unstoppable podcast, episode 68, Qiao Wang

Driving the DeFi Revolution with Qiao Wang from DeFi Alliance

Jul 26, 2021

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Host:  Everybody, welcome back to the Unstoppable Podcast.  I'm your host, Diana Chen.  And I'm here today with our guest, Qiao Wang.  He is a crypto investor.  He's a partner at DeFi Alliance.  Previously, he was head of product at Masari.  So he is somebody that I've been wanting to get on the podcast for a long time.  So this is a big deal for me and I hope for all of you as well.  And so welcome Qiao, thank you so much for being here.

Qiao Wang:  Thank you so much, Diana, for having me. 

Host:  Of course.  Before we dive into DeFi Alliance and all the things that you've worked on, I want to know a little bit more about your crypto background and how you got exposed to crypto in the first place.  When was it?  What was it about crypto that piqued your interest and how did you start learning about it?

Qiao Wang:  Yeah.  Back in the day, I was, I was a trader.  The kind of trading I did was very quantitative, highly technical, like it's sort of at the intersection of finance and technology.  So something like Bitcoin naturally drew my attention in the early days, I think might be as early as 2012.  And when I just saw some news on Bloomberg, on the Bloomberg terminal that said, like, some asset just crashed, like 80% within a day or something along those lines, I was like, what kind of asset is it?  

So something like—there was something about the volatility of the market that really drew my, my attention.  So that's how I first learned about Bitcoin.  But the nature of Bitcoin itself is such a—it's also in the middle of this venn diagram between finance and tech.  So I was just naturally very interested in this kind of stuff and I said to myself, okay, this looks really interesting and if it succeed, it'll probably do me 100x 1,000x.  But it's probably going to zero, but the expected value is well in the positive, is well—it was worth an investment in the very early days.  

So I took a chance and it worked out.  And obviously, 2014 was Ethereum and that was—I took a chance on Ethereum also, because Vitalik [phonetic], Vitalik and I went to the same school although I'm four years older than him.  I just wanted to support someone who also went to Waterloo.  Also worked out pretty well.  So got lucky a couple times, but, you know, I think intellectually, just fascinated about crypto as a whole for almost 10 years now.  So that's—

Host:  [Interposing] Yeah.

Qiao Wang:  - -. 

Host:  It's been quite the journey.  So I'm curious at what point did it—did you go from like, this is a huge risk, I'm taking like this.  If it goes, well, I'll be really well off, but it's probably going to zero.  When did you go from that mentality to like, no, like, I'm actually confident that we're like up only in the long term?

Qiao Wang:  This is a really good question.  I think, I think in my mind, I made a distinction between Bitcoin and everything else, because the nature of the two were very different.  For me, Bitcoin—that inflection point was Bitcoin was maybe during the 2015/2016 bear market.  I said to myself if this thing doesn't die, I think the lending effect is going to be strong enough for it to really survive in the long run.  

But with everything else, including Ethereum, it was probably 2017/2018 when there was truly an organic community of DLL developers build on a theme.  Obviously, back in the day—like back in 2017, there was a lot of ICO bullshit, and all that stuff, like a lot of scamming and stuff like that, but there was a—an organic community of really strong developers build on Ethereum.  And obviously, I didn't know where Ethereum was going.  DeFi was—DeFi really became a thing in 2018, 2019, 2020.  But back in 2017, it was still very early.  I didn't know where Ethereum was going to go, but the fact that you have this large group of developers, really strong developers building on one platform is a really good sign in the long run.  

So for me, like, Bitcoin was in 2013 and Ethereum like 2017.

Host:  Yeah, for sure.  So we're going to be talking a lot about DeFi Alliance.  So let's, you know, preface this by talking about what DeFi is for people listening or who may be new to this.  Like you said, DeFi didn't really become a thing until 2018.  And so like, I'm curious too from your standpoint, before 2018, before DeFi was a thing, what was it about Bitcoin and crypto in general that drew your attention?  Because I think nowadays, like everybody is interested in it because of DeFi and the possibilities with that.  But back then, there weren't really any real life use cases that you could—that the average person could imagine. 

Qiao Wang:  Mmhm.

Host:  So what was it about that?  And then like how—as it shifted into DeFi, how did your attitude towards crypto shift as well? 

Qiao Wang:  Well, interestingly, the narratives around Bitcoin and Ethereum have not really changed since the—since day one, basically.  So in the very early days on Bitcoin Talk, people were talking about Bitcoin one day becoming this digital goal, right.  Like, that was like back in 2010, 2011.  That narrative actually never changed.  It just took 10 years for that to happen.  

And also, interestingly, for Ethereum—in the Ethereum white paper, I remember that very clearly.  Vitalik said Ethereum was going to be used for three things, and DeFi was one of them.  Dow was the second thing.  And the third thing was something, something really—I can't remember exactly, but was something related to NFT's.  So—and that was 2014.  

So like, incredibly, like, the narrative has never—like Vitalik—like there was such a pressure, like vision from Vitalik's part.  But these narratives have never changed.  It just took a long time to really building the developers and the users.

Host:  Yeah, that's totally fair.  That guy though, he's best fortune teller out there.

Qiao Wang:  Exactly.

Host:  Predicting that in 2014.  And so—okay.  So explain to the newbies then what is DeFi?  Somebody that's totally new to the space, decentralized finance, what is it?

Qiao Wang:  So obviously, it has the word financing and so, you know, provides some financial products, but the way is different from the kind of traditional finance products that you're used to, is that you really—you as the user, really have control over your funds, your decisions, and no one else can really censor you, no one else can tell you, okay, you're—that this money that you're supposed to own, you cannot make a wire transfer, because the amount is too large or because that destination is some—has some potentially KYC AML issues.

You really own your own decisions and money.  So that's one thing that's really interesting about finance is the freedom and the control.  The second thing that's interesting for me is the reduction of friction between one product from—moving from one product to another.  So for instance, in the traditional finance world, that is the money in like kind of like - - right, and you want to move it to interact with brokers, to invest in stocks.  It takes a long time to really move the funds.  You need to get approval from Chase, and then it takes like maybe 24 hours, one business day to get the money moved to Interactive Brokers, and then it takes another, I don't know, a few hours for Interactive Brokers to really approve it and then you can start investing.  

With DeFi, that reduction—that friction is drastically removed.  And basically, the only latency as a user that—as a user to have is, you know, the block time, right.  So you can move very easily from—to - - for instance.  And, you know, from a user point—from a user experience point of view, that's, that's, that's really—that's massive—that's a well over 10x improvement.  

So that's the second interesting thing about DeFi.  The third one I would say is, again, like all these things are related.  The third thing is the composability between the various different products.  So you can easily build one product on top of another.  So for instance, you could possibly combine Uniswap and Aave, in a way that you, you borrow Aave to—you borrow some funds from Aave to sell it on Uniswap.  And that's basically a synthetic like margin like short, short selling, right.  And you can do that in a way that's entirely permissionless, because that you—the developer interfaces in DeFi or in crypto in general, is fully permissionless, it's fully open.  Anyone can build on top of them.  It's very—like the—if you take an analogy in the traditional finance world again, if you want to build something on top of Interactive Brokers, they have APIs for you to build on, but you can't—you don't really, you don't really own the interfaces.  

So Interactive Brokers can say, you know, one day they can say, you no, you no longer have access to an interface and all the work you've done in the past is gone.  So that's another really interesting, really interesting thing about DeFi.

Host:  Yeah, for sure.  Those are three excellent points.  And so with all of the benefits that DeFi can bring about, what do you see as being the major roadblocks or challenges to widespread adoption?  Why aren't we all using DeFi yet?

Qiao Wang:  There are—for me, there are mainly two reasons.  One of them is, I would say is solvable.  The other one is going to be very challenging.  The solvable one is, is the tech.  I think, for me, it's really a matter of time.  One of the reasons why it's not being used for everybody right now is because, you know, because of the fees, because of the latency of interacting with the Blockchain, because of some of the friction with installing a crypto wallet, you know, getting used to it.  

The tech, for me, it's only a matter of time and it comes with education.  The more we, as a community, as an industry do a better job at educating, the more developers will join us to build better products, the more users will join us.  That is just a matter of time.  

The other one is more challenging.  It's really the final boss, which is regulations.  At the end of the day, all this stuff that we're building in crypto, not just DeFi like everything in crypto that we're building so far, anything that's finance related is a war between the incumbents and this new, you know, community.  It's a war for power, right?  It's going to get really nasty at some point and it's already getting a little bit—what—all the regulators around the world are looking at DeFi right now.  They can't kill DeFi because of the decentralized nature, but they can create some regulations that make it very hard for the user to use.  They can add friction to this whole system and that will in turn create bad user experience.  

So we need to do a better job at educating regulators like explaining why it's fundamentally interesting, and different, and probably better than traditional finance, at least part of it.  And make sure that the regulations that will eventually come down will be favorable, that will be good for innovation in general.

Host:  Why do you think regulators are so resistant to DeFi?

Qiao Wang:  They, honestly, I think part of that is just the social pressure.  Historically, there have been quite a few regulators.  I won't name names, but when they're in office, they are very much sort of antiDeFi, anticrypto in general.  But the moment they leave the office, they're going to join like the private sector.  And in fact, a lot of them joined the crypto industry and all of a sudden, they make 150 or 180 turn and just become one of the most, I guess, vocal evangelists for this industry.  

So really like, part of that is just the peer pressure and the social pressure.  And we can do—we can help with that problem by also again, like educating the masses, doing a better job at explaining why this technology is interesting.

Host:  Yeah, for sure.  Do you see the US or Canada and North America being the front runners in terms of leading the charge in enforcing—implementing and enforcing regulations that are favorable to crypto, or do you see this happening first in other parts of the world?

Qiao Wang:  As far as the G7 is concerned, the United States is definitely the front runner.  Everyone else will look up to the United States.  So as far as the G7 is concerned, I think the G7 will be sort of separate from the rest of the world in terms of regulations.  You know, most notably, you have FATF, which is, you know, the financial task force that's led by the G7.  And in the US, it's FinCEN that implements the recommendations of FATF.  

And if the FATF make some recommendations that is not unfavorable to DeFi, you know, there's a good chance that FinCEN might implement some of them and everyone else might look up to the FinCEN as well.  But we've seen with Bitcoin, for instance, that over the last month or so, we have countries like El Salvador, adopting Bitcoin as the legal tender.  And we started to see a sort of bifurcation around the world from the G7 or maybe, maybe not even a bifurcation, maybe a trifurcation.  

So I think there might be, there might be three economic regions, ultimately, when it comes to crypto.  There's the G7, there's those emerging economies like El Salvador, and then there's maybe a world centered around China, the broader Asia—the broader Asia—Asian economy.  

So maybe there will be trifurcation between these three regions, but, you know, there is—how do you put it?  Everyone's playing this sort of game theory where, you know, if the United States start pushing for aggressive regulations, unfavorable regulations, other—two of the three other regions might push for something more favorable in order to get a head start in this crypto economy.  And we've seen that with Bitcoin so far.

Host:  Yeah.  That's, that's a very interesting analysis and prediction.  We have to see how it plays out.  So I want to talk about DeFi Alliance, that DeFi Alliance is for anyone who's not familiar, DeFi accelerator that has produced, you know, projects, web three projects, like things Xerox labs, set labs, synthetics to name a few and there's many more besides that too.  

So I'm curious, like, how did you initially get connected with the DeFi Alliance and decide that this was what you wanted to work at?

Qiao Wang:  Well, when we first started, you know, we started DeFi Alliance as something sort of pretty casual.  It was a few months before DeFi summer of 2020 started.  We started with a compound liquidity mining.  But in the very early—in the first few months of 2020, we saw a need from DeFi projects to acquire institutional liquidity.  So they had a little bit of retail liquidity back in the day, but they're looking for some of the largest market makers around the world to provide liquidity on their platform, especially the taxes and decentralized lending platforms.  

So the likes of you know, Xerox, - -, Synthetics, et cetera.  And then on the other side, you know, myself, being based in Chicago, we saw an opportunity to—or we saw a need from the traditional market makers using the largest market, most successful marketing consumer in the world, like Jump Trading, DRW, CMT.  They have been in crypto since the very early days, since as early as 2013, 2014.  So they've always been like ahead of the herd.  And they were very interested in DeFi, they were learning about DeFi and they wanted to get in touch with the DeFi platform—the DeFi projects to basically get more deeply integrated with DeFi projects.  

So we saw an opportunity to basically bring—bridge the gap between these two worlds.  So that's how the DeFi Alliance started.  We started at something like super like casual, you know.  We did an accelerator program.  The first cohort was super, super casual, like laid back between like these two groups of people, basically, the market makers, they provide mentorship to those DeFi projects that I mentioned before.  

But over time, it just evolved into something bigger and bigger.  The DeFi projects wanted more, they wanted, you know, guidance on regulations, they wanted to help with token economics, with product design, with smart contract auditing, with hiring, et cetera, et cetera.  And it turns out that there's a lot of people who can help with these DeFi projects within the DeFi community.  

So, you know, really, the DeFi Alliance we're building is sort of a network, a hub of people who need support and those who have expertise in the network to provide the support.

Host:  - -.  And so now, at the stage that it's evolved into today, how do you decide, like, which companies to take into the accelerator program, like, what's your thinking process around that? 

Qiao Wang:  So ideally, we have a few of these in DeFi, you know, a few markets that we think are going to get really big.  So ideally, the team that's building a new project should be in one of these areas.  It's an ideal condition, but it's not necessary because, you know, the other condition that we have, or the other thing that we look at is really the strength of the team.  

So the strength of the team that—that's a necessary condition for us.  Now this—like the, the more important criteria between the two.  So ideally, we have these two—like the team has both of these things, but if, like, for instance, over the last few months, there have been a lot of teams, building stable coins and building like decentralized exchanges.  For me, these are some of the areas that are very hard to compete with incumbents.  But we still support—supported a bunch of teams building in these areas as well, even though we don't really have a strong thesis in these two markets.  Does that make sense?

Host:  Yeah, that makes perfect sense.  So looking at your portfolio, you have—so many big names to come out of DeFi Alliance.  Is it like—you know, when I was thinking about it, I was like, chicken or the egg problem, like, which one came first?  Was it like, these projects were already bound to be successful and they just landed in DeFi Alliance's lap or what?  Or do you guys have some secret source where you can make all these early stage projects, like wildly successful?

Qiao Wang:  I wouldn't say—as an investor myself, I don't want to, like, I don't want to take any credit, you know.  99.9% of the success for the DeFi projects or for startups in general, the founders, or the team should take all the credit.  All we provided is a little bit of knowledge, a little bit of education, and a little bit of network.  

There's no secret source.  It's all—it all boils down to hard work by the founders.  There's always a little bit of chicken and egg problem, you know.  We only select the best founders, but we also provide a little bit of help, but at the end of the day, it's really up to the team.

Host:  Yeah.  So for somebody that's maybe working on an early stage DeFi product right now, what is your best advice for them, like that they have to do in the early days, or they have to make sure they don't do in the early days in order to succeed?

Qiao Wang:  Yeah.  There are very—there are a few mistakes I've seen teams do in the early—in the beginning.  One, for instance, is the scale to—they scale the team too fast before reaching product market fit.  For me, you don't need a huge team, you need a team of more than three, four people, like in fact, you can do pretty well with just two cofounders before reaching product market fit.  Because the more teams you have—the more team members you have, the more interpersonal connections, the harder it is to manage the team, the harder it is to make everybody, you know, productive. 

You really, really only need two 10x people like whether it's engineers or you know, Bizdev or marketing person.  So don't scale too fast before you reach product market fit.  Once you reach product market fit, you can, you can hire more people to build like these incremental features to acquire users, et cetera, et cetera.  So that's one thing.  

The second thing I would say is the founders need to be more confident about themselves.  Obviously, you want to get feedback from the investors.  But really, at the end of the day, you as the founder, you are the domain expert.  The investors don't know more than you do about this particular product that you're building.  You spend all your day on it, you have way more information than the investor does.  So you really need to trust your own instincts.  Obviously, get product feedback, et cetera, from the investors.  But, you know, really rely on your own instincts.  

I think the investors—what investors are good at is, you know, they understand overall market better because they see more things.  They can tell you how big the market that you're—you are operating in, how big that market is.  So that's one useful piece of information for you or area of support.  And the other thing is related network so that the investors talk to people all day.  So they can connect you with, you know, the best, or some of the most helpful people in this industry.  So I would say these are the two main things that investors are helpful with.  But other than that, like you really need to trust yourself.  

And three, you know, I've seen some, I guess, a little bit of—I guess, over optimization on the regulation side of things, or premature optimization on the regulation side of things.  I don't—obviously, you need to take regulations very seriously.  But don't spend way too much time at the beginning.  You know, you want to make sure that you don't get into trouble, but you also don't want to over engineer your organization, your legal entity.  It's very time consuming.  Same thing—same thing with like fundraising, it's very, very time consuming.  You want to focus on building a product, a really good product first.  

Another thing I would—I don't think everybody necessarily agree with me, but—on this one, but, you know, I think you should prioritize product over token economics initially.  The token economics is a way to acquire users.  It's not the product itself.  If you don't have a good product, then you issue a bunch of tokens.  Like, if you want to do some kind of liquid mining program, it's just a waste of money because you have no product to show.  You really need to make sure that that you have product market fit first, before using token economics to acquire users.  So these are some of the things that I've seen so far, but I'm probably missing some other things as well.

Host:  Yeah.  I know that's a lot already.  That's—I think that's really helpful stuff for anybody listening who's working on building out a DeFi project.  So I'm curious too like looking at the broader DeFi ecosystem, what are some DeFi projects that you, personally, are especially bullish on right now?

Qiao Wang:  Well, I guess, most of the, the largest DeFi products by market cap, I'm bullish, generally on most of them.  They've, you know, I think the market is fairly rational in terms of pricing them.  They found product market fit, and they will probably continue to grow with the rest of the ecosystem.  So anything, you know, some of the largest products in the central exchange sector, or in the lending sector, stable coins.  You know, makers doing—is going to—probably going to do really well even if a lot of people hit them.  I don't know why.  But these are some of the areas where the incumbents have really, you know, it's very hard to outcompete the incumbents.  

There are a couple of new areas that are about to take off due to a variety of reasons.  Probably the most interesting one, in terms of total addressable market is derivatives.  We've seen how the centralization—how big the centralized exchanges are in terms of like their derivative volume.  It's way bigger than their spa volume.  

So if you build the same—sort of different products in DeFi, you can probably do just as well.  Because you can offer better user experience than centralized exchanges when it comes to like, you know, onboarding, withdrawal, like user control, freedom, all these things that I mentioned before.  And it's only about to take off right now because of the scaling solutions that we're about to roll out.  Whether it's - - on Ethereum or Saloner [phonetic], polkadot, all these Ethereum competitors.  

And the reason for that is derivative traders are very sensitive to latency, they're very sensitive to fees, they're very sensitive to throughput.  And all these things can be solved with better scaling technologies.  But for me, personally, the kind of area that I'm really passionate about is the products that really bridge DeFi to the real world.  The kind of products that people can use, you know, in their day to day or payment, for instance, or people can use some of their real world assets as collateral to borrow money to start a venture, that kind of stuff.  

The more products that we have that bridge DeFi in the real world, the more resistant to unfavorable regulations this industry will become.  Because when regulators see this, you know, a lot of average user and the average users use DeFi products, they will be more willing to roll out favorable regulations.  So I think that is really important.  

And the other thing that's really important, I guess, for investors are these is this sort of circular logic between the value of - - and the fundamentals of DeFi.  So there's a little bit of reflexivity meaning like, if the price goes up, fundamentals go up, price goes down, fundamentals sort of go down with it.  And that is because, you know, if the price goes up, there's more speculators coming to DeFi, they will use DeFi more.  And then the earnings, the revenues for the DeFi protocols go up and then the fundamentals go up.  But the opposite is also true.  And the reason for that is right now, by and large, DeFi is used for speculation.  And ideally, we want to create more products for use for nonspeculative usage, so.

Host:  Yeah, for sure.  And so I'm curious, like, where do you see the DeFi market going in the next year?  And I guess like some of that depends on if you think, you know, are we officially in a long term bear market now or is this sort of just a short term market adjustment?  Like where are we now?  And then you know, where do you—what do you see happening in the next year in DeFi that you think is like notable?

Qiao Wang:  Yeah, for better or worse, DeFi is going to be correlated with or DeFi is going to be primarily driven by Bitcoin and to a lesser extent Ethereum.  We're seeing a little bit of decoupling, but Bitcoin is still the driver of the entire crypto market.  So I don't think the bull market is over.  You know, if the same thing happened in 2017, I would have said it was over but we're in a very different macro environment right now there's, there's so much cash sitting on the sideline.  

For me, that is the most important difference between now and 2017 is the amount of money printing when it comes to like a one year time horizon.  On a 10 year time horizon, I don't think that really matters.  The innovation will continue to happen and DeFi will probably do really well on a 10 year time horizon.  But when it comes to a one year time horizon, it boils down to money printing; it boils down to Bitcoin and to a lesser extent, Ethereum.  

I don't think the bull market is over.  I think will be higher a year from now than today.  And I think because of the macro conditions, because of the involvement with institutions, and by the way, institutions have bought Bitcoin.  They're starting to look at Ethereum and DeFi.  If the market didn't crash that hard a month ago, they will probably be in DeFi right now.  

And there's also another types of institutions who don't get Bitcoin, who don't get the digital gold narrative.  They have a much better—much easier time wrapping their head around DeFi, because of the productive asset nature of DeFi, because these assets actually generate revenue.  They're also interested in DeFi.  

So I think over the next year or so—it's going to take a while, but some of these institutions are going to get into DeFi.  And because of this involvement from institutions, I think we're going to go higher and I think this will be a rather long—longer bull market, and then the last few.

Host:  Got you.  And then speaking of 10 years, where do you see us being in 10 years?  Is DeFi just officially called just finance?  Like, is anybody even using the term DeFi anymore?

Qiao Wang:  I think it'll take longer than 10 years.  I think what we're building is really a generation long kind of effort.  I think, by and large right now, DeFi is still being used as a toy or a toy for the wealthy, for better or for worse, you know, that's—the same is true for every groundbreaking technology in human history.  Everything that the average person uses today started off as something that's being used as a toy by the wealthy, be it computer, be it smartphone.  

I think DeFi right now is still in that stage, and it's going to take a while for us to build better scaling, to educate the average user and ultimately, to get better regulations.  So I—I'm optimistic in the long run, but I think it's going to take longer than people expect.

Host:  Yeah, that makes sense.  All right.  And then last thing about DeFi Alliance, anything new and exciting happening for DeFi Alliance in the next year that you can tease or get people excited about?

Qiao Wang:  You know, obviously, we're—we keep looking for some of the brightest, brightest founders.  I personally think, as I said, like five minutes ago.  I think, I think some of the institutions are getting into the DeFi.  We're trying to bridge—originally, you know, a year ago, we bridged the gap between DeFi projects and some of the most, I guess, adventurous market makers from the traditional finance world.  But I think what we're going to do over the next couple of years or so is really to bridge the gap between DeFi and some of the, I guess, FinTech or even Wall Street banks, that type of financial institutions.  And in fact, we're going to launch an institutional event, I guess, next month to really educate some of the largest Wall Street banks and financial services companies about DeFi.  

So we're going to try to bridge the gap between the two.  For me, that's really exciting.  There is a narrative in DeFi that, that says, that DeFi is going to eat traditional finance, TradFi.  I don't think that's the right framing.  I think DeFi is not going to eat their lunch, but rather DeFi is going to provide a platform of open innovation for everyone to build on top of.  

So in the backend, we're going to have DeFi protocols such as compound Aave, Uniswap, sushi, et cetera, and on the front end, we're going to have traditional finance companies building user interfaces that are possibly, familiar with average user for the average user.  And really, they become this distribution—this really large distribution channel for DeFi into the real world, into the average user base.  So that's how I see DeFi and how DeFi—the different role that DeFi Alliance plays.

Host:  Nice.  I love it.  All right.  So I end every podcast episode with a segment called Explain Your Tweet.  This is where I dig through your Twitter and I pull out some interesting or cryptic tweets for you.  There are way too many.  Your tweets are just like gold, and I actually liked that you tweet about not just crypto, but it seems like you also tweet a lot about like health, maybe something you'd hear about.  And then just other random stuff too.  So like here, I've got one from July 11, 2021.  You said, "Godspeed, Sir Richard Brandon 21st century will be the century of space exploration and humanity becoming a multiplanetary species, the century of the metaverse and the universe."  So are you bullish on Aliens?  You know, a lot of people can probably agree that there's something out there other than humans that we're not cognizant of at, at the moment, but how do you—what's like your view on what that is?

Qiao Wang:  I mean, I'm definitely bullish on aliens.  But like maybe taking a step back, you know, I guess over the last few decades.  We've really moved from this world of atoms into bits, you know, software in the world, et cetera, et cetera.  

And nowadays, the word, tech really means software.  But a few decades ago, tech means—used to mean a lot of different things, used to mean bio, used to mean software, computers, but used to mean also space exploration, right.  But I think we might—the 21st century, we might move back into this world of atoms.  And that's not to say these are going—are going to be less important.  It's going to be more important, but ultimately, the bits will enable a lot of new innovation in the world of atoms, like all these, I guess, for instance, experimental physics, stuff.  They leverage a lot of the software that, that we have built over the last few decades, all these automations, right, in the real world, robotics.  They use some of the artificial intelligence; leverage a lot of the advances in computing that we had over the last few decades.  

So I am bullish in the world of atoms in general, for this century—for the next century.  And in particular, space exploration is something I'm super excited about, like I used to—growing up I wanted to become a, like, an astronomer.  I was really fascinated by astrophysics.  So yeah, it's something I'm curious about intellectually.

Host:  It's not too late.  You could still go be an astronaut after DeFi Alliance. 

Qiao Wang:  That's right. 

Host:  Okay, cool.  And then the next tweet I have, this is from July 4, 2021.  You said, "Woke up to the shocking news of the DD ban in China.  People are interpreting this news in ways that best fit their own bias, but according to Chinese netizens, it's the story of cold war where DD leaked data of citizens and - - to the US in order to go IPO on the New York stock exchange."  Cold war might be too strong for term.  You should have said something like national security.  I'm just curious, like your thoughts on, I guess, China in general, as it relates to crypto, but like also on this specifically as well.

Qiao Wang:  China is a very complex topic.  I don't live in China.  I, I left China when I was like 11, 12.  Obviously, I have some family in China.  It's a very complex topic.  I can't speak for everyone.  I don't have a—an unbiased view.  But the way I think about China when it comes to crypto is that the crackdown on miners was a little bit surprising to me.  Because historically over the last few years—obviously, every year there's some China bans Bitcoin kind of news.  

But in general, China has been neutral to crypto, I would say.  The thing that China really cares about is not—it's not really crypto or Bitcoin.  It's really the speculative favor among the retail traders.  It's not a coincidence that you hear about China then.  You always hear about China then during the last few earnings of the bull market.  It's not a coincidence at all.  It's because of the speculations.  That's what China really cares about.  

But this crackdown on miners, that really caught me off guard, because you have an industry in which you're really dominant in and with a snap of the finger, you've destroyed it.  So it's surprising to me.  I don't really know what the motivation is.  Maybe it had to do with, you know, the 100th birthday of the CCP.  You know, they wanted to make sure that there's no, no shenanigans before the July 1st birthday.  They want to demonstrate to the country that they're in control, et cetera, et cetera.  

But I don't know where crypto is going in the next few years when it comes to China.  I think from what I've seen with the founders, they are worried, they're probably, you know, either not doing crypto anymore or they're leaving China.  They're going to places like Singapore.  So there's still a lot of regulatory uncertainties.  So I'm sort of neutral to bearish when it comes to the crypto industry in China.

Host:  Got you.  Makes sense.  Okay.  And I've got a last tweet for you.  This is from July 2nd, 2021.  And I actually had cotweeted this last night and basically said, like, "I agree with this completely, but also there's two sides of the coin."  And then I've got—I got some comments that were like, pretty interesting.  

So anyway, your tweet is, it's a thread.  The first one says, "Historically, gender, ethnicity, physical appearance and other things you're born with gives certain groups of people a massive advantage in the workplace.  The gradual shift towards the pseudonymous crypto economy could be a massive equalizing force."  And then you kind of just go on to talk about the benefits of pseudonymity in—you know, that we're seeing in the crypto space right now and how that can sort of like act as a leveling of the playing fields for all people, regardless of your background or what you look like or whatever.  

And I guess, like, my pushback on that, and the pushback that, like I got in my comments too on Twitter was like, a few things.  For me, I think, you know, first of all, like pseudonymity is, is not the most like personable or welcoming way to bring people into the space.  And so if you see somebody on Twitter, for instance, with, you know, a pseudonym as their name and then with not their face as their profile pic, it can be hard to feel like connected to them.  

So that's, like one, that's, you know, not the most important thing, but that's one.  And then to your point about like equaling the playing field, I think what we're seeing even with pseudonymity on Twitter at least is like, people are almost competing with these like bored apes with their crypto punks with all these like NFT profile pics, and it's like in a sense, even in a pseudo anonymous world, like there still is this hierarchy of like, who has the better NFT profile pic, for instance.  So I'd love to hear your thoughts on that.

Qiao Wang:  I mean, your push backs are a hundred percent agree with them.  I don't think pseudonymity is strictly better, but it does provide a nice trade off.  And it's not going to be the equalizing force between everybody.  Like it's not going to make everybody equal, but it does provide an opportunity for the groups of people in the society who have been historically underrepresented, or under privileged to have an opportunity to sort of level the playing field.  

It's not going to solve all the problems for sure, but it does provide a—an opportunity.  And, you know, pseudonymity is not something new - -.  It existed since, since even before the internet, but even after the internet, you have things like Reddit, 4chan, like all these social media platforms that allow you to, to use a pseudonym.  

But it's really not until crypto that you have really an economy.  Because before you can use a pseudonym to express your opinions, but you cannot use a pseudonym to really engage in economic activities.  And really, it's really crypto that helps with that.  So I'm really excited about the pseudo anonymous economy over the next few decades.  And again, it's going to take a long time.  It's never—it won't happen tomorrow.

Host:  Yeah, for sure, for sure.  All right.  Well, thank you so much Qiao for being here.  I really appreciate you taking the time and, you know, telling us all of your thoughts.  I had lots of great insights there and we'll have to see if all of that plays out, plays out to be true, then maybe—who knows, maybe you'll be the next Vitalik, all of you.  You waterloo people just predicting the future of the web and the economy.  

Before you go, Qiao, just tell people where they can find you if they want to connect with you personally, and then also remind people again, you know, if they're interested in joining the next cohort of DeFi Alliance, how can they get in touch with you and apply to your program and all those good things.

Qiao Wang:  Yeah.  Always feel free to DM me on Twitter.  Twitter is my LinkedIn basically.  My Twitter handle is QW, QIAO.  So my initials plus my first name.  And then, you know, in order to apply for the DeFi Alliance, go to defialliance.co, and you'll find a big apply button.  So feel free to apply and we'll review every single one of the applications.

Host:  Awesome.  Awesome.  We will include that in the show notes as well.  Thank you again so much, Qiao, for being here.  Thank you listeners for tuning in and we'll be back again soon with another episode of The Unstoppable podcast.

Qiao Wang:  Thank you, Diana.