great.”
You go back to these decisions and like some of them are just dumb and you’re like, “wow, that’s like the dumbest thing that I’ve ever heard.” There was one like, “oh we should do FinTech!” And it’s like, “no! No-one cares about FinTech.”
Peter McCormack: I tell you what weighs heavily on my mind because this is a new job industry for me. A few years ago I was working in advertising and now I’m here as a maybe a journalist, but a podcaster I would say is a fair description.
Pete Rizzo: Honestly, I’ve been really impressed with the way you’ve come up with thing. The fact that you have advertisers and stuff!
Peter McCormack: Well I have a background in sales and marketing, as I had a digital agency. So I know how to build a website, I know how to build a brand, I know how to sell, but what I think about, because you’ve got to think ahead, I think about what happens in two years if all these protocols start to die? Nobody’s using them, they all start to die off, close down, I mean we’ve lost a few. What if it just keeps happening and the business just moves towards primarily Bitcoin, maybe a couple of other things. What I think about then is, where’s your revenue model?
Pete Rizzo: Well so here’s how I would say that. The market is overwhelmingly biased at this point to the creation of new cryptocurrencies. Whether or not those work out, everyone in the industry benefits from there being more than one cryptocurrency, literally everyone, the exchanges, the businesses etc. The only people who don’t benefit from there being more than Bitcoin are the Bitcoiners, the people who are the developers and the people who are hardcore and that.
That doesn’t make the other things correct, it just states that, and I’ve called this the Barry Silbert Joe Lubin problem, it’s always better to be the baron on your own Blockchain. So if you’re Joe Lubin, why didn’t you build on Bitcoin? Well it’s because you can be Joe Lubin on Ethereum or if you’re Charles Hoskinson, why aren’t you building on Joe Lubin’s Blockchain? Well because you can be Charles Hoskinson on your own Blockchain. So the market seems to have an overwhelming bias towards new cryptocurrencies and I don’t think that’s going to go away because I think that the gains of… This is how I would express this.
The more Bitcoin does better, the more the bounty on the head of taking it out is and what that means is that capital is going to continue to fund alternatives because the greatest yield is there. The tendency of Bitcoiners is look at that as stupid, “all these people are wasting their time” and maybe they are, but I think [Inaudible 49:09], I don’t know if you’ve read him, he’s a Bitcoin developer/maximalist guy, but he sort of says this like, “even if the market is right now just sort of funding every idea that’s not Bitcoin and all those things die, it still needs to go through that process because that’s how you objectively find out.”
It’s sort of like exploring the Earth, it’s like how did they know that there wasn’t more land? Well they went everywhere and there was no more land. So we’re sort of doing that with Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies now and it’s like where’s the land? How much more land is there? I don’t know! There could be a whole new world out there!
Peter McCormack: Behind the big ice wall at the edge…
Pete Rizzo: Yeah, where the water falls off and the sea monsters are, so the edge of the map. There’s always going to be those explorers.
Peter McCormack: Yeah, but I also think it gets to the point whereby people, I don’t know, people kind of realize that these things aren’t going to work and perhaps the investment money doesn’t go into it because it’s too much of a downside risk. How many times do you have to get burnt?
Pete Rizzo: I don’t know. How I would explain that, is from my perspective of being here for a while, is I think that the thesis of investors actually hasn’t changed too much. I think there was Bitcoin first and what they thought was that the network effects of Bitcoin were such that it would never be displaced. Then Ethereum happened and then once you have two things, the question is, “well, why not 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15?” Because when you have two, the question is, “well not why not 5,000?”
And you don’t really know what’s going to happen from that, but again, capital is going to be biased towards the maximum appreciation, so it’s going to continue to go in that direction. I do believe personally that the verdict’s still out on Ethereum until they get proof stake. They get proof of stake, that is a magnificent achievement and it should be applauded. I think even if you’re a Bitcoin maximalist and you are listening to this, I think if they get to that point and they make that work, well what are you going to say then? I think you’d be giving them a round of applause!
Peter McCormack: Perhaps. My measure for Ethereum will be when… It’s almost like the Joe Lubin, Jimmy Song bet; show me the usage, where is value being created?
Pete Rizzo: Even if Vitalik has only succeeded at encouraging… I think Vitalik did a few things that are really important that weren’t technological based, is that he made it okay to question the Bitcoin orthodoxy. He made that ok. He sort of like opened up this field of exploration and sort of chipped away at the sort of… I think Vitalik’s contributions to the cryptocurrency industry are as much cultural as they are technological.
Even if only by kind of showing the way that you could do something else or think differently, he created a mass of entrepreneurs and developers who could go in that direction. I still think that that’s so influential. Even if it goes nowhere, it’s a huge accomplishment.
Peter McCormack: Yeah I don’t disagree.
Pete Rizzo: Do you want to live in a world where there was a Bitcoin and then no one bothered to try to make anything else? “Oh, Bitcoin is here!” “Okay, great!”
Peter McCormack: I don’t know either way. I mean if Bitcoin just works and does what it does, that’s fine, that’s great. If people come along and challenge and try and build something better, but my problem with all this trying to build a better Bitcoin, is that I can’t see anyone beating the things that are most important to me.
Pete Rizzo: Well I think Bitcoin has narrowed. It’s come to a very strong and well thought out value proposition. I think other cryptocurrencies will go through this iteration process. You were seeing Ethereum go from starting out trying to be the world computer, they’re going to narrow that back towards something, but I think they’re going to narrow it back towards probably something that works.
Bitcoin started out trying to be electronic cash and then they sort of narrowed it back to sort of, “hey, this is the store of value, this is the unbreakable, unkillable store of value that will live forever.” I think that was good. I think it’s good to see these cryptocurrency things sort of pivoting and finding niches that aren’t so defined by their original destinations.
I think that’s the criticism of Roger, is that he’s so obsessed with the original destination that he hasn’t even bothered to see what value has been created and then rejecting it. I think for me, I look at it as, I think I see Bitcoin as the nature state of money. No-one likes natural law. If I stab you, you’re going to die, that’s natural law. It’s not very friendly. I’m sure it doesn’t make you feel good me saying that, but that is natural law!
If you get hit by a plane, you’re dead, that’s natural law. Bitcoin wants to operate in that setting. It wants to be uncorruptable, it wants no-one to be able to shut it down and wants to be forever and that’s great. It’s just that we don’t live in a world where that’s totally defined by natural law. We’re wearing clothes right now, different than your podcast with Junseth and Chris DeRose!
Peter McCormack: We can take our shirts off if you want, but I think it’s a bit late!
Pete Rizzo: Your podcast, I would encourage you to get your own shtick there.
Peter McCormack: That was for them. I think that was the perfect way to start that show. Look I agree, Bitcoin I think is important for me, some of the key things it has, which do differentiate itself, which you can’t recreate. You can’t recreate the birth of Bitcoin really, you would struggle. It’s been attempted with Grin and Monero, but I think that’s really important.
Pete Rizzo: I have problems with “can’t”. What I would say, is that we should always encourage an environment in which if someone tells you can’t do something, someone should try to disprove that.
Peter McCormack: Actually you’re right, because that’s exactly what I see.
Pete Rizzo: And we as humans should want that and that’s why I have trouble with ideologies. I’m not a person who naturally likes ideologies because if my inclination is if you start a sentence and you say, “okay, this will never happen”, you should go why? And then you should throw a lot of money at it, trying to do that other thing.
Peter McCormack: No, you’re totally right. I had it recently with my son, who came back from school, he’s got a drama piece to do and the piece he wants to do is a historical monologue, which is based during the slave era of the US. I think it’s post-slavery era, but still racial undertones and he said, “oh, I might not be able to do it because I have to say certain words, which could come across as racist and kids at school might be offended, so I might not be able to do it.” I actually said to him, “no, if they tell you no, you need to challenge them because this is a piece of creative work. You’re not out there being a racist. You’re trying to express…”
Pete Rizzo: Quentin Tarantino gets away with it!
Peter McCormack: Yeah you’re right, but I think the point I’m trying to make, it’s very hard to create that. It’s going to be very hard because it was like an immaculate conception.
Pete Rizzo: The Bitcoiners, whoever built Bitcoin, whoever it is, I personally don’t care. I don’t give a fuck who Satoshi is.
Peter McCormack: Well we should give a fuck who he isn’t.
Pete Rizzo: I think it is a better world where Craig Wright is Satoshi, but we can debate that.
Peter McCormack: Really?!
Pete Rizzo: Yes.
Peter McCormack: Now we need to… Okay, let’s come back to that!
Pete Rizzo: I’ll just give a quick answer there, it’s a better world because Satoshi exists and no-one cares. For me, that’s the way things should be.
Peter McCormack: Hmm, no I disagree, because to me it’s a lie and it’s a long con and people will be ripped off and defrauded based on it.
Pete Rizzo: I think you are at risk [Inaudible] a little bit. So what I’m saying is that I think the optimal scenario is where the world doesn’t care who Satoshi is, because we don’t need Satoshi. Us knowing who Satoshi is provides next to no value about the technology.
Peter McCormack: I totally agree.
Pete Rizzo: So therefore my argument about, it would be great if it was Craig Wright, is because it seems Craig Wright is unable to prove that he’s actually Satoshi if he is.
Peter McCormack: Well he actually keeps proving that he isn’t!
Pete Rizzo: Whatever you want to think about that, sure. But I was saying, if you were to live in a world in which Satoshi doesn’t matter and is discredited, then I think that’s good.
Peter McCormack: Gosh, I would need time to consume that and actually kind of think about that with a piece of paper and a pen. Nice socks by the way bro.
Pete Rizzo: Oh, thanks! Yeah Monero, which again is socially acceptable for me to wear these for reasons I can’t explain.
Peter McCormack: It’s kind of anti-privacy wearing Monero socks though.
Pete Rizzo: I guess! You can’t frisk me for Monero though.
Peter McCormack: “Stick ’em up, where’s your Monero?”
Pete Rizzo: Where were we going there? I thought we were going somewhere. You had a train of thought you were going on, before I derailed you with Craig Wright.
Peter McCormack: Dan Held’s article on Bitcoins immaculate conceptual I think is a super important article. I think the recreation of that is very difficult. Yes, it might be able to be done, but it’s done at a time where cryptocurrencies now exist.
Pete Rizzo: Nothing can be what Bitcoin is, but that doesn’t mean other things can’t be like Bitcoin.
Peter McCormack: Of course, but building a better Bitcoin for me has never been…
Pete Rizzo: It’s not about building a better Bitcoin.
Peter McCormack: Well okay, building a better cryptocurrency whatever. To me, it’s never been about building something that’s technically better, because a lot of the things about Bitcoin don’t come down to the technology.
Pete Rizzo: The thing that Bitcoin is trying to achieve will only and can only be achieved by Bitcoin. That in no way means that the other Blockchains cannot succeed with the unique value propositions, because it is such that operating some of these things could be cheap and that you could still exchange things. That’s why I sort of said it’s like natural law. To me Bitcoin’s success is if it’s the zero state and that because it is uncorruptable and it’s unkillable, you can build all these other things off of it.
Peter McCormack: Yeah I’m waiting for proof now though. So when I was very new and early I was like, “oh this is a new technical innovation, it’s going to be like the birth of the internet. There’ll be a lot of failures and some successes, but let’s wait and see.” I’m now in a different position because with the birth of the internet, there were a lot of things that were still successful. Here we still only have arguably one success and that’s still got a lot to prove.
Pete Rizzo: Wait, what do you mean sorry?
Peter McCormack: So lots of companies were created during the dot-com boom that still exist today.
Pete Rizzo: You get weird things, so pets.com failed, but chewy.com is doing very well, it was a great company!
Peter McCormack: What I’m saying is there’s lots of successes. It’s more than one. It’s not like we just got Google and everything else is…
Pete Rizzo: Well look at that thing, so pets.com was a meme and it was, “oh is Bitcoin going to be pets.com” and I was thinking about this the other day, my girlfriend loves chewy.com she’s like, “well I love this business, it’s great.” And I’m like, “okay, so then somebody just made another pets.com and it seems to be doing quite well.” All I’m saying is that it’s very dangerous in the space, I think for anyone to just be like, “okay, well we live in a world where we absolutely know where this is going to go.”
Peter McCormack: No, I just think what I’m saying and the analogy is bad and perhaps Bitcoin is the internet and it’s the things built on Bitcoin which will be the successes.
Pete Rizzo: And just like the Bitcoin Is, have you ever heard that Beedeon guy?
Peter McCormack: Yeah, I struggle with him. I like him, I’ve talked to him over DMs and sometimes I have to take a step back.
Pete Rizzo: His Bitcoin Is sort of ideology was very important I think. He was able to properly express that Bitcoin didn’t need to confide or conform to any pre-existing conception of itself, which I think is good. I think he taught people a lot with that.
Peter McCormack: Every time I talk to him though I walk away feeling like I’ve got everything wrong in life!
Pete Rizzo: Sure, I mean my thing is that I just think that everyone has a place in the industry and it’s fine to advocate for your brand or ideology and you have that in life also. I just think that myself personally, I sort of operate a platform in which I see these ideologies compete. That’s sort of the goal if Bitcoin is successful, then sort of ideologies should be able to compete there and sort of in semi-natural state. I try to think about the opposite side, put yourself in the shoes of the other person. There’s a lot I like about Bitcoin, I love Bitcoin, I think it’s great. I think that other things might exist and that’s also great!
Peter McCormack: I’ll tell you my measure now because I sold everything apart from Bitcoin and the reasons I use Bitcoin. I use it multiple times per month. I issue invoices, I get paid, but I also give people…
Pete Rizzo: There’s no reason that you couldn’t do that in any of these other cryptocurrencies to be 100% honest with you. So there’s nothing special about that.
Peter McCormack: So we go to network effect. Bitcoin is the most liquid asset of them all, it is the most reliable.
Pete Rizzo: That could change at any time.
Peter McCormack: But it hasn’t. At the moment Bitcoin for me is the safest and best one to use and this one I choose to. Everybody pretty much has a Bitcoin wallet…
Pete Rizzo: But that all could change at some point.
Peter McCormack: It could, but right now it hasn’t and therefore that’s the one I own, because I have a use for it. I’ve looked at everything else and I don’t have a single use for anything else. That’s not to say I won’t in the future.
Pete Rizzo: I think many people will say the same thing about Facebook coin when it comes out!
Peter McCormack: Hmm, that might be slightly different, it depends how they do it. I mean if they just create Venmo with a Blockchain over Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, then people probably are going to use it and they’re going to have like a dollar wallet and just use it. But we’ve got to see what they bring out with it. Nobody knows really!
Pete Rizzo: Again, I don’t think anything will replace Bitcoin. Bitcoin’s goal now is to exist and continue to exist and continue to withstand any possible threat. That does not mean these other things are not interesting, it does not mean that many people won’t use them. I think both of those worlds can simultaneously exist. I think you’re can have a world in which Bitcoin is succeeding and adds value proposition and Facebook coin is wildly successful. I don’t know why people get, like they’re not able to handle this sort of this multiple dichotomy of things. I think that’s like a fine future state.
Peter McCormack: I think they are. I think the ones who aren’t, tend to be that noisy minority who make a lot of noise.
Pete Rizzo: I think because Bitcoin was first, it’s sort of saddled with the expectations of being everything. Everything that has ever been possible with a Blockchain is sort of condensed into Bitcoin. You see this when Nataniel Popper publishes an article or whatever, he’s like,” Bitcoin is failing to become a medium of exchange, means that Facebook is…” It’s like, no, Bitcoin will survive and it’s doing its thing and that’s great. These other things are doing well and that’s great or they’re ideas and that’s great and that’s fine. Bitcoin suffers a lot and I feel like the community and people around Bitcoin, are very defensive because Bitcoin is constantly held up to this impossible standard of needing to be every possible idea for everybody.
Peter McCormack: That Nathaniel Popper article really surprised me. I held him in a high regard before. I mean, I’ve not changed my opinion, I like him, I really enjoyed his book.
Pete Rizzo: He’s very good when he is breaking news that moves the market forward, because he has a tremendous platform for that being in the New York Times. I think some of the stuff that he’s done, like the Mike Hearn article I was not a huge fan of. But again, Bitcoin is like a cultural thing and it takes a lot of time to understand Bitcoin.
Peter McCormack: I know, it’s just that that did surprise me. It was almost like you could put Paul Vigna’s name on it and I’d gone, “yeah okay, fair enough.”
Pete Rizzo: Yeah sure. I like Paul. I like Paul better than Nathaniel.
Peter McCormack: I mean it’s not about liking or not liking them, I’ll stick to their work because I’ve never met either of them.
Pete Rizzo: You missed peak Paul. Peak Paul was like 2013, 2014. He also has the best quote about Bitcoin that I think I’ve ever heard, which is that nobody sing songs about PayPal, which is my favorite quote about the space.
Peter McCormack: I mean I don’t sing songs about Bitcoin! But I don’t care, I’ll just go based on the work, I went into the archives of the Wall Street Journal, I search for Paul Vigna, I searched for Bitcoin, I think of 22 articles, 21 were negative, somebody like that. So just out of interest, I did another search for Ripple and I found 3 neutral to positive articles and to me at that very point, that very instance, you’ve lost all credibility to me because what you’ve done is you have proven a journalistic bias.
The journalistic bias is either, and I can’t prove any of this, that the Ripple articles were press releases and you’re paying for those or you’re clickbaiting with Bitcoin, because you know a negative article will get more people to read it. Either way, I kind of don’t give a fuck what you do anymore. He’s contacted me a couple of times about wanting to do a piece and every time I’m like, “no, I’m not going to talk to you or work with you, until you have objectively fair Bitcoin reporting. Until then, basically you can fuck off.”
Pete Rizzo: That’s fair!
Peter McCormack: I mean, you guys don’t just sit and write negative Bitcoin articles all day because you know there’s two sides to the story, you will report accurately.
Pete Rizzo: If that’s what people believe then that’s great!
Peter McCormack: That’s what I believe! Man we crushed through an hour there.
Pete Rizzo: Yeah, I was going to say that I have to get to this CoinDesk party.
Peter McCormack: So listen look, I want to say thank you for coming on short notice.
Pete Rizzo: Sure! I hope it was good.
Peter McCormack: That was awesome! Where do you want people to go? That’s always how we finish.
Pete Rizzo: If you want to go to coindesk.com, I mean obviously we’re putting out news there. If you want to attack CoinDesk for valid reasons to prove an intellectual point, that’s also great. Again attack CoinDesk if you want to use CoinDesk to get your thing out there, your viewpoint, that’s also fine too!
Peter McCormack: The weathered crypto journalists.
Pete Rizzo: If people who are wanting to attack us to put out a viable piece of opinion, that’s fine. The Dark Knight thing right? Batman needs to know.
Peter McCormack: I know who you’re talking about!
Pete Rizzo: What do you mean?
Peter McCormack: You’re talking about the blog.
Pete Rizzo: Your words, not mine!
Peter McCormack: All right, thanks for your time man!