This time in our Meet the Team series, we hung out with Chris, who fills many important hats on our team, including but not limited to business development, advertising, and conference and travel logistics.
Join us for this opportunity to delve into the mind of this vegan, candle-making blockchain technology enthusiast.
Alyson: What’s the most challenging aspect of your position?
Chris: The most challenging part of my job is explaining bitcoin to companies outside the bitcoin space. As people in the bitcoin community know, there is so much misinformation out there and this definitely creates hurdles when trying to explain the benefits of advertising with us.
We’ve got a young, tech-savvy user base and that can sometimes be overshadowed by what someone has heard from the mainstream media. That said, explaining bitcoin to people is also my favorite part of the job.
I was drawn to bitcoin because I believe in the technology and its power to change the world for the better; in that sense, it really is a privilege to have the opportunity to properly explain what bitcoin is and how it works. People are surprisingly receptive to changing their opinion. Once they start to understand it, you can see the light bulb start to go off and that’s been very rewarding.**A: Tell us about the first time you heard the term “bitcoin” (if you can remember!)?**
C: The first email I have on record that includes “bitcoin” is from June 2011, but I’d read about it a couple times in 2010. Initially, I didn’t distinguish bitcoin from other e-money experiments dating back to David Chaum’s Digicash. I didn’t realize that bitcoin was a major breakthrough, a distributed version of e-money. Once I started to understand that, I was hooked!
**A: Bitcoin is still in its early stages of growth; early adopters of bitcoin tend to fall into two buckets: those who are attracted to its technological aspects and those interested in the philosophical ones. Do you find yourself in either of these categories or fit into a little bit of both?
C: I fall into both camps. I think technology will play a key role in the next major social movement.
Technology is so deeply embedded in our lives and becoming more so every day and they way that we use chose to use technology has inherent political implications. At some point, when we get to the next global inflection point, technologies like bitcoin will be essential to protecting and expanding personal liberty and human rights.
At the beginning of the 1990s, I was a huge fan of John Perry Barlow, John Gilmore, the cypherpunks and the other visionaries of the early computer and internet age.
Post-Snowden, I began to feel like a lot of that early optimism, this sense that the internet was an unstoppable force for freedom, was partially misplaced; cryptography and the internet can be tools for greater freedom, but it’s not automatic. It’s a process, a continual struggle. I hope that lesson is carried over to bitcoin, that we keep the original core principles at heart as we build on top of this incredible technology.
**A: On the topic of growth, do you have any personal predictions for bitcoin in 2015 that you’d like to share with us?**
“[C]ryptography and the internet can be tools for greater freedom, but it’s not automatic. It’s a process; a continual struggle. I hope that lesson is carried over to bitcoin, that we keep the original core principles at heart as we build on top of this incredible technology.”
C: I’ll stay away from price predictions but I do think 2015 is going to be a great year. The foundations for the moon base are being constructed right now. There is so much good work being done, a lot of it is under the surface; teams of engineers are working hard to roll out next generation tools and the public will start to be able to get their hands on these throughout 2015.
I’m very hopeful that when the next wave of mainstream interest comes our way, bitcoin companies will have built great services and tools for people to start using (instead of just speculating). Great things are happening and I feel lucky to be a part of it.
A: We recently began 2015 and wrapped up the holiday season of 2014. Do you usually spend time with family on the holidays? Even more interesting, have you convinced any family members to try bitcoin for themselves?
C: I definitely went through a phase of sharing the good word with everyone I know. I put out a newsletter for friends and family in 2013 that covered the wild ride bitcoin was going through. Mostly for entertainment, but I think it helped introduce people to the idea and I know there are some who became believers along the way. Most of them are still waiting for a use case that makes something in their lives better in order to jump in, but the seed has been planted.
A: It sounds like you’re the perfect person to ask this question: what’s the best way to approach someone new to bitcoin, so we don’t scare them off forever?
C: After giving the elevator pitch a few hundred times, I’ve been able to refine my delivery. People are routinely amazed at how you can send a payment of $1.00 or $1,000,000.00 for a few pennies. Anywhere in the world, without relying on a bank. That’s usually the starting point and then I let people drive the conversation with their questions.
People’s natural curiosity leads them to keep asking questions, Who invented it? What company owns bitcoin? How does mining work?
By the time they are done asking questions, they’re usually pretty excited and have turned the corner.**A: Living in southern California, are there many bitcoin-friendly options near you?**
C: I live in Santa Monica and there are a good number of bitcoin startups in the “Silicon Beach” area and a fair number of retailers and restaurants that accept bitcoin.
The LA-area meetups, which used to have about 12-15 people, now have over 200. There’s been a steady growth in interest. It’s been a great community to be a part of.
A: Each of us have at least one activity we do outside of our bitcoin interests. Tell us about one of yours!
C: I started thinking about making candles about 10 years ago and it took about 5 years until the idea turned into an actual candle. The hammer (pictured to the left) is the first one I made. I’ve gone on to make a number of other custom candles; wax is incredible in that you can pretty much mold it into any shape.
My kitchen serves as the studio. If a mold fails or isn’t sealed properly, I’ll end up with a half gallon of wax on the floor!
Chris doesn’t update his Twitter often, but feel free to follow him to find out when he finally launches his line of candles, perhaps inspired by the Bitcoin blockchain?