Baz

I'm a technology professional based in London. After a brief stint in finance, I spent a few years in web2 as a software engineer, product manager and founder. In late 2020 I wrote about my journey here.

My core investment hypothesis is that web3 will disrupt[1] web2.

Depending on your background, this is either a hot take or a lukewarm take - or perhaps you're not sure what I mean. Read on:

Why web3 is so exciting

While I have a neutral outlook on cryptocurrency valuations[2][3], I'm bullish on the value created by Turing-complete, decentralised computers such as the Ethereum Virtual Machine[4].

As individuals using mobile phones and the internet, you and I can only see the thin, top layer of a stack of digital information technologies - whether that's your Instagram news feed, your Fortnite lobby or your mobile banking app.

If we go a few layers deep into the stack and redesign underlying technologies to be more decentralised, we may (may!) achieve a system that is more:

  1. Secure
  2. Interoperable
  3. And therefore, convenient.

You can see my latest experiments with the web3 stack and dApp development here.

On a side note I'm bearish about the capacity of decentralised technology to displace the tech giants[5]. I also think the sooner we move to proof-of-stake, the better. Block mining is terrible for the environment and proof-of-work also advantages the rich. Microchips cost money, people!

Anyway, there's a lot of work to do but this could transform:

  • How we work and organise ourselves (DAOs)
  • How we exchange value (Cryptocurrencies)
  • How we balance risk and reward (DeFi)
  • How we use digital assets to establish and judge social attributes (NFTs and the Metaverse)
  • How we manage our digital identity and verify others' claims (SSI)
  • And probably more. This is all happening pretty fast and I haven't spotted everything.

I can't stress this enough. Cryptocurrency valuations are entertaining, but they are just the fuel for a future internet. The future internet is the exciting bit. Speculating about cryptoassets is a bit like speculating about oil in the late 1800s - sure, the asset may be worth something one day, but wouldn't it be more interesting to design the first automobile?

Happy to get coffee if you'd like a chat - reach out on LinkedIn.


Portfolio

In terms of my skillset I am more of wannabe Steve Jobs than a Steve Wozniak, but anyway, here are the dApps I'm developing at the moment. It's a helpful way for me to learn how all the components of the ecosystem fit together.

Product Manager | Epic Games

For a year, I was responsible for a key part of Epic Games' enterprise child privacy and identity services - with the overarching strategy of cultivating an open, vibrant, non-toxic metaverse.

We catered to Epic's own brands (Fortnite, Fall Guys, Rocket League) and external clients (some of the biggest games in the world). The basic idea behind the product is that GDPR-K, COPPA and other child privacy regulation rightfully penalise companies that process children's data without a parent's consent. Moreover, you have to prove that the person giving consent really is the parent. This is a tough problem, and subject to nuanced legal intepretation.

The service we created makes it easier to implement your lawyers' guidance. We also gave it to developers for free.

Venture | Ours to Save

Ours to Save searches all over the planet for stories on how we're going to save it.

We're proud to commission solutions journalism on the big green questions, from writers at The Economist, gal-dem, The Times, The Guardian, Vice and plenty more. Our editorial agenda (curated by editor Florence Wildblood) is solutions-oriented and global.

You can find out more about the #plasticFreePints campaign we ran in conjunction with EcoDisco as reported in The Telegraph here.

Venture | SayPlants

Say Plants negotiates discounts and freebies at vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants, which is then passed on to its members. It works just like TasteCard, or Unidays.

This was going pretty well until London went into c-19 lockdown.

Venture | BoostrBox

This was a bonkers idea we had when c-19 struck London and the whole city went into lockdown. Moreover, the Ocado site was rate-limited and locking everyone out.

Alongside my co-founder, we spent two days:

  • Building a shopping portal from scratch
  • Integrating it with Stripe
  • Getting access to a fleet of vans
  • Getting access to wholesalers
- and then proceeded to procure and deliver fresh groceries and loo roll around London. Here's Brightzine's piece on Boostrbox.


Other stuff I've done

Education

  • I studied Philosophy at Cambridge University, where I coupled mathematical logic with coding in my spare time.
  • I also passed the first level of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) qualification, which gave me a solid grounding in economics, corporate finance and stats.

Work

  • I interned at BGF - the UKs most active private equity investor in SMEs.
  • I also interned at ?What If!, an innovation consultancy where I learned the value of design thinking.
  • I spent a year working at Funding Options - a fintech scale-up. I got really confident validating strategic hypotheses about how to grow the company.
  • You can read articles about stuff I've done as published by Maddyness, The Telegraph and Amplify.

Footnotes

  1. This word is overused but I'm using it in Clayton Christensen's intended sense. If it were rational for big companies to pursue blockchain projects, it would be a continuous innovation rather than a disruptive innovation. The industry is weird and speculative - that's the point, that's the opportunity and that's the risk. Read the book.

  2. There is a huge amount of speculation and sponsored FOMO surrounding cryptocurrencies at the moment. There's nothing wrong with this per se but given the efficient market hypothesis (and its variants), I'm bearish about the perceived ability to beat the reward/risk ratio present in other financial markets.

  3. However, currencies (of any kind: crypto, fiat or otherwise) do have an underlying value insofar as they fulfil the three functions of money. Bitcoin, and potentially other cryptocurrencies, are designed in such a way that they may be more appropriate than gold or USD as a global reserve currency. For this reason, cryptocurrencies are not a pure Ponzi scheme.

  4. Furthermore, cryptocurrencies can be valued on the basis of their infrastructural role. AWS servers have value because they facilitate the transmission, storage and manipulation of information. Decentralised computers such as the EVM (and infrastructure at layer 2 / layer 3 / layer n) may replace some layers of our technology stack, and also facilitate the transmission, storage and manipulation of information. On this basis we can value cryptocurrencies in a similar way to how we value energy. The bigger and more widespread web3 becomes, the more valuable those cryptocurrencies will be. For more on all of this, see John Pfeffer's 2017 piece.

  5. A vocal libertarian-leaning subsection of the web3 community is enthuastic about the power of blockchain to displace existing institutions, especially GAFA and the like. The idea is that blockchain is architecturally more democratic than existing technologies. On the other hand, almost all blockchain projects are controlled, by institutional capital (A16Z being a keystone). Capital seeks to reproduce itself at an ever-greater rate, and therefore democratic architecture and libertarian policies are only pursued insofar as they achieve this goal. The rebels of today are the monopolies of tomorrow. This is a problem for everyone; governments must take steps to protect their citizens and employees must bargain for more ethical practices when navigating the jobs market.