Sat. Apr 20th, 2019

Interview with W. Scott Stornetta – Chief Scientist at Yugen Partners, Exceptional Educational Background | Humans of Blockchain

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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.

Our guest, today, is W. Scott Stornetta, The Chief Scientist at Yugen Partners possessing major accreditations from Top Universities. We found his background to be quite exceptional. 

Not wasting much time, let’s hear it out from Scott himself.


1. We would love to know more about you Scott. How did you get into the Blockchain space?

In some sense, I helped create the space. When I was in graduate school at Stanford, at the dawn of the internet, I became concerned about the integrity of digital documents, particularly the fact that there was no way to detect when electronic records had been altered.

So when I began working at Bell Communications Research (Bellcore) in 1989, I sought out the help of Dr. Stuart Haber, a member of the cryptography group there. Together we set about solving the problem and in 1991, we published the first of our three papers, “How to Time-Stamp a Digital Document.” We used this research as the basis to create the first blockchain. (Or perhaps what could be called a proto-blockchain, namely a system of blocks cryptographically chained together whose wide distribution via appropriate incentives let to eliminating the need for a trusted third party.)

Seventeen years later, Satoshi Nakamoto used our work as the foundation for Bitcoin. (Check out footnotes 3-5 in his seminal work “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.”)


2. We see that you are the Chief Scientist at Yugen Partners. Could you tell us more?

Yugen Partners is a blockchain venture capital firm. Right now we are raising $175 million for a fund with an initial close in April and a final close in August. We are investing largely in enterprise blockchain opportunities. My responsibilities as a chief scientist are to assess the technologies of the companies in which we are considering investing.


3. You hold an excellent educational background including big names such as MIT, Harvard etc. How are the educational accreditations helping you now? (Your vision for achieving them)

Obviously, when one studies at great universities, one is surrounded by many people with many great ideas. In some sense, that is how I felt when I went to work at Bellcore–like I had won a MacArthur grant to study and think deeply about all kinds of ideas and problems with peers who could teach me and with whom I could collaborate.

But the more one becomes separated in time from the university experience, the less important it becomes. Frankly, as I told my son when he was not admitted to the University of his first choice, the university one attends matters less than how hard one works and seeks opportunities. A student can find great thinkers at any university. That proved true for him.


4. What do you think the year 2019 holds for the Blockchain Industry?

2019 holds many opportunities for those working in the industry. Without the hype, the industry can focus more realistically on value creation rather than simply trying to strive for ideals without tackling the necessary intermediate steps. I have expressed my feelings in my recent CoinDesk articleCrypto Is Down, So Why Am I Smiling?


5. Any motivational remarks supporting education for the young minds out there?

Few people know that I have spent nearly 13 years as a high school math and computer science teacher in the New Jersey public school system. On a daily basis, I have sought to inspire and teach all students, no matter their abilities. One skill I would hope all students would learn is perseverance. Those who persevere solve difficult problems in math, in coding, and in life.

Infrequently I wrote my thoughts on education on my blog. My two favorite pieces of advice to my students are valedictory remarks I wrote for my students: First Class (2011) and Changing the World (Changing Ourselves) (2018).


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