Bits and stuff: talks, takes and transparency – November 1, 2017

You’ll have noticed that there hasn’t been much activity here in October – too much overwhelm from other areas. Priorities are being juggled.

I chaired The Blockchain Summit in London yesterday. The organizers Marketforce did a great job – an excellent event, stimulating and knowledgeable speakers from a wide range of experiences. We had executives, technologists and entrepreneurs talking both big picture and small applications.

blockchain summit

There were a lot of fresh faces up on stage, too, people who know a lot but who I hadn’t heard speak before. I confess that I wasn’t paying full attention to the talks, since the next panel’s questions needed formulating, but there are some presentations that I will be going over again. Vinay Gupta’s opening keynote did not disappoint, and the LSE Group’s David Harris revealed a lot of stuff I didn’t know (and am particularly interested in) – he’s a fun speaker, too. Peter Stephens from UBS gave a thought-provoking talk on identity – I would have like to pay more attention to that. There were many other highlights, too many to mention them all.

The audience seemed to be knowledgeable and focused, and I met some fascinating people from several countries. That’s one of the aspects I most love about these gatherings – meeting smart individuals with smart questions, everyone coming at this from a different angle.

Claudia Coppenolle gave an eye-opening talk on diversity
Claudia Coppenolle gave an eye-opening talk on diversity

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Now I’m off Stockholm for a brief break, then Lisbon for WebSummit (which should be intense).

There’ll be lots to talk about when I get back, that’s for sure. Assuming my brain still works.

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My article on CoinDesk this week, on why banks don’t want to give accounts to cryptocurrency startups:

It’s my last weekly opinion column. And Sunday’s newsletter was my last for CoinDesk. I handed over the daily newsletters to our Editor in Chief Pete Rizzo a while ago. Next week our Managing Editor Marc Hochstein takes over the weekly. It’s in good hands.

My last day at CoinDesk is the end of November. As for what I’m going to do afterwards, I’m not sure yet – plenty of ideas, some interesting options, but no firm decisions yet. I’ve always believed that the big decisions sort of make themselves, so we’ll see where inspiration strikes.

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An interesting take on bitcoin and ethereum from investor Albert Wenger.

“In summary then: for the time being I am cautiously bullish on Bitcoin and at best neutral on Ethereum.”

Obviously, Albert knows much, much more than I do about investments – but why hold on to something when you are “at best” neutral? It doesn’t sound like optimal allocation – even if neutral, shouldn’t the funds be put to better use in an investment with more conviction?

Perhaps ideology is in play…

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… perhaps something along these lines:

“People who are angry and cynical about venture capitalists and the Silicon Valley ecosystem — and I know many — often don’t appreciate the extent to which VCs genuinely believe, in good faith, that what they do makes the world an enormously better place, by nurturing green shoots of innovation into a mighty forest of progress, and are genuinely baffled by the counter-narrative that they reinforce pre-existing social stratification while mostly just helping the rich get richer.”

This is from Jon Evans’ brilliant article “Ether fever dreams” on TechCrunch, about hype and winnowing.

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Venture capitalist Fred Wilson also poked the hype:

“If you read Carlota Perez, you will understand that most important technological revolutions have been fueled by rampant speculation that almost always comes undone right as the sector is moving from the installation phase to the deployment phase.”

Although he takes a more emotional tone:

“So this ugly speculative phase comes with the territory and always has. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I hate it.”

So, it seems that the hype-bashing is increasing in volume. Relief, bring it on. And I agree that when we get through to the other side, we’ll realize that some valuable work has been going on amongst the razzle-dazzle.

The next phase is going to be the most interesting.

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This just doesn’t seem right:

photo by Grant Achatz
photo by Grant Achatz, via MyModernMet

A transparent pumpkin pie???? Very pretty, but… Although I work in a sector based on innovation, so of course I would try it. But… (I need to reexamine my open-mindedness.)

By chef Simon Davies, via MyModernMet.

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