Since our funding announcement in early June, the team has been busy preparing for the future of Lithium Finance, a decentralized data oracle to price illiquid assets. Today, however, we want to briefly come up for air to release a bit more about the founders bringing this platform to life. We spoke with David and Steve, the Co-founders of Lithium, about how they came up with the idea to start this project, the motivation behind it, and the vision of Lithium Finance.
David Lighton, Co-founder
David Lighton is an entrepreneur passionate about inclusive financial innovation, known most recently for his work as Founder and CEO of SendFriend, a fintech startup using the blockchain to create faster, less expensive, and more inclusive cross-border payments, and it’s backed by leading venture capital investors such as Techstars, Ripple, and Barclays.
David also is a Fellow at Yale University’s Global Justice Program. Previously, he served as World Bank Staff on the Haiti desk, following the devastating 2010 earthquake.
David holds an MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — Sloan School of Management, where he was a Mastercard Foundation Fellow. He also holds M.A. and B.A. degrees with honors from the Johns Hopkins University in International Economics and International Relations. He is a member of Johns Hopkins’ Junior Board.
Steve Derezinski, Co-Founder
Steve Derezinski is a Senior Executive and MIT Blockchain Engineer & MBA (SB in mechanical engineering and MBA from MIT), who has launched 80+ startups that have cumulatively raised over $250M to date. Steve also founded and served as an MD at Georgia Institute of Technology, where he helped to incubate early-stage startups with strong commercial potential.
He is also a senior instructor at MIT and Babson and responsible for developing the Blockchain Ventures course and the MIT Future Commerce curriculum.
Before starting Lithium, Steve served as a consultant in multiple major corporations on blockchain strategy. He is also an expert reviewer for a Federal Agency’s Blockchain Funding and a subject matter expert for large philanthropic foundations in the US and the EU.
Why start Lithium now?
David: Easy. The internet era and the age of social media have presented massive dissemination of better information. They’ve also offered a new era of toxic disinformation. So, any opportunity we have to create a more efficient information network for consumers and investors, especially with innovative techniques, is exciting.
As we well know, blockchain is the global asset rail of the future. It represents a fundamental change from a centralized financial system to a decentralized financial system, meaning fewer intermediaries extracting unnecessary fees and better technology for anyone to access services 24/7 without barriers.
Steve: While brokers and investment banks extract fees and are not transparent, the world of Reddit and the recent episodes of AMC and Gamestop show how risky it is to rely on chat forums for financial advice. Lithium provides a much-needed middle ground, tapping into multiple experts simultaneously while also channeling the wisdom of crowds.
“Lithium is an antidote for both the Reddit insanity of the public market and the lack of access to private/illiquid assets.”
Steve, why would Lithium be the next step in your industry journey?
Bringing real-world assets into the world of decentralized finance — offering financial services with no intermediaries or guarantors — is the final frontier of crypto. However, this vision of decentralized trust can’t be realized without the right pricing oracle. Why would I buy private stock, if I don’t have a good idea of what it is worth? The market still hasn’t seen a pricing mechanism that’s able to price illiquid real-world assets effectively. Lithium is the missing link between capital markets and DeFi.
Lithium Finance is the first collective-intelligence pricing oracle to give precise and timely pricing on private, illiquid assets. It’s based on a Determinant-based Mutual Information (DMI) mechanism, in which participants are asked subjective multiple-choice questions to find a dominant truth. The answer provides price discovery for illiquid assets. To put it another way, Lithium will become the global currency for the world’s prices.
My greatest hope is that we [Lithium] become a tool to enable anyone to price anything — and that anyone can earn tokens on our platform for providing honest answers to questions efficiently.
David, why call this project Lithium?
Lithium is a rare yet critical element, helping to power the next generation of efficient energy — in a way, bridging the stone age with the cutting edge of new technologies. Similarly, Lithium symbolizes our ambition to bridge real assets with crypto.
Lithium Finance aims to connect DeFi and traditional financial services and functions that opens doors for millions of users. We want to have top investors and institutional advisors as clients, as well as the kinds of retail investors who made waves on social media this past year. Lithium is a community of coexistence. This name just made sense for us.
David and Steve, how does this project fit into the Liquefy Labs ecosystem?
Steve: David and I are big fans of Linear and Convergence. These projects represent the leading innovations in a big wave of financial innovation that is just getting started. We are honored to be working with them [Linear and Convergence]. And looking to the future convergence of real-world assets and DeFi, we couldn’t be in a better place. The missing piece was a robust pricing oracle to empower those assets to move into DeFi, and we are providing exactly this solution at Lithium Finance.
David: The synergies with Linear and Convergence were clear to us from the start — Linear has synthetic assets on-chain, and adding a new source of pricing information enables more profound levels of innovation to happen within the Linear Finance ecosystem. With Convergence, looking at their wrapped token offering, we can quickly wrap new assets. The last missing piece is a solid pricing engine to enable on-chain transactions for illiquid assets. That’s where Lithium comes in. We are excited to work with both of these projects and their teams to enable broader and more robust assets and trading and expand the markets for their offerings.
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- Lithium Team