Video Of The Week: Consensus 2018 Discussion

Last month, at the Consensus 2018 Conference, Paul Vigna of the WSJ, Coinbase CTO Balaji Srinivasan, and I had a 30min discussion of all things crypto.

Here is a video of that discussion:


Comments (Archived):

  1. kidmercury

    would love to hear any thoughts you guys have on EOS. directionally i love it, a sign of rich governance (IMHO the key basis of competition amongst blockchain platforms) enabled by greater centralization.

    1. fredwilson

      we are watching it closely, trying to build some dapps on it, looking to see if any interesting dapps emerge

      1. kidmercury

        I wonder at what point we can start calling them scapps (semi centralized apps). Or better yet SCABS (semi centralized applied blockchains). This might be the watershed innovation @jimhirshfield needs to launch puncoin

    2. jason wright

      “rich governance” – what do you mean?

      1. kidmercury

        EOS has stuff like arbitration committees and writes documents with a tone like an actual government. They block bad coin transfers and are setting up processes to really control the flow of the network. I believe when properly implemented this will attract participants be the defining feature of a blockchains, one that translates to brand loyalty, or perhaps a more appropriate analogy would be patriotism.

        1. jason wright

          sounds suspiciously like artificial complexity, and therefore highly fragile (as in not ‘antifragile’- Nassim Taleb).

  2. karen_e

    “Pseudonymously change the world” FTW

  3. jason wright

    a tie?

    1. fredwilson

      Yeah. A new look. Do you like it?

      1. jason wright


  4. jason wright

    forks and game theory looks like a fertile area for consideration.crypto projects rapidly develop quite rigid (boxed in) technical, economic, and political structures that definitely seem open to exploit by a well crafted (and crafty) fork. the ‘where i go you cannot follow’ principle of tactical outmaneuvering could extract all of the ‘equity’ value of a network quite quickly. some projects seem very vulnerable to this.ultimately the token is the expression of the utility it unlocks, and that utility’s value is assigned by the people holding and using the token, and it goes where they go. yes/ no?

  5. awaldstein

    Really enjoyed this Fred.

  6. Vendita Auto

    “Its what crypto networks all about” “block chain encrypted” It is not secure now even before the qbit prob is sorted They want the VC capital because it will be asset backed I soooo agree the genie is out of the bottle IMO The public must be involved this will not happen without investments being asset backed cryptokitty is IMO a stupid aside at a critical time that will fail….. keep saying it but WTF security is all small machine quantum interoperability is the door opener blockchain is a mere handmaiden

  7. Rob

    The part where Balaji uses the size of the crowd at a blockchain conference is not a great argument to validate crypto. It would be nice to hear about some actual problems that the technology is solving. We’ve heard about the potential for the technology for many years without any significant adoption in the real economy.

  8. Tom Labus

    No middle ground for this ride.Go with the new look.

  9. sigmaalgebra

    Looks like the interview should have supplied not just bottled water but also bottles of soapy WonderBubble complete with little plastic rings for filling the stage with lots of bubbles. Or, better yet, behind the curtain have the Lawrence Welk bubble machine going full blast.So, apparently net, crypto is still a solution looking for a problem. Since never is a long time, tough to say that there will never be a serious problem where crypto is a crucial part of the best solution.Again, since never is a long time, as usual, the burden of proof is on the proposer.Let’s see: We need to work with successful new businesses that solve serious problems with the best solutions possibly enabled by powerful technical work. Okay.So, it is curious: Each year thousands of entrepreneurs send pitch decks to VCs claiming with little good evidence that their new business idea for solving a serious problem will be a success, and VCs are grand experts at ignoring such decks. The VCs even ignore decks supported by crucial core enabling technical work. But now we have a VC proposing a technical idea will be the crucial core of the best solution for some problems and business successes without being clear about the serious problems to be solved.Gee, as we have seen, with enough hype can sell tulip bulbs, pet rocks, etc. So, maybe a fact of life is that evaluating early stage companies is a world of tea leaf reading where hype can blow bubbles or create waves. Maybe in practice the bubbles and waves are much the same whether the early company is Xerox or pet rocks. So, instead of waiting for another Xerox, pick some bubbles and waves and ride them, be well informed to judge about when the bubbles will burst and the waves crash, and in the meanwhile go along for the ride.Ah, there’s gotta be a better way than that!Actually there are lots of ideas long on the shelves of the research libraries that are more promising than crypto for being the crucial part of the best solution of a serious problem eventually. And there are other ideas that now are clearly ready to be the crucial part of the best solution of some quite serious problems.But to take the better way, have to be able to look deeply enough to see the difference between something powerful and, say, a pet rock!Such looking is not always easy: E.g., in freshman English, for a term paper I set aside writing about Hemingway or Dickens and, instead, wrote about lasers. I missed the three big points — (A) very narrow frequency band, essentially a single frequency and quite stable at that frequency, (B) in practice mostly not much power but easily high power per unit of cross sectional area, (C) highly directional.So, by the time of the laser, electronics was clearly important for building systems to do things. One of the central components of electronics was a single frequency oscillator that, e.g., could be given amplitude modulation. The single frequency simplified detection and greatly improved the signal to noise ratio. Well, lasers were a grand step up in electronic oscillators.(A)-(C) were the fundamentals, and they were powerful and sufficient for revolutions in electronics — reading, writing CD/DVDs, distance measurements, the signals on the backbone of the Internet, many military applications, etc.Hmm …. So far it’s not clear that crypto has fundamental capabilities to give such promise.But commonly evaluating valuable technology is easier than evaluating lasers: E.g., in cryptography, the RSA (Rivest, Shamir, Adleman) work was seen to be very powerful early on and has remained powerful. And there are many more examples.

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  11. Tatiana Zalan

    Fred, a great talk. I was particularly interested in what you and Balaji said @ 5 min into the video on how tokens and networks are different from cash-producing assets. You also mentioned that some work is being done and new metrics developed. Can you point me to any sources that focus on these new metrics? Thank you!

  12. jason wright

    Balaji, a Ph.d but can’t tie his shoelaces.He’s right about the difficulty of forking Bitcoin. It’s very hard to do. It’s so structurally ‘rooted’ in the technical ecosystem.