What if every individual had the ability to invest in their community? Dan Finlay sees a future in which the blockchain allows us all to function as venture capitalists, investing in the people we trust in our social networks, using our social collateral to back the things we truly believe in.

Dan is a software developer and product lead at MetaMask, a bridge to the distributed web. The platform allows users to run Ethereum dApps (without running a full Ethereum node) and provides a user interface to facilitate private key management. Dan and the MetaMask team are passionate about making new technologies accessible to everyone.

Today, Dan sits down with us to explain how the CryptoKitties phenomenon fit his theory around the first viral crypto application. He speaks to his entry into the blockchain space as a natural extension of his interests in technology and governance. Dan describes the genesis of MetaMask and its aim to provide a gateway to P2P technology and provide the tools necessary to make usable apps. Listen in for Dan’s insight on social collateral and learn how social networks could be leveraged to make everyone a VC.

Topics Covered

Dan’s take on CrytoKitties

  • Personal theory that first viral thing would be trivial
  • New mechanics, too much on line in serious contexts

Dan’s introduction to cryptocurrency

  • Always into tech, politics (governance platforms)
  • Shared passion with founder to make tech accessible

The genesis of MetaMask

  • Attempt to make app on Ethereum blockchain
  • Set out to solve for identity, key management
  • Provide gateway to peer-to-peer technology

The long-term vision of MetaMask

  • Individual holds own keys and decides where to store
  • Stay ahead of what ecosystem needs, tools to make apps

Dan’s strength as an improviser

  • Building otamatone instrument
  • Listen, react and collaborate

Dan’s insight on the concept of social collateral

  • Multiply spending power of social networks
  • Monetize following by investing in beliefs

Dan’s greatest accomplishments at MetaMask

  • Surviving crypto-mania
  • Building talented team

Dan’s definition of success

  • Expand opportunities for others

Connect with Dan

MetaMask https://metamask.io/ MetaMask on Twitter https://twitter.com/metamask_io MetaMask on GitHub https://github.com/MetaMask/metamask-extension Dan on Twitter https://twitter.com/danfinlay Dan on Medium https://medium.com/@danfinlay


CryptoKitties https://www.cryptokitties.co/ BitTorrent https://www.bittorrent.com/ Dark Tower Book Series https://www.stephenking.com/darktower/book/ Reddit Showerthoughts https://www.reddit.com/r/Showerthoughts/

Connect with Boost VC

Boost VC Website https://www.boost.vc/ Boost VC on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/boostvc/ Boost VC on Twitter https://twitter.com/BoostVC

United States


00:00:05Welcome to the boost Bc podcast your weekly dose of fun informative interviews with incredible guest from the boost pc network we'll dig into the latest topics are adventure capital startups and emerging technologies I'm your host adam draper founder and managing director of this b c and a fourth
00:00:22generation venture capitalists Are you ready to rock On today's episode of the boost vc podcasts i get to talk to dan finley who is the product lead for mina mask ah we're they're building a bridge for the distributed web we talk about krypto kitty's obviously and about how
00:00:43they as a team had to solve a problem in a theory in which was just basic usability and so they built meta mask as well as we talk about they're longer term vision he also did improv and that's a little tidbit that i learned on this episode so
00:00:59enjoy all right today we're joined by dan fin lay nailed it i'm really am tito to dan he's a product lead at meta mask which the definition is bridge to the distributed web basically without metta mass could be very difficult for anyone to build any user interfaces for
00:01:18anything that is decentralized today that's about right specifically on the theory of blockchain for now although we're interested in working with maura peer to peer networks in the future we'll welcome thanks i mean start not with your back and we say did you see crypto kid he's coming
00:01:34well i mean i had met the guy's like a month before over teeth waterloo i did have a personal theory that the first like kind of viral krypto thing was going to be trivial and silly and goofy because you know there's all these weird new mechanics people are
00:01:48learning you know like reverse dutch auctions and stuff and like when people were using them in serious contacts they were like kind of failing because there's too much money on the line every time you know you have a huge multi sick and then you know what is one
00:02:00bug it i'll get lost so like i really think that a lot of these things are best proven out in kind of a fun environment where nobody's taking it too seriously don't get me wrong some people treat their crypto kitty's very seriously i think we should all treat
00:02:12our crypt okay these very serious if you go in the crypt of pretty subreddit just about any post will have somebody saying like when will my crypto kitty's moon and it's like i think you're missing the point but i got my couple klepto kitty's because i wanted to
00:02:25make a very specific goofy looking you know moustachioed cat and if you go in with the right attitude you know you can have some fun along the way were you a collector i was the wrong kind of collector was not now cats in general level right like the
00:02:39personality type no not really i mean like i accumulate like so i don't like throwing things away and i like reusing you know like reducing landfill waste and stuff like that but not like collecting like i need to get more waste so well around my house yeah i'm
00:02:52a comic book collector so like naturally crypto kitty's like it speaks to me right it's like the superhero version of that oh completely i know i know all that stuff come in and like oh that's okay where you from I'm here from the bay area of been in
00:03:06the east bay pretty much my whole life briefly in detroit in new york before that what led you two diving down the proverbial rabbit hole of whether it be bitcoin ethereum like what brought you here career wise yes personnel i don't know like it's a combination of things
00:03:22yeah at this point isn't a career is it a movement or something That's a movement i used movement movement forward unless you're strapped for cash in which case it's a crew yes so i was into tech but i was also into kind of politics and helping people get
00:03:36better deal you know i participated in if you let's say boycotts or like union movements even and i had worked on some voting systems and e democracy e collaboration he's kind of so governance needs a liberation yeah governance these were things i was into like the first web
00:03:51app i ever made was a governance platform It was like a deliberation thing through that there were definitely always questions about like who owns the database and like what does that give them the power to do and you know just growing up in the world that the web
00:04:02you know you get more and more experience seeing the kinds of power that occur when one person owns the database and see with facebook and the elections and you see it with google and the ads and see it again and again so when my friend aaron davis kuma
00:04:15vis shut out she's ah shout out that he's the meta mask founder when he started going deep down the rabbit hole because he went to a meet up on we were working together at apple at the time we started just riffing about it and talking about it at
00:04:28lunch and toe both of us in different ways that made a lot of sense and we both had already made a passion and kind of friendship out of trying to make new tech accessible so we're like okay how do we use this so let's make it up let's
00:04:41make an apple on this new ethereum think if there wasn't even out yet but we're trying to make an app for it and it was a nightmare and we were like looking at all the ways people were making aps they were saying oh just paste your private key
00:04:51into our website there's run this command and your terminal and were just like this is not how i anyone uses a computer like it's like a huge step backwards like we're seriously like unlike the seventies in terms of user experience yeah engineers but like not talking to the
00:05:06customer user but even engineers like need a way to actually use it it's like you know people aren't even usable by engineers not like barely usable by engineers it's like the engineers just hadn't had the time yet you know it's just so new you know they were like
00:05:18a hundred people building on it at all just nobody had the timeto really deeply think about user experience yet and so we just look for the first basic problem and it was just that there was no notion of identity or key management built into the browser yet and
00:05:33so we're like riffed on a couple different ways aaron like he's a serious like deep browser hacker and he tried several different iterations eventually we converged on the browser extension so there's a browser extension it stores your keys in the background and that lets us manage accounts and
00:05:48suddenly you have accounts not on the website but in your browser so you know it feels a little familiar to you know your chrome accounts you know your chrome browser has your profile but it's still just remembering your accounts on every web site you go to here we've
00:06:01got one set of accounts you khun bring them tow any website it's not log in with facebook it's log in with your keys so you're bringing your own kind of powers of encryption and this is just the gateway toe like using any period appear technology that the whole
00:06:15reason that security is moving away from central providers is because we're giving the power to individuals to hold their own keys or decide where those keys are stored and so exploring these new kind of websites was key to that everyone's story is different but the same for getting
00:06:32into let's call this a movement for sure and i love that yours was actually coming at it from this governance angle mine actually was from a i think i inherently understood peer to peer technology because of napster like napster was my like power of computers i can connect
00:06:51to people people can upload this data files and we can all share and like i think that was my move to this space i just think it's just very interesting yeah yeah i think we all learned a lot from napster and then a bit torrent and you know
00:07:05it's been this evolution of the web is just kind of learning from it as we go and thanks toe like bittorrent you know for a lot of people was easier to learn how hashes worked and how peer to peer distribution were completely so what's the vision of meta
00:07:18mask long term like what are we trying tio accomplish We're trying to just facilitate a new kind of web platform where users have their own accounts and whatever that entails So the most basic version that's been has so far for us ethereum accounts a pair of private keys
00:07:37and a connection to the blockchain and we've been providing that connection to the blockchain so far so we're like some people might argue we're slightly cheating we do let people roll their own but most people don't but the point is we're giving them like this minimal bootstrapped kind
00:07:50of leg up into the period appear ecosystem and well our job is to figure out what else does this ecosystem need and stay ahead of that and basically keep facilitating developers so that they have tools to make actually usable potentially viral aps like before the episode you were
00:08:08mentioning crypto kitties and how fun that is and how they were kind of the first thing that was kind of usable they were building on such awful jang ki ap eyes like it's a miracle what they did really and it's our job to make it easy to make
00:08:21like much better better experience yeah even better experiences in that they bent over backwards and went the extra mile to achieve that but it should be as easy as making any application what do you think is sort of needed today that's different than maybe twelve months ago what's
00:08:36needed differently it was just a general like what's the necessary elements that air needed in the ecosystem yeah we're still kind of needing scaling like not just kind of we still like for example st channels are here they're just not evenly distributed there like just not usable yet
00:08:51in like plasma it's well specified but it's just not you know accessible there aren't good death tools around it so this like ecosystems growth has been a continuous story of like great ideas with a long road map ahead of them to actually become practically usable so that needs
00:09:06air very similar to what they were twelve months ago really the last twelve months we were in like putting out fire mode we did not see how hard and fast the kind of token mania was going toe hit what was the scale the most surprising thing yeah yeah
00:09:20i mean i think we knew they were going to be token sales and stuff but we didn't know that they were going to come in and it was going to be yeah raising what like hundreds of millions of dollars in sum velocity it was just crazy and there's
00:09:32about a year ago when it was peak it was just about here is like totally there was this like weak or to where it was like status bank or e os and a couple others but yeah there was just in it bro it was hundreds of millions of
00:09:44dollars each yeah yeah and a lot of them weren't doing users support so all those people who had just come over and they'd bug us that metal mask it's okay your extension isn't working and really what's happening is the whole block changes backlog entire network like if there
00:09:57were two ways to look at the view of the network which there weren't you know they wouldn't blame us but that's what we get for being like the front men were like the user experience where the kind of first line of defense for a lot of users were
00:10:07just confused and they're saying what's going on and so you were just trying to basically brush all that magic into its appropriate place tell people just what they need to know so that they you know aren't overwhelmed but are adequately informed hopefully facilitating yet these new economics that
00:10:23are kind of emerging what's a skill you have that you don't think people really know about you but you take a lot of pride in it's gotta be the atomic tone yeah tom ato thoma tone it's the best instrument that you probably have an instrument yeah okay i'm
00:10:37gonna look it up right now yeah it's ah i'm half joking i'm working actually on an open source fork of one i'm calling it guitar doing a okay it's like this an analog since it's a pressure sensor so it's kind of like a violence i see it looks
00:10:51like just one string you not even a strength a little tiny so i'm hoping toe break that open and give it a couple more strings there's an example out there of a guy who did a very efficient multi string one that's almost a joke aside but seriously like
00:11:04imagine a guitar you didn't have to tune and you could like give it any effect and make it sound like any instrument like that's a fun time yeah are you a musician in general no not at all so thomason has turned you into a musician what it really
00:11:16is is that i am like an innate improviser and i don't mind making a fool of myself so i'm willing to just you know hit the couple notes i found have you ever done stand up comedy i did improv did you yeah over here in san jose really
00:11:28at comedy sports yeah that's awesome yeah it was a fun time i think that that is probably one of the most skilled professions in my opinion watching like when you feel like everyone's on they've got to be they have to be all the whole time yeah you got
00:11:43to just listen and react and collaborate as fast as possible i wasn't the best improviser partly because i think i tend to get a little bit more in my head and if you get in your head even for like an extra second you might miss something on yeah
00:11:54suddenly you're not cooperating anymore so it's very much a collaboration are form and i have a bucket list item that's to do a stand up comedy oh yeah just us open might act like thirty minutes of something like this that's a big set So yeah So ten minute
00:12:09open mike that's like a good like foot in the door like i think you could do that next week thirty minutes pretty serious commitment okay well maybe i start with the foot and yeah you gotta you gotta work your way up you haven't done standup comedy oh no
00:12:21i don't think i have okay well then i won't have you telling your ex right now i think i've only got very very bad juice now back to crypt up do you say opportunities that no one's looking at right now in the space that you feel the attention
00:12:36has been paid to it like almost a blind spot i feel like scales talked about a lot yeah so there's a scale is not a blind spot for sale is like everyone yells about this being a problem yeah what do you think the blind spot of the market
00:12:47is yeah i think people are looking absolutely everywhere that they can to try to make money so i agree with like everything like it's just like with walking with blocking yeah with lucky in fact to such a degree that sometimes like my own friends they'll almost like make
00:13:00fun of me as if that's what i'm going around doing which i guess i probably can't help but do at this point because i'm just immersed in it i think that a lot of the applications today they're using like this similar pattern of mechanics that they're seeing throughout
00:13:12the ecosystem so like proof of steak taught us about putting up a stake and so a lot of people are using like oh well we'll have a staking mechanic everyone will put up a stake and then if they misbehave they'll get slashed and so that's like a abused
00:13:23mechanic at this point let's use all over the place it's used in staking tc are some kinds of bounties or whatever one mechanic that i'm very interested in i kind of had an epiphany that led me to a looking up a bunch of things and then i discovered
00:13:38a bunch of research that reinforce that it's a concept called social collateral and it's basically just the notion of the strength of social networks and so if you trust somebody with a spending limit then you could give them permission to spend some of your money and they can
00:13:51even lend that or not lead to just give out that permission to other people and what lets you do is kind of multiply the spending power of your social network so it's kind of leverage social network yeah yeah no it's potentially very dangerous because if dollar signs into
00:14:05your eyes when you hear that then it's probably because you're like hoping to like make it come back to you really fast or something but if you do it carefully and conservatively it's an incredibly powerful mechanism i have been looking at social media and crypto ah lot mohr
00:14:23recently someone in china told me a story that there was this sexual harassment lawsuit in china and was put to rest by the government five years ago and then recently someone wrote a black post and tethered it to a theory is blockchain oh and this is the thing
00:14:38that like governments fear is like pre program freedom of speech which is crazy like you can not take it down because the word can't be taking yeah i actually just heard about a social network that was out of china that was a little bit terrifying it was actually
00:14:54based on a similar thing is called j d b it was using a social lending models so i could give you a credit limit upto say two percent and then you could give the same credit limit to a friend for three percent and so on and so naturally
00:15:07this basically created a like social financial crisis where you know it works well if you're only lending to friends you totally trust but as soon as people start realizing hey wait a minute i can make like interests and i can compound that interest and i can't let you
00:15:19sell that out right so instantly they started trying to come up with ways of lending to strangers and they were doing all this crazy stuff like oh send me a picture of yourself naked to get this loan the collateralised shane but of course like that yeah that doesn't
00:15:32work too big to fail but decentralized yeah yeah so they're usually yeah this is weird yeah it's super weird so there's obviously very wrong ways to use that i have been thinking a lot about social collateral that's been built up on the internet like you know twitter followings
00:15:48and instagram followings and all of these followings like they're really valuable and they aren't really monetized in the way that you logically you would think they would be right selling your something influencer like you can advertise that's like the most basic way that followings air monetized completely usually
00:16:05the way advertising works as a model today you just like sell your audience to the highest bidder right which it just kind of backwards it's like saying if you want to monetize you have to betray your following instead of saying like hey following that is exactly how i
00:16:17feel don't do what i believe in how about that How about like i'm only going to say or endorse things that i actually believe in i'm going to speak and true to myself compensated for that short sickly because you get to be a part of that network were
00:16:29the goal right You could literally yeah i mean i hate to put it in overly financial terms because if there's too much enthusiasm that's what like turns it into a frothy thing but every individual can essentially be a hedge fund where people can invest in their ability to
00:16:42find good opportunities right and so my coin khun be backed by the people who believe in me and it can be invested in the things that i believe in and so if you basically invest in your community what you're doing is you're taking advantage of the unique knowledge
00:16:56that you have in your community right So no longer are you like having these specialized people who just like a vc right what you're doing you're looking for what the highest on the planet is yeah eso undervalued asset right right undervalued assets now who has the best access
00:17:10to undervalued assets it's like the people who happened to know people or who are building them right right right then themselves so those people their families their friends their social network those are the people that potentially would have the most to gain because they actually know this person
00:17:24is trustworthy right when you invest in something you probably have to like take a premium just cause you actually don't know if they're credible at all right Meanwhile somebody who's actually close to that person might have like no doubt at all they would be willing to give you
00:17:36know new york zero percent lending or whatever you're blowing my mind right now so i have a vision of it's not disrupting venture capital it's sort of like allowing anyone to have access to it and that's what i want and what you're explaining is a world where like
00:17:50everyone's essentially a venture capitalist right or no one is or everyone is a human being right yeah i just want people to be able to invest in their community yeah it's like more local based community systems well but you could be investing globally i guess yeah it's not
00:18:06so much whether it's a community or an individual it's just like what you trusted that structure is civil resistant because you actually don't care of some things an individual you just care whether or not you trust it so it could be a corporation it could be a hedge
00:18:17fund where it could just be an anonymous account on the internet that consistently makes good pics that you like or something or a robot it could be an a i what was you feel your biggest accomplishment in the last twelve months personal i mean just surviving the surviving
00:18:31yeah yeah and then getting onto helping build up the metal mask team a year ago it was like five of us and we were stretched so thin we were seriously like we're going to be paying for it in therapy bills the rest of our lives now we have
00:18:44an incredibly strong team that's just getting stronger like i think we're officially showing ourselves up you know we're like we're hiring people that are better than us and that feels great because it feels good yeah because then you don't feel like it's all on you you don't feel
00:18:56like coming out here doing a podcast like all of the things i'm neglecting i have a thousand things i have to figure that i mean i do but i don't feel like i'm destroying the product that whenever i take any personal time which is really precious and mentally
00:19:08sanity yeah yeah yeah that's everything so surviving that and getting to a place where we're feeling like we're stable the growing has been difficult but yeah by far my favorite accomplishment so the next part of this podcast is the lightning round okay are you ready I don't know
00:19:22what that means but i guess okay the lightning round is now you know what it means okay which one would you rather colonize first mars or the moon probably mars just cause it seems like it's more rich and resource is or something it is larger it's larger yeah
00:19:39or is it larger actually it's cold officially it is larger it's got a lot of iron that methane seems pretty appealing it just seems more habitable like moon seems really really bleak and dreary i can't imagine having much fun there farming anything that's true and it's in black
00:19:53and white if you could have one meal for the rest of your life what would that meal be Probably burritos it could be a vegetarian like a grilled case idiot just mission style burrito just straight up i pretty much live off los pericos just trot out to shut
00:20:09up erica i don't take money friends but i represent sweet out we'll definitely mention lows pericos i live on it way have a couple of really great max we also have triple life but now i like that my co founder britain he basically eats burritos three days a
00:20:24week yeah they're great they're so balanced like what else do you need yeah i mean a burger everyone's while that's basically me though that might be me yeah i mean you got cravings but i mean if i had to stick with one thing a burger is going to
00:20:36just leave me like feeling bloated and crappy i'm goingto through had one yesterday and it was glorious there's a super duper burger is just glorious but it did make me feel like i couldn't function for another two hours that brain blood's got to go somewhere else now if
00:20:51you could meet one person and ask them one question what person what question oh man ok satoshi nakamoto where's the private keys i don't know we'll do a crypto one which definitely i agree with and i think most people actually wood in this space do something was just
00:21:12yeah meet like the group the people the person yeah i mean i'd like to say something great but like one question i don't think it's going to be enough to really get to deep like we need a punchy when he's selling valuable immediately ok here i'm going to
00:21:25change the question a little bit okay to people okay a dinner oh get to have a dinner so you could have like dinner but two people throughout all of history okay all right let's bring in nicola tesla edges he's probably not very social i know he's very introverted
00:21:38but he just might blow your mind right i just want to be like why residents for everything like it's everything vibrating what's well how do you see this what is it yeah let's see how does your brain work he's just unlocking everything and i feel like we could
00:21:51definitely get a little bit more out ok and then i'd like to say some kind of an alternative economists or something actually how about later later i've been enjoying his work he's still alive so i might get to meet him you should be yeah i know i know
00:22:04i'm having a great time reading a step or maybe david graver yeah and he was also still alive i don't got to get out more yeah my list is i like world builders so authors normal world built so stanley i had a lunch with saintly like a year
00:22:18and a half ago and drew up so much knowledge he's ninety for still crushing it and then very dark tower i have not risen because that's his big world right is it i mean it's like seven novels of a giant alternative well i got it i got real
00:22:32dark tower the j k rowling's the other one who oh yeah i would love to oh yeah because that's a world that i have lived in they're many on our okay do you believe in aliens like right now are they out there is probably some things engine like
00:22:46ascension and then you've got to define sentient okay probably like thinking i mean then you've got a different problem i'm going pre op i'm going to say i'm going to be very specific about whatever you however you would ask it but probably just in the like very big
00:23:01like not just university reddit shower thoughts yeah i definitely know that there's a great shower thought that's everyone's about but me it's basically like yeah i can't prove one right on the other it's very i'm in this mix very solid versus everyone else but i could be dreaming
00:23:18you know that whole time in the matrix well that i mean that's a thousand percent through it it's just so unlikely to be in a matrix where everyone's about it's a simulation and i'm just in some whereabouts dream but that's the case okay And what is your definition
00:23:32of success I guess it would just be about expanding opportunity to the most possible people and since that's like a sliding scale i'll probably never know or achieve whatever my goal is and so it's just about i guess living a life that pursues that in process it's not
00:23:48about achieving it it's more about like helping that process along problem Yeah and realistically like not just working into the oblivion but like pouring my effort into productive avenues that expand opportunity for others Well on that Thank you for being on the boost We see podcast and this
00:24:05was really fun Yeah thanks a lot Thank you so much for tuning in during your busy day to learn about scifi technologies For more info on what we do check out our website at www dot boost dot bc or give us a follow on twitter and facebook at
00:24:23boost bc a big thank you to matt calendar coyly and ben lovell for their support in creating and producing this podcast a musical thank you too mellow drive in there a composer for our amazing intro and outro songs If you need music for your digital content check them
00:24:40out at mellow dr dot com Lastly thanks to tim hollowell with the podcast group in washington who didn't incredible job mixing this audio boost vc is all about helping amazing side by tax succeed If you haven't idea you think we should hear get in touch with us at
00:24:58boost dot vc slash contact and make sure to sign up to get notified when applications open for the next accelerator tribe Also we love to hear from our listeners so raid us and drop us a comment on whatever streaming service you use way would love to hear that
00:25:14that's it for this week and unfortunately we don't have enough time for mark sacrifice but be sure to tune in next week when he's available this is adam draper signing off few pube you

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