🎙 "I'm Not an Enemy of DeFi; I Want People to Know About Anything That Goes Against DeFi as a Tool for Financial Liberty:" Chris Blec
In this week’s episode, I interview Chris Blec, a researcher advocating for transparency in DeFi. He was first drawn to cryptocurrencies through Bitcoin. He decided to go into crypto full time, first consulting with a token project in the ICO days, and later, in late 2019, by creating a YouTube channel where he aimed to educate users on how DeFi projects work under the hood. Here is where he came across what has become his focus since; the actual centralization behind supposedly decentralized protocols.
Chris realized developers behind many projects hold so-called admin keys, which offer a way to unilaterally change projects’ code and even drain users’ funds. His focus on decentralization theatre has also led him to criticize tokenized governance, which he argues could make DeFi a plutocracy.
He has leveraged his background in marketing to very loudly question his targets, with Twitter threads, reports on his research site DeFi Watch, and open letters. His most recent decentralization crusades have been focused on Polygon and Uniswap. All these questions and what appears to be constant criticism inspired some in the DeFi community to try to raise $50M for him to quit crypto. Meanwhile, Cointelegraph wrote a feature piece calling him maybe the most annoying man in DeFi. Chris seems unphased.
To him, he’s just doing his part so that we don’t waste this opportunity to make a new, better financial system. He may be rubbing some people the wrong way but he believes that thanks to him, users have learned about the risk of admin keys and, maybe, DeFi is a bit safer and more decentralized because of it.
The podcast was led by Camila Russo, and edited by Alp Gasimov. Transcript was edited by Owen Fernau and Dan Kahan.
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CR: Alright. Here we are with Chris Blec. Chris, welcome to The Defiant podcast. Thanks so much for joining me.
CB: Thank you. Thanks for having me on. I’m excited.
CR: Yeah, of course. Me too. So Chris Blec is a researcher advocating for transparency in DeFi. That may not seem like a controversial topic. But somehow he's managed to anger enough people to inspire a governance proposal, which would raise five million, was it? To quit crypto…
CB: 50, it was 50 million.
CR: Oh, 50 million.
CB: Five million, that’s peanuts.
From Marketing to Bitcoin
CR: Oh, $50 million. The proposal didn't pass, so he's still here, fighting against decentralization theater, rubbing people the wrong way while he's at it, but we'll get to all of that. I want to start with the beginning and just getting to know you better, and why you got into crypto in the first place.
CB: I started to use Bitcoin in 2015, but in 2017 is really when it all connected for me as far as a long history in appreciating the concept of liberty and freedom, and slowly starting to learn about the influence that central banks have over our lives and things like that. And then in 2017, it all just clicked for me when I was watching an online course about the history of money and tulips and seashells and everything that has been considered money in the past. And it just connected for me that Bitcoin was solving all of those problems.
“...I was watching an online course about the history of money and tulips and seashells and everything that has been considered money in the past. And it just connected for me that Bitcoin was solving all of those problems.”
And I went down the proverbial rabbit hole at that time. And before that, for 20 years, I was a marketing director VP for different tech companies, media companies, even sports entertainment. So I had a history of that. But when I discovered Bitcoin, it just brought all the things that I love into one place, like liberty, personal finance, finding ways to optimize my financial life, and so I just wanted to go as deep as I could with it. And that's how I got started with it.
CR: Very cool. Can you talk a bit more about what you did before? So you mentioned sports, media, what exactly were you doing, for what companies?
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