Sazmining Podcast: Trials and Tribulations of the CRYPTO industry w/ John Belizaire
Today Will speaks with John Belizaire, a versatile CEO and serial entrepreneur who has successfully founded and scaled multiple technology companies over a 20-year career. He is currently the CEO of Soluna, a company helping to shape the future of renewable energy development. This episode covers his journey to crypto, Bitcoin, surprising thoughts on the industry, renewable energy, the situation of markets, and so much more.
John Belizaire (00:00):
2008. Remember that, that was a huge,colossal mistake.
Will Szamosszegi (00:03):
A lot of times, when you look atanyone who's a master of any craft, there's the rule, the 10,000 hour rule,
John Belizaire (00:08):
The universe was telling me that Ineed to be involved. FTX
Will Szamosszegi (00:12):
Was one of those companies. Then,
John Belizaire (00:13):
You know, the big banks, they allform dot coms versions of themselves.
Will Szamosszegi (00:20):
Well, everybody, uh, my name'sWilliam Sani. I'm joined here by the C e O of Sal Luna. John Lazier. Uh, man,you have had an incredible journey up until and before Sal Luna. So why don'tyou talk about that journey and what brought you into crypto, and then we candive into everything, Bitcoin.
John Belizaire (00:38):
Oh, absolutely. Uh, I've been anentrepreneur and c e o for about 20 plus years now. I think this November wasthe 23rd anniversary of the sale of my first company. So I've really beenpassionate about, uh, building teams that are focused on solving really hardproblems. And what I find as I look back is there's a bit of a pattern in myentrepreneurial experience. It's always about focused on the confluence betweenbig technology waves and their role or intersection with legacy industries. Somy first business was focused on the role that the internet would have on thefinancial services industry. So we built e-commerce platforms and bankingplatforms for banks and taking their businesses online. Later I helped todigitize the enterprise, providing a series of tools for companies to do that.And then I ventured into the insurance industry that is sort of tends to adapttechnology quite late, and they suddenly were rushing to bring all forms of, oftechnology, social media, data and analytics, AI to their businesses.
And I ran a company that helped tomake underwriting a much more repeatable and data powered process. And Solunais really a continuation of that theme. I guess it's a confluence between afast moving, hard to understand, uh, technology called blockchain and Bitcoinand crypto, and its relationship with a transformational phase of a very largeindustry. And that's, uh, renewable energy and those two things intersecting.And, you know, two circles creates a lot of interesting opportunities. Andsoluna is, uh, specifically focused on eliminating the wasted energy problemand using that to catalyze deeper integration of renewables into the grid, andultimately making green energy and renewable energy a global superpower. That'sbeen my journey. I, I talk a lot about my experience as ceo, the challenges,the opportunities, the learnings, et cetera. I write it on my personal blog andI incorporate into some of the things that I talk about when I, you know, workwith the team here.
So it's always exciting to get the opportunityto continue to share that. So that's how, that's how I, I worked my, all theway to this experience. How I actually got into Sal Luna was, um, aninteresting story. My, the c e o of our parent company, Sal Luna Holdings, uh,Michael Support, he was actually an investor in a number of my companies, was,uh, on my board, my last company. And he suggested I come look at a project hewas working on. It actually was a project in Morocco. That's where our journeystarted, where my colleagues and I developed a project to Har Harness, probablyone of the best wind resources in the world. We were having difficultydeveloping the project because the grid wasn't ready to accept the magnitude,the power that our wind farm would produce. And in our research, we found asolution for this problem. It actually occurred to us that computing and theblockchain was perfect, uh, to solve that issue. And we immediately deployedthe solution to sort of absorbing this excess clean energy. And so wearchitected it to, to do that. And once we identified this solution, werealized it was unlikely we were the only people to have this challenge. And soour journey to eradicate curtailed energy started from there. And it turns outit's, it's a, it's a big problem. So that's the full, full journey.
Will Szamosszegi (03:58):
Wow. That's incredible. Uh, very fewpeople out there can say that they've had that much experience as a C E O. SoI'm very curious, just what are some of the biggest things that you learned? Alot of times when you look at anyone who's a master of any craft, it, there'sthe rule, the 10,000 hour rule, and I mean, over that many years, being a C EO, I'm sure that you've come across some huge lessons. You've probably had somebig challenges. So I mean, are there any stories that you have, uh, or anybattle scars that you've been through that you're willing to share here on thepodcast?
John Belizaire (04:28):
<laugh>? Uh, well there arelots of them and probably we would take, uh, more time than we have on, on thepodcast. But what I can say is that I've been an entrepreneur, as I said, for,you know, over two decades. And, you know, one thing that I've noticed is thatbeing c e o is more about your, your habits than your actions over time as youmake mistakes. And some of those mistakes will be original mistakes,<laugh>, and some of them will not. And what you want to optimize for is,is getting those mistakes to fundamentally be original. It's okay if you makemistakes as long as they're original. And you wanna find ways to essentiallyeliminate those unforced errors, if you will, using a little tennis parlance.But as Aristale put it, what we repeatedly do is what we are, you know,excellence, therefore is not, is not an act.
It's, it's a habit. So getting betterat the job is really about developing and maintaining better habits and, youknow, habits that are important because the job just changes over time. I thinkthat's the key thing that I've learned over the years is I'm changing as anindividual. The role is changing as the company evolves and grows and its needschange. You know, you start out by getting involved in just about everything.Like you're in the weeds and you quickly grow into a leader and then you ascendinto a, a coach, into becoming a coach. And during those transitions, you mustconstantly improve your skills, uh, every day. I learned this very early on myCEO journey. I, I went to visit a bunch of CEOs that were in Boston where myfirst company was located. This was before the internet, so you really couldn'tfind anybody so easily, you know, by searching on LinkedIn or something likethat to look your network.
So I had this university guidebook,which basically listed all of the alumni and where they were and how to contactthem. And I looked up, you know, CEOs that were in the local Boston area thathad gone to the same university that, that I went to. And I called them allcold saying, Hey, you gotta help me cuz I have no idea, didn't know what I'mdoing. It's my first company. Where do I start? How do I raise money? Who do Italk to? How do I build the network? All that, all of those kind of things.And, uh, a number of them graciously sat with me and taught me a lot of whatthey learned, shared some of their battle scars, and they taught the importanceof focus and really building up a set of habits and, you know, mechanics to bea ceo.
And if I had the opportunity to gothrough a list here, it'd be sizable, but I'll hit <laugh>. I'll hit afew of them. One is just, you know, make sure your, your, your decisions areslower over time and, and better, right? Especially decisions that are really,really consequential decisions. The inconsequential ones, you should make themquickly and ideally you shouldn't make them at all. Someone else in your teamshould. You wanna have a real good process for hiring and firing people. Andyou do need to have meetings. As much as we hate going to meetings, I hategoing to meetings, but if you're, if you're running the right meetings, you canachieve a lot. You should take time to learn from your failures and pain fromthose failures. I have a lot of them and I think each one has made me a betterc e o over time.
And you should take time for solitudeand rest connect with customers. Um, so many CEOs avoid going to spend timewith customers or the whoever your constituents are. In our case it's renewableenergy, power plant owners, you know, spending time with all of the, the powerplant owner companies and related parties, et cetera. The utilities, the gridoperator get some sleep. <laugh>, <laugh>. Yeah, well I know, youknow, you, you, you're partying all night and everything, but these days I goto bed early, I have to, it's the only way to have the energy that I need to,you know, sustain the role. Being empathetic with your team, really connectingwith your emotions and their feelings. Um, staying present as much as you can.We are often gripped by anxiety. And I think number 10 would be just coachingyour team. Spend time helping them become better leaders.
That's what I would share are my mainlearnings as a C e O and, and, and what it means to, to go through a, a processof mastery. There's a phrase and Japanese called, uh, [inaudible]. Um, and itbasically means the endless pursuit of perfection for some greater good. Thegreater good that we do as CEOs is sort of creating something that can reallymake a, a positive change in the world and creating a place that people cancome to and feel, feel that they're growing and that they're, they're happy andthey're doing their best and they're in flow, right? And it takes a continuousprocess of honing and t tuning and improving that place to, to make it, it. So,so that's what I'm focused on. That's
Will Szamosszegi (08:47):
Great advice. And I think that a lotof those lessons that you just shared, it's common to hear that as leaders youhave it, it's hard to find enough time in the day to go and juggle everythingand to keep everything moving. And I think that a lot of those lessons thatyou've taught are, hey, as the leader, you can't go and do everything. You'vegot to find a good way to delegate. Yeah. You've gotta build a superstar team.You've gotta teach your team to become leaders and help them go and build goodteams. In the end, you need to get some sleep to make sure that you're makingthe right smart, sad decisions.
John Belizaire (09:21):
That's right. You can start again thenext day.
Will Szamosszegi (09:23):
Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Sobefore you got introduced with the opportunity for Soluna, had you heard aboutBitcoin or crypto as technology? Had you begun to look into it or was thissomething where he said, Hey, I know and trust you as a great leader and know,you know how to build organizations, so go learn about this and then build thecompany. What was your approach to it when you first were introduced?
John Belizaire (09:48):
So when he introduced it to me, itwas the third time that I had been introduced to Bitcoin. The first time was alongtime colleague of mine once a year. We'd get together for lunch up inBoston and he'd tell me about cool stuff he was working on and I'd tell himabout my misery, I'm just kidding, <laugh> and all of my learnings I'dsay. And then at one point during a lunch he says, have you heard of Bitcoin?And I said, I've read some things and you know, in the news about it seems abit shady. And he said, no, I think it's probably one of the most incrediblepieces of technology we've seen in a long time. And I just thought, that'sinteresting. I kind of parked it, didn't, you know, go dig in a bit further.Just wasn't the time. I was so focused on growing the business that I wasrunning at the time.
The second time was in betweenthings. It was sort of sold my last company and I was taking a break and Ihappened to be in San Francisco and I had drinks with one of my original co-foundersfrom my first company. He was there, he had just come back from Burning Man. Hewas hanging out with some friends and he decided to stay in the city at thetime. And I was there for a board meeting. I I was on a board of a companythat, believe it or not, was focused on tracking pandemic threats and no onebelieved them that this was gonna be a viruses would be a global pandemicanytime soon.
Will Szamosszegi (11:01):
<laugh>. What year is
John Belizaire (11:01):
This? Um, yeah, this was, um, thiswas in 20 16, 20 17, uh, timeframe. And uh, so I was visiting a company for thefirst time. Uh, so he explained to me that he was going to be joining a, agroup that was gonna focus on building essentially the equivalent of a, of acrypto ETF at the time. And I said, what, what is crypto? Then he says, youknow, things like Bitcoin. And I says, oh yeah, I've heard about this before.What is that exactly? And he and I went to school together. We, we studiedcomputer science, I have a degree in undergrad, in graduate degree in computerscience. And so he described it to me in a computer science fashion. You know,he explained it's a distributed ledger, distributed systems, the role of allthe different counter, you know, participants on the platform, what mining is,et cetera, et cetera.
He, he had really done a deep dive onit and he gave me sort of like a, a mini masterclass and I was reallyintrigued, you know, it was one of those sort of like, you felt the heat risein your body. Like, whoa, something's, there's something about that. I gotta golook at that a little closer. So I did start reading about it a bit. He hadsent me a, a couple of articles to dig into and I was quite fascinated. Butthat was the second time. The third time was when Michael and I were writingthe subway in New York and he told me he was working on this project andMorocco and he had this problem and he was thinking to solve it with, you know,something called Bitcoin. And I said, well, I actually know what that is. And Isays, is it mining?
And he, he was surprised. He's like,you know about that <laugh>. So the first time I actually knew something,clearly the universe was telling me that I need to be involved in the maturityof this technology and it's going to have some make some waves. What I didn'trealize, I guess, was the impact that it could have on the energy world. And Ididn't realize that until I started working and understanding the, you know,the energy space. And I had to learn everything about the energy business,finance, the technology, the players, the, the regulations in the country ofMorocco and beyond. And then I had to learn everything about Bitcoin. The samething. How do you finance it? How do you, how does the technology work? Who arethe participants? What are the regulatory dynamics? And that type of activitydraws energy into me. There's this concept where you should really only focuson things that you're really good at and make you happy, right?
And the make you happy circle isreally about sort of the things that actually draw energy into you, not suckenergy out of you. So I find that the reason I have lots of really complexbusinesses in my op entrepreneurial career is because I really like that<laugh> because I get to learn something new, right? I get to like startfrom scratch and, and rebuild. And I, I'm a lifelong learner and so I'velearned so much about Bitcoin and its impact and I've learned so much aboutenergy actually, and how important energy is in the global economy actually.And, and just about every aspect of life. And, uh, I also learned the fact thatmany, many people, I'm talking about billions of people do not enjoy energy theway we do here in the west, right? We sort of take energy for granted almost.We plug a toaster in and it's there, electrons start to flow and we have a nicebreakfast. There are other people around the world that are starving that don'thave that level of experience. In fact, they're, they're, they're energy poorand renewable energy is a powerful solution to that problem. If you can get itto catalyze anywhere in the world. And by bringing flexible computing likeBitcoin and other types of batchable type processes, we believe that that canbe made. The
Will Szamosszegi (14:18):
Journey of going and learning about anew industry is one thing. And then being in the Bitcoin and crypto universes,uh, especially when you're talking about the regulatory side, the technology,the different stakeholders, it really is like a never-ending rabbit hole. Causeyou learn one thing and then you realize, okay, well I answer, you answeredthis one question, but now you have five more questions and you need to go andanswer all those to understand how all this works. And so taking a step backand looking at Bitcoin in particular, it seems like you were in a very goodposition early on getting that masterclass from your friend the pretty earlydays. So knew how mining worked, you had an understanding of the technology.Then I'm assuming that as you've been in the space longer, you've learned moreand more about Bitcoin and as you mentioned, you learned about how energy poormany areas around the world are. So right. What are some of the things thatyour mind has changed on in regards to when you first got into it and you firsttook the role of c e o versus how you look at Bitcoin, uh, today?
John Belizaire (15:19):
My initial perception of thetechnology was that number one, it's possible the likelihood is, is low thatthis will replace the form of money that we see around the world, right? I feltthat there would be unwavering resistance from, you know, sovereign countriesaround having a technology that they don't control replace the monetary system.But what intrigued me was that someone, or some people had cracked incredibleamounts of hard code. I mean, I'm talking about problems that I was classicallytaught that were intractable in the computer science space. And this personelegantly combined those problems and solutions into a really beautiful designthat makes trust irrelevant. It's really compelling. And so the question for mewas, well, what applications could that have? And so the next thing I thoughtwas that blockchain will have the underlying technology that's, that powersbitcoin, right? Can have broad applications across multiple industries thatcould eliminate really hard problems in the world.
You know, everything from propertymanagement, identity management, security, uh, challenges, tracking of themovement of materials, um, around the planet in a transparent way, unlockingthe circular supply chain and really helping us understand where every productthat we use comes from and its effect on the planet. That for me was likereally compelling because I felt that, you know, Bitcoin had the potential tobe as or if not more impactful than the internet. And, uh, that really excitedme and I had a really hard time with focusing on that. And this energy thing,<laugh>, which was so new, like I understood that like the blockchain, itwas software. It's something that I knew, right? It, it was, it was very innatein my D N A because I'm a computer scientist, you know, so I can start to see avision of all the different ways in which this technology could take, takeshape.
And, uh, the next two to three years,which is sort of like the first part of the soluna experience. I spent a lot oftime learning about energy and energy's role and energy's impact over the last50 plus years as it has made these incredible transitions using new technologyand finding ways to make energy more circular and more sustainable, and howcountries struggle with energy security. And as I said, we started in NorthernAfrica traveling around Africa and learning more about the broader energyarchitecture of that continent. It, it can be demoralizing to see that, youknow, energy isn't as ubiquitous as it could be. And that's where my perceptionof Bitcoin's role started to change a little bit. That it does still have allof the potential that I imagined and others, uh, continue to imagine well,beyond my capacity, it has incredible potential, both as a store of value, itspotential to revolutionize the financial services industry every year.
That it doesn't, um, achieve the fatethat all of the naysayers predicted, <laugh> <laugh>, it becomes amore consistent and persistent element of our society, thereby ultimatelymaking it boring. And I think when technology becomes boring is when it's sortof achieved as goal. It has penetrated the world and become a, a powerfulinnovation wave. We don't really talk about the internet anymore, do we? We, weknow the internet is there, but we talk about all of the capabilities andtechnologies that are built on top of the T C P I P protocol. The same willhappen for Bitcoin. It will ultimately not be mentioned at all <laugh>.It's just gonna be part of our natural lexicon. It will be embedded in lots ofelements of the financial services industry and science and in, in energy.That's the piece that's changed for me. It has the potential to accelerate andassist the transition from fossil fuel sources of energy that creates all sortsof problems in the world to a world where we use the natural resources that arepersistent that will be for billions of years to power the planet.
And Bitcoin becomes a boringinfrastructure element in the energy system, the global grid, if you will. Andthat will make a lot possible. And that lot is incredible economic growtharound the world. An integrated concept of, of energy and lots more innovation.There'll be more science and technology that comes into the space. All of thatwill be potentially catalyzed by one form of computing that we didn't imaginewould make any sense whatsoever 15 years ago. And so that's what's changed forme. The role of bitcoin is much broader and much more powerful than even theauthors of the white paper imagined. It
Will Szamosszegi (20:11):
Sounds like we've gone down a similarkind of journey because my views that exactly what you just laid out is asimilar journey that, uh, I've gone down going and speaking with many peopleand when you begin to understand how the energy sector works and you understandthe incentives that underpin bitcoin and bitcoin mining, I'm not sure if, if itwas initially intended to be this way, but right at scale you have thisbeautiful system where you have the Bitcoin miners going around the worldseeking the cheapest forms of power and many times just naturally theincentives are going to be wasted or mm-hmm <affirmative> or energyassets that might be underutilized not being used. And so you have what BrandonQu calls the pioneer species of the Bitcoin miners going out and helping bootstrapall these energy assets and helping, as you put it, turn a large portion of thepopulation that's currently energy poor into really making our civilization amore energy rich civilization.
So that, that's one of the things aswell that I think is just absolutely beautiful. And I'm curious to hear whatyour view is on the sustainability aspect and the impact that Bitcoin mininghas on renewable energy development. Uh, cuz you know, many times peopleoutside of the Bitcoin mining circles, they'll criticize and attack Bitcoinmining for its energy use. And I think that it's very important for people tohear from people like you who are actually involved in these projects andunderstand the energy sector at a deep level to understand what's actuallygoing on and what's the role between bitcoin mining and the renewable energysector.
John Belizaire (21:51):
I think that the, the key messagethat listeners should take away is if you're a listener from the renewableenergy business or the energy business and you're trying to understand this,you know, all of this talk about Bitcoin miners coming into Texas and integratingwith power plants. What's happening is, is a innovation wave. It's a wave oftwo fast moving technologies coming together to create a one plus one ecos twoexperience. You're probably going to see some of the largest growth inrenewable energy that's ever been seen in a long time, especially since the,the ira, the passing of the I R A this year, probably one of the biggest wins,right? It's going to drive a massive amount of investment in the space andthat's going to exacerbate a problem. Number one, the grid was not designed forlarge amounts of intermittent energy being added to it, right?
It was designed to be a synchronoussystem. The second is because the system was not designed for, you know,asynchronous activity, it really has this issue where there will be a mismatchbetween production and consumption and vice versa. And so you have thepotential for massive amounts of wasted energy, which will create big problemsfor energy developers, uh, energy project owners, the grid itself, becausetransmission and batteries aren't there yet, from a scale perspective. And bythe way, batteries now have a real challenging environmental issue, right?Because you still have to go mine for the important minerals to make some ofthese bankable battery systems. And that is not no longer in vogue, right? Cuzwe're now focused on sustainability. So what's the solution to that problem?The solution to that problem is essentially building a new type of data center,bringing load to generation.
That was the aha that we got duringour experience in Morocco. What if you could bring load to generation ratherthan the other way around? And that's the lateral thinking that that's requiredto, to build a whole new industry. And so what we've done at Soluna is we'vedeveloped an innovative data center that can be co-located with utility scale,renewable energy assets like solar and wind and, and remote locations. Thesemodular data centers perform crypto mining. They can also perform other formsof compute, scientific compute, blockchain, AI related computing. And theflexibility of these facilities, you know, they're designed to be flexible. Itallows us to create unprecedented demand side flexibility that matchesintermittent power generation in real time. That's the innovation. Bringing aload system that's flexible to the generation unit sensing where there's excessenergy and consuming that energy, generating more revenue for that power plantand retroactively bringing flexibility to the grid is a very powerfultechnology that's ready today.
Every other solution is still in thescaling phase, whereas the architecture that we've developed and other playersare developing in the space enables u utility scale renewable assets to bebuilt larger. They can interconnect faster and have a higher capacity factorand contribute more to system reliability. That's a very powerful enhancementto today's grid system. That is the promise of technologies like bitcoin miningthat can be done inside of these facilities. Not everybody is building them theway we build them, but the point is that there's a whole new industry that isfocused on bringing these, these additional load capabilities to the gridinfrastructure that will play a major role in changing and improving theexperience of our, our energy system such that it's more sustainable, itintegrates more green electro electrons and creates a better balance betweenload and generation. That is the kind of stuff for me that gives me goosebumpsas an entrepreneur cuz I have the potential to bring something new andpermanent that could really turn things around.
And so to the audience that'slistening, that's what's driving mining industry. We all want low cost power.We all want more sustainable green power. Well, I'll say a majority of us<laugh> want that. And I think that's, with everything that's happenedwith the crypto freeze right now, there's a lot of learning, a lot of lickingof wounds. And I think everyone's beginning to realize that, you know, theyneed to double down on infrastructure, they need to integrate more withfacilities and, and that's gonna, that's gonna change a lot. So that's what Iwould say to the marketplace is be open. Because what's happening is verypositive for the industry right
Will Szamosszegi (26:25):
Now. You, you just touched on it, isit's a crazy time within our industry and a lot of this has been spurred by,uh, a handful of bad actors and a lot of people who are coming in who might notbe working in the space full-time. You're looking at the prices, the charts,how much these assets are down. And a lot of people, if you don't understandit, it's very difficult to see. It's very scary. And so my question to to youwould be, what is your take on everything that's been happening in the market,uh, not just from a price action perspective, but also some of the massiveblowups that we've seen with companies that at one point during the heights ofthe bull market were seen as the big industry giants, the leaders that couldn'tbe taken down. FTX was one of those companies that kind of came out of nowhere.They grew very, very quickly and then they became almost like the golden childlooking to to be the savior to a lot of these other companies that were goingunder. And now we've just seen a tremendous amount of hurt a lot of peoplelosing a lot of money. So with all this drama going on, how are you looking atit and trying to interpret it to make sure that you're making the rightdecisions around
John Belizaire (27:32):
Everything? That's a very greatpoint. Well, here's, here's our perspective. So there's an exercise that we doin our company. It happens, uh, once a quarter and in a very deep way once ayear. So in our annual planning, we go back to what we call our Sal Lunaplaybook. And the Sal Luna playbook is basically answering a series ofquestions, everything from the fundamentals, like why, why do we exist? Youknow, how do we behave? What is it we do? What's our business? What's importantright now? And what, what do we believe? What do we believe part is basicallywhat are the fundamental assumptions about the market that drive our executivedecisions and our view of the world and the role we will play in it. Andbecause of all of these blowups, we went back to the assumptions and askedourselves, what's different now, you know, what's gonna change?
And we break them up by category. Sowe look at renewable energy, we look at finance, anything that touches ourbusiness. We look at regulation and we look at just sort of the, you know, thecrypto environment in general. And you had a lot of things, uh, happen over thelast 12 to 18 months and, and in a very acute way over the last six months,right? You had rewind the movie 18 months ago, you had a very loose monetarypolicy, lots of capital coming into the system and that drove a lot of excessincome for people, right? And that excess income went into lots of speculativeproducts and services, you know, lots of consumer spending. There was freeflowing of capital to begin to build this industry in a very big way for thefirst time. I mean, you had companies reaching levels of 700 plus megawattsunder management.
That's unheard of in terms of size.You know, there was, you know, one company that had over 400 megawatts, onefacility alone. So you're talking about massive investments, I think all toldthere was north of 5 billion plus dollars, uh, invested in the industry. And soyou saw a massive growth there, there over trillions of dollars invested in thesystem overall. And so lots of that went into new forms of digital assets thatclearly the s e C and members of our, of our federal government believe weresecurities. And so there are expectations of what one should expect, right?When you're investing in a security and there are clear regulatory frameworksthat those have to play in, and not all of those securities that were madeavailable for people to invest in, to own followed those regulatory frameworks.Trust is assumed in the traditional financial system and in, and excuse me.
And so if you are investing in thesethings, you as a consumer, assume <laugh> trust is there. Assume that,you know, these companies are following these regulatory frameworks so thatyou're safe. And in many cases that was not true. In fact, it was so untruethat you saw effectively mistakes being made that were unoriginal<laugh>, right? Where you had parties taking capital, creating a productto provide a yield on that capital, right? So capital would be a digital assetand I provide a yield for you in that asset and I create that yield byinvesting in other products and assets and entities and so forth. And they usedtrust to establish those relationships. They did not use hard underwriting,they did not use really mature compliance and review and you know, Chinesewalls between assets, all the things you, we have come to expect from afinancial services provider because so many bad things have happened over thelast several decades, right?
All of those learnings and mistakesthat were made. 2008, remember that that was a huge colossal mistake, right? Infact, it led to the birth of Bitcoin. Those mistakes were made again, lots ofthem were made again. And I think what happens is from that pain comeslearning. So we're going to see a incredible shift in the regulatory framework.You're going to see more regulation around these types of assets. You're gonnasee more scrutiny coming from the government. And we've seen this before, youknow, that's what happened after the Enron explosion. The government becamemore involved to understand the internet and technology and digital assets andI mean a digital platforms more acutely and then put in what some might believeare onerous regulations in place, but people felt safe again. So you're gonnasee more of that, that's in our set of assumptions. You're also gonna see whatwe believe to be massive amounts of consolidation.
So many times what happens is a newform of technology takes place, it takes hold. The traditional players saythat's, that's not gonna affect me. That's just garbage <laugh>. Don'tworry about it. And then suddenly they get so big and explode loud enough thatthey have to <laugh> pay attention to them and they're like, huh, I seewhat they were trying to do. That actually is pretty helpful to us. We shoulddo that. And so, by the way, of example, let me get my years right. The SuperBowl of 2000, okay? Was the first time where you saw 100% pure play onlinebusinesses advertise <laugh> during the Super Bowl. You had companieslike pet dot, pets.com, Yahoo advertising during the Super Bowl. Two yearslater, all of those companies were gone. But in that, in those two years, youknow what happened? All of the brick and mortar companies, the Walmarts, theMacy's, you know, the big banks, they all form dot coms versions of themselves.And that led to a massive growth in the e-commerce space for the next decade.You know, what's gonna happen in the next couple of years, the same thing.You're going to see huge new digital asset businesses built under the Goldmansof the world, the Morgan Stanleys, the, you know, the JP Morgans. And that'swhat's gonna completely mature the industry such that crypto will becomeboring. That's how we view what's happened this year. It's to catalyzer formassive amounts of maturity in the space. If
Will Szamosszegi (33:41):
You're FTX right now, you're wishingthat you were a pets.com <laugh> and not a, uh, a massive fraud. Um,
John Belizaire (33:47):
Yeah. At least you just got a biginventory of socks and you're not gonna be wearing, you know?
Will Szamosszegi (33:52):
Yeah, exactly. Exactly.
John Belizaire (33:53):
Government issued socks, you know,
Will Szamosszegi (33:55):
<laugh>. Um, yeah. So I got onefinal question for you. And this has been an absolutely incredible conversationI've learned so much in, in this, it's been amazing. But before I ask the finalquestion mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, for everyone out there who'slistening, where can they best connect with you or the company on social media?
John Belizaire (34:10):
So we spend a lot of time on Twitter.You can find us at Sal Luna Holdings on Twitter. We're also on LinkedIn. Youcan follow our company page, Sal Luna at LinkedIn as well. And, uh, visit ourwebsite. We've got incredible amounts of content. We now have a, a, a resourcecenter that integrates all of that content. Everything from our podcast. Wehave our own podcast called Clean, clean Integration, where we discuss some ofthese topics, topics I've been mentioning, right? We bring on folks who areexperts in the industry and we ask them questions, you know, with, with a seekto learn, you know, intent and, and it's, it's always fun. And uh, solunacomputing.com is where you can go for our resources and, and get all of thatcontent. We're also on, on YouTube. We've got a company page there and lots ofgreat videos. You can see some of our facilities, meet our teams and look atsome of the new projects that we're working on. So we invite everyone to comeand hang out with us and, and let us know what's happening. I'm at Jay Beier, ce o at on Twitter as well.
Will Szamosszegi (35:08):
Awesome. So for the final question, Iask this at the end of all of, uh, the conversations is what is one thing youbelieve to be true that the majority of people would disagree with you on?
John Belizaire (35:21):
That's a great question. Um, I wouldsay that a lot of my friends who I talk to, you know, I go to cocktail partiesand whatnot and they fundamentally believe that Bitcoin has no value. Why doesit have value? What's, what's his role like? It, it seems useless to me. Yeah,it's great that the prices come down, um, cuz it actually doesn't do anything.And five years ago I would argue vehemently against that <laugh>. Thesedays I just tell them, just wait and see if that's true. You know, time willtell. And the reason is because I believe Bitcoin has value because it has, forthe first time created a way to digitize effectively the concept of money. Andmoney has a broad meaning, right? It's, it's an asset that can move around theworld. If you are one of over a hundred million people on African continentthat aren't happy with their governments, they don't trust them and they needto find a way to protect their life savings and they're not gonna put a bunchof gold in a bag and try to run across the continent with it, they now have auniversal way to move, you know, those earnings and assets into a place thatcan be, you know, sent all around the world in 10 minutes or less.
And that is an incredible achievementand I don't think that that has no value. It has a lot of value and we shouldwait and see.
Will Szamosszegi (36:42):
That's an incredible answer. Thankyou so much for coming on to this episode. Uh, this has been a lot of fun andwe'll definitely have to do it again sometime.
John Belizaire (36:49):
Thanks for having me on the show andI really appreciate you as well.
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