Crypto office hours — April 2018

Linda Xie
Linda Xie
Apr 30, 2018 · 4 min read

I started scheduling weekly 1:1 calls with women who were interested in learning more about cryptocurrencies. I received hundreds of inbound requests after my tweet.

It was exciting to see the amount of interest. Since I couldn’t connect with everyone, I’m sharing the themes from the calls each month (see March 2018).


Trends

Q: What is a privacy coin? Isn’t the point of blockchain to be transparent?

A: There’s a misconception that coins like Bitcoin and Ethereum are anonymous. All transactions are actually broadcast to a public ledger so you can see transaction details like balances, transaction amounts, and the transacting parties involved. Privacy coins hide these sensitive transaction details. For some privacy coins there is a concept of selective transparency in that you don’t default to showing all of this information for the public to see but you can selectively reveal to certain parties.

The point of a blockchain is to be able to come to consensus on the history of transactions without the need for a centralized party maintaining a ledger. Transparency was needed as part of a public ledger so everyone on the network could agree on the state of the transactions but if you can prove this information through cryptography without having to reveal to everyone, then I believe this is even more ideal. I highly recommend reading A Cypherpunk’s Manifesto written by Eric Hughes in 1993 on why privacy is important.

Q: What are you excited about right now?

A: Besides privacy coins I’m excited about decentralized exchange, tokenized securities, non-fungible tokens, and token curated registries. Tokenized securities will allow issuance and trading of securities with less friction. I envision a world where most assets can be tokenized from stocks to bonds to gold. You can use compliance protocols like Harbor to make sure all transactions are compliant.

Non-fungible tokens will allow us to trade unique digital items varying from online gaming goods to licensed patents. Token curated registries are particularly interesting to me because the community can start creating valuable lists ranging from a list of whitelisted Ethereum addresses that can be used for exchanging tokens to a list of top blockchain conferences to attend. In the early days I expect many of these lists to be focused around the crypto community but eventually see it being used by established organizations to directly monetize lists e.g. US News already creates a list of top universities.

Career

Q: What is it like to work at Coinbase?

A: I had a very positive experience working at Coinbase. My favorite aspects were definitely the people and autonomy. Everyone in the early days was passionate about crypto and continually taught each other. I was able to have career growth there and consistently felt supported by my managers and the exec team. I recommend taking a look at my blog post reflecting on my time there if you want to learn more.

Q: What is it like to be a product manager in the blockchain space?

A: There is no single shared experience by product managers in the blockchain industry. I have specific experience on internal tools at Coinbase so I was building products that my colleagues used to help support a growing fintech organization. In my role it was important for me to keep up with developments that were happening especially on the regulatory/legal front (e.g. BitLicense requirements) as this affected how the tools looked. Being a product manager with a team building a new protocol is a completely different experience. If you’re looking to be a product manager in this industry I would think about what audience you specifically want to build for.

Q: Why did you decide to start your own company?

A: I was excited about being more involved in the crypto space and having even more autonomy than I had at Coinbase. Being able to move quickly in such a fast paced industry was important to me so I decided to branch off. It can be scary to start something new but I continually feel supported by my team, past and current Coinbase employees, as well as others in the industry so that fear quickly went away.

Q: There’s so many industry conferences. How do you tell if a conference is legitimate?

A: I generally look at the speaker list to see if I can recognize speakers there that I respect. Usually these aren’t the people that show up to every conference out there. Otherwise there’s no time to actually do work! I also look at the agenda to see if there are talks focusing on the technology. I typically stay away from conferences in which there are ICO pitches. This often isn’t valuable content and can attract the wrong crowd to the conference.

Q: How can I get more involved in the space in my spare time?

If you’re a developer interested in working on the protocols I would recommend getting involved contributing to their open source code. If you’re not a developer there are other ways to help such as getting involved in writing, user testing, answering questions about the project in various community channels, and helping the team to source for talent. I recommend keeping up with my friend Eric Meltzer’s Proof of Work newsletter to see team updates from some of the top blockchain projects which often includes areas the teams could use help with.


Hope this was helpful! Stay tuned for next month’s highlights.

Thanks to Jordan Clifford

Linda Xie

Written by

Co-founder @ScalarCapital. Previously Product Manager @Coinbase. Advisor @0xProject.

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