Blockchains on Planes

The Air Canada flight into San Francisco had a documentary on blockchain I hadn’t come across before, produced by Alex Winter.

It’s not a bad film, and even if it was, it’s great to see this on a plane ride. Joe Lubin appears but Vitalik doesn’t, he probably declined.

Approaching San Francisco there’s a detectable film of thin smoke from the wildfires just north in Sonoma County hanging over Golden Gate Bridge, but the sky in the Bay Area is as glorious as always.

I am skipping tomorrow’s and Friday’s Blockchain conference: too much shilling on stage. Even Libra has got a slot.

Bay Area

Long immigration queues yesterday at SFO didn’t allow me to make it to meetings in Mountain View so I charmed the United Airlines lady into changing my ticket and stayed overnight in Mountain View.

Feels like I made full circle back where I left things a couple of years ago when I hatched the idea for Otonomos but didn’t have the funds to bring the family here. Instead we chose Asia and I feel all the richer for it in many ways.

Despite having all the high-tech names within a couple of miles radius from here, the Bay Area can feel very quaint. Retail is stuck in the past and visiting a bank with their 70s fit-out is so retro it’s modish again. 

The golden sun though makes one forgive all of the Peninsula’s shortcomings, only the Côte d’Azur and Lisbon rivals this place for the sheer translucency of its blue sky. Waking up here with this California sky every day of the year induces optimism. Whatever rivals there may be, Silicon Valley will continue to dominate because of its mindset and because they made building and scaling a business a true craft. 

It’s been nice to walk Castro Street and have a cuppa at Red Rock, buy a book at Books Inc and eat a taco further up the street. People seemed relaxed, content and comfortable, and not all young.  Coupa Cafe hasn’t changed and it seems neither has Sand Hill Road’s business model!

Ten Dollar Cohiba in Panama

Typing this on morning flight to San Francisco from Panama.

Yesterday was all work had a ceviche brought up to the room for lunch and only got ready around dinner time.

Walked the Casco Antiguo to get a bite and found a $10 Cohiba in some local version of a 7-11 run by Chinese.

I first thought it would be a fake cigar but it smoked well. I enjoyed it with a stiff Negroni at the rooftop bar of the Casacasco opposite the hotel, a place that seems popular for corporate outings.

I amused myself reading tweets about Facebook’s hearings in DC on its planned Libra currency and retweeted a Hayek clip in which he urges not to leave issuance of money in the hands of Governments. 

I don’t think he had Libra in mind as an alternative, a corporate currency issued by surveillance capitalists. 

Bitcoin may have been closer to his idea of a private currency and the trustless technology behind it. 

BTC came through relatively unscathed from the congressional hearings. Lawmakers seem to prefer a decentralised currency they can’t control over a “ZuckBuck”.

The Bitcoin price stuck at around USD 9,400 didn’t seem to benefit much from this regularly reprieve. 

The crypto community should be careful what it wishes for if it wants more regulatory attention to BTC. 

It could be made illegal or killed by a thousand knives. Few talk about the role of Internet Service Providers, they could be made (probably already are) instruments of surveillance and tools to restrict access.  

Blockchain may not be as unstoppable as they seem if their hardware backbone is targeted. Will Governments let them flourish as a freedom tool or use them as instruments for repression?