6 Questions for BlockApps CEO Kieren James-Lubin

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6 Questions for BlockApps CEO Kieren James-Lubin
Blockonomics


You may have heard of Joseph Lubin, the Ethereum co-founder presently serving as the CEO of Consensys. But don’t confuse him for Kieren James-Lubin — the entrepreneur’s highly successful son who co-founded his own company, BlockApps, in 2015.

James-Lubin now serves as the chief executive of BlockApps from its offices in Miami Beach — where he moved from New York City after a stint at the University of California-Berkeley, where he had been working on a PhD in theoretical physics. We took a few minutes to speak with him about his thoughts on the future of the cryptocurrency industry. Here’s what he had to tell us.

1. If you were investing in startup companies right now, what kind of blockchain-based business opportunity would catch your eye?

I think obviously it’s a cyclical industry, and we’re on an upswing. With each cycle, you see more practical, consumer-facing value. Right now, I think there’s been an over-emphasis on the infrastructure layer.

We want people to do things that they probably would have otherwise done without blockchain technology, but for it to be better, smoother, faster, cheaper, more liquid, and/or offer something that’s brand new but is easy. So blockchain has offered a lot that’s brand new but not been easy, and there’s been a bit of an insider-y culture in terms of making it accessible to regular people. It doesn’t seem like it’s been the interest. In some ways, it’s been the anti-interest.

Binance

So that’s what I would look for. Also, if you’re looking for a fast flip, I think AI and blockchain is obviously happening at the moment. There’s some real projects. There’s also a lot of noise. But I think, given especially that tokens are often pretty sentiment-driven, it depends on the tokens or equity.

2. What do you think will be the biggest trend in blockchain for the next 12 months?

The markets are are going to be pretty supportive of the AI stuff for a while, even long ahead of the rubber meeting the road on people being able to use that stuff. So given that people are really excited, you could do OK with it, even if there isn’t the underlying substance necessarily.

Kieren James-Lubin with girlfriend Yamina Sarah-Chekroun. Source: Kieren James-Lubin

I would also say, obviously, real-world assets (RWAs) are having a moment. We’re part of that. But that’s part of that rubber meeting the road that we’re talking about. I think it’s not just the BlackRocks or the JPMorgans. It’s part of making that practical utility happen. I think it’s tough, but it’s the big thing that’s needed to bring this into the mainstream.

3. What has been the toughest challenge you’ve faced in our industry so far?

Years ago, we were a pretty B2B-only company with the likes of the Microsoft, the Googles, big enterprise businesses. We’ve always been focused on practical adoption.

To some extent, maybe we’ve lived too far in the future as far as what regular people would want from the technology. And maybe in the early days, we would have been better served focusing on the crypto natives. And so we’ve gone a little more in that direction of late. But there’s always this threading the needle of the timing. Like, are people ready for technology for technology’s sake? Some of the early adopters were and are, but we’re more focused on what people will use just for the benefit of it. But it’s still, who exactly is the target? Is it crypto native for us? Not really.

So we support that audience. We also support a more optimistic, early, mainstream audience as well. But that’s the trickiest thing. It’s the timing around the value being brought to the end user and when they’re ready for it.

4. What kind of consolidation do you expect to see in the crypto industry over the next year?

It’s been a lot less than I had thought. You would I think we’d be down to three, maybe five layer-1s and a couple of B2B players, but we’re not. I think we’re finding that blockchain ecosystems are pretty resilient. So as long as the investors are there, networks might wax and wane in popularity, but if there’s a couple of miners left, a couple of people have accounts or assets on their network, they just keep going.

So there are new entrants coming in all the time. With the layer-1s and layer-2s, etcetera, it’s still fairly exciting for investors and users. You keep getting new projects. I would have already expected to see massive consolidation at this point, but it feels like we’re seeing another wave of proliferation instead.

Every time, through every bust cycle, you’re going to lose a lot of the players that are less successful. Through every boom, you’re going to see a lot of new entrants. I do feel like it’s a little bit less Johnny-come-lately than the last run-up, but we shall see.

5. Which countries are doing the most to support blockchain? Do you think the US will be left behind?

Some blockchain people might say they’ve been forced offshore. We haven’t taken that approach.

Almost no one in the blockchain space wants to condone or perpetrate fraud. But issues are being conflated. Technology is tool. It can make money move fast. Sometimes that’s a good thing. Sometimes it makes it easy to move money fast to the wrong people. If people could sort of get on the same page is that what we all don’t want is for grandma to be robbed, then I think there could be a productive dialogue with regulators. It doesn’t feel like it’s like that right now.

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But there is a bit of a mismatch ina lot of ways between how the regulatory apparatus works and the technology works. It’s not unfixable, but you need to see a more collaborative attitude than we’ve seen. One regulator in particular has taken aim at this technology.

I think the industry did a pretty good job with the FTX debacle. People were made whole to a significant degree. The justice system worked pretty fast. I think law enforcement has been mostly helpful. Still, things are going to go wrong on blockchain. The Ethereum people especially have had this idea that code is law.

6. What five Twitter feeds can’t you live without?

I likeJesse Walden,Aaron Wright,Caitlin Long,Chain Yoda, andBalaji Srinivasan.

Editorial Staff

Cointelegraph Magazine writers and reporters contributed to this article.



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