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[music plays]


Niki: I’m Niki Christoff and welcome to Tech’ed Up.  

This episode was taped live on the main stage of the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas. Sheila Warren, the CEO of Crypto Council for Innovation, joined me for her fresh take on the future of crypto. We break down where we go after a year of headlines dominated by criminal bros and celebrity NFTs. 


A note to our listeners: You can’t hear the live audience or the booming metaverse display happening in the background [chuckling] while we taped, but there are some minor recording flaws in this episode. Also, apparently, my voice drops to Elizabeth Holmes when it’s noisy. Who knew??



Niki: Welcome, everybody. This is a live-to-tape episode of my podcast, the Tech’ed Up Podcast. I've never done this in front of an audience. I'm usually in a studio, alone, so [pause]  thank you for coming. We're at CES in Las Vegas. My guest today is Sheila Warren. Sheila, thank you for being here.

Sheila: Oh, it's such a pleasure, Niki. I always love chatting with you.

Niki: So, just some background on how I know Sheila and how we're gonna frame today's conversation.

So, basically, it's the first week of 2023. The topic is like, what even with crypto, like, what next? We've known each other for about a year, which feels like about ten years. I first met Sheila and asked you to come explain web3 to me because it had just entered the zeitgeist.

So, we will talk a little bit about you, your job, gotta talk about the elephant in the room, FTX and Sam Bankman-Freid a little bit. And then I wanna kind of get back to the tech, and the innovations, and the inventions, and where you see a path forward, what that looks like, and what's required.

Sheila: Let's do it. 

Niki: Okay, so let's start with you, Sheila Warren. You are the CEO of the Crypto Council for Innovation. What is that? What's your job? And how did you fall into the crypto rabbit hole? 

Sheila: Yeah, well, let's start with where I am now, and then we can go time travel back into the past and talk about how I got into this wild space. So, I am the CEO of the Crypto Council for Innovation, which means I report to everybody else on my team. [chuckles]

And what we are is a policy and advocacy organization that focuses a lot on evidence-based education and advocacy. So, as you all know, there's a lot of nonsense about crypto out there, both positive and negative. And what we're trying to do is basically bring facts to that conversation. 

We work currently at the state level. We've at the federal level in the United States. We work in London, in Brussels, in Singapore, in Hong Kong. And we're trying to just ensure that the exciting opportunities in this space, there's a pre, there's preservation of that opportunity. And that we're also addressing some of the challenges that do exist.

So, I'm a lawyer by training. I started off working at a Wall Street law firm called Cravath. I did tax, I did crypto. I did M&A, Corporate M&A back before crypto was even a thing. This was, like, pre-bitcoin, any of that stuff. And from there, I moved out to Silicon Valley, and I worked with the last generation of tech billionaires who were very frustrated about how challenging it was to create innovation models within philanthropy. I wanted to address some of that. So I wound up doing a lot of work with Washington to think about how can we create a little bit more innovation space within philanthropy and move away from a very traditional, kind of, very top-down kind of model and create a more grassroots movement.

From there, I built a product. I actually am a, was a founder, and built a product called NGOsource that was designed to make it easier to move money across borders, charitable money across borders. And then, I spent ten years in civic tech just thinking about how do we empower communities? How do we empower small local nonprofits to use technology in a way that's gonna be productive and not fall into, actually, hype cycles around things?

So, I came at this not about in my background, funnily enough, not in terms of the money side and the financial services side, but actually around data.

And to this day, I remained very passionate about decentralized data storage, and data capture, and data hygiene. Those are really important things to me. So, what happened was while I was at TechSoup, the place where I was General Counsel, we took that organization from, you know, a handful of countries to basically everywhere in the world. And we were working in Uganda, and for whatever reason at that time, a lot of funding was going into Uganda and LGBTQ organizations.

And actually, I know why that was happening because, during my tenure there, there was a law that was passed that criminalized being LGBTQ, not behavior, just being LGBTQ. And we of course, had in our database organizations, the existence of which, right, to get the money, we had to have a name, an address, like, basic things that if got into the wrong hands, would result in people being jailed, murdered. I mean, really scary stuff. 

So, our CTO and I were like, you know, “There's hacks coming.” Every, every organization gets hacked. This was when that was kind of becoming a really big thing. The cloud was in play, all that. We were moving from on-premise to cloud software. All of that was happening. We were very concerned about this, and I had dinner with a friend who said, “Why don't you put all that data on the blockchain?”  Which, of course, makes no sense with the time. It's like 2015, you know? I was like, “Ooh, that's a great idea! We should do that. All the data on the blockchain!” Right? 

I learned about hashes and all these kinds of things, and I just got obsessed with this idea that if we removed a honey pot, if we removed a centralized authority, that could make a lot of things safer for a lot of the organizations I was working with and to this day, that remains something, as you know, I'm very passionate about. 

Niki: So this is one of the things I love about Sheila, and you don't have to comment on this ‘cuz I know who some of your clients are. There's a stereotype of who works in crypto, and it's not a lawyer, who was in philanthropy, who's focused on the international applications of blockchain technology.

It's, um,  I think it's bros in board shorts driving Lambos. But I think it's so important that we elevate the voices of who else is in this space. So most of my clients in crypto, former law enforcement, a lot of women, a lot of, parents, [chuckling], middle-aged parents. So, I think there's a stereotype based on the headlines that we see that doesn't do justice to the industry.

So, let's talk for a minute about headlines, and then I wanna shift to the inventions that will not be uninvented, and what you see on the horizon, and what real use cases are if you get out of the kind of memecoins and shitcoins and altcoin. I don't know if I can say that CES! [both chuckle]  

Sheila: It’s your podcast! 

[Both laugh]

Niki: Sorry! I'm probably the only person who just used a swear word here. And sort of the, the day trading and the, like, what is beyond the hype. So, let's start with; we gotta talk Sam Bankman-Fried, recently arrested, hanging out at his parents' house. How does that impact you? Any thoughts on it? 

Sheila: Y’know, it's, it's such a funny thing cuz people are looking at this as like an indictment. Some people, I think not many to be frank, are looking at this as a possible indictment of an entire industry. And what I see, when I look at this, there were eight [interrupts self] again, maybe cuz I'm a lawyer. There were eight criminal counts brought in this case. And I'm gonna use words like alleged, 'cause again, I'm a lawyer, and you can't beat the training outta you completely. But y’know, what this was, was the oldest crime in the book. It was an individual, or allegedly a small group of individuals, who were committing wire fraud and securities fraud. And allegedly, again, commodities fraud, and mismanagement of funds, and criminal appropriation. 

And when you look at the timeframe of this entire project, it's not like this went on for decades and decades and decades, right? This is not a Bernie Madoff, decades-long in-the-making kind of Ponzi. Pretty quickly there was a reveal of what was going on and there are consequences that are being attached.

Now, what I think is really interesting about this situation is that had this system been more transparent, been more decentralized, had there been some guardrails in place that blockchain technology is designed to embed. Well, it would've been disincentivized behavior cause it would be easier than faster to spot with more accountability, hard to get away with, and consequences that attach, right?

So, there are technical ways that we can embed some of the incentives we wanna see in these systems, and I think that is getting underrepresented in terms of how do we prevent this from ever happening ever, ever again. 

Niki: I think that's a really good point, and maybe we back up a smidge. I assume people who at CES come to a crypto chat know a little bit about crypto, but the idea is it's supposed to be decentralized.

You shouldn't be able to have one charismatic crook. I'm not even gonna say alleged [chuckling], even though I went to law school too [both chuckle]  be able to take down billions of dollars in a short period of time. That's not actually how the system should work if it's truly decentralized. , which it wasn't.

So, let's talk for a minute about DeFi. What's DeFi?  Have we overlooked it for the last year? That's a leading question [chuckles] And where do you think the next steps are for it?

Sheila: So, the most important point I can make about DeFi is how new it is, and I, I cannot emphasize this enough.

Okay, so there was something called DeFi Summer, and, like, the time all blurs together, right? Because between the pandemic and like just life. But two years ago [questioningly] I think is right. It was basically the Summer of DeFi when a lot of projects launched.

There was a lot of attention paid to this cuz the idea was, “Okay, we've seen some of this investment speculation kind of thing. What else can we do with these assets? Can we create alternatives to insurance, to credit, to lending, to some financial services that are beyond just payments and payment rails that are other things that people need and the global economy needs? What might that look like?”

DeFi is the amalgamation of all those different kinds of projects, but the point of DeFi is it’s decentralized finance, so there's no gatekeeper. There's nobody telling you, sitting at a bank office and telling you this image which we all have from like the Fifties. “You get a loan, you don't get a loan, you know, you get a loan, you get a loan, not you.”

Right? That's not happening. So, part of what I think we have to recognize is that an open system that permits a lot more kinds of interaction, that permits communities to actually create for themselves the systems that are gonna be relevant to them. This, again, goes all back to my ten years in civic tech and focusing on grassroots building: build with not for, how do you think about community, how do you create.  

All of that is embedded within DeFi. So, I gave you a very long answer to what was probably [chuckling] meant to be a very simple definition, but it is so critical that we preserve this space because it's so new, and we have no idea how it's gonna play out. I, I can't; people are always like, “What's the next?”  I'm like, “I don't know! I have no idea!”  Cuz the more secure, and safe, and robust, and normalized this gets, the more kinds of innovation we're gonna see in these spaces. And that is a story as old as time. 

Niki: I think you make a really good point, and maybe to just go up 30,000 feet or even a hundred thousand feet. I think we're in a moment where institutions are just so distrusted in the United States but also globally. And the idea that we're all completely held hostage by financial institutions who don't have, frankly, any of our best interests at heart.  [chuckling] Even depending on where you fall in creditworthiness, if you're credit invisible, if you're banked, if you have assets, if you can be a credited investor, which not everybody's allowed to do that. 

So, there's sort of a paternalistic set of rules and there are still people who just can’t do the things with their money they would wanna do. Including by the way,  I, and I understand the importance of laws around Know Your Customer, but that means I have to physically go into a bank branch to set up my small company's account multiple times [chuckling] to get things worked out.

If you don't, if you live in a banking desert, if you don't have the time to do that, that's not available to you. There's a reason people want 24/7 ability to manage their money. They want it, they want to be able to send money the way you would send an email, which you absolutely cannot do today. We have these antiquated rails.

And so, actually, let's talk a little bit about the rails themselves. I think that's one area where for sure we're gonna see innovations adopted and continue to adopt.

Sheila: Yeah. So, let's contextualize a bit. Okay? I think we have to give credit where credit is due. And there's been a tremendous amount of attempt by the banking system, by banks to address some of these problems, right? Like, it's very weird to have a minimum account, minimum balance requirement anymore. Y’know, overdraft has a lot more lenience around it. Like, those are not things that were true 10, 20 years ago. 

So, there has been progress, but you don't pivot a giant ship fast. Like, things move [drawing words out] very slowly and at the end of the day, those systems have been around for a very, very long time. So to expect there to be full accommodation of a new reality, a new digital reality, a new crypto native reality, it's just not realistic.

And credit, I think, also to certain lawmakers and regulators who saw this problem and insisted on some changes too. Let's be real about where the incentives came from. Now that being said, I, I do think that when you think about how you build new systems, there's an accountability in anything that's new and innovative that we didn't have before. And there's more attention being paid to: Is there an inclusive frame? Is it gonna be equitable? What are the biases that are built in? Can we spot them? Can we address them? What are we doing about these problems? How are we avoiding just digitizing or crypto-izing in some cases, all the problems that came before? 

To digress for a moment, one of the reasons that I chose to focus on policy. So, prior to this job, which I didn't mention, I founded the blockchain team at the World Economic Forum. By the time I left the forum, I ran all of tech policies. So the Forum has kind of three verticals. It's got geopolitics, climate, and tech. I ran tech, so I could have pivoted to a lot of things. I could have gone into who knows what. 

I looked around and said, crypto policy is the most important thing I could do with my time and passion in this next phase of my career, given where I am, because we could get it right or we could get it really wrong. And to me, getting it really wrong would be a worse system than we have now, which is not out of the realm of possibility. 

Or it'd be digitizing all the bias, all the inequity, all the challenges, all the problems of our current systems, and doing that all over again, which in my mind, would be heartbreaking and tragic.

Or we could actually incentivize a different system that would default to a more equitable approach. And that is what I'm spending my next, who knows how long I'm gonna be working [chuckling], but whatever it is, the next, y’know, phase of my career really focusing on. It's what motivates my team and what motivates, I think, a lot of the members who join CCI as well.

So, all of that context I think is, is really, really important cuz fundamentally, what we have to focus on is users, is people. There is this trend that all of you who attend CES will have seen over the last few years around like human-centric design and human-centric planning and all this stuff, which has now fallen out of vogue a bit.

I think about this more as community level. What kinds of community engagement can you engender when you're having more open systems when you're not beholden to a centralized figure who's making all the decisions? Right? And that's not just having more diversity in your team and thinking about use cases. It's basically the assumption behind blockchain technology is: here it is!  We don't know what you're gonna build with it because you can build all kinds of things with it. It's kind of like the internet, right? Like, “Do things with it that we don't know what they are! Fantastic!” 

What I, what I think is really important is to understand that blockchain technology is an infrastructure, it's an architecture. And you can do a tremendous [interrupts self]  you can do, you can have DeFi on it, you can have NFTs on it. You can have a centralized exchange that use it. You can have all these different options the way that you can have email, and you can have like social media, and you can have all these different things.

It is an architecture. It is an infrastructure. What we do with it is gonna be up to all of us, but preserving it and ensuring it remains as open, as decentralized as possible, and I think that is very, very, very, very, very much is critical. 

Niki: I think that's, one, definitely true. That explains what web3 is, which is, when the word popped up- [interrupts self] So, one of my critiques of my, just to go back, what I do for a li, I'm not a podcaster for a living. [chuckles] This is actually a hobby. [Sheila: For a, for a living!]  For a living, I advise tech companies on how to communicate effectively, and so I, I fell bass-awkward into crypto because no one knew what they were talking about. Like, what's an NFT?  What's trustless mean? What's, what does any of it mean? And the, the terms keep, y’know, what's a DAO? It's like you can't possibly keep up in some ways, which makes it exclusive to people when it's meant to be really inclusive of people. 

So, a big piece of advice I give is, like, make it accessible and make it useful. Because right now, it's hard to have it be useful or accessible. It's a combination of game theory, and finance, and computer science, and it's incredibly intimidating, but it has to be useful. 

The original question I asked was about our crummy financial rails. And we don't actually have to talk about it much, but it might be worth talking just for a moment about remittances, which I think are the [Sheila: Yeah, sure]  best current use case for how people are using crypto.

Sheila: Yeah, sure!  The challenges around our current rails is that they're clunky and slow, and I'm not gonna name any names. There's a variety of different things we could talk about here. They're not incentivized really to be that different. 

Again, credit where credit's due. There's been progress. We want to have some friction in systems. Okay? I'm not a person who's like, “Frictionless is like immediate!”  Like, sometimes you screw up, and you send a thing, and you're like, “Oh, damn it.”  Right? Like, wrong Venmo person or whatever it is.  Right? There is, there is benefit sometimes to having friction as long as it's thoughtful friction.

And we are at a point now where there's a clunky system that has a lot of friction in it, and not all that friction is intentional, and not all that friction is useful. In fact, most of it is not useful. So, you think about the fact that over the course of the last 15 to 20 years, you've seen what are called banking deserts, which means places where it's really hard to engage with banking services that have cropped up, both in the United States in certain communities, but also globally.

And there's a, there's, I became obsessed about ten years ago with this concept called de-risking. And the idea is that certain rules and regulations that were put into place made it expensive and challenging for financial institutions to engage with certain populations or in certain communities cuz they were considered too risky.

So, rather than open themselves up to what were small dollar-value consumers and communities, a lot of banks and FIs just chose to exit. They were like, “You know what? I'm just not gonna be there at all ‘cause I can't be accused of doing anything that's too risky.” Nowhere did this happen more than post-Patriot Act.

After the Patriot Act, most people are familiar with the No-Fly List. You get on the No-Fly List, you’re kind of screwed getting off that thing. Wow! It was never easy. But let me tell you, from like 2001 to like 2010, forget it. You were just absolutely hosed if you're on that No-Fly List. And a lot of people were put on there because the, I think, the thinking was “better to be more cautious than not.”

The same thing was happening in financial institutions, right? In the quest, in the very important and critical, let me be very clear [chuckling], policy goal of stopping terrorism and terrorist activity there was overreach to a degree that was really, really problematic. And that, and that was also just as evident, that same kind of No-Fly concept applied to financing. Okay? 

So, getting a bank account with a certain name, it got really, really tough. Getting a bank account from a certain geolocation became really, really tough. And over time, what you saw was because of this, there'd be like one bank that would serve a community in, I don't know, like, rural Senegal, just making this up, or in an island community. And to get money there, you'd have to hop through, like, seventeen banks. Not an exaggeration. This is a real case. I had to deal with getting money to Haiti one time. Seventeen different banks and each bank was required or thought it should do its own diligence on the recipient bank. And so, that has cost. 

So, you're sending money to a place and you're like, half of it is getting there. Again, not exaggeration, not the most common, 50%, but like really, really, really high. So, what do people do? They created other mechanisms. They empowered a random dude to collect money from people and fly it on a plane and distribute it in these countries. Like this is, it happens today.

So, those are the challenges of our rails. Now, what a blockchain can do and the reason why you see so much investment, especially like five years ago by banks, and financial institutions and central banks in this technology was like, “Oh, I can actually move money faster because it's more transparent, because I don't, and it's not double spent. ‘Cause I can track it, I can trace it in different ways.”

Now imagine that at a peer-to-peer level, okay? Imagine that I am a worker, and the example I always like to use in this is Thailand and the Philippines. So, in the Philippines, the Philippines is a majority remittance economy. That means that most of their GDP is from people who are going abroad and sending money home. Not the only country, but just a really great example,  because what happened over time was the Philippines became a massive adopter of crypto assets, digital assets, and blockchain technology. 

Why? Because it was so much cheaper to get that 20 bucks or a hundred bucks home from wherever in the world, and there's a lot of, it's Thailand, it's United States, it's wherever it is,  than it was to do anything else. Whether to use a, y’know, a Wells Fargo type thing, or even MoneyGram or whatever, itt was so much cheaper and faster. That is what real people need. That is not what the rails that exist in legacy financials are designed to do.

Niki: That's why I love talking to Sheila Warren. So, I have never heard that description of banking deserts. I think it's such a good way of connecting. Also, when you think about US citizens potentially who are sending money overseas, which is millions of US citizens. They've paid taxes on their money. They're trying to send it to relatives, and then they're paying money to send their money, and it's taking a long time. Well done! 

You've totally made, for me, you've made the case for remittances for digital assets!  I mean, truly, I think that's right now the best use case. I'd love it,  if you could talk about two things you're excited about, or maybe you have like a counterintuitive take on:  Are NFTs dead? [Sheila: chuckles] 

Is there something you're excited about? You choose but two things that you either think are interesting predictions or that you're excited about?

Sheila: I'd love to see less celebrity NFTs and I'll just vent for a second at, and you’ve heard this story. So, I was at South By [SXSW] this, this past year, and the dissonance, I mean the, the absolute cognitive dissonance between the conference I was at, which was about privacy and civil liberties, and security, and activists, and how can we create, y’know, more support for some of these people in parts of the world that are, like, engaging in these crusades, y’know, all this kind of stuff and that whole conference and then the, like, “Celebrity DJ dropped NFT at midnight, come to the party”,  and I was, like, “What is happening?”

And I'm like, “Okay, well, this is crypto right here in a nutshell,” it's like this core fundamental addressing of civil liberties and, and all these problems and the, like, “Come for the free NFT, and the drinks, and the whatever.”  And I was just, like [pause] So my hope and my prediction is that that side of it is gonna shrink a lot more and this side of it is gonna become more dominant, and “Yay!”

Okay. So, that's one thing.

Niki: [interrupts] Wait, and I'm gonna add onto that. [Sheila: Yeah] But I hope that we do find a way to bring the crypto-curious into the conversation in a way that makes sense.

The guy in front of me today at the Bellagio, who's, he's not in crypto, he's just on a trip with his guy friends [chuckles], but we were talking, he is like, “It's a scam. I'm against it.” And I want to help people see the potential, y’know, regular people, not people who just are in crypto or celebrity endorsers of an NFT.

Sheila: Well, I think it doesn't, I don't think it's helped anybody, the average person, like y’know, I'd consider myself like a normal person, to kind of have it be this, like, glamorous whatever. I don't think that's helpful. I think it's actually helpful to surface more of the ordinary people using this. 

Like, so I just think that normalizing this is gonna mean moving attention away from some of that, and actually what's gonna be left is actually the stuff that is more robust, and that's, frankly, more interesting. So, I actually think that those things work completely hand in hand.

And the more we're talking about what's actually happening and like not getting caught up in the spin and glamor and the Instagram of it all, y’know, the better off we're gonna be. ‘Cause, we're gonna build systems that actually make sense and that are based on something real, not just kind of the fad of the moment. Y’know? So, all that in my mind goes together for productive ends. 

The other thing, which is more nerdy, but I love talking about it, is it's why I got into this space in the first place. And so I, I think in all the discussions around financial services and, “Number go up, number go down, let's price a Bitcoin, blah, blah, blah,” we've lost sight of the other major opportunity here, which is [interrupts self].  I think it's been a good thing. ‘Cause, this is more quietly being built, but it's decentralized data storage. 

It's the idea that a lot of corporate capture and government capture of data is happening in ways that are not good. And this comes up in the case of, like, “There's a hack of this thing. Ahhhhh, your passwords are compromised. Oh no!”  Y’know, and we're all just so immune to this. Now we're like, “Oh, of course, that happened. What a pain in the ass. Now, I gotta go and change my thing.” We almost- that's, that's not normal. That sucks, right?  And we can solve that using something like a blockchain-backed system of data storage, which is really amazing.

So, that work is happening really powerfully. And my hope, again, it kind of goes, it's the same thing as some of this like hypeee-stuff becomes less, the only topic conversation, this stuff, which is about solving fundamental problems that by the way, have not been solved. That kind of stuff I think is gonna get a little bit more mainstreamed and talked about more. And I, again, that's why I got into this space in the first place, was addressing that problem. And I love the fact that there's been a tremendous amount of quiet behind-the-scenes work.

Cuz I think if we really are serious about things like civil liberties, and security, and privacy, we have to think a lot more about our data: Who has access to it? And why? And when? And not just rely on the way we relied on banks to kind of, “Oh, you ought to be giving more people loans. And so, you need to do that,” and shake a finger, right? Okay. 

Y’know, “Companies, you need to be using data better and not collecting as much and being more responsible about it.” How far is that gonna really go when you have a business model predicated on that entire thing? Right? It's just not realistic. So, build a new system. 

Let's get it to be better. Let's think about, again, empowerment of individuals. Consumers, like, I hate the term consumer protection. You know this. I think it's about consumer empowerment, community empowerment, individual empowerment, country-level empowerment, to actually create the world that we wanna live in, which is one where we have more ownership of the global digital economy, of the internet.

We have a piece of that and we are able to make decisions for ourselves, and our families, and our communities, and are even at a country-level that are gonna be more, more reflective of what we actually wanna see in the world. And that is again, why I remain, like, I'll get off my soapbox, so passionate about this work and why I feel like my background in civic tech and as a lawyer is exactly the right background to help hopefully usher this into existence.

Niki: I love that as a prediction and something to be hopeful about. And I know, obviously, an audience at CES; these are folks concerned about cyber, and security, and data minimization, and privacy, and individual control. And the people who listen to my podcast normally are too. But I think you're; we're starting to see a tectonic shift where all individuals are done with their data being extracted and paying fees that they don't wanna pay.

And so, I think the movement toward a freer, more decentralized, more autonomous, more individualized set of systems, it's there. I don't think it's going away. It's just that we gotta get past the hype and the headlines, and sort of return to the fundamentals. 

Sheila: Yeah. And y’know, I mean, here's where I, like, reveal my, I don't think it's a reveal, I think it's very obvious I'm a giant nerd, but like, y’know, I was a person that was crunching study data at home, like, on my, y’know, 1998 Mac or whatever, [chuckles] , like, you know, my college dorm room, right?

So, the idea of distributed computing is very old. And it's a matter of just kind of taking that fundamental principle and saying what would that mean if that were the layer, if that were like the governance layer, if there were incentives to do that beyond just like, “This is really cool aliens, yay, whatever.”

Y’know, what if there were actually incentives built into systems? Well, that's kind of what, in its purest form, a crypto asset is or can be. So, let's lean into that a little bit more and make it less about like, ”Cool thing, y’know, la la la of the moment” and more about, like, these, this is systems work. We have systemic level problems. We can only solve them with systems-led systems change.

And that is what this is about in my mind. And the more we get back to that and talk about it and surface it, the better off I think we're gonna be as. I do think that the blockchain and crypto industry has forced this conversation into public light and as much as I, y’know, rail on the celebrity whatever, like,  the reality is they brought attention to this stuff, right? And they made it okay to have these conversations in public and to call out some of these problems in the public sphere. And I think that's really productive. And now it's the responsibility of all of us to hold accountable the creation of that and the bringing of that into fruition.

Niki: Great. So, we will end with that call to action, which is: this is a tech crowd. We're all working in tech. I think that's right. Making sure that we look for a system that people can understand but also use that distributes power. I think we're in a moment where that's just, that's absolutely inevitable, and so let's do it in a responsible way.

I like your point. To have systemic change, you have to actually work on the system. So, best wishes with that.

Thank you, Sheila. Thank you for joining me. 

Sheila: It's such a pleasure to be on this stage. 

Niki: Thank you, everyone- to this audience for coming and listening. 


[music plays]

Niki: I’m predicting that our next episode will be a real humdinger. Spoiler: I drag TikTok. We’ll have Senator Mark Warner sharing his thoughts on the app, national security threats, and the brand-new Congress.

As always, thanks for listening and subscribing to the pod.



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