An action-packed conversation with tons of great knowledge about Blockchain/Bitcoin, Crypto-Currency and more with the CEO and co-founder of ePic Blockchain, Scott Howard and StartWell’s CEO, Qasim Virjee.Podcast Transcript
Qasim Virjee 0:11
All right, welcome back to this the fifth episode of the start well podcast broadcasting from well, I guess broadcasting all over the world from servers, God knows where you’re probably listening on iTunes, I don’t know, most of the people around the world are, but we are re syndicated through other partners. But recorded I should say at start with Studios, which is the back of our second floor. Let’s start well, Kayne West, our main incubator campus, that’s about 17,000 square feet with over 30 companies doing all sorts of crazy stuff. One of those companies is epic blockchain, a hardware company that will hear a lot about and we’ll hear perhaps some more general stuff to start off with, as I’m joined in the studio today with Scott Howard, if you could just introduce yourself and then I’ve got a bunch of very boring preliminary questions to ask you. Before we, you know, throw around some fun stories.
Scott Howard 1:02
I’ll make the I’ll make the answers entertaining. So I’m Scott Howard. I’m the co founder of epic blockchain Technologies. I’m involved in a few other projects in the blockchain space and been around the startup community here in Toronto for a while, almost a decade. I’ve done a lot of co working space start well is actually the best one. Oh, why thank you. Best community best setup. I love it. I am a big fan. Just make sure your five star review the podcast got to get that five star review in there. Absolutely. That’s a puppet pods. I’m a big podcast addict. So
Qasim Virjee 1:29
yeah, no, it’s true. We need advocates who are listening to rate us. Boom. Yeah, rate and tweet. Absolutely spread the love. It’s all about the love the I love the
Scott Howard 1:39
show everybody stuff. It’s part of the blockchain ethos you guys show?
Qasim Virjee 1:43
Well, I mean, okay, I gotta ask, I try and ask everyone who’s on on this boat. What they like about Star? Well, you know, because because I agree with you, you know, this is why, you know, I’m in this business, I want to build the best environment for companies to thrive as they grow, and enjoy doing that. So what if there’s just, you know, aspects of space, or service that you’d like about, you know, the campus
Scott Howard 2:05
both work really well. So that Billy for our team to spreads out and sprawls all over the place, which is great, we’re not kind of in our office, per se, or in the lounges and using the different workspaces and the meeting spaces and not getting too wound up about booking space and all the kind of stuff using the open space. That’s a that’s a nice change. You know, if you kind of do the the we work type model, it’s the you get nickeled and dimed every time you walk into a room and use it and touch the whiteboard, stuff like that. And you’ll see a $50 bill in a heartbeat. So not having to worry about that is great. It gets more collaborative. So you get to talk to people hang out with people more often, which is always, you know, kind of that whole co working ethos that gets lost. A lot of times it does. Everyone, it just turns into an office space at the end of the day, but I think the community here is pretty good. And then the committee managers are doing a great job. Yeah, the coffee is good. Yeah, the beer is served cold. Most important for most important qualified care, the beer is cold.
Qasim Virjee 3:03
Absolutely. It’s very important, especially as we say this, there’s a cooling issue and on your floor. So
Scott Howard 3:09
there might be if I had a complaint, but I turned into positive, I get my sauna every day. There you go, I feel good. I get my heat stroke going. And then I get out of there and do a tour around the office space and hang out with other people. Yeah,
Qasim Virjee 3:21
that’s the way to do it. Okay, that’s great. Um, thank you for the feedback. It’s always nice to hear good things about what we’re doing. And I’m sure the whole team listening to this will enjoy hearing your feedback and feeling good.
Scott Howard 3:32
I’m a, it’s like I said, 10 years in startups. I’ve done half of that in co working spaces.
Qasim Virjee 3:39
So tell me a little bit about I mean, we’re gonna sideline here and we’ll jump on blockchain one on one at some point in this. But tell me a little bit about that experience. Where else have you rocked up or had teams in Toronto or elsewhere?
Scott Howard 3:53
So I ran the business development operations in the Toronto office for coral CA, which was a startup in a fund that I helped run for three and a half, almost four years. And we ran that ad of a workplace one on Queen Wes, just just east of Bathurst just off a Queen Street. Great space really set up nicely. So we had a nice little private office there and worked out of there. But it was really good commute because it’s pretty stable. Like they’re out. We had kind of a steady crew of people. We had lunch every day and just kind of hung out and everyone did something different. Right? So there’s kind of that aspect of community there. I like there’s got the unplug, and at the talk about tech, right for like an hour I can learn about design or if someone was a lawyer or someone was a photographer, professional services and freelancers. Yeah, so it was kind of your more classic freelancer and then satellite office kind of thing. And we’re the satellite office, their main offices in Ottawa. Okay. But I was there I was. I was a long standing tenant there for a long time. Because I think they opened up in July of like, 2004 lavender something that I moved in like August, okay, and whoever the heck was there in July didn’t last as long as me. And then I did a project spaces for most of last summer when I was working when I was after I exited my last company. I hung out with one of my partners because he had spaces and project spaces on chemistry. And that place was really good. That was much more in line with what you kind of envision with the co working space, lots of startups. Yeah, so that’s an early slicker, more collaborative of hey, what are you working on? What am I working on? Oh, let me help you connect to that developer that that VC or whatever it was, was a lot more of the kind of business developer stuff happened that space, because I think it was a little more curated towards that market, right? And then here, I think is really, it’s got the best of both worlds. It’s got the kind of corporate stuff that you need in the boardrooms, and all that kind of jazz, and then little bit more mature community, but also like very much everyone’s aligned around trying to build your business. So it’s great.
Qasim Virjee 5:56
Yeah, I think compared to some other spaces in town, we hopefully are curating this community of companies that’s a little bit mature in their career track, if not the history of the companies that they’re working on. Yeah. So people know what they’re doing every day. They’re not looking for validation from each other, but they are looking for strategic alliances, opportunities and these sorts of things. So yeah, I think yeah, I’ve been conspiring
Scott Howard 6:20
Qasim Virjee 6:22
oh, in good ways. And good ways. Yes. Oh, is Yeah. So let’s jump into blockchain for a second. And I maybe a few seconds, I don’t know how long it takes. Give me the full brain dump on blockchain. Okay.
Scott Howard 6:36
Okay. So, the blockchain is most specifically should be thought of as the Bitcoin Blockchain. Okay. So the Bitcoin currency is small b, the Bitcoin protocol is the Big B is to kind of ways that initially differentiate that I’m a bit of a Bitcoin maximalist. So I’m kind of a believer that that’s the, that is the only proven blockchain. I think there’s a bunch of interesting blockchains like Ethereum, but the only one that’s a proven technology is is Bitcoin. So it is essentially a distributed ledger that’s decentralized across a whole bunch of nodes, those nodes, all consistent people running the same chain. So they have a have a complete set of blocks of data sitting on their servers that are validated, and they’re validated by what’s called mining. Okay. So that mining is essentially a proof of work algorithm. It says, I’ve done a bunch of computational work, to sit fundamentally secure this block down to that blockchain. And then that, that’s what makes it fundamentally immutable. And so you can’t change it, can’t go back and say, Oh, I don’t like what I wrote down in block. Number 11. Because the time we’ve got back to we’re in the block 12. Going back to block 11 is like more computing power. That’s everything than it’s ever existed in the history of man right to be thrown against it. Right. So that’s kind of that computational powers, what secures it the only reason why the Bitcoin Blockchain is the only one that’s actually secure.
Qasim Virjee 8:11
Because of the because all that computation history over the
Scott Howard 8:14
history of all the depth of it, it’s the longest. So when you think about that train, it’s the longest train, so you got to jump in front of that train. First and foremost, you got to reverse engineer the whole thing all the way back to the Genesis block to make to rewrite it. So there’s no way to do that,
Qasim Virjee 8:29
like the Old Testament. Bingo.
Scott Howard 8:33
Okay, so and these debates do get religious
Qasim Virjee 8:35
do the well, yes, if as you have, you’re kind of, you know, ardent fans and promoters of each chain and technology. And so, the, what I don’t understand, okay, being a lay person to this topic, is I get confused between blockchain and clap. Insofar is saying, okay, understand if there’s this, if the blockchain is really kind of like this, whatever we could call I was relate everything to, you know, physical geography. So it’s a globally relevant available or globally relevant immediately available, you know,
Scott Howard 9:18
Qasim Virjee 9:19
database, but what I don’t understand I can get the pervasiveness of it. I don’t understand the storage question. Is it just about in storing encryption keys to data across the blockchain? Or is it about actual data? And at which point, you know, what kind of data is it?
Scott Howard 9:40
So everyone has the data that’s on the network. So if you’re running a full node, on the Bitcoin network, you have all of the block cm, all that data.
Qasim Virjee 9:49
So what kind of data can be on there if it’s got to be size limited? Because otherwise, everyone’s storing terabytes
Scott Howard 9:55
or they’re called nonces. So that’s essentially the the header key that comes off each block and that block, the headers inside the block start referring back to more direct data. To get into that data, that’s where you need the keys. And the vast majority of those data sets or wallets, like how much Bitcoin URI have, is sitting behind one of those encrypted keys, that if we’ve done our jobs, right, as sovereign individuals, you, you’re the only person in the world who has control of those keys and it can unlock that set of data. But the
Qasim Virjee 10:29
data itself that is being unlocked can be stored off the blockchain, on anything,
Scott Howard 10:35
the record of it will be on the blockchain, right? Where it is where the actual data artifacts like your Bitcoin would be stored is a question that’s on you opening up the see to that the getting that opened up no matter where it is. So I want to open it up from your laptop, I want to open it up from your cloud server where you’ve stored it from the exchange where I hope the guide, you haven’t left it, but it could be there. The route to that is the C key so that that key those seed, those seed keywords, that kind of typically 12 words, that that they tell you to remember, is the only way you could unlock that if you lose the password, or you lose the keys. And hopefully you’re the only person in the world knows those, which is all a bit convoluted and crazy, which is a bit of the lay persons barrier to entry to the market so far has been that’s that’s one of the key issues that is critically important to why it’s so valuable. But a big barrier to entry to getting kind of mainstream, you know, get our moms involved in the blockchain kind of market problem.
Qasim Virjee 11:35
Yeah, I see a lot of problems with kind of like, getting people excited about this,
Scott Howard 11:40
dude, it is it is the, it is a very small, very slow, very low featured distributed database.
Qasim Virjee 11:47
Right? This is what it seems like that essentially is it’s all the that was in the database, manage managing the
Scott Howard 11:53
ownership of 17 million tokens.
Qasim Virjee 11:56
And the sexiness that you know, people will report about this revolution of technology is simply just having the distribution of the network, like having that data be immediately available globally across millions of users. So it’s the pervasiveness as, you know, guarantees authenticity and the level of encryption. But I wonder, the degree of what is able to be or I guess, I can’t, in my brain quantify the nature of the data being secured. Because it could be on anything, right like is that so like, I could have my server at home be virtually a wallet of something that I can only access much like anyone can access with, plug it into the internet or open it locally, using some blockchain key.
Scott Howard 12:57
Yeah, so the key there is like cold versus hot storage. So cold storage example would be like a Ledger Nano, which is the kind of a USB key that you see people walking around with, so you never connected to the internet, you might connect it to a device that’s connected to the Internet. In fact, at some point, you’re going to have to do that to get your to get your Bitcoin or whatever other token, you’re pulling down, off, off chain and into into your core wallet that you have full control of. Which should only be open, you should only be able to recover that from the record in the global blockchain with your seat. So those 12 words, okay, otherwise, you’re accessing additional password that you just get into your laptop wallet and open it up and go like okay, Scott 123 is my password you open it up, begin in there, there’s my 10 million Bitcoins, ready for me.
Qasim Virjee 13:52
So you can use a password or you have to use
Scott Howard 13:55
Word, the 12 word as a seed so that’s what that’s the ultimate route to get it into the global database.
Qasim Virjee 14:02
So you need to use that to get your entry stored in
Scott Howard 14:06
the blockchain if you need to recover it from the from the global blockchain so
Qasim Virjee 14:10
I forget your password. Yeah, I
Scott Howard 14:11
totally forgot my password lost access to my Ledger Nano 12 words
Qasim Virjee 14:15
I need 12 words any 12 words?
Scott Howard 14:18
They’re randomly generated by my lungs wallet. When you actually interface between that and the true blockchain. I’m not exactly sure but like it randomly generates when you get your first when you open your first wallet.
Qasim Virjee 14:32
Okay, I have a question. Yes. If you’re not a bank, if you’re not dealing with sent quote unquote sensitive data, you’re not a healthcare company. Your average Joe small business. Why should you care about the blockchain? Outside of crypto, there’s a whole nother topic.
Scott Howard 14:48
Well, the crypto is a whole different piece. So like the I think the analogy that holds pretty strongly is the difference between the network that is the internet. That is is a network of information, right? Essentially, it’s my email address. It’s how many people liked my post on Facebook, that’s just information that we’re exchanging across that broad, cloud based network. For all intents purposes, what blockchains are doing is creating a network of value. Where’s that value sorts of it goes back in that kind of ledger analysis of like I have, I have one and you have zero. And if I want to give you my one and turn your zero into a one, my one turns into a zero. And now everybody in the world on that network is going to know
Qasim Virjee 15:31
it’s a transactional, Ledger, totally. And the transaction could be anything, could be
Scott Howard 15:36
anything, any, any kind of any unit of value is the current because the overhead cost of running all this stuff and doing it correctly so high. Because why we’ve done currency first,
Qasim Virjee 15:47
because there’s no verification of the implications of the transaction. There’s only record of the transaction itself. Correct. So if I pay you currency for product, the blockchain isn’t a means of assessing whether that product was delivered and the value of the transaction based on that data. It’s simply, I paid you for this. Yeah, if
Scott Howard 16:09
it’s happening off the network. So if it’s, it’s why the Bitcoin network so valuable, because if I’m exchanging that Bitcoin, my balance goes to zero, your balance goes to one, right? That’s a very dead clear, there’s no, the the network has authenticated that and verified that and then secured that, and there’s immutability in that. So if my account went from one to zero, and yours went from zero to one, locked in forever, ever, in a day until we do a new trade. Okay, so when you get into the Aetherium world, okay, go
Qasim Virjee 16:40
there, which is go there, more where
Scott Howard 16:44
the business cases are being built. That’s why it’s so interesting. So the smart contract world is kind of happening in the Etherium ecosystem. So the smart contract would be, I’m going to occupy office space for the next month, and I’m going to send I’m going to send you currency for that. Let’s say I’m going to send you eath for that set of Canadian dollars. And the we build a contract around that, that says If This Then That, if Scott, Scott sits in that office for us, or whatever, however many days in the month, sir, will transact anything for that? Yeah.
Qasim Virjee 17:19
Is that a programmatic rule for transactions? Or is that any type of like legal document?
Scott Howard 17:26
You can you can essentially convert? Because I think that’s the contract the contract analogy, that translates pretty effectively, okay, because essentially, like, it’s the terms and conditions, so like,
Qasim Virjee 17:34
there’s not a program, it’s not like a subroutine, the we could go to a separate, that’s why I assume it’s called a smart contract. Yeah,
Scott Howard 17:42
they’re not so smart these days. Okay, we’re getting smarter by the minute. So the example would be, you know, if we had electronic key passes, so every time I swipe the door, it’s confirming I’ve been in the building, right? So if the contract says, if you’ve been in the building 20 times in the month, we’re charging more money, we’ll try to we’ll charge you this. And then we could have an escrow essentially a escrow account, or a access to my balance on the ledger that says like, every time you do that, every time he hits hits the keycard 20 times.
Qasim Virjee 18:14
So we’re already doing this with, you know, what do you call it? fiat money? Yeah. You know, and transactional platforms, like, whatever, like Visa on stripe? With exactly that use case, for you know, different types of memberships. Yep. So we already do that. But again, this is just to get this stuff into the blockchain.
Scott Howard 18:38
Like what? Yes. So there, the use case hurdles, or interesting challenges.
Qasim Virjee 18:43
I only bring this up here. A lot of this partly is because of my own ignorance. I know some people are just trying to scratch their heads at this all the time, especially, you know, we’ll get to it but like, or maybe we’re there now. But like, the other way, I’m confused by all of this is by looking at and we have firsthand experience in the building and you know, through the Star Wars network at looking at companies that are raising money. This is and this is like three different topics to me, but like raising money to build products that use the blockchain, quote unquote, the blockchain. Then there’s products that accept and transact cryptocurrency. And then the third thing is, I guess, issuing tokens as this kind of quasi legal, skirting, or I guess, as a way of simply crowdsourcing capital. Yeah. So those are three different perhaps distinct things.
Scott Howard 19:46
They’re distinct, but I think that’s smart contract summarizes them all relatively well. At least they all kind of coalesce around a smart contract. I think Raising money is an interesting example of this because I think it’s it gets more clear than kind of buying coffee or buying access to the building. Explain. So you could look at, I think the next wave of things that we’ll see coming off of blockchain, blockchain technology that all kind of capture people’s attention. So people being normals, yes, lay people like myself, the non techies or the non blockchain indoctrinated, it will be security tokens. So security tokens are kind of the answer to the ICOs, the initial coin offerings that were so rampid and exciting in 2016, and mostly 17. Although so long ago, it was forever ago when those ICOs were just exploding everywhere. So I think the regulatory reaction to that of is this a security? Is it not a security are, you know, selling a proxy for your stock illegally? Right, is essentially the question that regulators have been asking quite vigorously. The security tokens are a answer to that regulatory pressure of I’d rather not go to jail.
Qasim Virjee 21:09
Sorry, explain to our listeners, what security token actually is. And what who would be an example issuance issuer or verifier, of security token?
Scott Howard 21:20
Yeah, so security token, probably takes three formats is kind of current thinking. So there’s a security token, which is essentially taking your stock in your company. And instead of issuing a traditional subscription agreement and share a certificate behind that attached to a shareholders agreement, run by a bunch of lawyers and run through regulatory regime, you do that digitally? See, the advantage there is I cut a bunch of overhead out of there to go, if and when this company makes money, I will distribute dividends this way. And when I need it, when I have these sets of anticipated governance issues of should I issue me as a CEO more money? Should I issue more stock? Should I accept this merger offer? Should I not accept this merger offer? Should we raise more money, all this kind of typical governance issues that are typically thought of very effectively through traditional shareholders agreements and kind of your subscription agreements with your investors like that’s thought through in the meatspace? As far as we understand it these days with lawyers and accountants in it? Yeah. Translate that digitally. So I can much more effectively run that governance faster. Like I can get feedback from all of my investors, not just my board of governors, two
Qasim Virjee 22:33
sizes. One is the actual means of constructing the rules contained within these documents. Yep. The second thing, and potentially program enticing the rules to automate them. I don’t know if that’s again, pushing the fold with what’s possible, you can
Scott Howard 22:53
automate them, but you can also just make them easier to trigger and more transparent and how they work. So the idea of a really good example, I think, the main like TMX X, and so the Toronto Montreal exchange, like the TSX, and the Montreal exchange, and I think you’ll see this in NASDAQ, you’ll see this in a bunch of large scale traditional public equity markets, the proxy voting, the proxy voting, you know, so I got my, all my annual shareholder letters came through and said, Hey, vote for Sergey Brin to be the chairman of Google vote for Elon Musk to be the chairman of Tesla, which I took those and threw them in the trash like everybody else does, right? If that was, uh, you can digitally do that right now. Either I can I can provide my proxy to a voting party that I agree with. So I can I can assign my voting proxy to someone who understands the business of Google. Yeah, much more deeply than I do. Yeah. Or understands the car business and how a lithium battery will work much better than I do in the case of Tesla.
Qasim Virjee 23:57
So this is a step forward in digitizing securities in general. Yeah. Like whether they be equity investments in early stage companies, or proven companies publicly traded. Yeah, public or private trading, it doesn’t matter.
Scott Howard 24:11
Yes. So you can trade them much, much more with much more liquidity so I can trade them faster, because you just I don’t have I don’t have brokers in the way brokers can mean a lot of things, but lawyers and accountants and exchange regulators and all that kind of stuff that make it make a trade take seven days to clear someone’s data can trade it instantly, right? It’s all the stuff that we’ve seen the internet get better, faster and cheaper, because I’ve gotten intermediaries out of the way yep, can now happen to contracts. Yeah. And securities are a good example of those types of contracts we can do that with. I think that’s translating the innovation we saw with ICOs is I don’t need to be an accredited investor to I don’t need to be in credit accredited or in country or to invest in an interesting startup project in Ukraine or Thailand or the United States. or in Canada, I can open up my eath wallet, fund that eath wallet for that project in drop the 10 bucks or $10,000 a $10 million I want to have in that project because I see value in it Sure, which is on me as a as a individual at the individual with the money to spend, which should be my choice, just like it’s my choice to walk in the OLA jell o LG casino and play blackjack.
Qasim Virjee 25:24
Sure. Yeah. Or like walk into a bank and take out a mortgage for a house. Yeah. Which is that’s the way I look at it. Like if you look at the leverage Inglis, all the security around investments. Doesn’t make any sense. If you look at the evolving nature of the market, there is
Scott Howard 25:39
no ripped off grandmother in Iowa, in the ICO market. I defy USC SEC or anybody else to show me that ripped off grandma in Iowa. Because if you can figure out how to fund your eath account, enter into a smart contract to to fund the initial coin offering of that new project, then capture back the keys from that and hold that in order to prove I put eath into Scott and chasms project over there and get that back. If you’re technically savvy enough to figure out how to do that. You are by definition not ignorant to how the market works. Of course, that is a complicated like you and I are it would take we’d be sitting there looking over each other’s shoulders going like,
Qasim Virjee 26:25
is that how we do it? I
Scott Howard 26:26
do it right? We’d be testing it the trunk like we’d be nerding out it would take us a half an hour to figure out how to do this.
Qasim Virjee 26:31
Right. Yeah, you have to so I mean, that is you and I are seasoned technology executives,
Scott Howard 26:35
right know how to do that. Right? Like, I can assure you I’ve tried it. It’s not easy.
Qasim Virjee 26:41
No, there’s there’s far more smoke in the process of the regular, legal 500 documents exchanging hands process to buy equity in a company. It’s unbelievably hard. Like, there’s so many people, like I said, brokers involved that are potential, you know, failure points along the way.
Scott Howard 27:00
They’re like so my favorite example and we have lots of friends in this world, and lots of partners in this world. So we’ll be here. I’ll be gentle on my christens like the TSX V doing reverse takeovers, and flipping shell companies is way more of a money grab than most ICOs. The regulatory regime means that they’re not outright frauds. Right? The only guys making money in that transaction are the investment bankers, the lawyers, the accountants in the firt. In the early stage, investors, retail investors don’t make money on penny stocks. They’re just feeding the wolves. Unless they trade really well and blah, blah, blah, which is like there’s no difference between that and ICO. Very little. No.
Qasim Virjee 27:41
Okay, so that’s. So there’s this other issue I kind of like questioning, which is the idea of is an Ico always a presale, because it’s like this, for me, the line seems blurred, sitting on the sidelines. You know, I don’t own any bitcoin. I haven’t invested in any ICOs or run any sale this month. On sale, Walmart. No, the thing is, there seems to be this, this kind of gray line between issuing an Ico for a kind of a security sale versus presale on product and just doing it as a crowdsource means of raising capital. There’s a bunch of capital, I should say, raising preorder. Yeah, so the customer money,
Scott Howard 28:30
the line between a equity crowdfunding a Kickstarter, like pre sale, a straight up preorder of product or services. And the issuance of a flat out security is actually pretty gray.
Qasim Virjee 28:51
Right? Because like, here’s an example, there was a company that I know, that has been talking or there’s a couple of them is a fun one. Yeah, there’s a company that I know, in a space that seems very sexy, not only to customers, but to crypto geeks around the world. And a lot of them being in closed economies or semi closed economies. They basically were in this communication space and they said, Okay, we’re going to, you know, issue this token for a product that’s going to be blockchain based. That solves a lot of social problems for people in those economies. So people got excited a lot of black money, no doubt went into this Ico and you had a mixture of people that want to see the product be created and use it. You also see a lot of people that are like okay, I’ll put my black money into this to kind of wash it because this is so popular and it’s gotten so much PR this Ico people don’t invest in it, and what they’re investing in is got value and the more investment that people make In it, the value will increase. And I can take my investment out. So this is question I have you know about looking at examples like that and saying is a token its own. This is getting this sounds stupid, but what’s the difference between a token and a cryptocurrency?
Scott Howard 30:21
Qasim Virjee 33:37
okay. But okay. So, you are saying that you could potentially you should be able to exchange a token for currency
Scott Howard 33:45
token for a currency token for value token for service, whatever they whatever that whatever that value thing is, but when you do it and currency currencies, like almost by definition, fungible is not exactly accurate. But fungible is accurate, accurate in the case of a real blockchain, because there’s only one of them. Okay. The, the example there would be that one. So it’s more, it’s more challenging to figure out the definition of a currency in that digital market. Then dollars and cents and fee it right. So I think that’s where that confusion kind of lies of is this token representing money, or is this token representing value? Will you ever do services? Yeah, because I
Qasim Virjee 34:33
hear I mean, again, it could be a nomenclature issue or could be just whatever degrees of my ignorance but I hear people doing ICOs Yep. I’m going to do an Ico to raise some money.
Scott Howard 34:42
Yeah, so the money laundering thing you were talking to first like money laundering is an aspect of the market Yeah. As it is of every other piece of currency on this planet.
Qasim Virjee 34:52
And yeah, let’s forget about the money lottery thing because you’re right that’s exactly true. Any any currency US currency of
Scott Howard 34:57
US dollars are the biggest source of like 99% of anything nasty in this world being transacted for money is in US dollars.
Qasim Virjee 35:06
Yeah. And there’s no true
Scott Howard 35:09
in the beauty of a blockchain is if I could figure out that that’s the bad guys wallet. Which is not wrong, you know who paid which is not rocket science and I can figure out where that went. All this stuff is it’s digital. Yeah. It doesn’t take doesn’t take an NSA hacker to figure this stuff out that they that’s Osama bin Laden’s wallet. Right. Right in a sama got the money from here. Yeah. And he moved it over here. Yeah, it’s digital. You put five smart nerds on that. You can figure it out. There’s there’s whole companies that are building themselves around digital currency audit trails, which is infinitely more auditable than
Qasim Virjee 35:46
greenbacks. I don’t know. But I thought all these transactions are encrypted.
Scott Howard 35:50
They’re encrypted. But those once you’ve done, you know, the usual geeky stuff that hackers would do of, if I could figure out the IP address that generated
Qasim Virjee 35:59
now okay, all the metadata surrounding transact, you gotta get you got to get
Scott Howard 36:03
you meatspace type date, right, right back around that you’re not going to open that up in the blockchain, like, oh, that’s yeah, that’s a sama. Wow, I get to see some of this, you got to go back and go like, Well, that was his IP address in Pakistan that would did here. Like you, you can, you got to do a bunch of work to do it. But it’s very doable.
Qasim Virjee 36:20
If a coin is a measure of currency. And I do an Ico isn’t a current ICO be to launch a new currency. Yes. Okay, so I launched Qasim coin, with an initial coin offering of 500 costumes. And people buy my 500 costumes at whatever price they want to. I don’t set the price, could I leave the price open? In the let’s call it $1 Exchange or Bitcoin exchange or any other purchasing currency for my selling currency? Or coin.
Scott Howard 37:01
So that’s a like issuing a stock, which is again, dangerous kind of territory of the regulatory soup that that trumps Sure, let’s just say it’s a loving,
Qasim Virjee 37:13
you’re selling something
Scott Howard 37:14
your your finger issuing, here’s the chasm value and putting it out in the market open, you could do that as an IPO, you could do that in Ico, right. And in 99% of cases, you and your advisers would set a price. And like this case of a stock, you’re like, I’m gonna sell the stock for $1 Share,
Qasim Virjee 37:32
right? And then the market determines the inflation is gonna go up. No,
Scott Howard 37:36
I want there’s only 500 of them, therefore, I’m willing to pay three bucks for and they come in, they pay three bucks and the stock goes up and everybody’s happy. And it’s the same thing in an Ico, so Ico, you go, like, I’m going to issue this out at the equivalent of $1 Canadian per token and then people can come in Okay, I’ll give you $3 Okay, and then the exchange pairing becomes different because almost everyone’s gonna do that either you’re gonna pair it to eath to theory Aetherium currency or you compare it to Bitcoin BTC so like, that’s kind of the the pricing mechanism that it’s like the, the way that most people describe the price of an Ico when they get fully indoctrinated is either it’s relative price to ether or its relative price to Bitcoin which is usually expressed as Satoshis so is the smaller units of Bitcoin so like a whole Bitcoin obviously being
Qasim Virjee 38:22
why Satoshi Where does the name come from? Satoshi is
Scott Howard 38:25
you Satoshi Nakamoto is the is the author of the Bitcoin white paper. So I guess the founder the US startup terms of Bitcoin and launched it, I’m of I’m of the belief that Satoshi is a group and not a person, but is fully anonymized. No one really knows, like, no one truly knows and anybody does know is not saying okay, but he’s anonymous, and it’s a key piece of the actual value proposition of Bitcoin is that anonymity in the kind of pseudonym founder aspect of it? So the Satoshis describe bitcoin is described as debt 808 units behind the decimal point. So I said, like once a Toshi is 0008 and eight numbers deep? Do you get to the one so that’s one Satoshi. Okay. And right now, it’s almost, it’s less than a fret, it’s a reasonable, it’s a few pennies for sure. So a mapping that wrong with alien to us
Qasim Virjee 39:31
is the success that we’ve seen, or rather, the popularity of ICOs and engagement people have with new currencies and issuances of these securities in this way, simply just redirected fervor for something that’s existed since the beginning of the market economy that as we know it, without regulation. Is it just that it’s so easy to transact
Scott Howard 39:59
the easy transactions key. So like, the advantage that I see is, I, as a non accredited investor can invest in any blockchain based project I want, anywhere in the world that I want through a smart contract that I can deem worthy or not worthy as I see fit, or absent lawyers. I could have a lawyer review it if I want, and I can have a geekier than me, developer friend review, and if I want, that’s if I’m actually gonna put real money, those are things that I would do.
Qasim Virjee 40:27
And also the availability of what is being invested in is, I think, something interesting too, because like, a lot of these sorts of investments wouldn’t be made available in the public market, or totally early stage. You know, I’ve
Scott Howard 40:39
I’ve played like, a lot of the projects are truly decentralized. Like, there’s people in California and there’s people Ukraine, there’s people in Thailand, there’s people in Canada, like participate in this project. And so like where is that project is a is a nebulous answer. Like it doesn’t actually it’s not in a spot okay. For for the really well done ones like Bitcoin doesn’t have a headquarters. Right. Right. Quite doesn’t have a founder fakeaway doesn’t have a CEO Bitcoins, just the project. It’s just out there. Yeah. Which makes it the truly decentralized. It’s bit of like when I kind of say I’m a Bitcoin maximalist, that’s a big driver of that there’s not, there’s not a head finger, if Metallica all sudden says that theory is not valuable anymore. theory will become not valuable really fast. Right?
Qasim Virjee 41:21
Right. No, it’s funny because I my, a lot of my experience in software is in the open source world. And you know, we always assume that open source projects are similar to this. And then you discover there’s always some politics or someone thinks that they’re the leader. And the project gets forked, and now all these other people are just co owning it equally, you know, so
Scott Howard 41:38
they think they really key and interesting thing there is because yeah, we share that open source experience. But when it was, you know, we’re talking about Linux, I use Linux, you know, Linux would be a trillion dollar token. Sure, the amount of value created on top of Linux is insane, right? You know, you know, you were at IBM I’ve worked with and around IBM, like, IBM has got billions of dollars anchored into Linux, just as one single organization and then all their customers than everybody else on Linux, like there’s probably a trillion dollar market cap, if you valued the similar way that you would value Bitcoin or Aetherium. Right? Linux is like, least a half a trillion dollars. Sure. Yeah. Ton unbelievable amount of value, if you tokenize. That. So the the difference there is, though, because it’s not monetized. utility value is actually true. If if my proposed my promote my proposed commit to the core project, yeah, is deemed valuable by the other other people, developers in that environment, say like, Yeah, that’s better factored code. And that’s going to that’s going to achieve the function that we want as a group. And we get behind it, we submit it, we merge it. That is a question of, typically utility and functionality, right? Is it better is it definitively engineered better, would be the vast majority of the conversation going on in the Linux community or any other kind of open source community? And there’s politics that right, there’s all kinds of interesting politics, but how can I get you on board to believe that my engineers better than other guys engineering, I kind of hope that people at the end of the day is like, the better factor code typically wins, right? And Yasukawa, but the difference is, if we don’t agree there’s in in the blockchain cryptocurrency space, there’s billions of dollars online, right? So my code commit, even if it’s definitively better, but no one’s behind it, I can get a whole crew to move with me. And we can move billions of dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars 10s of millions of dollars. So there’s there’s now this economic incentive to create different factions, different code bases, and this is kind of the hard fork soft fork debates that come out of that is the vast majority of it is economically driven. Or at least the economics massively influenced the, the engineering decisions that are being made.
Qasim Virjee 44:05
So blockchain or I guess, Bitcoin versus Aetherium Yeah, versus dot dot dot.
Scott Howard 44:12
Yeah. So the like the the thesis of Aetherium is smart contract, so it’s programmable value, right. So if I can now input input a whole bunch of engineering functions that are essentially If This Then That statements, yeah, that is that becomes a more valuable protocol than this the street ledger of value that is Bitcoin, right? Bitcoin Maximus would argue that Ethereum was an interesting experiment on how we program the tokens, right? How do we program the currency? How do we make a program so in but it doesn’t, it doesn’t scale our future, we can build more interesting smart contracts into the main core function of Bitcoin, which is not mature enough. So it’s a much slower progression because it’s a much more secure platform. I think a theorem is really valuable because the theory is running a whole lot of experiments. In parallel, so it’s much more like a startup. In that you can point at the founders, you can look at the key contributors, it kind of has some home bases, like there’s some pretty core organizations that for all intents and purpose, have a large ownership stake in theory.
Qasim Virjee 45:15
Is it also like what you started with explaining? Bitcoin? Is it also that two sided identity? Like Aetherium is a currency as well as this platform? The
Scott Howard 45:29
theorem is much more in debate. So the SEC is looking at is is it or was it at inception a security? Because it was launched with a promise of profit? So that’s a it. But people, it’s much more challenging securities law question. It’s like the Howey Test, like I don’t think Aetherium passes the Howey Test, like it’s a security. Now it’s a very controversial opinion. And no one really cares about my opinion, but you know, it’s a security what we’re going to do about it after that’s rule there’s going to be what’s interesting, because I don’t think there’s any value in retro actively going back. It’s just like, here’s how we move forward is a better answer. Sure. Enough, from a regulatory perspective. Bitcoin has been definitively consistently ruled as a property and or commodity. So I own it, my keep my keys to my bitcoin or ownership that I have. And we’re treating that Bitcoin as a commodity.
Qasim Virjee 46:26
Okay, so let’s talk about a focus on on Bitcoin for now and talk about the programmatic I guess the programmatic increase in valuation of the currency itself, is based on what you said in the beginning, right? The the computing power that has gone into extending the encryption of the chain? Yes. So there’s something that now we land on your company, yeah, you guys are heavily involved with is creating, if I understand it correctly, hardware technology that can process the computational arithmetic for extending that encryption algorithm at something like 10x, the efficiency of current processing power, or processor, processor chips,
Scott Howard 47:23
it would be 10x, what you can buy off the shelf, if you went and bought GPUs, graphics processing units. So what you would buy a stick in your gaming computer,
Qasim Virjee 47:31
right? Because there’s a specific type of mathematical calculation that they do that CPUs can’t do. Yeah, they
Scott Howard 47:36
see, a CPU and GPU can do the same calculations shot, it’s called Sha 256. Like that’s the encryption algorithm that’s used. Any most any computer can calculate that calculated efficiently is the question, right? Because there’s so much computing power directed at securing and running the Bitcoin Blockchain. We’ve we and other companies. So bitmain being the prime example, a big company in China that’s made billions of dollars, both running the largest data centers for running bitcoins in the world. And they also produce it on chips, those chips are called ASICs, so application specific integrated circuits. So like their applications specific, they do one thing and one thing only, they do shot up six. So they’re hyper efficient. So they’re any kind of general computer there’ll be at least 10 times more powerful than that, right? Actually, more like 1000 times. It’s it’s Moore’s Law at work. So once you kind of put all the silicon, all the transistors focused on that one function, they can be 1000 times more, more efficient. And so our challenge is to build an ASIC that is more efficient than the current ones in the market, which were about 30% more efficient than what bitmain and how long, it’s a few of the other companies that have produced chips in the space have done.
Qasim Virjee 48:53
Okay. And how has that happened? URL?
Scott Howard 48:57
So my coat, my technical co founder, came from AMD and AMD is one of the biggest graphic card,
Qasim Virjee 49:04
that’s where they focus in the last 10 years. Different focus on that’s that’s the only kind of because I remember back in the Pentium, versus what was it when AMD was the big like, against, you know, they were fighting Intel in the 90s.
Scott Howard 49:21
That was a lot about CPUs. Yeah, like Intel dominates the CPU market, they have like 80% market share in it. And they still do. And they also have a big chunk of the graphics market, but like a lot of the what they do in the graphics, they use graphic components from AMD these graphics, Nvidia so Nvidia and AMD are the two big graphics players. And the is in the graphics business because they bought a Canadian company called ATI.
Qasim Virjee 49:46
Oh yeah, that was Canadian. Yep.
Scott Howard 49:48
They went public. In 1993 I think on the NASDAQ but they weren’t the big huge Canadian success story out of Markham. Markham Ontario, Markham Ontario, so like there’s A huge AMD office up in Markham. And that’s Earl, my co founder was at ATI, early in his career, when they got bought in 2006, or seven, I think was 2006. They got bought for $5.5 billion by AMD. He went and did a stint at on semiconductors in Kitchener Waterloo. So you hung out there for like three years and then went back to AMD. And he was a kind of a chord, his idea of a
Qasim Virjee 50:27
stake in ATI,
Scott Howard 50:28
not a employee, he was a boy. He’s young, straight out of school kind of thing, right. But we’ll be back when he went back, he was a fairly senior engineer, came out and joined epic and helped co found and epic, as like one of the most senior engineers in all companies, when they had have like a core challenge on how do we make our graphic card better than it is graphic card? How do we make sure that we solve this problem for PlayStation? How do we solve this problem for Xbox, he was the he was the kind of head of the SWAT team to go in and kind of solve those problems from that kind of engineering perspective. So very well respected in that industry kind of saw a big opportunity in crypto. Because you don’t have to look very hard in the Nvidia and AMD kind of stock analysis and what people were looking at from a from a market perspective around what what’s driving the valuation of those two companies and the returns of those companies from a straight Income Statement perspective. It is those graphics cards are being bought in the 10s of millions, you know, to the tune of several billion dollars a piece by the mining come by the mining companies trying to run blockchain computing. And now the majority of the graphics card stuff is in the Ethereum market in the altcoin market. So they’re not really they’re generally very, very rarely they used against Bitcoin. Bitcoin is a very ASICs specific so you don’t use those general and or graphic cards use a very specific card. Did that work? We our first product is specific card for Bitcoin. Wow. And how I was able to do it so well, because you going from doing these really generalized things to do a whole bunch of really complex things in parallel, you’re like, I only have to design the chip to do one thing. That’s easy, guys. And so we got it done in six months, which is like super impressive, even even the semiconductor kind of veterans that we talked to, are like, you got that done in six months. Like, that’s, that’s pretty good. So we’ve been, we’ve been really excited about where we’ve gotten so far. And we’re, we’re ready to actually fabricate so produce the chips. Let me tell you, as a guy who’s relatively new to that industry, once you learn a little bit of how they actually manufacture produce microchips that go into our computers and phones, it is total science fiction, in reality, like it’s, it is Star Trek. Because we think about the chips, the chips that we’ve designed are seven nanometers.
Qasim Virjee 52:46
Yeah, I mean, you think back to not like the Homebrew computing days of like the beginning of Apple. And they were sold during years, because this
Scott Howard 52:54
might that’s in front of us, right. That’s why our computers, that’s why our computers weighed like 20 pounds, when we were kids like that compact computer or whatever, that our dads dropped out, dropped our tables, like,
Qasim Virjee 53:06
what’s funny is I was a weight, that computer could at that time could calculate almost everything that you’d want to do as a human, you know, like it using it as a big calculator, you know, for our daily communication and mathematics for you know, accounting and all this sort of stuff, you could do it. Now you look at this, like ridiculous, ridiculous processes that are involved in manufacturing these, you know, science fiction, Uber James Bond, you know, way beyond James Bond sized computing power in such small chips. I can’t I can’t even imagine what goes on to building something that small. But it definitely lends to something that we’re working on, which is bringing some programming over from, you know, the, from Silicon Valley from the Singularity University, and you know, all this kind of nanobot technology and looking at the exponential power of very microscopic computing devices.
Scott Howard 54:02
Well, it’s funny because, like, you and I can kind of picture microscopic, we’ve looked through microscopes, and we’re in grade 10 chemistry class or whatever. nanoscopic like, what, like, I have the engineer who’s designed this thing explain it to me, like helped me understand again, how small that is. And like when they’re saying nanometers on these ships, like there’s they’re measuring like the the smallest transistor so essentially the smallest possible wireless gonna thing but it’s seven nanometers. It’s nuts like that. And like, it’s to the point now, when the the next evolution of semiconductor technology will go down to five nanometers and they’re and they’re having a hard time making the seven nanometer work. So a big part of our challenge right now is a companies like getting access to the seven nanometer process because it’s in high demand, but it’s not fully commercialized. It’s not fully secure in terms of like working really well. And like kind of the analogy the the signal is gave everybody in the market is like until you see the PlayStation five, the seven nanometre chips have not been produced at scale. And I can’t say that because he helped design them. He is under NDA, but I know these things. Yeah. By hanging out talking to other guys. Definitely other people. Yeah, definitely under other people that when you see the PlayStation five will know the seven nanometer process actually works because they figured out at the nanoscopic scale, how to make this thing. So you think about how complex is the chip is to make but the the way they make them is a fully automated process. It’s the cleanest room in the planet. They say it’s, it’s cleaner than the CDC data Atlanta where they test a bola like it’s a cleaner room than that humans don’t go anywhere. It’s all robotic. So the chips and the processing, they go into the machines to make the chips, it’s got to just be insane.
Qasim Virjee 55:49
That is science fiction. That’s always
Scott Howard 55:53
go onto YouTube and put like TSMC Absolutely, or like Global Foundries like how chips made their like four or five minute videos and just like, well, it’s like that. It’s like flashing back to when the star tracks when the enterprise is in dry dock. And in the in the Star Trek movies. It’s crazy. What other
Qasim Virjee 56:13
ASICs do you know about right now like what other computational problems are being solved by these focused chips, chips and built purpose built chips.
Scott Howard 56:23
So I think we’re gonna see more and more artificial intelligence happen in ASICs right now most of it’s happening to GPUs. So they’re happening much more generalized purpose, because they there’s just a lot more stuff that happens that has to happen on the chip to do that. So you have to have a lot of memory, you have to have a lot of RAM, you have all these different components that are kind of be thrown at that math problem. 90% of time. Yeah. Nvidia is doing a really good job of building kind of AI specific graphics units. But I think more and more that it’s going to be accelerated, driven into really tight ASICs that do really specific problems really tightly. And that’s going to continue kind of the exponential curve on that front. What we see from a blockchain perspective, where we’re focused is looking at the different algorithms. So the algorithms that do this do the securing of the blockchain. So it’s called proof of work. So the way that we delay the issuance of a block to the blockchain, and then secure it and lock it down to make sure that we can’t come back and overwrite it and we can’t do anything but secure down the blockchain, we can’t rewrite it, we can’t edit it, it goes down is because there’s proof of work functions happening. Over and over again, there’s bunch of different algorithms, you can do that with SHA 256 Is the NSA approved version of that there’s SM two and SM three at a China, which is the Chinese kind of response to the NSA is Sha 256. One of the projects we work on right now is Echo hash echo hash was like, is a well regarded, strong version of it’s a combination of SHA 256. And another algorithm called blik, to be all the stuff I’ve learned great. Don’t Don’t ask me to do any of the math will be it will be a big trouble. So it’s a combination of two of them. So it’s kind of it’s hard to do on a set, because it relies on memory. Okay, so I suddenly have to introduce a second function into that into that chip function. So it makes it a little harder to deal with, from a basic perspective in terms of a single purposes. So we’re working hard on that process. That’s, that’s going to attach projects into three or four different big protocols. Our real goal is to work directly with the protocol developer, so the folks out there trying to build their own version of blockchains. And help them understand if you don’t work together with hardware, there’s not gonna be the infrastructure, the scale, what you want to do. So once you get once you get behind your beyond kind of your homebrew community, they can all kind of run it on their laptop, and it starts to scale up and pretty quickly gets to a spot where you need dedicated compute that has to come out of a data center, which needs to run 10s of 1000s of machines, which means it needs hundreds 10s, if not hundreds of megawatts worth of overall energy capacity and thrown out to run those data centers. It means you need to be very thoughtful in terms of how you build roadmap from a compute perspective. So it’s not just about the software, we’re actually back to 80s and 90s, full stack development of if the developer thing doing the front end of the application isn’t thinking about how does this get all the way down to that server box in you know, through a router down to the server down to the hardware, it’s not gonna work?
Qasim Virjee 59:34
Well, that’s why it’s interesting that there’s so many people throwing money at kind of quote unquote, Blockchain development. And all the like software companies are saying, oh, cool, we’ll just build some shit on Aetherium. You know, and it’s like, a few. We don’t have to deal with cocoa anymore. You know, it’s not. It’s like we’re transitioning out of apps and mobile apps into this like, sexy new thing. And it just seems to be like this gold rush moment of nothingness. We’re a
Scott Howard 59:57
long way away from replacing The user interfaces that we expect, right? Right now the only user interface, typically to a blockchain, at least any viable blockchain is your wallet. Which is why trading is kind of the only mass adoption function that you’ve seen. Getting to a spot, you know, the classic kind of use case that gets talked about and we’ve been looking at, because we’re doing some projects in the space is like distributed storage. So instead of me storing the picture of my kids in Dropbox or Google Drive, I distributed globally across everybody else’s computers. So it’s kind of like a bit torrent, you spread it out, you’re short it and, you know, you got a couple pixels, I got a couple pixels, and the guy down the street has a couple of pixels, and the application will aggregate them back into the pictures of my kids. And that way, the NSA can never go in there and take all the beautiful pictures of my children or, you know, Dropbox goes out of business, and I lose all my all my pictures, all the different kind of censorship that can happen over those files right now eliminated because I’ve got this distributed network. And as long as there’s enough nodes in that network, my files will always live out, out in the ether, so to speak, in a decentralized way where I can access them in my utility token will bring all those bring all those pictures back together, reformat that file, so I have it local to wherever I want to have it.
Qasim Virjee 1:01:21
Is the blockchain just an evolution, conceptual or otherwise, of, you know, the kind of 1990s file sharing protocols.
Scott Howard 1:01:31
There’s tons of similarities there. There’s a ton of elements kind of built on the shoulders of giants type methodology of like BitTorrent, and all that cyberpunk movement. You know, tons of that is evident in the Bitcoin white paper. Okay. You know, Satoshi, that is serious that Doshi if you want to know, any good guesses of what that group or that person was doing back in the 80s, and 90s 80s, and 90s, it was building a lot of that, you know, Victorian light technology mastered, like technology, you know, encryption, all those kind of things. You know, corruption, even in the 90s. And early 2000s was illegal, like, encrypting your email got you a call from the from the FBI.
Qasim Virjee 1:02:11
Do you remember a company in Montreal called zero knowledge? Do you ever know these guys? I don’t think so. Okay, look it up. Tell our listeners try and dig up some information or
Scott Howard 1:02:21
knowledge. Yeah, they should be heard that look,
Qasim Virjee 1:02:23
I think, yeah, I think the true story is hard to look up. It’s company that from what I remember, in Montreal, I worked at McGill, for I think they were a subsidiary somehow of zero knowledge. It was really just the university computer store that was like the the private one in the student union building. But I did some side projects for zero knowledge. And it was funny because like, at its height, which was very quickly, I think, in 99. They had raised I don’t know how many millions of dollars, and I forget the guy who owned it, but he was, he’s a cat that’s still around in the Montreal tech scene. And blanking on the guy’s name. It’ll come to me next podcast, we’ll
Scott Howard 1:03:03
talk about it. But I bet you knew I’m kind of on the on the verge of a few Google’s in my brain. That number
Qasim Virjee 1:03:10
in my head at that time was 60 million that he raised in like a very short period of time, hired all the leading crypto guys in the world. And they were like flying into Montreal, like every day, like 510 employees, you go their office, and it would be totally like that movie Hackers, you know, where people have crazy haircuts, and they’re riding like skateboards to the office, and it’s this beautiful crazy office. Yeah. And no one knows who anyone is or why they’re there or what they’re doing. But it’s just a wicked vibe.
Scott Howard 1:03:40
The original hoodie, hoodie squad. Oh, yeah, smelly actors.
Qasim Virjee 1:03:44
And it’s so interesting, because at that time, it was before it said that the premise of the company was to build. It was just security. It was just like when security was not even an issue on the internet. Yeah, they were like, we’re going to create security protocols for everything. And then it’s just,
Scott Howard 1:04:00
it’s a huge issue. It’s a huge issue. Now, I think blockchain bought a big piece of why blockchains existence in response to our lack of control over our applications, our data, more specifically, so the Facebook example, you know, but heybridge Analytica and Facebook are just prime examples that even our moms can understand because they’re on Facebook. And they feel like they’ve been robbed of some level of privacy by being on Facebook. And other than that they care I think as users even you got you and I as educated users. We don’t care. No, I don’t care. I trade I trade the convenience all day long. I’m, I’m fairly knowledgeable the trade that I’m making. I still make it. Yeah. Equifax had every piece of data they could ever want on me. It was all 100% certain I was hacked. Equifax hacked I know, I know the hackers in the world have all
Qasim Virjee 1:04:48
my data. Yeah. To what degree
Scott Howard 1:04:52
I didn’t need Equifax to get hacked to know that. Yes, pretty confident that before that, well, I have this whole theory. Now. I know that my bank knows that which that really was what Just as be off because then they do KYC and AML against me with Equifax right, which is not a good which is not is a verifiably not secure way to verify that I am who I say I am, which drives me bonkers but
Qasim Virjee 1:05:13
I mean the general kind of public outcry and opinion about this seems to be for me back backlash born, you know, out of the discontent and abandonment disconnect discontentment with an abandonment of, you know, religion and the existence of God, I, you know, something I studied University was religion for many years. So I see the religiosity, I want to write something about this, but the religiosity of the internet, you know, so massive, and I think it’s so baked as we have these kind of connected devices and everything that you know, the spirit running through everything that is the connectivity, the bandwidth and availability of access. It’s so interesting to conceive when you or to think about when you when you conceive of people not being able to quantify or even qualified, what is their data and their virtual persona. So they kind of see it as this like spirit is I think, subconsciously. And you know, as soon as you kind of squash the existence of God, or some higher power in your life, for good or for bad, it doesn’t matter. There’s a little bit of a crisis, there’s this crisis, because you put all the spiritual baggage or whatever you have in your subconscious onto the internet, and you kind of say, you know, if someone owns that, what will I have? And like, what does that mean? It’s something that I don’t even know about me that they have? And like, if I don’t know it, I mean, oh, my God, how will I die in peace? You know, it’s really interesting.
Scott Howard 1:06:38
I see, you see, a lot of, I can always view is tribalism in especially in the crypto community. Okay, you see, as it kind of, it comes out in the fork debates of like a hard fork versus a soft fork. So a soft fork would be, we agree to this tenant, we agree to merge this commit of code, aka, we think this code will make our platform our protocol better. And so we kind of go on our merry way. We’re all happy that we’ve changed the canon of of law, which is essentially the code in the GitHub repository that’s like there it all is that that is the canon that we believe in, right. And then the heretics will run off. And they’ll hard fork and they’ll create their own version of like, to protect data. We don’t believe in a one megabyte one megabyte block, we believe in the two megabyte block. And that’s the one megabyte or sync. That’s heretical. The two megabyte bloggers thinks, though the one meg, one megabyte blocks are, but surely Luddites that are sticking their heads in the sand. You know, to be clear on the one they just laid out very definitively, there is no argument there whatsoever. The two megabyte biters are complete, and utter shysters and probably declared heretics. But like, that is all religious debate.
Qasim Virjee 1:08:00
Is this all forks? Right? Is this pervasive technology that’s supposed to kind of make you know, data ubiquitous, or data encrypted access to data ubiquitous, as it forks and as projects kind of close off their user bases from each other? The promise of the technology revolution of this, you know, the revolutionary power of this technology, surely is lessened. So And could that be just efficient? Could that be could this all be just a version point or one of the product?
Scott Howard 1:08:39
So I think we’re very early in the product cycle, very early. The typical kind of rewind to the internet, we’re in the early 90s. We have a bunch of late 90s market dynamics, but we’re early 90s from we’re building infrastructure. We’re laying down pipe or putting down roads, like you know, Epic’s in the business of infrastructure, like what is going, you know, this stuff needs silicon, it needs chips to run on, you can’t make software without chips to run it. Alright, every piece of software on this planet goes back to a piece of silicon somewhere. And we’re in there’s no silicon out there that’s very well dedicated to running blockchain. So that’s a big piece of problem we’re trying to solve. So it’s like, we’re in infrastructure business, we’re like, we’re very much into the plumbing of trying to build this out. And I think the only the only railroad that is proven is rock solid and goes from a to b definitively is isn’t a Bitcoin blockchain. Bitcoin. We get we get fussy when you define blockchain versus Bitcoin, it’s Bitcoin. All lots of other things are super interesting, very valuable, important experiments. So if there is kind of the process of this, of which will inform what happens in the future, they may have all been be the platforms in the future. Hated the early part. that it’s free more aid is the actual, true free market economy is probably the only free market economy on the planet which is I think it’s what’s truly truly interesting about it from a thought experiment perspective as well as like social experiments like every other market that you interact with is regulated in one way, shape or form or the other. If nothing else, but by the currency used to entertain that market, the Bank of Canada manipulates the value of the loonie, right changes the interest rates to confirm the wind and something can happen to our market, right? The Bitcoin is influenced by a pure play free market economy. There’s a bunch of whales in that market that essentially can act like central banks. So there’s an interesting debate there. But that’s a much more nuanced and opaque debate then the Bank of Canada most influences the loonie.
Qasim Virjee 1:10:53
So the market dynamics of Bitcoin on a gross perspective on the widest angle are, the more it is mind, the more of it the less of its value, am I right in that? Is it a scarcity thing or no? So there’s only ever gonna be 21 million of them, oh, it’s a finite supply that supply. So that’s that’s but you earn of the finite supply, as you are
Scott Howard 1:11:19
decreasing the amount of the money rewards. So it’s part of the inflationary deflationary mechanism built into the asset class, of which I’m not a good enough economist to give you a good explanation of that. But right now, bitcoins inflate inflationary scales about 4% a year. And that’s been pretty steady throughout the project’s life. And big piece of that is the pace at which new Bitcoins are minted through the mining process. So all that computing power is being rewarded. So providing network infrastructure, but
Qasim Virjee 1:11:51
if the supply the total supply of the currency is finite, and the issuance of it is potentially infinite at a control scale, or the scale is really Moore’s law,
Scott Howard 1:12:03
it will stop you know, it’s, it’s designed inside the algorithm. Essentially, to slip this secure block every 10 minutes. Now it varies its averages to 10 minutes. So
Qasim Virjee 1:12:14
that’s a guaranteed deflationary pressure. Yes. So hoarders it that’s is that a measure to protect against hoarders of currency and massive trades in it? If I have to ask email Satoshi it
Scott Howard 1:12:31
is an incentive model. My belief My understanding is it is an incentive model to drive what the Bitcoin market would call huddling. What’s juggling? Hide? Sounds
Qasim Virjee 1:12:43
dangerously sexy? Yeah, it really doesn’t.
Scott Howard 1:12:46
I don’t know. I don’t think it is. It is, it is a sexy thing to do. It comes off a Reddit meme from like, I think two or three years ago. So last big crypto crash Bitcoin crash in particular, which I think was 2015 a guy went on Reddit and a lot of the conversations around all the cryptocurrencies but Bitcoin in particular happened on Reddit. And this guy was a reasonably well known avatar inside of Reddit. Clearly got on there very drunk and essentially typed out like like he meant to type hold. Because essentially, like, you know, trying to do the, you know, Braveheart type hold the line type thing of, don’t sell your Bitcoin just sit back and hold it, you know, classic, classic.
Qasim Virjee 1:13:37
Instead, he typed
Scott Howard 1:13:39
Hodel H O DL. And he went on he, I think he I think he actually wrote Hatha like a couple times in his like, posts. Exactly my head I haven’t read in a while, but like hoddles now become the kind of meme around what when the markets swinging and volatility Hodel and the only thing I endorse people huddling is Bitcoin, but that’s I’m not a finance professional money advisor, nor is it technique money, so I’m off the hook.
Qasim Virjee 1:14:08
What actually when does Bitcoin become more? Also two things and then I’ll get off the Bitcoin thing. But like, what? What caused the crash?
Scott Howard 1:14:20
That crash? That crash was Mount Gox so the mount Gox exchange was hacked. And I think like, at that time of probably like $100 million dollars worth of bitcoin was stolen from the exchange, which created a crisis of confidence. So people started selling evil selling. And so like that message was hold like just hold on your coins you’ll be fine. Turn in the huddle just because of a trucking typo. So now as like, you know, here we are sitting in the middle of June and the price is going down. That kind of
Qasim Virjee 1:14:52
how was it stolen? How is that possible?
Scott Howard 1:14:55
That’s what it goes right back to the kind of first part of a country is like, do not leave your currency on the exchange. So wherever you go, if you go into coin square or coin berry or any or Einstein or any other Canadian exchanges and you email transfer your your Canadian dollars in there. Once you buy that Bitcoin, put it on a hard drive, take it off the internet, get it, get it off the internet, get off the exchange in particular because the exchange is essentially the ultimate honeypot. For every hacker in the world to go after I want to go attack that thing because there’s $100 million worth of bitcoin sitting and I’m gonna go get it. That is very hackable, your address. Once you have that seed you’ve locked it down is not hackable, other than you giving away your keys, right? Or opening up your device in a way that’s not secured. So once you get to bring it down off exchange, the safest way to do it is to get into cold storage to get into devices that
Qasim Virjee 1:15:47
are there banks, crypto banks,
Scott Howard 1:15:51
no one will call themselves a crypto bank yet but
Qasim Virjee 1:15:54
because they don’t want to be attacked by hackers, they are like a lot
Scott Howard 1:15:56
of them will be attacked by regulators. So get going through getting storage. So if you look at Canada, so getting a banking charter sort of they call it becoming like a tier three bank. So essentially getting the same status as like a credit union or something like that is no easy feat.
Qasim Virjee 1:16:14
No just being a storage facility for people’s hard drives with Oh yeah,
Scott Howard 1:16:18
so that’s all that’s on that business that is an emerging business. It’s big. So essentially, they’ll hold your cold storage wallets in volts, right?
Qasim Virjee 1:16:28
It’s like literal vaults.
Scott Howard 1:16:29
There’s like nucular facility, new killer bunkers in like Switzerland that have been repurposed into like crypto bunkers. Very interesting. They’re all like kitted out and apparently I’ve seen like pictures on like Business Insider stuff like this look crazy. What
Qasim Virjee 1:16:42
do people pay to secure their current their cryptocurrency?
Scott Howard 1:16:47
I wouldn’t imagine it’s the price that you and I would never be able to pay. So I suspect like when you have 10s of millions of dollars a Bitcoin, this gets interesting. So they’re one of the biggest pieces of the market that’s happening now is custodianship because ultimately a bank, a bank holding our cash is a custodian of it by the insured by the government and all that kind of stuff. So even if they got robbed, you didn’t actually lose your money in the case of cryptocurrency. If the exchange if the bank, the current exchange gets robbed, there’s no insurance, it’s gone. It’s not coming back. Some of the exchanges have done right by their customers and reimburse them with different types of token offerings, which has been an interesting solution to that problem. Yeah, it’s very good. Finance did that. It was actually quite the way they did it was really effective, but it’s not a story I’m too familiar with. So let’s go down that story. So it’s custodian chips become a big piece. custodianship is like the key barrier to entry for big institutional money so like a hedge fund coming in like the reason you wouldn’t a hedge funds will use X capital for Yeah, as our as our good fictional example, Bobby, let’s get Bobby Axelrod wants to start buying Bitcoin and trading Bitcoin but do it within the regulations so so Chuck can’t show up and throw throw him in court and put him in jail? He’s got to have a custodian. So all the holdings all the all the investors may have a billion dollars of investor money that he brings in that he wants to convert into big into BTC, Bitcoin or ether eath and then go in that market and trade and get Taylor to go do crazy quant trading across all the different altcoins he has to have a custodian that’s able to hold all that cryptocurrency that is funding those accounts and then bringing back is renting the returns are and hold that and hold that to secure fashion where he’s completely reliable and accountable back to his investors and says I still have a billion dollars. Yeah, haven’t I turned that billion dollars in the $2 billion in here? It isn’t secure. Yeah. So I custodianship is the big regulatory hurdle. There’s a bunch of technical challenges about how do you do that because as I, as I was pointing out to us an individual’s like, you need to own your keys. If you don’t know with no, you don’t have your keys, you don’t have your bitcoin is kind of one of the sayings that goes on in the market. So if he’s holding all this cat, all this crypto on behalf of investors, and in behalf of his fund, whoever has the keys has complete control that they siphon all that up and break that up and make that secure. And then, you know, when Taylor’s trading at five different currencies across six different exchanges with at five different counterparties, the accounting of that and the keeping track of all the different wallets that would run that gets really hairy really fast, like, just from a data perspective, right. It’s complicated, much less like, where’s my account? Who’s got the keys? What if that liquidates the wrong way? What if the markets moving how to like there’s a lot of complexity into institutional investing? That’s been a barrier to entry because it’s technically complex and how to do that and then we just haven’t solved the regulatory problem because we can’t give them a good technical explanation of here’s where all the keys are, here’s the custodian, here’s the actual physical custodianship of that value. Very definitively, that goes like a second day Dan can show you exactly where that dollar is, is technically really hard to do is we haven’t able to get the regulatory regime to go like, you know, essentially say it’s kosher. And therefore, the university endowment funds not going to give Bobby that billion dollars until we until we solve that problem, that problem is getting solved. Now, so there’s that that money starting to move. The argument would be some of the crashing in the market, and this is above my paygrade, some of the crash in the market, you know, the $6,000 $7,000 Bitcoin that we’re at right now, it’s a little bit of the pull out of the market getting ready for the big dump of institutional money to come in and drive it to the moon. That’s interesting. That’s not investment advice. investment advice. I think we’re, I think, I think, guys, I think we’re on we’re on sale, right? Bye. Bye. Bye, Kramer. There’s a lot of the patterns pretty steady, huh? q4, q4, it goes
Qasim Virjee 1:21:10
back to Bitcoin
Scott Howard 1:21:11
because all the hedge funds want to cheat and make alpha off of crypto because it’s the only place that getting yield.
Qasim Virjee 1:21:15
Yeah, because they’re a bit screwed.
Scott Howard 1:21:18
They’re not going to get it off public equities. Yeah, it’s very interesting, cheap money. Right. So it’s, it’s custodianship is a big challenge, from institutional capital perspective. And it’s like, it’s a challenge for the everyday user, like making sure you have control.
Qasim Virjee 1:21:34
But what the bank’s not be interested in getting into this, like I, they’re 100% interest. So I have Canadian banks, but getting into this like, yes, okay.
Scott Howard 1:21:41
So all all the banks, all the five Canadian banks all have experiments and blockchain, they all have people resource to figuring out different use cases in different uses of blockchain to varying degrees across the banks. They have people looking at cryptocurrencies as assets and investments and how do they trade and operate in the call it the capital market of cryptocurrency? I wouldn’t say all five of them are in that market. But certainly a couple of them are, in a couple of them are looking at running exchanges,
Qasim Virjee 1:22:13
or they if they’re doing that, are the banks also looking at running syndicates on AngelList?
Scott Howard 1:22:21
I think that is even more problematic, because that’s just less liquid. Because like the challenge, they would look at, like right
Qasim Virjee 1:22:29
there. Their private wealth businesses might look at Yeah, that’s exactly where I would expect her running. You know,
Scott Howard 1:22:36
my uncle works at Harris bank. So I’ll pick on Harris bank, like Harris banks gonna like, Okay, I got a bunch of high net worth individuals I’m running money for, you know, I’m mostly paying them to do tax arbitrage and solve my tax problems is what you’re paying your financial advisors that scale to do, especially when they’re coming from banks, and not more aggressive stuff. I digress. But dude, you’re like, Yeah, I need to I need to deliver yield for you to file other than other than giving you a logo that safe and secure, right, doing some hand holding round tax and doing, you know, giving you leverage on essentially giving you access to debt at a really good package. Those guys got to bring some yield from something. Yeah, it sure sure is not going to be mutual fund.
Qasim Virjee 1:23:19
No, no, no, absolutely. That people are bored of mutual funds and the Board
Scott Howard 1:23:22
of Real Estate, like how much exposure to real estate Do you really want? Right? Because especially if you’re an Albertan? Yeah. For any if you’re, if you’re the typical rich banker, lawyer, accountant in Toronto, yeah, you’re over, like, you’re over leveraged in the real estate. You know, you have your own mortgage. Yeah. Which you and I, that’s all we got. Right? Exactly. If we really rich, you’d have more real estate on top of that any mortgage, your mortgage, and then we’d have a few nickels worth worth of like public equities and crap like that.
Qasim Virjee 1:23:51
It’s really interesting because I’ve been seeing this as a problem in Canada. And now there’s a whole different discussion. So I don’t want to take us there on the blockchain,
Scott Howard 1:23:57
but these guys are gonna run. I think one or two of the banks will open up crypto exchanges in the next year or two. I think they’re all using Blockchain, at least in the sandbox right now. I think there’s a bunch of different transactions that that will move to be run on blockchains settlement being a really big one of those. So if you look at land radio, talking the land length land registration, it’s gonna be on blockchains. Like, who’s got title of that property? has a title lab property moved? Putting that in an immutable long term blockchain that says they went from party to party B in 1966 and then didn’t move again till 2018 is a no brainer because going into the public archives go look that up is right bunch of lawyer accountant waste of time. Exactly. two digit so digitizing that way who are reliable database because Scotia banks database is not going to trust Easily database. So I’m just going to have to have the lawyers and accountants go into the basement to find the record again. Even though even though both records might align, we’re fiduciary obligated not to trust each other. Unless we get to a spot where we have a blockchain where, yeah, one of our one of our big four accountancy, like that is definitively the truth.
Qasim Virjee 1:25:19
What’s okay, so let’s, let’s wrap up this blockchain discussion for today, I think there was a lot that I have no clock in front of me, it was a lot of talking a lot of stuff. And I think what we should do is, the next session I’d like to bring you into is maybe two sessions, I like to bring into two different ones. One is a roundtable on the crypto side of things, I think, with a couple other people and the other one we’ll be talking about. I think this there’s a lot to talk about some some people in VC and so on, and some angel investors about, you know, how securities are evolving the nature of the security, and how to invest in what
Scott Howard 1:25:57
tokenized to carry. You know, Yeah, cuz it’s like the, like, the biggest challenge in private equity is liquidity. Right? Right. So if I invest in a startup, I don’t expect to see liquidity off that thing for seven to 10 years. 10 years. Yeah. If I ever see liquidity, oh, but like, even if your company’s great your your unit, your unicorn and unicorn status, also, I can go find a secondary market. But a secondary market is a big pain in the butt. Right?
Qasim Virjee 1:26:23
I’ve actually talked to guys on the software side around secondary market being like sell that equity to someone else’s. Yeah, like it.
Scott Howard 1:26:29
Yeah, I put $30,000 into Uber. And now we’re sitting on it still private company, I’d really like to have my 3 million bucks, whatever the heck that’s worth to me today. There’s a bunch of people pay me 3 million bucks in cash to get that, get those shirts done. But that’s got to get Board approval from Uber, we’re going to facilitate that there’s a bunch of tax implications that there’s just a bunch of overhead
Qasim Virjee 1:26:54
of that. It’s true, making equity tradable.
Scott Howard 1:26:57
And you’re not going to avoid that. If you if we tokenize that like we’re not going to avoid there’s a tax implication to that. I can make those tax rules really simple. I can program them in the go like you have an option at 10 cents per share, those shares are now worth 10 bucks. It’s you know, here’s exactly what the half is that’s got capital gains on it, the capital gains is worth exactly this, I will deposit that money into your CRA account, right could be programmed into that 100% thing depending on, you know, the the limiter. The limit of that will be the API interface of the CRA. Yeah, exactly. Not the how smart contract. It is literally an API problem at the CRA. Thank God for security. Another great Canadian company.
Qasim Virjee 1:27:39
Scott Howard 1:27:40
Qasim Virjee 1:27:42
Okay, so to wrap this session up, then tell us a little bit about what’s ahead for blockchain. Not blockchain as a whole. But epic blockchain
Scott Howard 1:27:51
as an epic blockchain is about to start fabricating some chips, if we play our cards, right, and do the couple deals that we have in the motion right now. So we’ll start putting actual infrastructure in the market, and it’s gonna be a fun day. And actually, you know, as the as the sales guy in the team, I like to have actual stuff I could sell versus vision. So that’s gonna be fun, we’re raising some capital around that. And that’s going to be interested, interesting to see how we play out and what kind of strategic investors were able to bring on and how that helps us scale. And that’s gonna lead to bring in a whole bunch of engineers on board.
Qasim Virjee 1:28:25
So in terms of hires, upcoming, any particular people that might be listening that you want to connect with a contact,
Scott Howard 1:28:32
people who work up in marketing in the general vicinity up there typically know a lot about how to do basic design and FPGA implementations and shader code development, stuff like that, you know, might know a thing or two about how graphics get implemented in silicon and, you know, worked at companies with an acronym of three letters, will probably bring a few, a few of those guys into our team brought ourselves out and that allow us to do more projects. So what’s that’s gonna allow us to do is work more directly with the protocols and really give them access to custom hardware. So not just waiting for Nvidia, AMD the ship the next graphics card or wait for bitmain to build an ASIC for their particular network, they can actually be proactive and build as part of their roadmap for their technology. How does the hardware intersect there, so it gets a lot more back into, you know, I like to use the analogy of Intel Pentium team, right and the Microsoft Windows team. They work together,
Qasim Virjee 1:29:33
interoperability, interoperability. Free catchphrase for the last couple of weeks. All goes back to Microsoft. They picked that word a lot.
Scott Howard 1:29:44
Everybody in tech pimps that word was really that first
Qasim Virjee 1:29:47
AI systems integrations, the greatest cash cow we ever made we ever had as original as the OG phrase interoperability 10 years ago
Scott Howard 1:29:55
with some systems oriented architecture,
Qasim Virjee 1:29:59
jargon jargon term guesses
Scott Howard 1:30:00
API it up man. Come on are the API Academy you know we just blockchain
Qasim Virjee 1:30:04
Yeah, Blockchain everything.
Scott Howard 1:30:06
Every 18 months we need something new so we can go back to the clients and make some make a number. Come on.
Qasim Virjee 1:30:11
Awesome. What was great chatting, that was fun. Thanks for joining me.
Scott Howard 1:30:15
Five stars on iTunes.
Qasim Virjee 1:30:17
Yes, please rate the podcast if you like it. If you don’t like it, just email us. You can drop us a line as always, if you’d like to, through start well.co That’s our main website. And if you’re interested in learning more about epic blockchain, you can go to their website which is
Scott Howard 1:30:34
epic blockchain.io. Io, or you can tweet me at Howard Scott J. and epic Adam at Epic blockchain is the corporate company started that again. Say that again. At Epic blockchain is the company handle on the socials which are pretty much all of them. I think Twitter’s the main one. But I think we have epic blockchain on most of the mainline ones. And then I’m at Howard, Scott J.
Qasim Virjee 1:31:01
You mentioned you’re a fan of podcasts. Can you shout out any couple podcasts that you recommend people listening to
Scott Howard 1:31:06
one that is recorded in this room is like one of my favorites. I’m a big fan of the ken cod podcast by beta kit. I listen to that every weekend while I’m running. I do well so I get into the noted bog podcast is an excellent one about Bitcoin in particular it’s both some Bitcoin maximalist Pierre Rashard being one of them who’s also Canadian, but a very big leader in the Bitcoin space as I listened to the crypto cousins is a fun one that’s a good entry point for people trying to learn about the crypto market crypto cousins guys I just added Texas their their their good deeds are fun. But also I listened to I listened to I listened to Tim Ferriss one like everybody else but Gary Vaynerchuk he’s fun to notice notice my like hardcore geek one for bit for Bitcoin blockchain and crypto cousins is a good entry point for people kind of get get their feet wet and learn a bit more what’s going on.
Qasim Virjee 1:32:03
Awesome. Thanks again. It was a pleasure. We’ll do it against you. I think that’s fantastic.