We ask the builders in the blockchain and cryptocurrency sector what they think about the industry … and we throw in some random zingers to keep them on their toes!
This week, our 6 questions go to Wes Levitt, head of strategy at Theta Labs.
At Theta Labs, Wes works on business strategy, marketing and press relations, and analysis. He has been a speaker on blockchain topics at the New York Media Festival, Blockchain Connect and NAB Streaming Summit, among others. Prior to joining Theta Labs, Wes spent eight years in investment roles at Mosser Capital, a private equity real estate firm; and Redwood Trust, a mortgage real estate investment fund focusing on securitized debt. Wes is a CFA charterholder with a BS in economics from the University of Oregon and an MBA from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley.
1 – If the world gets a new currency, will it be run by central bank digital currency, an unlicensed blockchain like Bitcoin or an authorized chain like Diem?
If it’s just one I’d say CBDCs are more likely as governments are unlikely to give up the power to issue their own currency. But Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can co-exist with CBDCs and serve a different purpose. Even if Bitcoin never replaces major fiat currencies (or their CBDC successors), it is immensely valuable in providing an alternative to them. The very existence of Bitcoin, with its fixed supply and pseudonymous transactions, should force central banks to think twice about taking away their currency values or enforcing widespread consumer surveillance.
It is true that we are not yet seeing that with rampant money creation in the US dollar, euro, Japanese yen, etc. In the past year – but that is partly a function of Bitcoin and other crypto markets being just too small to be workable. to be. alternative not yet. But that is rapidly changing – you can see companies like MicroStrategy, Tesla and Meitu adding Bitcoin to their corporate coffers, which keeps getting better as Bitcoin’s market cap increases. Ultimately, Bitcoin should become large enough to invest even on the scale of central banks, as an alternative or supplement to their gold reserves.
2 – Does it matter if we ever find out who Satoshi really is or was? Why or why not?
I think it matters, but it’s best for Bitcoin if we never find out who Satoshi is / was. A real person will have a backstory, profession, country of origin, etc., which could only lead to division and bias in the crypto community. Better that Satoshi remains more of a legendary figure that people can interpret as they please. I think Satoshi realized this himself, so he chose to remain anonymous.
3 – What is the dumbest conspiracy theory out there … and which one makes you pause for a moment?
For the craziest, I’m going for a tie between QAnon and “Bill Gates puts tracking chips in the COVID vaccines.” Both are so stupid that they have become useful as signalers. If someone believes in any of those things, I can safely ignore everything they say and save myself the time.
The only conspiracy theory I believe 100% is that David Stern has regularly rigged the number one pick in the NBA concept. Ewing to the Knicks in ’85, New Orleans gets Anthony Davis after Stern trades Chris Paul, Lebron and Rose go to their hometown teams, the Cavs get three number one picks in four years after Lebron leaves … have happened by accident!
4 – Unlike now, at what time and in what country would you like to have lived?
I would have loved England in the mid-1970s, mainly because of the music. You had the punk scene on the rise with the Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Damned, among many others. Iron Maiden and Motorhead have just started, along with the entire NWOBHM [new wave of British heavy metal] scene. And if you stick around until the late ’70s / early’ 80s, you have XTC and Depeche Mode and the police around the corner. One of the best five years of music you can find for one country.
5 – Have you ever bought a non-tangible token? What was it? And if not, what do you think your first will be?
My very first NFT ever was bought for just the price of some ETH for gas – I made it myself with Enjin in 2018. This limited edition ‘Wes-branded’ sword didn’t make it into crypto games unfortunately, but was clearly a really cool concept, even if it was still a few years before the mainstream use of NFTs. The entertainment space is currently getting most of the attention for NFTs, but the idea of bringing legendary items between RPGs is still the use case that resonates with me the most. I’m not much of an art collector myself, but I could absolutely see myself positing for rare items that are interoperable between games – now I can justify that this NFT purchase is an investment I could use for many different games in the future .
6 – What’s the most unlikely thing on your bucket list?
I would like to live long enough to see humanity establish settlements on the Moon or Mars or other potentially habitable moons such as Europe, and to travel there myself once that becomes feasible on a commercial level (i.e. without having to undergo astronaut training This still feels like too far away for my life – we are 52 years after the moon landing and hardly closer to permanent settlement. But the pace of technological discoveries is always increasing, so I hope it will be in my plans for 2050 or so!
Stay positive and keep building! Crypto goes through breakneck cycles of euphoria and despair – you have to step back and sometimes look at the big picture to keep your head straight in this wild space.