The Token Summit Talk Between William And Me

William and I did the wrap-up at the end of Token Summit.

Here is the video of it:

And here is CNBC’s take on it.

I’d love to know if you all think she captured my views accurately.

I don’t think so and tweeted this when I saw her piece.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Nik Bonaddio

    Creating headlines is a different task than summarizing talks; she did a great job on the former and a poor job on the latter.It’s probably a decent analogue for where the mainstream is at in terms of understanding blockchain – if a tech reporter can’t probably summarize effectively from the literal and verbatim words that you said, then we’ve probably got a long way to go.

    1. kenberger

      well said…and that CNBC article also prominently shows a pic/video of Shark Kevin O’Leary saying “I would short bitcoin”. There’s a sensationalism element all around.

  2. Chimpwithcans

    Not the best reporting. In context your comments are very enthusiastic, something she missed.

  3. Guy Hargreaves

    She reported accurately but selectively, and in doing so subverted the whole tone of your discussion. Then tellingly she dumped O’Leary’s bear claws into the middle of the article giving it an “expert says bubble about to burst” overall feel. The cynic in me suspects that was what she set out to achieve even before she heard you speak. Disappointing, but somewhat par for the course from mainstream business media in these times.

  4. LE

    She did not capture your entire view accurately. However she did repeat some of what you said accurately and emphasize the part that would draw the most attention and interest from readers. That is what reporters and writers do and have been doing forever. Obviously.

    1. PhilipSugar

      I agree but it doesn’t have to mean I like it. When the mainstream media cries about “fake news” they have nobody to blame but the person staring back at them in the mirror, because as soon as you start down the path of not capturing views accurately don’t cry when people up your game.

      1. awaldstein

        you are making a distinction between mainstream who gets it wrong and someone else who gets it right?i’m not sure there is one.everyone has a bias.some are more distasteful than others but objectivity is an illusion.

        1. PhilipSugar

          I would like to think that I try to not be biased. Every day I have to understand what clients are thinking and what our team is thinking and mesh the two.I think news has had it very tough. All of their revenue sources have been hollowed out. But to compound it, the response has been to polarize the news, which to me really sucks.My point is simply once you start down a path understand others will up your game. It’s like when they say when you want revenge dig two holes.

          1. awaldstein

            agree and was not being critical of you but bias is i agree a loaded term.we all have a point of view. we search out points of view that we are comfortable with. .what is missing in news to me is the ability to find people who can articulate an alt point of view within the context of your bias that is why your community is listening.its a broken cycle.even the comics are grating on me lately.I limit my news to an hour of podcasts during gym time every morning.

          2. PhilipSugar

            I agree that everyone has a bias. I try not to be but I understand that I will be. I think the best is to have diversity. Diversity in who you know, who are your friends, and what you can tolerate.On that score I think I rank pretty high.

          3. awaldstein

            to me its about ethical core.and i try to surround myself with diverse opinions.but i have a hard edge that i can’t cross.i believe that hate–however it comes out–is not a personality flaw but the core of who a person is.i don’t believe that any good is worth it coming from that me shortsighted but when that line is crossed, i have no interest nor any patience.

          4. PhilipSugar

            We agree. I have told the story many times of when I went into my long time barber and she was cutting a guys hair that had swastikas, ss insignia’s, and death heads tattooed on him. Left and never went back.My line of the edge is probably a bit more grey than yours, but I know hate when I see it and it usually (at least to me is a pretty clear line)

          5. awaldstein

            You a good man Phil.Not a wonder why I appreciate you.

      2. LE

        This is always properly summarized by my saying ‘you can only be as honest as your competition’. While many people take issue with that concept I have found that it holds true in more cases than it doesn’t. Pick the situation and tell me where it doesn’t apply.In this case the game has changed greatly in news since we had 3 networks all playing by generally the same rules with respect to integrity. Because they could. A captive audience who had nowhere else to go. The stories that are on the (as only one example) Nightly News (I watch it every night) today are not the same stories that were on in the black and white tv era (I watched that as well). And wow how the WSJ has changed since back in the day when it was primarily a business newspaper. Yesterday on the front cover their was a large photo of some memorial day cemetery. Why do I need to see that? Seriously? What is that all about?By the way in the end the blame for this really falls on the public just like it does for buying cheap products that fail instead of paying more for good products that might last longer. The public is the customer and they want entertainment primarily and not facts. Infotainment…. https://uploads.disquscdn.c

        1. PhilipSugar

          I think you have to finish that statement which is if you are not able/afford/willing/can outlast your competition.Sometimes if it is a one time purchase you are right. If you can’t play the long game you are right, if you need to win quick you are right.But I have been watching stores like Aldi and Bob’s Furniture wipe out their competition.

          1. LE

            I think you have to finish that statement which is if you are not able/afford/willing/can outlast your competition.Agree. But also add that some of these companies can be hot for a short period and all the sudden the magic is gone after a bit of competition in the same market. An example of this is Whole Foods who is not the darling they used to be. Because of others selling many of the same products.One of my other sayings is ‘business is taking advantage of the low hanging fruit of opportunity’. So in that case the best someone can really do is ride a wave better than anyone else. Still quite an accomplishment. But when the tide goes out (sorry for the cliche) all the sudden much of the magic is gone.Back in the 80’s most of the companies that I used to read about when I was new in business that got all of this wonderful press are no longer around. What seemed that it would last forever back then isn’t. That’s because of the lack of low hanging fruit to take advantage of.How is Bob’s an example? Don’t know much about them but that seems to prove my point more than disprove it. They sell cheap shit from China, right? And there have been (at least according to wikipedia on a quick check) questions about the quality of what they sell.

          2. PhilipSugar

            They don’t do the crazy memorial day sales, they give you a sparkler.You have a point it is cheap shit from China. That is what you are going to get.

      3. cavepainting

        there is a big difference between over-emphasizing aspects of the news that are sensational (access hollywood tape, clinton emails, etc.) and propagating outright fake news (Seth Rich conspiracy, Clinton running child-abuse ring, etc.). There is NO excuse for the latter whatsoever. And shame on every journalist and outlet who carry these fake news.

        1. LE

          I agree that the details matter.That said what is interesting is how people split hairs and generally feel that what they do is ‘ok’ but what others do is either ‘to honest’ or ‘being a cheat’. Depending on whatever their behavior is or where they draw the line. It’s like religion.An example of this is what you said above. To you you see one as bad but probably ok and the other as definitely wrong and crossing the line.But when you boil it down facts and details matter and stretching the truth is still stretching the truth.Also there are other subtle manipulations that can happen. You can mention something like Clinton and child abuse but at the same time and later in the report point out that it’s just allegations. Or you can start off the report by saying upfront it’s only allegations. The difference can influence people and show bias. So it’s subtle but possible to manipulate that way.Question is this. If you run a story even pointing out that it’s unsubstantiated haven’t you done damage by doing that?

          1. cavepainting

            Yes, you have done damage and crossed journalistic ethical boundaries if the story does not pass a “basic” due diligence test for evidence and plausibility. What this “basic” test means has become a subjective call, but it need not be so and that is a false dilemma. Anyone who has been through journalism school knows what qualifies to be a story and what does not. They still do it because it is the easy choice albeit the wrong one, their competitors do it and there is little negative impact to their reputations in an increasingly rotten system.

          2. thinkdisruptive

            Disagree. Watergate would never have been exposed if this was the standard applied initially to determine whether it had strong enough evidence to be probably true or worthy of reporting. Sometimes a rumor or speculation or innuendo is newsworthy, even if that’s all you have. The world as we know it exists in our heads, and our heads are constantly interpreting and shading the real meaning of “facts”.

        2. PhilipSugar

          We agree, but the problem it is a slope, and once you start going down you end up at the bottom.

          1. cavepainting

            yeah, true. the problem though is there is no consensus on where the slope starts and the media world s very fragmented.As I said in another post, people who have been through journalism school really ought to know what is the threshold for publishing a story. These things were not so gray prior to social media and long tail internet publishing. There was hardly as much trouble with fake news from the 1950s to the early 1990s. News was mostly communicated by journalists in broadcast TV and newspapers and there were deep traditions governing fact checking, independent source verification, etc.In the toxic environment we live in where clicks and traffic are valued more than adhering to standards, everyone is competing to lower the bar than raise it.

          2. thinkdisruptive

            So-called “fake news” exists because of advertising. It would not be worth anyone’s time to fabricate stories if they couldn’t get people to click on them and generate ad dollars (outside of a very small number of mischief makers who would do it just for fun). Get rid of ad-based business models, and you will get rid of 90% of fake news.Journalists are not the primary purveyors of fake news, although editors often append headlines to stories that deliberately slant the news in a direction to attract attention or stir up controversy. (i.e. create clickbait).

      4. thinkdisruptive

        Tell me one story that has been reported without a perspective filter, ever. We all see things differently, and part of what we do as humans is interpret meaning of facts. She did not misreport what was said, but there was a definite slant to the reporting in deciding “what the story was”.Unfortunately, we don’t get to edit what other people think, or what they take away from what we said (your personal filters may interpret that statement differently than I intended, and there’s nothing I can do about it). If you want clarity or a near 100% transcription of factual content, you cannot be nuanced as Fred was, and it is incumbent on the message deliverer, not the message receiver to ensure that what they intended to say is what was heard.

  5. MickSavant

    I for one am shocked that a network with shows like Fast Money, Closing Bell, Mad Money, etc wouldn’t take time to produce thoughtful, nuanced coverage of a complex technology that will slowly but surely become more relevant via privately funded companies their viewers cannot invest with, many of which do not exist today.

  6. jason wright

    watch the video of the interview, or read a report of the interview? – ‘no brainer’.

  7. awaldstein

    Usually I say that communications is not about what we say but what is heard. That’s why it is so hard.I was there. You were pretty damn clear.This topic is honestly a tough one to communicate about as even most of the players themselves are a bit inarticulate. It stretches between too complex to be clearly simplified and too basic in its shift to be appreciated for what it is.Chalk it up to the state of the word. It will change.William-you did a damn good job with carefully crafted questions btw.

    1. thinkdisruptive

      Fred was clear if you grasped the context of the entire chat and had the patience to listen to the whole of it. Otherwise, your initial statement is correct “It’s not what you said, but what was heard”.You cannot be honest, nuanced, and unguarded and expect everyone to take away the same message or interpretation. To answer Fred’s original question, yes, I think the reporter captured what was said accurately ***from her perspective***. She didn’t report everything, nor can you ever, but she selected a slice of what was said that fairly represented what her audience would want to know and might have taken from it — i.e. this is a risky and volatile market space, and will be for a while. The headline writer (not usually the writer) took it a bit farther, and possibly into realm of misrepresentation.

  8. William Mougayar

    That was the first video we published. All others will come out in a couple of days. If you subscribe to the Token Summit channel, you will be notified when we release them:

  9. William Mougayar

    It’s all about getting the context right. What you said and what it meant in the right context are not the same thing. Not all reporters get the context right. Often, they misinterpreted it, and that generates a good headline.

    1. awaldstein

      context is everything.since it is personal and fungible to each listener, communications is invariably successful only to those that can define who their listeners are.that btw is the reason why with bitcoin the communications is so challenged as the audience is so inchoate beyond the most narrow slice of people.when you spend a few hours listening to some of the video things these companies put out you think you are listening to the ramones talking about their music back in the early days.makes me smile.

  10. markslater

    Here is what i got from you and WIlliam:Parallels with the 90’s internet (this is a super important lesson as 90% of all innovators on the blockchain were in nappies then…..). conclusion: we still have a lot of compute infrastructure to build before the application opportunity will take off. Its impossible to know what a native killer app will look like – we are still emulating the internet on the blockchain…I personally still struggle with the currency VS utility argument.

  11. pointsnfigures

    Agree with others who said that communication is hard and that CNBC is merely looking for ways to keep viewers attention. To be fair, people are so distracted today that it’s super hard for any channel or platform to hold anyone’s attention.Let’s look at this two ways:1. You read Fred’s blog. You know Fred. You have interacted with Fred. You are familiar with Fred and his pragmatic approach. You know that his investments have been top tier and that venture capital invests 10 years into the future. You might think CNBC’s reporting was sensationalistic and way off base. What I got out of CNBC with the tenor of the article, the video they made of Fred, and the Kevin O Leary bit is “Sell Bitcoin. It’s going to crash, and crash soon. Be afraid.” That makes Fred look bad if Bitcoin doesn’t crash soon. But, Fred never said anything about technicals in the market, earnings in the market-his observation correctly described the cryptocurrency marketplace and how he thought it might evolve over time.2. You have no idea who Fred is. You are watching CNBC. You might have heard of Bitcoin, you might not have heard of it. If you are watching CNBC, it’s likely that you are a little fearful and are looking for investment ideas or information on the general market. Either way, you see the clip on Fred and think Fred might be a little bit nuts and Kevin O Leary seems smart because Kevin says he’d like to short it. Kevin cites the SEC ruling on the ETF, and uses some other big scary words like “fiduciary”. (I am not criticizing Kevin O Leary, I am interpreting what I think an average viewer might hear. I haven’t met him but from his on air personna he seems like a smart and fun guy) You may have a better chance of knowing Mr. Wonderful from Shark Tank than you do Fred, so the familiarity gives him more credibility.As someone that has been on TV, I know how they work. One time when I was on Bloomberg and the GDP number came out, I made a comment. The reporter on the other end said, “What Jeff really means is this” and reinterpreted my words while I was on the air. I immediately corrected him and said, “No, this is what I meant.” They don’t like it when you do that.They also like answers with flourishes-not like Fred’s Bloomberg interview the other day : )

    1. Tom Labus

      We were out in O’Hare for a few hours last night after our flight from Madison to Newark was bounced. I had forgotten how immense that airport is.

  12. creative group

    FRED:Any photos from the Summit?Thanks for links to Albert & Nick.What is the weather like?Softball questions.

    1. William Mougayar

      Just search twitter for #tokensummit, and hit the Photos Filter, and you’ll see dozens of pics.

      1. creative group

        William Mougayar:This is the only social media we engage. Blog is more important for us than most.Thanks for the direction in any event. Post Twitter link here.

  13. Frank W. Miller

    CNBC’s purpose when they talk to anyone is to advise their viewers about whether what they are talking about is a good investment, period. While you clearly didn’t say at all what they say you said, the overall tone of the interview is not THAT positive in the short term from that point of view. I think…

  14. Salt Shaker

    The CNBC journalist is a (junior) general assignment reporter covering the financial markets. She’s not an expert in crypotocurrency, nor should we expect anyone at CNBC to be so at this juncture. CNBC prob has strong viewer demos (re: high HHI), but it caters far more to a mainstream retail investor than an accredited (or even speculative) investor. She’s writing about a speculative, highly volatile currency. She may not have entirely (or accurately) represented your enthusiasm, but I wouldn’t call her piece unbalanced.

    1. LE

      She’s not an expert in crypotocurrencyOne thing that USV does not do, that I have suggested in the past (many times actually) is to engage in any PR outreach and strategy with respect to what they find important and what benefits them. Their game. Not everything is conferences covered by tech journalists and people who read blogs and watch videos. Using legacy leverage to talk their game. Just not the way they roll. I suspect this is just something that they find distasteful at the core. By Fred’s reaction in the past to the suggestion. Wishing simply that the better mousetrap wins. The problem with that is that the others are not playing by the same rules. And the media is not going to generally (some exceptions) beat a path to your door. Do you think Madonna is where she is because she is an artist with a great voice? Or? :Yesterday there was a full page ad in the WSJ (and I am sure other places) about the new company that Andy Rubin started, Essential. Selling a phone that will change the world. Something like that. Got my attention. I am sure there will be a story to follow in the WSJ as well (and not because they placed a full page ad either..)Actually there was one already:…And what else? Many other stories (including CNBC) about the company and Andy as well. How do you think that happened? Do you think they just kind of heard what he is doing and went after him for an interview? Or do you think that some high powered SV PR firm set this all up and engaged the media?Why is this such a hard concept for people to understand? You do the work for others and you are rewarded. Doesn’t matter if it’s the insurance adjusted or newspaper reporters. I’ve actually done this (as I have mentioned) getting front page mention in the WSJ for, get this, a publicity stunt. Also NYT many other places as well. And I am not even a PR person either. Just always understood the way the media worked. Reversed engineering I guess. Hard for me to see how others don’t do the same.By the way this has to be the most idiotic thing I have read lately as far as telling people why you have started a company. Andy must be surrounded by sycophants to allow him to say something like this with a straight face:I know people are going to ask me a lot of questions about why I started this company. Why didn’t I just travel the world, ride my motorcycle, tinker with my robots, hang out at my bakery with friends and family.Of course on the other hand it got my attention so…… https://uploads.disquscdn.c

      1. Salt Shaker

        Not sure USV needs or would benefit from a strong PR initiative. Fred does a really good job of getting himself and the firm exposure, plus any investor or start-up with any semblance of legitimacy is well aware of both Fred and USV. They don’t directly manufacture or sell a mainstream product, while from a trade perspective (re: VC, funding markets) they’re a well known and respected entity. There’s also a time/mgt aspect to what you’re proposing. Fred and is partners likely don’t have the time to dedicate to PR, particularly w/ limited upside. I’ve hired (and fired) a bunch of PR firms. There’s a lot of subjectivity relative to their price/value. It’s frequently a tough line item to justify.

        1. LE

          Fred does a really good job of getting himself and the firm exposure, plus any investor or start-up with any semblance of legitimacy is well aware of both Fred and USV.I love Fred (hope my daughter marries a “Fred”) but he really screwed this one up. Sure he honestly said what he felt (you could see it in his tone of voice it was so super obvious) but that didn’t make the right thing happen. With proper training and a handler he wouldn’t be complaining (as much anyway) about what CNBC did. I watched the first few minutes and thought ‘oh boy like you don’t tell your wife she doesn’t look good in that dress and you don’t give the press red meat to repeat like this’.Look this isn’t the way they roll. I understand that. And it’s there decision to not do this. That’s ok. But look if you are going to show up for a date w/o a shower or a shave and the girl reacts negatively to it don’t complain that she has it all wrong. Understand that maybe there is something that could be done to have made a better outcome. That is what I am saying.I’ve hired (and fired) a bunch of PR firms. There’s a lot of subjectivity relative to their price/value. It’s frequently a tough line item to justify. Sure if you don’t do it right you are throwing money out the window.There’s also a time/mgt aspect to what you’re proposing. Sure but Albert (I love you to Albert) has time to spend talking about basic income and writing books. Ok sure in his spare time. Of course time is always a factor. And of course if you don’t see the value in doing something (PR or anything else) you will not prioritize it and you will say you don’t have the time for it.PR didn’t work for you. That’s fine. But the overwhelming evidence (if you study the media) is that if done right (hey like anything else) it does work.Look in business the devil is in the details. It’s obvious that the details and benefits of bitcoin haven’t been conveyed in a way that many people see the value and it’s only (in the case of currency). Blockchain I see as getting taking more seriously because it’s not aimed at consumers.

          1. Salt Shaker

            I think what people like and respect Fred for is that he speaks from the heart. He speaks w/ honesty and integrity and doesn’t sugarcoat or come off rehearsed. Could he benefit by crafting upfront talking points? Perhaps, but then he comes off as just another talking head advocate.With respect to PR firms, it’s a very, very tough biz. There’s a lot of misses, near misses and few hits. When you add up retainer fees and count the “wins,” it’s often a hard internal sell that doesn’t always reflect the amount of hard work it took to get there.

          2. LE

            I think what people like and respect Fred for is that he speaks from the heart. He speaks w/ honesty and integrity and doesn’t sugarcoat or come off rehearsed.Agree. Nobody likes a ‘tool’. I hate prepackaged sanitized statements more than I hate spam.However part of my point is that PR can be used to frame or reframe a point either before or after the fact. Especially when someone isn’t coming off rehearsed.There is no doubt that USV has a successful formula and is on the radar. So maybe my comments are not meaning to say they are doing something wrong as much as trying to point out ways to make the misinformation less painful. Like ‘you will have a hangover but here is how you can make it a better experience’. And of course as Cramer says (don’t watch him but know he says this) ‘my purpose is not just to educate but to entertain’.By the way I also made this tweet to Brian Armstrong last month re: ‘talking points’ and staying on message: https://uploads.disquscdn.c

  15. LaVonne Reimer

    Multi-tasking reporter with brain set to alert for whatever will hook viewers. But I want to go to the merits or at least pick apart a premise or two. I get the logic of infrastructure first and then native apps and also time required to “get” the construct and hence understand what is or is not a native app. And it makes sense as an investor to plot your course on that progression. But I wonder if the issue isn’t fixating on the form too soon. E.g., what if we kept our focus on the construct we call decentralization rather than blockchain. Then you ask do we have the protocols and other bits of infrastructure we need to build out a decentralized app rather than is it time for a native blockchain app. As for internet/Internet, some of us saw a new software architecture, what we’d now call cloud-based architecture or data-driven, rather than just moving stuff online. That’s the ability to imagine new constructs ahead of all the infrastructure but I also sometimes think the bigger reason for latency in such things is the lack of language. Sort of like we know a super long nose thingy, great big legs, and teeny tail but we don’t have the word elephant yet.

  16. Tom Labus

    CNBC is mostly for entertainment purposes and so many guests have near risked a dime of their own. More a contrarian tool.

  17. jason wright

    i’m so much more interested in what you and William said than what Evelyn Cheng said you and William said. it’s not news that journalists have a nuanced relationship with facts.

  18. mike rhoden

    sorry to spoil the party but crypto$ has to answer for ransomware you are either the problem or solution. so tell me how you are the solution