We ask buidlers in the blockchain and cryptocurrency sectors for their thoughts on the industry … and we throw in a few random zingers to keep them busy!
This week our 6 questions are going to Wes Levitt, Head of Strategy at Theta Labs.
At Theta Labs, Wes works in corporate strategy, marketing and public relations, and analytics. He has been a speaker on blockchain topics at conferences such as the New York Media Festival, Blockchain Connect, and the NAB Streaming Summit. Prior to joining Theta Labs, Wes spent eight years in investment roles at Mosser Capital, a real estate private equity firm. and Redwood Trust, a mortgage real estate investment trust focused on securitized debt. Wes is a CFA charterholder and holds a BS in Economics from the University of Oregon and an MBA from the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley.
1 – When the world gets a new currency, will it be led by digital currencies from the central bank, a permissionless 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 currencies. However, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can exist alongside CBDCs and serve a different purpose. While Bitcoin will never replace the major fiat currencies (or their CBDC successors), it is extremely 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 increasing their currency values or enforcing extensive consumer surveillance.
It is true that we haven’t seen the rampant creation of money in US dollars, euros, Japanese yen, etc. last year – but that’s in part a function of Bitcoin and other crypto markets that are just too small to work his alternative still. That is changing fast, however: you see companies like MicroStrategy, Tesla, and Meitu adding Bitcoin to their corporate coffers, which is becoming increasingly practical as Bitcoin’s market capitalization increases. Ultimately, Bitcoin should become large enough to be investable at the level of the central banks as an alternative or supplement to their gold holdings.
2 – Does it matter if we ever find out who Satoshi really is or was? Why or why not?
I think it’s important, but that for Bitcoin it’s best if we never find out who Satoshi is / was. A real person has a backstory, occupation, country of origin, etc., which can only create division and bias in the crypto community. It is better that Satoshi remains more of a legendary character that people can interpret at will. I think Satoshi himself realized this and that’s why he decided to remain anonymous.
3 – What’s the stupidest conspiracy theory out there … and which one makes you pause for a moment?
The silliest thing I will deal with is QAnon and “Bill Gates who puts tracking chips in the COVID vaccines”. Both are so stupid that they become useful as signaling devices. If someone believes in any of these things, I can ignore everything they say and save my time.
The only conspiracy theory I believe 100% is that David Stern routinely rigged number one in the NBA draft. After the Knicks in 1985, New Orleans got Anthony Davis after star Chris Paul swapped away, Lebron and Rose went to their hometown teams. The Cavs got three number 1 picks in four years after Lebron left … far too many examples to have them happened by accident!
4 – In what time and in which country would you have liked to have lived apart from today?
I would have enjoyed England in the mid 1970s, mostly for the music. You had the punk scene with the Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Damned and many others. Iron Maiden and Motorhead are just getting started with the entire NWOBHM [new wave of British heavy metal] Scene. If you stay through the late ’70s / early’ 80s, you have XTC and Depeche Mode and the police just around the corner. One of the best five years in music you can find for a single country.
5 – Have you ever bought a non-fungible token? What was it? And if not what do you think will be your first one?
My very first NFT was only bought for the price of an ETH for gasoline – I made it myself with Enjin in 2018. This limited edition Wes branded sword didn’t make it into crypto games, but it was obviously a very cool concept, even if it was a few years before NFTs became mainstream. The entertainment sector is currently getting the most attention for NFTs, but the idea of bringing legendary items between RPGs is still the use case that appeals to me the most. I’m not a big art collector myself, but I could certainly imagine looking for rare items that would be interoperable between games. Now I can justify that this NFT purchase is an investment that I could use on many different games in the future.
6 – What’s least likely on your bucket list?
I would love to live long enough to see humanity establish settlements on the Moon or Mars or other potentially habitable moons like Europe, and travel there myself as soon as it becomes commercially feasible (i.e., without even undergoing astronaut training have to) to go!) That still feels 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 discovery continues to accelerate, and 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 – sometimes you have to step back and look at the bigger picture to keep your head straight in this wild space.