CryptoSlate recently sat down with Mahbod Moghadam, the former co-founder and Chief Community Officer of Everipedia, and former co-founder of Rap Genius (now known as simply Genius), which he started in 2009 with Tom Lehman.
Moghadam graduated from Yale University in 2004, magna cum laude, majoring in History and International Studies.
In our interview, Moghadam shared his crypto origin story and gave us some bold crypto predictions for 2020 and beyond.
How, when and who got you into crypto?
Mahbod Moghadam (MM): Balaji Srinivasan — the most important man in crypto — told me to buy Bitcoin when he came to the rap genius office to ask me to ask Nas to make a diss track about gawker on behalf of Peter Thiel so he would invest in us. I also met Brian Armstrong at YC Demo Day and I became an early Coinbase investor — I was very impressed by this mayne.
What projects and/or companies are you most excited about and why?
MM: Sorry to be obnoxious but Everipedia is the ONLY consumer dApp with traction, nothing else even looks hot. I think our attempt to build an IQ token ecosystem with other dapps like Prediqt is the most promising on the consumer side of things. In Defi, it seems like ethereum is crushing it so I am happy to be an early ethereum investor as well! I can’t name any legit companies though, I think there are still lots of competitors. Obviously I still believe in Coinbase, I’m proud to be an early investor — I think they will end up crushing all the banks. I just heard about Celsius.network and I’m trying to learn more – definitely sounds cool! And perhaps most important, I’m still bullish on Libra and Zuck’s crypto plans – NEVER DOUBT ZUCK! He understands the power of crypto better than any of the leaders in Silicon Valley.
Speaking of Zuck, what do you think the chances of Facebook’s Libra initiative getting off the ground?
MM: Zuck is facing a lot of headwinds, and I think it’s because he sees the vision, at least I hope so. I don’t get the point of Libra being a stablecoin — I think it should be like Facebook stock, like how the IQ token is for Everipedia. I’m hoping Zuck plans to decentralize Facebook, in the same model as SteemIt and Everipedia. I think the name of the token should be FacebookCoin or Facecoin, not Libra.
What are the biggest challenges of building a crypto business right now?
MM: It seems like VC’s are no longer excited about funding crypto stuff, which I think is ridiculous. It seems to have become a dirty word in pitch decks. Obviously the ICO debacle was deeply problematic — uncannily similar, in my opinion, to the 2000 tech bubble. Also, until someone like Zuck makes everyone have a crypto wallet, mass adoption with crypto is difficult. It’s like the early internet – you have some very enthusiastic techies who will use your product, but most people are simply unable to use it cause they don’t have a wallet. In some ways, though this can be advantageous as well — your users will often be diehard users, as is the case with Everipedia and now with Prediqt.
Will Bitcoin be the dominant cryptocurrency in 2030?
MM: Until a month ago I would have said yes, but now I have changed my tune. It looks like Ethereum is crushing it. I am not a developer, but people I trust think that Ethereum 2.0 is outperforming other altcoins as well as bitcoin lightning. One part of my philosophy is that tech is all about brands. If you have a good brand, and a competitor builds superior technology, then you can just copy their technology, like what Facebook did to Snapchat. And it seems like Ethereum is killing it as a brand. Especially for Defi, it has by far the most developers working on it, and the most prestigious ones.
Bitcoin is good because it is the original and it is truly decentralized — but perhaps it is too decentralized. There is no Mark Zuckerberg type figure behind Bitcoin as Ethereum has with Vitalik. So I think that Bitcoin is going to be used as storage — digital gold — but it seems like Ethereum is the strongest bet for transactions. Otherwise, I am bullish on IQ or tokens like ours that represent the value and ownership of a specific company.
Now that pro-crypto candidate Andrew Yang has dropped out of the presidential race, which candidate is of interest to you?
MM: I am supporting Bernie 100 percent. He has earned this. Maybe we can get Yang as VP! Or a cabinet position. Also, I think we can make Bernie see the light on crypto, so long as we stress to him that it can assist in the downfall of big banks!
Could Genius.com benefit from its own native token? If so, how?
MM: Dude – I talked to Tom just one time in the past 5 years, and I tried to make him see the light. But he would never do it. I remember our talk of Bitcoin back in 2013 — Tom is a dinosaur! He used to work for a hedge fund before we built Genius so he is not into this whole crypto thing. But it is a damn shame. A big reason I got into crypto is I felt how it was missing from what I did at Genius. I remember one time I got into trouble for putting up a blog post called “Cash Genius” offering small payments for editors who completed certain tasks. Everyone got mad at me! The community — Tom and Ilan — it was a shitshow. Genius is de-emphasizing community and focusing more on the “Verified” videos of the artists, so I don’t blame Tom in a way — it doesn’t make sense for us right now. But for me, it’s a shame! It would be my dream to see Genius decentralized but it won’t happen. Alas!
Other than Genius.com, what other existing businesses do you think could most benefit from tokenization?
MM: StackOverflow and Quora. Q&A sites are my passion. After Prediqt has some solid traction, the Everipedia team plans to build a site called IQ&A which is Q&A decentralized on the IQ token. I’m really excited. I was a superstar on Quora before I got banned — I was probably their most popular contributor of all time. I am passionate about Q&A sites because I am really into Socrates.
What do you think of Jack Dorsey’s pro-Bitcoin involvement with Square? Would the ultimate vision of his work be a Bitcoin Lightning network tipping feature on Twitter?
MM: Jack Dorsey is too much of a dumbass to decentralize. He’ll never actually build anything substantial because he’s too busy smoking weed and going on vacation to exotic places. I think Zuck is way way more likely to build a decentralized social network than Dorsey. THAT BEING SAID… I like Dorsey’s commitment to Bitcoin. It would be cool if Facebook wanted to integrate with Bitcoin too rather than launching Libra. Bitcoin has the brand name, it is the mother of all cryptos — so it would be cool if Bitcoin could become the “internet currency.” But from what I’ve heard from developers, Lightning is not really working well. It seems like Bitcoin, sadly, is destined only to be a store of value, and not to serve for transactions.
What is your most controversial opinion relating to blockchain and/or cryptocurrency?
MM: I think everyone else has lost their faith in Mark Zuckerberg but I haven’t. I think he’s the person who can lead the crypto revolution. Out of mainstream tech peeps the CEO of Twitter is considered the big crypto fan, and I mean like — come on — there is not nearly as much he can do as Zuck can. Zuck is the one who brought the internet to everyone, I think he will also be the guy who gives everyone a crypto wallet.
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