EB85 – Adam Draper: Accelerating 100 Bitcoin Startups With Boost VC

EB85 – Adam Draper: Accelerating 100 Bitcoin Startups With Boost VC

Revolutionary progress doesn’t happen without lots of work and in the case of Bitcoin that requires many different startups building technology. Few have contributed to this as much as Silicon Valley based startup accelerator Boost VC, which has been focusing on Bitcoin and cryptocurrency startups since 2013. Focusing exclusively on Bitcoin for an extended time, they’ve invested in companies such as Blockcypher, Coinprism, Coinjar, Mirror, Snapcard, Zapchain and many others.

Boost VC Founder Adam Draper joined us to discuss running an accelerator, their investment thesis and why they’ve chosen to add Virtual / Augmented Reality startups to the program.

NOTE: Applications to join the next tribe of Boost startups can be submitted until Wednesday July 1. If you’re interested in applying go here: http://bit.ly/1IG49MQ

Topics covered included:
– The qualities they look for in companies (8:50)
– What the overarching Boost VC investement thesis is (14:40)
– His view on the BitLicense rules and how they affect cryptocurrency startups (38:14)
– How regulatory concerns have risen among their startups (41:40)
– Why they chose to add Virtual / Augmented Reality to the program (47:50)

 

EB84 – Tim Swanson: Permissioned Ledgers And The Case For Blockchains Without Bitcoin

EB84 – Tim Swanson: Permissioned Ledgers And The Case For Blockchains Without Bitcoin

One topic that is guaranteed to cause heated discussion among cryptocurrency enthusiasts is the idea that blockchains can be controlled by known validators and function without an underlying cryptocurrency. Some think this is a non-sensical idea fabricated by those spineless enough to want to appease regulators and but clueless enough to miss the whole point of cryptocurrencies. But others believe that Bitcoin is unsuited for a lof of ‘Bitcoin 2.0′ applications and that permissioned ledgers have wide-reaching potential to increase efficiency and transparency.

Tim Swanson joined us for an important discussion of permissioned ledgers. He’s among their best-known proponents and has recently published a whitepaper discussing how they work and looking at different startups in the space.

Topics covered included:
– Why the ‘blockchains without bitcoin’ idea is so controversial
– Why it is strange that KYC is done widely on Bitcoin users but not on the validators
– Why even semi-decentralized blockchains can provide big efficiency gains
– Why the 51% attack possibility is an obstacle for the use of the Bitcoin as a settlement network
– Why financial institutions don’t care about censorship resistance but do care about irreversibility

EB83 – David Andolfatto: Fedcoin And The Implications Of Cryptocurrencies Issued By Central Banks

EB83 – David Andolfatto: Fedcoin And The Implications Of Cryptocurrencies Issued By Central Banks

Many people think of Bitcoin as the ultimate contender against the power of central banks, most importantly the Federal Reserve System. But that is certainly not the only way that cryptocurrencies and the blockchain can be used and one particularly interesting idea is that central banks could issue their own cryptocurrencies.

To discuss how this could be done and what the consequences could be we were joined by David Andolfatto, a Vice President of Research at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and a professor of Economics at Simon Fraser University.

Topics covered included:
– What makes good money? How does Bitcoin fare in comparison?
– What is Fedcoin and how could it work?
– Why the tension between a governments desire for control and the desires for ‘permissionless innovation’ could make this difficult to implement
– Whether Fedcoin would threaten fractional reserve banking
– Why competition between currencies, both governmental and non-governmental, could be a good thing

The views and opinions expressed by ou guest are his own and should in no way be attributed to his employer.

 

EB82 – Mike Hearn – Blocksize Debate At The Breaking Point

EB82 – Mike Hearn – Blocksize Debate At The Breaking Point

Whether the block size should be increased to 20MB has created more controversy than any other question in Bitcoin’s recent history. For some, it is an urgent and necessary step in Bitcoin’s evolution. Their view is that leaving the block size at 1MB would be irresponsible inaction with potentially catastrophic consequences. Others see increasing the block size as unnecessary and a dangerous first step down a slippery slope towards a more centralized Bitcoin.

We were joined by Mike Hearn, along with Gavin Andresen the most outspoken supporter of a block size increase. He is also the creator of Bitcoin XT, a modified fork of Bitcoin Core, that may become the vehicle for the push for bigger blocks if no agreement is reached regarding Bitcoin Core. Don’t miss this crucial conversation!

Topics included:
– What would happen if blocks started being consistently full
– Whether bigger blocks create a centralization risk
– Why Bitcoin core development has become pervaded with toxic division
– What Bitcoin XT is and how it differs from Bitcoin Core
– The roadmap ahead and how a transition to BitcoinXT would occur
– Update on Lighthouse

 

 

EB81 – Nathaniel Popper: Digital Gold – The Inside Story Of Bitcoin

EB81 – Nathaniel Popper: Digital Gold – The Inside Story Of Bitcoin

From the mysterious creation story, to the early development among a small group of cypherpunks, to the emergence of the Silk Road, the collapse of MtGox, to the entry of a tidal wave of VC money and the Silicon Valley elite, Bitcoin’s short history has been action-packed. It’s no surprise that this could make for a riveting story and NY Times journalist Nathaniel Popper’s book ‘Digital Gold – Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money’ is precisely that.

Popper joined us for a conversation about his must-read book about the remarkable story of Bitcoin.

Topics covered included:
– How Nathaniel Popper ended up writing a book about Bitcoin
– Why he chose ‘Digital Gold’ as a title and some of its different connotations
– Why he chose to focus on the people and stories of Bitcoin rather than the technology
– The story of the Silk Road and how it played such a critical role in the early days of Bitcoin
– How Xapo CEO Wences Casares came to play a crucial role in evangelizing Bitcoin among Silicon Valley’s power players
– The rising tension and passing of influence between the old, ideological guard and the newer Silicon Valley crew

EB80 – Joseph Poon & Tadge Dryja: Scalability And The Lightning Network

EB80 – Joseph Poon & Tadge Dryja: Scalability And The Lightning Network

Since Gavin Andresen’s proposal to increase the Bitcoin block size, how Bitcoin can scale to accommodate higher transaction volumes has been heatedly debated among developers. One of the most promising long-term options to allow near infinite scalability is the Lightning Network. Joseph Poon and , the co-authors of the whitepaper, joined us for a discussion of scalability and how the lightning network could allow massive numbers of off-chain transaction in a trustless way.

Topics covered included:
– Why Bitcoin has a scalability problem
– How payment channels work and the architecture of the Lightning Network
– Why the Lightning Network would still require a block size increase
– How transaction fees would work in the Lightning Network
– How the Bitcoin blockchain would take on a court-like function to ensure honest off-chain behavior
– The risks and downsides to the Lightning Network

 

EB79 – Rodolfo Novak: Coinkite And The Feature Factory

EB79 – Rodolfo Novak: Coinkite And The Feature Factory

Started in May 2013, Coinkite has by now almost advanced to senior citizen status in the short-lived Bitcoin startup space. CEO Rodolfo Novak joined us for a discussion about what drove their initial interest in Bitcoin, why they initially focused on providing ‘bank-like’ services and how they’ve transitioned to powering the infrastructure of countless Bitcoin startups with their API. We also discussed multi-sig and the business strategy they pursued that allowed them to be profitable and not require venture funding.

Topics covered included:
– How Coinkite started
– Why they have come away from calling themselves a Bitcoin bank
– Why they have been putting so much emphasis on multi-sig
– How they’ve ended up building an insane amount of features
– The transition of their business model to providing a powerful API for startups
– What the Bitcoin ecosystem in Toronto is like

 

EB78 – Trent McConaghy: Ascribe And The Internet Of Ownership

EB78 – Trent McConaghy: Ascribe And The Internet Of Ownership

The idea of using the Bitcoin blockchain to represent and track the ownership of off-chain assets is almost as old as Bitcoin itself. One of the startups that is pursuing this vision is Berlin-based Ascribe, which allows creators to register (‘ascribe’), transfer and archive digital art.

Ascribe CTO joined us for a fascinating discussion of their ambitious goals to enable a so-far elusive secondary market for digital art, help creators monetize their work and ultimately retrofit an entire ownership layer to the internet.

Topics covered included:
– Why ownership in the internet is broken
– How Ascribe wants to realize the vision of Project Xanadu of an internet with bi-directional links and baked-in copyrights
– How the SPOOL (Secure Public Online Ownership Ledger) protocol works
– The components of the Ascribe tech stack
– How Ascribe will crawl and similarity-match the entire internet to retrofit an internet of ownership
– Why Ascribe focuses first on the digital art market

EB77 – Andreas M. Antonopoulos: Mastering Bitcoin

EB77 – Andreas M. Antonopoulos: Mastering Bitcoin

Few question that educating people about Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies is one of the most important and challenging tasks to achieve mass adoption. And perhaps even fewer disagree that there is no one more gifted at communicating the revolutionary potential of Bitcoin than Andreas M. Antonopoulos. A technologist, entrepreneur, LTB host and author, he has been speaking, writing and educating about Bitcoin for years and become one of the most popular people in the Bitcoin space.

He joined us to talk about his new book, his journey in the Bitcoin space, educating lawmakers about Bitcoin and the exciting future awaiting us.

Topics covered included:
– Why he wrote ‘Mastering Bitcoin’ and how the reception has been so far
– What he currently spends him time on
– How he introduces new people to Bitcoin
– What NOT to do when telling someone new about Bitcoin
– His experiences speaking in front of the Canadian and Australian Senate
– Why he believes in the community’s ability to keep evolving Bitcoin

 

EB76 – Emin Gün Sirer & Ittay Eyal: From Selfish Miners To The Miner’S Dilemma

EB76 – Emin Gün Sirer & Ittay Eyal: From Selfish Miners To The Miner’S Dilemma

Bitcoin’s approach to solving the double spending problem is to make a collusion and attack on the network prohibitively expensive. One of the main factors that will determine Bitcoin’s chance of survival in the long-term is whether the behavior that maximizes the profits of miners contributes to or sabotages the health of the network.

The game theory that determines this is complex and our understanding of it still incomplete. But research is increasing and two people who have been at the forefront of this work are , a professor in computer science at Cornell University, and Ittay Eyal, a post-doc at the same department.

They joined us for a fascinating discussion of their work on ‘selfish mining’, the incetive structure that underlies Bitcoin and their recent positive conclusions from the Miner’s Dilemma.

Topics covered included:
– Emin Gün Sirer’s early interest in cryptocurrencies and work on a cryptocurrency to incentivize bittorrent users in 2004
– What selfish mining is and how miners could profit from withholding blocks
– How an attacker would execute a selfish mining attack
– Why the miner’s dilemma implies that the equilibrium might be small mining pools
– Why the lack of security of clients and servers is holding back adoption