I’ve spent virtually the whole day talking exclusively about cryptocurrencies, and so on, trading … Have you learned all about it? The truth is I find
the crypto world in general fascinating. I’ve always been an observer
and never an insider which is why for years I’ve always kept quiet, I’ve never
said anything because I don’t like
talking about things I don’t have direct
experience of. Whereas, over the last
year or so, I’ve begun to go inside and now with
the special we’re making, increasingly I want to examine certain
issues in detail because they’re compelling,
in the end it’s a huge change. So how did you get
involved in the crypto world? Were you just passing by … – Yes.
– … and you said … No, in 2014 I was
writing my thesis. I studied cinema, so I had absolutely nothing … – Cinema?
– … to do with it. Really? Okay. – What was your thesis about?
– I was deciding, I was looking for a tutor who would accept a
thesis on … – Okay.
– … something I had studied, You were doing the usual
round of knocking on doors. That’s right. It took me ages to find a tutor to supervise my thesis,
nobody wanted me. I wanted to write about
the financial side, film management, budgets, that sort of thing. Then, my boyfriend at the time worked in the field,
and he said: “No, please don’t,
another useless thesis that nobody will remember,
drop it”. Okay. And he started telling
me about bitcoin. Okay. I found it interesting, especially the, well, the anarchic part of the movement.
– Okay. Decentralisation … – power to the people
– power to the people. The fact that banks
were out of the equation, all the cyberpunk part, the anarchic part of bitcoin, of blockchain technology. So you wrote a thesis on bitcoin? I wrote a thesis on
bitcoin, trying to find some sort …
– of link with cinema – right.
– New frontiers in cinema on bitcoin. Yes, I’d found a
sort of parallel between the fact that, when a technology is adopted in mass, obviously at the cinema, everywhere, there are
more documentaries, more … Okay. more films about it.
It was stretching a point to try and talk about bitcoin. Okay. And the economics professor wasn’t available,
he’d said: “Wait until next year
to graduate, then we’ll talk about bitcoin”.
I said: “No, sorry, do you really think I should
have to wait a year to write a thesis with you?” So that was another
reason why my thesis was with a professor of
cinema, who said to me: “You take the responsibility, I’ve no idea what
you’re talking about”. Right. But this made me study
the question in greater depth.
– Okay. And since I liked
writing, I’d begun looking for work
as a journalist, in the crypto sector. Ah, straight in like that? I didn’t know that. Okay. – I’d begun …
– With your nick – My nick?
– Your nickname … Sorry? – Didn’t you have a nickname?
– No, No, no, no, I’m one of
the few who write with their own name.
– You signed like that. – Yes, yes.
– Okay. And I was recruited
by Cointelegraph … – Ah okay.
– So I began writing like that.
– Straightaway? Yes, about a week after I finished the thesis. One of the rare cases
where someone graduates … – Yes, you graduate …
– Did you send out your CV? No, an email.
– An email, yes. Well, I’ve written a thesis about bitcoin, I’ve worked as a journalist
for a number of years in various fields …
– That wasn’t true? – No, no, it was true.
– It was true? Yes, because previously
I’d worked as a music journalist. Ah okay, which had
nothing to do with it. It seems to have
nothing to do with it. It had nothing to do with it, you
sent the email, and they said: You’re hired.
– Okay. Write. Fantastic! Okay,
so that’s how you began, but now, for example,
there’s Cryptonomist, which is growing and growing. Yes, luckily, more or less. In Italian or in English? It’s in Italian and in English, it’s a
magazine about cryptocurrencies, Fintech, ICO, the world
of cryptocurrencies, blockchains. And it’s in
Italian and in English, so from writing for
other people to having your own magazine,
it’s not bad. It’s a good move, I saw
Mentana, in Italy, he was saying: “At last we’re
going to have an online paper, in 2018. With 150 contributors”, I don’t know how many
CVs they’ve received, the traditional media always
move at a different pace, the crypto world travels
at different speeds. With all the rubbish
that’s around even in the crypto world,
how do you manage to filter real news from
news that you’d say: “This lot are a band on the run, it’s not true that…” First of all, the way
you do with any paper, obviously you have
to check the sources, you see which company is involved, for example: you might
be talking about Coinbase, they usually publish
news on their blog so it’s actually official and checked. In the case of smaller ICOs,
apart from the fact that they’re not really our target, we
don’t write much about small companies, anyway
usually we contact the ICO team directly, we try
to check directly from the sources. But sometimes the paper
could be a huge document, what do you do, do
you read it all? We try, like I said,
we don’t write much about ICOs, or
small companies, because we try to write news about the big players. So we don’t usually
have the problem of running a real check on
the ICO, on the latest project which has little credibility. But what’s your position
on, for example, you say “bitcoin”,
– Yes. As soon as the word bitcoin
comes up, the traditional media see bitcoin as:
“Wow, let’s report the latest scandal, the latest
bitcoin craze”, obviously. I imagine your position is different to that, you say: “Let’s transfer the truth that’s coming out
and provide a precise snapshot of this world”.
– Yes. Even then, how do you move through the enormous
fluctuations we’ve seen over the past year, and say: “Okay, I’m going to write
an article and perhaps I’ll say McAfee is right about bitcoin. By the way, I saw
a photo of you with McAfee … – When I interviewed him.
– You interviewed him? Is he completely barking mad? No, when you meet him, no. – Was he calm and relaxed?
– No, yes. He talked to everyone, he
was always very serious, at least he seemed to be.
– Did he have his bodyguards? He had his bodyguards,
but he talked to everyone, he was very very obliging,
he did a load of interviews. Everyone, every start-up
who talked to him received a business card,
a number, absolute cooperation. I saw an interview once with McAfee, where they
were talking like this, the interviewer here, and
imagine you’re McAfee. And the door was behind
them, just like here. I know the one, where
you can see the gun of the bodyguard.
– The bodyguard comes out and he makes him open it
and he pulls out the gun. I said: “Wow!”. I didn’t see any weapons,
but yes, he had a sort of … Anyway, good ol’ McAfee says: “Bitcoin will be worth 1 million”.
– Yes. In that case, how do you
report it, are you biased because in any case you’re
always a bit pro crypto, or do you try and analyse,
so you say: “Okay, that’s what McAfee
says, but based on our analyses,
yes, no, perhaps”. Well, when we report news, we try to be as
objective as possible, we also try to refrain
from making a comment. So, ‘McAfee says it will
be worth 1 million’, period. We refrain from saying:
“Yes, no, perhaps, true, untrue”. Also because he is who he is, so there wouldn’t be much
point in commenting on his tweets, which are
sometimes, let’s say, very … – colourful.
– colourful, there wouldn’t be any
point. Then perhaps in other types of articles,
about trading, which Federico Izzi writes,
you’ve interviewed him, we might analyse the market. Okay.
– But in the news items, it’s just news,
I report it … Yes.
– And you decide. What’s the world of all
these online crypto magazines like, who are the main players, is there someone
you find inspiring or interesting or are you simply the best? No … Well, in Italy, I think Cryptonomist is
one of the main ones. There isn’t much competition, and the majority of readers, 80% are Italian or from the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland. Okay.
– And as an English-language magazine, you’ve got Cointelegraph, CoinDesk. CCN, which is Crypto Coin News, is attracting a lot of views,
or anyway is very well known, and obviously, because
they’ve been going much longer than us,
they manage to get the news before us, obviously they
have a whole PR system with a higher profile. And this is why at
Cryptonomist we try to focus less on news
and provide more guidance for people who are coming to the bitcoin world
for the first time. Or to do a lot of
interviews, we try to focus on a readership that may also read
the competition but reads us too,
to get a different angle. Right.
– And this is also possible because, since Cryptonomist
is part of the Poseidon holding, we have a lot of
expertise, a lot of people, so you can make
all your valuations. And that’s also the way we manage to select the news,
because inside the holding we
have so many people who know the sector very
well, we also have a lot of influencers, people
like Zucco, for example, so we manage to have
greater understanding of what’s really happening, during events too,
they help us a lot as consultants, let’s say, for our articles, to check
they’re well written, etcetera. And what’s the business
model for a magazine, a crypto magazine,
is it the same as traditional magazines,
with advertising investors? Yes, basically in advertising probably one of the next
new developments at Cryptonomist will be the issue of a token,
which will probably be a security, and
this will give readers the opportunity on one
hand to benefit from Cryptonomist’s
revenues, because the security is like
an equity instrument … – Right.
– You have a share of the company’s earnings. Sure. Profit, revenues … – Yes.
– of the company, so it’s like, if the New York
Times issued a token, you say: “Okay,
I’ll get 10% of the New York
Times’ revenues. Great. And how have you
seen this world develop, since you started?
We say that but it only began the other day.
– It’s not even 10 years … Goodness, it’s gone so fast and you were there
right at the start so you saw it begin and evolve. What developments can you
see and do you think will happen over
the next three months? What I’ve noticed
is that, for example, in the early years,
when I got a taxi, taxi drivers talk a lot, they always ask you
where you’re going, what you do, especially
when they see a girl. I noticed that when I said … They never talk to me, taxi
drivers don’t talk to me, I keep quiet. They always talk to me,
even if I don’t talk. So perhaps they ask
you where you’re going, so I always mention bitcoin, just as a test, to see if
they know about it or not. And at first no one knew
about it, and then I had to sit there and explain
what it was, more or less. But recently they all answer, at least they know
what I’m talking about. Then perhaps they haven’t
invested, they’re wary, but at least the
word is becoming, it’s becoming familiar. I saw that the 3570
Italian taxi chain was accepting bitcoin
or had a project to accept payments in bitcoin. Yes, they’re doing it
with an Italian start-up … So in fact …
– Yes, there’s collaboration with BEN, the Blockchain
Education Network, I worked with them too
for about a year. They’ve made this
agreement so that with a payment processor
they can accept bitcoin, even if in
practice no one uses it. – Ah okay.
– But let’s say that at least at the level of adoption, of knowledge or even
just of marketing … Because there’s this
great disparity today between, if you
say bitcoin people tend to know bitcoin, and the
number of people using it in practice.
– No, it’s unconnected … – They’re two worlds.
– Yes, but at least when you start to see that
people know something, they are already aware of it. But of all the situations
you see and that perhaps they tell you about, they
send you a press release, or you come into contact,
you know a lot of people, are there some in particular
you find super interesting. apart from the Eidoo
galaxy, of course, we’ll take that for
granted. Interesting applications, examples of
companies that are doing something that you say:
“Wow, this could be really cool.” Yes, recently I heard about Civil, it’s a blockchain project
on journalism. So basically a way of fighting fake news with a system of fees, of donations in tokens, for the people
who write the best pieces, as well as negative feedback for people who
publicise fake news. The thing that surprised me,
it’s a start-up that is quite well known, but
what surprised me is that in London, when
they had the Eos event, in October, sorry
at the end of September … Did I see a photo of
you with Pierce Brock or did I dream it? – Brock Pierce?
– Brock Pierce. The founder of Eos,
the CTO of Eos, Daniel Larimer, said: “The thing we absolutely need is to have projects
relating to journalism to combat fake news, and
he referred specifically to this Civil, and in fact
I’m researching it. Incidentally, Eos raised … It’s the ICO that raised
the most last year. In 2017, even if
the ICO actually ended at the beginning of 2018. And do you see
a decline in this ICO world, What’s happening? Last year, there was
all this hype about ICOs, they were all raising
loads of money, even the ones that
were self-confessed scams. But there was all the hype … – Self-confessed. I’m a scam.
– I’m a scam. But we’ll invest anyway. But what I’ve noticed this year, is that the ICOs are
going ahead regardless … Okay. The valid ones are
raising a lot of money, but there’s greater awareness among investors, who
manage to select better, so there’s
a lot of money around, but around a small number of
ICOs. The ones who seem most reliable, most,
not scams, in other words. And have you also, let’s
say, gone into trading cryptocurrencies and
so on or have you always confined yourself to
describing and reporting? Personally I’ve invested.
Rather than trading, I’m “holdando”, holding on to anything. “Holdando”, that’s great. So after “forwardare”, I think
“holdare” is the new frontier. – There’s …
– “Holdando” “Holdando” is the
new black. Right. By the way,
in the trade, people say “hodlando”, inverting
the two letters. Because a while back on Reddit, a guy kept getting it wrong, deliberately or not,
I don’t know, anyway, he wrote
an entire article inverting the two letters,
it became a motto. So hodl.
– Hodl, so you retain, you
invest and you keep it there, No, I’ve never been a
trader, either in the short term or in the long term.
Everything I bought I’ve still got. Except the market is declining,
I carry on hoping. If there is a long-term vision, everyone I’m talking to, Italians, foreigners,
in the end they all more or less agree
that these are waves and when there’s a
shake-out, a market shake-out … I’m, we’re
almost the same age but I’m a little bit older, I’m slightly older than you, and so these things
have already happened. The whole bubble,
all the confusion, then there’s a market shake-out, and the serious players remain, that seems to me to be
the way things are going. Charlie Lee said so
too, in a recent conference.
– Who’s Charlie Lee? – The founder of Litecoin.
– Okay. He said that the fact that there’s less ICO hype is a reflection of
greater awareness. So in fact it’s a positive thing. Because if it had just
continued to grow, it would mean there
was something wrong. And it’s better that way, because at least people in the industry isn’t faced with a constant nightmare: “Heavens, bitcoin’s up, bitcoin’s down”. In fact, I check the app
much less often to see what the price is doing. When was the last time
you checked it? Ten minutes ago?
– No, no, yesterday perhaps no, I haven’t checked today. One of my children said to me: “I don’t use my mobile much now”, only 16 hours a day
instead of 18, something like that. We wrote a piece the other day about how the volatility
of bitcoin is decreasing. Which could make it more of a trading currency,
a method of payment more widely used because
it’s not as volatile as it recently has been. What are the main problems you see today, when you’re talking
about these issues, or when you’re talking to someone who doesn’t understand a thing about the crypto
world? What problems do you think need to
be sorted out before bitcoin or another
cryptocurrency goes mass market and is used by everyone or a lot of people? In my view, also
as someone in the media, the aim should be to
demystify cryptocurrencies in general, in both a negative
and a positive sense, meaning that, usually they
are talked about as a bubble, the latest scam, the
illegality of the cryptos, when actually, and
recent studies show this, only 5% in the last
year has been used for unlawful purposes,
whereas 95% for completely legal purposes. But on the other hand,
people exaggerate sometimes. I don’t know,
it will destroy the banks, there are always huge
headlines in any case. So I think we need to achieve a balance,
to avoid fake news from any … – Extremism.
– Extremism … – Positive or negative.
– Yes, right. Future plans? Future plans, I told you
about the Cryptonomist token we’re working on. And
at the level of business models, we’re
trying to find new advertising solutions. Because increasingly,
Facebook, Mailchimp. Google, are banning advertising, not only by ICOs, but for wallets, exchanges, too. But there’s been a recent re-opening … Yes, it’s true … Perhaps they need
to boost their earnings. Maybe. In fact to place advertising, you have to
send off a whole set of documents, which
will never be approved, because it takes forever. So if you want to launch a project and your deadline is in a month, there’s no response
in terms of support. Also because they
don’t even tell you whether it will be rejected
or not, they simply don’t respond. And you just see that
you can’t get the advertising, for example on Facebook.
So as a business model for Cryptonomist, we’re
trying to make advertising easier through our channels, for the ICOs or
any crypto project that people might
want to publicise. Yes, yes. So, new models
and tokenisation, these are the two things. Good luck then, thank you. Thank you.