I'm Taylor Monahan, CEO of MyCrypto. Ask me anything! (5/16 @ 12PM PST)

at the same time :slight_smile:

I wonder what your take is on what I call “Crypto End Game”. Essentially, this is what I use to get at whether CryptoHeads (for lack of a better term) think through the implications of what they believe.
How would any of the current PoW incumbents be used to any reasonable degree in buying and selling everyday things and the implications of this?
Since transactions are incredibly slow and prices will be moving all the time, how will price-setting work? It seems to imply that any transaction at any given time is speculative and there will always be a winner and a loser in the exchange.
Currently, well-run open democratic societies have the most stable and desirable currencies and the more corrupt and poorly run have very unstable currencies. If Crypto-Paradise comes along:

  1. The ability of nation-states to manage the ups and downs of economies and commerce are enabled by managing money supply. Take this away and how will that play out if Crypto replaces “fiat”.
  2. With crypto, is there no longer a penalty for poorly run corrupt societies?
  3. How will misuses of exchange be managed a la SilkRoad and the current predominant use of crypto for money-laundering, etc.?
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@Hackerhodl Do you think quantum computers will make mincemeat out of Blockchains or will Blockchains grow to become quantum-resistant?

Over the years we’ve seen a lot of cryptographic functions be broken because of improvements in computing, etc. Each time this happens there has already been a new standard that has been adopted and in use for some period of time before the full-blown “breaking” finally happens (see: md5, sha:1). I think we will likely see the same thing happen as quantum computing comes to fruition. Technology advances so quickly these days-but all types of tech evolve. Things don’t evolve in a bubble.

TL;DR: Blockchains will evolve and won’t be relying on the current cryptographic / underlying tech by the time quantum computing becomes a thing.

PS: Thanks for being the first question :smiley:

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Ciao Taylor, thanks for doing the AMA! I love that MyCrypto gives you control over your keys and control of your assets, but how do you plan on growing another segment of the population - those that would be reluctant to have complete control over their money i.e. those that still favor a brick and mortal bank with insurance?

Ex. I am someone who enjoys the freedom of having access to all of my money with little to no restrictions on how I can withdraw, convert it, etc. But my parents favor a more traditional approach (FDIC insured, small amount of interest earned, access in many cases to a physical bank and its employees).

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Great questions @Hodlhelper!

Will MyCrypto remain an universal (ethereum) access tool or specialize on certain use cases such as SSI, IP, Gaming, DeFi etc. ?

We literally just had a two-day brainstorming session talking about our long-term goal, priorities, and exploring the potential directions we could go. From the start, I’ve had the goal of making crypto more accessible but we’ve grown and changed a lot since then, we now have a team of 20 people, and I wanted to revisit our thinking and ensure we were still aligned and on the same page.

We didn’t come to a final, end-all-be-all decision on direction but we did learn a lot about who we are, what we value, and how we see the Ethereum space evolving over time. The main thing I want to make sure we do is give people access to the things that are most valuable to them, whether it be DeFi stuff, gaming stuff, advanced / power features, etc.

I know this isn’t really an answer but I can say that we are focused on Ethereum and will remain focused on Ethereum for the time being. We are watching all the different aspects of the space and seeing where we can provide the most value.

Has MyCrypto a roadmap for SSI/DID integration ?

We’re working on our roadmap right now and it likely won’t include either of those in the short-to-mid-term future because we simply haven’t explored it, but I’d never say never.

What will be the competitive advantage of Mycrypto when competition heats up?

Oh this is such a fun one because I am so weird in the way I think about this subject. Right now and in the medium/short term, I think the most value can be created by working together–not competing. The reality is, this space is so small and the problems we have to overcome to get any sort of real traction of crypto as a whole are so fucking large. We need to share resources, expertise, everything, because there simply aren’t enough hands and brains around to waste our time competing with each other.

If I imagine a timeline where we do need to compete viciously, I think our dedication to the end-user will win over super nifty features or crazy smart-contracts or code. Building a product that makings people’s lives better / easier / more remarkable requires a comprehensive approach and you have to have all the things, not just some of the things.

Which will be the major revenue streams for MyCrypto other than referrals?

Again, there are a lot of ways to make money. Some require or become easier with heaps of users and some don’t. The most obvious one is to continue / expand monetization around integrations with decentralized exchanges or dapps / smart contracts or staking services where the user is making money.

Ideas that we’ve had that may be a bit more unexpected: have a secondary business model that supports keeping our core product free and open source (e.g. something around our amazing infrastructure set up?), consulting type stuff, etc.

Most realistically, we will monetize around features, integrations, premium experiences, etc. and especially focus on places where the user is directly making money so there is still a clear ROI for the user and we aren’t just making them pay for random stuff that may or may not be valuable (e.g. transaction fees, freemium model, etc.)

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@David What business model for crypto wallets would best serve the market in the long run?

I love the article you referenced! And it’s very true. Historically, wallets have either been a full open source, public good, done transaction fees, or had another source for generating revenue (block explorer w/ ads, etc). None of these are truly sustainable in the long run, nor is the value the company is getting for providing the product/service aligned with the value the community/individuals get from the product/service.

It’s especially interesting because wallets are the core way you send and receive money so it shouldn’t be this hard. :wink:

When I think about monetization, I look at a lot of traditional monetization strategies that have been successful and also seek out unexpected ones. Things like a freemium model or SaaS-style service could be successful but no one has really tried it yet with a crypto wallet. This is probably the one that is most interesting to me in the short term.

When we look at the digital finance apps (Paypal, Venmo) they all rely on transaction fees and selling their users. Transaction fees are doable but considering the overhead necessary for your average user to even get into crypto, each fee you add makes you less competitive with non-crypto financial tools (venmo, paypal). Selling users goes against everything crypto represents.

Another interesting model is the one that services like Mint and Credit Karma have. I would love to know how much of their revenue comes from actually selling user data versus selling access to their users. Both Mint and Credit Karma basically have sponsored content / recommendations that generate revenue for them. This provides value to the user (e.g. I need a low-interest credit card now because I’m carrying a balance) and allows these credit card companies to target exactly who needs a specific card most. In my opinion, this type of alignment is a win-win-win for all parties and I would love to see if we can find a way to do something like that while still ensuring the actual user’s information and privacy are protected.

cc @Hodlhelper - you may find this answer helpful as well!

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@Dane What is holding cryptocurrencies back from getting broader adoption? In America, only 8% of the population owns digital currency . Compare that to gun ownership which is currently around 32% .

Very real question. Most obviously, crypto is still so new while guns have been around for centuries. They are engrained in certain cultures, it’s passed from generation to generation, etc.

Secondly, crypto is competing with the traditional, ingrained systems that have been in place for centuries. If a new-fangled, cheaper, but harder-to-user weapon came to be, we would likely see the same pattern of adoption as we are seeing with cryptocurrencies today.

The biggest hindrance right now is two-fold:

  1. It’s really hard to get into crypto even if you really want to.
  2. Why do people actually want to get into crypto? What value does it provide them that they can’t get out of existing services / systems?

For the most part, the value at this point is primarily philosophical rather than tangible. Crypto puts people in control. It’s an alternative to traditional banks. “Fuck the man. Fuck the banks. Fuck borders.” There a concept of “regulatory arbitrage” which, even with it’s fancy name, still falls in this category.

Once you have crypto, it’s cheaper and faster to send. But the overhead and fees required to buy crypto, successfully hodl your crypto, send your crypto, not lose your crypto, etc. diminishes the value of faster/cheaper transactions.

The most value we’ve seen really created has been capital allocation during the ICO-boom of 2017. Even with all the scams and greed that came with it, there is no denying that it was valuable for large number of people and it did cause the entire pie to grow—and it’s still growing from this.

As more and more products/services/concepts are built out and come to fruition, especially decentralized finance ones, crypto becomes more and more valuable to more and more people. Not only can I now send and hold, but I can gain interest on my holdings by lending. This allows the crypto that would otherwise be sitting around doing nothing to be used by someone else to make them more money. Again, this is where the entire pie starts to grow and the value really starts to become clear.

I could talk all day about this, but I’ll leave it at that for now. I welcome any follow-up or expansion questions though.

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@karla What gets you the most excited for 2019 and where do you see the blockchain/crypto space heading over the next months?

Hey Karla! Thanks so much for your question.

The way I see it is 2017 was the crazy bubble, 2018 was the settling period, 2019 is where things start to fall into place, and 2020 is where the magic starts to really happen.

There are so many disparate pieces and things being built all around the crypto ecosystem but they aren’t perfectly connected yet and still relatively experimental. As the infrastructure becomes more robust, it enables more use-cases. As the use-cases are built out and battle tested, it creates more value and more use-cases. And when all the pieces all finally snap together, it all starts to make sense and becomes magical and insanely valuable.

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@caternoon What was your biggest challenge when building my crypto?

People.

Our users. Serving our users. Helping our users. Observers in the ecosystem. Working with other people in the ecosystem. Building a team. Getting that team to work effectively together. Myself, my strengths, my weaknesses, my expertise and my ignorance.

People are also the best thing about building MyCrypto—or any product. But definitely the hardest one as well. It’s amazing when a team comes together. It’s amazing when it transforms from one person to five people. It’s amazing when the diversity of ideas from people creates things that one person could never have created.

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@Albi If you were to go to an island and you could bring either dash or eos, what would you bring ?

A device with an internet connection. :joy:

1:18PM PST: I’m going to take a short break and then I’ll get to the rest of the questions! Thank you everyone!

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@natasha Which ‘small problems’ do you see in the crypto space currently - or, in other words: where are the opportunities for those looking to build new solutions right now?

Thank you for the kind words about my MIT Bitcoin Expo presentation! That was a wonderful experience.

There are so many small problems to be solved in the education / onboarding / “wtf is crypto” sphere, and solving them doesn’t necessarily require you to be an engineer.

Right now, a new person is most likely to successfully “get into” crypto via word-of-mouth. Sometimes that means literally sitting with someone and teaching them how to make an account on Coinbase or explaining what a wallet is or answering all their questions. This experience is not ideal and limits the potential adoption of crypto. We need more hand-holdy experiences that mimic a friend walking you through the steps. We need experiences that don’t require an expert to walk you thru them. We need the answers to all the questions to be google-able. We need more tutorials in more languages. We need stuff for people who lean visually vs audible vs via written content. We need to translate stuff from tech-babble to human. We need to reduce the number of acronyms and new words people are required to know the definition of before continuing on.

The good news - literally anyone can help solve these problems! Coders can build tools, writers can write content or translate content, designers can make infographics or explainer sheets, etc.

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@arthur.tkachenko I’m from Ukraine and there a lot of news about how crypto can beat corruption. We have a Prozorro(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prozorro ), and our minister of finances tell that they thinking about implementing Auction 3.0. But our people don’t trust goverment, so I’m confused. What is your take on this long question?

Just because the blockchain / crypto is touted as “trustless” and “decentralized” doesn’t mean you should trust it nor that the entire system becomes decentralized once you throw in a blockchain. While I applaud anyone who is looking for ways for the blockchain to improve their current systems, the blockchain or crypto is never the solution. It’s only the method one chooses to use to solve a problem. You still have to solve the problem. :wink:

I’m not an expert on everything that is going on in the Ukraine but I would encourage you to be simultaneously hopeful and skeptical.

Or, as we say in this space, “trust, but verify”.

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@cristinaj There are some many wallets around now, I would love to know what strategy you used to bring a lot of users on mycrypto?

What I would like to think: We’ve always focused on solving problems and building based on the explicit needs of the community and people using our product. We engage constantly with our community, whether that’s on social media, in real life, or via support tickets. So often, I see companies sit and build amazing products but they never share them with people because they aren’t “ready.” The only way you will ever know if your product is actually solving problems is if you get it to the people who need it most, listen to them when they email you for support or rant about you on Twitter, and then build or adjust your product based on what they need.

The actual reason: People were obsessed with getting rich by buying and trading Ethereum tokens / investing in ICOs and our interface was one of the only ones that supported ALL THE TOKENS from the beginning. :wink:

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@Gina How did you manage to lead a team of engineers? Is there any specific process that was very successful for you?

Thanks so much for the question Gina!

This is definitely one of the areas I need to improve the most and one I’ve struggled with the most. If you have little/no experience in this area and especially if you have no technical knowledge, my best advice would be to hire someone who is an expert and has a lot of experience managing engineers and spend your time empowering them.

Engineers are simply cut from a different cloth and often results in major issues with communication across different teams / stakeholders / etc. Improving your own communication, your team’s communication, and finding and eliminating where the breakdown in communications occur will improve every interaction across your entire company, regardless of department. That is worth investing in. Period. However, sometimes the knowledge / communication gap can be too large when it comes to engineers and the most effective way to overcome that gap is find a person that can be the bridge between you / other stakeholders and the engineering team.

She’s not tweeting about it as much anymore, but I’ve always loved Erica Joy’s take on being an Engineer Manager (as well as her passion for diversity, esp. across silicon valley).

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@austin How do you describe cryptocurrency to someone who has absolutely no knowledge of cryptocurrency or the underlying tech? How do you dispel common misconceptions about cryptocurrency?

To this day, I still explain crypto to people differently every time. It’s been years and I typically consider myself a master at translating technobabble into human language, but I can still fail when it comes to cryptocurrency. The issue stems from just how much new knowledge is required to be able to understand the concept, let alone understand the potential value.

This article by Matt Cutler is probably the best advice on how to successfully explain crypto that I’ve ever seen and echos all the advice I could possibly give, but better: https://medium.com/altcoin-magazine/enough-with-the-chainsplaining-how-to-talk-blockchain-with-empathy-2d324541e54d.

TLDR:

  • Know your audience
  • Use analogies
  • Tell a story
  • Focus on the potential value rather than where the value comes from (e.g. “anyone can instantly send money anywhere in the world without permission from JP Morgan” vs “Ethereum allows you to transfer and validate the truthfulness of a transaction in 15 seconds flat!”)
  • Practice makes perfect
  • Ask questions and check in with your audience. What do they care about? What is valuable to them? (Some people can’t get over the fact that Bitcoin is valuable without it being tied to a government. Other’s don’t give two shits and just want to know what you can do with it.)

If you ever figure it out, let me (and the entire world) know how to do it. :blush:

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@JohnnieDean What is one piece of advice that you would give to anyone who wants to start a crypto wallet?

Don’t. :wink:

Kidding, of course. I would say that if your goal is to start a company or build a product, you may be going about it the wrong way. The only reason I was able to get through the hardest times is because I wanted to solve problems, I wanted to help people, I didn’t want to let people down, I knew that the problems I was solving were worth solving, etc.

I think a lot of people aspire to be a CEO or the top dog or to start their own thing. I don’t discourage it, but wait until the time is right and the stars align. Wait until you find a problem or solution or something that you are so passionate about that you can’t think about anything else and go from there. That way, when the going gets tough, you aren’t discouraged by the fact that building a product or starting a company is hard or isn’t fun. Instead you still have your “north star” and all the shit that gets in the way is just part of the journey as you reach it.

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@mihai.dinul what do you think is the biggest barrier to the adoption of wallets in the third world where crypto is the most needed?
Is it hardware? connectivity? communication? etc.

Some of the issues are universal. Some are the same issues but harder to overcome in developing nations. And some are unique to developing nations.

I would say the biggest hurdle is the cognitive load that is required to understand the value of cryptocurrencies and how to get that value from crypto. This is universal, however it’s even harder if you speak a language besides English as much of the content and interfaces these days are limited to English.

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@patrick1 I’m curious as to how MyCrypto manages node infrastructure for ETH and ETC?
For example, are you using Infura for ETH? or you may have dedicated nodes setup.

We have a crazy set up for our infrastructure.

On the front-end we have a thing called Sheperd that automatically chooses the best / most responsive node provider from a list (https://github.com/MyCryptoHQ/shepherd). For Ethereum, this is Infura, Etherscan, or our own infra. This way if our nodes have high latency or Etherscan’s API isn’t working or Infura goes down or something happens, the user doesn’t have to do anything and they can still accomplish whatever they are trying to accomplish.

On the backend, we use AWS and run our own nodes for Ethereum and some testnets, like Gorli. We have all sorts of automated systems to reduce the amount of time we spend spinning up new nodes, ensuring our nodes don’t get out of sync, and having the proper amount of nodes online and running based on the traffic being received.

@juanjo Any blockchain service can be dominated by a 51% of “shareholders”. For example a cryptocurrency in the USA could be dominated by a 51% of Trump voters. These 51% could block any minority if they want. How on earth is that a technology that anyone has to belive in?

Somehow we’ve survived for centuries where far a lesser percentage of the “shareholders” hold far more power than the blockchain shareholders and we have managed to survive. Not saying there isn’t room for improvement or that the situation is always ideal (see: history of dictators), just that it’s better than most communities / societies / governments have been historically and it’s not something that discourages me.

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Great questions @Angela!

What do you recommend for someone new to crypto and want to learn enough to be dangerous? Is it too late to get into it now?

Learning about crypto is a never-ending journey, and it’s NEVER too late! We are still in the very, very early days and everyone is still learning. Now is the perfect time to get in. There are a lot of resources out there to get you started, but my favorites right now are podcasts. I’m just going to dump links, hopefully they are helpful.

Courses:

Podcasts / Newsletters:

Additionally, I am curious to know if you had always envisioned being a founder and do you find being a woman makes founding a company more difficult?

I never envisioned myself being a founder or CEO or leading a team or anything. I definitely stumbled down this road completely by accident and without the tools and experience I should have had. Being a woman in a space that is mostly men comes with some unique challenges but I wouldn’t say that my gender or sexism or anything has been a huge problem or that it’s something I’ve spent a lot of time dealing with. It’s simply part of who I am.

I’ve spent far more time on learning how to manage people, learning how to work with people, learning how to communicate, learning how to set up all the things a company needs to survive, etc. Every day is full of crazy unexpected surprises, especially when you have a team of people. These are universal issues and something that every founder or manager or entrepreneur deals with.

I try to reward myself for the things I manage to do right and constantly reflect on where I can improve the most and never live the same day twice.

What would you advise other women who want to build their own company?

I commented above briefly about this, but I’ll just reiterate:

  • Your value comes from your unique skills and experiences. Being the same as everyone else isn’t nearly as valuable.
  • Don’t let fear dictate your desires or limit your confidence and capabilities. Don’t let fear stop you from pursuing something.
  • YOU are the only one who knows what you want, what you are capable of. You have the power to decide what you want to happen AND to make that shit happen. Wield that power.
  • Hire people who have skills you don’t have. Hire people that want to do the things you don’t want to do. Hire people and love them and empower them and prioritize building a team of people that is stronger than the sum of its parts.