Leaders Series: Carolyn Reckhow @ ConsenSys
Issue 4— March 4th, 2017
This series highlights the unique stories of leaders from various communities across the growing digital currency and blockchain technology industry. The goal is to showcase the fantastic work these leaders are all doing at different levels of their respective organizations, and to encourage more people at all stages of their careers join the revolution we’re creating, together!
Carolyn Reckhow is Director of Operations at ConsenSys
When did you get into bitcoin?
I never got into Bitcoin, though I followed it a bit on Reddit in 2011. What really captured my interest was the advent of Ethereum, in particular the way that it was presented to me from peers in law and social science academia — as a paradigm shifting technology with incredible social, economic, and political implications. I was getting a graduate degree in Boston in winter 2014/15 when I was introduced to some folks that quickly became friends. They were a melange of people working/studying at Harvard Law and the MIT Media Lab and had all been brought together by their interest in smart contracts and Ethereum. We formed an informal working group we called a “salon” where we gathered weekly and nerded out about DAOs, smart contracts, the sharing economy, and a variety of blockchain use cases. Primavera de Filippi (one of the salon members) invited me to attend the first COALA blockchain workshop in March 2015. I flew out to Palo Alto where I joined a hackathon team with two members of ConsenSys. We won the hackathon with Fabriq, a identity and reputation management app for communities built on Ethereum. Not long after working with the Fabriq team to launch a prototype in May 2015, I officially joined the ConsenSys team.
What did you do before you got into this?
I was in academia, specifically social sciences. Long before this I worked as a therapist/social worker….and I still definitely practice as a “therapist” everyday running Ops for ConsenSys.
What’s been the most interesting experience you’ve had in your role so far?
Just being a part of the “blockchain 2.0”/Ethereum industry as it has grown from a research project into helping Fortune 500 companies build production blockchain applications. That’s been exciting beyond belief.
What problem is your company solving?
ConsenSys is a venture production studio focusing on applications built on Ethereum and other decentralizing technologies — so the “problem” is quite broad. Personally I’m passionate about the potential blockchain has for remedying some of the social and economic inequity issues facing the developing world (banking the unbanked, providing identity to marginalized populations, etc.) and future consumer facing applications built on the foundation of self-sovereign identity. With blockchain identity solutions (like uPort for example) there are fascinating possibilities for new business models around putting personal data back into the hands of the people. In a world where AI systems profit from our personal information, blockchain identity solutions present an alternative vision of the future where people can be enriched from “Big Data” through privacy and granular & incentivized permission systems, rather than threatened by the increasingly centralized mountain of information in our current networks.
As you look across the emerging blockchain ecosystem, what perspective do you think is missing today?
One area I’m passionate about seeing more development in the blockchain product sphere is UX/user centric design and blockchain in the context of consumer applications. The fundamental cryptographic nature of blockchain’s value add is (in it’s current state) a UX disaster. What consumer wants to look at c9n27bjw937xb0akr83b and have to learn about key management? We’re far away from where we have to be when it comes to decentralized application usability, and I think we’re going to see some unexpected brilliance come from interesting places regarding product design and UX for blockchain. It’s a big missing piece and an exciting opportunity for innovation.
Thanks to Carolyn! Connect with her on LinkedIn!