Marshall Taplits, Co-founder and Chief Strategist at NYNJA Interviewed by John Furrier of theCUBE at Blockchain Unbound
Live from San Juan Puerto Rico. It's the Cube! Covering Blockchain Unbound. Brought to you by Blockchain Industries.
John: Welcome back to The Cube's exclusive coverage in Puerto Rico for Blockchain Unbound. I'm John Furrier, your host. Here covering all the action in Puerto Rico as the global society and industry come together.
Our next guest is Marshall Taplits. He is the chief strategy officer and co-founder of NYNJA. N-Y-N-J-A dot biz. Check out their site. N-Y-N-J-A dot biz. Marshall, thanks for joining me.
Marshall: Thank you.
John: So, talk about what you guys do. You guys are doing some disruptive stuff. Tell us about what you guys do, then I will jam in to a conversation.
Marshall: Sure. Are you familiar with WeChat in China, for example?
John: Yeah. Yeah.
Marshall: Okay, great. So, I'm at first been living in China 15 years so we've watched kind of the birth of the Chinese Internet which as we know is a little different than the regular internet.
John: A lot of mobile users.
Marshall: A lot of mobile users. 800 million China mobile subscribers alone. Okay? WeChat basically is a platform that started off as just a messenger but basically what it's done is it's integrated into every facet of Chinese society.
To give you an example, you go to a restaurant. You scan a QR code the menu comes up, you pick the food, you pay for the food, it comes, you walk out. Everything like that is in China. Everything like that is in WeChat in China. So, what we've done is we've kind of taken this concept and we're working on a global version of it that's cryptocurrency based. We are working specifically with Chinese companies in order to help them go global as part of the China One Belt One Road Program and working with companies like Alibaba, what have you in order to help Chinese companies go overseas and take what they've built in China but operate globally with cryptocurrency.
John: Are you guys in China or…? Because it's been hard for companies to start companies in China. So, you're living in China or you're working in China?
Marshall: Yeah. So, because we live in Shenzhen, right next to it is Hong Kong. Hong Kong is where our company is based. Hong Kong, as you know a previous British colony. The legal system and the financial system--.
John: Is domicile in Hong Kong as where you're based.
Marshall: Me personally in Shenzhen but the company is in Hong Kong, yes. And we also have a Wyoming corporation in the US.
John: Shenzhen is where the action is.
Marshall: That's right.
John: So as WeChat is.
Marshall: That's right.
John: Alibaba's got Alipay and then there's more business to business with their app, so I get that WeChat has been highly successful. In fact, we have a huge following on WeChat. It's free content but that brings up the question of Chinese kind of shown the way with mobile expansion, so their users are heavily mobile savvy.
Marshall: That's right.
John: Okay? This is pretty obvious when you think about it but in America and around the world, that's going to translate to the new user experience. In your opinion, how would you describe the expectations that users have? Because you're living in the front end of the wave of what mobile is doing. I mean there is lot of gamification going on. Sometimes it's kind of creepy, but what is your view of the expectations that you users have and what's different about what is currently available in the Web Stack and the 20-year-old Ecommerce stacks that are out there?
Marshall: Sure. I think the most important thing is reducing friction. Right? You don't want to be using platforms where you cannot do it wherever you are whenever you are. You don't want to have to go through payment processes. ou don't have to reauthenticate yourself across whatever platforms you use. Interestingly, when I first went to China it was all about copying what was in the West over there but actually it's kind of the opposite now, right.
We basically want to take this concept of a frictionless digital life and make it a global opportunity. Especially with blockchain and cryptocurrency you have that really as an opportunity because if you look at all the apps that are out there in the platforms that are out there, the only ones that have gone past a billion users are WhatsApp, Instagram, whatever, are the free ones but as soon as you layer in payment it becomes very locked.
As big as WeChat is, as big as Line is but ultimately, it's locked into the renminbi system or you know in Korea what have you. So, the cryptocurrency is really the first opportunity that the world had to create platforms that can get up to a billion, two billion, three billion users that are able to pay. We just think that's a once in a lifetime opportunity and we want to be part of it.
John: I got to ask you about the impact that cloud computing has had on this. Honestly, we've seen cloud computing destroy the data center model, allow people get time to value faster, mobile on top, big data analytics, using data. All these stuffs are awesome stuff. So, the question is that that's kind of a horizontally disruptive view. So, these stacks that are built old way were "I've got to own the stack end to end." Yeah, there's some standardization in the lower end stack but now you're thinking about more of a horizontal. I've got jurisdictions. I've got regions. I've got countries. We've got sovereignty. All these things are in the melting pot of the cryptocurrency blockchain decentralized applications are major impacts to all those things. How do you see that playing out because that's kind of what developers worry about? "Oh, shit will this work on that chain?"
John: I got Neo. I got this. I got that. So, the plumbing is totally a moving train right now.
Marshall: That's right.
John: But the business models are pretty obvious so there's like a business ops thing going on with dev ops did for cloud. You've got this new abstraction thing going on with this world. What's your view on that? Do you agree or what's your take?
Marshall: Yeah. I mean you pretty much nailed it. I mean basically what's happening is over the last 10 or 15 years, people have finally accepted that having your home server is kind of silly and most people now will just spin up whatever they need in terms of resources on the cloud. But over the last couple years, you're really going more toward edge cloud where the way the clouds work is that basically it's pushing to get the least amount of latency and store the data as close to the user as possible. And then there's also regulatory in some countries now in terms of if your users are from this country you have to legally store the data in this area.
This is all kind of evolving. If you look at the blockchain technology, I think it's the payment version of that. For example, everyone's always concerned about getting in and out of fiat currency. And you know, how am I going to get back to dollars and this and that. But I think what's going to wind up happening is this is going to get pushed toward the edges. There will be opportunities in ways with exchanges what have you to get in and out. But more importantly, it's going to be like just other currencies.
For example, I live in China, but I come to the US a few times a year. I also travel to Europe. I have some dollars. I have some euros. I have some renminbi. When I leave China, I don't immediately sell everyone in my renminbi. I just keep it because at some point I'm going to need it. And I think what's going to happen in the cryptocurrency space is, especially on the larger blockchains like Ethereum, Neo, what have you is people are just going to get used to keeping some of it and they're going to stop worrying about what the exact exchange rate is and how am I going to get in and out and this and that. They're just going to start treating it as part of their currency stack that they keep.
John: As long as there is some level of stability, it's just like… I remember when I was growing up there was no Euro. Every country had their own currency. Right? You had the French franc, the Swiss franc, the deutsche mark, lear, etcetera, etcetera but you're seeing that the viability of the money aspect.
Marshall: That's right.
John: Because at the end of the day there's two things that we've identified in analysis. And I was talking about it last night and talked about it this morning on The Cube is the killer apps for blockchain cryptocurrency, these apps have two things, money and marketplaces.
Marshall: That's right.
John: Everything else is just kind of circling around--.
Marshall: Well, there's more but certainly that's the main part of it.
John: Money moving around. So, the UK just announced with coin base the Financial Conduct Authority, reading the news yesterday, has essentially said we're going to allow for the fast payment system to convert to fiat. This is government. The UK is a nation. This is the beginning to your point that if they don't get up to speed, the edge of the network will democratize them and kind of circle the wagons if you will.
Marshall: That's right.
John: So, it's already happening.
Marshall: Yeah. And I think what governments are starting to realize is hey guys this is just a technology. Not only you don't really have jurisdiction to control it but also that you don't even have the technical means. Wyoming is a good example of regulation coming in a place that just kind of accepts the presence that this now exists, right, and they're not going to try to make it something and fit it into the old way.
And in terms of the stability of these coins, I think it is important because people want stability. But in other ways, if you don't look at the exchange rate it's actually way more stable than the current system. I'll give an example. In the last month or two, the prices of cryptocurrencies have dropped almost like 40%. Now, if the stock markets and the global Fx markets drop 40% you'd have blood in the streets. But the crypto market is asset base instead of debt based and because it's so structurally sound it's able to handle these wild swings without actually collapsing the system. So, in many ways it's way more stable. And then, as the market caps and the buy in of these currencies get bigger and bigger, of course it's going to be more stable over time.
John: Well, I mean it's stable from a fail standpoint but a lot of emotional instability you know losing money for the first time.
Marshall: But that's just because--.
John: There's a lot of speculations.
Marshall: They are speculating, right. There's a lot of speculating. And then if they're down they feel like they lost but that's life.
John: I mean people that are in the game like you were long on this so what would you explain to someone… because I have a lot of friends that have two schools of thought. "That's a total scam." "Don't associate with that." to "Oh my God, that's the next biggest wave. Let's get our surf boards out there. Let's get on this. There is a multiple set coming in. It's the biggest thing we've seen."
John: And everything in between. How do you explain it to people for the first time?
Marshall: It's just your traditional curve of you know there's early adopters and what have you. If you are one of the guys buying up domain names in the early 90's some people would say "I can't believe you're spending $100,000 buying up domain names." but you know some of them now are worth you know tens of millions of dollars.
John: You could've thought of a lot of good domain names.
Marshall: This is the speculatory piece of it and there's no shortage of opportunities for speculation. I encourage everybody to speculate a little bit because what it does is it gets you a taste of the technology. Usually, when you have some money on the line you pay more attention. If speculation is what gets people interested and it gets them watching it and understanding the technology and using it, then I'm all for it. But people shouldn't be speculating with money they don't have. Anything could happen in the short term.
Nobody knows what's going to happen with any specific currency but in terms of the technology itself, this is a revolution way bigger than the internet itself. This is where you're getting not only communications like the Internet but finance and governance and all as one programmable money, programmable contracts. It wipes out finance. It wipes out legal. It wipes out governance in many ways. So, this is a huge evolution in human society and we've term this open unity actually. We believe that society has to reach a state of open unity in order to go into the singularity as we would envision it wanting to be as something that's under our control.
John: Yeah. I think one of the things--. First of all, that's a great statement. Well said. I'll just kind of put some reality on that, connect the dots is that look at the trajectory of cloud computing. Amazon Web Services was laughed at years ago. Ac2 s3 came out, compute storage, building basic building blocks. It is more services. What cloud did for software developers and what they've disrupted from a business standpoint with dev ops is proven.
John: What open source has done even going back to the old Red Hat days and Linux is it's now a tier one global citizen in software you got those two trends. You can connect that dots to what you just said.
Marshall: That's right.
John: And what made cloud great was they made application developers have access to programmable infrastructure.
John: You're talking about a whole another level of software program ability. Money, marketplaces, society.
Marshall: Yeah. I mean you hit it on the head. That's exactly right. So, when a programmer wants to start a business, instead of going to create an LLC and getting their EA EIN tax ID or whatever and now when they want to go into Europe and dealing with that and then trying to open a bank account which is almost impossible internationally now, instead of that you just have your SDKs and your APIs whatever and you've got access to money. Program it. You could take money. You can move money around globally, frictionless, permission less with governance smart contract.
John: They might not even be in SDK's dashboard. It's a console. Click-click-click. Smart contracts, governance, turnkey.
Marshall: Exactly. And one of the things we're working on with NYNJA in particular is this kind of on demand marketplace and putting together decentralized teams for work. This is all driven by smart contracts. One of the issues with the economy is the huge booms and busts that people have in the economy. If you look at the root cause of that, my personal opinion is that it's because of payment terms.
For example, if I do work for you and then there's an invoice but it's not due for 30 days, right, now your business may be structurally sound, but the truth is your cash flow is all over the place. With blockchain technology we can actually do real time payments. You can be paid minute by minute, hour by hour real time program contract. We're going to create very flat even money flows through the entire economy globally and we're going to just completely remove these booms and busts that are really nothing more than just cash flow issues that are compounded and compounded at a global level.
John: I mean I lived through the dot com bubble. I was actually part of it on the front end, on the euphoria side, as well as on the crash by the whole search paradigm. Google right there. Keywords, all that stuff happening. Growth, massive growth. So, I saw that the scammers in there or the bubble people we call them, but the reality is everything happened.
John: It was pet foods online. You can get shopping delivered to your house.
John: So again, to your point, this is little euphoric right now but what's different is you have now Community Data. What I see happening is not a major bubble crash because self-governance is a community dynamic.
Marshall: That's right.
John: So I think there's going to be a lot of self-healing inside the networks themselves. You're already seeing it here. I mean a lot of people, bad actors being identified, investors flight to quality. We're going to quality deals. Interesting times. Your thoughts?
Marshall: Well, I mean you know we've been through many evolutions of society. We've had serfdom. We've had monarchies. We've had representative democracies. We have all these things. I might just think the next evolution is decentralized governance. Right? We don't even know what that means yet because it's just starting but you know I think we can all… If we close our eyes and really think about it, I think it's pretty obvious what the issues are with our current system and not just the US but globally. I think we have an opportunity here to build in kind of organic program governance. What's really special about blockchain technology is if I program it to do X, it's going to do X. I don't need to know who you are to trust you. I don't need to worry about where we're going to sue each other or where we're going to have arbitration if things go wrong. We're just going to make an agreement and we're going to program it that way and that's it. And now, the next phase is I could build on top of that trusting that that's just going to happen. You can create these chains of trust and that can happen anywhere in the world. So, I think this is a whole--.
John: Sounds like a bunch of web services.
Marshall: Well, in many ways they communicate--. In terms of the architecture you could absolutely think of it like that.
John: The ability to leverage is amazing. All right. I want to just end the segment Marshall. Take a minute to end the segment to talk about what you're working on, NYNJA coin, NYNJA N-Y-N-J-A dot biz.
Marshall: That's right.
John: You guys have a product. You've got a blockchain enabled platform.
John: You got a coin. Take a minute to explain what you're working on.
Marshall: Basically, we want to provide the tools and services to help people live in this new reality. In order to basically function in the world that we're entering into, we're going to need tools that far surpass what's currently available in terms of the messages, the websites, all these things. We need to be operating at a level that takes communication completely frictionless, payment completely frictionless, and governance completely frictionless. We have to put this all together. That's what we're doing with NYNJA. We're starting with a global communicator which is basically if you want to take WeChat, Telegram, whatever but we have about 50 additional features that really take communications to the next level. And then on top of it creating the baseline with cryptocurrency payment and also smart contract wizards and helping people kind of get these teams going and get paid and organize their financial life in a decentralized way. We're just basically going to be the next generation of these messenger type platforms with blockchain integrated and what you're going to see is that over the next couple years you're going to get to the first companies that are achieving not just a billion or two billion or three billion users but paying users. We're going to be one of the probably three to five platforms that are offering tools at the global level like this.
John: And have you done an ICO already or not?
Marshall: We've just started our private ICO about two weeks ago. We're getting tremendous support in Asia. Quite frankly the US is not seeing it as much.
John: Is it a utility token or security?
Marshall: Utility token. I think it's really totally interesting coming here. It's the first time I've been doing the presenting. We spoke yesterday at the d10e. We also spoke at d10e in Korea a week or two ago and the and the responses is incredible. I think the reason is because…
John: The Asian market gets it.
Marshall: Well, they're already living in this world within their own confines in terms of the messenger with their payment and governance built in so when I tell them that we're going to do this globally with crypto, immediately they get it. I'm having trouble here especially in these five-minute pitches which is ridiculous.
John: Yeah, it's so nuance.
Marshall: It was like a chop shop you know. I don't know how to communicate the idea within this short time frame so you know what I'm looking for while we're here this week is just to find people who really want to take an hour or two or even people like yourself who want to do interviews and just kind of you know really talk to people and really--.
John: Well, platform. Platform is complex. A lot of pieces to it. It's a system but the value you offer is essentially offering developers who are building products for tools that you've built so they can scale faster.
John: That sounds like you're valuable.
Marshall: That's right. And although I can't say specifically, we're also working on a deal that's going to get us started with about 15 million active users on day one so it's very exciting. We're really really excited about it.
John: And the coins would be utility that measures what?
John: Your utility coins are going to be measuring what? What's the main token economics that drives?
Marshall: For the ICO economics?
John: For the NYNJA coin.
Marshall: Yeah. So, basically, we're releasing five billion tokens. 45% of them will be sold. Five cents a token. So, the hard cap by definition is about 112 million. Actually, were planning to do the public sale in April but we may cancel it or postpone it just because the private sale is going really well but we'll see how that goes. But in terms of once it's live this will basically be the utility token of the entire ecosystem so anybody not just within our NYNJA app or platform but even people - I don’t know if you know XMPP Federation like back in the day.
Marshall: If you can think of us as the next version of XMPP Federation but using cryptocurrency in order to avoid bad actors by making it very expensive to do bad things and very cheap to do good things and globally.
John: So, it's like Twitter. You can create a bot instantly, but it has coins in value they have to spend to get it.
Marshall: That's right. And also, people can spin up nodes that are basically their own Twitters and decide if those Twitters of their own, their NYNJA boxes of their own are either just internally or you could specify specifically contacts or group of contacts.
John: We agree. That's a great way to get bad actors out because it cost them money.
Marshall: That's right.
John: It essentializes no single spot.
Marshall: That's right. If email came out today when cryptocurrency existed there would be no spam because it would be expensive as hell to send more than a few a second but it would still be free for everybody generally and you wouldn't even have spam. We think we could do that for messaging globally.
John: Great. Marshall, thanks so much for coming out. We really appreciate. Check out NYNJA. Marshall Taplits is the chief strategy officer and co-founder of nynja.biz. Check them out online. Check out the websites in Asia bringing that culture of mobile and fast moving real time apps to the rest of the developers. This is The Cube coverage in Puerto Rico. We're Blockchain Unbound exclusive two days of coverage. We'll be right back with more after the short break. Thanks for watching.