Two policy experts, Chris Lehane, chief strategy officer at Haun Ventures, and Niki Christoff, the founder of Christoff and Co., discuss how the crypto industry has performed in Washington and how it can better educate more regulators and politicians about the technology. Show highlights:
- Niki and Chris’ background
- how Niki and Chris would grade the performance of crypto companies in Washington
- what parallels Chris can draw between crypto in the 2020s and FAANG in the mid-90s
- whether having a plethora of crypto policy groups helps or hurts crypto in Washington
- whether calling politicians and regulators names and making memes of them helps or hurts the crypto industry
- an effective way crypto companies can prompt lawmakers and regulators to prioritize crypto policy
- why it can be strategically smarter to try to convince incumbents to adopt pro-crypto policy over supporting challengers
- why Chris thinks crypto could be a bipartisan topic
- what Chris and Niki think about the fact that Democratic candidates received more donations from people working in the crypto industry than Republicans did
- the three types of crypto users that are valuable to political candidates
- what Niki and Chris would tell Senator Elizabeth Warren about crypto if they were to meet with her today
- what effect crypto might have on midterms
- why the terminology native to crypto may have to change
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Announcing The Cryptopians Book Clubs!
On April 26th, I will be selling NFT tickets to five 90-minute virtual book clubs in which 22 people can discuss “The Cryptopians” with me and with each other — without worrying about spoilers! Two of the book clubs will also feature special guests.
The sale will go live on Tuesday, April 26, at 1pm ET/10am PT, and tickets will be $100 each. (The sale will be on Bitski, but the NFTs will not be visible until the sale goes live on the 26th): https://www.bitski.com/@laurashin/created
Here is the schedule:
- Monday May 2, at 8pm ET/5pm PT with Laura Shin
- Tuesday, May 3, at 7pm CET/1pm ET/10am PT with guests Christoph Jentzsch, Lefteris Karapetsas, and Griff Green
- Thursday, May 5, at 6pm CET/12pm ET/9am PT with Laura Shin
- Monday, May 9, at 6pm CET/12pm ET/9am PT with guest Andrey Ternovskiy
- Tuesday, May 10, at 9pm CET/3pm ET/12pm PT with Laura Shin
If you’d like to participate, be sure to mark your calendars for the sale time on April 26th. Hope to see you in one of the book clubs!
Thank you to our sponsors!
Beefy Finance: https://beefy.finance
Cross River Bank: https://crossriver.com/crypto
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chris-lehane-2562535/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/chrislehane
- Joining Haun Ventures
- Overview of crypto and politics
- Biden’s executive order
- Thread of official statements: https://twitter.com/crypto_council/status/1501606327621197835
- Fact sheet: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2022/03/09/fact-sheet-president-biden-to-sign-executive-order-on-ensuring-responsible-innovation-in-digital-assets/
- Overview: https://www.cnbc.com/2022/03/09/heres-whats-in-bidens-executive-order-on-crypto.html
- New bill from Senator Warren to crack down on sanctions evasion:
- DeFi Education Fund
- Blockchain Association
- Crypto Council for Innovation
Hi, all. Today I’m announcing that I’ll be hosting a series of book clubs in which you can discuss my book, The Cryptopians, with me and a group of 22 people. Starting on April 26th, we will sell NFT tickets to five book clubs, all of which will take place on my discord, and they’ll be from May 2nd to May 10th.
Two of the book clubs will feature special guests. One will feature Christoph Jentzsch Griff Green, and Lefferis Karapetsas who are all involved in the Dow, and the other will feature Andrey Ternovskiy of Chatroulette.
The sale of the NFT tickets will take place on Bitski. You can see my profile there now at Bitski.com/@LauraShin. The NFT tickets will not be visible until the sale goes live on April 26th at one PM Eastern, but bookmark that page now if you’re interested in participating in one of these book clubs. The dates and times are in the show notes. They’ll all be 90 minutes, and I think it will be a really fun and easy way to chat with me, and with others who’ve read the book in a way where you don’t have to worry about spoilers. So, all the details will also be in the daily newsletter if you’re signed up for that, and if you’re not, then go to UnchainedPodcast.com right now to sign up. And now, on to the show.
Hi, everyone. Welcome to Unchained. Your no hype resource for all things crypto. I’m your host, Laura Shin, author of The Cryptopians. I started covering crypto six years ago, and as a senior editor at Forbes, was the first mainstream media reporter to cover cryptocurrency full time. This is the April 19th, 2022, episode of Unchained.
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Today’s topic is crypto lobbying. How well is the crypto industry communicating with Washington and how could it improve? Here to discuss are Nikki Christoff, Founder of Christoff and Co. and Chris Lehane, Chief Strategy Officer at Haun Ventures. Welcome Nikki and Chris.
Thanks for having me.
Really excited to be here. Thanks for holding this conversation with us.
So, this is a midterm election year, and the highest levels of government have been signaling that they are not only paying attention to crypto, but have deemed it of high priority, plus there’s a bunch of new candidates that are running on crypto platforms, and a slue of crypto advocacy groups in Washington, but before we dive into the meat of today’s discussion, let’s have each of you describe your backgrounds so people can understand where you’re coming from and where your expertise is on this subject. Nikki, do you want to start?
Sure. I’ll start. Thanks again for having me. So, I’m relatively new to crypto. I started working with a defi company about a year and a half ago and realized I didn’t understand anything about defi, and I had to get up to speed, but my background is I was an attorney. I worked in republic and politics, and I’ve spent the last 15 years working in tech, at Google for eight years, at Uber, at Sales Force for three years, and then hung out a shingle doing strategic consulting, which sounds like a fake job, but helping tech clients communicate around advocacy issues based here in Washington about a year and a half ago.
Awesome. Thank you for having me. I know you’ve been in this space and leading for a while. So, thank you for both being a voice, particularly a substantive voice. You’re really leading some great conversations, and Nikki, it’s nice to actually formally meet over a Podcast nevertheless, but I think in some ways we’ve had sort of, maybe from the left and right at least, we were left and right sort of mirror images career wise. So, really briefly, and I’m happy to get into this story to the extent that you have any interest, but I got into crypto really through my two now teenage boys, one through gaming and the other who had actually done some research on how you could use crypto to put a price on carbon. I ended up having really interesting conversations with them about three, three and a half years ago, which sent me down the proverbial rabbit hole and I emerged on the other side a true believer, but a quick background, I originally come out of democratic politics like Nikki. I like to think I’m a lawyer who fell up you know, maybe fell down, but I think I fell up. Spent around almost eight years in the Clinton administration first term working in the White House counsel’s office, and then second term was Vice President Gore’s press secretary. I actually went through the 1996 Telecom act which I actually think has some echoes you know, history echoes right now. Eventually moved out to California in 2001, started my own consultancy representing, did a lot of big ballot initiatives out here in California, campaigns around the country and around the world, ultimately a lot in what is now called Web2 when policies were really beginning to merge out of Washington DC, and for those big tech platforms to navigate those, sports entertainment work, and then ultimately in 2015 made the big leap and went inhouse as part of the executive team at Airbnb where I helped oversee the efforts to legitimize the business across 100,000 different markets around the world. When we started there wasn’t a single legal framework really in the world and by the time I left, a couple of weeks ago, over 80 percent of our top markets have legal frameworks in them. So, I think some lessons from that, for this space, muscle mainstreaming you know, something that was thought of as sort of a niche space back in 2015 today is now noun and a verb, and so, I oversaw the communications and the policy work, and worked with an incredible team there, incredible founders.
I’m recording this Podcast from an Airbnb.
I was almost going to ask if you’re actually in a great Airbnb in Miami. I hope it’s treating you well. That’s great to see.
It gets the job done.
That’s good. That’s excellent. And at the end of 2021, Katie Haun, who had launched with a16z crypto in one of the early VC verticals in crypto, and who herself had come out of a government background, a prosecutor, reached out to me and said she was thinking of launching her own funds. We sort of thought of it, she described it as almost VC3.0 with a different sort of model, or the next generation of a model for venture capitol fund, thinking of it more as a venture contributor fund, or values contributor fund, sorry, and she shared her vision with me. I told her it was one of the best calls I’d gotten all year, and anyone who knows Katie knows that when you get a call, you’re going to end by saying yes, and so, formally joined the fund about a month ago, maybe a little longer, as the Chief Strategy Officer, and it’s been like jumping on the proverbial rocket ship. So, I’m really excited to be with both of you today and having this conversation. So, thanks for having me.
So, last month we saw that the administration published its long-awaited executive order in crypto, and it was a real milestone because it finally means the government will try to put forward a coherent strategy for regulation, however, simultaneously, you’ve got things like the security exchange commission chair, Gary Gensler, and the commodities future commission trading chair kind of jockeying for position and wanting to both bring crypto under their preview. We have people like Senator Elizabeth Warren on what Political calls an anti-crypto crusade. At this moment in time, how would you kind of grade crypto companies and other crypto lobbying or advocacy groups on their efforts in Washington, in what areas do you think they’re doing well, where do you think they’re failing, how do you think they could improve?
Sitting here in Washington, I’m about half a mile from the White House, crypto came out of nowhere, as a pay for and an infrastructure bill. So, really although there are some people in this town who know cryptocurrencies stone cold, including the government, not just technologists, from a lobbying perspective and an advocacy perspective, it came out of nowhere, and all of a sudden, people had to get up to speed. People who know Washington, and I would put myself in this category, I’d probably put Chris in this category, Web2 people, and I have thought how we talk about Web3 and the language around it, but people who know this town had to learn the substance and the tech really quickly and get involved to help push back on some, frankly, sudden and poorly thought out provisions in a must pass bill.
So, I think one of the things the industry has done really well is bring in a bunch of talent quickly, and so, there are a lot of smart people looking at this now, from an advocacy perspective, and helping tell the story, and tell it to the right stakeholders in the right way. I think that the messaging needs a lot of improvement. The way that the industry is talking to Washington needs a lot of improvement, and I think often I see people talking amongst themselves as opposed to connecting with the right stakeholders.
So, as far as what’s… like, just to set the scene from a regulatory perspective, you’ve now got a couple of republican senators who are going to make it difficult for anything to pass in Congress. You do have Senator Warren on a little bit of a lecturing weekly. She’s got something to say almost every week. The SEC is a bigger issue because they can act, just quickly through rule making. Obviously, that’s really top of mind. The White House, we recently saw President Biden holding in his hand, notes that Chris probably could have written, that were really excellent notes on the potential of crypto. So, I think we’re in a moment where the stakes are really high, there’s a ton of attention on it, you’ve got a lot of talent that’s new to crypto coming in to help sort it out, but a lot of areas to do a better job in this town.
And so, if you were to give the industry a grade, or the lobbying groups a grade, like what grade would you give them?
Oh, I’d love to give a grade. Okay. So, I would say A plus in getting involved in Washington. If you’re not at the table, you’re not going to be able to write the rules and they’ll be written for you. So, A Plus on that. I’d say F minus on the spokespeople that they’re using. They need much better spokespeople and use cases. Maybe not F minus, maybe F, but really making… I think the story telling needs a lot of work to make it compelling to people who are in Washington who have a very specific constituency, right, 435 members of the House of Representatives. They only care about the 761,000 people in their district, and I don’t hear a lot of the right stories resonating with that crowd. Maybe an F is harsh, but I’m going to stick to that as my grade.
You got to be careful if you take Professors Nikki’s class. She’s going to definitely be a rigorous grader. I’m happy to jump in. So, in many respects you always refer to things through your own experiences. So, bear with me on this. It does feel to me a little bit like, and this will tell you how old I am, at the firm people call me the crypto dad. So, I am the crypto dad. Sometimes I like to think I’m the cool crypto uncle, and I’m really good, but 2001, that I referenced earlier, when the big name brand today, many of them really began interacting with Washington DC, had a similar feel.
Even when I joined Airbnb in 2015, and there was almost every day massive coverage and conversations about the so-called sharing economy you know, it feels a little bit similar to me, but I think the difference is that compared to those two periods, this is even bigger and moving even faster. Those were either, you know, in 2001 tech was not quite yet the actual economy, right, it was a part of the economy. Today it is the economy, and you know, even in 2014-2015 when the churn economy was emerging, it was still more sectoral as opposed to thinking about the entire architecture of the internet, and by extension, the economy, and even, if you want to think about it, society and how society is organized, and so, I have really three core takeaways to your specific question.
I think first of all, important to recognize that, that executive order you know, what we in Washington, or those in Washington would call the EO you know, it’s a pretty significant moment, given the fact that it is the White House, under a President, planting a flag that the US does want to lead on crypto/Web3, and that executive order identified three things that are potentially challenges, right, how we think about financial instability, how we think about illicit transactions, how we think about consumer protection, but it also really emphasized some three incredible value propositions. The idea that the US should be the lead in innovation. The competition and competitiveness piece for the United States. The economic inclusion piece.
So, you do have the President really planting the flag, and even given the way DC works, and Nikki was smart to address this, you’ve had up to this point in time various agencies, including the SEC, trying to lead on this. This was really the White House saying the White House is going to lead on this, and so, and we can go deeper here if you want, but it does remind me a little bit of 1996, before the Clinton administration really worked with Congress on the 96, which eventually became the Telecom act, which sort of created the legal structure for today’s internet. There was a report done through the White House by a White House aide by the name of Ira Magaziner, and Ira started off a process that ultimately was a version of an EO where the Clinton White House really embraced what the internet could represent for the future and took it in a very different direction ultimately. So, I do see some parallels to that.
I think secondly, the political play here is really still very soft. You know, what I am really struck by is that you know, both parties you know, are ultimately, I believe, open to the value proposition of what this can represent. Now I think it’s incumbent upon you know, this space, this movement, to really articulate that, communicate that, and demonstrate that, and I think that really is speaking to the point Nikki was making about the actual language, the story, the framing, how we talk about this, how we communicate about this.
And then the third piece I would say, and I think to me this is, at least from my perspective, the most important and meaningful, which is both Nikki and I have been in politics for way too long. We both have our scars from it, and anyone and everyone who’s in politics always talks about the fact that you know, they’re part of a movement. Very rarely is there in fact an actual real movement underneath that. Sometimes it is brass tacks, sometimes it’s words only. It tends to have a little bit of a cotton candy feel to it. This is, in fact, an actual movement, and it’s a movement because of the social value proposition that is represented by it, and it appeals to people both on the left and the right, often for the same desired outputs, maybe coming up from a little bit of different philosophical perspectives to enter into it, but to me, the next four to five months, really through the midterms, it is absolutely critical for this space, for lack of a better way to describe it, to demonstrate in a way that’s meaningful to elected officials that there is a crypto voter out there who matters.
At the end of the day, my grand theory of the case, and I’m not suggesting I’m necessarily right, but it is certainly how I’ve operated, is politics drives policy that drives regulations, and that politics is foundational to it, and in the same way that a publicly created company is evaluated by shareholders as to whether it’s making money at the level that it’s priced at, politicians care whether or not they’re going to be elected or reelected, and because there is such a significant movement, polling shows one in ten voters you know, hold crypto, those voters are going to vote on this issue. So, there are in some level single-issue voters and they’re significant in number. If they can demonstrate their voice over the next four or five months through the midterms, I think that then begins to solidify that political clay in a bipartisan, or maybe even pre-partisan way, and sets up the politics going forward. So, that to me is absolutely critical as we get through the midterms and look forward.
So, at this moment in time, obviously, some of what you said was kind of looking forward, but right now what grade would you give?
You’re going to hold me to that grade.
I benefited from having the opportunity to think about it as Nikki was answering that question. So, I will give the proverbial, I’m pretty blunt, but I would give the proverbial duck on this. I think it’s an incomplete. I think we’re still in the chorus and I think that chorus plays itself over the next semester. Nikki is rolling her eyes at me.
I’m rolling my eyes at this point in time. He’s a master communicator. He’s not going to grade his own clients.
So, my kids go to these you know, schools in San Francisco in the Bay area. They give the rubrics, you know, before you actually get your grade. So, our rubric would be, like you’re doing well here. You need to make more progress here. So, incomplete.
So, give me one thing that they’re doing well with and one thing that they need improvement on then.
I think what they’re doing well with is substantively engaging with, what I would call, sort of midlevel policy makers you know, on the hill, and the various agencies in genuine, thoughtful, substantive conversations as well as with some of the civil society entities you know, who are all part of the broader echo chamber. Where I think we need to do much better on is you know, ultimately the people who are going to be making the decisions here are those people whose names are on the ballot or who’s party is on the ballot in some form or fashion, and those folks knowing that this is an issue that will have a direct impact on whether they’re elected or reelected.
Okay. So, there’s another thing that I’ve been wondering about. There’s this whole plethora now of crypto lobbying in our Washington education groups, and this isn’t even a complete list, Coin Center, Blockchain Association, Cryptic Counsel for Innovation, HODL PAC, Chamber of Digital Commerce, DeFi Education Fund, Web Free Forward, GMI PAC, there’s others. Obviously, a16z you know, has it own kind of powerhouse of formal regulators. I’m sure Haun Ventures is kind of going the same route.
What’s your sense of whether or not it’s helpful or hurtful to have so many groups you know, there is two on the list where you know, one of them clearly was born out of the fact that some of the members were unhappy with what happened in that group. You know, the Blockchain association allowed Binance in, and then Coin Base ended up leaving and you know, launched the Crypto Counsel for Innovation. So, you know, what’s your sense of like whether or not having so many groups means that they end up working at cross purposes, or is it that they’re complimentary, or what’s your sense of that, and this might even relate to Nikki’s storytelling points. So, I’m throwing a lot out there, but what’s your opinion about all that?
So, well full disclosure, I just recently signed on with the Crypto Counsel for Innovation, which has a new executive director, Sheila Warren, and so, check me on my grade for storytelling with that group in a couple of months, but I think that this is, so, I’m just disclosing that because you had asked about some of the politics between the groups. I actually think this is, I hear a lot of the groups saying the same thing. So, when the EO came out, you could just look at the statements from the different leads, and they were all almost identical, which I don’t think is a bad thing necessarily.
I think from a policy perspective, a rising tide lifts all shifts, right, so if really there’s a lot of alignment. I know there’s proof of stake and proof of work, and people might have slight differences, but in general the industry is looking for a set of rules and regulations that are clear so that they can move forward with building their businesses, getting their investments done, helping move capitol in a way that doesn’t get you know, essentially written down by a regulation they didn’t expect.
So, I think from a policy perspective, everyone is trying to row in the same direction. I think that having a bunch of different spokespeople you know, in a perfect world you see, like the different industries, the MPAA, right, Hollywood, they have one association. Tech, which I’ve worked in for years and years, we used to really just have one, The Internet Association, which is now gone, and there are splintered groups with the industry in a circular firing squad.
So, I think that the number of groups is not really problematic as long as everyone, again, is rowing in the same direction even if they come at things at a slightly different angle. The bigger concern would be if they start aiming at each other in a way that is unhelpful overall to the industry, and I don’t really see, you see it a little bit, but when it comes to how they’re interacting with the agencies, I don’t see a ton of that. So, maybe that’s a little bit of a dodge, but I think you can be more effective if you have one giant trade association for an entire industry, but that’s just not how this is, and it’s not even how tech is anymore.
Yeah. Look, I come out of the democratic party, which you know, could generously or charitably be described as a mosaic on it’s best days, and you know, the beauty of the mosaic coming together, and I do think you know, if you think about Web3, and you do think it is what the future architecture of the internet is going to look like, and as we talked earlier, the economy, then it is by definition going to be a mosaic. I do think, and I agree with Nikki, that various entities today, I think a really great job in and around the EO you know, in speaking with a consistent forward-looking voice on that. I think that is a signal or a function of the space, and those who are engaged in policy and speaking on behalf of it, really becoming increasingly more sophisticated in terms of how they’re engaging and talking about these issues to all the work to be done, but I do think that was a pretty powerful sign of it, and I guess, to mix up my metaphors here, if you think of this as a symphony you know, there’s different instruments that can play different sounds and they all come together, and I do think that is probably consistent with the nature of this space.
What I have been struck by, and both of you have been, Nikki a little bit longer than me, Laura, you’ve been in it much longer, but what I am consistently struck by, whether talking with founders, whether the folks who are involved in policy on this, is that there’s generally a shared ethos in terms of excitement for something that is going to be less centralized, or something that is going to be trust based, and open, and transparent, and accessible. It allows for people to participate in their own economics in a fundamentally different way, and so, I do think that, that ethos just does course through all of this, and I do think that, that actually helps bring folks together.
Yeah. It’s not clear yet if they’ve gotten all the lawmakers onboard with that idea, but you know, speaking of, kind of, relationships with lawmakers, do you often see Tweets by crypto executives, or even sometimes former regulators who now work in crypto, lobbyists, and other people in the industry where they will Tweet things, and they’ll even tag somebody, especially people who are kind of anti-crypto such as Gary Gensler, or Senator Elizabeth Warren, and in those Tweets they will be calling them names, or mocking them, and then thousands of people will like and retweet these Tweets, and I could just imagine it leads you know, the notifications of you know, Gensler and Warren to fill up with these Tweets that basically make fun of them or are downright hostile to them. What do you think of that strategy?
First of all, I think some of this is somewhat just at the rules of how social media works and ultimately what your goal is as someone who’s on social media. If you’re trying to you know, generate as many likes as possible, go viral you know, there are certain ways you can do that, that may be really constructive for what you’re trying to build in terms of a following, but not necessarily always the most constructive thing in terms of the actual discourse, particularly when you think of you know, who some of those targets may be. In some ways, when you engage that way, it’s actually only helping them with their politics, right, anytime you go into negotiation or conversation, this is certainly the case with an elected official or someone whose a high level political appointee, like what is it that their trying to solve, who are their constituencies, who do they care about, and yes, you can preach to your own choir and your own base, but in some ways that actually may then be counter productive because it positions them with their audience in a way that just sort of reenforces everyone going to their separate corners.
I did a Tweet yesterday at the SEC and you know, I began it by saying, respectfully, and then you know, the thread was basically in response to the SEC had said that they wanted to ask four questions about crypto, and I thought those four questions basically presupposed the answers, and if you looked at the four questions they were asking, it was basically taking the three challenging elements of the executive order of the illicit transactions, the stability, consumer protection, but not the three positives that the President had put out, and so, I said you have to begin with asking the right questions and lets ask questions about what’s fundamentally wrong with our financial system right now, particularly the SEC you know, when it comes to access, when it comes to the underbanked, when it comes to transparency that deals with money laundering.
So, not to say that my Tweet is the end all and be all, it’s just I tried to make it as substantive as possible on issues that matter, particularly if you have a D next to your name, or if you’re in the democratic party, because I do think that there is an incredibly powerful progressive argument here that needs to be made, and I do think sometimes there’s a mindset in government where you always want to go back to old rules for a new thing, where that mindset really needs to be, especially if you’re a progressive, a progressive believes in government making progress for society. By definition that means you should not be defaulting to old things that have not worked to the extent that you believe our current financial system is not really serving the broader constituency, and so, I do think that you need to make substantive arguments that actually are filtered through the politics of who you’re communicating to, and position and frame it as such.
Nikki, what about you?
I’m glad you asked this question about crypto Twitter, and some of what we see, and I saw Chris’s Tweet that started respectfully, and I note it’s notable because I do think a lot of the language used towards regulators on crypto Twitter is disrespectful. Calling the chairman of the SEC a vampire, or Goldman Gary, or calling lawmakers luddites. That is not an approach that is business advancing. So, it depends on what your goal is, right?
If your goal is to get likes, and retweets, and attention, that might work. I’m not a social media expert, but if your goal is to influence policy in Washington DC and Brussels, that language is counterproductive. Good manners cost you nothing. Being disrespectful could cost you something and I think it’s a really bad business decision.
Now, I also have, I was going to say something vulgar, but instead I’ll say echo chamber for how I would describe crypto Twitter, and I have this hunch that everyone is talking to themselves about the same thing, and I actually met an advisor to this company, it’s an AI powered data visualization company called Graphika, and I said I have a hunch that crypto Twitter, which is this echo chamber, is not actually overlapping with DC influencer Twitter. Can you just, like pull the data really fast, and they did pull it for me, and in fact that is the case. So, whether or not Senator Warren’s social media staffer get’s a lot of notifications is neither here nor there if the Tweets that are going out by these really important actors, CEO’s, investors, venture funds on Twitter aren’t being seen in an effective way by the right people. So, there’s a disconnect you know, only ten percent of Americans are even on Twitter. Now, a lot of reporters are on Twitter, but again, you sort of, it’s one, I think the tone that I see is not business advancing. It’s not being full adult, and it can play into some negative stereotypes about the industry, and it’s also not even, the messages aren’t even landing with the right audience, and the data shows that. So, I’m going to do a little more work on pulling that, and I’d like to think about it a little more, but that was my hunch, and it does show up that there’s almost no overlap between the people talking and who they wanted to tell a story to.
Okay. I hope that you put the results in a Twitter thread at some point.
I’m going to put it in a Twitter thread and I’m going to say respectfully, crypto Twitter, but I am planning to do it because I had that hunch and then I’m getting some data to confirm it, because again, whatever you’re saying needs to be the right message aimed at the right people, and I don’t see that on Twitter right now.
Yeah. If I could just extend that a little bit, at least share my additional thought on this, which is 100 percent right. You’re speaking to the choir. You’re speaking to the you know, a fairly discrete circle often times on Twitter, just by the very definition of how it works, but let me give, what I would think of, as maybe a really practical thing to think about, which is you can spend an enormous amount of time on Twitter, and it may have some impact, it may not. All the things that Nikki said is 100 percent right. I’ll tell you the one thing that you could potentially do, and hopefully this does not sound presumptuous, but if you wanted to impact the politics on this, which is, and Nikki will know this, and Nikki should jump in if she has a different view, but every August members of Congress have a couple weeks off, and they will spend that entire time doing Townhalls.
Those Townhalls are particularly important in an election year, which this is. Particularly important in an election year where there’s five or seven states that will determine the Senate and where there’s roughly 20, maybe 40 House districts that will determine who controls the House, and no matter, every single member, even if they’re in a safe district, for the most part, goes back and does these Townhalls, and in addition to Tweeting out, if you actually showed up at one of the Townhalls and just asked the question about where member A, B, or C stands on crypto and Web3, five or ten people showing up at each of those Townhalls will in and of itself dramatically shift the politics on this, because every member will then come back from their August recess, they all talk amongst themselves, and they will have seen that there are people who are literally voting with their feet you know, a version of the African proverb, to show up at these Townhalls and express themselves, and because there is a real movement, that should be something that folks can do and would have a huge impact. So, I do hope that folks think about that because I do think that, that is a way to demonstrate that there are people who really care about this in a way that is actually meaningful to those elected officials.
I think Chris, talking tactics, is really smart, and this is, I don’t want to seem like, overly that I’ve been observing Chris’s career from afar for a while, but when you joined Airbnb, so again, I’m in DC, almost overnight if I stepped foot near the Capitol complex I would get a targeted ad featuring a host, an Airbnb host who lived in southeast DC or Anacostia explaining how, and home sharing in DC especially, this was a market that was really hostile and remains somewhat hostile to Airbnb, you’d get an ad of someone saying, I’m making money by renting out an extra bedroom or a basement apartment. So, it was the right messengers, the right message, and it was so strategic. I mean, you could see it was geofenced, like you’d walk in step, you’d get the ad.
So, it was a really effective campaign, Chris, and I remember observing it and being like, damn, this is good. This is really good. And I think at Uber, when I was at Uber we did things, which I would also encourage these companies to think about. If you don’t want to go to a Townhall in person, which a lot of people who are active in crypto are very online, we would encourage, we would just put into the App their legislators phone number. Reach out to your member of Congress and just get that sort of grass roots movement contacting them directly.
So, instead of spending time on Twitter, I think you can think tactically, to Chris’s point about activating the politics behind it, and if you are going to speak directly to electives using online tools, take a page out of the Airbnb playbook, which was really effective.
All right. So, this has been so fascinating. We are going to talk, in a little bit, about the number of pro crypto regulators who have moved into the industry, but first a quick word from the sponsors who make this show possible.
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Back to my conversation with Nikki and Chris. There’s been somewhat of a mass exodus, I would say, of pro crypto regulators who have gone to industry. We’ve seen former SEC Chairman Jack Clayton, acting Chief of Staff Nick Mulvaney, and Trump OCC Chief Brian Brooks, Trump CFTC chair Christopher John Carlo, former CFTC Commissioner Brian Quintenz, Obama’s Ambassador to China and former Senator, Max Baucus. There’s so many, and what’s your sense of whether or not this just kind of leaves behind all the anti-crypto regulators or in general, like what is the relationship that regulators tend to have with their former colleagues who have gone to industry, can those people be effective once they are on the outside?
I don’t know that I would describe the people in the buildings in Washington Treasury SEC, when you’re thinking of the staff as anti-crypto. I actually think that there’s a lot of benefit in having financial regulations in general, set aside crypto, financial in general are incredibly complicated, other than health care and transportation, it’s the most regulated industry we have. So, having people who really understand how the staff works, what they need to see, what the rules are, this is a jurisdictional grey area, which is going to take some expertise. I don’t think there’s a downside. I think it’s fine for people to have been public servants and then go into the private sector and take that expertise and help get the strategy right, but I think you’re right, that some of these funds are stacked like cordwood with former regulators, but I think there’s plenty of people left in the buildings, and it will actually help connect the tissue between the funds, especially who have people, and people at these companies, and whose left in the building, but there are plenty of staff who are still left who are going to need to learn and get up to speed, and they’ll be able to speak the same language.
So, obviously, as we mentioned before, this is an election year and we are seeing a number of congressional candidates that are taking up pro crypto stances, and they’re generating new donations for themselves as a result, but watching this, I do remember that in the 2018 midterms the left was kind of jazzed up about trying to counter President Trump, and they kind of donated to a lot of candidates, but then the people in those districts didn’t actually vote for them, and so, it was sort of this conception of like outsiders trying to influence these elections. So, I wondered you know, in this case where we are seeing crypto people trying to support these different congressional candidates, does that just backfire because it makes it feel like outsiders are trying to have this undue influence in the local district, or do you feel that every dollar, or bitcoin, or whatever matters no matter where it comes from?
Nikki, you want to jump in, and I’ll go after you? This may be the place where you and I may diverge a little bit, but this will be an interesting conversation, part of the conversation.
I have a feeling we may diverge, and by the way, Chris is the only one of us who has worked for someone who has actually got elected president. So, I’ve seen, obviously there’s a lot of people who are bitcoiners running for, not just, that’s sort of a pull for a few of the candidates, but crypto enthusiasts running for office, and you are now starting to see packs stood up to give to these candidates, but we know 90 percent of incumbents are reelected. So, I would think very carefully before I would write a check to someone challenging an incumbent. I think it might be a better use of money to write a check to an incumbent and get your message and get your moment in front of that person to make your case because we just know, that’s just the way politics is. The incumbents almost always win, and if you endorse an opponent, you’re going to potentially create an enemy. So, in general, try to give to the incumbent if you can unless it’s a race that’s up for grabs.
I think that Chris made a really good point about, if there are people who are one issue voters, getting that message out, and money is necessary in politics. So, again, like I think it’s fine to give money. I think it’s a really good way to make sure your message gets out there, make sure that people are hearing it, but I would be really thoughtful about endorsing so called crypto enthusiasts over someone who is likely going to retain their seat.
Yeah. I think actually we’re probably pretty close on this, which maybe says something pretty powerful. The building block elements of campaigns, politics, message, money masses, right, those are sort of the three elements to think about really in simplistic ways, but I think for those in Web3 and in crypto you know, I said earlier that the clay is still soft here. Some have described it as a pre-partisan environment, and you know, that’s eventually going to evolve, and I do think there is a window here to evolve from pre-partisan to actually bipartisan, which would make this one of the few issues in the entire country that could actually be bipartisan, and that is, to me, the opportunity that is in front of all of us right now, and so, I would totally agree with Nikki’s point, which is I would look at races that I was going to engage in that would either fall into a couple different categories, you know, are there primaries. So, it’s a D on D or an R on R, or maybe one candidate is perceived as really being pro crypto and maybe the other isn’t. I frankly don’t think there’s going to be that many of those types of races, but to the extent that there are, great if you want to get involved with those.
I think you know, it’s better to spend you know, time and effort on demonstrating to those folks who are going to be running this year that there are voters out there who really do matter. That means showing up at these Townhalls. That means raising money, particularly for incumbents. I forget what the last fad is, but you know, well over 90, I think 95 percent of incumbents get reelected, and thinking about who those incumbents are going to be that are going to be in, and this gets down to sort of tactical brass tacks, but this matters, who is in leadership, who is chairing which particular committees, who is sitting on which particular subcommittees, and really beginning to think about that in a fairly sophisticated way in terms of who you are supporting and how you’re thinking about it.
There are three open seats that are going to very likely go republican you know, Missouri, Missouri maybe because of some of the primary politics, but likely Wyoming, Oklahoma. Those are three interesting areas to think about because there’s going to, almost by definition, be a winner from one party and an opportunity to get in there early, and then really using the message piece of this, which is to really talk about why crypto does have a real impact on issues that those running for office should care about, but as Nikki has talked earlier, to do it in a way that actually an every day person could be able to understand, right, this is an opportunity to actually participate as an owner in our economy, for your labor to actually get rewarded in a more fair way. I mean, that’s an argument that works. I’m more familiar with the left but works on the left. A more transparent, a more accessible system. You shouldn’t have to be paying enormous fees to even get access to the financial system, but actually communicating why this should matter, again I’m talking form the left from a democratic perspective right now, but why that should matter for someone who is running.
Then I think there’s going to be a couple races where there’s some interesting folks who are running that would potentially worth thinking about. You know, you have the Pennsylvania senate primary where you have you know, someone who is very progressive, who has you know, really begun to sort of look at crypto in an interesting way, the Lieutenant Governor you know, a former big Bernie Sanders supporter, John Federman, you’re getting to see… excuse me?
I forgot his name.
Fetterman. John Fetterman. Right. But you’re beginning to see… I will share one story. I’m not going to say who it is, because I don’t want to violate any privileged conversations, but I was talking with someone who was running statewide, the democratic side. They were sort of neutral, didn’t really completely process what this represented. I shared with him that one in ten voters are crypto. I also shared with him that six and ten crypto holders voted for Joe Biden, and that it over indexes on people of color, particularly Latino and black voters. I said put in on your next poll. This candidate put it on his next poll, it popped for all the obvious reasons, and again, without revealing too much, I mean this is a candidate who has now really begun to talk comfortably and is embracing that social value proposition for Web3 because that person has now recognized that this actually is a winning political argument. I actually think that if we can do that, some version of those Townhalls in August, and get candidates to start putting this on their polls, once they start to put this on their polls, the raw numbers are going to break through, and these are voters who do really care about this, and once that starts to get on their polls, that then translates into the politics here.
Yeah. Actually, I’m glad that you brought up this issue, kind of especially in the light of democratic politics, because I was surprised to read the following in this recent Washington Post article. In the 2020 elections, crypto workers gave more than 730,000 dollars in direct contributions to democratic candidates and party committees. Nearly nine times what they donated to republicans according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics. So, this was fascinating to me because I’m sure you’re well aware that there’s this perception that the crypto industry is more closely aligned with republicans. So, do you have a sense of like why there is this disconnect or is it that there isn’t a disconnect and democrats just receive more crypto donations because it was perceived that kind of Trump was losing power, and you know, it was like a more cynical kind of donations where they were like, oh, the democrats are rising in power, we should donate to them?
Yeah. I’ll jump in, and then Nikki, you should certainly share, obviously, your perspective. I think, obviously, there’s always that cynical element, right, and it’s probably less cynical and more just the cloak of reality of who is in power and who’s in these leadership positions, but I do think it goes deeper than that. I do think that you know, and I said 60 percent of crypto holders are Biden voters. So, I think etiologically and philosophically I think it’s fairly well distributed, and so, it should not be that surprising that people who began as democrats are giving as democrats.
I also think there’s a third thing going on here, which is there is a generation of democrats, and there’s a little bit of a generational divide in the same way there is just a generational divide on Web3, but you know, you see a Cory Booker and Ritchie Torres, Ritchie Torres, Congressman from New York. His district is adjacent to AOC’s district. Senator Booker, you know, really a great senator from New Jersey, but both of them are forward looking folks, but also both folks who really care about progressive arguments when it comes to economic participation for communities that typically not been able to be full participants in the US economy.
They have come to it through those issues, and not surprisingly, both of these guys are incredible retail politicians. Torres is in diners, and walking through his neighborhood you know, every weekend. Cory lives in these neighborhoods and spends time talking to people who talk about this, right, they actually have a real sense of it you know, both Nikki and I have been in politics, I think one of the, you know, in tech they always talk about signals, right, AD test signals. The signals for, at least on the democratic side in politics are where the mayors are, right, because mayors tend to really be that first sort of early radar sign of issues.
Is this a single-issue voter, is that what that means?
Well, no. By signals I mean just like a political sign. Like advanced radar, like you’re getting pings. Signals. I’m sorry. I was mixing the different definitions, but those mayors are picking up the power of this issue for their constituents. There’s a reason that Eric Adams, in New York, or Francis Suarez in Miami, mayor of Reno, I mean, urban mayors, mayors from smaller towns, they’re all picking this up because they actually have a direct connection to their constituents and to their voters, and so, I think there are reasons why you have seen that type of distribution of the contributions, and it’s not just purely because the democrats are currently in power. It is because their voters actually do care about this, and those signs and signals are being picked up by those elected officials, particularly the ones who are really talented.
Yeah. I have to say I’m a fan of Cory Booker because I have known him since I was 16 and he was my RA, and even back then, like you could tell he was very special, and I continue to…
My wife, who will kick me now, but you know, she and Cory were in Stanford together and friendly at Stanford. So, you guys may have all overlapped, and I went to Amherst College with his twin brother Cary, who is really talented. So, this is a Booker love-in right now, but, when you first met him, like everyone, like you immediately knew, like he had that sort of intangible quality.
Yeah. Yeah. No. It’s fascinating because of course now he’s such a superstar, but even back then, when I was 16, we all knew there was something special and different about him.
Yeah, but like any really smart, talented politician, has the ability to, like most politicians follow where the voters are you know, good politicians get a sense of where the voters are going and sort of get there about the same time, and really, really talented politicians get a sense of where those voters want to go and help lead them to that place, and I think he and Torres, by the way, Ritchie Torres is incredibly talented as well. Both have, I think, that quality, and I think you’re seeing that, and the reason why they have emerged as leaders on this.
So, Nikki, did you want to talk about whether or not there is this disconnect between this reality of kind of where crypto voters are politically versus the perception, or?
I would connect this to messaging, right, and storytelling instead of just necessarily the raw politics, and by the way, I know the mayors are for it, but it’s also sexy, like it might be that their constituents are interested, and their notifications just flow up. It’s sexy. I’m waiting for Saturday Night Live to incorporate Bitcoin into Mayor Adams’s next swagger sketch because I do think it adds some, and not in a bad way. I mean, it is, it’s a cutting-edge issue. Showing familiarity with it is a smart political move, it’s astute, but the three categories of voters I think are really important have to do with messaging, and where I think there’s an opportunity.
One, which Chris mentioned these groups, but one is Latino voters, right? So, if you have a Bitcoin community from El Salvador, people who are working here, have paid taxes on their money and are sending it overseas to family and to relatives, they’re paying a huge fee for that. That’s a great use case for crypto. I think that’s one story that should be told and those are voters, Hispanic voters really, really matter to democrats.
Independent voters. So, Chris mentioned Joe Biden voters being democrats. I’m a Joe Biden voter. I’m not a democrat. So, I think you get independents who have sort of a centrist, light touch, regulatory framework who are also really interested in having potentially some competition in the currencies that we can use. In my Cash App I can choose dollars, I can choose Bitcoin, and that appeals to me as someone who has a little bit of a libertarian streak and an independence.
Then I think the third are people who feel that, and because it is, that the financial system is rigged. So, I’ve had to pay bail money for a relative. I’m not proud of that, but you’re paying a huge fee to Western Union. They’re not taking credit cards, and so, if you’ve ever had to deal with bail bondsmen, with overdraft fees, with all of the ways that the system is rigged in a way that is more punitive to the people who can least afford to pay extra fees, that’s another really good use case for this situation that also appeals to voters that democrats don’t want to lose.
So, I think if you start to tell real stories, rather than theoretical stories, and you tie them to voting groups within the districts where people are running, that’s a really effective, in my opinion, way to approach this midterm election, and Chris made a great point, we’re in the thick of it. We have four, five months, and this is the moment to land that just right, because it is going to determine who is on committees and how they talk about this going forward.
Yeah. I’d like to tack on two things. You just prompted me with your smart comments. The first, I think all the use cases Nikki described is right. I think it’s really important that those founders, and platforms, and protocols are out there, that are doing some of this type of work, that they really demonstrate it in concrete ways so that we evolve from being aspirational to people seeing the actual utility. I do think amongst the things that’s happened in the last two months, and I actually believe, have reason to believe had a significant impact on the executive order was people seeing the utility of crypto in Ukraine. You know, the fact that 100 plus million dollars was, crypto dollars got into Ukraine almost instantaneously, more than the US AID was able to get in there in that same time period. The fact that Ukraine had a framework that they could actually use to supply it, and then actually buy hardware and needed stuff in the moment. The fact that a company like Arweave created a way to be able to document in an immutable way you know, potential war crimes. All of those things happened, and people saw the utility of that.
So, everything that Nikki described is 100 percent right in how we think about elevating those founders and protocols, platforms that are actually doing this type of work, so people really see it, and even getting really smart and putting that into some of the districts and states on members who are going to really matter. Ohio and West Virginia are important states you know, when you start to think about who’s going to be making what decisions you know, off of the Hill.
And the last thing I will just say, if you’re an elected official or wanting to run for office, most elected officials, particularly at the federal level, are coming from districts where the races are, frankly, won and lost in the primary. What’s really interesting about crypto is, it applies to both those folks running in primaries, because they are one-issue voters, and it does evenly distribute, more or less, across political lines, but because they’re also one-issue voters in this much smaller subset of races that are genuinely really sort of competitive general election races, whether in the Senate or those House seats. These also end up being actual swing voters, because they’re going to vote on this issue, and it’s ten percent of the electrics, and so, just like the raw tax, the raw politics of this, it matters in the primary and it also matters in the general, and that’s pretty unique for a subject for a policy issue, which then goes to part of the you know, the political power that really exists here.
So, many people on the left have been confounded by Elizabeth Warren’s anti crypto stance since it’s perceived that the Web3 ethos would be aligned with her kind of anti-big tech, anti-big bank platform. If you were to have a meeting with Elizabeth Warren today, on crypto, how would you approach that discussion to try to persuade her of its merits?
Do you want me to take that, Nikki?
So, I have not had a conversation with her about this. I’ve been in rooms with her before and I’ve had conversations on other policy issues, and I would you know, begin with the predicate that she herself has identified. I don’t think there has been, and to her credit, a more eloquent voice, and a more powerful voice against legacy gate keepers and even some of the new gate keepers that exists who have created and contributed to a system where ten percent of the country holds 80 something plus percent of the value of Wall Street. There are structural issues that have allowed that and will perpetuate that. She has talked about it. It is sort of the center of… it’s why she ran for office in the first place, and has been the center of her political philosophy, and what she’s all about. Her organizing principal.
Yeah. So, I know you haven’t talked with her about this, but do you have a sense of like why she…?
Let me… here’s how I would tend to put the conversation, and I’ll address why I think that exists, obviously I don’t know. I think really trying to have a dispassionate but logical conversation about the fact that you know, what Web3 represents is the ability to use technology to fundamentally disrupt for humans and not at the expense of humans by actually allowing you to circumvent those historical structural blockers that exist. There has not been a meaningful recalibration, again, I’m talking from a left perspective, from an Elizabeth Warren perspective you know, there has not been a meaningful recalibration of the relationship between capitol, labor, government, and society, really since the New Deal, and the New Deal was developed for an industrial age. We’re in a digital age, and how do you recalibrate that to get the type of results that she wants? It is not going to be applying these old rules to this new thing.
This is the biggest opportunity that has come along to fundamentally restructure that relationship, to provide, and put in place, and facilitate a more fair, a more open, a more just, a more equitable society, and I think walking her through that in a way that could be dispassionate, and logic based, and fact based as possible. She is someone that does care about those issues.
Now, the why I think that, first of all, I think there is just generational aspects to this. I went through this with Airbnb. I’d walk into these congressional offices, and I’d have this conversation and people would say that’s really weird. Why would anyone ever want to rent you know, their house out, and then I would do two things. I would point out that probably at some point in their life they had rented out a beach house or a lake house, it wasn’t any different, and then they’d sort of think about that, and then I would say let’s ask your staff, right, and virtually every staff member raised their hand as being active users, and I would say go ask your kids, and it would inevitably be that their kids were active users. I think there’s a dynamic of that generational aspect that applies here. I would strongly suspect that there are people who are younger generation who are Warren supporters who probably have a view that’s very similar to the view that I’m expressing and espousing about the power here, and I also just think that sort of the way the politics are sort of being played here a little bit, and frankly, some of the… and we talked about this at the very beginning, and Nikki, I think, was great on this, some of the attacks that have come in have sort of pushed her you know, further and further to really dig in here.
There was a hearing, I think it was two weeks ago, where you had, I think the CEO of Chain Analysis who was being asked a question about whether there was any evidence of money laundering and crypto being used, and you know, he tried to answer the question. Ultimately gave a really powerful answer, and to his credit, remained amazingly calm as he was consistently interrupted by her you know, and she is someone you know, in the past, who has always approached things with an intellectual rigor and intellectual honesty, and I do hope that we can get back to that place. His answer was really compelling. No. There isn’t any information. It’s a public blockchain. We actually can use this to actually build a much better system than the one that currently exists where there’s enormous amounts you know, five to ten percent of the global GDP you know, suffering from money laundering, and that’s in fiat, not in crypto.
So, hopefully she gets to a place, but I do think part of this is going to be ultimately stakeholders, and constituent entities that are relevant to her politically, that she trusts you know, beginning to have some of those conversations. I think that may begin with some of her colleagues, that younger generation engaging on these issues and building conversations that way. I don’t think attacking her is going to necessarily contribute to that movement, and it also just may be the case, and this happens in politics, that you have you know, the democrats end up sort of being somewhat bifurcated by generation on this, and I think republicans tend to come to this a little bit easier, again, Nikki can speak to that better than I can, but even getting the democrats, with some onboard, some not, some somewhere in between you know, that’s progress on this issue because our politics, we do live in a liberal democracy, and it is based on participation, and is based on different views.
So, Nikki, if you’re going to meet with Senator Warren this afternoon, how would you approach the discussion?
So, if I were going to meet with Senator Warren this afternoon, I would probably bring to her a statistic that I find appalling, which is that not just a majority of women in this country, but a vast majority of women in this country have absolutely no investments. None. Retirement accounts, other investments, this is something else. You know, I should start posting to Twitter. Maybe I’ll start posting my analysis. I had a friend crunch the numbers.
Your second thread. You have two threads now that we know of after this conversation.
But what I’m finding, and what I think would be a compelling argument potentially for Senator Warren is the idea that there is a risk aversion among women, but also there’s lack of access to institutional investing through different retirement accounts and otherwise. So, most women in America have absolutely no investment, and if cryptocurrency offers a gateway into something that can earn some sort of return, why wouldn’t you be in favor of that, and there’s a paternalism that I hear, at times, coming out of Senator Warren’s office, and from her testimony, and her comments around people shouldn’t be subjected to scams and losing money, but instead I think really thinking of this as an opportunity to get people who are not in the investing world, who are not in the capitol markets, who are not able to join a pre IPO tech company, who are not able to, they’re not an accredited investor with the amount of wealth you need. This is an opportunity for them to start to touch one of our greatest natural resources in the United States, right, which is dough, and so, if they can start making money, there are disadvantaged groups and groups that are not included, and women is a really strong use case for this, that this might just be a small entry point into partaking in that wealth building, and I think that’s a really compelling, I’m not from the left so I’m probably, maybe that wouldn’t be compelling to her, but I think that there’s something to be done on looking at who is left out completely of the investment opportunities in the United States and how this can be one easy, accessible way for them to put a toe in that water and earn a little bit of money.
All right. So, we’ve covered a whole range of topics, but obviously, as we’ve been discussing you know, this is a midterm election year. We do have this new executive order. The government is going to be coming up with its coherent strategy for crypto. What are you going to be looking out for in the next, like let’s say a year or so, in terms of developments, like what are things that you’re watching, and you know, things that you’re kind of hoping for in terms of crypto lobbying and crypto policy changes?
Well, I think, I mean again, all the action is going to be in the agencies, and you’ve got Chairmen Gensler, I think has an eye towards treasury. I think he’s auditioning a little bit for treasury secretary. This is just a prediction. I suspect that he’ll, when Secretary Yellen leaves or retires, which there are rumors that, that’s going to happen imminently, that would be a position he’d be interested in. So, I think we’re going to look at the agencies. I think absolutely we’re going to be looking at some kind of digital dollar. We’ve seen, as Chris said, the White House is leading in a really positive way on this issue. So, I think we’ve got a little bit of breathing room to try to lay the framework in a positive way for the industry, and the midterms matter because that’s going to determine who is on the committee and who’s in the game, but we have a little breathing room on the substance itself, I think, and then what I’m personally going to be looking at is the way we talk about things.
So, I’ll use one very specific example, but we’ve got to be better with the language. Chris said trust based, which I love, because that makes sense to a layperson, but the industry, crypto talks about trustless, and they mean that in a positive way, but no one thinks of that as positive. Trustless does not seem positive. So, I’m going to really be doing a lot of work in trying to laymanize things, make it accessible. There are no dumb questions. If people have fears around this, we need to address them, not avoid them, and so, personally I’m going to be trying to work on the storytelling with these groups, and I think we’ve got a little bit of time on some of the regulations except for things that might come out quickly of the agencies, which as you mentioned, Laura, a lot of former regulators are now on the industry side helping track that closely.
I’ll jump in. As we talked about, I think, extensively here you know, playing to win on the politics, but playing to win in a sophisticated way so that we make this, translate this from pre-partisan to bipartisan, and I just can’t understate, overstate, understate, reenforce, whatever the phrase is, enough how important the next four months are going to be on that. I mean, I fundamentally believe Web3 succeeds, period, full stop. People want a less centralized internet. That architecture always is going to evolve. I think how fast that happens will be impacted to a significant degree as it relates to our success and being able to make this a bipartisan issue.
Obviously, some of the legislation, regulatory activity could be very much impacted one way or the other depending what the results are from the midterms and how crypto controls play out you know, it’s not inconceivable to me that you could begin to see some version of what happened with the Telecom Act, which is both parties sort of see it as sort of in their political interests to actually, this is me being optimistic by the way, but it’s always important to be optimistic, seeing this is actually in the country’s interests and their stakeholder voters interest to actually really embrace this.
There may be a desire from both parties to actually find something like that for their own political reasons on the other side of the midterms, again, that may be optimistic given the realities of current politics, and then I think Nikki is so right on you know, the importance of us starting to use language that everyday people can understand. I totally get and understand where the language originally comes from, but like privacy is better than zero knowledge, right, blockchain itself is obviously the technical word for it, but its block and chain, like those are not necessarily words that people, everyday people associate with positive things. Crypto, right, not necessarily you know, many people don’t understand what that means, and then you know, it’s not necessarily a positive, again, I’m saying this with respect to all the folks out there who are in this and listening. That’s not a criticism, it’s just a reality of you know, if we want to… part of the success for crypto and Web3 will be how quickly we can mainstream this, because it does have this incredible value proposition for people, and so, let’s help them mainstream it by explaining and communicating it in ways that actually matter to them.
Again, not to keep referencing my own personal experiences, but when I joined Airbnb in 2015, right, people thought it was a weird thing. We actually spent an enormous amount of time, both explaining what the value proposition is, who made most of the money, but also why this was a really cool experience if you were a guest you know, today it’s the largest, depending on how you want to look at it, the largest travel company in the world and Airbnb is a noun and a verb that everyone knows around the world. This is going to move really fast, but the pace of success, and ultimate, the success of it is going to be dictated in no small part by our ability to actually communicate it in ways that people understand.
So, let’s just keep giving that thought. I totally get that there’s a little bit of a club-like atmosphere to this. It’s a cool thing to have you know, all the language, and you know, I have two teenage boys. So, I see elements of that in my daily existence when they have entire conversations in the car that I’m not supposed to understand, but we do want to mainstream this. We do want to win in the politics. We do want this to impact everyday people. That’s why we’re all in this. So, let’s talk about it in ways that matter to people.
All right. Well, this has been such a fascinating discussion. Thank you both, so much, for coming on the show. There were so many other topics that we did not have time for. So, I will definitely be covering them in future episodes. Would love to have you back. Where can people learn more about each of you and your work?
So, actually I’m at, you can find me on Twitter. Nikki Christoff and there’s a link in that to my website, my consulting work, some of the speaking that I do, my background. I’m not that active on Twitter, but it is the place to find it, and I’ve been encouraged to be more active based on this conversation.
I’m looking forward to what we all can do this next conversation, and we can react and respond to the two threads that Nikki has now committed to on this podcast. You can find me at Twitter at Chris Lehane, and also I am, as we talked about at the very beginning, at Haun Ventures, and we do have a website out there, and we’re on Mirror for those, as we’re trying to be very OG to the space, but yeah, I’m out there on Twitter and happy to connect, and appreciate everyone who is listening to this, and Laura, thank you for, it was a really fun conversation, and I definitely feel like I left smarter then when I came on. So, thanks for having me.
Yeah. Thank you, so much, Laura.
Perfect. Well, thank you both, so much, for coming on Unchained, and thanks to everyone for joining us today. To learn more about Nikki, Chris, and Christoff and Co. and Haun Ventures, check out our show list for this episode.