What's Different?

I remember buying my first BTC on Coinbase in 2013. It was during one of the first crypto bubbles, and the world was freaking out that BTC had surpassed $300. I happily participated in that hype cycle without really understanding what crypto was. 

When I was building Fundera I was pretty heads down for the better part of a decade. I continued to buy BTC over time - I can probably time my purchases to increased mainstream media coverage. I was easily influenced and I never really took the time to do a deep dive and teach myself about blockchains or read the BTC and ETH whitepapers. It wasn’t until I read Digital Gold in 2018 that things really started to click. 

After Fundera was acquired in 2020 I finally did the work. I voraciously consumed every piece of literature I could get my hands on. I also tried to play with every product I could. As I was doing this, I would attempt to identify areas of opportunity and investment. What protocols would power the future internet? What was the underpinning of a new financial system? Which NFTs would maintain their value through a market downturn? Of course, this was in the midst of the last bull market. Needless to say, I got rekt. 

This was an important learning experience for me. I was fine with losing money as an angel investor, especially because a lot of the investments I made had sound reasoning behind them, they were just poorly timed. They also provided a good opportunity to tax-loss harvest. What I wasn’t fine with was getting caught up in the hype and doing things because of FOMO. It was disappointing to succumb to it, and it taught me that doing things because they are in vogue is not the right reason to do them. I should do them when I have a deep understanding and conviction. I imagine this is a lesson I’ll continuously learn, but I can at least now recognize what it feels like in the moment. 

Fast forward to today and something is very different for me in the world of crypto. I am fully red-pilled, as Nick likes to point out. When I first started to really dig in in 2020, a lot of the products I used felt like they were enabling me to participate in the global casino. They were speculative in nature. It was fun, and there were definitely foundational developments that emerged, but a lot of the UX for me was oriented around trading and swapping and buying and collecting and hodling. Today so much of the UX is wrapping my hands around products I can regularly use and immediately get utility and joy from. They’re social in nature and familiar, yet novel and experimental.

There has been much talk and writing about the theoretical power of onchain applications in the context of rebuilding consumer networks and services, but now we are seeing those theories become reality. Every day my eyes light up when I see the power of composability and headless application architecture and open graphs manifest in the form of a new product and experience. Entrepreneurs are connecting the dots in real-time, and they are enabling consumers to experience a better way of doing things on the internet.

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