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Episode #54: 🦁 Brave 🦇 BAT
Aaron & Jay download the Brave browser and attempt to use the 25 BAT that come with it.
COIN TALK is produced in partnership with Medium and hosted by Aaron Lammer and Jay Caspian Kang. Press “Listen to the story” above to play the episode. (You can also subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, download the MP3, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Aaron Lammer: Am I speaking to you via the Brave browser?
Jay Kang: No, you’re speaking to me via the Skype thingie.
Aaron Lammer: Oh, wow. Jay, that’s just so centralized. I don’t know what to say. Okay, so we both … How many days ago did we download the Brave browser?
Jay Kang: I think I downloaded it a week ago or something like that.
Aaron Lammer: Okay. Yeah, I got three or four solid days under my belt. But I’m on the internet a lot. So three or four days is a lot of browsing for me.
Jay Kang: Yeah.
Aaron Lammer: First impressions, just right off the bat, what did you think about using the Brave browser?
Jay Kang: Well, I think we should probably set this up a little bit for the listeners who don’t know what Brave is.
Aaron Lammer: I thought we’d just jump right into it, not explain anything, talk a lot of shit, and then leave.
Jay Kang: Yeah. So the Brave browser is, I would say, one of the products of basic attention token. It is, according to its own description, it’s a fast open sourced privacy focused browser that blocks malvertisements, trackers, and contains a ledger system that anonymously captures user attention to accurately reward publishers. The promise is that it is a decentralized open source type of browser that doesn’t mean that every single thing that you do is going to be funneled through some Google or Apple product. I think that’s the first value proposition. The second value proposition, of course, because this is crypto, is a token of a questionable value. That is not us saying that it is questionable, but more that is its value has been questioned quite a bit.
Aaron Lammer: Well, it’s value is actually surging on it, getting added to Coinbase. But that doesn’t mean-
Jay Kang: I meant like existential value.
Aaron Lammer: True value. Yeah, right. Existential. I like that. Crypto value versus existential value.
Jay Kang: Or like dollar value versus value to the world.
Aaron Lammer: Okay. Well, I have to say that I was initially not even sure how to talk about the BAT, Brave connection because it’s a little bit hard to discern who’s the big fish and who’s the little fish there. Is BAT a side car on the Brave browser or is BAT the entire purpose and it needs the Brave browser to warm its way into your life? I think that’s an open question that maybe we should keep coming back to as we discuss it.
Aaron Lammer: But I will say, as a user, the first thing you experience is the Brave browser. You download it just like you download Chrome or anything like that and the first thing that happens once you go through the initial flow is it gives you 25 BAT tokens.
Jay Kang: Yeah, I got that. I have $7.34 in BAT, which I got for free, which is great.
Aaron Lammer: Mine’s $8, which just shows you the longer you wait, the more valuable it is.
Jay Kang: Yours is $8?
Aaron Lammer: Well, we both have 25 BAT tokens. Yours are now worth $8. Coinbase has doing-
Jay Kang: Oh, yeah. $8.53. All right.
Aaron Lammer: Doing wonders for the price of BAT. So my assumption is that these 25 BAT that they give everyone … I mean, it’s a pretty nice sign up bonus for a free browser, just throwing me eight bones. But my understanding is that when they did the sale for the BAT tokens, they kept one third of them for developers, development, promotion, et cetera. Our 25 BAT must be coming from that third.
Jay Kang: Oh, you think so?
Aaron Lammer: Well, who else? Is it some well meaning person? It’s someone’s BAT.
Jay Kang: Well, I don’t know. It’s like a ERC-20 token, so I assume they just print off more when they need it.
Aaron Lammer: No, BAT is a totally fixed supply-
Jay Kang: Oh really?
Aaron Lammer: … Of, I think it’s 1.5 billion BAT.
Jay Kang: Oh, I was going say million? I was like, holy crap, 25 actually is a lot. But billion is …
Aaron Lammer: It’s not inflationary, but a third of those tokens are not out there in the market there, or they weren’t. They’re being held, which is a lot.
Jay Kang: Yeah, that is a lot. I mean, this is always going to be a huge point of contention and debate, how much … We see it with Ripple, we see it basically with every single ICO that happens, which is how much do the founders keep for themselves and what do they do with it once it spikes, if it does spike. I guess BAT is just not immune to that, but I don’t think what we’re talking about here is a unique problem. It is just the same problem that everyone else has.
Aaron Lammer: Well, there’s just one unique twist that I feel like is becoming a bit of a theme and maybe we’ll come back to this as we go also, but during the failed Civil token sale, listen to our episode on that topic, it was revealed that even though that Civil failed, the part that did succeed, which I think got about a fifth or a quarter of the money they needed, was 80% money coming in from consensus.
Aaron Lammer: So there’s a lot of people who are sitting on huge pools of whatever token that are using that big stash of tokens to promote the projects and promote user growth within the projects to try to stimulate them. That makes me a little bit uncomfortable. I feel like it creates a slightly fun-house mirror effect where it’s like, “Hey, publishers, you can get these tokens that are really worth something,” but it’s like, “But everyone starts with 25.” It may be that most of the BAT that is actually being moved or used is originating from these 25 BAT grants that come with the Brave browser.
Jay Kang: Okay. Yeah. I mean, now that you bring it up, I do think it is a little bit unique in that sense. But I don’t think that I am turned off by it. It’s not like Civil or some other projects where, or even something like 0X, which I owned a lot of, where I was so confused by the point of the token that I didn’t want anything to do with the project itself, except to try and gamble on it. Or even the Augur token, whatever it was called, REP, right? I was just like, “Why does REP exist?” That, I think, is the first crypto project that I think both of us were interested in where we thought about actually using the token. Right?
Aaron Lammer: Sure. Sure. And it’s a credit to Brave, even the things that I think are a little cynical they’re doing, maybe are skilled cynical, which is we’ve figured out how hard it was to load Ethereum at the MetaMask and to use that to gamble on Augur and/or move REP into MetaMask, which is even harder to build and make markets in Augur.
Jay Kang: Yeah.
Aaron Lammer: So what Brave is doing here is they are seeding the system where everyone’s getting a few crumbs, which means if you want to play around there, you’re not needing to go through all of these steps. And those are the steps, I think, that most people would say killed the whole Civil token sale is that people couldn’t even figure out how to do it.
Jay Kang: Yeah.
Aaron Lammer: So they’re starting you with a little pool of your own, I assume that they’re hoping that you will load more BAT in or that you will earn BAT in some way so that the economy will keep thriving. I’m not totally sure … Once I got the BAT, I was like, “Cool, I’m going to do something with it.” I couldn’t really figure out how to actually do anything with it now.
Jay Kang: Yeah. This is something that I wanted to talk to you about, which is I think that basically crypto projects right now have to somehow find a way to make sending cryptocurrency and using their cryptocurrency as easy as using Facebook, for example. So I think that the skill level of most people on the internet is that they can use Facebook. I think that right now, that is not quite as hard as Civil. It certainly is not as hard as Augur. Remember the eight hours that we spent trying to sync to the blockchain?
Aaron Lammer: And this is partially because this product, it’s not … Brave is not on the chain. Augur, everything you do is recorded in the blockchain. For the most part, Brave is just a clone of Chrome.
Jay Kang: I will say it’s not so easy. I agree with you. I think it broke our general standard, which is like, do we have to ask somebody in our telegram group how to use this thing? That’s immediately I think what both of us did because I was going to actually try and send some BAT to your other site, longform.org, and I couldn’t quite figure out how to do it and I’m going to ask you right now, like a pop quiz style. If I sent that BAT to you, would you have any idea how to retrieve it?
Aaron Lammer: None whatsoever. I don’t think that we’re even eligible for that because I don’t think longform.org has registered with BAT. Maybe I’ll run out and do it now.
Jay Kang: Oh, so the site has to register with BAT?
Aaron Lammer: Okay, so when I was reading about BAT, it gave a list of publishers that were supporting BAT. This is on … I think if you look on the Wikipedia page for Brave browser, the Washington Post was probably the most famous one. I want to say maybe some of these tech sites.
Jay Kang: Okay. I’m going to try it right now. I am going to longform.org on the Brave browser. This is great radio because everybody can see and I am seeing Jose Mourinho’s last stand and some great journalism that you guys compile and I am hitting send a tip, one BAT. Okay. 34 cents and I sent it to you. And it said thank you. So, at some point … Should we try to figure out how Longform can get that BAT that I sent you, because I have no idea.
Aaron Lammer: Well, I think that’s probably where the registration comes in. So it’s cool. I guess they’re holding it in some kind of an escrow, but I don’t know exactly how to register. This brings up a larger question, which is … So we haven’t really said how Brave works. It’s a browser that blocks ads and then you can tip publishers or you can do it in an automated way and the tips or your monthly contribution go to the publisher whose sites you visited and I think you can also do what Jay just did, which is manually just send one.
Jay Kang: Yeah. Or you can also buy ads on it, which is something that I don’t quite understand, but I guess that they want to create their own Crypto-based ecosystem so that you can use the BAT that you’ve earned by paying attention to other sites … reading other sites and you can turn that into ads for your own site I think.
Aaron Lammer: Well, part of the idea is that there ultimately be some sort of a pay to surf model, where you will surf and you will get paid BAT, to look at ads. And then, people can buy those ads which then pay you that BAT, and then you use the BAT you’ve earned by looking at ads to pay the publishers. So it’s almost like wiping the entire ad infrastructure of the internet off, and saying, we’re just going to restart this as ERC-20 scheme in which there’s payments for publishers, payments for and by advertisers, and payments for and by readers. And I don’t know exactly how all those markets work, but that is the overall organizational system that is going to be the web browser amusement park Ethereum spectacle that a fully realized BAT Brave system would be.
Jay Kang: Yeah. And I think one of the reasons why people … I guess we should not really like Brave given our other jobs, because the idea generally is that, let’s say I go to The New York Times and The New York Times has ads for let’s say Rolex or something and Mercedes Benz, what the Brave browser will do is it will take out those ads and it will block those ads and it’ll replace them with other ads that people are paying for BAT on.
Aaron Lammer: Some of the same issues came up on … I’ll just speak to my own experience during the whole read later, Instapaper pocket readability era, where people were saving articles for offlining and the ads were removed. This isn’t the first time this kind of thing has come up, is all I’m saying.
Jay Kang: No, I agree. And I don’t understand why having that ad replaced with another ad is qualitatively worse than having the ad not show up at all. It’s the effect, the advertiser who paid for the original website gets screwed.
Aaron Lammer: Well, I think theoretically if the ad never loads, because … They just don’t like mute the ad, they just don’t load the ad, so theoretically I’m not sure that ad even loads and the advertiser gets screwed, but in larger sense, there’s a different value for ads when they track your identity and don’t track your identity. So these ads are apples to oranges for each other. One is just, “Hey, this is an ad for any person in the Brave ecosystem.” When you are going on New York Times to a lesser extent, but let’s just say, Facebook, a huge part of the value of that ad is knowing your identity.
Jay Kang: Sure.
Aaron Lammer: So it’s two systems really. Like this is a different kind of an ad.
Jay Kang: Yeah, I guess so, I just …
Aaron Lammer: No, I think you’re skeptic. I totally hear your skepticism. I believe what you’re talking about is crypto world, trying to improve upon regular world by doing something that is maybe not illegal but like-
Jay Kang: Barely legal.
Aaron Lammer: … A little close to illegal, barely legal. Again, the person who was the first evangelist for Bitcoin was a guy who got arrested for selling fireworks online. It’s always just an important thing to come back to. Have we really talked about a project that isn’t at least skirting the legality line? Are there like utopian coins that aren’t in someways doing something illegal?
Jay Kang: Well, I mean the legal question I think actually will be probably be meted out if this thing goes big because the … I think some organizations that represents like 1,500 US newspapers which include all the big ones like The Times and The Journal, The Post, USA Today, they actually a cease and desist letter to Brave I think a while back telling them that they can’t do this. And so I imagine that if Brave gets bigger, that there will be a lawsuit of some sort.
Aaron Lammer: Look, I don’t think you can regulate the [inaudible 00:16:29] that way. I don’t think you can stop people from running their browsers how they see fit. Ad blocking is not an original idea from the Brave browser. Any browser you’re in right now, just Google the name of that browser, ad blocking plugin, you’ll find thousands and thousands of options. And ironically many of those actually do build their basic business model on reserving ads to people who’ve blocked ads. I know it’s crazy, but that’s how the biggest ad blocking companies work also. It’s a fairly scammy industry, like there’s not a lot of idealism in the ad blocking world, I don’t think. But I just want to say that like Brave isn’t the only way to block ads, you don’t have to get into any of this BAT stuff in order to block ads, just get Chrome and ad blocker.
Jay Kang: Yeah, that’s what I use. And the last thing I think we should say before we sort of launch into our deep dive is that, there’s another reason why people should not like BAT or Brave if you have what I would say are humane politics, which is that … Brenden Ike is the CEO of Mozilla, is the head of this project and I’m not sure if people remember this, at some point he got into quite a bit online and at his own company for contributions he made for a proposition in California that would have made gay marriage, same-sex marriage illegal in that state. Did you know that?
Aaron Lammer: I think we have to, as crypto people generally assume that my political views don’t closely match people who are starting big gigantic token projects, so that doesn’t like individual make me like, “Oh, I have no interest in this project.” But I do note that, here’s a person who’s been in the browser world, has been in maybe stickier or libertarian political world … How can blocking gay marriage really be a libertarian issue though? That seems a little incongruous.
Aaron Lammer: I guess the way I feel about it is, particularly in this case where you’re basically talking about re-arranging the reader publisher relationship online. That’s a mine field. That is not territory to wander into and assume that you can just like, “We’ll take out those ads and put in these ads and they won’t track you.” Like, if you’re just concerned about being tracked online, you don’t have to go all the way to using the BAT token to deal with that.
Jay Kang: No, I agree. And so with all that said, like the idea that there are alternatives for this, I think that Jackson Palmer who is the founder of Dogecoin and somebody who we would love to have on the show because I find him being an interesting thinker.
Aaron Lammer: I’ve been trying. I’ve been trying.
Jay Kang: His general point was that, you can just use MetaMask and Chrome plugin and do the same exact thing. And you can use Ethereum inside of having this coin that is of questionable value. What do you think about that?
Aaron Lammer: Okay. This is fundamentally a micro-transaction issue. The reason that people aren’t doing things like this online, isn’t simply that people don’t want to spend money for content creators or publishers, it’s actually pretty hard to give someone the eight cents that you feel is justified for reading article or watching their YouTube video. And this is an issue that people have been trying to deal with for years and year. It’s a tricky issue, it is true the way that we process like credit card transactions, means that you’re probably never going to see under $1 transactions on the internet, and that’s a big deal.
Aaron Lammer: If there were simple, frictionless one cent transactions on the internet, maybe that would break the grip of the Facebooks of the world. I don’t know, it’s possible. I mean, they are making billions of dollars on little one and two cent ad placements. So, there is a lot of very low-level commerce happening on the internet. It’s just not available to the consumer via the credit card, which really seems like the kind of thing Bitcoin was supposed to address.
Jay Kang: Agreed. And I think that the clumsiness … Not the clumsiness, but sort of the unwieldiness of Bitcoin is going to make it difficult to put on a browser and ping around. Although, I don’t know. Recently I will say … Do you remember that period of time, like around the [inaudible 00:21:26] where a Bitcoin transaction would cost a lot of money and take a lot of time?
Aaron Lammer: Yes.
Jay Kang: I found that recently using Bitcoin because I still do use it mostly to make bets, that it’s actually not that hard. I mean, it travels pretty quickly. It’s not instant and sometimes it gets caught up, and sometimes you have moments where you are worried again that you’ve lost it, but at the same time it’s … I do think that in ERC-20 token here, the only use that it could possibly have is to make these types of micro-transactions. So I’m not that mad at that part of it.
Aaron Lammer: Well, but Bitcoin still doesn’t serve the central role which is, it’s very bad for moving very small amounts of currency. Crypto is supposed to be all about the infinite dividability, smaller, smaller, smaller but if you have to take every single transaction and put it onto the ledger, the Bitcoin ledger is just not suitable for that. It’s not suitable to give a penny away every time you go to a website. That would be just a huge, huge lift for that chain.
Aaron Lammer: So I think it makes sense, okay, Bitcoin is not going to work, but then why not as Jackson Palmer says, “Why not to have this operate with Ethereum, just as inside the MetaMask or your browser.” I think that has to do more with not the actual transaction or the money that’s changing hands, but the ecosystem of publishers and readers and advertisers. That’s not like some decentralized [inaudible 00:23:02] or gig that you can just put up on a white paper. That’s actually something you have to develop, you have to go talk to these publishers, you have to sign people up, it’s a pretty big lift.
Jay Kang: Yeah, and I don’t know how Brave is going to do that. I mean, the browser works. I mean, it works fine, you and I have used it with no complains I don’t think. I just, on this show sent you a BAT, but we just don’t know how to retrieve it, but I’m sure it’s not so hard. But that part of it is the … the second part that you’re talking about is a … that’s like a job that takes a lot of people. It takes a lot of resources, it takes a lot of buy in from a industry that is probably going to be hostile to you, has already sort of sent you a cease and desist type letter that is threatening legal action. And so, I don’t quite get that second part.
Aaron Lammer: No one is listening to a big old chain in newspapers.
Jay Kang: No, I know but what you were talking about is building partnerships and trying to figure out how to do that. Like you at some point have to-
Aaron Lammer: No, no, no. I agree.
Jay Kang: … Reach out to the people that do create a lot of this content or they’re just going to keep suing you.
Aaron Lammer: I have to assume that the first level goal of Brave is not to sign up regional newspapers, but it’s probably to sign up crypto publications. It looks like the partners they have now are Washington Post, The Guardian, Vimeo, and Vice. Hey, you are the employer of Vice.
Jay Kang: Yeah.
Aaron Lammer: They’re taking BAT. So it’s going to be a Bitcoin kind of thing where it’s going to be, first they laugh at you, then they blah, blah, blah, then they accept you. Like, they’re not going to win over the majority of publisher with the scheme out of the gate, and if people saw big profits again using the Bitcoin in model, like, “Oh, actually it’s gone 100X since we said no to them. Okay, maybe we do this as an experiment. I kind of believe in it. Like I kind of believe their narrative. And then there’s point where it like breaks down for me.
Jay Kang: What’s that?
Aaron Lammer: And this is more based on my own personal experiences because I used to make a reading app called Longform, and I worked on a thing called Readability, which was a scheme where people would donate like a monthly amount and then read in this ad-free way and we would distribute the money, and it was a giant cluster fuck, totally didn’t work. Not because it wasn’t well done but because that’s incredibly difficult. But what I learned in the period I dwelled amongst the leaders in this industry, probably the biggest one was Flipboard. Do you remember Flipboard?
Jay Kang: Yeah, yeah.
Aaron Lammer: So Flipboard also were taking articles out of their original context and were representing them, in this beautiful iPad app, this is still when people cared about beautiful iPad apps. And their premise was pretty similar. We take out your ads but we’re going to sell ads that are native to this app and we’ll revenue share that. The problem with this is, there’s no market for beautiful, full page iPhone, iPad only ads. Even when you look in Apple News, which is like a giant in terms of it’s user base, they’re selling very few custom native ads. The majority of ad sales are going to be Facebook or they’re going to be basic like display browser ads by the dozen scammy as fuck industry. And unless something breaks this, and I still haven’t heard what breaks that buying pattern. My guess is that no matter how many people Brave signs up, they’re not really going to be able to sell these alternate ads which means the only real value to the publisher I guess is just speculation on the BAT token itself.
Jay Kang: You don’t think that there could be a stabilization point where it really is functioning like some sort of small amount of money?
Aaron Lammer: I think a small amount of money is reasonable, but a conversation that always came up when we were talking about Readability, I didn’t make Readability, I don’t want to misrepresent it. I just know the people who makes it. I did some work for them and helped them with some stuff. Is, are you comfortable sending a publisher a cheque for less than $100?
Jay Kang: No.
Aaron Lammer: Okay, that’s the kind of money we’re talking about. At least for a period of years. We know whether like … It stirred user base of these thing are. It’s not going to generate millions of dollars for a single publisher. There’s just not enough fish in the sea right now.
Jay Kang: Okay. So what about having it replace, sort of infringing, so be part of the type of ecosystem that is GoFundMe or Patreon, or any of these things that … Kickstarter, these sort of places where people are fans of something so they give that thing money, or the creator of money. Do you think that that has some future in it because it does seem possible.
Aaron Lammer: Yeah, I think that is possible. I think that, that seems to be the place where they’ve aggregated the biggest audiences that are interested in tipping or compensating creative people, and that seems like a natural pairing for crypto. Again I come back to, do we need more than Bitcoin and Ethereum to achieve this? We need BAT because it’s a very elaborate system, but if you just had, I want to give money monthly to person X for X, that’s a simpler system. That doesn’t have a whole suppression of ads, and then the reinsertion of ads. That part sounds pretty sticky to me.
Jay Kang: Yeah. I also think that it’s going to take a while and I don’t know what the general horizon is on, when this type of thing will start going, but I just cannot still believe that the majority of those types of creators are interested in a cryptocurrency that they then have to figure out how to convert because then, that is when you actually get into the difficulty. Like, it’s not hard for us to sign into the Brave browser see that we have 25 BAT and try and send it to people. Like that’s almost fun. But, if you are trying to take it out, and turn it into actual money, that is the sort of bottleneck pain-point that I think that Civil had. It’s just on the other side.
Aaron Lammer: Sure, sure.
Jay Kang: And I think that, that is probably a problem unless they figure out a way to like, one click convert to dollars and then suck out into your check-in account or something like that.
Aaron Lammer: I mean based on MetaMask, I think that it’s possible that they could get to one click to Ethereum, but I don’t know how you make that fiat jump, at least now. But hey, again, as we always should say on the show, they probably don’t think this is going to work for five years or something like that. Like these things are on a pretty long-time scale.
Jay Kang: Do you think it’s like a five year thing that it always seed … I mean it just-
Aaron Lammer: Let’s say two or three years. I mean, you can’t think this is all just going to work out of the gate I guess is what I’m saying. It’s not even really fully functional yet. Like when you go into Brave and you start clicking into the like ad stuff and the pay to surf stuff, that stuff is all grayed out. It’s not even like active.
Jay Kang: Yeah. No, I agree.
Aaron Lammer: So, the reason I think it’s on a longtime scale is it doesn’t seem like they’ve even really fully executed the 1.0 product. And I will say, for a not quite 1.0 product, the product’s just sleek.
Jay Kang: Yeah, it works and-
Aaron Lammer: Yeah, its fast.
Jay Kang: … it looks cool, the browser is great.
Aaron Lammer: Yep. I feel good not being tracked.
Jay Kang: Yeah, and I don’t particularly like the idea that I’m helping Brenden Ike, but the alternative is to help out Apple or Google or Facebook or Twitter, and I don’t like those companies either so …
Aaron Lammer: Also, Zuckerberg at all are saying trust us, give us your personal details, do all this stuff, which means that there’s a greater trust relationship with them. You may not like Brenden Ike but theoretically Brenden Ike should have no idea who you are, have anything really to do with you. He’s not really asking you to trust him because you’re using this browser in a totally anonymized way. And I’ll say, what I think is the most radical single decision within the Brave browser is that it allows you to open a Tor window directly, which could real injection into how many people are easily able to use Tor.
Jay Kang: Yeah, well I just did it. Have you used the Tor thing?
Aaron Lammer: I did. Yeah, I checked it out.
Jay Kang: Yeah. It used to be pretty difficult to use Tor. Like you’d have to download it and it was pretty slow. And in terms of like one click painless applications, I think that this actually works in that sort of way.
Aaron Lammer: Well, it’s pretty crazy when you connect all the dots and you’re like, “Okay, so now I’m in a Tor browser and I’ve got a cryptocurrency already loaded into a wallet. That was basically what you needed to do to buy from Silk Road, and that whole package is a straight off the rack-
Jay Kang: Yeah, it is true.
Aaron Lammer: … Not that you can buy drugs with BAT, but that’s a whole generation of Bitcoin was necessary just to get to the point where people could get into Tor with money in wallet. This is like, it’s a new generation of crypto stuff where you can do everything that a Silk Road customer did with minimal effort on any old computer, no knowledge at all necessary.
Jay Kang: Yeah, we think it works. We will trust that it works. Here is the other thing which is, you and I now as crypto moderates who are also crypto believers I would say, are very, very happy whenever a product is released that works, right?
Aaron Lammer: Yes.
Jay Kang: I do have a question for you which is a follow-up. IS this really a crypto product?
Aaron Lammer: Yeah, I agree. It’s questionable.
Jay Kang: It’s not on the blockchain, it’s not really … It’s just a browser. Like we can shit Augur being almost being none functional and impossible to use but at least that’s a crypto project. Like you are putting bets on Ethereum blockchain, this not so much. Like, it’s not really a crypto product.
Aaron Lammer: Yeah. I think this one is sort of a mixed bag because it’s really sleek, but sleeker than Augur, but it’s just using chromium and there’s lots of browser based on chromium. They don’t necessarily deserve specific credit for creating a non-trackable chromium browser that’s largely like building on open-source work. But what you said did sort of spur my imagination a little bit. Let’s say that we pretend that this whole publisher thing, the whole basic attention stuff is all just kind of a smoke screen. And that the whole purpose was to create a totally anonymous browser that had a built in cryptocurrency wallet.
Jay Kang: Yeah, but only one cryptocurrency wallet.
Aaron Lammer: But that’s a pretty powerful idea. Well look, there’s nothing nothing stopping them from adding other currencies on there for starters. There’s no reason I can’t expand to something like MetaMask functionality-
Jay Kang: Well, there is a reason, which is that the founders have one third of all the BAT.
Aaron Lammer: That’s true.
Jay Kang: And they wanted to be like … they want you to be locked into having to use BAT.
Aaron Lammer: Well, okay. But before they used BAT, Brave payments was actually using Bitcoin as a way to allow people to tip websites on it. So it’s not like they didn’t think of this idea originally with a more unifying currency. If they could let’s say get MetaMask on to where you could trade between Ethereum and BAT, I think they would probably make BAT a lot more valuable if they did that because it would mean that maybe not like full fiat,, but that there was real like Ethereum industry and commerce happening within the Brave Browser which I think would attract people who wanted to do entrepreneur type stuff that accepted crypto currencies or interacted with cryptocurrencies.
Jay Kang: I think that’s true. On a scale of one to 10 then, where one is something that we think is like a total cut and paste white paper job type of thing that is never going to happen. And a 10 being something that is real, like let’s say Ethereum where you believe that these people are really trying to create a product. On that scale, where do you put Brave?
Aaron Lammer: I’m going to actually give them a seven to eight. I think this is very legit, for real and probably if it sounds like we’re really negative about this on the show it’s because A, it’s a little bit cynical and B, it’s falls into the same trap as Civil which is anything that is real and really exists, is much easier to criticize than the many, many projects in the one to five realness realm which are uncritizable because they’re so far from an actual product that you wouldn’t even have anything to talk about.
Jay Kang: Yeah, like there’s almost no difference between a five and a one.
Aaron Lammer: Absolutely. Everyone is like, I’m five. I’m like, “You look like a one.”
Jay Kang: You’re a one, calm down.
Aaron Lammer: I’m like, “Who can really say?”
Jay Kang: Yeah, you only become like a six if we can actually grasp something that you’re saying and criticize it or agree with it. But both things are one to five so I agree. I think that I would give them like a seven or eight too, because you and I spent time actually using the product and Basic Attention Token. I just don’t think that these people given their background outside of their politics would make a total money grab type of product and I also think that the fact that … They didn’t actually have to follow through and make the Brave browser for example. Like if they were a normal ICO, they would just say, we’re going to make this browser and they never do it. They would just dump their coins.
Aaron Lammer: I would also say that Brave, the browser is start-up that has buy-in outside of the pure like token world. I think Founder’s Fund has invested in it, they raised a bunch of money from venture capitalists. This is something that’s like a hybrid of a token and a start-up, and we’ve seen other examples of this. I think you could even potentially say that Ripple, and XRP are a hybrid, but there’s a lot of people who are buying into this who think it has some possibilities to succeed, not necessarily through purely BAT price speculation. Like taking money from the outside means I think that you have some belief beyond the token.
Aaron Lammer: That might not be true in people who invested in Ripple, maybe those people just believed in XRP. I’m not totally sure what I think about that whole concept, part of the story it’s a little bit hard to wrap your head around as compared to pure crypto products. They’re paying, I think. They say they pay content publishers 55% of the replaced ads revenue. That means they’re running a pretty rich business at 45%. Oh no I’m sorry, software and partners and browser users get 15%, and the rest is theirs at 30%. That’s like Apple kind of rates. Like that’s how much Apple charges to sell your content, more or less.
Jay Kang: Yeah. I mean it’s like they are saying essentially as part of their own value proposition that all the money that generally is in publishing generally goes to Apple or Facebook anyway.
Aaron Lammer: Sure or some sort of a middleman who places your ads as part of an ad network. There’s always someone taking account.
Jay Kang: So why not just streamline that process and buy into a much more pleasant and less sort of leechy and big brotherly way of browsing for your users or for your readers, and why not use this token instead to replace a revenue that you might be losing from scammy type of ads. I think that’s generally what they’re trying to tell the public. Is it?
Aaron Lammer: Yeah, I think so. And I think it’s a pretty … that’s a pretty long-shot view that that’s actually going to work. Like I have to believe they think there’s a way for this to work even if publishers don’t buy into it.
Jay Kang: Yeah, and that’s where I think the browser is the actual product and I think BAT might be a way to try and add some sort of cryptocurrency layer. And if you want to say, I think as Jackson Palmer and some other critics have said, that the only reason it exists is so that they can raise more money through a token sale then. I get that but I always that the idea is not as useless as some other things. Like for example REP, the token for Augur I thought was totally useless. That was like a three out of ten in the useless token scale. I will give this like a 5.5.
Aaron Lammer: Well, there’s a whole staking system with REP to make your markets and if you’re actually making markets there’s some logic within REP, but I’m going to agree with you, it seems like Ethereum world keeps telling us over and over and over again, “You’re going to need Ethereum and this one other thing and continually I’m like, “I guess it’s sort of turning me almost into like a vague ethe-Maximalist where I’m just like, “All these other things seem superfluous. A browser that runs Ethereum and you can do all your transacting in Ethereum using micro-transactions, okay you got my attention.”
Jay Kang: That would be cool, yeah. And I actually think that if it was just Ethereum. I think part of the problem here is that like i can’t figure out … You and I were talking about this on Telegram, which is that we can’t figure out how to add that to the browser, there’s a wallet associated with it but then that means that I have to go and finance or something and spend Bitcoin to buy BAT and then send it to the browser, , “No thank you.”
Aaron Lammer: And also the way that they make it really easy to sign up is by sort of abstracting the wallet experience to where like … I think like it’s like, Uphold is the service that holds the BAT but it doesn’t have the transparency of a normal wallet. It much more like, “I’m signed into this thing, and it’s got my BAT.” It doesn’t have like a easy to find address. Like I was just wandering right off the BAT, I’m was like, “I’m just going to send Jay my 25 BAT.” Like, “We just made a bet, can I just send you the BAT?” That’s not even available yet.
Jay Kang: You can’t. You can’t do it browser to browser so I can’t send it to you.
Aaron Lammer: Feel free to email us and tell us that we’re wildly wrong about some of these stuff, but as far as I could tell from just poking around, I’ve got 25 BAT, I can back up my wallet but I don’t see any like send function. There’s a way to add funds. Okay, I’m sorry. I’m wrong. There’s an incoming function to send funds into it … oh man, we’ve been wrong this whole time Jay.
Jay Kang: What?
Aaron Lammer: We fucked up. You can add Bitcoin, Ethereum, Basic Attention Token and Litecoin.
Jay Kang: Oh no, no. I’ve seen that and I tried to it, you can definitely add it to your browser, the problem is that you can’t buy it with fiat. Like what I want to do is just to be able to-
Aaron Lammer: That’s illegal.
Jay Kang: I know. But I’m saying that it makes it way more annoying for me.
Aaron Lammer: Sure, sure. But I mean the fact that Bitcoin and all this other stuff already cooked in makes me think the Basic Attention Token part is just the REP part nonsense. This is just a browser, but with a Bitcoin and Ethereum wallet built into it, which is pretty wild.
Jay Kang: It’s pretty cool, but it would be cooler if it was just all this stuff off Ethereum because then you can just put in like a Coinbase plugin or something like that and you could actually just add it pretty easily. I guess that’s my point. [inaudible 00:44:06].
Aaron Lammer: Yeah, i think that it’s almost there though. Look, it’s got an incoming Ethereum address that you can send from Coinbase in this browser to that Ethereum wallet.
Jay Kang: It’s too many stuff for me.
Aaron Lammer: It feels to me though like one or two … Like they’ve got two pretty good partnerships already here which is like DuckDuckGo is like very good, anonymous like Google replacement and it’s got Tor. The minute it adds a Coinbase or a Gemini into the mix, you’re pretty close to what you’re describing. Like that’s not a five year plan, that’s a one year plan.
Jay Kang: Oh yeah. And if Coinbase adds that to their list of offered cryptocurrencies that you can buy, which everyone thinks they will, then I guess it will be a lot easier. I don’t know, I mean I would say that, I think you and I both sort of like this project despite some of the problems with it.
Aaron Lammer: You’d have no idea by listening to this episode but yes.
Jay Kang: Well, compared to what we’re saying to everything else. The last concern that I think that we should air that people have is that the wallet system in a payment system is completely opaque. Like we don’t know how it’s working, you don’t even know how to get that BAT that I sent you, and I think that is a problem because generally when things are opaque and sort of [inaudible 00:45:29], that creams centralization in a way that I think is difficult for the Bitcoin community or the crypto community to really accept. And I don’t think that BAT or Brave has a very good response to that claim yet.
Aaron Lammer: Centralization is almost not the right word for it. They’re imagining the whole thing being inside of Brave, so it doesn’t have the same emphasis on like holding your won keys or anything like that. It’s that’s like crypto 2.0 like no longer the Satoshi vision version of this. It’s trying to massively jump the user experience forward while probably sacrificing a lot of the essential decentralized elements.
Jay Kang: That is sort of the main thrust of Ethereum world, and this certainly feels like it’s right in there with the rest of it.
Aaron Lammer: Yeah, that’s a good way of putting it. I hadn’t really thought of it but, we keep asking what the Ethereum amusement park was going to look like. I don’t feel like we’re on the rides but we got a browser for it.
Jay Kang: Yeah, yeah. I think what we did basically is like we walked in the front gate and I would say that for Brave. I think that it is good to have something that people … I have a friend who lives in Boston and … I think he has a quite a bit of BAT, and he was telling me we should talk about BAT on the show, and was like, “Whatever, like we haven’t done with those deep dives…”
Aaron Lammer: I don’t take advice bro.
Jay Kang: No, no, it wasn’t that. It was more just that I couldn’t remember the last time we had done one of these.
Aaron Lammer: It’s true.
Jay Kang: And then the reason why we were able to talk about it, and the reason why we did this was because they actually have a product, and I think that if they start to succeed and it seems like the value of their token at least has been going up, while everything else is flat, then hopefully it will inspire other places to actually release some products or something. Give us something, that’s all I’m asking.
Aaron Lammer: Well, let’s not give it too much credit. The value has gone up because it was added to Coinbase.
Jay Kang: I don’t, but you can’t buy it Coinbase, can you?
Aaron Lammer: Yeah, there’re adding it. It’s happening.
Jay Kang: Did they announce that?
Aaron Lammer: Yeah, that’s was their last big price jump. Was, they added it.
Jay Kang: I didn’t know that.
Aaron Lammer: This is definitely our least knowledgeable show.
Jay Kang: Yeah, we have really no idea of what’s going on.
Aaron Lammer: Have either of us even been on the crypto in the last weeks? We’re embarrassing ourselves out here. No, they did it. It’s been added to Coinbase.
Jay Kang: Okay.
Aaron Lammer: You’re going to be able to fiat buys. Everything you described. Everything we were just like, “You’re going to have to be able to able with fiat.” It’s already possible, it’s in Coinbase, you can be able to buy it and send it in there. That’s where the positive price pressure is coming from.
Jay Kang: So you can buy it right now?
Aaron Lammer: Right now. We’re sorry, we live in crypto two months ago but … Look, that I think is what’s driving the price up. It’s unclear exactly how and why [inaudible 00:48:31] BAT, will become more valuable. I live in that kind of speculation. But the pathway to crypto in a browser has never been easier than that. And I’m lightly optimistic for the next year in here. Jay?
Jay Kang: Yes.
Aaron Lammer: Would you buy BAT today?
Jay Kang: Well, now that I can just buy with fiat, I think I actually might the second we get off here. I’ve said this quite a bit and then every time we stop the show, I’m like, “Hey, I don’t feel like buying that.” But I’ll think about it. I mean, it seems we’ve already spiked and so I don’t want to buy at the top, which is something that I generally do.
Aaron Lammer: Why didn’t we just listen to ourselves when we were like, “The easy bet here is just buy all of the stuff that they were going to add to Coinbase?”
Jay Kang: Well, the actual reasons for that is A, you’re all in-
Aaron Lammer: I could have just shifted Bitcoin or Ethereum into that. They’ve all done well. Like ZRX did well, [inaudible 00:49:31] doing well, and I think it’s notable that we’re doing a show about them. We did a show about ZRX, we’ve done a show about Z-Cash which is also on that list. Like this is legitimizing for us, and that legitimacy is just good for price.
Jay Kang: Yeah, I guess we should definitely have done that. I don’t remember why I didn’t do it. I think it was mostly out of laziness.
Aaron Lammer: Absolutely. I did buy some ZRX. What I didn’t do is just buy them all. I guess what I’m saying is, rather than holding a bunch of portfolio in Bitcoin and Ethereum, which are the first two Coinbase coins, why don’t I just progressively buy my way down the ladder to what is getting added, experience that nice bump and then just go back into Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Jay Kang: It seems like the pain of the crush is starting to leave you.
Aaron Lammer: I’m feeling a little bit of optimistic. You said it too. You said yesterday to me, you said like, “So I guess Bitcoin survived.”
Jay Kang: Yeah, no I agree. I agree.
Aaron Lammer: I know it’s a flawed feeling but like, if I were to ask you, what’s the number one thing that makes you feel that way, what is it?
Jay Kang: Why Bitcoin?
Aaron Lammer: Like what was in your heart when you said, “I guess Bitcoin survived.”
Jay Kang: Well, a few things. The first is that just anecdotally from you and me in our show, like I expected us to have zero listeners at this point, with the price flat for this long and us being in a bear market.
Aaron Lammer: Yes.
Jay Kang: That was part of it, because I thought … It tells me at least that some people are interested in crypto. I know that there’s lots of events going around, not just in New York but in San Francisco and LA as well where people are really moving forward. I think that the crash really did take a lot of air out but now people are trying to build actual products now and some of scamminess is out of it. A lot of the scamminess is out of it and people aren’t doing crazy things like they were doing. Remember like that time when like Tron and all those things were just pumping and everyday something else would happen. That obviously was not sustainable and so it took a while I think to climb back out of it.
Aaron Lammer: That’s totally going to happen again though.
Jay Kang: You think so?
Aaron Lammer: There’s totally going to be another Tron generation.
Jay Kang: Yeah, I hope so.
Aaron Lammer: And it will be sleeker. They’d be like, “Oh, this Tron was dressed up better. Like we were tricked by like a fancy Tron.”
Jay Kang: This time like if it does happen again, do you think you and I will be smart enough to be able to pull a rib-coat and eject out of there before we lose everything?
Aaron Lammer: No.
Jay Kang: No, I don’t think so either.
Aaron Lammer: I don’t think so. I’m just hoping to experience mania one more time.
Jay Kang: I know,. I just want the thrill.
Aaron Lammer: But I’m starting to see the narrative shape up a little bit. Lie, I’m starting to see people sort of starting to float the new crypto narrative.
Jay Kang: What is that?
Aaron Lammer: It’s basically that there’s a bunch of institutional money sitting on the sidelines and like buying in, and like why would they be buying …
Jay Kang: I hate those narratives. Of all the narratives that’s my least favorite one.
Aaron Lammer: I think that’s going to be the next narrative.
Jay Kang: I just don’t care about the institutional money and stuff because if they’re buying projects and if they’re investing in projecting, and if they’re putting like good human resources in the projects I care about that. What I don’t care about is like some billionaire buys a bunch of Bitcoin and that makes the price go up for a bit. Like that narrative I don’t care about.
Aaron Lammer: I think that the overarching like long-term narrative about the institutional money coming in … I’m not talking too much about the user experience or you can buy it in Fidelity, I’m talking about like endowments, buying in, are that Bitcoin becomes a recognized reserve currency that is like the squarest of the square portfolios are still holding like a percent or two. That’s still like, how does Bitcoin become that bigger percentages related to gold or something like that. It’s basically just like people holding a bunch of money in Bitcoin.
Jay Kang: Okay, yeah.
Aaron Lammer: You’re bored of this though.
Jay Kang: Yeah, I’m bored of that.
Aaron Lammer: I’m basically am too. But look, I’m trying to pump these bags.
Jay Kang: It’s true. That is definitely true. We need your bags to be pumped. I actually have no coin right now, except for my 25 BAT.
Aaron Lammer: Oh shit. Jay.
Jay Kang: And it’s because my NBA betting strategy completely blew up in my face and I have no more Bitcoin.
Aaron Lammer: Wow. What bet cleared you out?
Jay Kang: I was betting against the Kings and then they were six and three … six and four.
Aaron Lammer: That was your whole strategy, was just to bet against the Kings?
Jay Kang: No, I was betting a lot of games but yeah, there was a night where, I think the Kings were playing the Hawks and the Kings are on the road and Kings just smoked the Hawks. They score like 149 points, and I had bet the Hawks in the under, yeah that was it. I was like, “All right, that’s it. I’m not going to put my money into Coinbase so I can gamble on this stuff anymore.”
Aaron Lammer: Okay. Well, I have to support that, even though I would like to see you in a few of these all coin bets just so we have something to cheer for.
Jay Kang: Yeah, we have our new crypto era, which is our uranium shit stocks.
Aaron Lammer: Oh my god. So, our good friend Ledger Status, this is actually a good tease for our future episode, has gotten Jay deep into uranium stock gambling tip, which is just as weird as it sounds.
Jay Kang: It’s also something that people on Reddit, Wall Street are doing.
Aaron Lammer: Don’t defend yourself. Hey man, lots of people are buying into specific African uranium mines.
Jay Kang: They’re Greenland.
Aaron Lammer: Greenland.
Jay Kang: It’s in Greenland, yeah.
Aaron Lammer: I thought there was one he was just describing as African mines was the investment.
Jay Kang: Yeah, I think I avoided that one.
Aaron Lammer: That one sounds just like the version of evil from a Indiana Jones movie or something like that. Just don’t get up on that.
Jay Kang: That one made me a little bit uncomfortable or a lot uncomfortable. But Greenland I was like, “Nobody even lives in Greenland, how much exploitation could there possibly be?”
Aaron Lammer: Okay. I say that we have Ledger back on the show to give us a primer on uranium investing.
Jay Kang: Yes, let’s do it.