In Episode 4 of the Ethereal Podcast, DeFi Dad interviews the Founder/CEO of VeriLedger, Megan Knab.
While Megan was working in the Swallow Cafe in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, she fell down the crypto rabbit hole after her friends mentioned “there’s a cryptocurrency company working in this building,” which led her to be introduced to the team at ConsenSys. She quit business school, went to her first Devcon in Shanghai, and started working full-time on an Ethereum startup. With her accounting background and expertise to know the importance of an immutable ledger, she eventually had the idea to build automated bookkeeping for Web3 businesses, now called VeriLedger.
We talk about her journey building an accounting product, specifically for others who are building on Ethereum or using the Ethereum blockchain. She has lots of perspective on living through the hype of 2017 and coming out of it focused on establishing a lasting product. Megan is also a member of the Marketing DAO and frequently volunteers at major global Ethereum events.
Fun Fact: During the interview, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 10%, the biggest sell-off since 1987’s Black Monday, which was followed by a near 50% drawdown across crypto markets, including BTC and ETH. Also, the World Health Organization declared coronavirus a pandemic. It was quite a day!
You can learn more about VeriLedger at veriledger.io, and see Megan speak at the Ethereal Virtual Summit on May 7-8th, 2020.
In our third episode of the Ethereal Podcast, DeFi Dad interviews the Founder of Nexus Mutual, Hugh Karp.
Hugh built Ethereum’s first platform for “discretionary cover” to give DeFi users an opportunity to protect their holdings against smart contract risk. After building Nexus throughout the bear market, Nexus Mutual launched in July 2019 and as of March 2020, has had as much as 25,000 ETH worth of Active Coverage, over 22 Claims submitted for smart contract bugs, and 3 successful payouts totaling approximately $34,000.
Nexus has been on our radar since DeFi Dad started using it in November 2019. Nexus and Hugh have led the way educating the Ethereum community on how they can go long or short on the security of smart contracts, which has interestingly enabled some to earn a payout as a result of smart contract bugs while others earn an ROI providing cover for smart contracts they vouch to be secure using the NXM token. Nexus has been at the center of both the bZx flash loan incident and Black Thursday’s effects on the collateralization of DAI. As a result, they’ve become one of the most visible DeFi products and teams. You should walk away from this podcast knowing more about how to seek cover with Nexus or to act as a Risk Assessor vouching for the security of Ethereum smart contracts.
You can learn more about Nexus Mutual at nexusmutual.io, track their on-chain metrics at nexustracker.io, and see Hugh speak at the Ethereal Virtual Summit on May 7-8th, 2020.
In light of recent events, we have decided to host this year’s Ethereal Summit New York virtually.
The health and safety of our attendees, speakers, sponsors, and the wider community is our top priority. Due to growing concern around the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the information shared by the CDC, WHO, New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), and our legal advisors, we’ve decided to postpone the Ethereal Summit New York in-person event to the fall of 2020. In the meantime, we’ve already gone to work reimagining Ethereal NY as the first ever Ethereal Virtual Summit 2020, which will take place on May 7-8.
Ethereal Virtual Summit 2020 will provide an open and more accessible experience across multiple days and time zones. As of today, nearly all of our confirmed 80+ speakers have committed to join us for the Ethereal Virtual Summit. You can expect to hear from these industry leaders in familiar formats such as keynotes, fireside chats, and panels, but with even more engagement via virtual roundtable discussions and VR meetups. This will be a first for us, but we’re excited to deliver a digital experience that is more available to our global community.
While we’re disappointed we won’t be able to host an in person gathering in May, we’re excited that we’ll be able to offer access to the Ethereal Virtual Summit 2020 to a wider array of individuals who might have been previously unable to attend because of cost or travel. We’ll be sharing more information on how to register in the coming weeks for this first-time virtual summit for free!
For those who have already purchased a ticket for Ethereal Summit NY, we will pre-register you for Ethereal Virtual Summit 2020 in addition to providing a full refund on your original ticket purchase within the next 45 days. For those who paid in ETH, DAI, USDC, or BTC, you’ll also receive the refund to the wallet address you provided.
We’re grateful to our generous sponsors who have been true partners as we navigate this unprecedented situation. We are committed to upholding the highest standards for content and attendee experience that our community has grown to know and love from the Ethereal Summit. We hope you will join us in this new virtual format!
No, we’ve pivoted to our first Ethereal Virtual Summit in light of health concerns about COVID-19. Our community has always been a remote-work, decentralized culture so it made sense to go on with the show so we can share the engaging stories from over 100+ speakers committed to Ethereal – from the safety of your own home.
The in-person event will be postponed until Fall 2020 (TBD).
+ What is the cost to join Ethereal Virtual Summit 2020?
We wanted to open more access to attendees globally who have never been able to attend Ethereal. The Ethereal Virtual Summit will be free. You can thank our generous sponsors for this opportunity!
+ When will the new digital event take place?
May 7-8th – more details coming soon.
+ I’ve already purchased a ticket, will I get refunded for the in-person event?
Attendees who were registered for Ethereal NY will automatically be registered for Ethereal Virtual Summit at no charge. We will be automatically refunding all Ethereal NY tickets by May 1, 2020.
+ Since Ethereal is now being offered virtually, can my teammates and friends attend?
We would love to have more people take advantage of this unique opportunity. Registration details for the virtual event are coming soon.
+ Networking with other community members is a big reason I attend, so how are you going to offer that benefit virtually?
We will share more details over the coming weeks regarding how you can engage and interact with other attendees, speakers, sponsors, and partners. We are looking to host a virtual Expo as well provide networking/roundtable discussions to join.
In our second episode of the Ethereal Podcast, we interview the VP of Engineering at SKALE Labs, Christine Perry. Christine has an inspiring journey finding her way onto a leading team to bring speed and configurability to Ethereum with SKALE Network. She breaks down how SKALE allows Ethereum developers to build powerful dApps in a decentralized modular cloud, configured to your requirements.
We talk about the widely anticipated network launch on Activate, where users will be able to purchase and stake their tokens on the live SKALE Mainnet. She also shares her perspective and tips on the day-to-day chaos and joy of working in the Ethereum community.
You can see Christine speak at Ethereal Summit in Brooklyn on May 8-9th, 2020. Get your ticket →
For International Women’s Day, the Ethereal team wants to highlight one of our many women trailblazing in the Ethereum community. We’ve got a long road ahead of us to bring more diversity into our broader crypto community, so it’s important we share stories on stage of the many inspiring women and their contributions to advancing Ethereum.
Cami Russo is the Chiefess of The Defiant, an information platform dedicated to all things decentralized finance.
How did you discover Ethereum and when did you know “this is where I want to be?”
I discovered Ethereum covering the cryptocurrency market for Bloomberg News in 2017. I found the ICO space absolutely crazy and fascinating, and that’s what pulled me in. By the end of the year, I wanted to pitch a book on crypto, and thought Ethereum was the most interesting and important story to tell that hadn’t yet been told. To me, while Bitcoin aims be peer-to-peer money, Ethereum aims to be peer-to-peer everything. It was the biggest project in blockchain since Bitcoin, and it was arguably succeeding.
More than deciding this is where I want to be, it kind of happened naturally, as I spent the next two years writing The Infinite Machine. As I was researching the book, I saw all the mind-blowing progress that was happening with decentralized finance and decided to launch an information platform dedicated to the space, something I found was lacking. One thing led to another, and now I’m writing /using/thinking about about DeFi everyday.
How do you explain DeFi to a stranger?
DeFi is a parallel financial system being built with blockchain technology and without banks. Individuals are in control of their funds and data. There are no borders and everyone can have access to it. It’s like the internet, but instead of information being transferred globally, seamlessly, and creatively, the same is happening with money.
Have you gotten your family into DeFi? If so, how did you show them the way?
My dad is subscribed to my newsletter and eventually he got interested enough in this stuff that he asked me how he could start. He lives in Chile, so I told him to get an account at one of the local exchanges (Buda) and buy ETH there. His main reason for getting into DeFi was the high interest on a USD-pegged coin. So, I showed him how to download MetaMask, save his seed phrase, transfer his funds from Buda to MM, and then finally buy cDai on Uniswap. He hasn’t done much else, but was excited to get this “savings account” in a few clicks.
I heard your partner has or does work in finance. What does he and others you know in legacy finance think of DeFi?
He’s done tons of consulting work with large banks and their digital payments solutions. He’s been impressed with DeFi and believes the future should tend to be more decentralized. While he believes progress so far is encouraging, he doesn’t think DeFi is really finance yet; he argues that for now it’s really just a way to enable broader access to sophisticated trading strategies.
What’s one thing you know to be true that you wish legacy Wall St understood about DeFi/Ethereum?
That two years in, the user experience is already better than with traditional banks, which means DeFi is inevitably coming for at least a piece of their market share soon.
What has to happen to enable mass adoption of DeFi?
Better and global fiat to crypto on-ramps are needed. That’s the single biggest hurdle non-insiders have to overcome to use DeFi, and it’s still either very cumbersome, or the easier ones to use are only available in some U.S. states and European countries.
What’s your favorite DeFi app to use more regularly?
I would have to say Unlock Protocol! That’s how I can offer newsletter subscription payments in DAI and receive payments. I check it everyday to see who I have to add to my mailing list.
Forgetting what you use for a moment, what’s the DeFi app/protocol that excited you most since discovering Maker?
PoolTogether comes to mind, because I hadn’t thought of the concept itself and because it’s possible only thanks to DeFi. Sablier is another one, for the same reasons.
What’s your litmus test for what is DeFi and what is “not DeFi?” I’m referring to the journey/struggle of many teams to decentralize with a DAO and abstract away admin keys. How do you approach these tough questions?
A DeFi project has to be:
1. Non-custodial, so users are in control of their funds
2. Have minimal to no KYC, so it’s open to everyone
DeFi projects should have the following, though there can be exceptions:
3. Code is open source, so it enables composability
A good attribute DeFi projects to either have or be working towards, but not a requirement:
4. Decentralized governance and no admin keys, so users don’t have to trust management and it’s harder to shut down the dapp.
I think the first two are the starting point for a project to be DeFi. Ideally it would be open source but Compound Finance isn’t and I still consider it to be DeFi because it has 1 and 2. Most DeFi projects should strive to remove human intervention whenever it makes sense for users. I don’t believe in decentralization just for the sake of it. If at this early stage teams need to keep some control because they’re doing frequent upgrades, because they want to protect users in case there’s an attack, etc., I think it’s fair. It’s important that all these risks are clearly communicated to users.
Do you use DeFi insurance and why?
I don’t, mainly because I haven’t deposited an amount of money that’s large enough for me to consider it worth it. But I still should, to at least test how it works, for example, with Nexus Mutual or Opyn. Ideally, insurance will be incorporated in lending/borrowing/trading platforms and users won’t have to think much about it.
What’s the most important lesson / tutorial you’d like prioritized across DeFi?
I would highlight that even as I believe DeFi will shape the future of finance, it’s still in a very early stage and would urge everyone to have extreme caution when using these protocols. This means: Not depositing more money than what you’re willing to lose, doing thorough research on the platforms you’re using (have they been audited? what degree of control does management hold?), and if you’re using a relatively large amount of money, try to insure all or a portion of it – and subscribe to The Defiant to stay updated 🙂
What’s something you believed to be true when you got started with DeFi that you’ve changed your mind on?
That using Ethereum dapps is hard (actually easier than many fintech apps), and that financial applications had to involve a lot of paperwork (not with DeFi).
What’s your favorite meme?
I love the money legos concept, because it very graphically represents one of the key reasons why decentralized finance can enable more innovation and a better user experience than traditional finance ever has.
What’s the biggest threat to DeFi and what can be done to manage that risk?
The ecosystem is so interconnected and complex that risk of exploits increase. Good ways to manage that risk are to audit the code, to offer bounties for those who discover vulnerabilities, to insure against losses, to reduce complexity wherever possible.
You managed to write a book about Ethereum (The Infinite Machine releasing in July) and jumpstarted one of the first and most respected media entities in crypto/DeFi/blockchain media. How do you sleep and what’s your advice to others kickstarting their own venture in Ethereum/DeFi?
First of all, thank you for that. I wish I could say I sleep well, but I often stay up thinking about all the things on my to-do list, and dreaming about the next steps. My advice for anyone starting their own Ethereum/DeFi venture is to take advantage of this moment, where the space is new and there’s so much to be done. If you look for opportunities, you’ll find them. My advice for anyone starting their own venture in general, is if they’re passionate about it, do it and don’t look back. Give it your all. If you fail, you learn and are better prepared to try again. If you win… you win!
Lastly, who do you admire most and why? How has that influenced your journey in this space?
Professionally, the people I admire the most are: Michael Lewis, Truman Capote, Matt Levine. My goal is to achieve what they do with their writing both in The Defiant and in The Infinite Machine, which is to simplify complex topics so that a broader audience can understand them, and to find the humanity and color in them, so that they’re entertaining and inspiring stories.
In our first episode of the Ethereal Podcast, we interview the Head of Smart Contracts at MakerDAO, Mariano Conti. Mariano discusses his humble beginnings as a developer at Maker, before he came to represent one of the most respected community members in Ethereum on the leading team that kicked off the DeFi movement.
What’s most interesting about Mariano isn’t his resume – it’s how he practices what he preaches living off of DAI. For years, he has been paid in the DAI, the first decentralized self-sovereign stablecoin pioneered by his own team at MakerDAO. He has “never paid for crypto” because he receives his entire salary in DAI to escape rampant inflation and capital controls in Argentina. We talk about the mission for anyone across the globe to gain censorship-resistant exposure to a dollar-pegged token in the form of stable ETH. Most importantly, we discuss his insights on Bitcoin adoption in Latin America and how DAI can follow a similar path given it offers a stable value, compared to the signature volatility of BTC and ETH.
You can see Mariano speak coincidentally on the DAI Stage at Ethereal Summit in Brooklyn on May 8-9th, 2020.
Please note we will be posting an unedited version of the podcast on the Ethereal Summit YouTube page in case you’d like to watch some screensharing with apps we discussed like Argent smart contract wallet and Maker’s Oasis.
You can see Mariano speak at Ethereal Summit in Brooklyn on May 8-9th, 2020. Get your ticket →
We understand that developers and those working at early-stage startups (with less than 1M in funding) may need a bit of support to attend Ethereal Summit, so we’ve ring-fenced a limited amount of tickets at the reduced price of $250.
Please complete this form and we will come back to you within 3 working days to let you know if your application has been successful.
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As we recognize Data Privacy Day this year, we’re excited to announce that we’ve joined forces with Orchid as our official privacy partner for Ethereal Summit New York.
For over a decade, concerned citizens, technologists, academics, and entrepreneurs have been recognizing Data Privacy Day to raise awareness in the mainstream. In some sense, we can reflect on success: Internet users are more aware of and concerned with their online data privacy than ever. Developers and thought leaders are creating tools and facilitating a discussion about how we can reclaim our online security and freedom.
But we also recognize that this awareness has been gained the hard way. Concerns over online privacy have risen in large part due to scandals that have illuminated how ubiquitous and pervasive data collection is. People’s privacy and security have been compromised by a mixture of government and corporate greed and misconduct.
Thankfully, despite entrenched resistance from those that wish to profit from your data, people around the world are working to create online privacy solutions. So, we look forward with conviction on this Data Privacy Day: An international effort to empower individuals and encourage businesses to respect privacy, safeguard data, and enable trust.
The rise of blockchain and decentralized technologies provide us with an opportunity to remake the Internet into an open, connected environment where people are empowered and protected. That’s why Ethereal Summit and Orchid have partnered: to bring you the ideas, people, and projects attempting to disrupt the current model of the Internet. We hope you’ll join us as we explore the ways in which blockchain technologies can help propel us towards a shared purpose and experience.
Orchid is an open-source, peer-to-peer network that provides users with greater control of their online privacy, and access to online information regardless of geographic location. You can find out more at orchid.com.
Orchid recently launched a privacy network—a decentralized next-level VPN backed by digital currency—on Ethereum.