This is a transcript of the Podcast – The Future of Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, and Mt. Gox with Brock Pierce – You can listen the audio here
Nye : What is going on, everybody? What is going on? And welcome to another episode of the Evolvement Podcast with your boy, Nye. We are here to talk about Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and the future of our financial systems. And today, I have a special guest on the line with me, today. I have Brock Pierce.
Nye : Brock is an avid entrepreneur, an avid creative mind. Everybody has heard of Brock Piece, if you are in the cryptocurrency space. And yeah, I’m really excited to have you on, Brock. Welcome.
Brock Pierce : Thank you for having me.
Nye : Yeah, no problem, man. No problem. It’s been really cool to meet you. We first met in Korea, and very brief, but spoke for a little bit. Met at other parts of the world. You went to all these cryptocurrency conferences and things like that, and I enjoy your presence, man. I enjoy the energy that you bring to a space. It’s very calm, and always kind of evolutionary, and kind of futuristic, when we have conversations. I’m excited to have you on the chat, today.
Brock Pierce : Yeah. I’m excited to be here. Lots to discuss, and we’re one month into 2019. I’m very excited about the year ahead.
Nye : 100%, 100%. Me too, man. Me too. I think that we’ve seen some big changes over the last couple years. I’m excited to see what happens.
Nye : Before we get into anything in terms of Mt. Gox, in terms of the future of cryptocurrency, or all of these things that we’re going to talk about. Puerto Rico, and things like that. Can you just start off by giving the people a little introduction of yourself? What were you doing before cryptocurrency? What got you inspired to get into this industry, and what are you working on right now, that’s really exciting for you?
Brock Pierce : Yeah. Well, I’ve reinvented myself a number of times. I guess, the lesson there is whatever any of us is doing in our lives, we always have the power and the ability to say I’ve done that, and I want to go do something new. We all have that ability, and sometimes we forget that because we get caught up in whatever it is we’re doing, and we become trapped by that habit, that comfort of the known versus the unknown. And so, I’ve made a habit of reinventing myself and exploring new things throughout my life.
Brock Pierce : I grew up in the entertainment business, and then went into entrepreneurship as a teenager during the Internet 1.0, back in 1997, ’98, ’99, as kinda we had our first big dot-come bubble, and learned a lot from that period. And then, I ended up in the digital currency space in late-’99, at least identifying the market opportunity, but it became my full-time focus in 2001, ’02, ’03, ’04, ’05, ’06, ’07, ’08, ’09, et cetera. And in that area, I was making a market for virtual currencies and games. If you’d ever played a game like World of Warcraft, or Second Life, or EverQuest, or Lineage, or any of these sorts of things, I had identified that the intangible assets or objects in those persistent worlds were alienable, were transferable. And because the environments were persistent, they therefore had value.
Brock Pierce : Meaning you could accumulate digital goods in these games, and there were people that were willing to pay real money for those things, and that market existed because some people had expendable income but lacked discretionary time. And the others, the opposite, where they had too much time, but lacked expendable income. And therefore, a market was made primarily in time. And the reason people would buy these things is because it would improve their game in some way. It would improve the utility of their gameplay, or their social status. The same reasons we buy things in the analog world.
Brock Pierce : I became the world’s main market-marker for digital currencies and virtual goods and games. Built up a supply chain of about 400,000 people in China in the early 2000s that would play games like World of Warcraft for us to mine those digital currencies, that we would then sell all over the world. Also, I was PayPal’s largest merchant for years. We were Google’s largest advertiser for a little while. We helped launch Alipay.
Brock Pierce : We got very good at cross-border payments, dealing with digital currencies. Understanding the world’s markets. We we were the biggest in South Korea. We had over 90% market share in South Korea for a long time. And so, that was kind of the main precursor for me that led to me being as active as I am in this space, though I’ve done a number of other things as well. I’ve built television channels, advised governments, all sorts of stuff. I call it ADD, and always looking to learn new things.
Brock Pierce : But that’s what led me to this space was the game stuff more than anything else, and in the crypto space I’ve been full-time. Kind of dropping everything else that I had been working on in late-2012. By 2013, I was starting a new company, call it every 60 days until I had started a bunch of them, and realized there’s only so many things that you can manage at one time at a mediocre level.
Brock Pierce : And so, I realized if I wanted to run things and do things well, I couldn’t continue to build more businesses. I was doing I’d call it a poor job, though created some interesting stuff along the way. We started a company called GoCoin, which was one of the earlier payment processors. Started a company called Blade, which was putting crypto onto credit card rails, Visa, Mastercard, Amex. Did that with Ed Boyle, who had been the founder of the prepaid division of Amex for seven years, and ran that as general manager.
Brock Pierce : Started a thing called Tether, which most people know if you’re in this space, where we put the first real world asset on the blockchain and that does a trillion or $2 trillion a year of trading volume, right now, with over $2 billion of US dollars behind it. Started Blockchain Capital, which was the first dedicated fund to the ecosystem. I co-founded Mastercoin, where we invented the ICO, or did the first ICO. A handful of other things, kind of early on.
Brock Pierce : And then, I stopped focusing on the entrepreneurial stuff for a little while, and really just focused on the Blockchain Capital activities and essentially was acting as a full-time VC, funding lots and lots and lots of companies, providing the resources to entrepreneurs through the last major bear market that they needed to be able to innovate and build. And since we were in a bear market, I spent that time just providing resources at a time there was essentially no one funding companies. Very similar to where we are, right now. Except, for now you have 10 or 20 funds that are dedicated to this space. At the time, you only had three. It was Blockchain Capital, DCG, and Pantera. There were only three groups funding essentially all the innovation in the crypto space in 2014 and ’15 because the ICO market hadn’t developed into anything meaningful yet.
Brock Pierce : The first ICO was back in the summer of 2013, but it wasn’t popularized until after Ethereum, and really the Dow. The Dow was the first big sort of ICO that opened up everyone’s eyes to the potential of an ICO. That this might be a better form of financing, or a better way of accumulating resources for a project than raising venture capital. Prior to the Dow, venture capital was the preferred method of pretty much all the entrepreneurs.
Brock Pierce : On the Blockchain Capital side, then we did the first STO. I was running one of the top 10 syndicates on AngelList and I was playing a lot with crowdfunding because I was very interested in how the Jobs Act legislation was going to impact capital formation. And so, I was an early advisor to DSTLD Jeans. I think they were the second Reg A offering ever, and then I was very active on AngelList and other platforms, trying to understand how this new legislation was going to impact early stage finance. And that eventually led to me saying, I think you’re going to see a convergence between crowdfunding and blockchain. And I had been talking to people about the idea of creating a security token for about a year, a year-and-a-half, and encouraging people to try it, while at Blockchain Capital.
Brock Pierce : No one really seemed to like the idea. I convinced my partners at Blockchain Capital to do it. Back in the spring of 2017, we did the first STO called BCAP. And after that, I kinda felt my time as a VC was over. I did everything I wanted to do. I supported entrepreneurs through the bear market of 2014 and ’15, and into ’16. As the ICO market was taking off, I was able to do the first STO, and that was kinda the last box I needed to check on the venture side, before going back into entrepreneurship.
Brock Pierce : I stepped down from Blockchain Capital and joined some friends to start a company called Block.one, where Dan Larimer and team, we built a thing called EOS, and brought EOS to market through a very interesting ICO or token sale that went for a year. I’m back to building things again these days.
Brock Pierce : I guess, what was the last part of your question? Kind of …
Nye : Yeah. What are you working on right now, that’s really caught your attention, that’s got you excited about the space, or excited about whatever you’re working on?
Brock Pierce : Yeah. There’s a few things that are kind of taking up my mind-share right now, and I’m sticking just to the blockchain sort of stuff, not things outside of it.
Brock Pierce : I also started the first crypto bank Noble Markets or NobleBank in 2014 out of Puerto Rico, and that’s because banking was a problem for crypto companies. And if you needed a bank account and you were, call it an early crypto exchange, you most likely went into a bank and lied about the nature of your business, which is a felony. And so, I saw that as an existential threat to the ecosystem that almost everyone was in a very, very gray, if not darker area in how banking was operating because banks weren’t willing to support most of our activities at the time, and were very threatened by it.
Brock Pierce : I wanted to try and solve that problem for the benefit of the ecosystem, so I continue to be very focused on banking, again. I’ve been very active, the last year around sort of what can be done around banking. I continue to be very active in call it the security token market, and how that ecosystem develops. I help most of the call it security token platforms in the space in some capacity. Some more than others. tZERO, obviously being one of the platforms I’m very interested in, obviously. Securitize as well, but I continue to be very interested in the security token market. Also, spending a lot of time right now on Mt. Gox, but we’ll, I think, take a deeper dive into that in a moment.
Brock Pierce : Kind of what’s next, where crypto meets philanthropy. How do we use these systems to make the world a better place? I ultimately believe that’s what this technology is here to do. Not to say that there is not going to be benefits to those early participants from a monetary perspective, or value perspective, but money isn’t what motivates me. And so, I spend a lot of my time focused on how this technology can be used for positively impacting the world at-large. That’s taking up a lot of my time. I’m always busy doing so many things.
Brock Pierce : I’d say those are call it the general themes. Continue to focus on banking. Continue to focus on how the next evolution of the market security tokens, and then sort of impact. I tend to do a lot of the thankless work. The jobs that are not profitable, and so no one else wants to do them. Jobs like the Bitcoin Foundation. Jobs like the EOS Alliance. Jobs like the philanthropic efforts.
Brock Pierce : I like big challenges. That’s what motivates me. And specifically, the things that not everybody else is doing. If a bunch of people are trying to solve a specific problem, the market doesn’t really need my help there. If there’s already multiple groups of people trying to solve a problem, all I want to do is help them do what they’re doing. I don’t need to go create another company, doing the same thing as five other groups. That’s not … I prefer to be a trendsetter than follower.
Nye : Yeah. It just ends up not being overly productive. I can see that. I can understand that.
Brock Pierce : Right. I’m not competitive. I don’t really believe in competition. I believe that if anyone succeeds in making the world a better place, we all win. And so, if there’s already multiple smart groups of people trying to solve a particular problem, my preferred approach is to help them solve that problem and be of service to them in the ways that I can. The projects that I focus meaningful time and effort on are the things I don’t see problems being solved. Like putting a real world asset on the blockchain with Tether, or creating a security token. No one else was doing these things at the time. I just want to help everybody that’s out there doing things that are already identified as things that need to be done.
Nye : I love it, man. I love it. I love the mentality that you have, and that even for lack of a better word, it radiates off of you. It radiates off of you, when you speak. It radiates off you, when you’re at events and things like that. It sounds like you’ve had a very, very interesting journey in life so far, so it’s cool to hear all that.
Nye : And as we’re moving kind … I want to get really deep or as deep as we can into the future impact, and the future role this plays, cryptocurrency plays on the entire world, and things like that. I think the first step that I really want to discuss is the Mt. Gox situation.
Nye : So for people who may be unfamiliar or who have a little information on it, can you just give a description of what the Mt. Gox situation is, why it’s relevant to the entire space, and what’s going on with it, right now?
Brock Pierce : Of course. Let’s start with Neal Stephenson. Let’s start with Snow Crash. Japan has played an important role in the develop of this ecosystem, more so than most people give Japan credit for. The creators of Bitcoin chose the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto. They chose a Japanese name for the creator of Bitcoin. They chose the Land of the Rising Sun as the place that Bitcoin would be born, at least in terms of its namesake as the creator. I’m often tipping my hat to Japan because Satoshi did.
Brock Pierce : The first major crypto exchange also happened to come out of Japan with Mt. Gox and Mt. Gox has always been kind of near and dear to me. Remember, Mt. Gox was created in 2007, before Bitcoin. Before the Bitcoin whitepaper. It stands for Magic: The Gathering Online eXchange.
Brock Pierce : So Jed McCaleb, the founder of Ripple and Stellar, was also the founder of Mt. Gox. He created it, originally as a site to trade Magic: The Gathering cards, virtual Magic: The Gathering cards. Jed was playing around in my old industry. Again, the market for buying, and selling, and trading virtual currencies and virtual goods inside of online games. That wasn’t very successful. And so, he pivoted to Bitcoin.
Brock Pierce : Mt. Gox then became the most important Bitcoin exchange in the world. By far, the 800-pound gorilla. It became synonymous with Bitcoin over 2010, ’11, ’12, and was responsible for the rise of Bitcoin in price, more so than probably anything else. 2013, when we had that major bull market, where we ran up to $1,000. The rise of Mt. Gox also played a very, very, important role in the development of our ecosystem, and that too came out of Japan.
Brock Pierce : We had the rise of Mt. Gox. And then, obviously, for most people, they remember the fall because the fall of Mt. Gox is what became one of the biggest stories in the world, on par with Enron. On par with the failing of Lehman Brothers. On par with the failing of Bear Stearns.
Brock Pierce : 2014 and the collapse of Mt. Gox is how most people heard about Bitcoin. Most people’s first interaction and first perception of Bitcoin was in the context of Mt. Gox failing. Which is why if you were in this space back in 2014, and you were talking to someone about Bitcoin, their first reaction usually was, “Oh, that thing, where everyone loses their money. Oh, that thing that isn’t safe? Oh, that thing.” Everyone is … A huge number of people, their first interaction, their first perception of Bitcoin was negative, and it was associated with something that isn’t secure and isn’t safe. Which is entirely inaccurate, but the media tends to sensationalize things, and people don’t really do much in the way of research. They get most of their news from the headlines, the click bait, solely. But the first perception of Bitcoin was negative.
Brock Pierce : The polls that we did back then was that there was a 96% overlap amongst people that had heard of Bitcoin, had heard of Mt. Gox. Literally, Mt. Gox and Bitcoin were almost 100% synonymous. They were almost the same word in terms of perception. Most people don’t remember how big a deal Mt. Gox was, and how big a role it played in our ecosystem, and how most people at the time, their first perception of Bitcoin was through Mt. Gox.
Brock Pierce : When Mt. Gox failed, I got very involved in the process. In late 2012, early 2013, I almost bought Mt. Gox. I was going to roll it up into my old video game company that was primarily financed by Goldman Sachs. My investors at the time were not a fan of me buying the biggest Bitcoin exchange in the world, considering that my main investors were major banks.
Brock Pierce : But went through that process. Then, went and looked at doing it, personally. Then, went and set up mtgox.cn, and I was forming a joint venture with Mark Karpelès at the time to basically bring Bitcoin to China. Asia wasn’t really into crypto yet, other than Mt. Gox and Japan. There wasn’t really a Korean market. There wasn’t much of a Chinese market, but I had done so much business in China, I figured and explained to Mark Karpelès at the time, let me bring Mt. Gox into China. Let me be your joint venture partner, and let me have an option to buy you.
Brock Pierce : He said, “That sounds great.” We went forward in putting that deal together. I decided not to move forward with that, at the time. I’ll spare all the details. The main thing being concerns about how well the exchange was run, and I had concerns that I didn’t want to be dependent upon Mt. Gox and its backend for my exchange. I thought that was a risk factor that was too large. Fortunately, I was right and didn’t go down that path.
Brock Pierce : But fast forward, I was giving a talk at Jason Calacanis’s launch event in San Francisco, the day that Mt. Gox failed. It was the first time that Jason had anyone talk about Bitcoin, so I’d just gotten offstage giving a speech. And all of a sudden, my phone is blowing up with Mt. Gox, Mt. Gox, Mt. Gox.
Brock Pierce : I call up Mark Karpelès. I said, “Hey, Mark. I’d like to buy the exchange,” and he was like, “What?” I said, “Yeah, I’d like to buy the exchange.” He goes, “Are you not watching the news?” I said, “That’s why I’m calling.” And he goes, “And you’re still interested?” I said, “Yeah. The terms have obviously changed, but it looks like you’re going to need some help from professionals that know how to solve big problems, and you’re probably in over your head.” And he was like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.”
Brock Pierce : So negotiated a deal to Mark Karpelès’s 88% of the equity at the time. Negotiated a deal to buy the 12% from Jed McCaleb, the original founder that sold it to Mark. I did a deal to buy 100% of the equity of Mt. Gox back in 2014, so I’ve been very involved with this.
Brock Pierce : Then, through the bankruptcy liquidation, we went and did deals with both of the class-action parties. We put together the first civil rehabilitation plan, so then into the bankruptcy courts, and blah, blah, blah, blah. Lots of stuff. And then, Japan clearly was very, very slow. The trustee was going to need a lot of time to understand this, and this was clearly going to become a minimum of a multiyear process. And so, started scaling back the amount of time and energy that I was putting into this to focus on Blockchain Capital, and EOS, and security tokens, and a dozen other things that I’ve done in the meantime.
Brock Pierce : But throughout this entire Mt. Gox bankruptcy, I’ve been following it closely. I obviously had a huge vested interest in it. I arguably still own 100% of the equity, and I became very focused on it, when the price of Bitcoin increased in a huge way. As someone that arguably owns the equity and Bitcoin being at the price that it’s at, there’s about $1.2 to $1.3 billion there.
Brock Pierce : In the bankruptcy process, the creditors were only entitled to $400 and change per Bitcoin, which means there’s net assets there of about $700 million that arguably goes to the equity. Meaning I might be looking at a $700 million windfall, personally. Clearly, I’d been playing close attention.
Brock Pierce : I’m not interested in any of that. I wouldn’t ever take any of that money. Not one penny. Not one cent, because I don’t think that’s right. Even if I legally would be entitled to it, I would never take it, just because the bankruptcy trustee at the time had to mark to market and do the things that traditional financial markets have to do, doesn’t meant that creditors don’t deserve it all. Creditors deserve all of that 1.2 to $1.3 billion. I would never take one cent of it. But the fact that became a potential reality, clearly made me very focused on this. And somehow, even though all the press is out there about what I did in 2014 and bought it, the media never reported on it.
Brock Pierce : It’s literally like no one does any research. And everybody started talking about, whoa, Mark Karpelès might get $700 million. Wow, Mark Karpelès might get $700 million. No, this is horrible. This is horrible. This is horrible. And no one was really looking at the fact that I might own all of it, and that’s why I’ve primarily gotten very engaged. I want to make sure that the right things happen here. I want to make sure that the creditors get all of that money, which I believe that they’re entitled to, and that’s why this has become a focus, again. I want to make sure that this story ends the right way, because the Mt. Gox story isn’t over. It’s been in bankruptcy for five years. This has impacted … Mt. Gox has had over a million customers, over 120,000 active customers at the time, 24,000 creditors that have filed claims as part of the bankruptcy process. This has been affecting a lot of people’s lives. And for a lot of ’em, this is their most important asset.
Brock Pierce : I hate to say this because it’s so negative, but people have killed themselves likely over this. Marriages have been ruined over this. People have lost their homes over this. Those early adopted that made a big bet early on because they had strong convictions about the potential of Bitcoin, Mt. Gox has a lot of victims. A lot of people’s lives that have been very negatively impacted, and the overall industry, I think, has been set back, two or three years, as a result of this. I think Mt. Gox is the reason we had that bear market in 2014, ’15, and into ’16. Mt. Gox is the primary culprit. Not the sole culprit, but the primary culprit.
Brock Pierce : And so, fast forward to where we are now, five years later. The story is not over, and this can end like Lehman Brothers. This can end like Bear Stearns, and Bitcoin and blockchain can look no better than the traditional financial system. Or again, this story is not over. We can still write the ending of this story. How would we as an industry like this story to end? Do we want to look different than the traditional financial system? If so, we have the ability to do so. Let’s create an optimal outcome for creditors. Let’s give them the best outcome possible. Let’s try and write a story that has a happy ending. And as part of that, I’d like to see the exchange relaunched. I’d like to see the rise of Mt. Gox, the fall of Mt. Gox, and I’d like to see the Phoenix, like rising out of the ashes, come back again. So that when we tell our story, our story has a different ending. Our story is, look, creditors got all of this, call it a stretch goal of creditors getting everything back. Creditors being made whole. I mean, that’s the story I’d like to go onstage and be able to tell.
Brock Pierce : I’d like to be able to say, why is Bitcoin different? When Bitcoin had its problem when Mt. Gox failed, when we had our Lehman Brothers, all of the customers and all of the constituents had a happy ending. That’s how Bitcoin is different. I’ll stop there, because that’s been a pretty long summary already.
Nye : No, I love that. I absolutely love that. I wasn’t specifically around and heavily involved in the crypto space during Mt. Gox, so I did not know all of those details. It’s really, really interesting. What I’m really curious about is what kind of impact is this going to have on the space as a result of the creditors getting this money? What impact does that have on the space, and what impact does it have on the whole future of cryptocurrency?
Brock Pierce : Yeah. First and foremost, there’s 24,000 victims. First and foremost, the victims getting the beginning of their restitution, right? Getting what they deserve. Getting what they’re owed. So that’s an important thing, making sure that the victims are taken care of, so they can begin to heal and their lives can improve in the way that they deserve for the risks that they have taken.
Brock Pierce : For the overall industry, it changes the narrative. Again, so many people, the first time they heard of Bitcoin, they heard of it in the context of Mt. Gox, and not a pretty story. An awful story about how Bitcoin is bad, Bitcoin isn’t secure, Bitcoin isn’t safe, Bitcoin is risky. All of those negative perceptions. And so, so many people’s first perception of Bitcoin was negative. To be able to go back and to right that wrong, to change that narrative, and that narrative being, yeah, you heard about Bitcoin with Mt. Gox failing, guess how that story ended. Creditors, the victims got what they were owed, and we’re still kickin’. We’re still alive. Bitcoin is different. Bitcoin is not your old financial system. Bitcoin is something new, something improved, something that’s community-based, something that is decentralized. Something that is different than what you know. You should come back and take another look at this. We are not what you think we are. That, I think, is a very powerful story.
Brock Pierce : I think that’s a very powerful message. We have the power to change the narrative, and the narrative matters. The media has not been our friend. When we’re having a good run, oh yeah, we get some nice press of When Lambo? When Moon? which is not how we want to be perceived either, but they are very, very quick to constantly criticize and sensationalize, and vilify our industry. I definitely recommend everyone to read about and learn about Joseph Campbell in the hero’s journey. I’m a storyteller, and I think this is, as an industry, our opportunity to tell our story. To tell a story of a hero’s journey. That’s how all films are made, how all great stories are written. And if we want to tell our story, and we want that message to resonate with people in a way that’s impactful, let’s tell a great story, and I think this is it.
Nye : I love it. I absolutely love it. That even kind of leads into other topics, such as the future of cryptocurrency. If we’re going to change the narrative around Bitcoin, if we’re going to change the narrative around the whole space as a whole. And I like specifically what you said there because what you’re talking about is, for example, we’ll just look at the 2007-2008 financial crisis with the banks. The narrative never changed. There was never this resolution to the story, where the banks got what they deserved, and the people that were hurt in the process were solved, were paid back for their pain.
Brock Pierce : I don’t think … No one went to jail. No on was even punished.
Nye : Exactly.
Brock Pierce : No one was even punished. Yeah. That story has no ending, and the media doesn’t talk about that very much. But this little tiny thing called Bitcoin is always getting kicked, when it’s down.
Nye : Exactly. What you’re saying pretty much is that by coming to a conclusion with this Mt. Gox situation, and coming to a conclusion in as much as a positive light as possible, we are showing the world that we are different. We are showing the world that this community is driven to make a different impact on the financial world, or any other part of the world by closing loose ends and tying up loose ends, and making sure that it’s done in the most positive and beneficial way as possible for the people who are the victims, and the people who got hurt.
Brock Pierce : Yeah, because that’s the big difference. The financial system is a bunch of businesses that are motivated by personal gain, selfish incentives. We are a community. That’s what makes us so different. We are a community of game-changes. We are a community of people that are trying to build a better future for all of us, because our system is built on an open source philosophy. We build open source systems, which require having open minds, and hopefully open hearts. This is a community that cares. That’s why we’re different.
Brock Pierce : We also can’t … We have to do more than just talk about how we’re different. We have to be able to point to results, and be able to demonstrate how those differences produce different results and different outcomes. Just one thing, if we’re going to move off of that subject for anyone listening, if you want to know more, you can go to GoxRising.com, and you can check out what the Phoenix has to say.
Nye : I love it. That’s super interesting. That’s really interesting, man. And yeah, as we are moving off of that topic a little bit, let’s just get into a very basic question of where do you think this is going in the next 5-10 years? And we’re just going to talk about specifically with cryptocurrency. Are you a believer that Bitcoin is the new gold standard? Are you a believe that it’s going to be utilized as more of a currency, or both? How do you see the next five to 10 years playing out in this space?
Brock Pierce : I believe that the space itself is going to change our reality in ways bigger than I can even describe. I believe that this is so much more than just our financial system. We’re creating the new internet. We’re creating an entirely new operating system for how we interact as a species. Not just as each other, but machines, and technology. I mean, this is the foundation. We are laying the foundation of our future. It’s such a big deal. Now, specific to things like Bitcoin, I don’t know if Bitcoin is the Friendster, the Myspace, or the Facebook, or the Instagram. I don’t know.
Brock Pierce : Obviously, I’m a huge supporter of Bitcoin. I’m still chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation and support Bitcoin in every way I possibly can, and that includes all of the forks as much as some of it frustrates me. And even the personalities that support some of these projects, because I’m chain agnostic. I do not believe in maximalism of any kind. I believe that being a maximalist of any one coin. You know, my coin is better than your coin. my chain is better than your coin is the equivalent of religious fundamentalism. We’ve learned over thousands of years that doesn’t serve us. That does not work.
Brock Pierce : If anyone succeeds in making the world a better place, we all win. So please keep innovating, keep trying. Try to be nice. Try to be kind. Try to listen. Try to teach. Try to do things in the right way. Operate with integrity, all the things that I want, and those are the projects that I do my best to support are those that are walking and acting in a place of integrity. I continue to be chain agnostic because I don’t know, who, what, where, how, when why, which projects are going to deliver the change. But I know as an ecosystem, as a space, as a broader community of people, what is going to happen, and I do what I can to help those people that are doing things the right way. I support them in service to the best of my abilities.
Nye : And what do you think is going to happen, right? Let’s get into a little bit more of the meta conversation here and talk about even the impact of blockchain, Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, all of the stuff on the world as a whole.
Nye : In my point-of-view and my perspective, we’re obviously at a very, very interesting point in humanity. We’ve over the last X amount of years, 20, 30, 40 years, we’ve had a whole boom of technology. Technology has allowed us to become more interconnected. It’s allowed us to create conversations quicker, learn information faster. We’re starting to see it in the financial realm with Bitcoin and things like that, where we can send money peer-to-peer to each other.
Nye : But the matter-of-fact is we’re also at a very conflicting point with our planet. So humans living on the planet have been, for lack of a better word, destroying it, and we probably won’t survive much longer in the pathways that we are creating with war, hatred, and all of these things combined. And I know we’re kinda getting onto a topic here that’s a little bit deeper than I normally go on these podcasts, but I think you’re someone who I want to go there with. I want to have this conversation with.
Nye : How do you think Bitcoin, how do you think cryptocurrency, blockchain, how do you think these things are going to have an impact on the way that we as humanity are interacting with the world? How does this play a role in this kinda meta game and meta story that’s going on right now on Earth?
Brock Pierce : Wow. Yeah.
Brock Pierce : So much pain. It’s so, so sad. If you just stop and step back and take a look at the state of things, taking a look at the world, looking at where we are, and to wake up, we are destroying this world, and we’re doing it rapidly. We’re running out of time. Every day, things are happening that are for the most part, irreversible. I mean, that’s why we’re here. That’s why we’re doing what we’re doing.
Brock Pierce : These systems of decentralization, these new systems that over time are going to change the status quo are showing up exactly when the Earth needs it. Exactly when we need it. This isn’t any coin incidence. I don’t like the to use the word “Coincidence”. Coincidence. I say coin-incidence. It’s not a coincidence that this is happening now. This is the response. This is not just an opportunity for people to make money. When I say we’re building the infrastructure that’s going to change things, that’s exactly what we’re doing. Exactly as we need it. We’re running out of time.
Brock Pierce : For people that haven’t followed this space closely, this is not just a new technology. This is not just a new investment property. What’s going on here is we are laying the foundations to save our world, to save our species. I mean, it’s … Forget about just the impact of the technology, itself. I mean, that’s what these systems are. To distribute power with new systems of governance, to bring power back to the people, to do things in a different way. It’s very important to get involved.
Nye : It’s very important, man. It’s very important.
Brock Pierce : Yeah. I like to say it’s not just about money. And if you take the word money, if you take the M and the Y, the first and last letter, the M and the Y out of money. If you take the “my” out of money, the “I” out of money, the “me” out of money. The three letters left in the middle are O-N-E. One. When you take the “my” out of money, you’re left with “one”, because we are all one. One connected system, not just the people of the planet, but the Earth and everything on it. We are all one system that lives or dies together.
Nye : Exactly, exactly. I think that’s kind of also one of the interesting things being in … Myself being very much into spirituality, very much into psychology, and psychedelics, and understanding how all of this is connected. I’ve been into that. I’ve been doing that for years now, and I really enjoy it. Seeing the connection between these things, Brock, because it’s super interesting to me how as we create Bitcoin, we are also creating at the same exact time, a giant supercomputer that is connected all over the world, at every single second, and every single minute, which mirrors exactly what you were saying in terms of the interconnectivity of us as human beings upon this planet. It’s kind of like when we are building technology that mirrors how reality is working. It’s very, very interesting for me to see that. It’s very interesting for me to see that.
Nye : And even beyond that, I know it’s not about money, but the interesting thing is that I think that Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, if we’re going to talk about it from a financial standpoint and from an investment standpoint, what it is doing is it’s moving and changing the tide of things. It’s allowing at least to maybe just a small degree, but to a degree, the financial power to switch hands at the moment. I know that it’s not all about money, but to a degree, this is actually a really good thing. And I say that because I think that a lot of the younger generation and a lot of people that haven’t really been integrated into these systems that have been built upon this planet, I think a lot of those people see the damage that’s being created, Brock. I think they see the fact that the Earth is being hurt by our actions, and they want to create a change.
Nye : I’ve met many, many young people, who want to create a change, but they have no basis to create a change. Whether it be due to ideas, or things like that. But the majority of them don’t have a basis to create a change because of finance. They want to create a change, but they don’t know how to create enough financial stability within their own life to take care of themselves. And then, from being able to take care of themselves to create a massive impact on the world.
Nye : I know I’m rambling a little bit, but I think that while the money and the financial part of it, it’s not all about making money. I 100% agree. I do believe that the tides are turning and they’re turning in a good way. I think that the change is being made, and I think we’re going to see some major impact, and some major things change over the next 10, 15, 20 years, I’m excited.
Brock Pierce : Yeah. If you want to get into some of the interesting reasons why, I mean our solar system run son a 26,000-year cycle, and we’ve just hit the end of our 26,000-year cycle. This is why the Mayan calendar ends in the year 2012, but it’s actually a 50-year process. We’ve been through 32 years of the 50-year end of the calendar. There’s still 18 years left.
Brock Pierce : Yeah, if you want to get into the astrology, and yeah. Call it the astral.
Nye : That’s awesome, man. That’s awesome. Yeah. I mean, I would personally love to get into that, but I don’t know if my audience is going to really dive into and understand and comprehend all of that stuff.
Nye : Man, it’s been such a pleasure having you on here. Can we just end with one final little part of I want to know a little bit about what you’re working on in Puerto Rico, specifically, right now. I know that you have called that home. I don’t know if you still call it home, but I know it plays a big role in your life. I know it plays a very big role, even in the cryptocurrency realm, and a lot of people have been moving there. What’s going on there, right now? What’s exciting you about Puerto Rico? And what’s kinda your thought process around that?
Brock Pierce : Puerto Rico is still very much my home. I spend about half my time there, which is a lot of my time. I’ve never spent … I’ve been a digital nomad for a very long time. And so, I normally am not in any one place for more than a month a year. I’ve kind of lived out of a suitcase for a very, very long time, and trying to kinda be everywhere at once, like a bee pollinating the world with seeds of knowledge.
Brock Pierce : But Puerto Rico is my kind of main focus. It takes up more of my time than any other individual project because it takes up about half of my physical time in terms of where I’m geographically situated. But also, it’s having me learn all sorts of things I’ve never learned before because the Puerto Rican thing is not just a blockchain thing.
Brock Pierce : I spend a moment just telling you kinda the “why”. Wherever I go in the world, lots of very, very competent and capable people show up, wherever I go. It doesn’t matter where I go on the planet, people get on planes, they fly there. They come to see me. They come to consult me. They ask for help, and these are people are lots and lots of intellectual capital, human capital, financial capital, spiritual capital. And so, realizing that wherever I go, people will follow, that I’m a vortex of sorts. I could be in San Francisco. I could be in New York. I could be in London. I could be in Hong Kong. I love all of those cities very much, but what kind of impact is that having?
Brock Pierce : When realizing that wherever I go, some people will follow, and people that can make a difference, game-changers, that turned into an obligation. It became a great responsibility that I hadn’t realized was a responsibility of mine. And so, I said I get the message. If I have this power, I need to go put it to work. I need to put it into service to hopefully make a positive impact in the world. I said, okay, where am I going to go test this experiment? Where am I going to go and see if by moving there, I can positively impact the place? There’s a lot of places in the world that need help.
Brock Pierce : I used to go to Puerto Rico as a teenager. And then, as I said, I started the first crypto bank. We started the first crypto bank, NobleBank in 2014. I became familiar with Puerto Rico and Puerto Rico is kind of always on my mind. I also became more knowledgeable about Puerto Rico. Most people don’t actually know this because it’s almost been written out of the history books. But when Christopher Columbus sailed across the Atlantic in 1492, he first set up shop in Puerto Rico in 1493. That became the headquarters of the New World. All of Europe’s influence on the New World started in Puerto Rico. That’s where ground zero, think of it as 9/11, the Twin Towers.
Brock Pierce : The original impact of Europe’s influence on North and South America, and all of the Caribbean began in Puerto Rico in 1493. It wasn’t his first stop, but that’s where they set up shot because the indigenous people of the Caribbean were known as the Taino people, and that was where they were headquartered, and that’s because it’s the southernmost point of the Bermuda Triangle. And so, that’s where they set up shop. I’m a student of history, and I go, wow, if this is where the damage began, if this is where the impact on the indigenous people of the Americas started, that seems like an interesting place for the healing to begin as things go full circle. And so, that was resonating with me in a big way.
Brock Pierce : I started telling friends in 2016 and ’17, I said Puerto Rico seems like a good place for us to move at some point. I told some friends we should move in December 2018. Probably about a dozen friends. And then, the hurricane hit.
Brock Pierce : After seeing Hurricane Maria hit, and the impact that was having on Puerto Rico, I said this isn’t convenient. I was kinda planning to make this move in December 2018, but it seems like now is the time to go. As everyone was leaving and everyone was moving out, we were moving in. The idea was … And I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m so in over my head, but the fundamental motivation is like go and be helpful. And so, the hurricane, Puerto Rico is mostly recovered from that. A side of the island still has some needs, but the power works. The power is fine. It’s beautiful. It’s wonderful. It’s the most underappreciated part of the United States. It is so beautiful, and just a couple of facts and figures.
Brock Pierce : Puerto Ricans on average have more bachelor degrees than any other part of the United States, meaning they’re the most educated. Puerto Rico has the most artists per capita of anywhere in the United States, meaning they’re the most creative. Puerto Rico has so much talent. It also has the most incredible weather, the most incredible beaches everywhere. It has a rainforest. It’s the only part of the United States with a rainforest. I mean, if you haven’t been, go check it out. It is one of the most incredible places on the planet.
Brock Pierce : It’s got bioluminescent bays. Three bioluminescent bays. There’s only a handful of those in the world, and most of ’em … Not most of ’em, but almost a majority of them are in Puerto Rico. It is the enchanted island. It’s magical. Magical, like very few places on the planet. And as I like to say, Puerto Rico that in a lot of ways was the first state, but isn’t the 51st state has become the forgotten state.
Brock Pierce : And so, fast forward to right now, what is the problem with Puerto Rico? The problem with Puerto Rico is it’s been conquered, and there’s been Conquistadors and things for 500 years. This is a place that has been through a lot of pain, a lot of suffering. The people have so much talent. The Puerto Rican people are so beautiful, so wonderful, so full of potential. But they’ve been stepped on for so long that they don’t fully acknowledge how wonderful they are, how much talent they truly have. They don’t believe in themselves as much as they should, and that’s not true of all people. Obviously, there are a lot of powerful Puerto Ricans that understand who and what they are, and are coming into their full potential. But a lot of that is because of that historical sort of just the challenges that they’ve had to endure.
Brock Pierce : The other big issue is what I call the brain drain. The Puerto Ricans with the intellectual capital, with the human capital, with the financial capital, with the spiritual capital. You know, the people with the means have been the first to leave. The diaspora, you have like 6 million Puerto Ricans living in the United States, and there’s only 3 million people left in Puerto Rico. And the ones that have moved into the US, it’s not any fault of theirs. They’ve lacked because of a lack of opportunity for the most part in Puerto Rico. But when a place has this sustained brain drain of the people that possess most of the capital in all of its forms, are always leaving, that’s a big problem. And when you have the same problem with the youth, the 15th best engineering school in the United States is in Puerto Rico.
Brock Pierce : You know, Facebook, and Google, and Exxon, and NASA, and such have near full-time recruiters there because there’s almost no good jobs, but the people are so talented. Puerto Rico’s greatest export are people. Puerto Rico’s main export is human talent, and they have a lot of it.
Brock Pierce : The problem is most of that talent keeps leaving, and so when a place is consistently losing its best and its brights, both in terms of the youth and the adults, long term that is a big problem. That is the main problem, and the main thing that afflicts Puerto Rico. And so, what is it that we’re doing? We’re bringing human talent, intellectual talent, financial capital, spiritual capital. Obviously, there is not that many of us. Maybe there’s 500 or 1,000 of us that have moved.
Brock Pierce : There’s a new person moving almost every day. It’s definitely become a movement, but we’re never going to be a meaningful percentage of any of the population there. That’s basically an impossibility.
Brock Pierce : But we are able to do is we’re bringing capital. There have been no Puerto Rican startups that have ever raised money before this, even though there’s lots of really talented Puerto Ricans in Silicon Valley and in New York working on startups, tons of them, really amazing engineers. But if you are a Puerto Rican with a dream, an entrepreneurial idea, a vision, the only way for that dream to become a reality is by leaving Puerto Rico. You had to leave because the tools were not there. You didn’t have any angel investors. You didn’t have any experienced entrepreneurs or mentors. You didn’t have the coworking facilities, the accelerator programs, the venture capital. None of those things have existed, and so we’ve brought an abundance of those things to Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans have been starting coworking facilities, accelerators, co-living facilities.
Brock Pierce : We’re bringing angels, and we’re bringing mentors. And so, there’s been now two Puerto Rican startups, late last year that raised over a million each. I think we’re going to see a handful more of those this first half of this year. And so, for the first time ever in Puerto Rico, if you have an entrepreneurial dream, that dream can become a reality. If you are a Puerto Rican entrepreneur, you no longer have to leave. And what that also means is that if you’re a Puerto Rican entrepreneur living in New York and San Francisco, you can also go home. Tech jobs are starting to emerge.
Brock Pierce : Startups are starting to happen, and we might be able to begin reversing that trend of all the talent leaving and hopefully some of that talent returning. If 250,000 of the right Puerto Ricans go back to Puerto Rico, problem solved. Puerto Ricans have all the talent in the world. If 25,000 really talented Puerto Ricans go home, that can be the thing that literally changes everything. And so, there’s a small group of us doing our little part and hopefully helping to facilitate that. Hopefully, bringing about a little bit of that change that can lead to the big change that can only be done by Puerto Ricans, but we’re doing our little part. Hopefully, building a little lighthouse in the world that can start to change this trend of the big cities getting bigger.
Brock Pierce : If you look at a map of the world, what’s been happening is California and New York have been getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger because all the talent around the world keeps getting sucked into these major cities. And at the expense of all the little cities, and the rest of the world. Now, because of globalization and because of good communication systems, you shouldn’t have to live in New York to have a great job, to be a part of the cutting edge, to be doing the most interesting things. You should be able to do that from anywhere now. And so, one of the things that we need to be doing as people is we need to be leaving those big cities and going out into the world to make a difference, wherever that is. Puerto Rico or anywhere else, these places are all struggling. What we need to do is start to distribute that talent again, all over the world. I for one am nationally going to go pick nice places to begin with because other people want to go to nice places, Puerto Rico being one of them.
Brock Pierce : There’s a lot of nice places around the world that need help, right now. One of the things that I would encourage people to do, it’s lower cost of living, all sorts of … There’s lots of compelling reasons to make that move, but San Francisco doesn’t need us. New York doesn’t need us. London doesn’t need us. Get out there in the world, and do your part is at least the motto I live by.
Nye : I love it, brotha. I love it. So for everybody listening, GoxRising.com is where you’re going to find out about the Mt. Gox things. And Brock, where else can they learn about you, or any other venture that you might be working on, right now?
Brock Pierce : Yeah. I’m trying to do a better job of communicating using technology, but you can go to brockpierce.io. That has some information, and we hopefully will keep that more up-to-date. Certainly, for anyone that is an EOS holder, we just launched the brockpierce1 proxy. If you’re not actively monitoring all the block producers and voting for block producers that are best in class that are serving the community to the best of their abilities, these proxy services exist so that you vote for a proxy, which then votes for you and we stay on top of that. You can check that out also on brockpierce.io.
Brock Pierce : You can find me on Twitter, which is just @brockpierce. I hope to continue to do a good job of communicating with everyone, and I live my life in service. I’m here to try and help everybody I can, and specifically those that are in service, first and foremost.
Nye : I love it, man. I love it. Thank you so much for coming on, man. Seriously, we dove a little bit deep, and I appreciate you opening up and sharing a little bit about your perspective on everything. And yeah, thank you for all the information.
Brock Pierce : Thank you for having me. It’s been a real pleasure. I hope to do it, again.
Nye : I’m sure we will. I would love that as well.
Nye : All right, everybody. As you know, this is Evolvement, the financial podcast. We talk about Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and a future of our financial systems. We will catch you next time. Thanks again, Brock. Peace.
Brock Pierce : Peace.