Conversation with Cyrus Taghehchian, co-founder & CEO fo Spl.yt
Tell us a bit about how you started working with Science.
Spl.yt was founded with the idea of revolutionizing e-commerce with a blockchain based model. On the road to that goal, I met Mike Jones at a conference. Mike’s immense knowledge of the relevant fields proved to me that Science was a perfect fit for us. Plainly put, Science knows how to build a business. Our goal has always been to help integrate users and become the most widely used blockchain platform.
What got you interested in cryptocurrencies and blockchain? What was your first experience with bitcoin like?
In 2014, I was introduced to Coinbase by a friend who invited me to check out for this bitcoin thing. I’m naturally curious and participated in seeing what the buzz was about. At the time, I saw a lot of potential for a universal world currency, not only having to deal with cross-border payment transaction fees, but also to enable a number of other use cases. I saw cryptocurrencies as a nascent technology; wallets were cumbersome and difficult to manage.
In 2016, I was an early adopter of Ethereum, which is when I got heavily involved with the community. I started experimenting with how the tech can be used to better society. In my research, what really caught my attention was the concept of dApps, and how Ethereum was like a global operating system. Once a dApp is deployed to that global OS, it’s available on all clients and users. As an entrepreneur — that was eye-opening and makes it very exciting to continue to develop in this ecosystem.
What are you trying to do with Splyt? How has it evolved from when you got started?
Our mission with Splyt is to build an e-commerce platform that acts as a social utility, owned by the people and managed with a decentralized governance mechanism. The platform on which Spl.yt intends to build this marketplace will utilize smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain, delivering a level of profitability and autonomy to affiliate sellers in the ecosystem. Spl.yt’s model will ultimately eliminate the influence of middlemen who eat into the bottom line of sellers, and pass this savings on to consumers, but there’s more to this puzzle than that.
When we initially set out, we knew that it was possible to create a working decentralized marketplace without commissions. Since, we have come to see the merits of blockchain based inventory management on a larger scale in order to introduce a hyper-efficient interconnected marketplace to consumers and affiliate sellers, which encompasses a greater customer base than originally envisioned.
How do you think about building a team for a crypto project?
When it comes to putting together the right team, we primarily seek talented individuals who stand out and have proven themselves to be proficient at their trade, because while many things can be trained, soft skills cannot be taught. We select candidates whose purposes and goals align with Spl.yt’s. We see the blockchain ecosystem as one that is much different than the typical corporate America model, and when we find the right people, we tend to put them first.
When it all boils down to it, crypto is a multifaceted technology, so it’s important to find people who have relevant experience, but are also agile, and can think on their feet. A willingness to test things to see if they break, curiosity, and a meticulous approach to auditing code are key factors in anyone who has a future in the field of blockchain technology.
Crypto is very multidisciplinary. Building a good understanding of things in crypto requires one to learn a lot about various other disciplines. How does your background in consulting come in handy?
As a consultant I had to very quickly assess and dive into several different industries, cultures, and companies. This environment not only sharpened my skills, but also allowed me properly delegate tasks to the skilled team in which I played a role. When new obstacles arose, I learned to quickly work to find the root of the issue and solve the problem. This experience translates directly to the cryptocurrency ecosystem.
What are some things in this space that you think are overhyped right now or are too early given the current state of the tech and market?
Scaling: Scalability seems to be the big question on everyone’s mind. Without the capacity to overtake popular legacy transaction networks, users will never flock to the system. If we truly want to see mass adoption, the fundamental platform upon which the applications are being built to interface with must provide reasonable transaction throughput. This will come with time.
Security Tokens Offerings: The sentiment of security tokens is to create liquidity for deployed capital to early startups, but they are no different from an IPO. A security token is just your shares of a company on the blockchain. I understand the premise but the capacity they have to radicalize markets underscores the value proposition of security tokens.
When it comes to working in the ecommerce, is there anything that you think people are not paying enough attention to that will become fairly important in the long run?
People are not paying enough attention to data protection and privacy. Some of the first rumbles of public awareness towards these issues have begun, given the big headlines regarding Facebook, and the fact that nearly every target consumer in the US owns a smart device capable of covertly gathering their data, but there hasn’t been a huge uproar. I expect to see a major reversal of public sentiment towards privacy rights, and that companies who once harvested this information will need to revise their business models. It’s scary to think that Amazon knows you better than yourself.
How do you think about balancing your own roadmap with that of the smart contract platform you work on?
When it comes to the roadmap, it’s not so much balancing as it is fine tuning the extension of what we are trying to build in the long run to interface with where we see the ecosystem going as a whole. In that vein, many of our team members are part of and contribute to the efforts of the Ethereum Magicians, a team of core Ethereum developers seeking to build a better Ethereum for future generations. This perspective compliments Spl.yts own developmental goals while we build meaningful features for Ethereum which provide value to the Spl.yt community.
If you had the power to bring about one radical change for user adoption of utility tokens, what would it be?
Mobile wallets; they need to be easier to use. Fumbling around with private and public keys presents too much risk to the average newcomer to cryptocurrency. It would be ideal to have a hardware wallet which interfaces with a mobile device or serve as an extension to a mobile device. I’d be interested to see the integration of biometric decryption. There needs to be a way to restore a lost wallet; it’s a large obstacle to mass adoption. If anyone solves this problem, we will see mass user adoption sooner than later
What is your strongest belief about how utility tokens will play out in the long run? What would likely need to happen for you to change your mind on that in the short run?
I think utility tokens are here to stay and will probably be handled by systems interacting with other systems in the background; people won’t know they exist and will come to rely upon the services they provide while utilizing state currencies to interact with service providers. Utility tokens will replace APIs.
For my opinion on utility tokens to change, we would have to see state currencies be completely phased out. I would expect that industry specific utility tokens that are pegged to around a dollar would rise up as the means of commerce to allow people to obtain those services, and that individuals who owned tokens would come to hold value in the verticals specific to those utilities. These utility tokens will be the widely used and accepted digital currency.