Grant’s Insights from San Francisco Blockchain Week

Carry Team
Oct 19, 2018 · 6 min read

Hi Carriers and friends of Carry, this is Grant. Our team just got back from San Francisco Blockchain Week, and I’m here to give a recap of what we did firsthand!

Though I’ve been to over a dozen conferences, this year’s San Francisco Blockchain Week yet again brought a new set of insights to the future of blockchain. The mood has definitely changed in Carry’s favor — more tech and application, less ambiguous hype. We were thrilled to be a part of it. There was so much going on throughout the entire week — meet-ups, hackathons, speakers, happy hours, and more. We want you to know what we’ve been up to:

  1. Panel Discussion — Consumer Adoption: Who is holding us back?

I had the honor of speaking at a panel discussion at SFBW. With the smoke and mirrors of crypto-speculation clearing away, it’s time to address the real issue. Although blockchain has become increasingly visible, we have yet to see any real-life use cases with mainstream appeal. What’s the root cause of this, and how can we resolve it?

I spoke alongside Min Kim of ICON Foundation, Phil Chen of HTC, Adam Struck of Digital Divergence, and Anthony DiPrinzio of Blockchain at Berkeley. The panel covered a number of topics, including:

  • Current state of the industry
  • Main barriers to adoption
  • Potential solutions to breaking these barriers
  • Future of the industry

While the official video recording of the panel talk isn’t out yet, here are some notes on some of the things I discussed:

What is more important to blockchain growth — base protocols or decentralized apps?

→ Both are important. Base protocols and dApps are iterative, and inspire each other. I echoed a point made by Union Square Ventures made recently regarding dApps.

→ I argued that micro-transfers of value via rewards points on smart contracts would be one of the most immediate use case of real world blockchain because rewards points are a concept already familiar to people.

How important is consumer education for adoption of blockchain?

→ I argued that ultimately, user experience is more important than education. Though academia may legitimize the technology of blockchain, mainstream adoption is contingent upon familiarity and ease of use for the consumer.

One thing I’d like to note is that Carry Protocol was approached by many of the top base protocols because of our compelling potential for widespread use. It is exciting to be speaking with layer 1 and layer 2 players to understand how we can make blockchain a valuable, everyday technology.

Stay tuned for the official full video!

2. Other panels and events

We made a point to visit other events and speeches. Avichal Garg of Electric Capital gave a particularly riveting talk titled Why Now: The Global Collapse of Trust. His thesis: Blockchain is not just a technical phenomenon, but also a movement driven by culture. Trust is at an all time low across many traditional institutions — banks, education systems, governments, and so on. Thus the development is driven by a need for alternatives, not just technological advancement for the sake of advancement. He called attention to the “primordial” soup of professors, bankers, entrepreneurs, and political activists that blockchain is attracting and that such a fact should not be ignored. I appreciated how this talk brought in a broader, ideological perspective of blockchain.

While in San Francisco, we also visited the Facebook Campus to interview a couple of the Product Managers. Though Carry — like all other blockchain protocols — is trying to displace incumbent companies, there is still much to respect and learn from established, dominant players.

Stephanie Shum (left) and David Kim (right) with one of our PMs

David Kim and Stephanie Shum provided a trove of insights and advice to our team. Thank you both for your time! We took rigorous notes to review back at home.

3. Team Bonding

This trip was special because it allowed for real team bonding. In Carry’s early stages, I often went to events and conferences alone. This time, we brought a couple of developers from the team to get glimpse of the other projects and a feel for the culture.

Instead of booking separate hotel rooms, we rented an Airbnb with multiple rooms, which meant at the end of everyday we could touch base and debrief about the events of the day. It proved not only to be an affordable option but a great chance to communicate.

A couple of our team members were visiting San Francisco for the first time, so we had to do the ultimate tourist activity — biking across the Golden Gate Bridge! Thankfully the weather was clear and perfect for biking.

We took a break from the constant tech talk surrounding us and cruised over the San Francisco Bay. Everyone enjoyed the physical excursion (at least, that’s what they told me…).

4. Final remarks

Interestingly enough, I feel like the current bear market in crypto right now actually had a positive influence on this year’s SFBW. With the massive “to the m00n” hype from last year effectively ruptured, more people who were serious about the technology and application of blockchain attended the conference. The conversations were more tempered and the general attitude was more somber. I got a chance to chat with Jon Choi, former Ethereum project researcher, who is probably the biggest advocate of “no-hype blockchain”. Over some burgers, we noted that this year’s conference was less hype-oriented, and discussed a range of topics including South Korea as a market and recruiting top developers.

Watch Jon Choi’s no-hype talk about the future of Korea in blockchain

We returned to Seoul inspired, motivated, and admittedly slightly jetlagged. Judging by this year’s conference, the attitude towards blockchain has finally shifted away from lofty speech and promises, and more towards practical usage and real-life application. This environment is perfect for Carry to take the front stage. It only begins now.

As always, thank you all for your continued support. Keep calm and #CRE on.

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