a16z’s Chris Dixon on “Read Write Own” and Big Tech vs. crypto | Chain Reaction Podcast

Hey everyone it's jacqulyn melanic Welcome to chain reaction a show that Unpacks and Dives deep into the latest Trends drama and news with some of the Biggest names in crypto breaking things Down block by block for the crypto [Music] Curious today's guest is Chris Dixon General partner at the Venture Capital Firm and Jon Horwitz and founder of its Crypto arm he is also the author of The Newly released book read write own which We are recording on January 30th and It's the same day his book is released To the public so we're super excited to Have Chris on to talk about it in Basically chain reaction's first ever Book review like talk with that said Chris welcome to the show thanks for Having me Jackie appreciate it yeah and Before we get started we always like to Ask our guests this you've met a lot of People invested in a lot of companies And if you could share who is one person In crypto that you've spoken to in the Past 12 months that has inspired you and What did you learn from them oh wow it's A great question I'm lucky enough in my Job to you know basically my job is to Meet with interesting people and to meet With entrepreneurs and to learn from Them and and you know a lot of my book Is is like the distillation of things I've learned from them so I'm not trying

To dodge your question but but it is Sort of like my it is it's sort of my Like the frankly the great thing about My job is that you just get to meet with A lot of high energy really intelligent Creative people I don't know like live In a we can talk about it more as we Maybe get into the book but like I feel Like we live in this era sort of big Tech and you know what got me inspired About the internet was sort of people Starting out with fresh ideas and I I Always that's that's what brings me Energy is like meeting those folks and Hearing their new ideas so yeah it's Hard to single out one person that's Fair and honestly as someone who Interviews a lot of people in this space I feel the same way I'm energized by a Lot of Founders ideas things like that And some calls I'm like all right I Could take a break after this but other Ones I'm like I want get working you Know and on the topic of read WR own we Will get into the big Tech part but Maybe this will answer that question why Did you even want to write this book What inclined you to do this tell us a Little bit about that yeah crypto and Blockchains are in the news a lot but a Lot of it is around speculation and Prices and I feel that there's another Side to the story and it's the side of The story that I I live in that the

Entrepreneurs we work with live in which Is what I would call the productive side Of blockchains right how do you use Blockchains to create new internet Services that bring us back the counter The consolidation of the internet and And my mind bring us back to the ideal Ideals of the original internet sort of The origins of the internet as an open And democratic system right so so I felt There was this other side of the story And I felt very strongly that it was an Important story to tell and hadn't been People talk about it of course and you Know there's a lot of great books out There on different topics around Blockchains you know the work you do People in media do and we try to do with Our posts and blogging and stuff but I Think there's something special about a Book that you know that just can reach a Different audience so for example like I Go to DC a lot now because there's a lot Of policy discussions or just speak to People who aren't in the industry and I Literally would hear all the time you Know what book should I read you know It's like Paul Graham always says or why Combinator I think says build a product That you want right and so for me like Writing this book in some way was like I Wanted this book to exist yeah yeah I Mean I mean I almost like someone else Wanted to write it like it was a lot of

Work you know that'd be great but I just Felt like maybe I was in a you know just Having been in the internet for my whole Career having been in the space for a Long time I felt like I could bring a Kind of maybe I don't know if unique but At least you know fresh perspective so I Felt like it was something we need and I Could potentially do it and so I took on I you know I was naive and thought I'll Probably whip it out and like six months You know like it'll be a fast process And uh it you know much longer than that Just lots of details lots of you know Just a lot of work but in the end I Think very rewarding and as you Mentioned it's coming out today and so I'm really excited now after all this Buildup to see you know what people I've Had some people read it I sent some Advanced copies out but really the world Hasn't read it yet and so I'm really Excited to see the reaction and I'm Hoping it starts a dialogue you know Instead of there's a lot of like emotion Around these topics and political Debates and I'm hoping to kind of Elevate the debate the discussion a Little bit and I'm hoping people will Respond I'm sure there's things I got Wrong but what I'm hoping is it kind of Frames the topic and I think more in Terms of the history and all the Potential and that is more around the

Productive aspects than the kind of Trading aspects yeah I mean there's a Lot of noise out there that is focused On Meme coins and to be fair there's a Lot of trading volume happening there But is that really what will bring Society further I'm not sure I'm not the One to say but your book also has this Emphasis on like the computer technical Side of crypto versus like the casino World of coins degens gambling Etc you Know what I'm talking about how do you Think the industry or just people within The space in general can kind of fix That image to an outsider's perspective And like truly show the value of Blockchain Technology opposed to just People viewing this as like a big pump And dump scheme yeah it's great question I think that the first and foremost it's Incumbent on people like me like Investors but also entrepreneurs that we Work with to build great products and You you think about you know AI as an Example so AI has been around for 80 Years I actually 15 years ago started an AI company and actually at the time it Wasn't like crypto bad word but AI was Had kind of a bad word to it because it Had been promised for so many years that They were going to alen Turing wrote About AI in 1950 and said that you know That he thought that there would be Intelligent human-like machines and I

Think it was you know I don't know Relatively near future and so there had Been all these promises and it hadn't Delivered but then of course it did Deliver right I mean I think like chat GPT and all the things it's done so for Me fundamentally it's about delivering Um we need to we the community that Believes in productive uses of Blockchains need to deliver great Products right so now secondly I do Think that a lot of the kind of Casino Behavior and I and I have a big section In the book about this which by the way I think you know I think there's certain People in the crypto Community who won't Like that part of the book like I Decided to write that anyways I you know I'm not sure it's going to win be a Popularity contest with some people but I felt like it was important to call That out because I do think we need to Also think about things we do to dampen That kind of behavior and that that Ranges from you know a lot of these I Think are policy questions this is why We've gotten more involved with policy Like I was involved with coinbase for Years and it was always frustrating at Coinbase that you had these companies Like FTX and binance that were offshore That were you know coinbase was heavily Regulated BSA kyc you know all these you Know huge focus on compliance and

Security public company audited and they Had competitors that that didn't do that And took market share and I think those Competitors really encouraged a lot of The you know Casino behavior and so I do Think some of this is the role of policy Makers to you know quickly act when when People when there are Bad actors in the Space who encourage this kind of thing But I yeah I'd say fundamentally though It's about it's about building great Products I think all Tech is in the end People talk about you know maybe Different branding different marketing I My experience in Tech is products are Everything you know people really Finally got AI when they saw chaty PT People really finally got smartphones When they saw the iPhone and Fundamentally we just need to create Great products what do you think people Really get crypto with what will be that Product that would bring that in well That's what we're you know that's what We're as investors we're we're of course Trying toct that invest so we have a Wide range of Investments and so the Short answer is I you know I have a Bunch of you know areas that I think are Promising I have found that you know Like I for example I was an early Investor in a lot of mobile apps when IPhone came out in 2007 and I I was an Investor 20078 n and there were a lot of

Hypotheses like maybe you know now that You have this supercomputer in your Pocket and it has GPS and a camera you Know maybe the killer app will be this Or that and we had all these debates and In the end you know it turned out you Know ephemeral messaging I think that Probably surprised some people calling a Cab like uber you know messaging I mean Some of the things were maybe a little More predictable but some of them kind Of you know I think surprise people so My experience with this has been and I Think blockchains will be similar in That it's hard to actly predict but you Can sort of have a sense of it and make A bunch of Investments and so so our Investments span from we have a bunch Around kind of what we call Web 3 gaming That basically use nfts and other types Of blockchainbased media to create new Income streams for Creative people we Have a number of things around kind of Social networking a number of Investments around finance and Defi and Payments so you know kind of have a Bunch of hypotheses and then we you know We meet with great Founders who who we Invest in and hope that they they build Those kinds of products so I think There's a lot of promising signs but It's hard to say exactly where that kind Of true breakout will happen I'm sure We'll find out one of these days weeks

Or months or Years hopefully sooner Rather than I believe I believe so That's why I'm doing it but right and I Think it will be in you know I I think And hope it will be in the relatively Near future but but um you know Obviously that remains to be seen yeah I Think you know you had the chapter about The like Casino coins we kind of talked About in the like products do you think There's like a world where they both can Coexist and it's like fine that we have This more degenerate side of crypto and Then we have like a more sophisticated Technical side of crypto or should we Just get rid of that side so I think the Key breakthrough of blockchains is they Enable digital ownership right so Digital just to maybe to Define that Like as an example when you use a social Network today like Twitter or Facebook You don't own your name and you don't Own own your audience and because and so If if those social networks change CH The rules or change the algorithm or Decide to you know take the all the Revenue or do whatever they want to do If you leave The Social Network you lose Your name you lose your audience you Lose everything you built and so with Digital ownership the idea is that the User has control the user in the case of Social networks would own their name in The case of a game would own the assets

They they buy and build so that's what Ownership is now I would sort of liken It to home ownership in the in the Physical world so right in home Ownership I think we agree as a society Is valuable most yeah I mean okay It's it can go wrong for sure but but uh But generally like I think people think It's you know it's it's an important Thing to allow people to have to at Least hopefully buy a home okay and and If you buy a home you know that's Important Psychologically it's there's a nice Thing to knowing you can have your Family in a home you own it can be Important for Building Wealth it's Important for aligning incentive so you Have an incentive to kind of invest in Your home and improve it and improve Your community right I mean a lot of Reason people get involved in their Commun communities is because they own a Home now as a secondary byproduct of That we have people flipping houses and REITs and like a speculative market Around home ownership and I think that Speculative Market plays a role like the Reason you can go to Zillow and get his Estimate is because there's a liquid Market with Traders so I'm not anti- Speculation I just want to be clear and Speculation is generally legal in most Markets in the United States but I think

It's sort of a a question of priorities Like it's gotten just so much attention In around blockchains and crypto and it Putting the cart before the horse like The focus should be on digital ownership Yes there will be trading and there will Be some speculation but it's not the Main purpose right and and I think That's where where kind of the emphasis Is off and what I am trying to sort of Help nudge back on the right course with My book that makes sense the book also Talks a lot about big Tech versus crypto Web 2 versus web 3 we even got web one In the beginning and I think it's really Done in a digestible and understandable Way and even for you know people who Don't understand web 3 I can imagine Hopefully they'll be able to pick up the Book and understand it I'm sure that's What you want too but why focus on the Comparison between big Tech and crypto Well yeah so a lot of times I'll hear Especially around these kind of policy Discussions around crypto like what's The societal benefit right I mean it's It's and it's a it's a very reasonable Question right like you know what's the Societal benefit of AI like presumably AI will make will help people become you Know give them superpowers it'll make Them more creative and let them work Faster and there may be bad things with AI like maybe you can you know people

Are worried you can create a bioweapon Or something and so then what we do is a Policy like from a policy point of view Right is we try to design policies that Allow for the good and disallow the bad A lot of the dialogue today around Blockchains and crypto a lot of the Skeptics will say there's no use cases Right there's no value like what is the Point where's the societal value so I Wanted to take that issue head on in my Book and I wanted to say the reason that That I'm motivated to work in this space And I think the reason a lot of Entrepreneurs I'm motivated to work in This space is that we believe in having A dynamic open democratically controlled Internet and people that's a that's a Long time you know that was the internet Was founded on those beliefs and a lot Of people I think share those beliefs But but the challenge is that people Have said that in crypto and blockchains But no one's I thought had really Explained it it's sort of one it's one Thing to say that but like a natural Question a skeptic would ask is like see This token like Bitcoin and you say it's Going to this technology will Potentially reduce the power of these Big Tech incumbents but how do you get From A to B right and so a lot of what I Try and I'm glad to hear you you said it Was digestible or readable because I I

Worked very very hard on that yeah well I mean I work very hard General audience As well yeah I I hope so I hope so Because I I really tried hard this was Not a book I wrote you know to show what I know or something I really really Tried hard to make this a book for the Reader and to make this a book that was Understandable and I didn't I really Avoided jargon and other things and Really tried to walk through the details I just really wanted to be readable and And to you know hopefully people I want To be enjoyable I want people to like The book and and I felt like look I want To go and really prove to people how you Make this connection between these Things you hear about like ethereum and Bitcoin and other things and an internet That's more open right so I I that was The challenge I put to myself you know Without hyperbole without skipping steps Without relying on jargon like walk Through the details and show how that Works and and show to people why if You're a skeptic or maybe maybe a lot of People just knew neutral I think most People are probably neutral is my guess Like and I think those people like I Wanted to if if they're interested in The topic I wanted to give them a book Where I could explain it like this this Does have societal value and that there The things that that people are building

Are not just you know the sort of dgen Trading things they're trying to build Things that that make the internet Better yeah going off that point your Book also had a paragraph or section That was about what problems do Blockchain solve and some people could Argue like why do we need this you know And you had a comparison when you were Like why have steel if we could use wood To make a home or make like railroad Tracks and things like that and it's so True like looking back if we never Really went into the steel industry we Wouldn't have the skyscrapers that we Have in New York City and you know every City today I'm just based in New York That's why I said that but what do you Think ultimately blockchains can bring Us yeah so it's a great question this is One of the challenges honestly in Writing the book is blockchains are Fundamentally they tools for Builders Like if we're successful in this Movement it's not like an average Internet user is going to be sort of you Know clicking on a blockchain or Something like it's it's a behind the Scenes technology and that made it Challenging to write in the sense Because I have to explain sort of Infrastructure software networks to General audience um but but I think that Like the analogy with steel is it like

Is it it's a building material right It's a it's a thing that Builders use And it's a material and and specifically It's a material for building internet Services and and and one of the core Thesis of the book is that the way you Build the sort of the architecture the Design of these Services ends up having These very profound Downstream Consequences around how the control and Money and all the other important things About the internet service work right That's one of my kind of core arguments And so and specifically I that that's Why I could do a little bit of the History of the internet Because the Internet began with what I call protocol Network sometimes people call them Protocols the worldwide web is a Protocol HTTP that's built on top of the Internet email is a protocol built on Top of the internet and they were Architected in such a way that they were Democratically controlled where if you You know people know this today I think When they have they have a newsletter For example if you have an email Newsletter you have a direct Relationship with the audience right if You send them something and they buy Something maybe you pay a payment Processor or someone else but you're not Paying Facebook some huge toll toll or Apple some huge toll right you you you

Know and if you don't and by the way the Reason you're paying a lower toll is you Can switch right so if you're on Substack and they charge you too much You can switch to MailChimp right Because you control that a you control Your relationship with your audience and That was a key feature of the early Internet same thing with websites you Control your web you know if you have a Web you techcrunch.com TechCrunch owns That website yeah the domain yes you own That website you can build a direct Relationship with your audience you can Decide to put ads you can decide to Charge you're in control and then over Time we had the rise of what I call Corporate networks which were things Like Facebook and Twitter and just all The many Tik Tok and many of the modern Services that people use today PayPal I Don't know just go different categories EBay and those services are wonderful in Many ways very powerful they have great User experiences you know many of like Many services like Google and Facebook Brought free internet services to Billions of people but they came my Argument is they came at a trade it was Sort of this fousy and bargain where They they gave us all this wonderful Stuff but in exchange we handed them Lots and lots of power because when You're using one of these systems like

Facebook let's say or Tik Tok you can't Switch the way you switch with email They have full you're handing them full Control people may be familiar with Those 60-page terms of service and Privacy policies legal agreements that Pop up like no I don't think anyone I Assume none of your listeners have read Them or Negotiated maybe maybe maybe a few Lawyers have um most people haven't and And you know so I think just the fact That you get these legal agreements and You're basically giving all your data Away and everything else is just to me An example of how much control they have So that's sort of you know my core Argument is how these things are Designed and and so that's why Blockchains matter is blockchains are a New building material that lets you Build internet services in my core Argument is that that have the kind of The all of the wonderful advantages of These corporate networks like Facebook And Twitter and you can build modern Interfaces and you can do all sorts of Other interesting stuff but you don't Have to to sacrifice the control and Give it over to a small group of people You can maintain community control and So I argue it's kind of The Best of Both Worlds a blockchain what I call Blockchain networks um of of kind of the

Two earlier Network designs and Therefore can allow entrepreneurs to Build new internet services that that Return the internet in many ways to its Original ideals as an open and Democratic Network wow that was a lot But we love it and I think on that note What I was thinking of while you were Talking were a few things one it's like The that's like if it's free then you're The product and then I also thought of Take rates I know you had a whole Section on that and how significant that Is and we could talk about that too and Also just how what we go back to with The digital ownership it's like in web 3 You want everyone to own their own Things and like be in control but in web 2 they want you to stay on Facebook they Want you to stay on Twitter they want You to be siloed into their Network so You don't just Branch off and go Elsewhere I think on the topic of take Rates just briefly I'm curious your Thoughts on how do you think this could Be shared with the general public so They could truly understand the Opportunity here because when you think About Apple's App Store take rate it's About 30% for inapp purchases Facebook Has its own model for whatever ads or The way they interact with people who Yeah basically advertise on their site But with blockchains or projects

Building in the E ecosystem by Comparison it's like what 2% or less Typically even if that so how do we kind Of like Get that out there opposed to Going over people's heads you know what I mean yeah no thank you for that Question because the take rates I think Are a very important topic as you Mentioned I have a chapter on it I think Most people don't probably don't even Know what the word if you're not in the Internet business you don't know what I'm just you could learn it yeah most Listeners might not know what it is Means so what it means is you know for An internet service a take rate is the Percent like think of the money sort of Flows through the service and what Percentage of that money is taken as a Toll by the internet service service Provider provider right and so for Example when you use your credit card on Average about like between 2 to 3% goes To the providers in between and the ne 97 something percent goes to the person You're buying something from um the Internet modern internet services are Extreme outliers from the rest of the Economy in that their take rates are Extremely extremely high so for example Facebook and Tik Tok and Instagram they Make the top social networks make about $150 billion doar a year in advertising Revenue they put ads over the cont you

Know between the content and they Essentially share none of that with the People that actually create the content You don't go to Tik Tok to see Tik tok's Content you go to see some creators Content and yet they don't get any of That money they have these di Minimus Creator funds small amounts yeah they're Sub one% of the revenue I talk I have Some details for those who want in the Book but but essentially they keep all The money and then Apple is relatively Generous compared to the other internet Companies and that if you buy something On the on the IOS app store and same With Android 30% of thatone money goes To Apple for anything you buy which is Why there's this big lawsuit between Epic and Spotify and apple and all these Companies are very upset because it's Very hard to run a business you know if You go to any business down the street And you say what if you had to pay 30% For your payments it's just very hard For most businesses to operate that way So it's it's a huge huge tax and so Essentially these companies have Leveraged their positions of strength And their lockin you're locked into These ecosystems if you're a Creator who Like built an audience on Tik Tok or on Instagram and you have let's just say 100,000 followers you're not going to Leave like it's very hard to leave

Because you have to start over right so And and these Services know that and so They dictate the terms right and apple You're locked in like if you're a Developer you have you know Spotify has To be on the app on on Apple so they Leverage their power economically but a Lot of this is hidden from the public so That you know like if you're just a Regular user you don't see any of this And so I think this in some ways this is Why I appreciate the question it's I Think it's incredibly important thing Because it's about how all of this huge Amount of money flows around but it's in A lot of ways OB fiscated from the users Of these systems they just sort of say Oh I used this thing and it was free and You know but but in fact as you said There's in some sense they are the Product I mean the influencer is the pro The Creator is the product um and like In the extreme cases like Mr Beast they They make good money but there's a lot a Lot of people in the middle who just Don't get paid properly like music's a Good example where you there's by Spotify's on numbers there's 8 million I Mean I said Spotify is fighting Apple But meanwhile Spotify itself is is Fighting musicians There's 8 million musicians on on Spotify it never ends 8 million Musicians on Spotify and of that I think

Their Own stat is 14,000 musicians make $50,000 a year more and the rest don't You just ask a musician if you have a Friend musician and they will almost all Tell you they make nothing on virtually Nothing on streaming um so it's just all Set up to favor these intermediaries and And I think that and I think in my Argument partly is it just sort of this You know it's like the dam will break at Some point people will realize that this Is not a good system for them and that We can create Alternatives and that Specifically as you mentioned blockchain Networks one of the key features of Blockchain networks and I walk through The whole kind of economic argument in The book is that they have dramatically Lower take rates like 1 2% where like 98% go to the users and creators and Entrepreneurs and and that that just Makes a huge difference even though Again this is sort of behind the scenes Like if you're a regular user you Wouldn't see it but it makes a huge Economic difference it's very very Important yeah I I agree with you on That completely and I I think another Point I wanted to pull from from your Book I tweeted this out also but you Wrote that when the internet was first Going mainstream it wasn't even listed As a top 10 greatest engineering Achievements in the year 2000 and you

Wrote that the National Academy of Engineering placed internet at the 13th Ranking and it was below radio and Telephones at 6 which is so funny Because like who has a landline anymore I still listen to the radio if I'm in a Car air conditioning and Refrigeration Was 10th I get it but still I think the Internet's a little more impressive and Space exploration was 12 and like not to Knock any of these inventions they're All big ones but looking back it seems So silly that the internet wasn't ranked Higher and sure this is just like one Ranking you know there probably were Others that maybe put the internet at a Higher position but I'm asking here like What phase of adoption do you think Crypto is in right now like cuz if that Type of poll came out today I don't even Know if crypto would be in that type of Ranking you know what I mean and it took A while for people to quote unquote get The internet and not view it as this Thing for like techies or an alternative To faxing or something so when will Crypto kind of be in that phase where It'll be ranked or even appreciated to That level you think yeah it's a great Great question so I don't think I Sometimes people say like crypto is like The internet I mean my mind is like you Know history Rhymes but doesn't repeat Like the internet's special and crypto's

Different but but that said I think These and part of the point I was making With the part you're describing about Sort of the internet downturn when I Sorted my internet career for in Earnest Was like 2004 so it's during that Downturn from like 2001 to six or so People were pretty pessimistic and I Gave some stat another statistic I like Is that I think it was McKenzie no it Pew I have it in the book it's I think Pew did a study and they asked people Would you want Broadband and majority said they Wouldn't want Broadband this is like 2003 I think is in the have in the book But the reason was what did you use for The internet for the time you used it You'd go to a website you'd buy a travel Ticket you check email why do you need That to be faster but of course what Happened is as Broadband grew people Invented video streaming invented you Know 3D games and like so sort of this It's one thing I talk about in the book Is there with these kinds of computing Waves there's a feedback cycle where you Bu you get better infrastructure and Then that in turn enables better Applications which and the two feed back And forth on each other and then you get This sort of faster growth I you know It's like I found it's very hard to Predict exactly where you are in these

Computing Cycles like like I said I Started an AI company in 2008 which I Sold to eBay in 2011 and so clearly I Was too early on that so I'm but at the Time it seems like it was like probably The perfect time to sell it right yeah I Thought so and you know I find the Timing of these things hard I find it's I my personally believe it's sort of Easier to predict what technology will Be important and harder to predict Exactly how when it happen so I'm G to You know hedge a little bit on that but I do think but like I do think there's Some really important positive signs Around blockchains right now and Specifically so like to give you one Example until recently it would Basically on something like ethereum Cost you know $5 to do a typical act you Know action and so you know and and what That meant was it really really limits The range of applications you can build Right if if if every time you click a Like on a social network you have to pay $5 doar nobody's going to use it right And so I think what that did is it Forced going going back to your your First question about speculation like One of the only applications you can Really run at $5 a transaction is stuff Like trading right like yeah and so and Now you know with you know without going Into all the detail there's these things

Called layer twos and there's all these Other kind of infrastructure Improvements where I think we're now and There's other blockchains like salana Where you're now seeing like sub Penny Transaction costs which means then the Services can subsidize them the way they Do with web 2 companies and so that as An example is a very important Improvement that we can kind of measure That's that that I think is you know we Made a lot of progress there I look at Just you know the entrepreneurs we work With and the products they're building And sort of you just go use them and They're starting to feel like much more Just give you example I'm in New York You're sounds like you're in New York Too I'm in New York right now and we Have a application an investment called Blackbird which is a restaurant I know Service yeah you know black okay there You go it's a founder of a very talented Founder Ben lenthal who started resi Which is a you know popular reservation Service and before that eater.com which Is a food blog and and has built an Application it involves restaurants and Nfts and things it's and it feels like a Web 2 like a fully modern you know and And that's there's a bunch of those like Forecasters a social network that feels You know very modern so we're starting To I think just really see a step

Function Improvement in user experience And so so like I don't know exactly when It will happen but I feel like we're Getting a lot closer couple years sooner I hope I hope so I I like I hope so I I Think so and I hope so but Um I I you know I'm hoping look one Reason I also wrote the book is I really Want crypto has gone through cycles and I really feel strongly that I want to See you know and I obviously believe It's going to come back but I want to See it come back and sort of my mind the Important thing is it comes back in the Right way it comes back and it's focused On applications and it's focused on you Know new services and that was part of My motivation was like I wanted to share That vision and hopefully maybe nudge That Vision along because like I do Think and I I do feel like there's sort Of this upswing happening and and and Particularly I'm saying that in terms of Innovation you know um just quality of You know products and everything and and Infrastructure but yeah I I'm hoping It's a couple years but yeah I hope the Ball keeps rolling and maybe snowballs Down a hill in a good way yeah I I I I Certainly hope so and I I think I Believe it will happen and on that note We're going to take a quick break before We get into the rapid fire [Music]

Segment And we are back now is time for our Rapid fire segment where I will ask Chris some questions and hopefully he Will give us quick short responses are You ready Chris I'll try I'm not known To be concise but okay I'll try that's All right that's right so what's harder Writing a book or making a good Investment decision wow very different Right a writing a book is a grind it's Like it's like just tons and tons of Time whereas making a good investment is Decision well in some sense it's a grind You you know you meet with tons and tons Of folks and learn a lot but there's Also a lot more luck involved and a lot More Serendipity I would say you know You happen to meet the right founder at The right time whereas a book is just Like you got to sit down and you got to Get up every morning so they're both They're both quite they're both Challen Quite challenging I guess that follows My next question was that rapid enough I'm trying to trying top yeah yeah well This one one sentence Chris ready okay One sent what's the worst part about Writing a book um I I say it's you know Okay I I had a few times I'm going to Make this long sentence a few times While writing it a few times while Writing it where I thought I was making Progress and then reread the book and

Was like oh my God I got to redo the Whole like structure and everything else So like it's just a lot to keep in your In your brain and for me it ended up Being kind of this two steps forward one Step back kind of thing but eventually Got there been there as a writer so I Get that and we're not pessimists on This podcast podcasts always so what's The best part about writing the book oh It was well I think I mean it's just Launching today so I'm I'm you know the Best part I hope will be getting the Responses and feedback and I hope you Know I hope people give and obviously There'll be some criticism and I hope There will also be people that found it Useful um so that's really exciting just Having something out in the world I also Found it a very personally edifying Process you know I believed the things I Wrote In the book but until I wrote it I Had I felt like I hadn't really proven It in detail so I just found that kind Of Was helpful for myself all right what Other book or books in the web 3 space Do you admire I think there's a lot of Good histories so was I think it's Called the infinite machine on the on Ethereum you know the there's you know Good histories of like coinbase and like The Bitcoin standard and sort of there's A bunch of stuff on bitcoin what else is

I like vitalic is proof of stake yeah There's not a lot of books like a lot of The material is I think really in Podcasts and blog posts probably Reaction more than yeah yeah yeah and Chain reaction of course changing to What you do for a living VC partner at A16z what is a crypto startup that quote Unquote Got Away in your investing Career that you didn't make a deal on And you wish you did oh oh we've missed A lot of I mean I the I mean I mean I Could just go on and on throughout my Career not just crypto yeah I mean just Throughout and honestly everyone in the Industry who's honest whether it's Crypto I mean just generally it's it's Actually a I think a very common Experience in venture capital and just Angel Investing is you come in and you Think I'm sort of have this magical Spidey sense and I'm going to you know Be able to predict things better than Other people and then you just kind of Have this moment where you really whiff And you have some meeting and and and Don't see it and dismiss something that You shouldn't dismiss so I've had and I've had plenty of those you saying Specifically in crypto or in general or I would say in crypto but in general if One came to mind first you could go There in crypto I mean like look like I Mean there's there's been I think one of

Our core values I'll say is fixing our Mistakes and so when so for example when Salana we first met salana we didn't Invest in the initial round like the Seed or series AUM and then we saw all Of the impressive things they' done in Technology and my partner Lee you know We talked about it and we said look Let's let's not be you know prideful About this we we made a mistake and Let's go fix it and we did that and we Managed you know we managed to invest And at still a fairly early stage and And that by the way that happens all the Time I mean that that yeah I think we've Got you know I like our portfolio but And some of them we have early and some Late and when they're later often it's It's because we me we didn't get it the First time but we try to have discipline Around fixing that so dialing back to When you got in the crypto space what Was one of the first crypto projects That you got really excited about yeah I Mean like everybody the F you know Because the first thing was Bitcoin I Got excited about Bitcoin I mean but but With Bitcoin I you know I I had a Different take on bitcoin I guess that Didn't like I was excited particularly About the programming language of Bitcoin when I got into Bitcoin my mind Like 2013 I saw Bitcoin evolving Probably more like ethereum is today as

Sort of as a platform where you build Applications and I assumed that that was The way the developers would take it and They didn't take it that way and that's Fine and I I'm still a fan of Bitcoin But for me like as somebody who has is Excited about kind of applications and Computing platforms which I talk about In the book a lot I really like Programmable platforms because they I See programmable platforms like a Computer a mobile phone a programmable Blockchain in many ways it's like a Canvas that innovators can come and just Sort of take that canvas and paint Something on it like it's a creative Medium I see software development as a Creative medium I I you know virtual Reality like I had invested in Oculus Back in 2013 for me it was less the Exciting thing was less the headset I Mean the headsets you need the headset But it's more like what will creative People do with this new headset like That that's always the part that excites Me so for me the evolution was sort of Bitcoin but I saw it a little bit Differently than I guess the rest a lot Of other bitcoiners did and then when Ethereum came out for me that you know Was a big moment and then you know and Have continued to stay very involved in The ethereum world and then you know but There're also now of course alternatives

To ethereum which sort of share the Vision but maybe take a different Technical approach and then you know and Then there were a lot of the early defi Things were really interesting I think I Think to me things like Unis Swap and Compound people see them as the product Side there sort of two ways to look at Those products like one is the product Itself like you know you can use Unis Swap to do swapping and compound as a Lending protocol then there's the fact That these are Community controlled Dows Right that they are successful Dows like The their internet services controlled By communities controlled and owned by Communities right so there's the other Side to kind of the backend side of it Which is also very interesting that was Very inspiring to me I nfts I think have Always been very interesting nfts I Think have very misunderstood you people Associate them with avatars and things It's a very general purpose technology And nft can represent identifier on Social media it can be a digital Collectible for the musician can sell to Their fans it can be an avatar it could Represent a real world asset and so this Idea that you could have sort of Encapsulate digital ownership and use it As a new Computing primitive to build New services to me was a very exciting Idea still is a very exciting idea I

Think we're very you know the nft Standard erc721 was finalized in 2020 Like we're four people forget sometimes We're four years into it um it's very Very early and we see a lot of really Creative things being done with it so For me it's been this sort of steady Evolution of like wow that's cool like That's you know every year or two some Really interesting new thing happens and And for me it kind of just gets the gear Spinning of like what could what what Are the interesting things people could Do with these with these new tools yeah For sure I think that kind of sorry that Was not rapid I apologize no that's okay We are moving out of the rapid fire SE I Think I failed the rapid Parton I Apologize we will call that the fire Section for this episode looking at your Book it's section into five sections and The last section is what's next and There's a lot to be said there and in You guys could go read the book there is A lot said there but I'm curious Especially as someone who works in Venture Capital watching the crypto Space I can imagine you're being asked 24/7 what is your focus here and you're About to be asked it in like a half a Second but if you had to be or if you Had to pick one sector to bet big on Which would it be like which one do you Really feel like this is it like I'll

Say for me I really do see a lot of Promise in blockchain gaming and if nfts Weren't getting such a negative Connotation I could see that there too But then there's also like the boring Less sexy like Tech that will also Succeed in my eyes but I'm curious what Do you think it is I think G I think Gaming is very interesting and I think Gaming if I could expand on that I I Believe that kind of the line between Gaming and and non-gaming will continue To blur over time that that just sort of More of the internet will become kind of Existing in Virtual Worlds that you know It's could be a game but you could meet A future spouse in that game or get a Job in that game and the worlds become Persistent and the worlds interoperate And just the world becomes more you know Like I guess like you think about things Like the metaverse it could be just like A thing the metaverse or it could be This gradual process that just the Internet becomes more immersive which I Think that's more likely and I think the Lines between play and work and and such Will will blur and so I I would agree With you with that caveat that I think It's like games but then we kind of Dismiss games as toys and in fact I Think games can be can expand into much More and I think that is a very powerful Area I also am very interested and I

Throughout my career I have been in new Business models for Creative people so One idea I talk about in the book is Called collaborative storytelling and This is an idea that a group of Internet Users could get together and and Collectively create The Next Star Wars Or Harry Potter create a new narrative Universe and then get rewarded in Proportion to their contributions with Tokens in the same way that Wikipedia is Sort of a way for people to collaborate And create encyclopedia people could Collaborate and create narrative Universes and I think that's just a Really interesting idea and it's timely Because I think in a world of generative AI a lot of Prior business models that Creative people use like you know Creating art and selling it will have Pressure on it right because you'll be Able to just get that for much cheaper From a machine and that so it's a very Important time I think to think about New creative business models I I think Creative people will continue to should Should continue to get paid and have Solid sources of inome come but they may Come through new through new systems Many of which I think could be developed Around blockchains and that's that's a Recurring theme throughout the book and I have I think what you allude to is at The end of the book The last part I have

Seven kind of deep dives into areas and A few of those are around kind of media New models for media folks yeah I guess In Investments aside looking at the General public which sectors do you Think will bring on the most mainstream Adoption is it one of these two areas That we just talked about or is it Something that like isn't going to be Maybe your best investment but it's like Just some Random crypto sector I don't even know It's a good question um yeah you know I Think we we now know that for example Messaging and social networking and Gaming are just really really really Mainstream popular activities so it's Hard to believe that something like Blockchains could have you know broad Impact without impacting those areas Yeah it's just human nature humans want To talk to humans hum want to play games Humans want a message you know so I Think those just have to be kind of some Some part of the focus you know Finance Is obviously a very important area I Think the people that are enthusiastic About Finance is a much smaller set of People than people that are enthusiastic About social networking gaming so so It's important like look it's important So there's sort of things that are Popular broadly and there's things that Maybe finances and most people aren't

Actually interested in day-to-day but it Matters because like the fees you get Charged the you know the lending rates You get charged the remittance you get Charge matters so I think there's some Things that are kind of Broad and maybe Shallower and some things that are kind Of narrower and deeper it's hard to pick Favorites but they have different Characteristics my last question for you Chris is if you can leave us with a Piece of advice or something that you've Carried with you throughout your career In crypto yeah I mean I think you know I I assume folks listening to this are Maybe somewhat either potentially crypto Curious or Tech curious I I think that I Mean like I've worked on the internet my Whole career I found it to be an Incredibly rewarding area to work and I I find it's always intellectually Interesting I I you know what I hope is That you know people would keep an open Mind that they would if I were giving Advice let's say to somebody early in Their career I would I would advise them To explore different areas I think it's Important to I wrote a blog post years Ago called climbing the wrong Hill which Is about this idea that people kind of Get stuck in local like you maybe you Start off as a consultant and you kind Of get stuck there and you're sort of Focus on getting promoted but when in

Fact a lot of times early in your career It's good to try different things and And I think it's good to embrace the Future I I think that you know I think Blockchain's crypto I think the stuff Happening in AI I think VR I think Self-driving cars like a lot of these Things may sound jargony today I Remember when metaverse and social Networking and mobile was jargony like There would be articles they like oh Gosh those tech people talking about That stuff again it but the reality is It will matter and it will become a Thing and so my I guess my advice and One thing I'm glad that I did and I Would advise others to do is you know You don't have to fall in love with it All but I would take it seriously I Would explore it and find what you're Passionate about but that ultimately Like there will be new things the Internet will change there will be brand New kind of Mega Trends and probably the Most important thing one can do Career-wise is to get involved in one of Those things and to be optimistic about It yeah and embrace the future like you Said yeah I I think so yeah well thank You so much for coming on today Chris And again his book is called read write Own it's out now so go ahead and check It out for yourself thank thank you so Much

Jackie We'll be back every week with the top News on the crypto ecosystem Catch Us on Tuesdays for interviews with experts in The web 3 space you can keep up with us On Spotify Apple music or your favorite Pod platform And subscribe to our Companion newsletter also called Chain Reaction links to the newsletter and the Stories we talked about can be found in Our show notes and be sure to follow us At chain reaction on Twitter chain Reaction is hosted by myself Anita Ramaswami along with my co-hosts Lucas Matney and Jackie melanic we are Produced by as K Carney and our Associate producer is Maggie stamitz With editing by Kell Keller Bryce deran Is our illustrator Alysa Stringer leads Audience development and Henry pette Manages Tech crunches audio products Thanks for listening and see you next Week


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