Crypto Investing #89 – Crypto Lessons From Jeremy Gardner

Tai Zen: And once we get that confirmation, then we’ll get started. If you guys hear us out there in crypto land, please let us know.

Jeremy: Then we’ll get started. Do I go to Q&A to see people’s comments?

Tai Zen: You can if you want. We’ll keep it live to begin.

Jeremy: I don’t know. I was on Tai Lopez‘s broadcast the other day and I found it utterly distracting. There’s just a stream of comments cause he gets thousands of people across all of the different platforms. He uses it. I was like, “Oh my God.”

Tai Zen: It’s weird because, I don’t know why, but people get us confused. I guess it’s cause we both have the first name Tai,

Jeremy: That’ll do it. And you’re talking about crypto investing.

Tai Zen: The only difference is that we’ve been talking about for like four and a half years. I think he just came onto the scene a few weeks ago or a few months ago.

Jeremy: A few months. I’ve known him for a little bit. Newer to the scene but definitely learning as much as he can quickly.

Tai Zen: It’s okay if you guys can hear us out there, you can put in the chat that you can hear us. That would be awesome.

Jeremy: I can’t even get the Q&A to load

Tai Zen: I wish that on they would have like a button or a light or something on YouTube – to kinda like confirm that the audio is working on the viewer’s side.

Jeremy: Yeah, that was

Tai Zen: Okay. I’ve got a confirmation that it works now.

Hi guys. This is Tai Zen, I’m broadcasting from Dallas, Texas today – one of the best cities to live in America. And we have here with us, the Ausum’s Jeremy Gardner. Ausum spelled with a U S U M.

Jeremy: Daring and enterprising and Latin.

Tai Zen: So say hello, Jeremy to everyone.

Jeremy: How’s it going, guys?

Tai Zen: You’re broadcasting from another great city in America, San Francisco, correct?

Jeremy: Yes, the city by the Bay.

Tai Zen: Okay. I wanted to have you for a while now because I originally heard about you, back years ago, when the Augur project got started, and that’s how I ran across your name.

In this broadcast here, I want to pick your brain, cause I know you’ve been in the game for a long time. You look young but you would be considered one of the grizzled veterans in the cryptocurrency investing space.

One of the things that I always like to share with my audience, could you talk a little about your background, what you do, where you’re from? And what you were doing before you got into crypto?

The reason why is because a lot of people think that, the people that you and I, who’ve been in crypto for a long time, they think that we’ve been in crypto forever and they forget that we did other stuff besides crypto before we got into crypto.

Jeremy: Well, speak for yourself. I was in diapers before crypto. No I mean, I did get into this space and really flung myself into it at 21. So I don’t have a story to a background, but I’m from a small farm town in Western Massachusetts.

At a very young age, probably around 12 or 13, I decided I wanted to change the world. I wanted to make it a better place at scale. And growing up in this kind of rural location – it was a college town, I wasn’t surrounded by entrepreneurs.

I actually didn’t know any, I didn’t know any millionaires, real tech firms incredibly far away from me. So growing up, I thought the way that someone like me would change the world would be in politics. By my late teens, early twenties, I was really focused on a career in politics.

By the summer of 2013, I was working for the governor of Massachusetts. Later that fall, I helped run the campaign for the woman who’s now Attorney General of Massachusetts. And through those experiences, I became deeply disillusioned with the world of politics.

I found that it was not the world that I thought it was. I wasn’t going to affect change in my twenties. I was going to spend my entire time raising money for politicians. And I figured I’d be better off going and making money myself and influencing them later or getting involved in politics later on in my career.

But it certainly didn’t seem like a tenable option at 21. I just happened to move to the dorm when I transferred to the University of Michigan in the winter of 2014 with the young Bitcoin entrepreneur, who convinced me to look at the technology more seriously than I had in the past.

I had purchased, stumbled upon it in 2011, reading about the Silk Road and bought it for the first time in the 2013 run-up but selling it. I had $1,000 convinced it was a total bubble, which at the time it was, but it took me a little while to actually come to appreciate Bitcoin as a technology.

Tai Zen: If you want me to ask, how old are you now?

Jeremy: 25. A couple of weeks away from 26.

Tai Zen: So basically it’s safe to say that you got your first Bitcoins at around 21 years old.

Jeremy: Yup. First sale Bitcoin at $8 though. And I was like, what is this stupid thing?

Tai Zen: So you started with that and then what happened next after you got into crypto in 2013?

Jeremy: in 2013, I bought a Bitcoin. But then two months later I sold it, convinced it was only good for buying drugs off the internet and speculation, which neither of which really interests. But due to falling out of love with the world of politics, I’m kind of seeking some movement, something that I could get behind and put my life into.

I was really fortunate to move in with this young Bitcoin entrepreneur, who convinced me to learn about Bitcoin more seriously, and importantly give it to me to join the University of Michigan Bitcoin club.

Cause apparently that was a thing and I was like, “Wow, I don’t have any friends here. I don’t have anything better to do.” So I started learning about Bitcoin and I went and joined the Bitcoin club at Michigan.

And at the very first meetup, I actually went early with the head of the club because we had become friends and a reporter from USA Today came and she starts asking us about Bitcoin and about the club. I don’t have much to contribute because I’m so new.

But partway through the interview, she mentioned that there were Bitcoin clubs at MIT and Stanford. And the politician in me was activated. At that point, I just saw an organizing opportunity, so I actually got on a call with the heads of the MIT and Stanford and Michigan clubs that very same night.

The heads of the clubs talking about our respective successes or failures as organizations offering to share resources and context. At the end of the call, not having contributed much so far, I suggest, “why don’t we create an organization out of this?”

Everyone was like, “Sure, go ahead.” And about a month later, what is now known as a Blockchain Education Network was born. At that time I really didn’t think much of it. I thought maybe by this semester we would have maybe it dozen Bitcoin clubs that we could help get started around the United States.

But right around the formation of the blockchain education network as it would come to be known Mt Gox imploded, and that brought Bitcoin the world stage. To many, it’s spelled the demise of the technology, but too many young people, it sparks their interests. And so in a sense, Mt. Gox was a catalyst for what would become of thriving organization in the next 3 months.

By the end of the semester, we had over a hundred chapters in 20 plus countries on every habitable continent. We had a movement underway and I was getting asked to speak at conferences and I had to really learn more and more about the technology.

That’s when I really do deep down the Bitcoin rabbit hole, because all of a sudden, I was speaking about what I was calling generation blockchain, which is this generation of blockchain natives, people to whom washing technology makes more sense than centralized banking or big multinational banks or government running money.

And I’ve felt deep and hard into this space. Through the nonprofit, I met a brilliant 18-year-old computer scientist named Joey Krug, who I would start a hardware company with, and eventually go on a couple of months later to drop out of school and found what would become known as Augur.

Tai Zen: So you are no longer with the Augur project, is that correct?

Jeremy: That’s correct. After our ICO, I was totally burnt out. I’d been flying around the world for almost a year and there were two years left to coding left and I’m not a coder. So it didn’t seem like the best opportunity for me. I was getting offered entrepreneur-in-residence positions at different venture capital firms in the bay.

I ended up joining Blockchain Capital and I suppose to be an EIR for what would be a probably a 3 to 6-month stint. But in the first few months, I brought in several deals that the firm ended up investing in and they ended up bringing me on effectively as an investing partner. I maintained the EIR position

Tai Zen: Just so that the audience knows. What’s the EIR?

Jeremy: Entrepreneur in residence.

Tai Zen: So you basically brought several different ICOs, crowd sales blockchain projects businesses.

Jeremy: Well, my role was to probably work on my next venture. I had started two successful organizations, Augur and the Blockchain Education Network, to also help them bring deals in. I had the great deal flow, having spent the past year traveling, speaking at conferences and also through my nonprofit.

I ended up bringing several deals on, I think they were all equity deals. We hadn’t started doing ICOs yet, but deals that we ended up investing in. So I ended up joining them full time and that’s where I was for the past two years.

But because of my EIR position, I was able to find new software. It’s a startup called Saba. It’s a legacy database security company, actually has a couple pending government contracts right now. I served as the founding editor of a distributed magazine, which is a 108-page primer on blockchain technology.

Tai Zen: Awesome.

Jeremy: Then very certainly I left Blockchain Capital, wound down those other positions to go launch my own hybrid venture hedge fund.

Tai Zen: Before we get into your hedge fund, the blockchain education project that you started, BEN. I remember when I went across that several years ago, it was similar, it reminded me of the guys from the Satoshi Nakamoto Institute.

Jeremy: Right. So some of those guys were involved early on at UT Austin.

Tai Zen: I remember when I first started learning about cryptocurrencies, back in 2012, I remember I was looking around, there was the Satoshi Nakamoto Institute and Charles Hoskinson also has another. There were several of these groups that were just trying to educate the public about Bitcoin and in general.

Jeremy: I remember one of the big moments was in February of 2014. We had recently founded the Blockchain Education Network, then known as called cryptocurrency network. The Bitcoin Foundation, which was still a behemoth in the industry at the time, had reached out to us about a partnership and that was super exciting.

Charles Hoskinson helped to run their education committee. And it was actually, Charles’s Udemy series back in the day, the Udemy series on Bitcoin. That had been my gateway to technology. I remember fanboying so much when I met like Charlie Schrem and Erik Voorhees for the first time. It was such a little cult back then.

Tai Zen: But now you’re one of those guys, you were one of those guys that all the newcomers that are fanboying about, that they go crazy over whenever they see at the conferences and stuff.

Jeremy: Yeah. That’s crazy. Honestly, I can’t go to blockchain events in San Francisco or really PO like mill around at conferences anymore because just I get pitched and just like people just kind of really just throwing themselves at me and it’s just so overwhelming. I don’t mind it when it’s very well thought out, but you get pitched a lot of horribles.

Tai Zen: When Leon Fu Dot Com and I go to conferences, we get the same way. We get approached by, we don’t mind meeting the subscribers and the followers and the viewers that. We have this theme about crypto helps us make life-changing money or life-changing profits.

Whenever we go to the conferences, we always got our viewers yelling out across the conference “life-changing profits may have life-changing profits”, so we know it’s one of our viewers. We’re okay with that.

Some of the projects that we have talked about on our channel have changed our lives. We don’t mind running into those people, but we get pitched so many projects every time we go to these conferences also then.

Jeremy: It can be really overwhelming.

Tai Zen: Yeah, it is. And I try to be polite with some of these people and saying hello and stuff like that. But some of these projects I hear, they’re just like far out.

Jeremy: Yeah. And then the whole craze with utility tokens was, it was bad on its own. But because I pretty much helped create the first utility token with Augur, who was even more agonizing, cause I felt so guilty for introducing this world to this idea that I thought was so novel at the time, but just like in gendered, so much crap.

Tai Zen: That’s what I wanted to talk to you next. After the education project that you’re working on, can you share with the audience what Augur is? Just a big-picture overview. You don’t have to get into the technicals of it. What is it, what it’s for and what inspired you and Mr. Krug to create it?

Jeremy: Sure. Augur is a decentralized prediction market platform. In plain English, it’s an unstoppable online betting platform that predicts the future. Effectively what it is, is a stock market for anything you can buy and sell shares in the future outcome of events.

Tai Zen: Let’s take an example that everyone knows. Let’s talk about the Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump campaign. We know what the outcome is, but let’s see how Augur could have been used before we knew that Trump was president.

Jeremy: Sure. So will Donald Trump be elected president? And people can buy yes or no shares, depending on how many shares are being bought on each side, you get a price. Let’s say more people think Donald Trump will win the presidency.

I don’t know if that would’ve happened due to the media narrative that we saw. It may be 55 cents for a yes share I’m saying Donald Trump will be elected and correspondingly it’s 45 cents for no share that Hillary Clinton will be elected.

What you can interpret from that price at that 55 cents versus 45 cents because it’s out of a dollar, is the probability that the market is signs of an event occurring. So 55 cents for a yes here is a 55% probability that Donald Trump will be elected president according to the crowd.

And this harness is a theory known as the wisdom of crowds, which according to most social science, is actually one of the best ways humanity has predicting the future. Unfortunately, stock markets, state casinos, and lotteries, they really enjoy the monopoly they have on legalized betting.

Because prediction markets appear in many ways to be like betting cause you’re saying whether or not something’s gonna happen and you’re putting money on it. In many countries in the world, it’s illegal. And even in the United United States, many forms of prediction markets already illegal.

Tai Zen: When I first read about Augur, the first thing that came to my mind is that the technical word for the project was a prediction market. But on the streets, I would just call that’s just a gambling platform.

Jeremy: It’s much closer to a stock market than a gambling platform because gambling assumes a total chance. There are just random probabilities. In theory, in a prediction market, when you have perfect information, you should be right every single time.

So it’s much closer to a stock market than gambling because you’re actually betting on what is going to happen in the future. And in theory, if you have an Oracle that gives you all the information that you need to make that sort of bet, you could be right every single time, there’s no roll of the dice or random draw of a card.

Tai Zen: The other thing that when I was looking at the Augur project back when you guys first started into it, that was one of the things that appeared to be like a kind of, I don’t know, I wouldn’t say questionable, because in order for these prediction markets to work, you guys when I say you guys, I mean you and Joey, are building it on top of that Oracle.

Just so the audience knows, the Oracle is the source that provides the answer to the prediction. If we were sitting here, you predict that, let’s just say you’re from California and you predict that Hillary Clinton was gonna win, I’m from Texas, since I come from a Republican state, I predict Donald Trump is gonna win.

Since the Augur project is a decentralized project, what is going to feed information into its accurate data, and that source of that data is known as an Oracle in the prediction markets. How were you guys going to get that data into the blockchain?

Jeremy: Beautiful question. The best question I’ve ever been asked about Augur in a very clear way. The fact of the matter is the idea of a decentralized Oracle is a problem that has played computer science since the advent of the worldwide web.

Historically, even if you have decentralized data points, an Oracle solution has always had to come from one place, what there’s an API or a single individual. Firstly, blockchains really can’t connect to the internet. Secondly, even if they could, a single source of truth in a decentralized prediction market platform would be a centralized point of failure.

That Oracle could be corrupted, kidnapped, blackmailed, etc. Thus we wanted to create a decentralized Oracle solution, that’s what led to the advent of the first-ever utility or application token, known as REP or Reputation Tokens.

Augur’s built on top of the theory and blockchain and we soon realized that we would have to have our own native token to the application, in order for there to be decentralized consensus and/or decentralized Oracle. So what we did was we created this token that enables the holder of it to report on the outcome of events.

And now reporting on the outcome event, that’s actually being updated in the new white paper that I need to go review. But the general gist is that people that owned the Augur REP token, every eight weeks, I think this has changed, report on the outcome of events and for doing so, half of all the trading of fees in the system are split amongst the reporters, thus incentivizing those who own the token to give consensus in the network.

It’s a full loop ecosystem holding. You’re not holding the token because you think it’s going to appreciate in value for you’re holding the token because you actually want to help contribute to creating consensus in a network and you get rewarded for maintaining the network, the platform.

Tai Zen: Basically, the decentralized Oracle system is basically made up of human beings users of the Augur network.

Jeremy: Yes. And to use Augur, you can use any ERC20 token to make bets and predictions. But if you want to help create consensus, you own the token and you get rewarded for helping create consensus and the network.

Tai Zen: How does someone verify that? How does the network verify that? Let’s say that I contribute and I say, “Hey, you know what, Trump won”. And then let’s say that you were a malicious actor and you said, “No, it was Hillary Clinton who won”. So how does the network settle that?

Jeremy: Wisdom of crowds. Thousands of people from around the world are all reporting. If you go against the crowd and what happened, please remember this is history. This is something that had already happened in the past. It’s just turning history into our story.

Thousands of people are reporting on that same event, so unless you were somehow able to coordinate with thousands of people around the world saying that something that didn’t happen did happen, you’d be very much inclined to say what everyone else is saying because you’ll lose some of your tokens if you’re dishonest.

Tai Zen: I see what you’re saying. You get punished for being dishonest and rewarded for being a contributor to the network.

Jeremy: Correct. In my view, Augur token is hands down the best utility or application token there is. I didn’t use to think that, why I always thought that, but I thought it was being biased. Especially as more and more utility tokens came to the end, the more and more I deeply examined them and the crypto-economics of how the systems worked.

I realized that except for maybe five ERC20 tokens or so, almost all of them are total crap. So I’m convinced to this day that Augur REP token, it’s hands down the best utility token there is. That may not always be true, but for now, I’m fairly convinced of that.

Tai Zen: My viewers always want to know this, I own the tokens that I interview people about and I just want to make it clear, I don’t own any Augur tokens.

Jeremy: I’m totally speaking for my position here. I mean, I have not sold a single one of my founders tokens. And I don’t plan to, I mean, maybe when it launches, if it goes up a huge amount, I mean, Augur just surpassed $1 billion market cap, but I still haven’t sold.

Even though I received my tokens when the market cap was $5 million. Because I’m such a big believer so I am 100% speaking from my position, but you have to expect most people are doing that when they’re talking about the token they like, except for Charlie Lee.

Tai Zen: Except for Charlie Lee. And don’t forget fluffy pony, he’s always telling people not to buy Monero so that doesn’t. The reason why I never got into Augur back when I first heard about it and we made a few videos about it many years ago.

This is a little crypto history here for the people that are listening. Back then when you guys launched it, I think you guys raised like $5 million or something like that.

Jeremy: Yeah, we raised 5.5 million. It was the, I think the third largest ICO ever, the 15th largest crowdfunding campaign ever.

Tai Zen: This is considered small today.

Jeremy: I mean it’s considered chump change. I could literally do an ICO for a nail clipping today and find some people to give $5 million for it.

Tai Zen: This is something else too, that people do not know about blockchain history. Back when you guys came out with the Augur project and the tokens, they did not have it available to trade.

So there were these IOUs, these tokens that were considered like IOUs or something like that, and people were trading on the exchange, until the day that the actual Augur tokens were distributed. Back then it was so like that whole IOU process was so fishy, I was like, “what am I going to risk my money into something like this?”

Jeremy: What we did was we took with Ethereum dead, and I was working with Marco Santori at the time, although we couldn’t really afford his full legal fees and an overall Pillsbury. My team developed the nickname for me, JG Esquire, and I would do all of our in house legal research.

I learned everything about securities laws, all about prediction markets, gambling laws and everything relevant to doing an ICO and one of the things we did was we helped think about the beginning of what would become the SAFT agreement.

We didn’t get there, we didn’t have the funds, but that’s what I always wanted to do. I wanted to do an ICO, lock up the funds and then only make them available once the platform was live, but we just didn’t have the means back then.

There wasn’t enough legal thinking around the technology at that time. It was just so early on. There’s a lot I would do differently but I think we definitely moved the industry in the right direction and mind you, we killed the term ICO.

I hated the term ICO. I thought it sounded like an IPO. I thought it just would draw the eye or the SEC. I thought it was absolutely terrible. We called it crowdfunding, crowd sale. We’d token sale. We got totally rid of the term ICO and it didn’t come back for like a year and a half and then, and then it came back with a vengeance at the end of 2016.

It was super unfortunate, I mean, I actually liked the term now and I’ve grudgingly come to accept it but it was a term that we really tried to kill and we did a good job of for awhile.

Tai Zen: Cause I remember investing back into Ethereum during their ICO, back then it was just called a crowd sale and the NXT was like the first blockchain 2.0 project that came out in the end of 2013. That was also called a crowd sale.

Ethereum was called crowd sale. The Waves Project was also called a crowd sale. And it wasn’t until like, I think late 2015, 2016 when the term ICO started taking root back again.

Jeremy: Some people use it to refer to the Ethereum themselves, but Vitalik was smart, shut it down. Whenever people tried to refer to the Augur sale like that, I shut it down. We were so much more scared. Entrepreneurs in this industry are so much more nervous about government regulation.

I mean we still hear about it all the time, but the fear that was struck into anyone developing a project, especially a decentralized project, not like a Delaware C Corp, but like a new a blockchain process, or a blockchain application, one that would have tokens and all these things that were just total ambiguous legal gray areas.

It was absolutely frightening. We never wanted to do an ICO. We never wanted to create a token. We talked to economists, game theorists, prediction market experts. We try to figure out a way to build Augur without doing a token. But there wasn’t if we wanted to create this decentralized consensus or Oracle system.

It’s funny now to see how brazenly people talk about creating ICO. Based off of all the time I spent learning about securities laws and what it means, to issue security and all the case precedent that we have from the Supreme Court and people come and pitch me their ICOs.

I’m like, “you’re issuing security, this is against the law.” Like very clearly, their ambiguity’s obviously in everything we do, nobody has done something is entirely above the board, except maybe what we did with blockchain capital and then science where we actually called what we were issuing in security.

But otherwise, it’s next to impossible to be completely compliant because this is a totally new legal landscape that we’re working with. Just have your best to be compliant. But it was scary. We had lots of arguments back in the day.

Tai Zen: It’s still scary today because we have an in house lawyer that reviews everything we do. We have security, an attorney that used to be a former federal prosecutor for the government to review everything that we do. We want to make sure that we are doing everything correctly the way that it’s supposed to be and compliant with the US laws.

Jeremy: As regulators are taking a greater interest in this technology and these tokens and these ICOs, I mean I have had the privilege of getting to know a lot of them at the CFTC, SEC in Congress as a result, DOJ.

As a result, you get to know what they’re looking for and what these guys, for the most part, I mean until there are very clear guidelines or laws written, but these guys are looking for are the rule-breakers, they are trying to like a scam mom and pop, like grandma, calling her up, offering 10,000% returns.

Those are the guys that they’re really going after or the real brazen by violations of the law. If you’re doing your best to be legally compliant, it does something that makes the world better. That is technological innovation.

We have not yet seen regulators in the United States, at least, try to shut down a project like that. It’s only when the law has really clearly been broken that take enforcement action and you have to give them a respect for that because they’ve been very nuanced in their enforcement thus far.

Tai Zen: Okay. So you did that, you started the Augur projects early ICOs or crowd sales back when you called it. What happened there that prompted you to lead the project and move onto your next blockchain project?

Jeremy: There were a few things. I mean, as I said, there are two years of coding left. I’m not a coder, so that was first and foremost. I was really burnt out. There is a funny story, they’ll probably get annoyed if I tell, but I’ll tell her that anyway.

We did the first ICO that accepted Ether because we were built on top of Ethereum. In fact, we had to delay our ICO to wait for the Ethereum network to launch. We did the ICO maybe a week after Ethereum went live.

Most of the money that we contributed or that was contributed was in Bitcoin. We received about four and a half million dollars in Bitcoin, but we received about a million dollars in Ether, which if I remember correctly, was like 1.2 million Ether because it was 80 or 90 cents back then.

We all agreed that we needed to hedge against the volatility of crypto. We had seen what happened with the Ethereum foundation when they held all of their Bitcoin. We didn’t want the same thing to happen. So we all agree that we should sell all of our Bitcoin. We were built on top of Ethereum, but I argued to the team that, we’re building another Ethereum.

If Augur’s successful, Ethereum will be successful, at least somewhat, it will be worth more than 90 cents. I argued, “let’s hold onto our Ether”. Because I think as long as Augur is successful, Ether will be worth more in the future than it is now. And it turned into a pretty bitter argument that I ended up losing. So we ended up selling 1.2 million Ether at like 85 cents.

Tai Zen: I’m about to faint over here when you tell me that man, you guys didn’t say by 10% or 20% or nothing.

Jeremy: The guys that we OTC at with, they weren’t able to liquidate the position that we sold them and thus they actually ended up holding it through the like rally to $20. And apparently every guy in the office ended up buying Lambos. It’s fine. It is what it is. You know, you live in, you learn.

We all have those sorts of investment mistakes. But that was part of the reason why I left Augur, but it was an appropriate time for me to leave, especially with the opportunities going to venture capital. That was very exciting for me. In that period between finding Bitcoin and leaving politics, I had actually just decided that my life dream job was a venture capitalist.

Tai Zen: You are in San Francisco, which is Silicon Valley, which is the heart of venture capital in America, and I would say in the world.

Jeremy: Right. But I was living in my small farm town in Western Massachusetts when I decided that it was my dream job and I learned that the only way to get into venture capital was I’ve been through like investment banking or through entrepreneurship.

And I was like, “Oh, I don’t know anything about the third of these.” I had spent more time in Zuccotti Park at Occupy Wall Street, protesting the banks and never learning about banking. It seemed like a farfetched fantasy, less than two years prior. Then all of a sudden I had this opportunity to work in BC and it was incredibly exciting.

Tai Zen: So you’re moving up to San Francisco?

Jeremy: Yeah, we moved out to San Francisco shortly after founding the project. And I had been in San Francisco for almost a year and a half at the point when I went to join Blockchain Capital.

Tai Zen: Okay. When you left the Augur project, you went over to Blockchain Capital, worked there for a few years, helped them out, brought in some really good deal flow, good projects to them.

Jeremy: We did the first security token ICO, which was huge.

Tai Zen: Which one was that?

Jeremy: BCAP, it was a tokenized limited partner interest in a venture capital fund.

Tai Zen: Okay. So you spent some time that Blockchain Capital and then what prompted you to leave that and move onto your next a blockchain project?

Jeremy: I had founded the magazine, founded a software company, but I was really comfortable like I didn’t have to work that much. Obviously we’ve gone through this incredible crypto rally in the past two years if you will. And thus I was like, “I’m doing great.”

Tai Zen: When you say you were doing great from your crypto investments, from your token investments or a combination of the two.

Jeremy: I had ended up investing a lot in Ether and Bitcoin, XRP. In the summer of 2016, I received all my Augur tokens. So overnight, I had over the course of a year, I had made more money than I probably ever had expected to make in my life.

I never got into Bitcoin or blockchain technology for the money. It was always a kind of a side pursuit. I just believed in the text so I invested in it. But it ended up really rewarding me in a way that I could have never really imagined so I was quite comfortable.

But you know, as the ICO market started to pick up, which was something I was really comfortable with, the BC firm wasn’t moving as quickly as I liked. I met an amazing venture capitalist 29-year-old resilient woman, Bárbara Minuzzi, who had started her own biotech fund in San Francisco. She started imploring me to consider starting my own fund.

You know, I had made a bunch of really great angel investments. I had performed fairly spectacularly. I was really close with Olaf Carlson-Wee over at Polychain Capital. I was one of his first GPS and LP, while as an investor in the GP and the early investor and in the limited partnership as well. She started convincing me to go launch my own fund. I was skeptical, “Things were going well, Blockchain Capital.”

But then she really started to catch the blockchain bug and she was like, “fine, I’ll do a fund with you.” And she’s much more operational thinking which is just great because I like making investments, meeting with the teams, working with them, developing the investment thesis.

But the back-office and legal investor relations and raising money, it’s less of my interest. So she came in with potential anchor investors and then I started thinking about it much more seriously, talk to the guys at Blockchain Capital that I was thinking about starting my own fund and they very actively encouraged me to do so.

They were like, “this is a great time to do it.” I took that as the green light and the past two years were immensely rewarding. I started a magazine, started a software company, did a bunch of awesome investments, but there was nothing. I was committing myself to Foley.

And there’s nothing like being fully committed to something like Augur, bringing something like that to fruition or to the ICO, there’s something immensely rewarding about that. And I thought maybe it’s doing my own fund would be the right thing.

So I started thinking about it, developing a thesis and I’m actually taking capital commitments in the next few weeks, so I’m very excited. It will be a really rewarding experience, it’s just about keeping a pulse on the industry.

Tai Zen: So you left Blockchain Capital and now you’re starting your own. Would it be safe to say it’s a crypto hedge fund or is it a Fee see fund?

Jeremy: It’s a hybrid. I think structurally, after speaking to lawyers recently, we’ll be structured like a hedge fund, but we’re still going to be making venture investments, equity-based investments. We’re going to have a lock-up period.

We’re not going to be trading. It’s going to be long-only. It’s really about investing in technologies. I wouldn’t call it a social impact fund, but fund investing in technologies that make the world a better place.

I think that is actually most blockchain technology but it excludes some and it’s just really focusing on finding technologies that are going to scale to affect the lives of billions of people because that’s something that’s truly important to me. As I said, from the age of 12, I’ve been just totally dedicated to changing the world at scale.

Tai Zen: So the name of this fund that you just started is called Ausum Ventures, is that correct?

Jeremy: Yeah.

Tai Zen: That based on the awesome.

Jeremy: Well, it sounds like the word ‘awesome’, but what’s great about the word is that in Latin it means daring or enterprising. AU is a chemical symbol for gold. I see Bitcoin is digital gold. And in ancient Sabian, it means rising dawn. I really do see blockchain technology as a sort of rising dawn.

It’s this emerging technology that has the potential to disrupt everything. It’s an incredibly fitting name and it’s just this word that it has actually not been copyrighted yet, so it’s great. I love it. Some people find it too playful, but I’m a very playful guy.

Tai Zen: On our team, we start out just similar times that you did. You came from a political background before you got into the blockchain space, we came from a trading background before we got into the crypto space.

Obviously, we’re in a similar shoe where the money is no longer an issue in our lives or kids’ lives. When you get to this stage, I’m curious, like you talk about making a change in the world. Why do you suppose that? What drives you or what is your driving factor to pursue those things?

Because most people, when they look at people like yourself or like us, like myself and other guys on our team where we’ve hit it, we’ve done well for ourselves financially with crypto. People can’t understand why I still broadcast as I do four and a half years ago. They don’t understand why you still continue to go work on your projects the way you do when neither one of us has to do it. We’re doing it.

Jeremy: Well, I think I do actually. It’s funny because as I said, I never did this for the money and thus however much money I was broke, I would still be doing the exact same thing. Because what drives me, it’s not money, what drives me is the ability to affect change in the world, to make it a better place.

It’s one of those innate strange desires. I mean some people may characterize it as a Messiah Complex, I don’t know. I found this revolutionary technology and I want to bring it forward to the world and that’s probably more important to me than anything.

If there’s a point at which I find something that moves me more that I think can make the world better, I find a way to create more change, then I’ll do that. But money, it comes down to intrinsic motivation and my intrinsic motivation has never been money.

I’m very fortunate in that. Like I grew up in a middle-class household, an only child, dad was a college professor, my mom makes multimedia for museums, very middle-class. But I was just never taught to value money highly. I was taught to do what I love, and that’s really important.

And my parents, I don’t think to be very anticapitalistic people that they are, I don’t think they’ve ever imagined I would do crypto. But it’s the same thing. I’m driven by my love of what I do. If I just went on vacation, I did a digital detox in Bangkok and Bali for two weeks.

At the end of the trip, I was in Bali, which is one of the most beautiful, amazing places on the planet, at a great Villa. I was getting 90-minute massages for $14 USD. I mean, it was amazing. But at the end of the trip, I was eager to get back into it. I wanted to go, I want to go build this fund. I want to start investing in startups. I wanted to go to make this technology real for the world. I didn’t want to rest anymore. I didn’t want to vacation anymore.

I think it’s a personality trait. Some of us are driven by more than just a basic level of security and comforted. They’re more existential desires.

Tai Zen: Yeah. It’s interesting that you mentioned that, because I’m on our team, it’s the same way. Like we could have just folded up our YouTube channel that we started, we want early channels to talk about trading, invest in crypto and we could have easily closed up a year ago and just walk away and not doing anything.

But instead, we feel like, “Hey, we have a voice that we can help other people.” When we started going to the conferences and people were telling us how our channel affected them and changed their financial life, I told Leon, my business partners, why stop now? Do you know what I’m saying?

I mean, this doesn’t cost us anything. It just a little bit of time each week, but it changes people’s lives. And it’s not every day that you get to be in a position where you can actually do something, that your work or your effort actually changes other people’s lives.

And now we’re not just talking about like one person. When I get emails from people talking about how they were able to buy a new car or pay for their college or buy a new home or retire, what the ones that I really enjoy the most. Those are the ones that where people talk about how they were able to quit their unshackled the corporate handcuffs, and be able to do this full time.

Jeremy: Yeah. I mean, it’s absolutely remarkable. Yesterday, this has never happened before. In four times yesterday, I got messages from random strangers on the internet saying a talk I had given or a podcast I’d done had changed their lives for different people. I was just like, this is insane.

I mean either just inspiring them with new passion or something, like some guy had got been out of medical debt and I was like, “Oh my God!”. I don’t want that sort of responsibility.

I always say nothing I say should be interpreted as investment advice, but it has been truly remarkable to see how either the technologies I’ve created, the magazine I made, the nonprofit I founded, you have the ability to affect the lives of tens of thousands of people. That has always been my desire in life. And so there’s no amount of money.

I mean, I could be a billionaire tomorrow and it would literally change not one thing about what I’m doing today because I don’t know, I guess I don’t like cars, I don’t like private jets or like big houses. I still live in my crypto castle, pay less than a thousand dollars a month for rent.

What I value is this kind of experiencing the world and making it better in the end. I call me crazy, but that’s just kind of what I live for. It’s been immensely rewarding in the past two years as this technology has become so much more real alarming, as I see the naivete and arrogance of many of the new investors coming in.

These guys are just coming in trading, not really knowing what they’re doing, betting their farm, mortgaging their house and that’s frightening. I find that deeply disconcerting, but for people that are actually educating themselves about this technology and getting excited about the underlying innovation, when I see that happen, that really is the most immensely rewarding feeling.

Tai Zen: Speaking of making things better and rewarding feeling, I’m going to put you on the spot here for the new people into crypto. Cause you’ve got a lot of experience in crypto investing and trading and things like that, and especially in the investment space, let’s just say that we stripped it every token that you have right now and put you at zero and you have less than $10,000 USD to start with.

What would be your approach coming into the crypto space? Knowing what you know now if we took everything away from you, all the money, all the tokens, everything you have and all you are left with was, let’s say 10,000 bucks, less than 10,000 bucks. But would you start, how would you get started?

Jeremy: I would probably get my rent down, costs of living down as low as possible. If we’re talking about nothing, I get my cost of living everything down as low as possible. Have ever been stripped to my education or do I still know everything I know?

Tai Zen: You know everything that you know right now. And how would you get on your feet and take advantage of blockchain? Boom. We know that there are a few years in this, three to five years maybe. How would you take a little bit of money that you have and really take advantage of this Boom?

Jeremy: Sure. I mean there’s a side of me that says I would go and start a new company, but I wouldn’t. I mean you have to have a financial safety net for that. I would probably go join a startup that I love what they were doing, that was in this space. And I would start working with them.

I would find any, I would get any sort of consulting work that I could $10,000 USD, but that’s all I had to my name. And I needed to get find housing and food and shelter and all that stuff. The last thing I’m doing is investing.

But once I get a little bit of money, which is so you’re aiming towards, like investing is something you should do once you have your very basic necessities. I saw this great quote other days, “the difference in the mentality between poor and rich people.”

This obviously isn’t always true, but the difference between them is that poor people spend in and invest what they have leftover, rich people invest what they have spent in what they have leftover. So I would get with the basic necessities I need, but then, I would start, go making investments.

I mean, this market’s so frothy and scary. It would be a very scary time to start investing. But I would put in whatever money I have saved that I could afford to lose, cause you could never invest more than that. Whatever I could afford to lose, I would start putting in small percentages into Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, not XRP right now.

For a long time, I said XRP, but it’s up 500X right now so probably not that. I would want 100% put money into in the Interapt. And then there are a handful of other projects, Filecoin when it becomes available, probably Zero-X, I think it’s one of the most undervalued tokens in the entire crypto ecosystem.

But I would have to be very shrewd and never invest more than I could afford to lose because the last thing I would ever want is to have to rely on other people. I always want to be able to support myself. So it’s being very mindful and yeah, I would probably get into a few ICS, but I probably wouldn’t be as brazen as I am with now with ICS where it can seem like a good idea.

They pass my basic due diligence by probably would be embedded like a  funded project. I would have to be much more shrewd in my investment.

Tai Zen: If I had to start all over and I had like 2 or 3, 4 friends and I was single, didn’t have wife and two kids like I do now, I would grab like three or four of my friends you know, and do what you’re doing right now, living at the crypto castle. I would just reduce all of my expenses.

I would remember a time when I had 3 roommates and we shared everything. The expenses were like 375 or 425 bucks per guy in the house, there were 4 guys in the house and we had a pretty good size house. We had a 4 bedroom house in North Austin, Texas.

I would just hunker down and I would just say, “Hey man, come to an agreement that everything in the house we have”, we’ll stay for 12 months while we come up and get on our feet in the crypto space. That’s what I would do.

Jeremy: That’s what we did with Augur. I mean, we literally lived on $1,000 USD a month salary. We all lived together in the house, we all split food, we lived on a bear. I mean, living on $1,000 USD a month in San Francisco, it’s not easy as the cost of living here is high and we really just like barely kept it together long enough. It was an extreme undertaking, so I know what it’s like.

I put every penny I had into Augur to see it, make it to its ICO because we couldn’t get investors back then. Back then, there was no such thing as a presale. Nobody understood what a utility token was, nobody believed in Ethereum.

I’ve been through that and so I could totally, I mean, for a long time I think still deep down inside me, there’s this kind of morbid desire to kind of lose all my money and just have to go build it all up again because I’m 25 I could afford to do that.

But even now, having made tens of millions probably, I still have a very cheap cost of living. I don’t spend just recklessly, I mean, my rent, as I said, is probably less than $1,000 USD a month. I get my food at Costco for the most part. I got a guy, give him up to $3 USD in Bitcoin and he gives me $15 USD ride credits for Uber.

I managed to charm my way into a buddy pass from a flight attendant. My living expenses are not that high. I live with a bunch of people, so my utilities are fairly low. I think it’s never bad to be shrewd and have humility when it comes to your money because it’s something that I appreciate, I know it’s like to be broke.

When I was in my teenage years, there was a point where I became homeless for a little bit. I’ve really walked the span of things and you’ve got to appreciate what you have and not really just indulge and total access. Of course, I’ve got my advice, but I tried to in my daily.

Tai Zen: I’ll bet you got a quality base now.

Jeremy: You cut off. What was that?

Tai Zen: No. I said I’ll bet you got a high-quality base, the one that you holding in your hand.

Jeremy: I actually bought this a few days ago, it’s a hookah. But yeah, it’s nice.

Tai Zen: That’s like a luxury right there. That’s like a Ferrari hookah.

Jeremy: I really like the Ferrari of hookah, but it cost me like 125 bucks. I have not made any big purchases. Most of the money I spend goes into investing. Actually, my next meeting just showed up and it’s a new speakeasy in San Francisco that I’m investing in.

That’s my favorite form of spending. It’s investing in people and ideas and new concepts. The material objects just really have never been a thing for me.

Tai Zen: Let’s talk about your financial success. How have things changed in your life thanks to the increase in financial success? Your friends, family, parents, have they looked at you differently? Have they changed?

Because for me personally, I had like a dozen aunts and cousins and first cousins and second cousins and third cousins I pop out of nowhere, reaching out to me saying that they’re my cousins and I like “urghhh”.

Jeremy: I’m Jewish and Jews really don’t ask money from each other. That’s like something that we really don’t do. So family, not really, but it actually, I mean, it’s getting back to friends and others, it’s a lot different. But for me, I was screw up my entire adolescence most of my life.

I got kicked out of schools. I got arrested. I was a total delinquent. So this was a real vindication for me. I mean, when I dropped out of school, I never got a high school diploma. Then I dropped out of college a year before graduation.

People thought I was crazy. They were like, “Oh, there it goes, Jeremy again doing some crazy shit.” And nobody actually believed that like what I was doing would turn into anything real. Most people thought Bitcoin was a scam, crypto was a scam. Nobody understood what Augur was.

Seeing this incredible growth in the past two years has served as the ultimate vindication for my outlandishness my whole life. But then, of course, everybody I told I was doing Bitcoin too, which includes every first day that I went on in the past five years is coming back to me in the past few months, ask you for no advice or just asking how I’m doing.

And it’s like, “we had one bad first date. Why are you contacting me?” But of course, I know why. So yeah, of course, that sort of stuff changes. But I’ve never been a real evangelist when it comes to buying Bitcoin.

I’ve always much more preferred to create like grassroots networks, like with Blockchain Education Network, educating through the magazine and then really working with people that already believe in Bitcoin and blockchain technology to help them develop a greater understanding, whether it’s large companies, academics, and government organizations.

But unfortunately, I haven’t spent the past five years telling everyone I know to buy Bitcoin, because I know people that have done that and those people just have their phones blowing up all the time. I’m sure you’ve experienced it.

Tai Zen: We’ve been telling people for the last four and a half years and I remember I had friends and colleagues who would literally, no joke man, they would literally get their phone and video me. And they go, “Hey man, okay, go ahead and tell me about that Bitcoin shit again. Take this invite.”

And they would video it while I’m telling them, “Hey man, you got to get into this, it’s going to change the world. The clearing and settlement, this new form of currency, it’s like trying to cash and all of it, you know?”

And then they would play it for me, “you see this man, you see how stupid you look”. I literally had colleagues that were trading and they would tell me this, I even worked at this one place I worked at, and this is as crazy as this sounds.

I remember in 2014, I offered everybody that was working on our team. There’s a place that I was working at, I offered everybody that was working in our department that if they bought any Bitcoins, I don’t care how many they bought.

If they ever lose money on it and they want to get a refund, I’ll buy it all back from them for the same price that they bought it for in 2014, which was around like $200 USD, $300 USD, $400 USD, they were all less than 500 bucks and I said, “if you ever felt that I pointed you wrong, you just bring those Bitcoins to me, transfer them to me and I’ll give you your money back, how does that?”

And then there was maybe like a dozen guys that I offered this to and they all were taking pictures. They were videotaping me and telling me how stupid and crazy I was and guess what? Now every last one of them has called me back and asked me how to get into Bitcoins and I tell him, “Are you freaking stupid or what? I told you to get into Bitcoins at $200 USD – $300 USD. You don’t want to get into it and now you want to call me up at $2,000 USD – $3,000 USD and now at $20,000 USD you want to learn how to buy a Bitcoin.”

Jeremy: When people ask me, “how do you feel about making all this money?” I’m like, “I don’t really care, but what I do really indulgent is to vindication is that, is that feeling?” It was like, “yes, this is actually happening”. It’s becoming real.

This technology is playing out and the way that we expected more crazily probably. Not exactly how you swipe it, but it’s becoming real and that is the feeling that I indulge in so much more than anything related to the money.

It’s just seeing this technology become something that is inevitably going to affect this world. When it was purely speculative back when you and I were evangelizing it back in the day, it’s been a tremendous development in the past two years.

Tai Zen: Okay. To wrap things up here, if you guys are watching us, have any questions for Jeremy,  just leave it in the chatbox and then I’ll Jeremy know what the questions are and also state the city or the country that you’re from too or that you’re asking and make sure that you ask a questions that will help you, instead of trolling and asking random questions.

Jeremy: No trading questions. No, buy and sell. Not happening but I have to disclaim, I’ve only got a few minutes to cause my next meetings here, but I’ll take a few quick questions for now.

Tai Zen: Okay. While we’re waiting for the questions to come in Jeremy, if somebody wants to follow you, where’s the best place you’re a Twitter handle right there?

Jeremy: Twitter – some of my more long-form thinking is on medium. I often do op-eds for different magazines. Twitter, where you can see it all mediums more personal. So that’s definitely the best medium to follow me on.

Tai Zen: If somebody wants to contribute to your blockchain, a Blockchain Education Project or your magazine, what would be the best place if they want to contribute to it?

Jeremy: They can go to for the nonprofit. For the magazine, just go to blockchain and there’s sort material between the magazine website and from the print magazine as well. Those are the easy places to go. If you want to sign up for the weekly newsletter letter for distributed, it’s a

Tai Zen: Just a couple of quick questions. What do you think about mining and is it worth getting into?

Jeremy: Mining? Total pass. If you’re long on crypto, just you buy it and hold it.

Tai Zen: Do you smoke weed?

Jeremy: It just became recreational and in California, I think has tremendous beneficial effects. I have horrible scoliosis in my back. My back is actually killing me right now, so I use it medicinally.

Tai Zen: What do you think about ZCash?

Jeremy: ZCash is interesting. I need to give it more consideration. The zk-Starks on Ethereum has been a very promising development that I think may make most privacy coins irrelevant, but I’ve had some second thinking about it. I think ZCash, Monero, Dash – all could be interesting. I need to do more research.

Tai Zen: They have this question, are trades or better than ledger? No, both of them have advantages and disadvantages, so neither one is better than the other.

Jeremy: I prefer a Trezor just because of all the different crypto assets that they hold. Treasure is a fantastic company as well.

Tai Zen: Okay. Which industries does Jeremy think that blockchain will truly disrupt in particularly?

Jeremy: I don’t think any, there’s any industry that won’t at the end of the day be affected by blockchain technology simply because blockchain technology represents a paradigm shift in how value is represented and transferred in the world of the internet.

That being said, in the short term, I think a real estate is going to be huge. I think every component of the real estate industry will be affected by blockchain technology, healthcare, and the medium to longer term. I’ve had multiple healthcare executives describe it as the Holy grail of healthcare innovation.

I think finance, very obviously. I think government and governance, which are two different things are both going to be hugely affected is probably even in the short term. So if you think about what value is, which is what blockchain technology enables to transfer up, it affects every business. It affects every line of work.

It’s only a matter of time that the blockchain technology will come and affect just about everything that we do. But the time horizon is varying depending on the industry. And I think the ones I outlined are definitely some of the ripest for blockchain innovation.

Tai Zen: The last two questions here. One of them I’m going to answer for you. What’re your thoughts on Cardano?

Jeremy: Charles Hoskinson is brilliant. I would like to see more technical experts in the industry or firms its merits. A lot of people are calling it semi-centralized. Dan Larimer, CTO of blockchain Steem says that it takes draws off of delegated proof of stake.

Adding features that he knows what work. He said at this point, I get very skeptical of any project that’s worth billions of dollars months after launching. It’s very hard to prove that sort of valuation. But smart team, smart founder. I don’t know enough. I don’t own any.

Tai Zen: This last question and then I’ll let you go here. Jeremy, Motor City Bitcoin Gao asked about your newest venture, Ausum Ventures and I’m gonna answer this question for her.

In the US, there’s laws and financial laws where if Jeremy is operating a hedge fund, there are certain questions that he can answer and there are certain questions that he cannot answer unless he knows that you are an accredited investor, so I’m not gonna put Jeremy on the spot in front of everyone in the live audience and it’s recorded to answer any questions that could get him in trouble.

If you want to learn more about Ausum Ventures, you’re welcome to go search for Jeremy Gardner and we’d up on the site and all the information and the prospect prospective and everything there and/or whatever information he has there. Then you can contact him privately.

If you’re interested, he can answer the questions for you. But other than that, I’m not going to ask him questions that are too many detailed questions about his fund and get him in trouble and put him on the spot, especially when our securities lawyer always tells us to be careful about discussing those things online. So that’s the answer for you there.

Jeremy: I appreciate giving the answer I would’ve given.

Tai Zen: I just want to say thanks for coming on and sharing your background, your experiences. Love to have you back in the future, any projects that you work on that you’re able to share with the public.

Respect what you’re doing in all these years to improve the education process for the blockchain industry. If there’s anything that our channel can do or I can do to help with that, let us know, reach out to us and we’ll bring you back on.

Jeremy: My pleasure. Thanks so much for having me.

Tai Zen: Thanks and have a great time there in San Francisco and we’ll see you in the future video. Thanks a lot, Jeremy.

And if you guys like these types of videos where I bring on veterans of the cryptocurrency space to learn more about crypto investing make sure you go to and subscribe to our newsletter. I look forward to seeing you guys in the next video. And this will conclude the broadcast.


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