This is a transcript of the Podcast – The Future of Adoption with Luke Wagman – You can listen the audio here
N: What is going on everybody, what is going on. It’s your boy Shill Nye and welcome to the very first podcast of Evolvement and we are really excited to join my buddy Luke here who’s from CoinMarketCap, and yeah the goal of this podcast is to just have some conversation with some really cool people and discuss cryptocurrency, the financial market little bit about life and whatever else comes up. Nothing really specific, nothing real super serious just a conversation between two guys and see where it leads! Yeah Luke what’s going on my brother?
L: What’s going on thanks for having me.
N: Yeah no worries dude glad to be on.
1:00 | 35:58
N: I guess let’s just kinda start with like, what got you started in crypto you know what was the lead factor that inspired you to fucken jump into this industry?
L: Sure so I was working in finance, I was an analyst at Goldman Sachs working in Private Wealth Management and I was following cryptocurrency quite closely for the teams I was supporting. You know and I was having all of these interesting conversations with people on the floor like ‘hey Luke what’s the intrinsic value of a Bitcoin?’ or you know, ‘can you have a blockchain but not the coins?’, ‘like, I like the blockchain but not the coins’. Having all of these interesting debates in the corporate finance world and I really enjoyed being that Bitcoin guy on the floor because it made me stand out. It enabled me to have more meaningful conversations with some of the more senior people on the floor. And as I did more research I began falling in love with this industry right. And you know what intrigued me so much about it was, this is probably the only time in my lifetime or in our lifetime I think we’ll see the emergence of a new asset class. But it’s not just that, it’s a bit bigger right, I mean this is kind of a new paradigm for the exchange of value and we haven’t ever really created something like this before in human history. I knew the idea that anyone in the world can transact with one another without a middleman right, is huge, it’s never been done before. The internet enabled it but we never really had that layer of value and now we have these value protocols that allow people to exchange as if they’re in a room with one another and that’s a huge deal man. So as I wasn’t so totally fulfilled in my finance role, I decided to kind of put that behind me and look for opportunities in the blockchain space. I reached out to a few people and and I came to Brandon Chez who is an old friend of mine that I stayed in contact with over the years and you know I asked him about Bitcoin. And he was like yeah, actually I’m running a businessnow. I was like oh cool what business and he’s like yeah CoinMarketCap have you ever heard of it? Like of course! and I was super thrilled and I asked him if he needed help and it just happened to be the right place in the right time thing and when the site was getting a lot of traffic as cryptocurrency was captivating the mainstream and he needed help and I joined him and here we are.
3:25 | 35:58
N: Ok when was that this?
L: This was about a year and a half ago.
N: Oh hell yeah dope, dope. And yeah I mean a year and a half ago that puts us what like middle till like beginning of 2017 kind of summerish am I right on that?
L: Just beginning of 2017
N: Cool cool. That was right as things were starting to pop off and kinda Moving out past the bear cycles, into like what we just saw in the last two years which was the crazy bull cycles and now its bear cycle.
L: When I was working at Goldman it was right before that huge run up from $7 to like $300.
4:08 | 35:58
N: That’s wild, did you own any crypto at Goldman or were you guys just bouncing back and forth and talking about it?
L: I held some personally, but I’m sure some of the people did in the company as well but I really have no idea. Obviously as I was researching I definitely wanted to employ some of my own capital because I became such a firm believer in how this technology could change the world around us and create this monetary system reform. So yeah, I had some but obviously not that much.
N: I mean that’s hella cool we’re sitting here a year and a half after you got into cryptocurrency in like a big big way, and you’ve gone from being in the financial world working at Goldman Sachs to I mean, the way I know you is like we met at a cryptocurrency conference in San Francisco and ever since then I’ve seen you in San Fran, Bangkok, I think Hong Kong?
L: You’re traveling a lot too!
N: Singapore, yeah yeah it’s crazy it feels like we just meet up all over the world!
L: I respect your Hustle man I see you building your brand doing your thing right.
N: I respect your Hustle. Every single time I’m like, yeah what’s going on? your like “dude I’m so fucken busy”. I’m like yeah, get it I get it.
5:25 | 35:58
N: So what’s the deal with CoinMarketCap, I mean everybody using crypto knows who CoinMarketCap is, they know what you guys are building. So I guess, what role do you play there and what’s the thing going on there, what’s the gig?
L: Sure sure, so I guess my technical title there now is I’m the chief evangelist. You know I serve as the ambassador for products and services. I spread the word about CoinMarketCap I explain how we do things, what we stand for you know, who we are, what we working on. Yeah I’m the chief evangelist now but when I started I was the head of content. I helped build out the content and support team, you know the team that hand that handles all the inbound requests that we received on a weekly basis, hundreds, if not thousands! As well as maintaining the several thousand data fields across the site. And since then, that team has grown considerably and I’ve kind of moved into this public-facing roll so yeah, I started off as handling the content and here I am yeah.
N: You just got off stage in Bangkok, yeah that was hella cool dude you did a really good job.
L: Thanks man. And so what we are working on now is we just released our enterprise API. You know our revenue model has been prodometly been from advertising. We really started enterprise API August 1st because I’m sure you can imagine, we received a ton of email interest for our data and so we spent the better part of like the last year or so, or for half a year working to build a quality API product to market that fills that demand. And for us the focus is continuing to expand upon it’s offering, as well as you know grow the site in ways that we feel it needs to be grown. You know in 2013 it started out as a simple tool set out to display their relative size of cryptocurrencies in an easily adjustable manner obviously that’s 5 years ago the spaces evolved quite a lot and you know we found ourselves in this position where we, you know are like the gateway for new cryptocurrency interest, and also the world’s leading cryptocurrency information authority. And so now that we’ve evolved a little bit we really want to do our part to continue to drive mainstream adoption by making more information easy to understand and more information accessible to many. You know, so things like educational resources like what is the concept of decentralization. You know even something like that is hard for people to understand so I think that there’s a lot that can be done to help educate people who are interested in crypto to reach that next level and remain a part of the ecosystem.
N: I agree dude I think education is probably the biggest problem right now. 1. That there isn’t enough education, but there isn’t enough quality education. So I was on YouTube earlier today – cos I’m doing some research to try and get the most basic forms of explanation on what is crypto, what is blockchain, what is Bitcoin. I want to build educational material that’s really helpful and I think it’s really relevant right now. I was on YouTube earlier today and I swear, I watch this video on what is blockchain and it was horrible like it was pure, it was mis-information. And I think that’s like a huge problem we’re facing right now is not only that there isn’t enough education material, but some of the education material out there is trash! It’s made by people that just don’t know what’s actually going on.
L: You can expect to see some, you can definitely expect to see some co-branded video content from us. We see a lot of opportunities for us to kinda just be centralizing more video content, and centralizing more content that helps like you said, new people understand some of the more complex concepts of cryptocurrency, or even just the basic ones right.
9:42 | 35:58
N: Yeah yeah, so is that kind of like a plan? I mean I don’t know how much you can tell about your future plans, but is that kind of like a plan, you guys want to lead CoinMarketCap, Is like you want to not only be just educational for what you deliver now but more as well into like the information sector of detailed explanations of what these things are, what they’re about. Is that kind of the direction you guys are going to be taking it?
L: Yeah definitely, I say that many people come to CoinMarketCap to check the price and other relevant statistics, the circulation supply, market capitalization, volume etcetera. But you know drilling down deeper what is this project doing you know what problem does it solve why is it relevant, you know helping people to understand more about the underlying technology and the problems you can solve with it, I think it is super important working towards that magical reality of mainstream adoption right. A world where we don’t have to, where were no longer having to explain to her friends family and colleagues all this stuff is so cool it can change a world it’s totally worth dedicating more time to understand it right. To really reach that reality it’s going to involve two sides here. There’s continuing to build meaningful products with this technology that change the lives of people, and then also you know the education, distribution, awareness evangelism aspect that have to kind walk hand-in-hand. We definitely want more educational resources on CMC.
N: And I mean that kind of leaves me to my next point you and I were sitting down in Bangkok and you were sharing with me a little about what you’re talking about and there’s really two main problems that were discussing right. The first main problem with education and the second main problem was mainstream adoption. I think it’s a place where the whole crypto community is kind of split and torn at right now because we have all these amazing people, we have all these amazing minds who keep entering into the space, we have all these investors that are throwing their money at the space. But the truth of the matter is we don’t have anything that I would legitimately say is a major, major player in the whole economic world or the whole, like that killer use case.
12:08 | 35:58
N: There’s no killer use case yet. What do you think about that?
L: You know this is the trillion dollar question right, its like what is the Killer application for crypto that just makes it go absolutely viral and I think that’s going to depend entirely upon geography. You know I think that we’ve seen clear use cases emerge out of capital controls in South Korea and China, demonetization in India, hyperinflation in places like Zimbabwe and Cyprus, you know and I think that when you bring entrepreneurs from those areas and when I say entrepreneurs from those areas I mean those areas that have people that blockchain technology can improve the lives of the most right. The disenfranchised, the people being exploited by these organizations that exploit their power as middlemen and what blockchain technology affords is this radical disintermediation and so I think it’s going to be really interesting to see what applications are built from this technology that really better the lives of those people, but it’s going to take bringing them in and having them build products out of their experiences right that help their people and I’m just not sure we’ve done a good job of doing that yet. I’m not quite sure what that’s going to be in the USA could be something like, some game that harnesses NFT’s and to create these interoperable economies where people can exchange the item they find in real time.
N: You’re talking about like a Pokemon kind of think yeah?
L: Imagine some Pokemon Go game that just is P2P and imagine finding like… Think about when we were young collecting Pokemon cards, [yeah that was awesome] things like that, there’s so much room to kind of capture that in a game using NFTS and I think if it’s done the right way it can go absolutely viral and that could be the Killer use case in the US. Obviously, we are just speculating here yeah. That’s probably not going to be the killer use case in like one of the other countries I mentioned earlier. So it’s going to totally depend on how people want to use technology to solve problems. You know I think and the US we have it better than most places right, [mm 100%] it’s kind of hard to say what it’s going to be you know.
N: I think it’s actually a super interesting point right there, for example I was listening to a bunch of ICO’s pitch earlier today and this one guy pitched an ICO of peer to peer car rental service, pretty much Uber, but the fact of the matter was he’s in India where Uber is somewhat irrelevant because I think he said it’s like 90% of the Indian population doesn’t own a car so it’s hard to utilize Uber. But with their App they’re going to raise money to buy cars to pretty much get an Uber started with a token. Oh no, he said 90% of Indians don’t own credit cards! so you couldn’t pay for an Uber even if you wanted to. So it was really interesting and that’s something like for me I can’t get even fathom. I mean I’ve been to India but I still can’t fathom or grasp that use case. But when I was listening to him I was like this is kind of cool and then he explained all these factors and the crazy thing is that mass adoption could actually start with something like that you know.
L: There are people building real products out of their experiences right, like you said it’s hard for you to relate you’re not from that area and and I think that’s the same case for a lot of people even like you and myself it’s going to really take more of those people bringing them in from those areas that need to build products with this technology that’s going to help them for us to see more of that I think.
N: I 100% agree, I 100% agree. I mean I want to bring it back to CoinMarketCap a little because I think what you guys are doing at CMC is awesome and in every one of our conversations I play it up, you play it down. But I think what you guys are doing is like, you are one of the, if not the most influential place in the cryptocurrency realm. Every single person on Twitter who trades cryptocurrency, they don’t go to a competitor’s website they go to CoinMarketCap.com and that’s where the most like trusted valuable information is. [The most visited website]
16:50 | 35:58
N: I kind of want to dive into the business sector of it. I knew you guys were giving away your API at least to a degree for a little while, now you’re not. Am I correct about that? or now you’re moving into a paid model?
L: Yeah we’re moving into a paid model but you know our free API’s still in existence, that’s not going away. You know there are so many use cases for cryptocurrency information and that is super important to continue as to allow from multiple perspectives, that’s one of the reasons we report from across such a broad range of exchanges right. So obviously we want to keep a free API around but we built the commercial API to cater to more institutional interest organizations that required enterprise-grade data you know sometimes if you’re an application developer you might need higher rate limits or are you want data in a specific format or you want historical data to backtest your models. You know there are so many use cases so you know we finally have this product out that kind of meets all those, meets that demand.
17:51 | 35:58
N: Cool I dig it, I dig it. Do you guys have interest for this already? Is this like something that was proposed to you because people are coming and saying ‘hey we need this’?
L: So yeah, yeah so there were a lot of institutions, educational institutions, you know funds, users. there so many channels which we interact with our users and we receive feedback from our community and we take that heavily into account when we make critical business decisions cos I know, I think that something CoinMarketCap have done so well is community engagement.
18:30 | 35.58
N: I guess switching gears a little bit what do you think of the financial market right so, I’m super interested and what I really want to bring up a lot more in this in these conversations that I have on this podcast is the overall economic structure of the world the whole financial system of the world. Something that really interests me was the 2008 financial crisis that all led into this Bitcoin stuff and led into Satoshi creating a white paper. It specifically interests me for this reason cos like 2008 I was like 18 or 19, something like that and like to be 100% honest I was still heavily financially dependent on my parents so the whole financial crisis and my parents had good jobs they were financially ok so the whole financial crisis didn’t super affect me. So I’m learning more and more about what actually happened and diving deeper into it over the last few years getting into this crypto stuff and understanding it but like what do you see? do you see this is going to happen again what kind of your thoughts on that? Because I’ve been kinda like looking at this thing and we are kind of holding on by strings, by threads here.
L: You mean like in the traditional financial markets? you know I’ve stayed plugged into that but to be honest with you I’ve been totally into crypto you know, I watch CMC all day, I evaluate projects, talk to clients, I evangelize for us you know. I’m really not sure where we are going, I think that especially now there’s a lot of uncertainty. there’s a lot of people say oh there’s going to be a downturn soon. You know I have no idea, I have no crystal ball but you know I don’t feel particularly uncomfortable about anything. You know I think I’m relatively optimistic that you know things are on the up and up.
20:40 | 35:58
N: Yeah I hear you, I hear you. I mean I’m interested in like how like if we had a 2008 happen again how would that affect Bitcoin?. [that’s interesting] it’s a thought that I’ve been thinking, for me I think that like in the very beginning, imagine if it happened right now I don’t think it would be a positive thing. I think Bitcoins too volatile I don’t think anyone would want to keep their assets in. But imagine it may be 5, 10 years in the future when maybe there’s a more stable price maybe there’s more foundation build, things like that.
L: it’s interesting to speculate I mean hypothetically, if cryptocurrency had more mainstream interest and something like that were to happen who knows maybe that might catalyze the rate of adoption, a higher rate of adoption then we’ve seen. I think that’s totally reasonable, but you know I’m not really sure. I think the purpose of Bitcoin was to decentralized money you know and to decentralized money you needed to decentralized technology, but you know not having a single point of failure. So I think that if that single point of failure became abundantly clear to everybody that might catalyze the rate of adoption of cryptocurrencies as we know them at a higher rate today.
N: Yeah I agree, I think it can go either way. I’m in agreeance with you right that we don’t fucking know right and that’s kind of the interesting thing. I like to speculate a little bit I know it’s not really relevant, really nobody has the answers but it’s kinda interesting to speculate. Its like wow like I’ve been looking at our financial system, mind you I’m very, very new to all of this. At most two to three years of starting to really learn about it, nowhere near the experience that like I want to have or that some other people have, but I look at it and I am like damn we are kind of holding on by threads, [You think so?] well maybe not like us as individuals but the whole kind of system. it’s not like we built, not like our forefathers built the financial system on real solid ground and if they did then like.
L: You can make this the case that the financial system in which we live today is kind of closed right, I think blockchain technology affords this creation of this open financial system which I think all of us a really smitten by and firm believers in, but you know I wanted to kinda get your thoughts on something, we were talking about catalysts of mainstream adoption right we talked about what could be this, what’s the Killer use case but you know what’s your thoughts do you think theres anything else that could happen at least in the US that could really increase the rate of the adoption of cryptocurrencies as we know them. It’s my view that private tech companies that have you know advanced content delivery systems like, like companies in the adult film business or a company like Twitch or companies in the gaming industry. I think these kinds of companies have a unique position to really find technologies that work, find blockchain technologies that work,. and then show everyone else that they do. You think about how influential let’s say the porn industry has been at increasing the adoption of new technology, online credit card payments, VHS, DVD over Betamax. We’ve seen you know Pornhub partner with some cryptocurrency right. I think that, um I mean largely you could say it was like a PR play or something you know, I’m really optimistic that companies like this can really be arbitrators of who is successful right and they have the upside to do so right because if whatever protocol they adopt. They probably have to be more than likely have to own the coins and tokens of that protocol and if they showed everybody else that it works and they use it to assist aims and purposes of their business other companies are going to do it as well. So I think that’s interesting what do you think do you think there’s room for other companies to get involved in, how will that change the rate of adoption as we see it?
N: Yeah I think there’s a tonne of room, we’ve just heard about Amazon this week. Guys mind you, like we recording this like a couple of days before December 1st we just heard about Amazon this week starting to utilize blockchain technology and starting to look at it at a high degree so it’s a two-sided question so 1, are we talking about cryptocurrency adoption or are we talking about blockchain adoption. When were talking about crypto I think you’re a 100% on point it’s going to happen with most likely the pornography industry I think we’ve already seen that you know as payment systems, privacy is a huge thing you know, specifically in the porn industry people are going to want privacy more and more and more if they continue to utilize that industry and I’m sure cryptocurrency can most likely solve some of those problems. And then back to gaming man like I’m all about gaming,
L: I think a lot of gaming companies are getting really involved and seeing how the distributed ledger technology can solve problems in their business
N: Exactly like gambling too you know, I mean the gaming kind of ties in with the gambling a bit and I’ve been all about gaming in terms of it being like the very first wave of adoption cos I really believe that it’s going to come in multiple waves. I think it’s going to be gaming, supply chain and voting are the three real main use cases is my belief. I don’t really know which order they’re going to come in but I really think that gaming going to come first. When you and I were talking in Bangkok the other day and you said or you mentioned the idea of a Pokemon or a magic cards type game on the blockchain, like that really stuck with me cos like when I was, I don’t know 10, 8, 10, 12 years old that shit was the best I would go to the card shop every single Saturday I’d have my fucking Yu-Gi-Oh cards and I would play people and Id trade people and we’d have fun for like 3 hours. Like I lived off Yu-Gi-Oh for years I lived off Pokemon for years, Magic a little bit but it was the game.
L: Kids were buying and selling them too. There were like these like crazy economies that we were a part of at such a young age. We’ve seen how successful these things are, think about that. Then you know add immediate economic value, having an immediate exchange so when you catch that super rare Pokemon or you get that super rare beanie baby or Magic card whatever, you can go sell it and you know this kind of dynamic can help to create burgeoning economies. There is so much potential there and I think NFTS, unfungable tokens and games that this could easily be a driving Catalyst for this technology.
N: Dude there could be whole fucking marketplaces of Pokemon cards where instead of like back in the day it would be me and my buddies we go have our like Pokemon packs at our houses, we’d open them up maybe we meet up once a week or twice a week and play against each other and trade each other. But imagine literally like having a whole ecosystem on your phone with actual cards that are individually unique on the blockchain and trading them in a marketplace or playing people against each other or even wagering specific cards based upon who wins and who doesn’t. You know I mean that gets a little dangerous in the gambling area for kids but like I mean it’s fucking exciting to think about that shit.
L: I mean think about the amount of time people spend playing video games right, you know people dedicate their lives to video games in some cases and they’re not making any money from it, well hold on at the highest level we have esports but what if every time you played a game you earned items that had real-world value you and we’re exchangeable, that is pretty big.
N: I think it’s huge, I think it’s huge and so again guys remember that we’re here like November 31st recording this, this is going to get posted a little later than this but Bitcoin right now! it’s getting kind of rekt. I mean we saw a solid 40 50% drop over the last three, I wanna say four weeks everybody was claiming, everyone on Twitter was like 6K is the bottom, 6k is the bottom not everybody but a lot of people were saying and now we’re sitting here November 31st we just went back under 4K again 3950 or something.
L: Yeah it’s so funny I see people at conferences ‘Hey Luke you gotta turn it around hit the button turn it around’ it’s like I wish [it’s not how this works man] but yeah I don’t know obviously it’s down right now but to the people who’ve been in this game a long time it’s just another cycle right, I think a lot of us a very low on cryptocurrency and in a couple of years especially when the difficulty increases in a couple of years, 2 years, this is just going to be a memory right. Another downturn that has passed.
N: Agreed, agreed. I mean as Pomp says -I don’t know if you follow pump on Twitter at all, Anthony Pompliano, he’s always like you know what the fundamentals haven’t changed you know what I mean.
L: I don’t think there’s anything that’s exponentially threatening to the world of crypto, it’s not like equities market if I’m holding any like single stock say Amazon and dips 50% then I’m really worried, what’s exponentially threatening the fundamentals of Amazon right. But this is not the case, I think that there’s a lot of sentiment, it’s sentiment driven right.
N: 100%, That’s why I sit on Twitter large majority of the day is like 1, I obviously I like creating content but 2, I get to analyze people, these people are talking a lot, the more they talk the more they kind of tell me where their heads are at and what they’re thinking, the more I get to learn about that it’s kind of off topic but it’s kind of interesting to see the way to people talk and the way that it’s correlated with price.
L: it’s super interesting, that’s one of the things I love about this community is that there’s some competition but at the end of the day it feels like it’s very communal it feels like everyone’s in it together. So it’s super critical to come together and share perspectives right, and that’s why you see me and all these events were always saying hi to each other and I think that’s part of the beauty of working in the blockchain space.
31:54 | 35:58
N: Agreed, agreed. So where are you off to next man still traveling, you almost done or what for the year?
L: I think that you know, I’m going home to Philly in a couple of days and then kinda go to be home for December in the holidays. I think a lot of us at CMC are really busy with some of our technical work and then I don’t know I’m probably going to Japan at the end of January, see some events that are going on there. Japan has a really cool blockchain scene. So I have a haven’t really been too much of a part of it so I want to get more exposure to it and get connect with more of the folks down there.
N: Dope, dope. I mean we talked about it in the very beginning, like this has been life changing it’s been life changing for me it’s been life changing for you. It’s been a pretty cruisy ride so far but like this shits been taking you all over the world.
32:43 | 35:58
N: What’s your favorite place you’ve been?
L: Favourite place, that’s so tough [I know right and everybody asks I hate this question] Ah man I really like Singapore though. Something about it, growing up in the east coast right your kinda over the cold weather, the snow it makes me miserable when I wake up in the morning. It’s hard to work, it’s hard to think, it’s hard to literally do anything! so I’m ready for a change of pace I’m ready to kinda move either more out West I’d love to move to a place like Las Vegas where it’s warm all the time or Southeast Asia, Singapore I can even see myself in Tokyo. You know I do speak a little bit of Japanese. I’m thinking I’m sizing up Asia more than likely going to move out west before I make a plan is to get out there in Asia. I’m getting older, my parents are getting older I want to be around for my family.
N: I dig that, I respect that. [Yeah, I don’t know- my favorite city. Singapore is really cool it’s up there in my top 3] Dude Singapore, so the first time I ever came to this city, this is the third time here the shits the fucking future man.
L: It’s definitely going to be a hub for blockchain technology, so many companies from around Asia are coming into Singapore because of the favorable climate for this technology.
N: Agreed agreed I mean the architecture here is fucking amazing, it’s really cool, yeah great people, smart people [Easy to speak English]. It’s kinda like a futuristic New York City of Asia in a way. it’s a mixing pot which is what I like. [And it’s very safe people are friendly, super clean there’s all kinds of good things about it for sure]. 100%, 100% supersafe yeah man I think this has been really cool I’m glad we kinda got to sit down and chat about the shit that’s going on in the industry anything you want to plug you know? obviously, CoinMarketCap, if everybody doesn’t know what that is I don’t know what you’ve been doing head over to coinmarketcap.com.
L: Checkout coinmarketcap.com we really building out the channels through which our community can interact with us, we launched a telegram channel for a community we also have a telegram bot, it’s like an interactive newsletter where you can get all sorts of insight into what’s happening at CMC but also the crypto community, Instagram, Twitter ,Facebook. All @coinmarketcap you know, sign up for our newsletter our blog and stay tuned for what we’ve got coming in Q1 q2 I think we’ve got some really exciting updates coming we’re going to be occupying some more obvious utilities in the space that people leave CMC to use I can’t say exactly what that’s going to be yet but we’re really excited to share those updates with everybody.
N: Cool man I’m hella excited to see what you guys are doing see what unfolds especially on the education side. My man it’s always a pleasure to kick it with you
L: You too, thanks for having me.