Chris Shipley and Ian MacKaye share similar ideas on business

I first heard of Chris Shipley back in 2003 from a dear friend that was in awe of her at the DEMO conference series. She would go on and on about how Chris was this super sharp and on-point leader in the tech industry.  My friend worked for Goldman Sacs and had an extremely high bar for considering someones real business acumen and so I trusted her judgment.

Fast forward to 2015 and I hear Chris Shipley on the XM business channel radio station saying something most profound.  It was utterly awesome to hear her be so honest about the startup space and reminded me of someone totally different.

Ian Mackaye is a legendary musician, but more importantly he’s a free thinker and innovator.

In a great quote Ian states, “American business at this point is really about developing an idea, making it profitable, selling it while it’s profitable and then getting out or diversifying. It’s just about sucking everything up.”

Chris said almost the exact same thing about the startup scene.  The American startup incubation machine is about creating companies to sell and much is lost in this race to maximize profits.

The interesting thing is that Chris has no reason to say this. She could easily say positive ‘ra ra’ type things about what she deems the Startup Industrial Complex, but instead is calling out the complex she has supported for it’s ills.

Eddie Izzard – Why do you think there is any difference between political parties?

I saw Eddie Izzard perform last night in Denver. He has been my favorite comedian since about 1997 when I randomly saw him on HBO one night after a college party.  I remember thinking, man this guy is so smart and funny, he totally gets how ridiculous the world really is. For example, ‘No Flag No Country’.

Kind of like how George Carlin was at the end.  George had nothing to lose or hide in his last years. He called it like it is about government corruption and how the system was all a sham to keep the elite wealthy and powerful.

Now as smart as Eddie is, I can’t seem to understand why he thinks that there is a difference between political parties.  The unwashed masses are led to believe there is a difference as this helps to distract them and give them hope that there will be change…but in reality it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter which political party gets into any office because ‘it is extremely rare’ for them do what they say. Campaign promises are almost never fully kept.  Even the most idealistic and ethical person will be corrupted by the power…else if they don’t want to play ball they will be put in the corner and made inconsequential. A classic read reminds us all how manipulative the whole system is in creating a ‘common enemy’ to rally behind: The Wrong Side Absolutely Must Not Win

All politicians are just puppets for whoever gives them the most money. Since big corporations/foundations give the most, they get the most benefits. These benefits are in the forms of laws written to benefit them.  Laws like tax breaks and regulations that protect the business from competition. For example the banks have been able to get the politicians to write laws that require you to jump through all sorts of hoops to do anything with Bitcoin. The banks are just protecting their own profits by making the barriers to entry very expensive and time consuming to compete against them.  This sort of protectionism is at the heart of all political parties, regardless of what either party SAY they are about.  What a political says and does are too totally different things. For example, remember Barrack Obama’s campaign promise to shut down Gitmo? It has been 7 years and nothing.

Don’t believe me? No problem, do your own research and the truth will set you free. Here is a beginner video to get you started:

At the end of the day, I understand why reality isn’t funny. To tell the truth to the masses would be comedic suicide…it’s just too painful to let the people see the truth that they have been fleeced into these beliefs that aren’t true.  The masses wouldn’t believe it in the first place because they don’t have the skills or motivation to question reality and follow the money trails to the truth.

That said, Eddie, wtf? Why are you playing the masses? Why are you perpetuating these bipartisan distractions that the average person will believe? Dude, you are in such a position of power that people will believe almost anything you say. Why get the cheap laugh off of ‘republican greed’? When the truth is that regardless of political party the situation is always about money and power and there is no difference between parties.

Overall, thank you Eddie for coming to Denver, I will never forget being able to finally see you perform in the flesh…you sir are a master of your craft…please come back to Denver soon!

Peak Paper – Why it’s an important milestone for human knowledge

Interesting article from a while back about worldwide paper consumption: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=49643

Basically the idea is that the maximum amount of worldwide paper production/usage was in 2013 (or 2012 by some accounts). From here on out, paper will be used less and less, even as the population grows.  Keep in mind that wood usage is still going up, it’s turning that wood into paper that is decreasing. Potentially the world will never see more paper production as electronic trends are decreasing the demand.

Will this trend ever reverse?

I personally can’t see anything that would reverse this trend. It’s just so much more efficient and easy to use silicon chips to store information then physical paper.  As you can imagine, the limitations of paper are massive compared to electronic systems. That said a simple EMP blast from a man-made bomb or a solar flare may wipe out much of the records stored on electronics. How does one trust that storing data electronically lasts the test of time?

Enter Factom.

If you haven’t heard about Factom it is one of the most exciting companies to out lately.  Factom uses the same technology as Bitcoin to create an immutable ledger for electronic data.  This ledger can’t be counterfeited as it is cryptographically secured and it’s contents are replicated across many servers to provide redundancy. Factom is a big step in creating systems that can survive the test of time, like the LongNow Foundation.

I first met Danny Hillis back in 2001 when he presented the LongNow Foundation to my company.  It was a sort of a “lunch n’ learn” session where he dug into the strategic concept of why keeping human knowledge in a format that could be read for generations to come. Using ‘analog’ technology like extremely small writing on a diamond (or other hard to erase surfaces) makes it very possible for a civilization to decode our technology without having to create complex chips and software to interface with any electronic systems.

It’s an extremely fascinating idea to think about how we are going to store human knowledge for the next 10,000 years.  One wonders if the librarians of Alexandria thought about creating a system like this to prevent the destruction of the western world’s knowledge; as the library was destroyed multiple times over history from invading forces.  Maybe they did and some secret society is hiding the information to retain power?

At the end of the day the fact that we hit Peak Paper shows that we can’t go back. We can’t return to a primitive time without electronics.  Returning would break the entire current system and maybe return the world to a pre 1900 dystopia.  I think the smart people are trying to figure out how to create systems that can function in the now and be immutable truth ledgers for the next 10,000 years.

Thinking ‘extremely longterm’ is the ultimate in leaving a legacy and giving back to mankind. Whoever solves this problem will have fame for millennium as the real Oracle and selfless leader… surpassing even a Gandi in status. People will forget entertainment stars and most historical figures…but how could you forget the person that planned out 10,000 years in advance to save the world’s collective information.   Will the bards in 10,000 years be singing: “Longnow Foundation, savior of our knowledge, selfless long term thinking, bringing justice to the world through Factom technology”?

Ask yourself, what can we do today to have the bards sing about us in 10,000 years?

Consumer Reports of News Organizations. Is totally unbiased possible?

This is more of a thought experiment then anything. The question is, can you create a news organization that is completely unbiased? The obvious attributes of this are being advertiser free and thus having no masters to manipulate it. Beyond just advertiser free, how do you make an organization out of it? Also, how do you make a real business out of it and not something that depends on raising millions of dollars to play the 0% interest rate game while buying time with free money. So basically a low investment to make a sustainable living for the minds behind this venture.

So how would one do this? How would it be possible? What if you had a website that accepted submissions for news, then the editor or some centralized point would be have to sift through them to find the ones that they like. So this method fails as having trust in 1 person can never produce an unbiased system.

The decentralized argument would be to have everyone vote on which articles work the best. But then you have tons of groups forming under special interests that feed themselves. For example, the voting of a Digg or a Reddit is so biased as to that specific audience that is voting on it. The people who submit the articles corrupt the system by employing people to use accounts to manipulate the votes to their favor. So in this case money wins out as ‘advertiser dollars’ move to the people with the most accounts, or the teams that can otherwise outwit the voting systems.

Can you do a site like this at scale? Will there always be a need to subdivide topics of interest for people? Most importantly, how do you keep money out of the equation, as once it enters it will make the most dollars spent be heard the loudest. The sad thing is that you can give someone enough money and they can find a way to influence any news engine.

Here are some more examples.

1. For Profit Mainstream Media (CNN,NBC,CBS,New York Times,WSJ,etc…)
– sells ads across channels like tv, radio, web, print
= beholden to the buyers of ads.
= totally biased communications channel

2. Non-Profit Mainstream Media (NPR,PBS,etc…)
– gets money from rich foundations and donors
= beholden to the ‘donors’
= totally biased communications channel

How do you make a system that is totally free of the biases from the people that buy ads or make donations?

If you eliminate the money is there a way to make it unbiased? If there is no money, then how would you incent the system to work? If there is no economic gain for the system’s information providers then why participate?

#WhyCoinbase Call for Videos about Buying Bitcoin from Coinbase Experiment

Have you bought any bitcoin on Coinbase yet? I’d like to see your videos about any experiences.

Using the hashtag  #WhyCoinbase  in your social media and record a quick video (<30 seconds) about your thoughts on coinbase. Feel free to send me the video and I’ll post it on my youtube account.

If your scratching your head about what is Coinbase/Bitcoin then check out here:

What is Bitcoin?

How to Buy Bitcoin

Thanks for participating in this experiment.

1st video from a coinbase fan! Thanks and keep em coming!

 

2nd video from a bitcoin investor putting away money for his daughters trust fund.

 

Noam Chomsky and Planetary Unity

I first read Chomsky back in the late 90’s and fell in love with his honesty. He is super smart AND says the truth. He holds no alliance to any real country and has no problem calling out any purple cow USA citizens deem sacred. In the same sentence as showing how much of a racist Ronald Reagan was, he will completely humiliate the USA government with their fight on ‘terror’ proving how hypocritical the policy is. For me to summarize Chomsky would do a huge disservice to him and his legacy as the more I read his work the more I see how massive his body of work is in both breadth and depth…and I am a Chomsky noob.

I recently bumped back into Chomsky and was reminded of his courage. I mean, how easy would it have been for someone that brilliant to live the life of luxury pulling the strings like a puppet master in a position of power. He could have owned 5 houses around the world and consulted with governments like Machiavelli in The Prince. The fact that he didn’t choose that is what makes him interesting…and frankly this is what makes anyone interesting. The folks that took the vow of poverty and did things out of the pure principle of love. These are the people worth emulating and creating heroes out of. The current Jamie Dimon model of the world creates an awful culture of asshole and greedy scumbags that are spending all their time manipulating others to get their ends. All these selfish people are doing is preserving power for society’s current elite and perpetuating a system that is rigged and phony…which is fine if you are 1%. If you are not born into the elites by really just an ‘accident of birth’, then you have to educate yourself. Lastly, if the education system is so one-sided and watered down to show the USA in a good light, then all is lost and all your creating is a ‘Road to Serfdom’ and a generation of really pissed off people once they do get educated. This I suppose is how a revolution starts, people just get so dicked around that they would rather die then have the next generation suffer like they did under the tyranny of elites.

Noam Chomsky is the kind of person that has spent his whole life educating people. Opening people’s eyes to reality and bucking trends like the USA’s penchant for world news introversion. USA citizens are fine knowing only what is going on in the USA and could care less about the rest of the world. This foolish and naive viewpoint creates dangerous nationalism that conforms the minds of the under-educated into group think.

I wonder what Noam would have to say about how the earthlings will eventually unite. Basically what would cause the people of the world to unite and to row the earth’s ship all together, or could this never happen? I’d argue that there needs to be a worldwide enemy to unite us…a common enemy to bring all nations together. Is it going to take an alien invasion? Some threat from another world where humans of all races will unite to fight the evil robot invaders? Beyond brutal and categorically evil space aliens, what would cause everyone on this world to want to work together? Why are humans so stupid to not see that uniting the world will lift all ships and give us an advantage millions of years down the road. Why is everyone so short sighted and can’t see the big picture about how everyone’s success is paramount to everything?

Thousands of years from now humans will know ‘life’ on other planets and so I wonder how many of those planets will have human like ‘barbaric waring tribes’ and how many planets will have ‘planetary unity’ where the top specie works together toward common goals. It could happen 😉

Why Motley Crue tells me Bitcoin is the Future

Let me first introduce Motley Crue, a really fascinating band that came out of the early 80’s LA sunset scene led by Nikki Sixx.  Innovators and entertainers they pushed the scene and created their own image and persona. The Crue didn’t ask for permission. They didn’t try and fit in with the music of the time, they took all the influences around them and created there own sound of raw energy. Listen to the track Live Wire to get a feeling for this raw power. This is their 1st time in front of a massive audience. Vince is a mere 22, Tommy 21. Considered a horrible performance by many I find it so innocent and pure. Here are these LA club gods, and now they are are in front of an army of random festival fans that have never heard of them. You can sense the nervousness of performing at this level.

So Crue was on the cutting edge of entertainment in capturing the lifestyle and fashion at the time.

Here is a clip from the most watched VH1 Behind the Music ever, the best part is last. ‘They have embraced every guilty pleasure…sex drugs rock and roll stuff…including cybersurfing.’

Why is this important? Because people fear and demonize things they don’t understand. Internet was new and so all it took was a few bad actors to push public opinion into lumping ‘cybersurfing’ with something to be attacked, Motley Crue. Crue are some of the most brilliant marketers you will find. They purposely made “parents/adults” hate them by doing some awesome publicity stunts, and the net effect is that the kids loved them. Kids love what their parents hate.

Bitcoin is analogous to ‘cybersurfing’ in this video right now. It is feared and misunderstood by many because it is new. The bad actors have taken the spotlight and the public’s perception is that Bitcoin is for illegal things used by people that engage in ‘guilty pleasures’.

Counterparty XCP, the ulitmate experiment in capital and labor becoming one

Traditionally you have a separation of capital and labor in business. In simple terms, this means that you get investment money from people that don’t work for you. For example you get a loan from the bank, the bank doesn’t work for you. They don’t help you manage the business or provide any service for you, all they do is loan you money.

Same situation with an initial public offering or crowdsale, the investor put up money to get something in return, most likely equity in the company or maybe a physical watch in the case of a crowdsale…but the key thing is never there a situation where I investment money and then I come work for you, unpaid. Ultimately under the guise of protecting my investment.

So basically I’m paying to work for you for free. In fact it’s even more fun when you look at Counterparty. They have no investment money, no capital to build the business…read on.

You are investing money that is to be 100% destroyed forever and this is creating enough of a psychological incentive to then work on a project so your money wasn’t burnt in vain. Vanity, is that what real incentive comes down to?  The principle of burning money to create a bonding asset is very powerful, but can it last? Can the burners truly support all the functional roles a company needs to get real software development done?  I doubt it, software development is way beyond writing code and thinking outside the box. You need project managers, milestones and other organizational structures and techniques to be able to safely control and release your code to the public being fully tested and production ready.
How Counterparty Succeeds

They have to find revenue streams immediately or else they won’t be able to pay for the basic infrastructure needed to run a decentralized company. Basic infrastructure is going to be a few full time people to manage daily activities like managing development check point meetings, testing results, new feature requirements, etc…the list goes on as far as how the software development cycle needs attention the whole time. This doesn’t even begin to mention the need for a full time security/hacker to be pounding away at everything public to holes and exploits

Also, more traditional hard costs like hosting and advertising need to be addressed. Even a service like fiverr.com won’t pay for itself and so you need an active budget to get the word out and perform modern advertising.

Overall the challenges of the ‘burn money’ model are huge, as you don’t have the capital to hire labor and so you’re relying on getting an absolute perfect mix of investors who are able and willing to work for nothing to create a company.  The odds of this perfect mix of people willing and able to work for each-other is impossible, or is it? Is the incentive of looking like an idiot strong enough for someone to motivate them to make it work. Is there a whole other thing that XCP has created that is working?  Time will tell, but without investment money it’s way hard to get the labor you need to complete the simple block and tackle stuff.

Fixing HSBC Public Relations

The biggest issue HSBC faces right now is a public relations.  For example, here: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-07-02/hsbc-judge-approves-1-9b-drug-money-laundering-accord.html and here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/18/hsbc-terrorists_n_4467329.html and here: http://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/report-hsbc-allowed-money-laundering-likely-funded-terror-drugs-f889170

Basically, many people think HSBC are money launders and evil. You need a modern “Edward Bernays” to help you fix this PR nightmare. Let me explain how I am the guy and why Bitcoin is a great tool that can be used to fix your problems. Is Bitcoin the future as a currency? Who knows. But as a technology it solves a very interesting problem that has implications into any consensus building systems (currency).

Why Bitcoin Matters…

The invention of Bitcoin technology solved the seemingly impossible Byzantine Generals Problem in computer science and has huge implications beyond just being a currency. Visionaries are building Bitcoin 2.0 to take advantage of a system where consensus is derived in a secured and decentralized public ledger.  Exciting ideas around smart contracts that have been around for decades are now possible. Distributed autonomous corporations pose a new way of providing ‘Security by Math’ and thus making current financial relationships inefficient and even irrelevant. History will repeat itself as we will say, “I just replaced your entire industry with 100 lines of Python code”. Like it or not, you can’t un-invent a technology, and solving the Byzantine Generals Problem is creating completely new paradigms for how we can communicate globally. HSBC should learn about “Bitcoin the technology” to understand why so many people are excited about the greatest invention since the internet.

This is why currency is cool but just the beginning. Let me show you some proof of concepts I’ve created to showcase other implementations:

1. Transparent bounty reward system

a. Nonprofit use case:

– Using Bitcoin technology and Google Forms with Public Results we’ve created our own fully transparent bounty program that rewards users for their participation in our non-profit. The process is simple, give us some publicity and we’ll pay you from the current donation balance. At the same time, donors can see exactly what they contributed and where the money was spent. We decide how much each mention is worth and the donors can then judge the nonprofit on if that publicity is worth it.

Proof of Concept:

http://bloodbanker.org/transparent-donation-and-bounty-reward-system-using-bitcoin-and-google

b. Publicity Wheel Concept

– Similar to the Nonprofit idea above, basically to create a new model that gets the investor interested in rewarding quality publicity that is self sustainable. Create a voting system where the investor can vote on how much each link is worth.

Proof of Concept:

http://mastercoin.tk

2. Embedding data into the blockchain

– Proof of existence concept of hashing information and putting it into the bitcoin blockchain for retrieval.

– Usages vary from vanity plays that ‘immortalize media’ in the blockchain to serious patent and copyright usage.

Proof of Concept:

http://provableproperty.com

3. Legal Marijuana Delivery Service

– In Colorado, USA marijuana is legal, but the banks charge huge fees and people want privacy. The service would deliver marijuana flowers discretely by allowing for payment and the delivery information to be encrypted in the blockchain. Verifiable to all in the blockchain but the data is only known by the delivery service.

Proof of Concept:

– using Florincoin transaction messaging here:   http://philmaher.com/mmj.php

HSBC and Bitcoin

Now that we’ve looked at the Bitcoin as a technology and not a currency we can start to see many areas for HSBC to make money AND to improve public relations.

My solution is simple, you position HSBC as a technology financial play. Tagline:  “HSBC, A new modern banking solution.”  Pivoting to a new technology heavy strategy gives investors a new storyline and hope for the future. On the PR front, inclusion into the cryptocurrency space will allow you to show your compassion for the unbanked population of the world.  It’s a real win win situation.

The Financial Objection Handled

The temptation for any accountant/math minded business person is to look at the numbers and see that Bitcoin is a tiny percentage of your high profit/big money business. This is always the error made by giant companies that made tons of money one specific way.  They can’t see that the world is changing and that exponential growth is just around the corner for innovators that can provide a better service faster and cheaper. Faster and cheaper always wins, period.

Let me give you a quick example of how I saw this at LocalLaunch/RH Donnelley in 2006 (the inventor of the print Yellow Pages).  I was hired as a Director of Interactive Strategy and fought weekly with the CEO and everyone else about why print was dying and why the digital was the future. The argument the smart finance people always gave was that print revenues were 100x of online…so why even bother with something that is 1% of the business.  Basically, my argument was that nothing stays the same and eventually things will change. Fast forward to 2014, since then the company has gone bankrupt and reorganized as DexOne, force merged with Superpages, cut staff in half, and currently has 1/50 of the market cap of 2007 highs.

Quote Summarizing

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”  -Upton Sinclair

My Weaknesses are Strengths

I’ll fully admit that I have zero experience with HSBC and financial products. I am a total outsider to your world. I bring software development and internet marketing experience especially excelling in online traffic acquisition by creating analytic feedback loops. The data doesn’t lie and it’s through this iterative process that I want to be involved with your company to build and market  Bitcoin related products to the masses. You need innovators that are outsiders to come in and build next generation products using modern online marketing and cryptocurrencies. Invest in the future, and stop trying to prop up the past revenues.

Hack4Colorado an eye opening experience into the business of Hackathons.

I’ve “helped” with 2 hackathons.  The first one was a Bitcoin hackathon in Austin Texas during SXSW, I went to every group, heard the pitch and gave detailed feedback. Ultimately, I really felt great about contributing to the community and hearing all these innovative ideas.  The second was a Mastercoin Hackathon just a week ago.  The event was in Israel so I signed up to do a ‘virtual team’. This is not a good idea as there was no way to see what was going on and feed off the energy. So overall the 2nd event was a bust for me and really doesn’t even count.

I decided to enter Hack4Colorado as a contestant about 2 months ago as I thought it would be fun to work with like-minded peers on cool technology. I figured I’d get to hear a ton of good ideas, meet some great people, and just really be in my element.  In these capacities, I definitely got everything I wanted. I met some great people that I want to work with more and got a chance to do some active project and people management while driving the messaging and strategy of the project.  Lots of stuff, but in my element, making stuff happen fast!

Check out our entry here: https://www.hackerleague.org/hackathons/hack4colorado-2014/hacks/justcharity-transparent-donation-and-contributor-reward-system-for-charities

The website is here: http://JustCharity.tk

Long story short, we didn’t win anything, in fact we didn’t even have a chance. Turns out that the rules of the hackathon were not enforced, and by some accounts private deals were made to secure teams with big advantages.

Simply, the hackathon rules are here: http://www.hack4colorado.com/about/rules-regs/

Specifically:

Teams: Teams should be comprised of up to five individuals. The team should be comprised of a back end developer, a front end developer, a design person and a team leader / SME.

ss-hack-4-colorado-guidelines

The issue is 5. Yes FIVE.

…up to FIVE individuals…

Now I have been around the block for a bit and this clearly seems like a hard limit of 5 people per team.  Please, anyone in the world…help me understand how this is not a limit for 5 people per team? Bring it on, bring the best lawyer in the nation and help me understand how this statement doesn’t limit the teams to a maximum of 5 people.  I’d love to hear it because what happened is that teams with more then 5 people won the hackathon. In fact BOTH 1ST and 2ND PLACE HAD MORE THEN 5 PEOPLE ON A TEAM!

I’m all fine with giant teams participating for fun, but when it comes to competition for money real rules need to be followed, or else you piss people off.

So back to my experience at the hackathon, during the final judging phase, a 3 minute presentation to all teams and judges, a team went up with 7 people. Immediately after the presentation I went to the head of the hackathon, and said ‘it says in your rules that only 5 people are allowed per team’…instantly, as if ready to answer this question she spits out…

“That is just a guideline, not a rule”

My heart absolutely sunk as she finished as I instantly knew we’d been had.  The rules were not rules after all, they were ‘guidelines’ and the Hackathon was privately allowing teams to have more then 5 people.  Of course none of this was public information, as it was only after I stormed out of the event that one of the ‘mega teams’ members told me that the Hackathon management said it was fine for them to have more then 5 people…so an inside job where the Hackathon was giving advantages to some teams by allow more people per team. Having more people is a MASSIVE advantage as you can delegate tasks and make everything look so much more professional and polished.

It was at that moment when I truly realized what is going on here. The hackathon isn’t even really a contest, it’s a way that companies can find talent and get some technology projects started.  Companies can see real leadership under pressure and get a free test of how an employee really works.  It’s actually really genius as anyone can look good on paper, the real question is who has the skills to meet random people and team up successfully to build something innovative.

Overall I think the next hackathon is going to be just about working with cool people. The organizers can have their little script and story all planned out of who is going to win and why and how this helps them and the sponsors.  They can have their fantasy that this is a contest all they want, I refuse to play in their politics and want to just build cool technology that isn’t tied to any specific master. I just wish that the organizers would either treat it as a real contest or just call it what it is, an elaborate recruiting and development play.