— Life — 4 min read
Hello World(staying in line with tradition)
I arrived in California on a sunny day in August 2017. Since then, I've experienced the valley to the fullest extent - meeting people, intellectual conversations, pure hustle, conferences, the culture, randomly spending the day in SF, and attending every meetup that seems mildly interesting.
A whole new world in front of me. Having spent the last few years within the crypto ecosystem, there were a lot of people to meet and catch up with.
Over the course of my first two years in the valley, I volunteered at three crypto/blockchain conferences, attended a lot of hackathons, mentored at a couple, and finally won my first hackathon at Berkeley.
Moreover, I had the chance of meeting some cool people and learning a lot through conversations I've had.
Silicon valley is known for two things - startups and the culture, and I was keen leveraging the opportunities to further my knowledge.
I firsthand experienced the culture within the valley - be it people talking crypto, fundraising or tech. While people talking about raising money does sound interesting, I quickly learn't that theres so much more that goes beyond just money. People trying to solve problems, and actually affect change matters so much more.
Crypto & Blockchain
The cryptocurrency market experienced a multi billion dollar expansion during 2017. General sentiment and enthusiasm surrounding decentralized systems and their growth was extremely positive.
This took a turn when the market started contracting and the SEC cracked down on crypto projects raising money.
It goes without saying that prices are the least important aspect of the ecosystem. The amount of innovation and new kinds of products and protocols popping up is a much more accurate metric that tracks activity in the space.
There have been several narratives that have gained steam.
- Blockchain not bitcoin
- Bootstrapping trust in a decentralized ecosystem(A rather complex issue)
- Crypto funds everywhere
- NFT's(first half of 2018)
- Ethereum losing its first mover advantage
- Scaling as a barrier to adoption
- Crypto UX being horrible
While some of these narratives do hold a good amount of value, I think of blockchain/crypto as a paradigm shift comprised of several shakeouts and bubbles.
While theres a good amount of discussion over the feasibility of each concept, I think that with time, protocols with true value proposition will experience tremendous growth.
Each shakeout results in getting rid of a certain projects/protocols/methodologies. Simultaneously, a new design pattern or technology takes hold of the mantle and establishes itself as a standard.
Currently, we are on the verge of seeing some interesting projects go live or gain momentum
- Smart contract platforms(Near, Thunder, Tezos)
- Lightning network
- Experimental on chain governance
- Real products built by teams with a track record(Silicon Valley's foray into crypto)
Whats more important is playing the long game, and creating solutions to real problems, laying down the infrastructure.
Haters gonna hate, potatoes gonnna potate ¯_(ツ)_/¯
The web 2.0 movement catalyzed the social web, while the web3 ecosystem is yet to mature in terms of available infrastructure. On a fundamental level, tokens and cryptoeconomic incentives bring economics into the internet. Bitcoin was the first experiment involving incentive structures, and we now have a bunch of other projects trying to emulate the same, with additional capabilities.
I'm interested in the following through 2019
- Distribution of market share among emerging smart contract platforms
- How they scale and onboard ethereum developers
- Crypto/Blockchain as a utility over being the primary source of value being created
- How and where can we use crypto/blockchain as a utility to solve a problem?
- Credibility / Establishing Trust
- How do we bring credibility to the information available online? How do we build TCR's on scale
- Disintermediation and rent seeking platforms
- If blockchains are disintermediating, how sensisble is it to build a rent seeking protocol? What would be the alternative
- What does an end user look like
- Unique financial products that can be created, synthetic assets etc
Having spent two years, spending countless hours over deciding on how to cold email people, and trying to achieve technical sophistication, I've laid out some key takeaways.
- It is easy to get swayed by the crowd
- Stick to your first principles and stand by them
- Focus on solving real problems rather than creating fictional problems
- Expose yourself to amazing people, and see yourself learn faster than ever
- Build yourself out as a resource
- Everything in the valley is based on value proposition. You need to be able to bring value onto the table. This means being the best at what you do, making bold decisions and trying to stand out from the crowd(and generally accepted opinions)
- Cold emails work(only if you are sensible)
- Put in effort into the email, show that you care and you mean what you say
- Have a real reason to wanting to reach out, and provide value if you want to expect a response
- Keep meeting people
- I've learn't a lot and broadened the scope of how I think through meeting successful people.
- Stick your foot into everything you can
- I didn't know anyone when I first came here. Sure, it took time but I can confidently say now that I've built a sizeable network.
- Getting to know people on scale is a process and it definitely helps in the long term
It goes without saying, my experiences over the past two years wouldn't be possible without the amazing people that I've met and interacted with, had intellectual conversations, and have gained valuable knowledge from. Be it pointing out something cool, asking me to look into the lightning network, making valuable intros, or giving me feedback on my projects, I've gained a lot and if theres one thing I can do, is pay it forward - Cory Levy, Woodrow Levin, Phil Francis, Haseeb Qureshi