POV Crypto with Brad Kam (Text-Version)
POV Crypto 48 with Brad Kam. Listen here.
Christian: Alright everyone, I am super excited to introduce you to Bradley Kam, the co-founder of Unstoppable Domains. Unstoppable domains is a single, was it like a user it just one name domain where you can send any cryptocurrency to and it’ll go to the right wallet. This is a super cool project and excited to kind of jump into his company as well as their take on the cryptocurrency space in general. Brad, why don’t you introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about yourself and Unstoppable?
Brad: Thanks a lot, of thanks for having me. So, I’m Brad I’m co-founder of Unstoppable domains. My background, I’m from Atlanta. I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was 19 or so, started in the real estate world, moved to San Francisco to work on a software startup company called Talkable building refer-a-friend programs for e-commerce companies, spent the past few years building that up, hired a new CEO for that and step back so I could focus full-time on crypto. I kind of bit the crypto bug in 2012. I moved into 20 Mission when I moved to San Francisco. And everybody I met, all the people I met actually, when I first moved here were Bitcoin hackers , there was a Bitcoin exchange that was started there, I think Vitalik gave a talk there before Ethereum launched in our courtyard so I was very fortunate I just got inundated with it when I moved here. So, yeah that’s me.
David: So, what aspect about crypto kind of hooked you in?
Brad: I think it was the revolutionary aspect. This idea that you could have currency you know not controlled by government, I always kind of saw that as the biggest problem and I studied you know like politics, international politics in college and even a little bit in grad school. And I always saw that as the core problem and then man someone came up with a solution that was crazy. I didn’t even know that was possible.
David: What do you study in college and grad school?
Brad: Middle Eastern politics actually.
David: Interesting, anything currency related and all that stuff?
Brad: It was more like from the perspective of like how do governments use their currency to retain control, use power, you know dole out favors, that sort of thing. It was more like what are the levers that authoritarian governments use and currencies like a big one.
Christian: So, I’m gonna want to get into this and I’m personally like I think about what cryptocurrency and sovereign money is gonna do to Fiat and government, in general, a lot as a Bitcoiner, but I do want to get into Unstoppable Domains first before we kind of dive into that rabbit hole. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about your company?
Brad: Yes, so Unstoppable Domains is building domains on blockchains. And the idea is that a blockchain domain can do two things that a regular domain can’t. The first one is it can replace your cryptocurrency addresses with one single human-readable name. So, you can attach your Bitcoin address, Ethereum address, your Litecoin address, your EOS, your Ripple, address everything, all to one domain. And then when I open up my wallet and I want to pay you I just need to know that and then I can select which cryptocurrency I want to pay you in and pay. And your name is already pre-configured with the currencies that you accept. So that’s use case number one make payments super simple. Use case number two is censorable websites. So, because the domain is an asset that sits inside of your wallet, just like a cryptocurrency, it means that no takedown requests can take your domain away from you. And if you were to put your content on IPFS or some other decentralized storage network, then that’s the other censorship point, no one could take down your content either. So, we’re building tools to make this easy for those two use cases payments and websites.
Christian: So, how does that work? What’s the mechanism that makes these things unstoppable?
Brad: It’s the fact that the domains are the registry is a smart contract on a blockchain, and the domains are assets they are unique assets, that sit inside of your wallet. And in the traditional system, you have registrar’s like GoDaddy or Google Domains or whatever, and they’re actually a custodian of your domain. So, they can move it around, they can take it. And that’s kind of the core security flaw is that there’s a custodian. And you know this is the thing that blockchains do is they get rid of the custodian, they put us in charge.
Christian: And so, if somebody wants to go to a URL that is an unstoppable domain, can your kind of just connect the user flow between someone who’s accessing one of these, someone who has purchased one of these or you have to purchase these things, how does this all work? Can you kind of illustrate the product for us? 9:15
Brad: Yes so, there are three main pieces of what we’re making. One is the registry so; this is we’re launching a new domain extension called.zil, on the blockchain. Two is we have a GoDaddy style app, UnstoppableDomains.com where you can buy domains, where you can add your cryptocurrency addresses to them and we’re in the near future we will be providing you with tools to spin up your own websites on IPFS or other decentralized storage networks. So, the way that you will access those websites is through browser extensions initially, and we have a couple of partners already that are wallets that our browser extensions and the way that it’ll work is you’ll essentially write an IPFS hash to the blockchain it will be associated with your domain. And then when I type in the domain, it will look up the blockchain, point me to that content and there I go, there we have a fully separate internet.
Christian: So, would I be incorrect if I were to assume that this blockchain that you’re talking about is Ethereum?
Brad: So, the first blockchain that we’re building on is Zilliqa, yes but we did build a demo product on Ethereum and we would build on Ethereum in the future.
Christian: Why’d you pick Zilliqa and instead of Ethereum?
Brad: Initially it was because we were excited by their scaling solution and by their team in general. And they wanted to partner with us so they’re actually a partner with us on .zil. I think the key thing though to keep in mind just in general is that regardless of what blockchain your domain happens to live on you as the user probably won’t even notice, you will have your Bitcoin address, your Ethereum address, your Litecoin address all of your addresses still associated with one domain. So, it’s almost kind of like a like a back-end developer consideration more than it is a user consideration. I think if you had two different domains sitting on separate blockchains, you wouldn’t actually notice.
David: Why are you guys doing this? What vision is inspiring you to build this kind of infrastructure and what need are you trying to solve here? Is it really just trying to make it easier for me to accept the cryptos I want and why or is it kind of more deep-seated and ideological?
Brad: Yeah well, I think that there’s you know, I think that the payments aspect also comes from an ideological place. But I think that it’s really about censorship and it’s really about — it’s really about providing a free Internet to the world. I think that this is something that if we don’t have, we as a society are at risk. And I think that we’re more and more at risk as the Internet has progressed because the systems are centralized, and now the systems are getting really advanced. Which means that a very small number of people now control a huge amount of infrastructure and power and that wasn’t even true ten or fifteen years ago. Now we have the Facebooks and the Googles and the ICANN’s and the governments and all this other sort of stuff. All of these parties have all of this information and all this data, and I think that if we don’t decentralize it, I don’t think that the trajectory will be positive for us. So, it feels like a necessity to do it, that’s I guess the first thing.
I also think that this just making crypto payments easier is part of the same desire because these are censorship resistant payments and if they have bad UX, if they have bad UI if they’re hard to use, they won’t be used. The crypto community is maybe twenty or thirty million people we know that there’s at least another billion or two billion or three billion people, that would find these tools really valuable really important, but they’re too hard to use right now.
Christian: So, who are you building this for?
Brad: For everyone.
Christian: But like there has to be a business like there has to be like this is our number one objective like this is our core target like are you building it for you know Venezuelan grandmas? Yeah, where do you see your product market fit?
Brad: So, initially it is the crypto community itself and the reason why is because blockchain domains on day one will be valuable and useful as payment gateways. Attaching all your crypto addresses, managing all these crypto addresses, this is something that every single crypto user, is a problem every single crypto user already has so we think that’s use case number one. We think that’s the first pool of people that will want to adopt this. And then on the side of websites, we think it’s going to be the people that are currently restricted from being able to produce content. And I think it’ll start with very simple stuff like text, news, and I think it’ll be about places that don’t have a free internet. And I think it’ll be those use cases first because I think those are the ones that the technology can already support now. These websites are gonna be like, we’re basically going to be rewinding the internet to like 1996 levels like we’re talking about like Geocities type tools. If anybody ever used it back in the day for web builders like it’s going to start with the very simple stuff. So, it’s only gonna be the people that really need censorship resistance and payments.
David: What I would imagine is that the first types of customers that you would receive are the like you said the ones that really need censorship resistance, which you know ideally we want this to be like some ideological battle between censorship and big government versus you know the little guy. But I’m kind of worried that your first big customers are gonna be like Silk Road type websites, are your kind of you guys kind of worried about somebody using your guys’ platform for something that might get you guys into trouble?
Brad: I mean we were definitely worried; we definitely do not want people to be using technology for purposes that are harmful, bad and illegal. However, the nature of the technology itself in order to have a fully secure system you need to not have any back doors at the protocol level. So, it’s critical actually to have a secure system there’s actually no other way to build one so far as we can tell. So that’s critical, it does create this other problem or potentially enhance this other problem. Although I would actually argue that the current centralized systems are not solving this either. But we actually think that so the way that we’re the way that we are approaching this is we think that the filtering should happen at the second layer. So, we will support filtered lists that identify bad addresses, we will not resolve those addresses in our search inside of our app. We will not in partner applications, we will also offer those filtering lists. But the point is that applications will still be able to choose to ignore that and look up the blockchain directly. So, if you think about the commercial web, if you think about companies are going to want to abide by the laws, the laws of their lands and the laws of you know the laws of acceptable behavior, and I think that’s a good thing. And I think that’s what 90%, 95%, 99% of the internet looks like now and will look like in the future in this paradigm too.
I actually think it’ll be better because right now what you have is you have Facebook has to do their own filtering and they don’t share and YouTube has to do their own and they don’t share and all these other companies are essentially tasked with this unmanageable problem, but they don’t cooperate. And we’re talking about shared filtered lists. We actually think that might be a better solution.
We’re already looking for partners to help us identify at sort of a technology level on how to filter out this stuff better because I think that’s also going to be an important piece.
David: So, does that kind of allude to the fact that Facebook and YouTube and all these centralized platforms have to do their job when it comes to compliance and legal you know being in compliance with the US government, but because they are these gated platforms that it’s not efficient for them because each one is fighting the same battles over and over and over again . And because you are this open network, it’s kind of a community-driven filtering that all of that effort is scaled because it applies to everyone else, because it’s done by the community is that right?
Brad: Yeah, I think that’s right.
Christian: What is most wrong with the current system? You kind of alluded it a little bit to it, but like what is so broken and like why do you think building on top of block chains this untouchable domain system is solving that?
Brad: It’s not secure, that’s the core problem, these are centralized systems with databases trying to control our data. And I think anybody who’s been watching over the past few years can’t feel confident that they’re doing a good job, any of these centralized platforms. If it’s because of their and part of it is because of the profit motive, their goal is to collect as much data on you as you can. That is not the business model of these new companies, these new companies like us, are selling an asset, we’re not selling you. Facebook sells you, so it’s different.
David: I think that’s the way to say there was another piece of your question that I wanted to touch on.
Christian: How does all domains fix it?
Brad: Yeah so, you move the entire — if you move the entire framework of the internet onto a blockchain based system where you start with the user controls their data, the user controls their money, the user controls their assets, then the user opts in. So instead of having Facebook controlling all of my data and locking me in, and now Facebook is this monopoly ,Facebook and Facebooks like it would be applications asking me for access to my data, maybe even access to just read my data in an encrypted manner so they can’t even see it, just so they can offer me services . But because I control it, I can then shop around. There could be 50 social media applications trying to get my business, but if they control my data, they’re the monopoly.
Christian: But doesn’t that mean that the underlying blockchain layer has to be secure enough that you can trust that you actually control it? Like how do you make decisions on, do you build on Zilliqa, do you build on ETH, so like how do you make those kinds of critical decisions and then like at what threshold is a blockchain not secure enough for it to be announced an Unstoppable Domain or application?
Brad: I think that’s a good question, it’s also a philosophical question. I think there is still probably no perfect system. So, we’re focused on the — where in terms of where we put your domain asset, we would want to put it on the most secure systems that we can find. And if that’s a moving target meaning if which systems, which blockchains, are seen as the most secure over time changes, then that may be an argument for moving assets to a different place. I’m not saying I think that’s is likely, I actually don’t necessarily think that’s likely, but I think that that’s the goal. The goal is for it to be as secure as possible, no blockchain I guess is completely secure, so we won’t maybe we won’t be able to get all the way there but as close as we can.
Christian: Brad I kind of want to get back into the technicals of unstoppable domains. How does a human-readable name, like an address like that kind of create a central place for me to send Bitcoin or Ether or Litecoin or all these different cryptocurrencies, that don’t use human readable names, how do you guys bridge that gap?
Brad: Yeah so, what’s really happening is actually a really, it’s a really simple thing. You have your domain on the blockchain, you control your private keys, you can write information to the blockchain so you write my Bitcoin address is this, my Ethereum address is that, my Litecoin address is this other thing,
Christian: On each respective blockchain?
Brad: Only on one, because you only need to do it once, your domain is on one blockchain, you’re writing information to it.
David: And is that Zilliqa?
Brad: So, and you’re writing your Bitcoin address, you’re writing all of your addresses it’s the same process, you only need one domain and you have you’re writing all of these addresses to the blockchain. And then what happens when I go into a wallet, let’s say you want to pay me , Brad.zil, you would go into a wallet you would type that in, you would select which currency you wanted to pay me in or you would start with.
Christian: So, you provide Zilliqa with the private keys for each of your respective blockchain addresses right?
Brad: No, these are just public addresses. Think of it like this, you’re saying here’s me, you’re saying like you’re writing this okay here’s all that’s happening is you’re just writing this information to the blockchain and you can literally just read it on the blockchain. Here’s my domain, my Bitcoin address is this, Litecoin address is this, my Ethereum address is that, now when I type it into a wallet, Brad.zil, that wallet does a look up on the blockchain, searches for that domain, reads the person wants ETH. I’m supposed to be looking for the Ethereum address, okay the ETH address is this and drop it into the send field.
Christian: We should do that for POV.
David: Yeah, yeah, we should.
Christian: We always run into the issue where there’s like too much stuff in our show notes, and we list like Bitcoin whatever else like our guests want to send like we should just put like a POV.zil, it will solve a lot of our text issues.
Brad: First use case, you were asking about the first use case, it’s people who are crypto influencers. Those are people who are already getting paid in crypto right now who have this problem and we see this all over the place people. Putting on their Twitter feeds and they’re listing four or five or six different cryptocurrency addresses, and when you have your blockchain domain I mentioned that you can associate your cryptocurrency addresses to it and you can verify your social accounts with it too. You can write this is my Twitter account to this domain, this is my Telegram account or whatever this is my, so now I have actually had a registry of these different things and then when I go into a wallet to pay you, I see that before I pay. I’m like oh yeah, I see the Twitter account oh yeah, it’s definitely the right person.
David: So, if somebody sends us Ether or Dai, and then our handle is POVcrypto, do they type in the to field in an Ethereum transaction where there’s sound like meta mask or CoinBase wallet, do they literally type send to POVcrypto.zil? And then that’s true for Bitcoin, that’s true for Litecoin after you’ve registered everything on the Zilliqa blockchain.
Brad: Yeah and it’s actually so much simpler than it seems when you see it. You just type in; you type in the address, the wallet says okay let me just go see what the blockchain says and reading the blockchain is free. So, it’s a public, you know its public blockchain, the wallet just goes oh okay you want a Bitcoin address, okay here’s the Bitcoin address and it just drops it in this send field.
David: Okay how is this different from Ethereum ENS?
Brad: It works for any cryptocurrency, ENS only works for Ethereum.
David: So, I guess ENS is for IPFS inside of Ethereum and Zilliqa is a different IPFS.
Brad: It would be the same IPFS, the thing is like the way that the website aspect will work, at least currently between our system and theirs is actually quite similar, the way that the payments stuff works is quite different. And it’s mostly that we will, our contract accepts our standard accepts any cryptocurrency. And if you think about use cases like that’s the real use case, the real use case is my Bitcoin address my Ethereum address my Litecoin address, it’s not just only sent me this one currency.
Christian: I understand that in terms of like this use case that you’re just kind of painting here that business is going quite well people are really excited about this, like what exciting things do you see people doing with their Zilliqa addresses today?
Brad: So, right now what you can do, so right now we’re in the pre-order phase and I can explain a little bit about how we’re doing the distribution process in general. We looked at the way that the traditional domain extension industry launches. And there’s a couple of phases; so, you start out with a pre-order phase where you announce and you try to get some initial interest you try to get people on board so that when you go live you will have users ready to use it. You also announced to trademark holders and we’ve done this as well, we’re trying to notify trademark holders in order to get them to claim them .zil domains and there’s a little bit of verification associated with that.
Christian: Do they have to pay for that?
Brad: They do, I mean everyone has to pay for their domain. But the verification is not something we do that’s like a legal thing. And then in June, the contract will go live on the blockchain. You’ll be able to use your domains and then about a week later we’ll have a public auction, where the top few thousand domains will be able to be bid on by anyone in the world, it’s also a public auction you’ll be able to see all the bids publicly and anyone can participate. They’re buying them from the contract technically.
David: So how does the contract price them?
Brad: Bids we’ll start at $10 for regular domains and a bit higher for premium domains I think it’s we were still doing the math on it but I think it’s $250 for the most part.
David: And that money goes to who?
Brad: It goes to us and Zilliqa Foundation and there are other partners.
Christian: So, you guys created every single domain is that how this works? So, every permutation of characters out there is under your guys’ control and they’re buying it from you guys is that how it works?
Brad: Essentially what’s happening is yeah, they’re being like minted you know and you can you have you know as long as there’s not an existing entry in the contract then you can have a new domain.
Christian: So, what’s preventing a competitive and or a competitor to Unstoppable Domains going and doing the same thing like do you guys have like a moat or something that prevents somebody else from going and getting a land grab first?
Brad: I think there’s like three critical pieces in order to make it all work. So, you need the registry contract, you need that to work you need the mechanics to work there and I think we’ve got a lot of novel ideas on the auction theory and on distribution and we’ve also been doing a lot of partnerships so that’s one piece. But the other two pieces which are critical are having the consumer experience which is UnstoppableDomains.com where you can actually easily buy a domain, you can easily pay where you can easily configure your domains, where we’re going to have a very simple decentralized hosting product. So, you’ll be able to pay a few bucks a month in order to host your website on decentralized storage. All of the like that whole piece is really critical. And then the final piece is wallets and wallets and other apps. So, we have a library and an API and we are working with wallets and other partners to get them integrated and that’s the other piece. So, it’s really this whole ecosystem problem of these three things; the registry, the consumer experience, and the partner apps. And I think you got to do all three.
Christian: So, if I wanted to like register POVcrypto.zil and go beyond just you know you can send my you can send Ether and Bitcoin to these addresses, how would I build a website around that when that’s ready like could I build a WordPress website with POV.zil? Like, do you guys have to supply all that architecture or can your kind of like a leach on to what exists with web 2.0?
Brad: It’s a really good question. I think the answer is that in the short term, there will not be web 2.0 integrations meaning in the first few months to a year I think initially it’ll be kind of blockchain first tooling. And it’ll be built primarily around this use case of text-based websites, primarily text-based websites, with you know with links and with payments. So that will be the first thing in the first iteration of this and it’ll be people who want to use it for those reasons, initially. Over time, yes, I think will have integrations and I also think there’s going to be an entire ecosystem of tools. I think we legitimately do need to rebuild the internet in this way and I think that as soon as we have even a small number of users that want it, there will be all kinds of demand for new tools. I see a very big market forming around a lot of this stuff.
Christian: How big is a website in data size? And how are you guys storing the whole entire thing and how is that done?
Brad: It’s stored so it would be stored on like essentially a series of nodes you know like get the way IPFS works is you basically have multiple different nodes, different parties, storing your content, pinning your content, for you and you’re paying them hopefully, we’ll be making that system.
David: So, this is like this storage is a function that’s built into Zilliqa?
Brad: It’s a separate thing, where your content is stored and where your domain lives or to really they’re separate things in the traditional DNS world as well, it’s just we don’t have good like words for it like, a website, you know like a website isn’t a real thing, there’s your content and there’s your domain. Maybe a website is a combination of the two not really sure we just don’t have good words for this. The content is on IPFS or but it could also be on Amazon Web Services. Like you could have a blockchain domain pointing to content on Amazon Web Services. The point here is that that already exists, Amazon Web Services already exists, so we don’t need to build that. The thing that doesn’t exist is an easy way for you to store your content on decentralized storage that can’t be taken down. Because there’s on Amazon Web Services if they get a takedown request your website’s gone, if we get a takedown request we’ll say we don’t control the domain they do and the content is on a decentralized storage network, and the people that are storing it the computers that are storing it don’t even know what they are storing. So, no one is taking an opinion on what content there is. So, it’s basically like we’re trading all of the fancy tools that we’ve gotten accustomed to on the internet over the past 22 years and we’re just going back to just like complete the beginning but with these new features.
David: Right, I’m assuming that that data that they have stored is encrypted right so they can’t even see what they have stored is that correct?
Brad: Yeah that’s the idea. And because these are text files that you know initially like I mean, you know you’re not gonna be able to build a Netflix on decentralized storage any time soon. But I think you can build a basic blog or a basic new site and I think a basic news site could be a really big use case early on. I mean that’s actually better than the New York Times you got payments baked in, New York Times can’t accept you know 25 cents for an article.
David: Can that be automated? If somebody like if I say I go to this Unstoppable Domains URL that has an Ethereum address built into it and it’s a blog article and then can it trigger my MetaMask to pop up and say hey do you want to send like a quarter of a DAI to the owner with this address and I could just click yes or no? Is that’s a function that could happen?
Brad: Totally yeah, I think there’s kind of two ways that happens. You can. I think the other way to do it is to do it with mobile app pushes, because you can have your private key stored on a phone and then it could just be that way where even a website would be triggering, essentially asking you to sign a transaction giving permissions to whatever. And now yeah now your blockchain domain is like your single sign-on.
Christian: So, I guess going with that like what and I know that we kind of touched on this a little bit but what makes an Unstoppable Domain unstoppable? Like if the US government wanted to stop Zilliqa, could they stop it? Like how do you kind of assess that? At what point is this guy posting X explicit content on X blockchain that’s actually kind of centralized, like that destroys the value prop, it’s like so infuriating that a significant government is gonna go down to the pit players and shut it down.
Brad: 34:39 I mean I think putting something on Ripple would not be a good idea. For example, I think from what we have seen from Ethereum and Zillqa, we would feel comfortable.
Christian: So why is that?
Brad: The structure of a system that involves no clear owner, there’s no clear owner. There’s no clear way to take it down and I think that’s definitely true for Ethereym and I think it’s also true for other smart contract blockchains as well. So, I think it’s also true for Bitcoin. So I think those networks and those models have proved themselves, as best they could for us, as a business you know we’re gonna we’re gonna obviously stay vigilant because we want this to be the feature set that we’re offering, but right now we feel good about these tools, so far so good.
Christian: I mean like I guess like let’s just dig into Zilliqa, I know that they wanted to work with you, the Zilliqa is partnered with you, they have a financial interest to sell domains with you, what features do they have that made you feel like, hey you know this is good enough for the cause that we’re trying to try to drive? And I understand that like a lot of Bitcoin Maximalist have this very polar view on how this should work, like Bitcoin is all the way you know on this one extreme, and I do admit that there are a lot of use cases where decentralized enough is really actually very useful and game-changing. And it doesn’t have to be nuclear grade decentralized but I got one point , like do you have a checklist that you go down and this is what it takes for it to be qualified to be unstoppable? 36:28
Brad: I mean it is a good question and I think that codifying this in writing for us as a company is something that I want to do. I think that the shortest answer I could give is that these networks so like I mean let’s take Ethereum for example. I think we can say pretty confidently that there haven’t been any cases where a transaction was able to be reversed because of outside pressure. Where like the network itself, now the network split and I know that’s a different question, but the network itself was not able to be reversed. And I think that’s been true for Bitcoin, it has been true for Ethereum, it’s been true for several other blockchains. And I think that for us as a business that criteria would satisfy, that we have confidence that nobody could come in and essentially censor a transaction. So there’s a lot of other questions that people have around decentralization and around how many people control it, we would say that more decentralization is better. But yeah it does start to get into gradients and it starts to get a little mushy, we’re less ideological though like I said. We’re trying to work with a lot of different types of technologies, we do believe like we’re very discerning in terms of who we believe are building really great stuff, but we are we believe in a multipolar world, I would say.
Christian: So, at the end of the day when you guys are just kind of relaxing and shooting the shit do you guys hypothesize about future platforms that could be built on top of on Unstoppable Domains? Like future use cases or crazy ideas of what could be built?
Brad: Yeah definitely and I think a lot of the stuff that comes up is around social media, is around like user is just controlling all of it. And then like, it’s like users control all their data then all of a sudden all these apps, they got to come to us, they got to come and like provide some really awesome service and like maybe they charge us a dollar a month or something for some really awesome service and if we decide we don’t like it we just switch off. And our data and our friend graph and our pictures and all the other stuff that we wanted are just there and ready to go in these new apps. So now there’s hyper-competition and I think hyper-competition is actually the thing that might that you know that motivates me a lot also in terms of designing systems. If you get to that, man, users are gonna have a great life.
Christian: So, something that I talk about a lot is that like cryptocurrency, blockchain, this movement is almost kind of about gamifying the world, like it’s not just about gamifying and designing games, like how do we gamify the world, like how do we play with game theory how do we like play with these incentives in order to get people to act appropriately in order to protect property without force, in order to do all these things that used to be impossible without a third party or a government to enforce it? So it sounds like you know you feel the same about you know whether this space is going especially with these domains, like can you kind of talk about like what what’s your cosmic kind of vision of the future when you’re kind of looking at this space looking at the future of the internet, looking at what this technology can do?
Brad: I think that it’s foundationally, if we can give every person in the world the ability to control their money, the ability to control their digital property, the ability to control their data, the ability to control their identity, all of those pieces and they’re all together , anyone can do business with anyone at the starting point, at the protocol, at the base layer, anyone can just create any kind of financial relationship with anyone in the world. That is, I don’t know how we couldn’t wind up in a much better place as a species if we didn’t have that. I don’t think that we can trust any one person or any one group of people to decide what we should see, what we should do, who we should pay, there’s no one to trust, there’s no one that’s trustworthy enough. I think that’s what we as humans have proven to ourselves, so it’s a myth. We have to do this; I don’t see another strategy.
Christian: You recently wrote a post making fun of the protocol wars, it seems like you guys have a very blockchain agnostic kind of view of the world. There’s a lot of monetary maximalists who would really push back on that and say that you know a money is gonna converge on one network and stuff like that. You know when you’re looking at this space more holistically, more generally, you know what kind of drives this poly-chain view of the future and you know utility and a lot of different protocols?
Brad: Frankly it’s non-ideological, it’s just observing the world. There are 20 to 30 million cryptocurrency users, there’s a lot of different cryptocurrencies. A lot of them seem to a lot of people seem to like to use different ones for various reasons and believe in different ones for various reasons. So, this is just the world and if the world were to consolidate, then we would build differently but this is what the users want and this is how our world is unfolding. So, we just see no reason to not embrace it, this is what the users want and that’s what we’re following.
Christian: So, wait, can we get into that a little bit more. Like I’m assuming you know you mentioned you’re a hodler yourself like I’m assuming that like you’re into you know speculating on these assets like what is that kind of worldview mean for you know what you’ve seen the space right now?
Brad: I wouldn’t consider myself someone that speculates on a lot of assets like I don’t see myself as particularly sophisticated in such things. I think I’m relatively conservative actually. I’ve you know what I’ve been holding I think is generally I’ve been holding for a while, it’s not even that much. It’s more that I don’t know fully why I care. I care to evaluate which technologies I think are best in which communities I think are strongest because I think that’s a sign that’s those are the communities that I want to be a part of, so that’s what I’m doing. But if I were if I guess wrong and something changes next year will I be upset, well I don’t think so. I think I’ll be happy as long as the space is moving forward. I also think that on the sort of outskirts of that, there are some much shadier things and yeah, I wouldn’t be as complimentary of those. So certainly not that like everything’s okay.
David: That’s such a huge change of pace from what we’re used to on POV Crypto. So, if Bitcoin and crypto, all just there was some vulnerability that was found in all blockchains ever and they all just failed, what would you do next?
Brad: I don’t even know. I am so emotionally bought into this vision taking over in the world. I actually don’t even have a good answer.
David: We’re all crypto maximalists at the end of the day.
Brad: I’ve believed it for so long, it’s been like at least six years now that I believe that so I actually that’d be it’s a good question. I just I can’t even really think about it I don’t even know.
Christian: I guess my question for you is like I can understand you know saying hey the world is going in this direction we’re trying to be as a business as agnostic as possible. But at the same time, it’s hard to be agnostic when their skin in the game, like skin the game is such an important factor with crypto and it leads to you know kind of even ideological behavior. Because it’s hard to change where your skin the game is and you really have to say I’m gonna stop putting my skin in the game here or stop putting a portion of my skin and move it somewhere else. And that’s hard and I think that is something that’s important that is like actually stopping this mono-coin future even if having multiple chains that are sufficiently decentralized is actually technologically and from a utilitarian perspective is easier at you know the same time like this-this aspect that you have to literally invest in it and you have to move that investment around. I think that’s like that’s friction, and it’s pretty significant.
Brad: I agree and I think that there’s kind of two main forces going on there’s like the kind of the protocol layer and the kind of competition around which protocols win and I think like I said before competition is good, hyper-competition across blockchains to be the best is also good, I think. Then there’s the second thing which is the user experience. And the user experience doesn’t care at all about that, that’s actually much more a back-end developer consideration which blockchain, which blockchain do I plug into I can tell you right now that a lot of our users don’t care. They would like a payment solution that works and they want uncensorable websites, but that’s what they’re thinking about, the user experience. So, I think it’s just sort of two different questions.
It’s like I mean it’s like a blessing and a curse that we all have this that we have this investment because we have this alignment of our incentives, but then we also have this bias that it creates. And we have another bias, our bias is to support as many cryptocurrency users as we can. Which means that we need to support more than one cryptocurrency community as many as possible, that’s our bias that’s our incentive. And I think this is very similar to a lot of other companies in the space. And I can remember pretty early on you know Coinbase catching a lot of you know catching a lot of flak for various things that they did supporting more currencies, various other things like that. But ultimately that is what their bias was, towards adding cryptocurrency users. And I think it’s good. I think you want the user experience companies to be competing with each other on this level and I think you also want blockchains to be competing with each other on that level. So, I actually think that both layers of competition are healthy, it’s just only a problem if the protocol competition prevents the UX layer from occurring. Which I think is one of the things that has been happening a little bit and that’s our kind of offering to the debate, is that we think that that that’s kind of unnecessary. You don’t need to bias you don’t need to hurt the user experience in favor of your protocol.
Christian: Let’s get into that a little bit more, like in terms of like it seems like you are investigating a lot of different technologies, curious who’s bringing it and on the flip side you’re alluding to you know there are ideologies, blockchains , tech stacks that are actually preventive from innovation in building in the UX, like who’s sucking?
Brad: Well so like on the positive side or on the multi-currency side, like you’ve got exchanges and their interest is in supporting as many as possible and you see they’re trying to make it as easy as possible to manage as best they can, across all these different currencies. On the other side I mean I guess I mean I don’t actually think that this is like, I wouldn’t use the word sucks, because what I think happens is that the incentive that you have for building out tools for your protocol are what give us our prototypes, you know like that’s what funds our prototypes . So, the fact that the Ethereum Foundation went in funded .ETH which gave us this prototype, that was great. I don’t I have nothing bad to say about that. But it wasn’t focused on the key use case which is POVCrypto, wants to receive Bitcoin, Ethereum, Monero, whatever else you want to receive, you don’t just want to receive Ethereum that’s not what you want.
Christian: That was very PC answer, I wanted some more fire. I want to be like you know these guys are…
David: I don’t think we are getting it.
Brad: Truthfully these people are awesome, like I mean it was inspiring so like I don’t and I think that’s what I feel about most of the protocol developers. I don’t have negative feelings towards them I think they’re amazing I just feel like it’s sort of a different industry and you know I’m more on the business side. I can’t really contribute there but I watched from the sidelines and I cheer them on.
David: I do have to tip my hat to you though because there are two classes of developers, ones that are only building on one blockchain at a time. Because you can’t really build on multiple blockchains it takes up all your time. And then there are developers like you who are building infrastructure that can be replicated no matter what blockchain comes into the future. And so like you I am a cryptocurrency maximalist and so if we were to fast forward into 20 years, maybe there’s an entirely new set of crypto blockchains that have replaced the old ones, but there could still be Unstoppable Domains because of your guys’ blockchain agnosticism so that’s super valuable because we need stuff like that, to move forward the industry as other things in the industry kind of get figured out and settled . So, hats off to you sir and thank you for doing what you do.
Christian: What gets you most excited about seeing what unfolded over this past like three six months? I mean I can make a list myself, but I’m curious you know what are you observing back well is awesome?
Brad: In the crypto world in general?
Brad: I think it’s just that this like the UX is actually getting good, like mobile, like self-custody products wallets, look just as good as the traditional centralized products, now there are all kinds of integrations there are all kinds of things tying together in the background and it’s so simple. I think it’s all that sort of stuff like I’m just like I’m actually like playing around with apps on my phone and I’m like wow these are really good.
Christian: Any favorites?
Brad: Yeah I mean there’s a lot of favorites honestly like I mean we have so many partners right now like they were talking to right now I’m almost like afraid to call out some, but like I will call out you know kind of the one of the biggest which I think CoinBase wallet did a great job when they launched their self-custody product. I thought that the way that the App Store worked and things like that I think that’s a great example. And I’m starting to see more and more of these kinds of like Dapp stores being baked into apps, and I think that’s so cool because it means that like every time you know we come up with something that gets some users excited, we can go to some other Dapp out there with some other users and we can trade really easily. Be like oh yeah, well I should add my you should have my Dapp to your Dapp store, and I will add mine to yours. And we can it’s this like easily flowing thing. So, that’s just I think that’s probably the thing that has me the most excited right now.
David: I would agree I’m also a really, really big fan of the Coinbase wallet. It’s kind of where you see all these different tools of blockchain kind of all exists in the same spot and you can get overwhelmed with how much stuff there is to do in there.
Christian: It’s actually kind of funny that you guys are such fans of the Coinbase wallet. I have been watching and kind of like interested in scoping it out, but for the most part, I have a pretty negative view about Coinbase. I’ve been calling them the AOL of crypto so, I don’t know I’ve got a lot of things that they’re doing it just like really misguided. But at the same time like you know they’ve definitely always hit a few homes runs you know so that’s why they’re here, well that’s why they’re important.
David: There are other third-party web 3 browser dap store wallets that function just as well as Coinbase that so if there’s if that’s not the one for you Christian you can use the other one.
Christian: Hey basically says Coinbase has Bitcoin on it.
Christian: Brad, it’s been great having you come over talking about Unstoppable Domains kind of asking some hard questions there’s a lot of fun for us, where can our listeners find you, who do you want to hear from all that good stuff?
Brad: Yeah so, you can go to unstoppabledomains.com, follow us on Twitter that’s where you see most of the news drop in and then if you want to actually talk domains then the Telegram channel, it gets pretty wild in there!
Christian: Will unstoppabledomains.com become unstoppable at some point?
Brad: It will in the future and we’ll also have versions, at least simplified versions, as we go for sure.
Christian: Cool, awesome, nice.
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