Welcome to our comprehensive interview series – Humans of Blockchain™ where we get the best in the business to answer diverse questions.
This series will clear the air of doubt in the blockchain space today by focusing on bringing more transparency to the readers.
He is highly experienced in multidimensional fields, blockchain being one of them. His diverse knowledge and experience can surely help you take wise decisions both personally and professionally.
Not wasting much time, let’s hear it out from Samson Williams himself.
1. We would love to know more about you Samson. Your story and how you entered the blockchain space.
In 2014, I worked at a finance company called Fannie Mae, the largest mortgage company in the U.S. I was associate chief of staff for operations in technology, Executive office. A gentleman named Anthony Johnson told me to get on LinkedIn, wear better socks and buy some Bitcoin. So I got on LinkedIn, bought some designer fancy colored socks and bought some Bitcoin. That’s how I got into the Blockchain ecosystem.
2. Can you tell us more about the various roles you play in the Blockchain space? We would love to know more about Axes and Eggs.
You can find us online at https://www.axesandeggs.com/ . We are a think tank and digital advisers, so people come to us for research and information about decentralized ledger ecosystem. Many people have blockchain questions that they can’t google to find answers for and so we do research to create these answers for them. Often it includes feasibility and pilot studies. Many people and enterprises want to embrace blockchain technology and they’re not sure how, so we set up small pilots for them to show this is how blockchain can work within your industry and then work within your enterprise. That’s what Axes and Eggs does.
3. We came across your article about the ‘Santa Claus perspective’. We really liked the article. Can you brief our audience about it and how important the perspective is?
The Santa Claus perspective as it applies to the blockchain space is pretty straightforward. People need to know who Santa Claus is and who Elves are. Right now in the blockchain space the technologists are dominating the conversation. They’re insisting everyone should have a degree in computer science or know how to code to be a part of the “ecosytem”. But that’s really not the case. So when you look at Santa Claus, he’s only in-charge of two things, execution and delivery.
So we tell our clients when the Christmas day is, execute and deliver for them. Many people want to be tech elves and build stuff. That’s great and you should do that. You should definitely be a developer or a security architect in the blockchain space. However, there is more room in the blockchain space for the Santa Claus. And they are the business people, the writers, artists, storytellers, community builders etc. Santa Claus does not builds stuff, the elves do. As you anticipate, you should decide “Do I want to be an Elf and build blockchain applications and solutions or Do I want to be a Santa Claus and deliver for my clients”.
4. In the current bear market situation, there’s a lot of uncertainty and fear in the space. What are your views about the present market situation? Will it improve in the future?
Regards to the current bear market for cryptocurrencies, I’m not that concerned about it. Cryptocurrencies are evolving, the understanding and notion about cryptocurrencies are evolving as well. You will see a decline in the number of cryptocurrencies as a whole, there’s no need for 4-5k cryptocurrencies out there right now. Part of that is just the market competition as people are looking for real world use cases because it goes back to adoption. Are users, stores, manufacturers, retail locations etc. able to use your cryptocurrency to purchase products or services? So it’s sort of like Lord of the Rings, a fight for dominant cryptocurrency.
Right now bitcoin is traded as commodity, but when we look at a true currency, what cryptocurrency will actually be used for day-to-day use. So you won’t have these 4k cryptocurrencies floating around. You probably would have a dozen or so at the end of it that actually have some global adoption. However you will see a noted uptick in the number of tokens particular utility tokens that have a fixed value.
So these utility tokens won’t be on exchanges therefore they won’t be traded eg. token of a subway rail. So you’ll see the tokenization of a lot of commodities and these will not be traded as cryptocurrencies. This will remove a lot of uncertainty because tokens will actually be used in real ecosystems and markets.
So overall super happy with the course of the cryptocurrency markets. For all those people who are discovering that they participated in someone’s research and design, well, tough luck for you. So this is one of those hard learned lessons, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is”.
5. What is the current adoption status of Blockchain as a technology? What according to you are ways to improve adoption?
One of the most interesting things about blockchain as this chapter digital transformation is that it has advanced pretty quickly as compared to other adoptions of technology e.g. American Express card. If you have an American Express card, you can use it in like three places. And when you look at blockchain as a technology, it is gaining adoption faster than pretty much anything other than Pokemon go ( but, it’s not a technology).
But if you compare blockchain’s adoption to the internet, WiFi, Linux, cloud , HTTP, iOS or Android, blockchain is on par for one of the fastest adoptions. So I’m not really concerned with the pace of blockchain adoption. I think it is going at a really good pace. One of the challenge for adoption is that it forces you to go digital, so the big impediments are:
- Skills sets – not a lot of coders and programmers available
- You have to get rid of all of your paper first.
So that’s why I say blockchain is this chapter of the book of digital transformation. Other chapters being Big Data analytics, Machine Learning and AI, Blockchain being the baseline which connects them all together.
6. How important is the role of education for Blockchain? Does one need to be educated in both tech and business to be an effective player in the Blockchain ecosystem?
I think that Blockchain education has the most important role because right now people simply don’t know what blockchain is. So, they don’t need to understand the technical applications of blockchain, you just need to be introduced to the concept. It’s much like the internet or WiFi. Most people actually don’t know how the internet or WiFi work behind the scenes, they only know how to use the internet and how to use WiFi. WiFi is electromagnetic radiation and no one cares, to use the WiFi, you just need to know the password.
And so when we talk about blockchain and blockchain education, people need to be comfortable with the idea the blockchain is a technology, it can make some products better, cheaper, faster and easier. Because at the end of the day if you make a product better, cheaper and easier, people won’t care much what tech drives it or makes it happen but, they’ll use that. That’s why blockchain education is important.
From a business perspective, you only look at blockchain to deliver a better, faster and cheaper product that your customers will adopt. It doesn’t matter what kind of magical blockchain technology you build, If no one uses it, you’ve wasted your time, energy and money.
7. Due to many frauds, the ICO market has come under scrutiny. What differentiating factors do you suggest to select the right company for investment?
When it comes to ICOs , you just have to realize that you are doing crowdfunding. It’s just like you watch a show like Shark Tank, you’re looking at a business. Do you want to invest in this business? For ICOs in 2017 or 2018, they weren’t actually investing in businesses. They were investing in hopes, dreams and aspirations. At best you can say you were investing in the research and design of the blockchain businesses because they were giving you cryptocurrencies and tokens which had no inherent value. The community has to build value into them. This is where ICOs failed.
There were frauds as people like taking advantage of one another. “Participants” in these communities were really investors and they were pumping and dumping for most of 2017 and 2018. I have an article on my LinkedIn page titled “Why 98% of ICOs are going to fail”. I posted this in November of 2017 at the time when Bitcoin was around 15-16k USD in value and right now it is around 5k. And people refused to believe that they were gambling.
It turns out for 2017 and 2018 for ICOs, people were gambling or were taken by fraud. So I’m not really concerned about what really to look for in an ICO, It’s what do I need to look in a business which is going to do good to give me a return on my investment.
8. What are your views about the STO market? How are STOs different from regular securities?
When we talk about STOs or Securitiezed token offerings, again this is crowdfunding. I encourage everyone to follow the Crowdfunding Professionals Association to learn more about the Ins and Outs of crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is crowdfunding, it doesn’t matter if you call them ICOs or STOs. When you do crowdfunding, you are soliciting lots of people or crowd and say “Hey! Invest in my hopes, dreams and aspirations”.
So with STOs, the only difference is that you are offering tokens and these tokens represent equity, the debt or the royalty that you’re otherwise entitled to. So, the token representing the security, the equity or debt isn’t new. You simply digitized the stock certificate with a token. So when you hear someone doing a STO, they’re doing crowdfunding.
The other thing to keep in mind when people are offering you tokens, currently, this is November 2018, there are no secondary exchanges that make buying/selling and trading of these tokens faster. This is always something that the STOs claim is happening because the theory of tokens is that they’ll add liquidity to the market. Where is this marketplace for liquidity for tokens at? Right now it doesn’t exist. Will it exist? Yes, probably by Q3 of 2019, you’ll see some actual exchanges are token marketplace. Prior to that, nothing’s going to happen, and remember, whenever you’re dealing with any type of security, there’s typically a lockup of at least 12 months if not longer.
9. What shortcomings do you see in the current Blockchain space? What are some suggestions to overcome them?
Really, when we talk about the shortcomings in the blockchain space, there are not any shortcomings per se. It is an emerging field, we touched upon this briefly, people these days are very impatient. The wonderful thing about transformation called blockchain is that it is the first time in human history that digital transformation has been social.
So, when the internet was rolled out in the early 90s, we couldn’t do anything about it. There was no social media. When the Dot com bubble happened in 2001 again there was no social media. We couldn’t be part of this conversation when the smart phones came out, when the cloud was deployed. The normal everyday person couldn’t be engaged in this process of thinking through and iterating about this new technology.
But, with blockchain, each of us can get on Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, WeChat, Telegram etc. and talk about blockchain and how would we use it in the iteration of this chapter of digital transformation.
Blockchain is transformative because for the first time it is a global social conversation that can be had. So, Im not really worried about the pace of blockchain or is there any shortcomings, we’re discovering blockchain as an ecosystem at a record pace that we’ve never been able to do before in human history.
10. Any last motivational words from you Samson?
Investors aren’t there to help you, investors are there to make money. As a by product, they will help grow and build your business if it makes them money. If it enables them to hit their ROI. So keep this in mind if you’re looking for investor money, they’re not actually there to help you.
If making money requires helping your business, they’ll do it. If selling your business or removing you as the CEO makes them money, they will do that as well. I believe that the stat is 56% of the founders aren’t in the businesses they found 18 months after accepting VC money, might be a little bit higher.