Leaders Series: Jennifer Zhu Scott at Radian
Issue 46 — April 5, 2018
Jennifer Zhu Scott is Founding Principal at Radian
I had the pleasure of meeting Jennifer through the World Economic Forum Blockchain Council, where we both serve on the inaugural council. Jennifer has been an active investor, advocate, and advisor in the blockchain ecosystem via Radian, and recently launched a new venture, Radian Carbon, which is focused on using tokenization to make carbon credits more liquid and tradable.
Note from the editor: On a personal level, Jennifer has been incredibly supportive of my career and has been a fantastic friend. Could not be more grateful to have such a phenomenal mentor and lifelong partner in crime.
How did you first get into the crazy world of all thing crypto?
I have been on the tech side of the financial industry for more than 10 years, as the Head of Strategy in APAC for Thomson Reuters and as an independent investor and advisor into FinTech startups. Prior to 2015, most of the Fintech companies were still building on the same system with marginal improvement of efficiency and transparency. Since 2015, the blockchain enabled companies started to impose some fundamental questions on how the financial markets should be structured. I studied applied mathematics and computer science with a master in finance, combining with years of experiences in financial data and FinTech. Such background enables me to see clearly what impact the blockchain technology would bring to the financial market. The most important revelation in the past 2 + years was that Token Economy is here to stay and it will transform the entire financial industry and beyond. So in 2016, I cofounded Radian Blockchain Venture to focus on using Blockchain to democratize growth participation in the renewable energy and green tech sector.
What did you do before you got into this?
Direct investment and advisory into Fintech companies.
What problem is your company solving? Why do you feel passionate about this?
· Token Economy will fundamentally disintermediate many functions in the financial market, starting with VC, IPOs, project financing or anything that can benefit from securitization. We will see transformative growth in renewable energy and green tech in markets like China, India, Africa, and the Middleeast. Lack of legacy issue will allow many of these markets to leapfrog in renewable energy. We aim to use blockchain / smart contract to make the capitalization, yield distribution, and general participation much more accessable and automated. It’s a long journey and we have just got started. The second industrial revolution relied on resources of scarcity: land, labour, and capital. The industrial revolution we are going through right now is based on the resource of abundance: data, renewable energy, and a more inclusive financial market. I firmly believe that the new economy will not only allow an alignment of profit and purpose, but demands it. I want to be part of effort to change the narrative and lead by example.
What are some ideas you’re excited about right now, and why?
In addition to the transformative power token economy can bring to scale and democratize renewable energy financing and adoption, I’m also very excited about the capability blockchain can bring to empower individual data ownership and trade. There are a number of crypto projects using token to incentivize and reward data contribution already. Extending that into individual data ownership, assign value effectively to individuals, and empower individuals to trade data will be a natural next step. I am writing about this and hope I will be able to share more detailed thoughts soon.
What’s been the most interesting or inspiring experience you’ve had in “crypto land” thus far?
The highlight this year so far would have to be my detate against Prof Robert Shiller, the 2013 Nobel Laureate (Econ) and the Swedish Deputy Central Bank Governor Cecilia Skingsley on Bitcoin and crypto asset bubble at Davos. The debate was televised in China through YiCai and it went viral. Despite the resistance from the incumbents, the very fact that we are having a debate at Davos with a Nobel Prize winner and central bank governor has already further validated the movement Satoshi Nakamoto started 9 years ago.
How and where do you find inspiration in the crypto space? What are you reading, watching, attending that is shaping your thinking?
In addition to the obvious routines such as Twitter and Medium, or the most obvious popular books on crypto, I’m re-reading Niall Furgeson’s ‘The Acsent of Money’ to further understand our monetary history. Histories don’t always repeat but it is a reliable source of references for the future. I also found re-reading philosophy, in particular by Thomas Hobbes, Jean-Jaque Rouseau, and John Locke on social contract, is very thought provoking and helpful in thinking through what ways Bitcoin and blockchain could potentially transform our society, what the implications would be, and why the governments need to react the way they did.
Any advice for people who are looking to get involved in the space? What are things you did that helped you get started?
Keep a high standard of integrity and only work with people with integrity and guts.
Long term, a world of many blockchains and coins, or one chain to rule them all?
Aside from your own project, Radian Carbon, what’s the project you’re most excited about, and why?
The RNDR token issued by OTOY — perhaps the most impressive underlying business, proprietary tech, customers, and team I’ve seen in the entire crypto space. The token economy is well designed to solve the company’s real capacity issue. We will see a series of very high profile applications by RNDR in the Hollywood movie industry, gaming, and the creative industry in general in 2018.
As you think about this industry, what do you think will happen in the short term that will blow people’s minds?
In the short term, I think the skeptics will be surprised to see how wide the token economy will transform our current economy. Many skeptics think when the crypto bubble bursts it will be the end, but to me, it is the beginning of the true digital economy where eventually we will be able to transfer value almost as efficiently as we transfer information. The market reflection of disappointments on the low-quality crypto projects are already happening. There were too many pre-product projects that raised too much money based on a concept in 2016 and 2017 and the majority of them will not be able to deliver what they set out to do. The crypto bear market we are seeing now is unfortunately not at the bottom yet. The crypto bears are now showing as much confidence as the crypto speculators at the peak of the market. Both sides choose to focus on the price and neither pays enough attention to the best applications.
What do you think will be disappointing?
What also disappoints me is that there are a disapproportionally large amount of participants lacking intellectual and business integrity, which really hurt the overall chance for crypto to have a fair and long term development.
What changes do you think bitcoin or blockchain technology will accelerate in our world?
Bitcoin and blockchain technology challenge the status quo of the existing financial markets as well as how some of our critical government functions are carried out currently. It’s not a stretch to say that Satoshi Nakamoto’s real gift to the world is a tool to potentially allow people to renegotiate the social contracts, hence why we see so many high profile individuals who benefit from the current status quo so vocally against Bitcoin and blockchain technology. We are at the infancy stage of a potentially multi-decade project. Persistence, integrity, and vision are desperately needed.