The Satoshi Roundtable, is an invite-only event that included a number of key players in the crypto industry and the fourth one took place in early February. Many of the attendees are long-time believers in blockchain technology’s ability to solve important human problems. The moto of the event sums it up pretty well; No leaders. No rulers. In code we trust. This article is a recap of the recap of two of this years attendees:
Can’t wait to hear @queentatiana @tatianacoin perform live tomorrow at @SatoshiRoundtbl! pic.twitter.com/Gd4XloiwpL
— Caitlin Long (@CaitlinLong_) February 6, 2018
Observations from this year’s Satoshi Roundtable — a small event attended by the top developers & executives in the the #bitcoin and #crypto community. I’ve tailored the summary for a general audience.
(1) HEDGE FUNDS have invaded the crypto market. No question a lot of hedge fund money is already in it, and family offices are buying now too.
(2) The PACE OF CHANGE remains dizzying and the recent price correction isn’t slowing it down at all.
(3) Lots of DEBATE about both the tech and the process of distributing tokens. I heard almost no “bitcoin vs. bitcoin cash” debate though, which was a relief. Old news, pretty much.
(4) Discussion about forming a FINRA-like SELF-REGULATORY ORGANIZATION for the sector.
(5) REGULATION is coming — lots of debate about how to respond to it and how much it will drive the sector out of the US. Biggest uncertainty remains around how to define custody, especially due to multi-sig and other technologies that don’t fit into an existing box.
(6) AUDITORS. There are a number of crypto unicorns now, and they’re maturing so starting to look for auditors. Consensus was that every audit firm is flailing because they don’t understand the tech. One audit firm will figure it out, break out and dominate the audit field for the sector. On a related point, there was a “show trial” of Bitfinex/Tether, as Tether had an issue due to auditor resignation. It was so clear to me that ALL AUDITORS are struggling with the sector, not just Tether’s auditor. Takeaway: auditors, up your game, and projects, make sure your blockchain can be audited. Unauditable coins will wither and die if they cause exchanges and investors to struggle to get an audit opinion. They will drop your coin. When asked if the Tether show-trial made the audience feel better about Tether, more than half of hands went up. Not a single hand went up when asked if the show-trial made anyone feel worse about Tether.
(Addendum: auditability means the owner of the coin, such as an exchange or investment fund, is able to prove to its auditor that it owned the coin at a particular time picked by the auditor during an audit. Not all coins meet this standard. Auditability does NOT mean the coin is not private — means the coin is replayable so an auditor can verify that its client owned the coin at that moment in time.)
(7) HUGE CONTRAST between 2 household-name financial institutions, one of which is embracing bitcoin for customers and the other just did a compliance review of its wealth management customers and fired everyone connected to the industry. What a contrast. One of them is smart. The other is not.
(8) PUERTO RICO is the place to move if you’ve got big crypto gains.
(9) WYOMING: I spent a lot of time with crypto miners, who are already starting to set up shop in Wyoming where power is cheap enough to attract them — potentially en masse. The community is watching Wyoming’s proposed blockchain bills to see if Wyoming becomes a crypto haven — and the community is showing up in Cheyenne next week to show support. Thank you!! (Wyoming’s filings bill, incidentally, is HB 0101…a nice coincidence with the Roundtable’s poster pictured above!)
(10) SECURITIES: surprisingly little discussion, but consensus is that these will end up on public blockchains as SEC-compliant tokens do an end-run around the securities industry’s clearing and settlement infrastructure. The tech definitely needs more maturity so that won’t happen en masse this year.
Thanks to Bruce Fenton and team for organizing a terrific event!!
It was my pleasure to once again attend the Satoshi Roundtable; this year it was scaled up immensely and I didn’t even have a chance to talk to all of the attendees. We also had a ton of breakout sessions since it was an unconference format, so what I’ll be covering here is only a small slice of what was actually discussed.
It was an honor to meet one of the few politicians I respect. Ron has been a champion for liberty and limited government since well before I was born. He gave an impassioned speech about his quest to limit the military-industrial complex, limit the prison-industrial complex, and audit the Federal Reserve. After spending decades in Washington DC, his perspective is that there isn’t a two party system — the parties are two sides of the same coin. He offered a glimmer of hope: so long as it’s legal to be educated outside of the system run by the government, citizens have the opportunity to learn other perspectives and flex their creativity to further the cause of liberty.
"The primary goal of the federal government should not be to keep citizens safe and secure. It should be to preserve our liberty." – @RonPaul pic.twitter.com/LhHvZcjncZ
— Jameson Lopp (@lopp) February 6, 2018
Tribalism & Toxicity
You could argue that tribalism began the moment Bitcoin was created, as it was “us” versus “them” (banks and governments.) But the tribalism within the crypto ecosystem began once developers starting forking the code and creating competing networks. These crypto assets were dubbed “altcoins” because they were alternatives to the king of crypto, Bitcoin. Even this term is tribalistic and carries a negative connotation.
However, certain types of tribalism can be good. For example, look at the NFL. Their tribalism fosters competition between different teams and encourages fans to participate, which brings in greater revenue for the teams and the NFL. But there’s an understanding that the teams all need to cooperate in order to foster competition. This spirit of coopetition makes the NFL strong. I think coopetition is an important concept.
There can be downsides to tribalism that result in weaknesses. For example, there has been a lot of energy expended in the scaling debate which has now turned into a battle for branding and mindshare over the “true Bitcoin” now that the chain has been forked. This can result in us putting on blinders and failing to see external threats. Some folks are rightly concerned that Bitcoin users have been too focused on our internal strife to work on facing developments in the regulatory space and the like.
Demand for developers with blockchain experience is extremely high. A senior developer in this space can easily command a $200,000 per year salary for full time work — even higher for consulting work, to the tune of $200+ an hour.
There are several reasons for the developer crunch:
- It’s hard to find good developers, period.
- It’s even harder to find devs with experience in a niche space like crypto.
- Devs who have been in crypto long enough to be highly experienced are likely also financially independent at this point. They don’t need a salary. As such, in order to get these devs you have to capture their interest with a compelling concept as opposed to compensation.
- We’re just starting to see formal training programs pop up
I'm told that there are 14 open blockchain developer jobs for every currently employed blockchain developer. The salary premium on this skill set is at all-time highs.
— Jameson Lopp (@lopp) February 7, 2018
Personal Physical Security
This one is near and dear to my heart after my swatting incident last year. Crypto celebrities are becoming red hot targets as criminals begin to realize that they’re more likely to score a huge payday by extorting someone with crypto assets than they are someone with more traditional assets that are illiquid. For example, if a criminal targeted a billionaire whose wealth was tied up in real estate and the ownership of a professional sports team, it would be mighty difficult to forcibly take those assets. Crypto, on the other hand, can be transferred in a matter of minutes.
What should the crypto wealthy do? Discretion is a pretty good start.
As far as I know, each of these people gave permission to have their name added to this t̶a̶r̶g̶e̶t̶ rich list. May the OPSEC gods have mercy on your souls. https://t.co/CS6afKDJAn
— Jameson Lopp (@lopp) February 7, 2018
We’ve been hearing more and more reports of crypto holders being targeted with varying degrees of success. Death threats and extortion are becoming commonplace. Thankfully many of the extortion threats are bogus and are just folks trying to scare a victim into sending crypto assets. We even had an attendee who received a threat while at Satoshi Roundtable.
The onus is on all of us to sufficiently secure our crypto assets so that thugs are not successful. If we want to stop this trend, everyone needs to take measures to protect their cold storage so that they can’t be coerced into handing it over to an attacker. This means setting up your cold storage in a way that is incredibly difficult for even you to access. One method would be to use multi signature technology to spread the keys across several physical locations and/or key holders.
If you’re already well-known / vocal about being a crypto holder, you may wish to employ techniques to hide your physical location.
Disable geolocation tagging on any social media posts
Don’t post photos / mention a location until after you have left
Move to an undisclosed location and ensure that your name is not on any property / tax records. This can be done by creating a trust or corporation that owns the property.
Use a PO Box / mail collection service so that you don’t give your home address to anyone that would store it in a database.
Hiding is a good first layer of defense, but it’s not foolproof. If an attacker does find you, you’ll want to have multiple layers of physical defenses. The hard question is how much security is overkill.
- Hardened doors and windows
- House alarms
- Safe Room
- Armored vehicles
- Weapons with which you are proficient
Featured image by Michelle S. Royal – https://michellesroyal.com/
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