Sazmining Podcast Episode 35: Jeremy Kauffman on Shifting Control from Big Tech Giants to Creators


In this episode of The Sazmining Podcast, Will speaks with Jeremy Kauffman, Chief Executive Officer at LBRY. They discuss the future of small blockchains, the lightning network, Odysee, LBRY, disruptive technology and more.

Will Szamosszegi (00:26):

You. You need to be surrounded by people like that. Who, who can get anything done? <laugh> Jeremy, I've been looking forward to this, uh, this podcast interview for quite some time now. So I really appreciate you taking the time to join me today.

Jeremy Kauffman (00:38):

It's, it's great to be here.

Will Szamosszegi (00:39):

You've got a lot of work that you're doing in blockchain, and you've got some very, uh, interesting honestly, insights into how the technology can be used, where money's going all these different things that I want to touch on in this conversation. But just to start. So the work that you guys are doing at library, uh, is obviously heavily blockchain focus. And I was wondering what first introduced you to blockchain and what got you interested in it. And how, how do you view blockchain in regards to problems outside of just money?

Jeremy Kauffman (01:09):

That's a great question. So I was lucky to discover blockchain pretty early through Bitcoin was just generally curious about it. I came at it from a computer science approach, not from a, a money approach, although I've always liked economics. And from a computer science perspective, a blockchain is a database and what's different about it is that it's a database that doesn't require a central authority to reach consensus on, on what's in it. And this is a really powerful idea. This is the property that should make us excited and interested in blockchain. And in fact, from a computer science perspective, we have to give up a lot to get that property. And so I think this is the thing that we should be thinking about is what can we do at this property? Why is it beneficial? When is it better than what's come before? It's not universal?

Jeremy Kauffman (01:53):

I don't like these blockchain people who are like, oh, let's blockchain, everything. It's like, you're at, it costs you a lot. It costs you it's more expensive database. It's a slower database. It's harder to make changes. Right? We see how difficult it is. For example, for Bitcoin retire, a fan of to evolve, right? These are all a cost. So I think that you want to ask, what can this do? And one of the really interesting areas for me was publishing. We can with a blockchain, have a, a shared record of information. Uh, this will date me, but, uh, you know, a sort of, uh, a card catalog or, you know, a listing of everything that exists, that's not owned or controlled by any one person. And I, I, once that idea, once I, I got onto that idea, I couldn't stop thinking about it

Will Szamosszegi (02:31):

And what you're doing right now with library. Can you talk a little bit about how you've applied this database technology to what you're working on? Yeah,

Jeremy Kauffman (02:39):

Absolutely. So if you look at the, the sort of state of existing decentralized technology for sharing information, which would be generally peer to peer, it's pretty censorship resistant as is it's bigger problems are around things like legitimacy discovery that is like finding what's on the network payment. Uh, you know, they don't have payment mechanisms. And when I say discovery, I mean, finding what's on it, um, which generally results in a poor user experience. And so what we tried to do with the creation of library was sort of get the best of both worlds, where you have this censorship resistance, this lack of one party controlling it, which comes with all the downsides that we've seen with big tech currently, but without some of the downsides of previous peer to peer technology, where as beautiful as it was in some aspects really never worked for legitimate content creators.

Will Szamosszegi (03:26):

Yeah. Cuz that's one of the things that, I mean, you'll, you'll hear a lot of people talking about blockchain in ways in which you can apply blockchain to real world problems. And just like you mentioned, there are many times where it's like, why are you trying to toss a blockchain on this? But I mean, in this particular realm of what you're talking about, I think that there is a clear application on how blockchain can help. So, um, if we dig into that and start thinking about, okay, well, uh, how can we start giving people control over their data, privacy, uh, and not have something all controlled by big tech giants? How is it that you're looking at and trying to solve that problem?

Jeremy Kauffman (04:04):

I will answer that question. I wanna also say this isn't a theoretical project. Library has more than 1 million identities on the network. It more has more than I think we're at like something like 15 million pieces of content published by really big creators and the most popular way to access the library network is through a website called OD Y I assume this show will be on there at some point. Um, and uh, you know, you can see, you can go on there. You can look at the homepage really, really popular content creators, lots of names that you would know, this is not a project that's purely aspirational. This is a project that's, that's getting it done in the real world. But your question was basically like, how are we doing it? Mm-hmm <affirmative> right. Yeah. And we, we do that by taking a public proof of work blockchain, allowing users of that blockchain to create an identity on that blockchain and then allowing those identities to publish metadata about their content. That's signed by those signatures, by the way, this is like a technical audience, right? If I'm, if I'm talking to nerdy, I can give the like, uh, the ABC news, uh, you know, explanation. But no,

Will Szamosszegi (05:04):

I, I think it's relevant. And, and actually after we dive into this, I also want to, uh, hear how like creators can go and, and upload onto, onto Odyssey.

Jeremy Kauffman (05:14):

It's it's very easy now for your hardcore users. Like the people who are like, not my keys, not my wallet, there's library, desktop, which is an even more, which is a purely decentralized way of using it. Mm-hmm <affirmative> Odyssey is a, is a half centralized, half decentralized in the sense that it interacts with the decentralized and you can exit, you can download your wallet and exit and Odyssey as a tool for YouTube creators. That's like one click sync all your content on an ongoing basis. So it's very easy to get on. And I think this is very big when you're trying to compete with the big check giants, you can't make it hard for people to try something new. You've gotta make it very low cost for them. That has been a big driver of our success is, is recognizing that and acting accordingly. But you know, we've really built a product that's, it's one of the most used, if not the most used web three, uh, apps out there it's very user friendly and it's solving a real problem as we've all seen, you know, the problem that YouTube and the big tech companies.

Jeremy Kauffman (06:07):

And it's not, I mean, certainly if, if, if privacy is a concern for you, we meet that realistically. I think, you know, maybe 1% of people are concerned about privacy. I like those people. I'm not, I'm not trying to dig though. I'm just saying, you're not gonna get to a billion users on privacy. You can get to a billion users on things like, Hey, why are you letting these companies make choices for you? Why are you letting these companies exploit you? You know, these are things that apply to basically every user of these platforms.

Will Szamosszegi (06:31):

Yeah. And so I GU I guess a couple questions there. So it seems great that it's really easy to upload and sync everything after the show. I'm gonna, I'm gonna go and make sure that we do that. But aside from that, when you're talking about the benefits to the creators, what are those key benefits? One is obviously privacy. And then what, what are some of the other things that you think are, are gonna incentivize creators or anyone who's publishing to go and publish, uh, through

Jeremy Kauffman (06:56):

Ody? Uh, there, I mean, there's so many, one of the biggest ones is control. Uh, you have much more control, uh, the rules can't change on you without your permission. Another one is sort of trust and ownership, but I guess that's related, uh, in the sense that these things, these bad things can't happen to you, you own your identity. It can't be taken away from you.

Will Szamosszegi (07:15):

And, and just real, real quick by control. Do you mean that, like that you just can't, it can't be taken down like if YouTube or some or someone there decides to take your channel down, that's something that can't happen on Odyssey,

Jeremy Kauffman (07:27):

Uh, on library. So Odys library think of, yeah, so, and this is this just, I know it's gonna get tough cuz we go back and forth, but basically think of library is like Bitcoin. So there's this underlying network. You can access it directly in a directly peer-to-peer fashion. And when you're using it that way, there's no ability to interfere. Think of Odyssey as like Coinbase. It makes it way easier for normal people to interact with this network. But Odyssey is a website and Odyssey has to follow the same legal rules and so on. So, you know, um, Odyssey, if you're using Odyssey, Odyssey does have control over your account in the same way that Coinbase has control over your account. So if the federal government or whoever your adversary in your adversarial model is, is threatening, you, you know, they can go to Coinbase and they can get your big one.

Jeremy Kauffman (08:10):

Right? So say, if you are maximally concerned about these types of scenarios, you wanna be a library, desktop user, we have F articles, you know, you can Google how to publish anonymously on library and, and do things that full way for people who aren't concerned about that. But who like, who want some of the upside, who like the fact that, you know, things like the, the ability to exit the open source nature, even on Odyssey, there are lots of things that are way better than the status quo because of the underlying library tech, because it's open source, et cetera. And for these people for sort of Mo, most people are gonna want Odyssey, but certainly some people I use library, desktop, you know, I'm one of the, I'm a nerd, I'm an open I'm on Linux right now. You know, I'm one of these people, but, but I you've got, but I think also a lot of times, people that are into this tech have to recognize that these preferences are minority preferences.

Jeremy Kauffman (08:56):

And if, and I think this is what's frequently held back things like Linux or Mastadon and the all technology that I support is like, they built it for themselves and they haven't made the necessary at times what I would even call compromises from my ideals to, to reach the mainstream. And so we've tried to really satisfy both camps by having the pure, decentralized, all control version. And the sort of it is a little bit watered down, but it comes with more usability. You can have, you know, you can reset your password, you know, things like this, that like, look, I don't know if you know, normal people forget passwords. It happens all the time. They

Will Szamosszegi (09:28):

Don't have password managers. <laugh>

Jeremy Kauffman (09:30):


Will Szamosszegi (09:30):

Exactly. I don't know how they live their lives without password managers.

Jeremy Kauffman (09:34):

I haven't forgot a password in more than a decade since I got on the password manager

Will Szamosszegi (09:37):

System. I haven't known a password in like over a decade. <laugh>

Jeremy Kauffman (09:41):

Yeah. So, so, but this is, I think that like, look, you know, and I'm not trying to be down on people that are like, not your keys, not your wallet. I agree with you. That is a true principle. Most people aren't not not, or at least a lot of people I'm in most, we don't can debate how many, like are not in a position to never forget their password. That's not the way they live their lives technologically. And so if you wanna be, you know, if you wanna bridge all the way to the mainstream, you have to, to some extent, you know, meet people where they are. And I think that we have been very willing to do that. And that, that explains a lot of our success.

Will Szamosszegi (10:12):

Yeah. So in going into how the algorithm works, um, for example, when you go on YouTube or anywhere else they have recommended videos for you, is, is that type of a mechanism at play when people are using library?

Jeremy Kauffman (10:26):

Uh, yes. So personal recommendations are still in the works. We do have various sort of trending and selection algorithms that are computed based off of a variety of factors. It's difficult to explain these succinctly mm-hmm <affirmative> just because it does include so many factors. However, in our case, the way that we do it is open source. So while I can't in, in 10 seconds, explain to you it to you precisely, just because it's not that simple of an algorithm, I can say for people who want to know it's open source, you can dig into it. You can understand it. We have no ability. And this is a big thing. We can't put our thumb on the scale without people being able to know that and inspect the fact that we've done that because one of the most disgusting things that YouTube has done, I actually think that that sort of quote, shadow banning, um, or, or D waiting or whatever you want to call it in a way it can be worse than getting banned because when you're banned, you know, mm-hmm, <affirmative>, there are creators on YouTube for whom, if you type the names of their videos into the search bar, the exact terms they're, they're not there till the second or third page.

Jeremy Kauffman (11:28):

And these are videos with millions of views. And the reason is that YouTube has put a large negative weight on these creators. And this is not a conspiracy theory. Uh, there was actually a couple of years ago, uh, Google was accidentally leaking, uh, the weights in their API responses. So for, for a couple of days, you could see in the API responses, the channel weights that each channel was given by the YouTube algorithm. And in many cases, these were manually assigned scores. So these were employees at YouTube who were tasked with saying this channel ought to be higher, and this channel ought to be lower. And YouTube explicitly says this, that they quote boost authoritative sources. I mean, YouTube has become very paternalistic. They think it's their job. Google does generally thinks that it's their job to determine what's true or not, and, and, and serve these things for you.

Jeremy Kauffman (12:14):

And what's especially dangerous about this is this is a company that is very politically homogenous, uh, you know, where there's not much political diversity at these companies. And so you've got people who are, and I'm not even necessarily, you know, like we can debate, I don't wanna make this a debate about ideologies, but like people disagree about things. And the more ideological something gets generally the less logical people are about truth. And so you've got a very, very strong ideological capture at these companies. And these are people who think they're, they're in the position to decide what's true for you or not. This is very dangerous.

Will Szamosszegi (12:43):

Yeah. I mean, it gets down to a at, at its core and ethical conversation, going back to just the algorithm piece. I mean, right there, it's great that you're putting that as open source, cuz I mean, there are people that really enjoy that. You know, they're getting served videos that are down what they're interested in, you know, and they appreciate that. But I think one of those big pieces to it that, that rubs people the wrong way is that they don't know why it's being served, how it's being served and that their views are being crafted without them knowing. And it's being crafted by an algorithm that they don't understand how it works. So I think it's that that's a very good, um, middle ground where you can still get people what they want, but if they wanna understand what's driving that algorithm, they can go check it out because it is open source.

Jeremy Kauffman (13:27):

Yep. Absolutely. And exit rights to me are really the key in protecting abuses. The less exit right. A user has in a system generally, the more it gets corrupted over time. And so exit rights, I mean the ability to leave while still interacting. And I sometimes struggle with this analogy because I do think on one hand, like email has kind of failed to evolve due to lack of ownership. And this is why we're moving more and more away from email at the same time, exit rights on email have made it so that our email services are generally much less corrupted than other big tech. Like even at Google, Gmail is by farther, less corrupt product. They're happy to tamper with search results and remove popular websites that they don't like, but they, they don't go so far as to mess with your emails. And I think that's because it's way easier to, to get out of Gmail than it is to, to get out of, of something of YouTube, you know?

Will Szamosszegi (14:18):

So yeah, no, no. One's gonna be switching from, from Google to, to Bing or yeah.

Jeremy Kauffman (14:23):

Anything, <laugh> more, more people. I mean, duck, I am a, I found myself actually. I was for many years, I, I didn't like, I was like, ah, the results are sound as good, but more and more I found like, you know, I know I'm looking for something and Google bears it because they think it's too controversial. There was a, I saw on Twitter the other day, maybe a couple weeks ago at this point there was a Google engineer and he was on the Google's trust and safety team. And he was bragging about how like, you know, they've got like 15 to 20% of web of websites or something like this in this like dangerous misinformation category. And he is like, we're bearing them. People won't find them anymore. And he was just openly bragging about it. And it's like, I'm like, dude, like if the website is popular and people are clicking on it and it matches the terms, like, let me judge for myself, whether it's true or not, I'm not even saying that he's wrong. Like I'm not a conspiracy theorist type of, of person if you are, that's fine. Cause again, to each their own find your own truth. I'm not that way. But like I don't want it hidden from me and my ability to access and, and they were bragging about it. Like, like they should be proud of it. And so that's really the ideology there is they have this authoritarian nature where, where they wanna decide for you and you know, duck do go just isn't that way. Um, and so I've been using it more and more.

Will Szamosszegi (15:31):

Yeah. I, I actually recently made the switch from Chrome to, uh, the brave browser. I'm not sure if you've heard of it.

Jeremy Kauffman (15:38):

Yeah. I mean, I'm on brave right now. I, I switched there. Yeah. I would say maybe one or two years ago, but yeah. But yeah, it's a great, it's pretty easy switch actually is one of the more seamless switches I've made. The

Will Szamosszegi (15:48):

Layout is almost identical to Chrome. I mean, I, I started using it and then afterwards I didn't even realize that I was off of Chrome, but honestly has gotten so much better cuz I used it. I think something like three years ago, like a while ago when it was still a little bit earlier and it was slower than Chrome at that point. But now I think it, I think it's even better.

Jeremy Kauffman (16:07):

Yeah. And you know, I used to be such a big fan of Google like a decade ago. I generally I genuinely was a fan and, and I, whether it was when they switched their slogan or maybe James de Moore, but there was some kind of tipping point where they really became the bad guy. Uh, and it's, it's kind of sad to see the company fall that way. Cuz I think they have a lot of very talented people there we even had. I don't wanna, I don't wanna get anyone in trouble, but they're disaffected engineers within Google. Uh, by the way, if you're one of them, please contact me. Uh, but uh, the, you know, we have some, we have some that are now contributing to, to our team. I mean literally X, YouTube guys who are so frustrated by, by what happened there, who bringing that knowledge over to us cuz they're like, we don't agree with the, the things that this company is doing. Yeah.

Will Szamosszegi (16:49):

Well going back to how like where you guys are today and where you guys are going, can you talk a little bit about, I know you talked about the progress you guys have had up until this point, but what have been some of the big focuses for you guys as a company right now?

Jeremy Kauffman (17:01):

Yeah. So library and Odyssey actually. So, uh, split their corporate structure. So Odyssey is currently a subsidiary of library, but it's being run independently, has a separate CEO. And two thirds of the former staff at library are now at Odyssey. So Odyssey has been tasked to go full speed ahead, uh, make the most popular consumer social video, whatever you wanna call it that you can, it will always be backed by library, web three tech. It's always gonna have that aspect of owning your channel and all this stuff, but Odyssey is gonna go full steam ahead. If Odyssey needs to break the rules a little bit like streaming, for example, which Odyssey does and is popular. There is not part of the library protocol yet. Odyssey can go ahead and add it and library can catch up later because we don't wanna be held back in a product that a lot of people want.

Jeremy Kauffman (17:48):

Library is now purely focused on the tech. It is no longer directly marketing products to end users. It's marketing its technology to developers and other engineers. So there's kind of two separate focuses. Library is focused on now, you know, third party apps, it's doing some rewrites of code for scalability, sustainability decentralization. It's, it's a pure tech company. Uh, that's managing an open source product. That's expected to have a long lifetime. And library is also taking stakes in, uh, various companies, uh, that are building up other apps. So we're gonna see a news app come out. Um, we're gonna see an audio, uh, focused app, come out. We're gonna see a file, a CAD file sharing app come out. And so that way the library ecosystem of apps can become even more diverse.

Will Szamosszegi (18:37):

Yeah. It's, it's really interesting to see because a lot of times with these big companies, it's almost like they're too big to be competed against <laugh> so it's interesting to see how you're going up and, and you're, you're trying to figure out a way to, to get into that field.

Jeremy Kauffman (18:51):

Yeah. I think there's a field for big companies where it can feel that way. But if you look at history like big companies also always fail. Like, I mean the largest oil companies failed Sears failed, you know, these kinds of things, large companies, they become as you get more and more structure and hierarchy, which is necessary as you get larger and larger, it becomes harder to move fast. The most creative and innovative people tend to not want to work at companies like that because you're not able to capture as much value as of your own work as if you go and work. Uh, somewhere else, you see ideological capture, you see them become sclerotic, you know, so you see them unable to adapt to changes. This would be a great example to paradigm shifts, right. You know, I'm not always the, what's the, there's a classic Malcolm Gladwell story about this.

Jeremy Kauffman (19:33):

However you feel about the man. Uh, I, I can't do it off the top of my head, but about, you know, skunk, this whole idea of like why large companies need skunkworks. If a large company doesn't have a skunkworks type thing, they're they, you know, that's their way to attempt to stop this from happening because they recognize that that's the nature of large companies. And I think what we're seeing with web three is exactly as kind of upheaval, where this is a new technology, that's disruptive to the web two status quo that is threatening to all the ways that they do things. And for that exact reason, it's challenging for them to adopt it because for Google to adapt web three is to surrender a lot of what has brought them to success because their entire model is capture the market, turn the monetization dial and, and essentially exploit you. And web three says, we're making exploitation impossible upfront. Well, why would they ever adopt that? They're never going to it. It's it's self defeating. And, and so I, you know, I think this is an example of the kind of, of paradigm where large companies can, can get beaten.

Will Szamosszegi (20:29):

Yeah. I mean, it's, it's like the classic incumbent versus startup where the startup doesn't really have all the baggage that the incumbent comes with. And I mean, this is such a disruptive technology that really the only way that you really can compete with a lot of these big companies is to leverage this technology with decentralization. And, and um, I mean, I guess we, we touched on brave as another example of a company that is taking them on from, from a browser perspective.

Jeremy Kauffman (20:53):

Yeah. And the key is you've gotta do something different and this is why you you've gotta look for what I call successor tech rather than alternative tech alternative tech is a clone. And I think alternative tech is generally not likely to win, but successor tech tech that does something in a genuinely different way from what's come before. This is how you can beat a large incumbent. Yeah. Also I will add way that does something different. That's difficult for them to copy. That's the second level of that. Cuz the other thing that you'll see that plays out is some startup will do something genuinely different, but in a way that the incumbent can adopt and, and then you see, well the, the, the incumbent, it may be slow, but it has, the incumbent always has a lot of time. So even if it moves slowly, if it's something that they can adopt or co-opt, then they'll do it. So it's gotta be that you're coming at them at an angle that, that it's something that sort of, they, for some reason they won't adopt it. Yeah.

Will Szamosszegi (21:45):

And I mean, are there any other types of applications where you see like that type of an opportunity where it's that, that big of a disruptive technology that they won't go and adopt it? Uh,

Jeremy Kauffman (21:57):

So I mean, this is outside of the, I guess, traditional big tech base, but certainly one of the areas that I'm the most interested in is futures markets or betting markets. I think these are, this is a field that has, uh, very positive externalities for society. Generally. Like we can get way better information about how severe is global warming or how severe is climate change. If we were allowed people to take financial positions based off of, of how they think that will actually happen, you know, when people put money where their mouth is, I think they are far more truthful. I mean, COVID, it would've been great to have prediction markets around. I think we would've had way better information about the severity of various things. It creates a financial incentive to be correct. And this is something that is illegal in the United States to do, and, and it is now being done via blockchain.

Jeremy Kauffman (22:44):

And so I think looking for areas like this, where there's some, the, the Q to the QTA, uh, startup term for it is regulatory arbitrage. <laugh> um, uh, I think, I think this is a great area to be looking, uh, if you're interested in blockchain and this is of course, by the way Bitcoin is here, um, I mean, Bitcoin is genuinely different from what's come before. But if you say, if you said to like that, that JP Morgan could, would allow anyone to create anonymous cash bank accounts and allow funds to be moved between those accounts via password, that would be a very popular service that is not a service that's legal to build. And that service is essentially what Bitcoin is.

Will Szamosszegi (23:23):

Yeah. Oh, I, I actually would love to dive into Bitcoin with you if you'll join me on this. So I guess just to start, when did you first hear about Bitcoin and what's been your journey down the rabbit hole as you've been learning about it?

Jeremy Kauffman (23:36):

Um, I first heard about Bitcoin in, in late 2013. At least that was the first time I searched my email. So that's the first, uh, chat record. And so on of me talking about it, cause I even have old back when people used Gchat in the, uh, early 2010s. Uh, uh, so that's, that's the first, um, known record. So it was around, it was around that time. Um, I mean I found it more of a curiosity. I, I mean, I can't say I was this guy who was like in media all in on Bitcoin, but I found it very interesting and I started paying attention to it and I started to continue to read news about it. And honestly, even then it, it took a year or two from learning about it to saying, well, what if we took Bitcoin and, and used and used its properties in this way for, you know, for digital, um, content publishing?

Jeremy Kauffman (24:18):

Yeah. So that's, that's sort of like the early or my, my personal early history with Bitcoin. I mean, Bitcoin is, I both love Bitcoin and in disappointed in Bitcoin, because to me, the excitement about Bitcoin is fixing problems with government controlled currency, moving to a world that's much closer to free banking, um, which I'm a big proponent of and think would be better, would be a healthier economic system. Um, I think the fact that, you know, we have, uh, a group of people, you know, inflation is a tax on everyone they're allowed to do it without permission. And also, uh, again, we see, uh, both legal and even almost extra legal, uh, usage by government officials to shut down industries that they don't like. Uh, operation choke point is a great example of this, where like, they basically, you leverage the credit card, the credit card companies to shut down businesses that they don't like.

Jeremy Kauffman (25:08):

Um, we still see the credit card companies shut down businesses that they don't like for social reasons, things that are legal. I mean, we're talking about things like selling, selling, ammo, selling drug paraphernalia, right. That's legal, but that's legally questionable. And I mean, even me, like my, I had my bank accounts shut down for completely legal activities. Yeah. This was years ago, TD banks screw you, but also to excuse TD bank for a second, like, cuz I'm in this position now as a creator, the government asks private businesses to be forces of the law. And then they say private businesses, if you didn't do a good job enforcing these laws on our behalf, then you broke the law. And so it's a very awkward position. Like so private businesses are put in this position of wanting to create this record of enforcement actions so that when a government regulator comes knocking, you can go to the regulator and say, look, we tried here, here's this, here's the look we were doing our best look at all these people that we stopped.

Jeremy Kauffman (26:05):

So yeah, that guy was doing illegal cryptocurrency transactions and he managed to slip through, but it's not like we weren't trying. And by the way, I was doing nothing illegal, but this is, this is the position that they are, that these private businesses are put in. And so to me, this is the promise of Bitcoin is that it's, it's supposed to be able to fix some of these things. And um, and fortunately, unfortunately it's become much more focused on just, you know, store value type kind of thing. And it's like, no, man, I don't want to use my credit card online. I want to pay in cryptocurrency because that's the real promise is that we can escape these, these, these corrupt kind of systems. And it hasn't delivered to this degree that I thought it would have, you know, know, gosh, eight, we're talking about eight years ago, eight years ago. I'm like, I'm gonna be paying in Bitcoin. Like I'm still not really paying in Bitcoin. You know? Uh, most of the time, you know, I'm still very excited about the technology, but that's a bit of a disappointment.

Will Szamosszegi (26:53):

Yeah. Wow. So you must have been quite, quite the futurist eight years ago already seeing where, uh, where Bitcoin was going. Oh,

Jeremy Kauffman (27:00):

Well I maybe I'm uh,

Will Szamosszegi (27:01):

Cause what you're talking about right now is still like on the horizon, you know? And so

Jeremy Kauffman (27:06):

I might be making things <laugh> I don't, I don't, I can't say for sure that in 2013 I was, I was thinking all of these things, but certainly at some point along the journey from discovering Bitcoin, you know, I started thinking about those. So I can't, I can't pinpoint, I don't even know what operation checkpoint didn't hadn't even happened by 2013. So I'm talking about something that I certainly couldn't have been, been thinking about in 2013 <laugh> but, but you know, this is, to me, this is the promise and this is what I wanna see it delivering on is these things that ought to be legal or literally are legal, but are stopped by private actors regardless. Um, this is what I want cryptocurrency to be fixing. Like, and, and I think a lot of people are like, I wanna buy something, ignore it and make money.

Jeremy Kauffman (27:45):

And they're like, that is I'm sorry, that's a stupid way to make money. Like, you know, the, the buffet and Monga criticisms of cryptocurrency are not entirely wrong and I buy and hold Bitcoin. So I'm not saying that they're right either, but like investments are generally in productive activities. Okay. Like that's, that's what investments are. Currencies are not generally investments. That is a correct criticism of the cryptocurrency industry right now. So you can say, well, this is an exception, but like, if we want it to be an exception, then we need to deliver on the real promise of the technology because that's what will actually make it an exception.

Will Szamosszegi (28:16):

So when you're viewing Bitcoin in terms of, are you viewing it more of like a reserve asset or a currency or like neither, neither camp,

Jeremy Kauffman (28:24):

I'm buying it as a reserve asset, but want it to be occurrence

Will Szamosszegi (28:28):

<laugh> okay. That, that's, that's a good answer that aligns with every, everything you said. Yeah. Buying it as a reserve asset and hoping that it develops into occurrence. And so, I mean those types of applications, what do you think of, of like the, what the lightning network's doing and, and everything there. Do you think that that's still in the cards or on the horizon or

Jeremy Kauffman (28:47):

I hear on all of it, I've seen some criticisms of lightning that seem to have some merit, but I've also seen debunkings of those criticisms that seem to have some merit. So I haven't gone through it all to, to form a conclusive opinion, but I think that like, this is the problem. Okay. If we can't allow Bitcoin, if Bitcoin can't work or it doesn't have to necessarily be cup of coffee size, but like if we can't buy things for like 50 bucks with Bitcoin online, then like, okay, who's solving this problem because that's, that's what I want. That's what I care about. And by the way, of course I'm saying that there's a bunch of listers. Who're like, I know the cryptocurrency that solves that problem. <laugh>. And so I'm not saying that their people aren't, but then you get back into that same conversation we were having earlier about Bitcoin is now the incumbent, right?

Jeremy Kauffman (29:30):

Mm-hmm <affirmative> so now we, we were gonna see the same dynamic plan where Bitcoin's got all the mind share. Bitcoin's got all the adoption. If some other coin is solving these problems, there's a question of, will that be enough to unsee Bitcoin or if they actually solve the problems, will Bitcoin simply evolve to do those things. Um, and I don't know how all that, all that plays out, but certainly that's what I think everyone who cares about cryptocurrency needs to be cheering on is getting it to the point that it is widespread and usable so that it can compete with credit cards for online transactions. That is the world that I

Will Szamosszegi (30:00):

Want. Yeah. And there's, there's this whole big discussion between like you have the, the Bitcoin maximalist or people who like believe in a future where Bitcoin dominates everything. You have the people who believe it's Bitcoin and then a handful of other blockchains. And then you have, uh, others who really believe that they're gonna be loads of different blockchains as well as Bitcoin, all, you know, uh, coexisting. So my, my question to you is as everything continues to mature, how do you see these, these other blockchains outside of, you know, the big cap like Bitcoin, Ethereum and all those, how do you see smaller blockchains continuing to evolve in that type of a world?

Jeremy Kauffman (30:39):

Well, library is, uh, its own blockchain. So I've kind of obviously going to not express the pure Maxist perspective. Yeah. I think there's sort of two sub flavors of maximalism. One of which is literally insane. And one of which is somewhat defensible. So the insane one is that everything will be done on Bitcoin. And that's just insane. Right? Big Bitcoin is already kind of said that it's, it's going to be going towards small blocks, maximal security. And it's just not feasible, especially if you're talking about there being blockchain versions of everything, it's just completely infeasible. I mean, I'm skeptical of even the Ethereum version of this potentially they'll be able to do it with charting, but like Bitcoin literally has an all blockchains have one of the worst properties that you wanna see as a startup person, which is it has increasing marginal costs with popularity, right?

Jeremy Kauffman (31:23):

The more popular it is, the more expensive it is to use. That is the opposite of what you want in any success in any successful endeavor. Right? This is a really big question that we need to be answering. I think this shifts, this, this therefore means that you will see blockchains more tailor made for specific use cases. They can be more efficient. They can be more designed for doing specific things. And then, you know, interoperability can later be added or interoperability can just happen at the layer above it, it, you know, pure blockchain to blockchain, interoperability doesn't even necessarily need to be there. You can, you can have a level above that provides the interoperability, although certainly ways of doing it blockchain to blockchain are interesting. Um, so, uh, now there's a flavor of Bitcoin maxism that says, well, one blockchain is going to win the market for sort of store of value reserve aspects. I find this to be a defensible position. I'm not convinced that it's correct, but it's possibly correct. And I think it's correct enough that I buy Bitcoin because of it, right. From an expected value perspective, like it's plausibly. Correct. And if it's correct, then Bitcoin will be very valuable. And so I think it makes sense to at least have some Bitcoin because it's possibly correct.

Will Szamosszegi (32:29):

Yeah. Yeah. I would say that I, I fall into more of that camp as well, where I don't think it's just gonna be only Bitcoin. Um, I think that there are obviously other applications for blockchain, but it's, I mean, it's all speculation, I guess, at,

Jeremy Kauffman (32:42):

At this point point we're not competing with Bitcoin. Like Bitcoin's not a competitor to us at all. Yeah. I, I, I, we're trying to build a blockchain that takes the properties of a public blockchain and use it to store metadata about content and identities about publishers Bitcoin. Can't remotely do what our blockchain is, is doing. If we had done it on Ethereum, it would've been an incredibly expensive nightmare and not worked. Right. And so it's like, it's really hard to argue that we would've achieved the success that we've had doing it in any other way, other than having our own chain. And so it's like the only reason to expect that something like library, like there's no reason to expect we're gonna get out. Like, no, one's close to us. None of these other blockchain ones are close to us and popularity, et cetera. And, and whenever we survey it, like there's nothing that we could switch to that would have the same properties.

Jeremy Kauffman (33:27):

This is another, I mean, this is gonna kind of like nuance and technical, but like a lot of these people who, who believe in the promise of all of these like smart contract platforms or like these, these coins where it's like, you can do anything on this, actually you can't like when you dig into the reality of what it would be like to, because we've done it and I've looked at them and like, no, you can't, <laugh>, uh, you can't actually do what these people are saying. Um, because when you dig into what you actually need to do to build a web app that can compete with web two apps, like a smart contract, at least a smart contract, in terms of when I say smart contract, it's a contract that can execute, you know, on chain and resolve itself. That's not sufficient to build what we've been trying to build as an, as an example.

Will Szamosszegi (34:05):

Yeah. And, and it's interesting to see how, how this technology's getting applied in many different ways. I mean, you, you can look at someone like, like Jack Dorsey, right. Someone who is running like, or was at the top of the game with square and all of a sudden, like making some of the changes that he did, even changing that name from square to block and everything he's been talking about with applications of lightning funding developers, it's pretty clear that he he's looking at the puck going in this direction towards decentralization. And, and I think he's, he's more so focused on Bitcoin, but there are a lot of people that are looking at this technology figuring out ways to apply

Jeremy Kauffman (34:40):

It. Yeah. I think Jack by his position, actually, of being Twitter CEO, more than anything else was forced to deal with the government forced to deal with the United States, federal government in a way that like, let him really see how it operates. And it actually really increased his skepticism of it. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. And I think that his opinions and perspectives have changed. And I think that's part of why he's gotten so big about Bitcoin. I think he resents the position that he was put in and I'm not a 100% fan Jack I'll say this, but like, I think he resents the position that he was put in by being the CEO of Twitter and, and resents the position that he was put in by his users, his employees and the government. I think he resents all of them to some degree for putting him in the position that he was put in. And I don't necessarily defend the decisions that he's made, but it's it when he was put in some of those positions. But I think it is clear that like it has waken him up, woke him up to, to some of these realities. Yeah,

Will Szamosszegi (35:29):

Yeah, yeah. It's, it's fascinating to think about. And so, I mean, like tying this all back to, I guess the mission that you're working on with, uh, Odyssey and library, I mean, what's the core of where you, you want this to go, let's say you have a magic wand, you wave it and all your wishes come true. What, what does that type of a world look

Jeremy Kauffman (35:49):

Like? So I want Odyssey to destroy YouTube. I want Odyssey to become the predominant way that people create and share social video online, or even more than social video. It's not like YouTube is just social video anymore. And then I want library to kind of become the atom of publishing identity or really potentially all of online identity. I don't wanna get too ambitious. We'll see how some of these things play out. But, uh, you know, we, we have now more identities than most of these. So so-called, uh, decentralized identity systems. And I like these decentralized identity systems where people are buying them, cuz stuff is gonna be built later. We'll see, you know, where their ours are actually being used. Um, and so, you know, this idea of owning an identity online, that's portable between services so that I can be the same handle and the same person in different places and synonymous.

Jeremy Kauffman (36:32):

So you can have multiple handles if you need them or also non sudo. We also are working on ways that you can quote prove that's a complicated question, but, uh, assert proof provide proof, maybe conclusive proof of who someone is is, is arguably unprovable, but you know, um, assert proof, you know, so I'm interested, I've been getting more and more interested in this direction and this means, you know, how can we improve portability so that you can take your identity into other apps as we're building as more and more apps are being created, this kind of thing. So, so that's where I'm kind of pushing with library and Odyssey is pushing to, just to just win this, this market as a competitor with, with social video and the CEO of Odyssey's doing a tremendous job, truthfully, he did better job growing Odyssey than I did. <laugh> uh, cuz I've always been a bit more, I mean, I'm, I'm practical, but I'm also theoretical. And you know, he just was obsessed about making Ossey successful. And I was like, dude, you're doing a better job than I am. So that's part of the reason he's in charge of

Will Szamosszegi (37:25):

Sounds good. Yeah. You, you need to be surrounded by people like that. Who, who can get anything done? <laugh> yeah. Sounds like it sounds like you found him. All right. Well, uh, I got one final question for you. Uh, the last question is what is one belief that you hold to be true that the majority of people would disagree with you about <laugh>

Jeremy Kauffman (37:44):

I feel like a thousand, but I was gonna say

Will Szamosszegi (37:47):

What we could do here is with you. I wanna do like a couple so <laugh>,

Jeremy Kauffman (37:52):

I'm not. And I wanna say like I'm not reflexively portraying. Like I have like, cause I found myself in somewhat contrarian circles at times, but I there's plenty of beliefs that I have are very mainstream about. Would you say about medicine or, or, or technology? I mean, one that I will say that I guess is like probably I'll, I'll say the one that's the most that's unpopular that I also think is the most important. Um, and that is that the biggest problem? I'd say it's the biggest it's certainly one of the biggest is competitive governance. I'm very skeptical of democracy generally. Like I, I believe that competitive governance would, would create better government. And so when I say competitive governance, I mean something like restaurants, right? I have no say what's on the menu, but I have complete authority over where I choose to eat.

Jeremy Kauffman (38:37):

I don't want to vote on how McDonald's is run, but they make a very good breakfast sandwich. All right. Uh, and I guess, right, I eat McDonald's sometimes, uh, I'm not ashamed of it, you know? So like, you know, this, this kind of, uh, idea, pretend I set a restaurant, you like, you don't like McDonald's, but you know this, I think I, I would like this, I think. And, and, and it's the same property I apply to my work. I think exit rights are the biggest missing problem in society. We have governments con you know, colluding to stop new and interesting things from happening. And we should allow people who wanna take their own skin in the game, uh, who want say, Hey, we wanna try living a different way. We're not trying to force it on. You, give us a couple square miles somewhere, whatev will pay for the land and allow people to try other things.

Jeremy Kauffman (39:18):

You know, democracy was once in innovation and, and I think it's reasonable to believe that democracy may be better than what came before, but we shouldn't conclude that we've sort of solved the problems of, of how government should work. And if we allowed people to experiment with new ideas, it's possible that they would hit on something new and then we can copy them. You know, I was actually listening to the Jordan Peterson on Joe Rogan episode this morning, and he wasn't talking about competitive governance, but he was talking about how creative people are kind of crazy, but that society needs them because you know, society is not stable. And if you don't allow people to experiment with new things, like your society will fail in new situations or will get outcompeted by other societies. And he says it like the best thing to do with creative people is to let them go off and do their crazy ideas.

Jeremy Kauffman (40:01):

And most of them will fail. But if they happen to work, then nor, you know, less creative or normal or more stable society and right. Can, can copy them. And that's what we want with government, right. That actually what happened the United States was once the crazy society there was like, we're gonna let people vote. And the rest of Europe was like, you're insane. And then 50 years later, all of Europe, you know, I don't know my history that well, but you know, some amount of years later, you know, the rest of Europe became democratic, right. Probably took more than 50 years in Medicaid. So I guess you're talking about a couple hundred years for, for some of the countries, but, but you know, um, same kind of idea. And so this is, I think if I, again, people you ask me the I'm, I'm more concerned about this problem than, than, than climate change. Then, then COVID then you know, anything, you know, any of these other problems that people are especially concerned about. So that's, that's probably my most unpopular idea is that we need that there might be things better than democracy and that we need to allow people to experiment with, with alternative government.

Will Szamosszegi (40:50):

It's almost like, uh, like a free market competition, but instead of with companies, you're, you're allowing the innovators to go and try their own forms of governance and then see which ones are the ones that people prefer. It's, it's like the ideas from the sovereign individual too. I mean, how, how do you see, do you see something like that playing out over, over the next, like 10 years, 20 years or starting to, to unfold?

Jeremy Kauffman (41:13):

I haven't read that book specifically, but I can guess that I'm probably familiar with the ideas in it loosely. And I think that that's like, I can understand why people take that path and I wouldn't begrudge people that do, but I think that's a solution that doesn't work for the vast majority of people. And I think that it, it doesn't solve anything in the broader sense. So I can't blame anyone from a self-interested perspective for going down that path. It, it, it might be the best choice for you, but as someone who kind of has that, like, you know, engineering, tinkering mindset, I'm like, but I wanna fix it. Right. I don't wanna, I it's it's insufficient for me.

Will Szamosszegi (41:42):

Yeah. So that, that's an incredible answer. I want to get one more, one more belief that, that you, uh, um, to be treated, the majority of people would disagree with you about

Jeremy Kauffman (41:52):

Majority of people would, uh, would disagree. Well, this isn't gonna surprise anyone from who, who who's heard me talking, but like, I, you know, I mean, I have a, my ethical philosophy is like basically like libertarian ethics where, or volunteer ethics, you know? So I do believe that like, I am a, this, this, maybe this is too close to my last answer, but I mean, I, I effectively do believe that I am very oppressed by the current structure of society. I don't consent to it. I would like to exit, I would leave. I would spend my money. I would, I'd be happy to start with nothing, you know, somewhere in the middle of the woods, I'm not asking for you to defend me, you know, and I'm, I'm sure I can get some people to come with me, you know, whatever. So like, I do feel that like, I am that the current structure of society, because I don't consent to it is oppressive and that's too close to the last one. I, I, you know, I don't, I don't got any other spicy take, so why don't, why don't, that's the only other one I'm gonna give you. I'll, we'll save it for the interview number too. I'll give you something spicy.

Will Szamosszegi (42:44):

All right. Perfect. Well, uh, Jeremy, I really appreciate you coming on. This has been an absolutely fascinating discussion. I think that the work that you're doing is incredible and, um, I'm wishing you all the best with, uh, the continued growth of the company.

Jeremy Kauffman (42:56):

Thank you so much. If you like this, please create an account on If you don't have one, if you're the power user, go to, get the desktop app. And if you liked what I had to say, you can follow me on Twitter at Jeremy Kaufman or on library itself at K AU FJ. Thanks. Perfect.

Will Szamosszegi (43:11):

And, and to do the upload, what was the URL to go? And

Jeremy Kauffman (43:15):

It's both in the signup process, or if you've already created your account, it's under the upload menu. Uh, it just says like sync YouTube channel. Perfect.

Will Szamosszegi (43:22):

Yeah, I gotta make sure I go and do that.

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