Understanding Blockchain With Tracy Hazzard From The Larry King Now Podcast With Larry King
We may keep hearing the buzzwords in today’s digital industry, such as bitcoin, crypto, and blockchain, but do we really understand what they mean and how they relate to the real world? Inc. Magazine columnist and co-host of the New Trust Economy podcast Tracy Hazzard joins Larry King on The Larry King Now Podcast, along with Larry Sanger of Wikipedia, Eric Tippetts of NASGO, and Markus Levin of XYO to give people a better understanding of blockchain technology. Tune in to this interesting discussion about how it relates to cryptocurrency, why there is a need for it, and where it’s going in the foreseeable future.
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We’re diving into a subject many people have heard about, but less actually understand, blockchain. The buzz words are Bitcoin, crypto and blockchain. They seemed to be everywhere. What do they mean? How do they relate to the real world? To explain, I’m joined by Larry Sanger, the Cofounder of Wikipedia. He has since left the company and joined Everipedia as the Chief Information Officer to help the company with its mission to become a decentralized online encyclopedia. Eric Tippetts, the Cofounder of NASGO, a marketplace for decentralized apps, hoping to make blockchain technology more accessible to everyone. By the way, my wife, Shawn has been working with that company as a consultant. Markus Levin is the Cofounder of XYO, a company created to decentralize GPS technology through blockchain, and Tracy Hazzard, a columnist for Inc. Magazine. She also co-hosts a podcast all about blockchain called the New Trust Economy. This is all very new to me and to a lot of people. We’ll start, Larry, with you. In a couple of words, what’s blockchain?
It’s a shared database that a lot of people that have different copies of, but they match so it’s possible for everyone to agree on what the content is of this database, but no one person has control. It’s decentralized.
How does it relate to cryptocurrency, Eric?
Cryptocurrency is a digital currency that everyone can use and see. It’s open and transparent and can create a very fair and open way to transact with each other.
Is this designed, Markus, to replace money as we know it?
It could. The cryptocurrency enthusiasts hope that, at least. Several banks around the world are playing with blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. Transaction costs, for example, are very low when you transact with cryptocurrencies. It makes sense in a way that maybe you have a hybrid system where you have offline money and online money is in a blockchain type form.
Tracy, what was the need for it?
There are a lot of needs for it. There are opportunities where we have a lot of disenfranchised people who don’t have access to banks, for instance. That’s where cryptocurrency may come in play. It already is around the world. There are a lot of also main street needs where we don’t trust reviews. We don’t trust Wikipedia some days because we’ve heard of hacking, scraping and all sorts of things that happen there. We need to have something that’s more immutable, which is what we call the blockchain. It’s something that’s more verifiable and able to be hacked only through extreme measures of which we’d find out about quickly.
Eric, does it cut out the middleman?
Absolutely. For yourself, it would be very simple to tokenize Larry King and create a Larry King token. You have a token that you have fans and you have followers that want to interact directly with you. Let’s say you have content that you would like to put out there. It’s exclusive content that your fans and followers could use their tokens to purchase and get access to that type of information. That type of insights, VIP events, content or whatever it might be. It’s a simple way to have a verifiable and open interaction with somebody directly.
Does it eliminate the bank, Markus?
Yeah, it could. A bank is a middleman. Blockchain technology is a peer to peer transaction. If you want to pay me $1 electronically, it goes through a bank or a payment system. With blockchain technology, it’s from your directly to me. In that case, it eliminates the bank.
Tracy, are there actual coins?
Yes, there are. There are some that are working well. I was referring to banking that’s going on in other countries. There’s a company called Walla that is doing a coin that is being utilized to redeem for food aid and being able to be utilized in small amounts because in other countries there might be a situation which there is no bank. There are coins being utilized. There also tokens being utilized as Eric was referring to. We do it on a reward system. We’ve been doing it since the ‘80s. We had our arcades and we would put our coins. We’d get to use them for things. We are earning coin in other places. It just may not be redeemable across platforms.
Larry, wasn’t there a downturn in the Bitcoin business?
Yes, there was. It’s a bear market since about January or February 2019. There was a hell of a lot of speculative energy in the market. Everybody was getting in and not enough institutional support perhaps to justify the ongoing boom.
How far are we, Eric, from cryptocurrency taking over from banks?
We’re on our way, but we still have a lot more education. For the average person, when you say blockchain, cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin, they’re thinking in a speculation way. It’s a moneymaking like, “It’s going up. It’s going down.” You’ve got to get out of that mindset and look at a digital currency is a simple way to have globalization.
If I want to get into this market, what do I do?
It depends on what you want to get into. Do you want to get into blockchain technology? You get informed and try to work with one of our companies. For example, if you want to invest in cryptocurrencies and it’s a distinction, you can go onto a cryptocurrency exchange like Coinbase, Gemini and a bunch of others, and you can buy your cryptocurrencies.
What do you think of its future?
It’s going to be epic. It can be very transformational. Imagine all the middlemen gone away, what it would do to your costs and to your individual freedoms if you have complete control. Everybody talks about blockchain because it’s a hype word. It’s sexy. It sounds good. It’s about the solutions we provide with that blockchain technology.
We’ll have some individual questions for each of our guests. Larry Sanger, you cofounded Wikipedia in 2001. What is the new company?
It’s called Everipedia. It stands for the encyclopedia of everything. We are putting Wikipedia plus a million of our own articles on the blockchain. This is going to enable people to be incentivized, unlocking tokens for themselves when they write and edit articles. This is going to motivate contributors and also help vet the content in ways that Wikipedia can’t.
How is it doing?
It’s doing quite well. The token is called IQ token. We have a lot of things in the works for not just encyclopedias but other things that are going to be built as part of the network.
Eric Tippetts, NASGO, my wife has been working with you a bit on this. What is NASGO?
People think of the internet, they don’t know how the internet works, but it works. We wanted to create a decentralized internet but also incorporate like what GoDaddy did to the internet. People looked at the internet and they said, “I have no clue how this works,” but then GoDaddy said, “Look at how simple this is. Come over here. We can get you a website, buy a domain and build your website.” NASGO’s mission is for small businesses to be able to buy a domain address on blockchain, be able to tokenize their business in less than a minute. Now, they’ve got a loyalty token or something asset that they can incentivize their customers. They can grow their customers using these tokens.We're going to generate and move innovation through blockchain. #TheLarryKingNowPodcast #LarryKing #podcastinterview Click To Tweet
You mentioned artists, entertainers and influencers. How does your company help these people use blockchain?
That’s a broken model, the entertainment and music industry. You’ve got these engines that the content creator, they’re the last one that gets paid pennies.
How would I use it?
You would tokenize the LK token. I look at China, most of our audience, we’ve got 3.5 million people in China. They love content, but they don’t have access to your content. Being able to monetize it there in China with piracy, with firewalls and with currency, this would allow you to take your token on NASGO, be able to then show it in China.
Markus, XYO, your company deals with location, verification and tracking. What does that mean in terms of blockchain?
The problem is location is that it’s easily spoofed or hacked. The predominant location sources is GPS and you can hack it. Our technology use connected devices like your cell phone or Bluetooth speakers and other types of technology, where all those devices verify each other’s location, independent of satellites and you record in our blockchain type system. This way you have verified location.
Is it different from GPS?
Very much so.
What’s wrong with GPS?
Tracy, for example, she mentioned reviews that can be easily hacked or Wikipedia and all those information sources rely on location. If you speak about a restaurant, you can put a review up on Yelp, for example. I pretend that I was at the restaurant and I put a review up. Our technology can say someone was here at the show, then went to a restaurant and went back to the office and wrote a review about it. You would have a location-verified review.
Is this technology going to track us?
It’s not going to track you. It’s going to verify a path and supply chain, but it is not connected to your personal ID.
Tracy, you have a podcast called the New Trust Economy. What do you discuss?
We discuss more along the lines of use cases of blockchain, how it’s working. I started it because I have a podcast network called Podetize. In Podetize, I wanted to make sure that influencers at a lower level, they’re not as famous as you, Larry King. How do they get to monetize as early as possible? By the blockchain verification, both the brand can verify they were listened to and the host can verify they’re going to get paid. You’re paid for your content. That’s what attracted me to it. Can we find these use cases, these stories of how it’s working? How they produced, enacted it and built their blockchain because that’s how we’re going to generate and move innovation.
How do you introduce blockchain to the average person?
It’s always through storytelling. It’s always through examples. Whenever I talk about disruptive innovation or I write about it in my column, I’m always using a story about how it might work. In other words, if I have a main street business and I want to reward and attract, I don’t want to be paying Groupon to attract customers. I don’t want to be taking all the cut. Why can’t I give that straight discount and cut out the middleman and be able to reward people not only for coming in, but for coming back.
Where do you see it in ten years?
We’ll see more use cases. There will be more widespread adoption by providing easier access to cryptocurrencies and blockchain products.
Will there be a time, Larry, where everyone is using cryptocurrency?
I think so. It’s more likely that there will be a time when everyone is using utility tokens. In other words, they’re using internet apps and a lot of things offline that are made different and better decentralized by being tokenized.
Eric, do you see cryptocurrency eliminating regular currency?
Yes, I do. Paper money is inefficient. It’s dirty. It has germs all over it. I’m in China, I’m sitting there having a cup of coffee one morning. I’m watching about 1,000 people come through this little bakery. It’s because they walked through, grabbed what they wanted, scanned the QR code and walked right out. There was nobody pulling out cash and pulling out any change. The world is going to become very efficient. I’m already seeing it from around the world. We’re extremely slow here in the US in understanding these kinds of velocities. I come back here and see the inefficiencies and the ineffectiveness of paper money and things that are happening. We have a hard time. Everybody is skeptical. They take such a long time to move to that next generation.
Tracy, does it have an effect on credit cards?
It has an effect on all the ways we look at money. We have a generation of kids. I have a 24-year-old daughter. She is annoyed when the bank assesses an overdraft fee because she missed the cutoff to move money at 8:00 PM Eastern Time. We live on Pacific Time. She can’t understand it. She’s like, “Business is 24 hours. The money is moving 24 hours. Why is this arbitrary 8:00 PM thing?” It’s the same thing with fees. Credit cards are filled with fees. Our next generation doesn’t understand it. It’s going to have to move away because they’ll start to move to things that are more efficient. As these blockchain and cryptocurrencies, digital currencies, processes come in, we’re going to say, “Let’s get rid of our credit card.”
The year 2020 is where blockchain is going to kick in. The education we’ve been laying the foundation. In 2020, people will start utilizing it especially public companies. Why would you not put a public company on blockchain instead of doing these quarterly filings? If I want to know what you’re doing in sales and what you’re doing in transactions, I look in your blockchain and I can see it.
Larry, what industry should be using it more?
I think supply chain is a perfect fit for blockchain. The other one I also have to mention is education in general. It’s a great idea to put transcripts online. When that happens, it’s truly a revolutionary idea. It takes power out of the hands of centralized universities.
You were saying it could help charities.
You start to think about charities and these donors. The donations go in and you have no clue where the money goes. We saw that in Haiti where everybody said, “How did billions go in and it never went to the people?” In a charity, they are accountable. You see money donated and you also see where it was donated to and how much. It’s a complete open transparency model.You can cut out the middleman and reward people not only for coming in but for coming back. #TheLarryKingNowPodcast #LarryKing #podcastinterview Click To Tweet
Guys and gal, you have some audience questions for all of you. Lebon Daz on Twitter asked, “In 2019, it is another Uber or Tesla, a lot of buzz globally, but fails to generate any revenue.” Do you want to comment?
It’s because you’ve got 2017, 2018 were the year of speculation. A lot of ICO’s initial coin offerings, people using stories to raise money where I believe 2019, 2020 is the year of utilization. Your question is exactly right on. We need to get from the storytelling to, “What are use case studies? How are small businesses the lifeblood of every economy utilizing digital currencies to enable their business, not the speculation period?”
Markus, Edward Keyes6 says, “Where does the value of currency come from? Is it real money? Do I have to do a deposit on the internet or what? How in the marketplace does it work?”
It’s a complex question because there are two sides to it. It’s difficult to evaluate cryptocurrencies. If you look at Bitcoin, Bitcoin is a basic accounting system and then it has very limited inherent value. If you believe it has value or doesn’t, it doesn’t matter. In the case of our currencies and your currencies, the companies who work with you, you have an underlying system which provides the value for the token. In XYO’s case, you have access to our system and to the location verification and get verified location data with XYO. This way you can evaluate cryptocurrency.
Wally Dreman on Facebook asked, Tracy, “What are the risks in investing in Bitcoin?”
It is a lot of speculation as everyone’s been referring to as that. There is a lot of that. When I look at investing in companies, as opposed to investing in cryptocurrency, what Markus was referring to is that you’re talking about securitization. Is there underlying value? Does that company make money? Does it have a possibility of making money? Is it built on a large user database? There might be a lot of people trafficking the Everipedia. You have all of those possibilities as to adding the value and creating the new value source. It’s not one single value source, which in cryptocurrency, you would love it to be like backed by gold or backed by the dollar, whatever that is. It’s not going to be the case. You can’t evaluate it the same way.
Austin Kelly on Facebook, what’s the benefit in investing in Bitcoin, Eric?
I don’t see a benefit. When I say that is if you’re getting into cryptocurrency and into Bitcoin for the speculation, the investment side of it, I’m a very simple person. When I look at cryptocurrency, what’s the demand and what’s the supply. If you look at anything and people wonder why is Bitcoin getting beat up so bad? It’s because when you don’t know what exactly what the demand is, then it will always fall. It’s a house of cards that falls until there is true utilization. It’s something to where it hits, where there’s true utility people are using it. You’ve got a foundation and you build from that foundation. We were in a crazy time. Back a few years ago, when it’s at 20,000 and people were going, “I don’t even know what it is, but buy it. You make money. It’s crazy.”
Susan Wells asked, “How do you know when it’s a good time to invest?”
You never do. Again, going back to investing, these are questions from somebody that maybe hasn’t invested. You’re trying to ask questions of speculation. When can I hit the bottom? If we knew that, we’d all be gazillionaires. Investing is about understanding what is the company? Tracy said it. Do not look at the coin. They’re token. You’re looking at the company, who’s utilizing it, what’s behind it. Each of us has tokens. There’s a very clear business model behind what’s going on.
What do you want people to take away from this discussion, Larry?
Let’s put it this way. We need to look at Bitcoin and all the cryptocurrencies as the fulfillment of the promise of open source software. Originally with open source software, it was possible to organize a lot of different people to create great software. The principles were used for Wikipedia. Those people didn’t become owners of their products.
Eric, what do you want people to take away?
People use the internet every day and they don’t know how the internet works. Blockchain is the same thing. With NASGO, we tried to make it toward the everyday person to small business can immediately use the apps that we built, start to increase their business, get more customers, increase loyalty and profits. They don’t even realize that tokens on blockchain, but there are all the applications that are not complex. They’re not techie. They’re not code that I have to write. They’re very simple.
What we were creating is a world, which becomes less complex. We simplify it as well where you and I can interact without all the middleman and all the things that we don’t need and fees and so on. With XYO, we had this location. NASGO, you do that for business. Everipedia, you do that for education and knowledge. There are thousands and thousands of products out there, which are in the infancy right now. They’re going to grow over the next few years. We’re going to change the world together.
Tracy, finally, what do you want the audience to take away?
We all grew up on the internet. We grew up when it was at its infancy stage. Some of us did and we built businesses on it. We started using social media on it. All of these things were built on something but they didn’t know what it was going to be when they started it. Imagine if we now are building a new highway that is going to allow a broader community, a broader bandwidth, a broader ability to prevent hacking, all of those things that we see every day that we complain about. “I’m always constantly hacked. I can’t trust the reviews here. I’m afraid of this.” We’re going to be able to build something that is an infrastructure underneath that allows us to be able to solve those problems now that we know what we want to build on it. The best part about it is the more involved we all get at the earlier stage, especially women and minorities, the diversity that we build into this, then the better the new internet is going to be for us. The blockchain is going to be for us all.
Thank you all very much. A big thanks to our guest, Larry Sanger, Eric Tippetts, Markus Levin and Tracy Hazzard for joining me to shed some light on a topic that has many confused. It’s a fascinating conversation. Thanks to all of you. As always, you can find me on Twitter @KingsThings. I’ll see you next time.
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