From running his own crypto mining operation to building a Top 700 website in the US, Sam Kazemian knows a thing or two about what is at the cutting edge in tech. His current project, Everipedia, plans to decentralize knowledge by utilizing blockchain technology. After a lot of careful thinking, Sam was able to answer the important questions ranging from Bitcoin philosophy to his favorite alt coins in a manner that even the newest people in crypto could understand.
How did you get into Bitcoin? How has the field evolved since you joined?
I got into bitcoin in 2013 when I first started researching it in depth. I heard about it before in passing but it wasn’t until late 2013 I took a deep, technical look. I was a double major at UCLA and didn’t really have the time to go all in, but soon I started to get so interested in Bitcoin, mining, and altcoins that I started prioritizing it above studying. At the time it seemed irresponsible, but my parents can’t stop asking me about bitcoin now so they’re glad I was being delinquent back then.
What was your mining operation like? What attention did it require and what did you learn from it?
In 2014ish, there were a lot of profitable altcoins to mine with GPUs and CPUs so I took a bunch of my old desktop comps at my house + some laptops and hacked together a GPU + CPU rig. I tried to get a lot of GPUs and use CPUs for Primecoin (and derivatives) mining. Dogecoin was my first true love since it was so dominant in those days. Bitcoin was difficult to mine without ASICs so I was pretty active on various multipools and wafflepool.
The entire setup looked ridiculous in my apartment and lots of people who came over complained that it looked sketchy. The maintenance guys always asked me if it was illegal.
In the debate of scaling bitcoin, are you in favor of Seg-Wit or bigger blocks? Why?
I actually think that both sides have pretty good points and anyone saying one faction is clearly superior is wrong (just like in most political disagreements). But with that said I’d consider myself more of a big blocker. Gavin was the main Bitcoin core dev while I was involved in the community and he is a big blocker today. Most of the old school people I know are big blockers. Bitcoin is supposed to be a peer-to-peer cash system (literally word for word from the original whitepaper) not peer-to-peer digital gold. So if we are trying to stay true to the vision, then it’s obvious Satoshi would be a Bitcoin Cash guy. However, the market mechanics of SegWit BTC are going to make it the higher priced coin, so some people think that gives it more credence to being correct (because it accrues and represents a store of value first and foremost). It’s basically a big nerdy cat fight!
How do you think Bitcoin and cryptocurrency can become more user-friendly? Will it ever get to that point and if it does, do you think it will be more centralized in structure?
There’s no real reason cryptocurrencies can’t become as easy to use and understand as normal cash. Institutions are finally intrigued by the technology and this is just the beginning, things will get much more interesting soon as large institutional players get into the game. The old days of a community mainly composed of ancaps and tech nerds is long gone (sometimes I miss those days).
Are you a Bitcoin Maximalist? What are your arguments for or against the concept?
I’m definitely not a Bitcoin maximalist. Most BTC maximalists I know of are just massive Bitcoin hodlers that missed out on huge breakthroughs like Ethereum. I don’t think one chain can or will necessarily rule all functions. If there’s one chain that is closest to taking over the world, it’s honestly Ethereum. Vlad Zamfir is the most talented theorist working on blockchain governance combined with Vitalik who needs no introduction. I still think ETH will overtake BTC in 2018. It didn’t happen this year, but it got close. 2018 is when Coinbase is going to go all in on ETH so it will be very interesting when non-technical consumers get access to ETH tokens.
The other blockchain I am extremely bullish on is EOS. What the block.one team is doing with EOS is so promising it could be one of the most breakthrough projects since Ethereum itself! I am already writing EOS code and the tech is very impressive.
What are some of the most promising projects out there now?
I’m closely watching EOS, OmiseGO, and IOTA. They all have their flaws and strengths, but their unique value propositions are too intriguing to ignore. We’ll see where they go in 2018. I have high hopes for them.
What is your favorite coin and why?
Dogecoin without doubt. I still wow to this day.
How is EOS different from Ethereum? Can they co-exist or will one have to be destroyed?
EOS is one of my favorite projects currently. I strongly believe that EOS will grow alongside Ethereum and overtake a lot of the consumer dapp market from other Turing complete blockchains. That’s why Everipedia is utilizing EOS technology since it has a lot of features that no other chain offers right now. In 2018, there will definitely be massive, huuuuuuge ETH and EOS growth, you can quote me on that.
A comparison you hear often is how the internet disrupted media and publishing is how cryptocurrency will disrupt finance and banking? What do you think of the comparison?
I think that’s a reasonable comparison. How I like to think about it is:
The first wave of the internet allowed for seamless communication of worldwide social data such as pictures, video, text, and VoIP between any two interconnected people around the world. This is what made social media, blogging, online news, and other applications possible. The second wave of the internet (the blockchain revolution) will allow for the seamless communication of worldwide economic data such as stores of value, cash, tokenized securities, bonds, debt, and scarce representable assets.
With the volatility in the cryptocurrency world, many people are looking for a stablecoin as a haven from massive fluctuations. In addition, a number of articles have come out raising suspicion about the most known stablecoin, Tether. How promising do you think stablecoins are and why? How do you envision stablecoins will work?
For anyone that doesn’t know, a stablecoin is a token that has very little, if any, direct price volatility, usually it is pegged to the price of 1 USD. Stablecoins are actually one of the most important parts of the crypto ecosystem if we are to ever have hope of people using crypto as actual currency. Let’s face it, no one uses crypto as actual cash (not even Bitcoin Cash). It’s because crypto doesn’t have attributes of fiat, floating point currency backed by standard monetary policy. Stablecoins allow for crypto to actually be used exactly the same as cash. My favorite stablecoin implementation is basecoin. Nader, who’s building it, is a brilliant theorist with a vision. I’m also working on a stablecoin as a side-hobby which is gonna be baller. Eventually, I think everyone will have some stablecoin cash lying around on their computer/USB.
Is there an easy way for new people to conceptualize Bitcoin? If so, how?
Bitcoin and all cryptocurrencies are just distributed databases that keep track of which addresses control what amount of coins. Ethereum is slightly more complicated since it does more than keep track of balances. I found this YouTube video to be the most helpful in onboarding new people, highly recommend people watch this simple 20 minute clip: https://youtu.be/bBC-nXj3Ng4
What advice would you give for people first starting off in Bitcoin?
Try to really get nerdy with it and get into it. You have to understand how things work by playing around with the technology. Most people just want to put money into something and watch it multiply, but they don’t realize that the people that got rich off of cryptocurrencies originally got into it for the technology and not just the profits. That’s why they were in it before any coins were worth much at all. If you want to “become rich” like those people, you have to find the “next Bitcoin” or “the next Ethereum.” That means you can’t just listen to your friend or invest in random cryptocurrencies, that means you have to become a part of the revolution and do your own research into what you think will shape the world in the coming months/years.