Introducing Interest bearing Tokens with Ben Lakoff from Charged ParticlesMay 12, 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 guests, Ben Lakoff. He's the co-founder at charged particles. And he's a podcast host as well of the old asset allocation podcast.
Charged particles is a brand new protocol—it's a token agnostic protocol that allows users to deposit any ERC token into any NFTs. So basically, it allows you to do a lot more with your NFTs than you probably think is possible right now. So I'm really excited to chat more with Ben about just what you can do with them. So hey, Ben, welcome. Thanks so much for being here.
Ben Lakoff: Awesome. Thanks, Diana, excited to be here. Thanks for having me.
Host: Of course. So before we dive into charged particles, I just want to get a little bit of insight into your background. So I know that you come from a corporate finance background and so I'm just wondering, how did you transition from being in corporate finance to getting into DeFi?
Ben Lakoff: Yeah, sure. Well, so I think like a lot of people when I first heard about crypto, I kind of dismissed it. But it was more late 2016, I was living in Bangkok, working in corporate finance and t get to—started thinking, I wanted to go down the more startup entrepreneurial path, didn't know where to start. So with a few friends started a young venture capitalists group that we started angel investing in some startups in the area. And actually, one of the first angel investments I did was called TDAX. So it's the Coinbase equivalent in Thailand, so a regulated crypto exchange.
So that kind of kicked me off down the path into crypto. We started another company that was a trading platform called Intelligent Trading Foundation ended up raising some funding grew that to about 20,000 users. Ultimately, it failed, I learned a lot as a startup operator, it's a lot harder from the inside. Everything's on fire constantly, but yet, I'm still in it. So that kind of was the path that led me down into crypto. That's for sure.
Host: Yeah. And so you mentioned you were living in Bangkok at the time and I know you actually spent, I, I think close to a decade living and traveling abroad. And so I, I was also wondering too, do you think that living and traveling abroad for so long affected your perspective and thinking about finance?
Ben Lakoff: About finance? Definitely about crypto? Absolutely. Yeah, it's a big world out there. And I think living in the US and having access to credit and credit cards and bank accounts and all of these things that work very easily. You know, it's just an assumption and we take it for granted here, but it's, it's not the same globally. So certainly, certainly helped shape kind of my perspective, that's for sure.
Host: Got it. And then how would you explain DeFi to somebody who's—who, you know, didn't get the bug during DeFi summer and is kind of just starting to explore what DeFi is?
Ben Lakoff: Yeah, it's actually I mean, for us—those of us in the—like crypto world, you know, the fact that people still don't really understand what DeFi is or why it's important is sometimes baffling. But I'm actually a co-host of crypto-Mondays LA here, so every Monday we meet and we have a lot of people. And as you know, right now, this being recorded mid-April, sorry, if you have a big lie before you produce these, but, you know, its crypto often hires again. So we're getting new people in every day.
And you get the general like, why should I invest in crypto? Why is it important? And then like the next couple of steps is DeFi. I mean, really, the way that I explained DeFi to people is by talking about maker DAO. So literally, I mean, if you've ever tried to get a loan from a bank or, or you own a house and you want to use your house as collateral, you can do this with a few clicks and a smart contract with something like maker DAO and obviously, are they in compound are doing these things as well, but using your crypto as collateral and accessing the value and accessing a line of credit on that.
And it's just tremendous. I mean, this just opens up the—opens up the door, but that's kind of like an easy way to like get them to cross the chasm of like, holy crap you can do this with this smart contract. I literally just send it here, click that approve this and then I have money and I still own the asset and it liquidates automatically. So it's pretty mind blowing and that, that seems to help get people over the line?
Host: Yeah. So what do you see as some of the biggest road blocks or challenges that are blocking people from getting into this space?
Ben Lakoff: Yeah. Honestly—probably just people are getting in their own way. I mean, this—we all have kind of our own programming in the way that we're thinking about things. I mean, I, I grew up more as like a fundamental analysis looking at cash flows. So like I, I mean reversion is always kind of in the back of my mind. So things don't go parabolic logarithmically forever because they revert back to their mean. So I think, you know, people are always worried about like this thing is still—it's, it's going to go away, it's not real, I don't understand it, it's something different and new.
And so all of these things kind of are just blockers for people to kind of even attempt to actually understand it. And it is confusing, I suppose to like actually get down it, but yeah, it's just people have to come around to it in their own time. And like these hype cycles, kind of help bring in massive influx of people. And then, yeah, maybe it'll, it'll will crash and a, a lot of those people will come go away, but the net inflow of people, it's like growing bigger and stronger every time.
Host: Yeah, I totally agree. So for people who are just getting in on DeFi and NFT's through this hype cycle, what would you recommend as some of the best places for them to go to learn more about DeFi? And, you know, whether it's books or articles, blogs, Twitter personalities? What are some of your favorite sources of truth?
Ben Lakoff: Yeah, source of truth within crypto is a difficult one. I mean, crypto Twitter's really good. There's—it's, it's amazing how much value is dropped their constantly, there's, there's a lot of nonsense, so it requires quite a bit of parsing. I think helpful to kind of understand the whole Ethereum story, which is part of it. Well, I mean assuming you understand blockchain and then you want to kind of go a little bit deeper and understand Ethereum I think Camila Russo's book, The infinite machine is really good'. Kind of explaining the history of cryptocurrency, Ethereum and, and the, the lightning and the genesis of it.
So I think that's a really good one. She has a newsletter that defiant, that's also really good. The bank lists guys do a really good job of, of their podcast as well. 'Into the ether' is also another good podcast. I'm a podcast guy so clearly, a lot of these podcasts, a lot of audio. Clubhouse is a—there's a lot of noise on there, but I think there's a lot of good, good little nuggets there as well. But I mean, the general advice is, like, you know, don't put any more money than you can afford to lose, like all, all of these sorts of things.
But just, just don't write off the whole space because it's hard to understand and maybe you got burned in the 2017 or 2018 crash because there's still a lot there. And I'm, I'm starting to see some of these people come back that you know, got burned pretty badly in 2018 and you're like, wherever we were then, like things have gotten exponentially more awesome and more weird at the same time. So it's, it's, it's a really cool space.
Host: Yeah. And it's crazy because if, if you think about, you know, the people who got burned back in 2018, if they had sort of just held on tight, you know, and sat in their seats—
Ben Lakoff: Oh, yeah.
Host: —they, they, they'd be coming out way far ahead of everybody else today. So it - - off course - - .
Ben Lakoff: Well, and I, I have some of those friends, right? Like I, I have—
Ben Lakoff: —like sold at a massive loss like in 2018 just cut my losses and like, whatever. And some of these friends that were just like, oh, come back in two years. They, they actually came back and like, yeah, it is what it is.
Host: Yeah, yeah, for sure all right. Well, I want to talk a little bit more about charged particles now and learn more about that from you. So let's start from the beginning. Tell me a little bit about the genesis of charged particles as much as you know, I know your co-founder, Rob [phonetic] was the one that sort of had the idea and started the project and then you hopped on board and joined him last summer. So tell me a little bit more about how, how Rob got the idea for charged particles? Like what was the problem that he saw that he was trying to solve?
Ben Lakoff: Yeah, definitely and great job on your research and, and the, the intro like, you've nailed it be like the first person that actually like, does a really good job. Concise and I didn't help Diana at all with that. So well done.
Host: Oh, yes, thank you so much.
Ben Lakoff: Yeah.
Host: If it--if it wasn't for the fact that I was interviewing you on a podcast, it would be like super creepy how much research I've done into your background?
Ben Lakoff: That's great. Wow, you know, this the internet, we're out there these days. So yeah, so charged particles, websites charged.fi. And Rob Chord came up with this idea late 2019. As and I—originally, it was the idea of NFTs is this broad category, its non-fungible token. So Crypto Art is very, very gigantic right now, but it's any token that is not fungible. So it's unique. So this can be a lot of different things. So one of the first, look at the Genesis idea was a e-gift card as a non-fungible token. And the ability for that gift card to hold, retain and have a balance that grows over time.
So this was like the original, original idea of an NFT being able to hold an interest bearing asset or accumulating interest asset. But then, thinking about the different use cases because NFTs are so broad, so an in game item, for instance, so a sword and a game, holding in—holding a value of real value, so you deposit dye into it, which is a US are like a stable coin that is growing in value. So that accumulating value, we call it charge within our ecosystem represents more power within that game.
But then you think, okay, so I have this sword that has a real US dollar value that's accumulating, you have this sword that's has a real US dollar value that is accumulating. If we battle, then the winner can take the discharged accumulated charge, which is real dollars. But yeah, so there's, there's a lot of use cases where NFT agnostic were interest bearing, like liquidity provider agnostic. We are token agnostic, so any sort of tokens go into it. So there, there's a lot there, but that's the genesis idea.
So Rob was thinking about this in late 2019, which is well before like kind of this current DeFi or NFT boom.
Host: Yeah, for sure that's super impressive. So then you got involved with this last summer? How did you sort of get connected with Rob and then what was it about charged particles that really drew you in?
Ben Lakoff: Yeah. So I joined the Gitcoin Kernel virtual accelerator program. So for all the listeners out there highly recommended if you're interested in learning more about Web3 or building something within Web3, go to Gitcoin kernel, I don't know the URL, but we can drop it in the show notes. Highly recommended.
Host: I applied for Block 3.
Ben Lakoff: Oh, you definitely should. I, I've been just sharing it widely. I, I came back as a mentor in Block 2 and I, I plan on being involved for a very long time, love those guys, love what they're doing for the space. But I, I met Rob in Gitcoin kernel the Genesis block the first one. And yeah, so this was summer like June-July of 2020. Time is so relative these days I feel like and he just captivated me with the idea.
He had a proof of concept that was, you know, buggy is, is a proof of concept, but the idea of having an NFT that you can deposit an interest bearing asset inside of was really interesting, which is a pun, I know. But yeah, we started jamming on that and both of us—he, he was busy with pool—building out pool together B3, which is also live. So pooltogether.com, super awesome project as well. So as soon as he kind of shipped that last update, we went full time on charged particles. So that was October 2020 and have been hard at work ever since.
Host: Wow, wow what a sorry, okay. So let's dive a little bit deeper into how it works in some of the use cases, especially is what I'm interested in hearing more about. So you had mentioned the experience—the example of, you know, if, if you have a sword, I have a sword and we're playing we're having this in game experience. What are some other examples of use cases that, you know, users could use charged particles to sort of have a better experience or have a deeper experience with NFTs that goes beyond just buying and selling and you know, storing and displaying their NFTs?
Ben Lakoff: Yeah. So charged particles were a protocol and then we have a Dapp. So the Dapp, decentralize application is for Crypto Art. So any NFT that is Crypto Art, you can go to our platform, you can mint an NFT. So you can create an NFT, ERC-721 and then you can deposit tokens inside of it. So if you are a creative and you have a social token, you can Time Lock, you can put social tokens inside of this NFT and Time Lock it for a year and auction these off to your community. So it's a better way of like engaging with your community. Here's this NFT that I've created, oh, by the way, it's got my social token in it that's locked for a year.
You can deposit other NFTs inside of this NFT. So you can create this like Russian doll of an NFT owning an NFT, owning another NFT, all the way down. And then you can also have interest bearing assets inside of it. So some of the use cases there is, anybody else can deposit interest bearing assets - - deposit tokens into your NFT that effectively gives your NFT a smart wallet that you can deposit tokens into.
So you can have a portion of the interest generated always going back to you, the Creator like an Artist Royalty. You can have a portion going to a third Party, like a charity and, and it just creates this new token dynamic of having an NFT that's also accumulating interest inside of it. So that accumulating interest can trigger something else like the sword power in the game or with Art, it could trigger the, the image of the NFT itself, so as so much changing the image as more interest accumulates.
So that's, that's just what the current Dapp and then at the protocol level, it's NFT Agnostic, so we'll quickly spin up additional Dapps, kind of look and feel of what we have now, but targeting a lot of different things. So yeah, it's, it's a really fun creative space. And yeah, and encouraging anybody that has any ideas with this, like these building blocks that we're providing to, to reach out. And we're always looking for, for crazy new ideas because a new one comes up every time we talk about it, that's for sure.
Host: For sure, got it. Okay. So just, just to make sure I'm understanding it correctly. So basically, if I had an NFT that I was holding within charged particles, say I'm an Artist and I created this NFT Art Piece and I have—I have a time locked so, you know, let's say in a year or, or can I also have a time lock so that it's like after I get X number of tokens deposited into my NFT that would unlock the next level of my Art piece.
So maybe right now it's just like a 2D Artwork and then if I get, you know, after a year or after I get a certain number of tokens deposited then it turns into 3D Art or some, is that basically how it works?
Ben Lakoff: It, it is right now, it's just time based unlocked, but value based unlocked is definitely on the roadmap because we think that's super cool as well. But yes, that's exactly it.
Host: Got it. Got it. And then, another feature that you guys have is programmable yield. What does that mean exactly?
Ben Lakoff: Yeah, so that's—this NFT becomes a basket or container that holds other assets. Some of these assets can be interest bearing. So we have an integration with AVE also with Compound [phonetic]. So these assets can start generating interest within your NFT. Well, this interest a portion can go to a different wallet, it can go back to you, it can go to the Creator, into perpetuity. So whoever this is, it's important to note that the NFT is still an ERC-721, fully transferable, noncustodial NFT. You can sell it on variable, open see all these other secondary marketplaces, but it, it has this ability to hold other tokens.
So if they are generating interest, a portion can go back to me, a portion can go to a charity, you have this ability to program where that interest stream is going to give you a little bit more flexibility.
Host: Got it. Got it. That's very cool. So who, who is like the audience that's using charged particles right now? Is it mostly just like crypto natives that are deep in the space or have you been able to get some, you know, newbies to the space on board as well?
Ben Lakoff: Yeah, so our, our niche is definitely people that are a little bit more crypto native. I mean, my own family like for the past year and I've, I've finally got them over the line to like understand what an NFT is and why it has value. So I, I mean, that's a big step for a lot of people and then you kind of blow their mind when you say that. Okay. That NFT either, you know, it's a—there's a T, it's a Token. So then you can put other tokens inside of it, which can be other NFTs or other interest bearing tokens, which, you know, also blows people's minds at times.
So it's very difficult to go like full on Normie with this. A lot of the use cases to date. So we've had about a million dollars of sales of NFTs on the platform. And it's, it's a novel new use case, so it's, it's a—it's a way to differentiate your Art Piece from all the—like the long tail of NFT creations that are happening.
So we just are going live today or tomorrow with the NFT within the NFT. So all these features are at the protocol level and we're adding them and kind of one by one at the—at—in the Dapp in the UI. So, so going live today or tomorrow is nesting an NFT within an NFT and we have some people lined up to do some really cool stuff with that. But depositing social tokens in ERC-20 went live a couple of weeks ago at one of our Metaverse Parties. So we had a bunch of—a bunch of creatives with social tokens, locking a bunch of social tokens.
We had somebody with a billion of their tokens inside of it. I mean, just, just crazy things. A portion of the interests being generated going to a charity, work linking physical and digital. There, there's, there's a lot of pretty crypto native experimentation in differentiation within the NFT space going on.
Host: Got it. And another use case here that I just thought of that, I've heard you say on another podcast is with the time locked feature is you can actually set it. So, you know, say you've got some money saved, saved up for your—for your child, you know, and they're just like five years old right now, and you want to make this available to them once they become an adult and know how to handle the money and the funds. So you can time lock it for I guess, however long you want, right? Like until they're 18 years old and then it is unlocked and then it becomes theirs?
Ben Lakoff: Yeah, exactly. So and I, I mean, the Time Lock in the UI, I think we've limited it to a year because I don't—I mean, so if I Time Lock it as the creator, I can change it again if I still am the creator and I have it, but if I sell this to you, the Time Lock is set. So you're just kind of you've you got to wait, right? So we don't want to put a like 300 year Time Lock in there at this point, that's for sure. But yeah, you can do—you can create essentially a trust that, that, that has these assets of the, your NFT—your rare NFT it could be a piece of art, it could be a domain name.
You know as an NFT and you could fill it full of all of these assets that you want to disperse to your children in X years, Time Lock them. They could see, you know, it's a—they can transfer this entire basket of assets with one transfer because it's all contained within an ERC-721. And then it, it unlocks at a specified date in the future, so they can access those, those assets that are inside.
Host: Yeah, I just thought that was really cool because it goes way beyond just like, you know, enjoying art and kind of having fun with the suspense element of like, this art isn't going to be unlocked until X date in the future. But there's actually like very practical use for it as well. Like you can create a trust for your kids or you can like actually store your assets in it and like your, your personal funds. So that's super cool.
And you mentioned, you know, some new features—you guys are constantly developing new features. What are some new features that are coming out for the remainder of 2021 or in the next year that you're able to share with people?
Ben Lakoff: Yeah, definitely. So as, as I mentioned, NFT is nested within the NFTs. This is at the protocol level, but we enable it in the UI, so are more difficult than you would think as are most thinks I suppose. That goes live today or tomorrow. Next up, we're—we going to deploy on layer two, so talking to quite a few of the, the bigger one, so there'll be, there'll be some announcements there that should be happening pretty quickly.
We--right now, you can only energize or charge up in NFTs that are created at our Minting Station, but we have the ability to whitelist other NFT Minting Station—Minting Platforms. So for example—and voting is going on within our discord now, but the idea is you Diana have a favorite NFT that was created on Rialble [phonetic]. So if Rialble gets whitelisted, you can then take that NFT, you can come over to charged particles and you can fill it full of whatever you would like.
So those will start—will start releasing support for additional Minting Platforms in the near future. We also are planning on launching another Dapp, so we've got quite a few fun ideas, so we'll be spinning up kind of proof of concepts for a couple of days. And then we'll start integrating into some of these Minting Stations. So energize will be a part of the checkout process when you're minting on another platform. I mean, we're NFT Token Liquidity Provider Agnostic that there's, here's kind of a lot to build, so we're always hiring, looking for passionate people, looking to kind of change up the game within NFTs, you can, always reached out to me on charged particles on Twitter. That's a pretty easy way.
Host: Awesome. Yeah, I love how fast moving the space is and how quickly new features and new projects are always developing. It's all—it's super exciting and there's never a dull day, that's for sure.
Ben Lakoff: It's insane. I think my, my sleep schedule hates it, but it is what it is.
Host: It is what it is. And then I know you always say, you know, one year in crypto years are like dog years. So I'm just—
Ben Lakoff: It's so true.
Host: —I, I normally ask people, you know, like what do you see happening in this space in the next year and then what do you see happening in the next ten years? But we won't even go the next 10 years because we're already basically there with the dog years at just one year. So what do you see happening in this space in the next year?
Ben Lakoff: In this space, like overall crypto, Ethereum NFT is defy which, which space?
Host: Anything, anything, whatever you've got exciting predictions for NFT is defy anything.
Ben Lakoff: Yeah. I think NFT Art is pretty frothy right now for sure. I mean, to be clear, I'm super bullish on Crypto Art NFTs. But it's, it's, it's pretty frothy right now, that's for sure. So I, I see it almost as a Trojan horse to get more people into crypto overall. I mean, I met somebody at the Crypto-Mondays LA the other day, who said, you know, it's like we're in LA so there's a lot of Hollywood people like celebrities looking to do an NFT. And he says, yeah, we're, we're creating an NFT Platform, we've got all these famous people lined up and I was like, oh, awesome. What, what Blockchain are you on? Because we're not going to be on a Blockchain; that's the worst part about NFT is having to deal with all these crypto stuff.
And he said, you realize T is Token because it's on a Blockchain and that's like the main Value Art of this whole NFT thing, right? Like the Blockchain is the reason why these things exist and it almost kind of went over his head. So I mean, I think that's kind of a, a good pulse check of where we are in this NFT mania, the fact that NFTs will be created without a token.
So it is a little—a little chaotic right now, but I, I think as with all of these manias, it's a—like I said earlier, it's a—it's a net positive for the space in general and I think it's a, it's a Trojan Horse, right? Like, so these famous people create a NFT that doesn't have a token and then you know, people are asking why they can't sell—resell it on open sea and you start kind of going down this rabbit hole in learning more about crypto.
So, I—crypto feels crazy, frothy right now, but I think with what's happening kind of the macro level, a lot—a lot more people are starting to look at crypto like another option outside of the traditional world. So I know I'm bouncing around and not answering your question, but I, I would say I'm cautiously optimistic about the entire crypto space. I have no idea where the price is going to go of anything ever because I'm just always wrong. So I'm, I'm in it for the long term, I love the community, I love the people that I interact with in the space and yeah, I'm cautiously optimistic.
Host: Yeah, it is pretty trippy, right? Because you're on Crypto Twitter for part of the day and you're seeing all these smart people tweeting, you know really sophisticated thoughts about the space and then you go and talk to your real life friends who aren't in the space. And it's, it's just like the gap there is so huge and you're like I was just getting excited and thinking that we're moving so fast in the space and now I'm you know, reality check like no, a lot of people haven't—
Ben Lakoff: Oh, yeah.
Host: —even gone like one foot in the door yet.
Ben Lakoff: Yeah. Yeah.
Host: So yeah, that, that can be a little trippy. But one thing that, you know, if you are part of the Crypto Twitter World that we're seeing is that people are sort of moving on from NFTs and talking more about DAOs. And just like the concept of community and all of that, in general. You actually are the founding member of a DAO called NFDAO and that is a, a DAO to fund and support NFT projects. So tell me a little bit more about that? Like how did you get the idea to form this DAO? Like how is it structured? How many people do you have? All that stuff.
Ben Lakoff: Yeah, sure. Yeah, so I guess, in terms of like predictions, I think Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) and social tokens. So around this idea of community in different ways of like, engaging with them and, and, and collaborating, I'm pretty bullish on both of these things. So NFDAO, I mean, I don't know if I call myself a founding member, but I was one of the earlier people that kind of raised their hands, but there's definitely—there's a small group of people and those made it played a very small part because I'm from very over worked on a number of different things.
But I'm, I'm very supportive when I can be. So the idea is that it's a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) to support NFT projects within the space. So individuals can join, you pledge 100 bucks and organizations can join, I think its 6000 bucks. And then this money goes into a pool and then part of the whole DAO spirit is you have voting shares. So since you've contributed money, you have these voting weight within this to, to, to direct this pool of money, and you vote on different projects within the space, working within this broad NFT space to give a grant to those people.
So would love to get unstoppable domains on there as a company or you or any of the listeners that are interested in kind of participating in these DAO experiments, which are—which are fascinating. But, yeah, it's a best, best way to get involved with all of these things is just jump in.
Host: For sure. And one thing that I've been curious about DAO is I, I think there, there's a fine line to draw between letting in, you know, like how many people you let in and maintaining that same sort of vibe and the same sort of like vision that it was formed with. So how have you guys been able to juggle that and balance that with deciding who to let in? Is it anybody that pitches in $100 can get in or, or is there a voting process on the people that you let into the DAO?
And then how do you ensure that you're getting people with you know, good intentions in the same visions as you guys and not people coming in and just wanting to, you know, corrupt or to, to hack or, you know, mess it up?
Ben Lakoff: Yeah. So, in, in short, I don't think there's a—like tried and through rulebook on how to do these things and do them correctly. The whole space is kind of figuring this out as they go along. So there is a certain amount of vetting, it's not just anybody that sends in money is automatically bought part of the DAO, so yeah, that's kind of the, the short answer. I think, in the—in the long term or in the--my lawyer always says that like in the short term, we're probably fine and in the long term, we're probably fine. But it's that mid-term that you have to worry about with things like DAO.
So there's all these investment company acts that were enacted in the mid-1930s that you have to worry about too. If you have a group of people that's directing money and if it's deemed as an investment, which as a grant, it might be—it's probably something different but, then it is deemed an investment company and it's treated as a general partnership, and everybody that's involved could be liable.
So there's, there's also quite a few legal things to think through, especially if you kind of scale this DAO up to something with more than 100 members. It kind of opens up a number of other issues in potential.
Host: Yeah, for sure. And your lawyer is Dave Rodman, right?
Ben Lakoff: Yeah.
Host: Yeah, we had him on the podcast not a long ago.
Ben Lakoff: He was on the Podcast not too long, yeah.
Host: Yep. Yep, exactly. Okay. Cool. Yeah, I think it's definitely fascinating and like you said, there isn't a rulebook for DAOs right now, which is what makes it a little more interesting because everybody is learning. That's why I, I love talking to people about DAOs like people who are involved in them, just to learn more about like how different DAOs are structured and organized. And what's, you know, sort of best practices that maybe we can learn from moving forward.
Ben Lakoff: Yeah, actually. So our first investment in charged particles was from the LAO, L-A-O-D-A-O and they're a Decentralized Venture Capital Fund, so it's literally a Smart Contract Investment Club. So, it's—there's actually an LLC behind it. Open law, they, they do a lot of really awesome stuff in this space, but it felt very fitting to have our first investor be from a literally, a group of—literally like a group of decentralized VC, which was pretty cool.
Host: Yeah, for sure. So and a couple of other things I wanted to talk to you about that I thought were interesting and it's not really related to charge particles specifically is that you are also a Podcast Host, so you, you host the all assets—all asset allocation podcast. How did you get the idea for that? When—how long have you been podcasting? You know, tell us a little bit more about your podcast.
Ben Lakoff: Yeah. So this was a quarantine project. It's something I've always wanted to do. I think I probably—I started it in April or May of last year, 2020. I recorded like 40 episodes before I launched thinking that like I didn't—I, I wanted to have sufficient backlog and it kind of spiraled out of control. So yeah, it's a good idea for all the asset allocation was leveraging podcasting as a tool to have really fascinating conversations about topics that are very interesting to me.
So it's amazing, the amount of like, cold e-mails that people reply to, at least this was the case last year. You know, hey, come jump on my podcast, I've done a little research, this one I'd like to talk about, it's about alternative investing, love what you've done. And I mean, I've had Jim Rogers on this on this show, Marc Faber, like these are investing icons of mine as a child and I got to sit down for an hour one on one and ask them the questions that I was most interested in, in about their work in, you know, 50 years of investing.
So old assets just means anything outside of the publicly traded markets. We do talk quite a bit about macro trends, which are quite important throughout every financial asset, but, you know, it includes things within crypto, real estate gold, and then a bunch of way more esoteric investments as well.
Host: Very cool. I had actually a very similar experience with my other Podcaster, the startup Podcast. I also started it last summer. It was a quarantine thing and I was blown away by how, I guess easy it was to convince people to come on my podcast like I think people just really like the opportunity to be able to talk about their projects and talk about themselves and what they're up to. So for people listening or who are thinking about starting a podcast, it's probably easier than you think it is.
Ben Lakoff: Yeah. Well, I mean, look at clubhouse right, like people love to hear themselves speak and the problem with clubhouse is like, normally the, the loudest person in the room ends up talking the most, which is maybe not the person you want to listen to the most, but, yeah.
Host: Yep. Yep. You have to be pretty good about filtering out through the noise and getting to the good stuff on clubhouse. And then the other thing I wanted to ask you about is you are an avid traveler, obviously this is pre COVID days. But you've travelled to I think over 80 countries and you've—like I mentioned earlier, you've lived abroad for I think close to a decade. So are you still living that digital nomad life—I mean, you know, like, pre—like before COVID and then after the pandemic is over, do you plan to go back to that sort of life or are you settled down now, like where are you now?
Ben Lakoff: Physically, right now I'm in Venice Beach. So I've—I have family in Indiana and California, LA. So basically, the decision was to come back during COVID, it was kind of a pain to be on a tourist visa bouncing around different countries. It's not ideal during like, you know, mandatory quarantines and just being a foreigner during a global pandemic, not ideal. So yeah, I've been a, a traveler for a while it's something I enjoy.
I think there's pros and cons of every lifestyle. So it looks super glamorous gallivanting around the globe, but it's actually—it's really hard to get like deep work done if you're always jumping around to a different city. So I slowed down quite a bit in the past couple of years. Really, I mean, a lot of the travel came from working as an expat overseas, so I mean, I lived in Bangkok for nearly four years that was my home. I lived in Dubai for a year. I lived in Prague for a while. I lived in Sao Paulo for a year, like—so I use these different abroad kind of home basis and then travelled quite, quite broadly from those.
The digital nomad life is— well it has it has pros and cons for sure. And I'll probably settle somewhere in the—in the middle, you know, a certain number of months per year in one location and another in another location because I, I like to be around family and my family is out here in LA. And I've small nieces and nephews that are very fun to be around, especially at this time in their life, that's for sure.
Host: Yeah, for sure I, I can relate to that. I sort of lived that life for a couple of years back in like 2017-2018 and just like travelled the world and I thought it was—at first it was you know, super glamorous thing and then you do it for a while and you sort of start to see the pros and cons and it becomes less and less glamorous as you actually get to experience it. Which I think is true for many things. You know, people always think the grass is greener on the other side until you get to the other side and—
Ben Lakoff: Exactly.
Host: —the grass isn't so green.
Ben Lakoff: Exactly. It's great, but you know, there's, there's—it's not all sunshine and high fives in everything you do.
Host: 100%. Did you have a favorite place to live or like family aside? What would be your favorite place to live in the world?
Ben Lakoff: Yeah, that's, that's a really tough one. I mean, I loved Bangkok that was pretty much the longest place I've ever lived anywhere other than college or, or childhood. I speak Spanish and Portuguese, so I, I'm quite—I really like Latin America. I like Spain and Portugal because of the, the language and kind of the more Latin feel at times. So that doesn't answer your question? If I had to choose one like right now but probably would like something like Argentina.
Host: Very cool. Love it. Okay. Well, we have some quick questions before we close out from Twitter, our favorite place in the metaverse. And so DeFi - - had a couple of questions, I think we answered all of them. Sack Shaam [phonetic] says, Hi, Ben. I would love to have your opinions on the ecosystem where licensing NFTs and earning royalties becomes a thing. Thoughts?
Ben Lakoff: Yeah. So is that—I should have read through that Twitter thread. I was just stuck on some of our community members talking about push ups. Apparently, there was wicked ones in there as well. So the—they're like digitization of art, I suppose is what he's talking about, like an NFT as an Art Piece. The fact that it's digital, I mean, if I have a piece of art in my house, it just sits there even if I spent a million dollars on it. And it's for sale when people walk through my house. If it's digital, it can be listed for sale, you know, a reserve price on multiple platforms.
I can—I can use this as collateral and take out a loan you know, $1 million piece of art. Maybe conservatively, I can take out a loan of $100,000 its way over collateralized, you know, so that I can do whatever with that. I can also if it's digital, I can rent it out to different Art Galleries that maybe just want to use it for a day or just want to put it up somewhere. So it kind of opens this opportunity. I think we're, we're, we're still early days on a lot of these, like core infrastructures. There's, there's a bunch of really cool projects that are working on all those little pieces, but yeah, I think we'll get there eventually.
Host: Awesome. Bryan [phonetic] wants to know what are your thoughts and, and—or tell me more about energizing NFTs with other NFTs? Is he just talking about depositing NFTs inside and NFTs?
Ben Lakoff: Yeah. Yeah, so what I mean, we've got a couple of crazy use cases, like in our docks, but who knows, I mean, it's, it's like this Russian doll of an NFT owning other NFTs with art you know that can do some different things with NFTs in general. There's a lot of possibilities.
Host: Okay. Hey, Rory [phonetic] wants to know will charged particles Leptons be available as collateral for loans on state or finance?
Ben Lakoff: Oh, yeah. So I do—I did see that one. I had not heard of state or finance. So I just, just looked at them but talking about using your NFTs as collateral. So Leptons NFTs are an NFT that we sold, are charged particles. So this is a yield multiplier NFT. So one of the use cases is you take your NFT, we'll do a Liquidity Mining Program sometime next month, more details to be announced on that. But if you deposit this Lepton NFT inside of your NFT, it multiplies the earning power of that NFT, so to yield multiplying NFT. So that's one use case of depositing an NFT within an NFT.
And we've got a bunch of other cool use cases that we're kind of thinking about, but I'm using that Lepton, that NFT from charged particles as collateral for a loan. Yeah, any of your listeners that are working on using NFTs as collateral, reach out to me. I mean, I'm talking to a lot of them. I hadn't talked to this particular one yet, but it's definitely something that we want to support, especially the fact that an NFT can hold other assets. Well, those assets that are contained inside of it, regardless of the price of that NFT, those have an intrinsic value.
So in my mind, it's, it's a pretty good collateral source 'cause you can just pull out the assets and they're liquid and discard the NFT if you wish. But I'm, yeah, happy to chat to anybody that's working on NFTs as collateral, would love to support that.
Host: I feel like we could just keep talking for hours and more and more use cases like this would pop up, but it just seems like that the, the—like, the options are endless. You know, it's sort of like a lot of it we can't even dream up right now, there might even be use cases for charged particles that you guys haven't even thought of, you know, that might pop up in the future.
Ben Lakoff: Absolutely. And there are plenty of them, and we have a—we have a really awesome community that's kind of always pitching new crazy ideas. So yeah, if anybody has these crazy ideas, pin me on Twitter, Charged Particles, jump in our Discord Telegram. All the social Medias, you know, we're there.
Host: Awesome. And then last question from Twitter, this is your favorite one from your community. Spike [phonetic] wants to know how many push ups you can do in a minute. Mingo [phonetic] wants to know how many squats you can do in a minute as well. And spike also says that—well, let you answer that first? Let's see what your answer is?
Ben Lakoff: So firstly, talking about the community, Mingo is the Community Manager and Spike actually is a community member that built an entire stage within decentral land for one of our metaverse Parties. So we have another community member, Richard Dixon [phonetic], who created a massive Virtual Art Gallery in crypto voxels. So like these are community members that have spent their time and money to build these massive structures to host our metaverse Parties, which are super fun.
Some of the biggest in the metaverse last time we had a coordinated Cha-Cha slide and decentral land with like a third of all the decentral land users at that time, pretty cool, unique. But the reason why Spike is asking about push ups is because we also do a weekly Clubhouse call, 3pm on Wednesdays and because I'm a little busy or you know I'm, I'm not mindful of my time, I suppose. I was doing push ups when I was hosting the room and then somebody asked me a question and I was quite out of breath when, when I started talking. So I'm sure that's the genesis of it.
Host: Got it. So how many push ups can you do in a minute?
Ben Lakoff: I have no idea, about 40.
Host: That's probably the right answer—
Ben Lakoff: Probably correct there.
Host: —that's probably the right answer 'cause Spike also says please demand proof of workout if it turns out be a large number.
Ben Lakoff: Exactly. We'll do that in the after hours. So if you hold these NFTs it unlocks bonus material that will be available after - - a good use case NFTs.
Host: There you go—there you go, awesome. Okay. So this last segment I call explain your tweet. This is where I go through your Twitter account and pull out some interesting or cryptic tweets. You—a lot of your tweets are retweets and you're also on Clubhouse a lot. If people couldn't tell from this conversation, but a couple of tweets I found that were interesting. One is from March 3, you said, I have 17 Zoom calls today, 17—
Ben Lakoff: Yeah.
Host: —who does that? Who like who does that?
Ben Lakoff: Yeah.
Host: Why? And how is that even—how do you even squeeze 17 Zoom calls in a day?
Ben Lakoff: Yeah, the sad thing is well, that was like my first tweet that ever really went viral. I think I had like—like over 100,000 impressions, something insane, which is rather embarrassing. You know, I do have like a thoughtful tweet thread and it gets like 10 impressions. So—
Host: —Always works like that, doesn't it?
Ben Lakoff: It does.
Host: It's always like the, the dumb tweet that like use through for funnies that gets picked up.
Ben Lakoff: Now, I, I tried to do like the maker managers schedule. So I tried to stack all of my calls on a few days, but I mean even this week I had over 10 Zoom calls, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. So this is like the first day that I have had less than 10. Just kind of part of it, I mean, we're a completely decentralized team, so there's one on ones with team members, team calls, syncs, advisor calls, all, all of the things, so before you know it, you kind of fill up your day.
But I try to move them onto certain days of the week, so that I have, you know, bigger blocks of time, blocked for actual work and it doesn't bleed too much into my sleep schedule.
Host: That makes sense. But yeah, talk about zoom fatigue. That'll do it.
Ben Lakoff: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.
Host: Well, thank you so much, Ben for being here. I really enjoyed the conversation and I'm really excited to see where charged particles goes and learn more about the new use cases that come out of it. Before you go just tell people where they can find you if they want to connect with you personally and also how they can sign up for or start using charged particles. What are some of the initial cool and interesting things that they can do on it?
Ben Lakoff: Yeah. And thanks, Diana, I really appreciate this, this was a fun one. So to find me personally, it's at Ben Lakoff, L-A-K-O-F-F on all socials, I'm quite responsive on, on Twitter. Something else, like if you want to meet me in person, most actually all Mondays, here in LA. And then as you can find details there Crypto-Mondays LA, it's on meetup.com or on Twitter, you can find us there.
And then Charged Particles, we're at DeFi NFT is our Twitter handle. We snagged that in February 2020 before a handle like that would be probably pretty valuable these days, which is pretty cool. The website is charged.fi and from the website you can mint an NFT, you can check out our marketplace and see all the other NFTs that have been minted. And then most importantly is you can energize your NFT, so deposit other assets inside of this NFT.
Host: If you're in LA, definitely go check out Crypto-Mondays LA, go say hi to Ben and hopefully I can get myself out to LA soon too once things start opening up again and we can meet. Thank you listeners for tuning in and we'll be back again soon with another episode of The Unstoppable Podcast.