For our inaugural video interview here on NEWconomy, we are proud and excited to welcome New York-native and global citizen, Kirk McMurray of Rekall Labs, futurist, with degrees from Georgetown and Harvard. While his studies were in Psychology & Cognitive Science and Mind, Brain & Education, Kirk is indeed a futurist with an infectious passion for what’s evolving into the new economy. While the interview is close to 40-minutes, it’s worth it.
Kirk has been interested in Bitcoin since just after he left his life in Tokyo—and not for the reasons you’d think. While definitely a bit of a lower-case libertarian who’s interested in Austrian economics, he’s also fascinated with cypherpunk and was amazed upon reading Satoshi Nakamoto’s White Paper: Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System. To him, even fiat currency hasn’t been backed since the 70s. The Gold Standard in the US ended in 1973 and, ever since, the dollar’s power has been backed up by American force.
Bitcoin’s the New Gold
Kirk sees Bitcoin as the new gold and hodlers as the new goldbugs. And, like Gold, it’s not just blockchain that will save the world but mostly Bitcoin and they’re very carefully weaved together.
The traditional investment banks got it wrong, Kirk says. You cannot distance yourself from the “crazy crypto Silk Road stuff” because you can’t really make the system work without an incentive and the incentive that fuels and drives the entire blockchain is the incentive for work provided by a coin or token.
Bitcoin and the Blockchain are Conjoined Twins
Kirk added that while you don’t need to create your own token for all products, incentive is an essential part and you can’t pull Bitcoin and blockchain apart and keep it working.
“From an investment purpose, I don’t buy this narrative that it’s all about blockchain and it’s not about Bitcoin; or that it’s about the technology and not about the crypto currency–they’re carefully weaved together,” Kirk added.
ICOs Give Power to the People
Kirk believes that ICOs are truly democratizing, allowing anyone with a laptop or phone to buy tokens for any product that they need and don’t need “an enormous Rolodex” to have the sort of connections needed to actually get in on the first floor of a proper ICO.
In 2017 ICOs started to take huge bites out of traditional angel and venture capital approaches towards investments and investing. While traditional investment in startups are exclusive and restricted, ICOs allow the the people to decide by empowering entrepreneurs to raise their own capital.
Kirk said crypto came in and said “we don’t know if we’re a security or not but every person who can hack it together at home or watch some YouTube videos can use their laptop or their mobile phone and buy a piece of these new projects.”
He added that “there was a latent demand that regular people had that could only, in the past, play in either the stock market or just keep their money in a savings account or real estate.”
Kirk believe that access to ICOs has allowed non-accredited folks to have access to being able to invest via tokens into projects that they’ve never had the rolodex or access to get into these kinds of deals, even if you’re making a couple hundred thousand dollars a year. These people were locked out. They’re not anymore.
3 Channels Versus 190
When there are only three channels, everyone watches those; especially when TV is brand new. When there are 190 channels or more and also thousands of other diversions, the proportions of people who are watching any one channel—or TV at all—goes down. Not because the quality of television goes down. In fact, many day that this is the golden age of television. The same with movies.
Kirk considers this analogy apropos. For him, the analogy is in movies. To him, the reason why it’s not as easy to get rich quick via ICOs anymore in the same way it was in 2017 is because there are just so many more ICO and Token projects—and really good projects—now than there were in 2017 and 2016. As a result, the investment money is getting diluted across so many good projects.
Not as Many Scams as People Say
Back in the 70s, everyone saw the top movies and TV shows; now, each really good show has a comparatively, relatively, smaller market share. It doesn’t mean each project is less worthy, it just means they’re more distributed.
Also, there are so many projects in the wake of the big ICOs from last year that the water has become murky and it’s not as easy for “regular people” investors to pick and choose which projects to invest in in the first place. There are so many good project and so much noise that it’s harder and harder to attract that the investment necessary in this more competitive ICO ecosystem.
“I don’t think there are as many scams as people say. There are just people who see easy money it’s like the .com bubble again and they can’t resist the opportunity of putting together an all-star team and writing a white paper and coming up with an idea that’s unproven and raising way too much.”
Bullish on Bitcoin
Kirk is a “small M” bitcoin maximalist which means he believes that bitcoin is so deep and so proven compared to even Ethereum that people underestimate how good bitcoin is and how it is really here to stay. To him, Bitcoin’s slowness is a feature not a bug. It’s conservatively designed with a community that’s conservative about adding features. It’s designed for security purposes so that it’s immutable. To him, all the electricity, brain power, and computing required to mine bitcoin isn’t a waste. It’s not wasted resources, it’s resources securing the most viable alternative to gold we’ve seen.
Bullish on Ethereum’s Potential
Ethereum is a legitimate contender in a solid second position, especially considering the quality of people working on the project. It all comes down to the fork in the road: proof of stake (ETH) versus proof of work (BTC). To Kirk, all the computational and energy costs of mining Bitcoin is well worth it, considering the value it brings, even to Ethereum and all the other altcoins.
Ethereum responds to our need and desire to build applications that can scale and our need to have huge numbers of transactions per second, and our need for to it be inexpensive and be able to store lots of data.
Bitcoin Doesn’t Cause Global Warming
The dangerous meme about Bitcoin being wasteful and a damage to the environment compared to the value that Bitcoin brings to the new economy and to the unbanked people around the world. One of the least wasteful use of electricity is in the creation of the value which is Bitcoin will offer to the world.
As of today, Kirk is very bullish on proof of work and Bitcoin. He believes we will see a Bitcoin renaissance. He’s very excited about Ethereum and Tezos. While controversial, EOS has some really smart people with seasoning. He thinks it’s an interesting project. Kirk’s interested in Ripple but is even more interested in Stellar; however, it is Kirk’s belief that Ripple and XRP probably won’t increase much long term. All coins are related to Bitcoin in some way: offspring or cousins. Bitcoin is the Abraham of the cryptoreligion. Bitcoin is going to lead to the big changes much more profoundly than blockchain itself, Kirk believes.
Bearish Until 2019
There might be a flattish, bearish, market over the next few months to the end of the year. According to Kirk, a lot depends on whether institutional money will flow in and it will drive more institutional money in. We saw how even the fake news threat of “no” resulted in a collapse in the market. Kirk believes this will happen in “less than a year.” There will be an Ethereum renaissance this year and it will pull the rest of the market up, including Bitcoin. Developments in the capability of coins, tokens, and exchanges to interoperate would really drive institutional investment. Right now, the market cap of crypto is less than Apple. Kirk predicts that the market cap will break through the trillion dollar mark by 2020—”maybe even by this year.”
Kirk believes that the market could be driven up if there are some big hits amongst the ICO projects.
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