How did you get into Bitcoin?
I studied computer science. My first job, my early career, I worked as a developer on trading systems. So those experiences also allowed me to understand Bitcoin very, very quickly in 2013. But it actually took me about six months to be fully committed. I read the Bitcoin white paper, understood it, but I felt that for that thing to work, we need a decent community behind it.
What convinced you?
In December 2013, I went to a conference in Las Vegas and bumped into Vitalik Buterin, one of the founders of Ethereum. That’s incredible today. There was one other guy that was quite influential. I was learning Ripple. He came over with a laptop to show me how it works, and in the process, he transferred some XRP to me and said, “You can use that to teach the next guy.” It’s about five hundred bucks — not a huge amount of money, but it’s not peanuts. So I was like: “Well, this is a pretty generous group of people. They’re really not after the money. They’re really just wanting to teach.” Shortly after that, I quit my job, sold my house.
But is it a practical way to pay for things?
It’s just in the early days. So much now about crypto is people who see it as a way to try to make more money by watching it grow in value and trading it. It’s almost like a gambling thing. And people are getting into it just thinking that they can trade it and make money off it as opposed to using it.
Do you worry about the investment frenzy?
I didn’t expect it. I think it’s very hard to predict what’s going to take off at which time. But we have an open democratic market, and the market will self-correct. Too many people are rushing in. The prices will go too high. And then some guys will want to cash out, to take profit. But nobody really knows. So maybe the price is still too low now. So the market takes care of that.
Is there more risk in derivatives — betting on price fluctuations — than in trading actual tokens? The word risk means different things to different people. Some people say risk. Some people say opportunity. The professional futures traders, they manage risk.
Binance was an early investor in FTX. Isn’t it a competitor?
I never view anyone as competition. If I’ve got that mind-set, everyone’s the enemy to me, even very different businesses. But I have an abundance mentality. I think most things in this world are not limited resources. Money is not. Business opportunities are not. And the crypto industry is not. We’re so far away from saturating the crypto market. We’ve got to build a market together.