Michael Tidwell: I’m ready. Alright, it’s Block Time. I’ll Michael Tidwell
Mike Casey: I’m Mike Casey
Michael Tidwell: Today we’re at Atlanta. We’re joined by Tai Zen and LeonFu.com.
Tai Zen: the one and only, the Honorable, Grandmaster, the Oracle of Cryptocurrency
Mike Casey: That’s a superb title.
Michael Tidwell: To start out, I’d like to get a little bit of background from both of you. We start with Tai then go to Leon.
Then, I’d also like to know how you met each other. At the end of Leon’s intro, you can talk about how you’ll meet each other.
Tai Zen: Okay. I’ll talk about how I first got into Bitcoin.
I was living in Dallas at that time. I was working at an energy brokerage firm. At the firm, they had a division that was building a Bitcoin farm.
At that time they, the guys that were working there were making really good money from the energy brokerage firm. I couldn’t understand why they were more focused on this magic internet money called Bitcoin
Mike Casey: When was it?
Tai Zen: This was at the end of 2012. I started working there in October of 2012 at the Bitcoin farm/energy brokerage firm.
I was the only Asian guy working there, so they always asked whether I know anybody that can make these A6chips in China.
I just thought these guys were crazy. However, the one thing I did respect about them is they were very, very smart and sharp businessmen. They had lots of integrity.
It was kind of weird because on one side these guys had a lot of integrity with the customers they had and you can tell that they were pretty straight-up guys.
On the other side, they were busy focusing on Bitcoin. I kept making fun about them and just thought they were crazy.
On one day, I asked one of the owners there about this magic internet money. He said if somebody is going to give him an ounce of gold or a firearm or a gun from Bitcoins, it’s real to me. He said it might not be real to you, but the gun and the gold is real to me.
He said instead of being ignorant about it, go read the Bitcoin white paper and learn for yourself so that you’re not talking out of your ass.
After that, I downloaded the Bitcoin white paper that was written by Satoshi Nakamoto, the inventor of Bitcoin. I read it several times.
I could understand the summary and I kept telling myself that if that was real, that would be pretty cool. I could see why there would be a need for something like that. However, I didn’t fully believe it because I don’t know computer coding and programming
Mike Casey: Because your background is a trader?
Tai Zen: Yeah. I got my buddy LeonFu.com, who I’ve known for a very long time.
Unlike me, he was a real Asian. He can do software, computers and things like that.
If you’re not a real Asian that knows about technology, it’s always good to have a real Asian friend that knows about technology.
Therefore, I sent LeonFu.com the Bitcoin white paper and he read it.
Michael Tidwell: When was it?
Tai Zen: This was at the end of 2012.
I remembered calling him up a few days later and he said he was reading it. Then, I called him back and I asked him how it was. Then, he said I was not buying some Bitcoins.
Mike Casey: It takes me at least a few weeks of reading
Tai Zen: It didn’t take him that long.
Leon Fu: On my side, I heard of it in Bitcoin in passing like the Max Keiser shows.
When Tai brought it up to me, I heard it from somewhere, but I couldn’t really remember where I heard it from. I definitely didn’t read the white paper until Tai sent that to me.
He called me up one day and said whether I could just check out this thing called Bitcoin. Here’s a link to the white paper.
I said I heard about it from somewhere, but I couldn’t remember where I had heard it from. Then, I read it.
Speaking of my background, I taught myself how to code when I was 13. I’ve been in the room creating computer software since my whole life basically.
I guess the difference between Tai and me is I actually understood what Satoshi was writing. I also had studied encryption, so I knew what public-private key encryption was. I knew what hashing was. I knew what proof of work was.
As Tai said, I was buying Bitcoin within 3 days.
Michael Tidwell: It took me 3 months by doing serious research.
Leon Fu: I understood it almost right away within like a day or two. The reason it took me 3 days wasn’t to understand the white paper but was to try to figure out how to buy it.
Mike Casey: I remembered that was hard. It was really difficult. What exchange did you end up buying?
Leon Fu: I got my first Bitcoin with Bit Instant of Charlie Shrem.
Mike Casey: Through Mt.Gox?.
Leon Fu: No. I went to the bank. I got cash, I went to CBS, picked up the red phone and MoneyGram cash to Charlie Shrem. I got quite a few Bitcoins from him.
Unlike many people at the time, because of my technology background, I knew this wasn’t a scam. As soon as I read the paper, I knew it wasn’t a scam, but I didn’t know…
Mike Casey: …if it would work?
Leon Fu: No, no, no I knew it would work too. I also knew it would work because I also had downloaded the software and played around with it.
Tai Zen: I want to jump in real quick. When you mentioned about it being a scam, the reason why I sent him the white paper was not so I can invest in it.
I wanted him to tell me that it was full of shit so that I can tell the owners that they were getting scammed and got out of it because they were treating us really well. I didn’t want to see some people getting scammed or getting hustled by this monopoly money.
Leon Fu: I was worried about getting scammed, but I wasn’t worried about getting scammed by Bitcoin. I was worried about getting scammed by Charlie and Bit Instant.
I understood not instantly but within a day or a day and a half, but I still didn’t know how to actually go get it. I’m not going to mine this thing. I need to go buy it from somebody.
Then, I found Mt. Gox, but I didn’t want to wire money to Japan. It wasn’t just whether Bit Instant and Charlie Shrem were a scam. I didn’t know Mt. Gox was a scam. We all know Mt. Gox was a scam.
I thought that I was not going to send $200 to Mt. Gox if it’s going to cost me $40 and a wire transfer fee to wire the money to Japanese bank.
I said there was this thing called Bit Instant where I can send them a few hundred USD to see if I get some Bitcoins. A
I remembered sending Bit Instant $100 or $200 or something like that. I remembered going to CBS because there was MoneyGram and he was asking for MoneyGram.
I picked up the phone and I was trying to figure out how this MoneyGram was because I’ve never used Western Union or MoneyGram before.
Mike Casey: Most people don’t unless you have a specific reason.
Leon Fu: Yeah. Unless you’re trying to send money to Mexico or something. I’ve never tried to send cash through either MoneyGram or Western Union until I wanted to buy Bitcoins.
Mike Casey: Most people don’t realize how much of pain in the ass it is to send money until you actually go to send money. It’s just horrible.
Michael Tidwell: So it sounds like you’ll know each other way, way before Bitcoin. How did you meet?
Leon Fu: Yeah. That’s an interesting story. Are you familiar with Neil Strauss, Mystery, the pickup artist?
Michael Tidwell: You used to pick up women together?
Tai Zen: No, that was actually my job. I used to work at the clubs as a promoter in the downtown club district in Austin, Texas.
Michael Tidwell: You picks up the girls and bring them into the club?
Tai Zen: Yeah, that was my job. It was a really top job to go out into the streets and pick up all these hot beautiful women to bring them into the clubs.
I did not know very much about this pickup community that Leon was talking about at that time.
At the time, he and I had just moved to Austin. I was working at the clubs and getting paid to bring attractive women into the clubs because when you bring the women in, all the guys will follow and come in there. That’s how the club gets their business.
At that time, I remembered we actually met each other through a mutual friend named Tony.
There was this Chinese guy named Tony. He would bring Leon down and they would go to pick up girls together. They were doing it just to find the date and stuff. I was doing it because that was my job.
Michael Tidwell: You’re all business.
Tai Zen: I remembered I would look across the street and I would watch Leon and Tony watch me. Every night, when I go to work, I wonder who are these guys?
Michael Tidwell: So you met Leon because he stalked you?
Tai Zen: because I was the top club promoter down there and I brought in the most girls in the club
Leon Fu: My story on how I got into this community. I had just broken up with my girlfriend. We were on and off for a few years, but that in particular year, we broke up. This year we’re talking about was in 2007 or 2008.
Tai Zen: No, 2006 to 2007.
Leon Fu: Okay. It’s been a while. I don’t get my years right by now, but the point was I moved to Austin in a few years and I had finally broken up with my girlfriend.
I don’t have a girlfriend, so how do I do? I googled it. I really typed in how to find my girlfriends.
Michael Tidwell: Austin’s a great city to be single
Leon Fu: But if you google how to find a girlfriend, what comes up on the Internet was David D’Angelo. Then, you’ll see a character called Neil Strauss, who wrote the game. Then, you’ll see another character called Mystery. Those are the pickup artists.
If you just google how to find a girlfriend, all of this material will come up and then you start reading through this. It’s a whole subculture. It’s more like a men’s self-help groups.
Michael Tidwell: Not to go too far off-blockchain, but…
Leon Fu: …that’s how we met.
Tai Zen: That’s how we met.
Michael Tidwell: Yeah. Interesting.
Tai Zen: Here is the reason why we called him a LeonFu.com in case you’re wondering. When we first met, he said his name was Leon Fu and somewhere along with the conversation, we chatted to him at LeonFu.com, which is his website.
Leon Fu: which is my email.
Tai Zen: I said you actually had your own website? So every time I and the other guys that worked down there refer to Leon, we were always amazed by the fact that Leon has his own website.
Leon Fu: In 2005, there was still a novelty to that. Anyway, that’s how we met. Totally nothing to do with Blockchain and technology
Mike Casey: Fast forward when you got in. When did you start getting serious about it?
Michael Tidwell: Yeah. When did you start making content? That’s what I want to know.
Tai Zen: We’ve been making it for over 3 years.
I don’t like to bitch, whine and complain about the things around me. If I can, I like to do something about it. If I cannot do anything about or don’t know how to do something about it, I just shut the hell up.
I was trading at the time. I trade a lot of stocks, futures, and currencies. There were a lot of shenanigans that I saw during the crash of 2008.
Mike Casey: like regulatory stuff or just…?
Tai Zen: It’s a lot of stuff on wall street that they’re able to do that the little guy cannot do.
For example, naked shorting, which is the way you make money when the market falls. If you and I want to sell short a stock or something, we would actually have to, you know…
Mike Casey: …talk to Patrick about that one to get his thoughts.
Tai Zen: He feels the same on naked shorting.
Mike Casey: He really does?
Tai Zen: All these people on wall street that can sell short a stock that they don’t have in their inventory.
Just a lot of shenanigans.
If you have a bigger account than I do at the same brokerage firm, you get preferential treatment.
There were all kinds of things and I can only put orders in that come out to 2 decimal places while other people are putting the orders in the stock market going out to 3 or 4 decimal places so that they can front-run people and arbitrage.
Mike Casey: The game is rigged
Tai Zen: Yeah. The game is rigged against the little guy on the main street, but I traded through those markets. I never complained about it.
However, when LeonFu.com confirm for me that Bitcoin was real, the thing that made me take it seriously was not actually the money in the beginning.
Mike Casey: Is it the opportunity?
Tai Zen: It has nothing to do with it because I’ve been trading actively. At that time, I probably had 2000 to 3000 trades a year.
Because of that, I knew how the markets work. What I noticed was there was a huge issue in wall street where it’s called T+3, which means the trade needs 3 days settlement.
For me, I saw that Bitcoin is a game-changer.
Michael Tidwell: For a stupid person like me, what’s T+3 mean?
Tai Zen: T means trade and +3 means it takes 3 days.
Let’s say that you sold 100 shares of Apple stock and I bought it from you. After we complete the transaction, it would take another 3 days before you and I can pull money out of it.
They had to settle and clear before you can take money out of the brokerage firm and use it for something else.
Imagine there are billions of dollars that are locked up in wall street because of this 3-day waiting period.
Mike Casey: So you’re familiar with Patrick Burn, the Overstock CEO. That’s exactly what they do.
Tai Zen: They’re not the only one. There are several heavy hitters out there that are working on that.
Matter of fact, if you look at, a company called dtcc.com. It means the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation of America. They’re like the biggest clearing house in America that clears all the stocks.
Mike Casey: Yeah, he was talking about that too. We were at the conference and he was telling us because I hadn’t heard of dtcc. However, I’m sure you know all about it.
Tai Zen: Yeah. They clear all the transactions for the stock market and many markets.
Mike Casey: He was saying legally they, DTCC, own all the Stock.
Tai Zen: They’re the one that settled it for them one
Mike Casey: So they’re the only one who actually legally own any stock. That’s ridiculous.
Tai Zen: Yeah. Because of that, to me, it was a game-changer. I didn’t even know about the money potential in Bitcoins. I just thought that this was a fantastic technology that can settle these transactions.
Until this day, despite the fact that our channel is about cryptocurrency investing, I still believe that the biggest game-changer in the financial world is cryptocurrencies which speed up the clearing and settlement time on wall street.
Mike Casey: Definitely an awesome use case.
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