We ask the buidlers in the blockchain and cryptocurrency sector for their thoughts on the industry… and we throw in a few random zingers to keep them on their toes!
This week, our 6 Questions go to Eden Dhaliwal, the global managing director at Conflux Network.
With 14 years of experience in emerging tech, Dhaliwal specializes in identifying Web 3.0 opportunities and assessing the viability of decentralized business models and crypto assets. Currently, he is spearheading global expansion at Conflux Network, a high-performance, PoW-based, the first state-endorsed public blockchain project in China.
He also supports blockchain startups as a mentor at programs, such as Basecamp, Creative Destruction Lab and Gitcoin Kernel. Moreover, he serves as an LP and executive advisor (previously partner) of Outlier Ventures, where he built the firm’s crypto economics practice. In 2019, Dhaliwal received the Blockchain Research Institute’s Award for New Frontier in Enterprise Blockchain Research. Prior to a career in blockchain, he received an MBA from the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.
1 — What is the single most innovative use case for blockchain you’ve ever seen? It may not be the most likely to succeed!
Although the self-sovereign identity is a difficult and complex goal to achieve, it’s still an area of incredible potential for business and human impact. Using self-sovereign identity as a means of facilitating social accountability across the internet would be a game-changing breakthrough. I’ve seen SSI projects work through the mechanics of attaching an online reputation system to DIDs that could be ported into and across many applications. It would allow communities and networks to identify bad actors ahead of time and whether they are actual people or bots. Such SSI advancement would help make for a better internet and better address online social issues like cyberbullying and fake news.
2 — From smart contracts to DApps, to NFTs, to DeFi, we have seen so many of the next “killer apps” for crypto, but none have really taken off quite yet. What will stick?
When it comes to mainstream adoption of crypto, we either need a bridged introduction and/or a magical user experience. Things like CBDCs and Libra can introduce digital currencies to large numbers of people to help them get a step closer and more comfortable with cryptocurrency. However, we also need the type of compelling user experience that evokes a level of irrationality that leads to the type of online behavior where users don’t care what they have to do to sign up and use the product. Similar to how users seamlessly sign up for apps today without thinking a lot about privacy, security or compensation for their data. I’m sensing something special happening with NFTs at the moment. NFTs have the ability to leverage our emotional connections with music and art. I also think that the digital scarcity that NFTs offer can facilitate unique marketplaces, new gaming experiences and “exclusive” digital brand opportunities. Despite the hype with DeFi right now, I think NFTs offer the type of breakthrough human experiences that can capture the hearts of mainstream users.
3 — Which movie alternate universe would you most like to live in, and why?
For me, Interstellar was a fascinating journey through time and space. I’d love to have been one of the astronauts exploring new worlds. I’ll have to settle on crypto as my brave new world for exploration, for now.
4 — List your favorite sports teams and choose the single most memorable moment from watching them. If you aren’t a sports fan, choose a few movies and a moment!
My favorite sports teams are the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Giants. As thrilling as it was to watch Kobe compete (RIP Mamba), my single most memorable sports moment was Eli’s TD pass to Plaxico to finish off Brady and the Patriots in SB 42.
5 — What has been the toughest challenge you’ve faced in our industry so far?
Looking back over my time in the crypto-blockchain space, I think back to when I first joined Outlier Ventures. We had a number of portfolio companies that were exploring token models but were struggling with how to proceed. It’s a very complex process – and still a relatively new one – to develop decentralized network economics, so it didn’t come as a huge surprise.
Traditional product development takes on a very bottom-up approach, typically in the form of a lean startup. At the time, this didn’t work well mainly because this process couldn’t account for the complexity involved in creating tokenized systems. These systems need to integrate game theoretics, monetary policy, market design, governance, cryptography, and so on, into a viable crypto network. And after getting the cryptoeconomics in place, there is another challenge in figuring out how to validate the design principles and optimize the network economics to deliver a safe and secure working network.
Over the course of many months working alongside great minds from Imperial College London and BlockScience, we were able to develop an approach that combined cryptoeconomics and token engineering that provided an order of operations, tools, and methods to create token ecosystems. This framework continues to serve Outlier Ventures projects well to this day.
6 — What do your parents/significant other/friends/kids tell you off for?
Well, right now, it’s my Bad Bunny obsession — and playing reggaeton way too loudly. Some types of music are meant to be enjoyed with the volume cranked, and I respect the new sound, fashion, and branding that Bad Bunny brings to the table. I was possibly a rapper in another life, but that’s a much longer conversation.