Fireside Chat With BRD's Aaron Voisine

Aaron Voisine (BRD), David Bailey (Bitcoin Magazine)

[00:00:00] David Bailey: Welcome everyone to the Bitcoin Magazine Halving live stream. I'm joined here by Bitcoin OG, the one, the only Aaron Voisine.

Aaron Voisine: Hello, hello

David Bailey: Aaron, thank you for joining us today, for this,  celebration this holiday. Can you kind of kick us off by telling us a little bit about who you are and your journey to Bitcoin,  how you found it?

Aaron Voisine: Sure. So, I'm a Core developer. and I've been living in Silicon Valley for 20 years, and came out actually during the first .com bubble. And, worked for a string of different startups and,  you know, became really interested in, iOS and iPhone development, when the iPhone came out.

And, I had a few successful apps. And then, around that time I, you know, was trying to figure out what was going on with the economy with the 2008 financial crisis and trying to understand that and I started studying economics, monetary history and monetary theory  and the more I learned about how the banking system works, the more horrified I became -- like I was shocked that it had been collapsed a lot sooner. [00:01:00] It was like, how did, how did it last as long as it did?  It's like, it's all held together with bailing wire and chewing gum and duct tape, and they managed to keep it going somehow. which was, you know, really surprising.

And, and, I became convinced that like digital cash could actually solve a lot of the problems, that arose from the way, you know, how the banking system evolved.  and then when I heard about Bitcoin, the more I read about it and understood what it was, the more I became convinced that that was the solution and that it had the potential to replace the entire global monetary system eventually.

And I thought that was extremely important and if it happened, it would be the most important thing that what had happened in my lifetime, even bigger than, than the internet itself. And so I decided to focus on that and to dedicate the rest of my career to try to help make that happen, by building better tools.

At the time, the software, the Bitcoin software that was out there was, was pretty poor. [00:02:00] And, I thought, you know, with my experience and in mobile developments and software development generally, that I had an opportunity  to make something that was better than what was out there at the time.

And, and it seems like it's, it's caught on and become popular.

David Bailey: You could say that for sure. Well, so we're going to return back to  this point about, how you got started in that environment, but I want to ask you about,  you're an OG, this is your third Halving, when you reflect back on previous Halvings, you know, how do you see them in retrospect?

why does the Halving have meaning to you, I guess? And when you look forward , what do you expect we'll be talking about at the next Epoch you know,  what do you think happens over the next four years?

Aaron Voisine: Sure. I think, you know, hopefully, ideally, Bitcoin, maybe not good for, for journalists, but, Bitcoin should get more and more boring over time and just become, you know, this staid, kind of reliable, dependable, , monetary base that the people don't really think about, but they just use every day.

When [00:03:00] people start talking about the federal reserve, it's usually because  they're doing something terrible. ideally they want to keep a low profile and have nobody paid attention to them at all. And I think Bitcoin will eventually get there, and it'll just be something that everybody uses every day and doesn't, they don't even think about.

but, definitely, in the past, having events have had a huge impact. on the price, indirectly. But, I think that each having that goes by the direct effect of reducing the supply of Bitcoin that's getting mined has a smaller and smaller effect, obviously.

if you look at like the amount of the supply that's being introduced, that's getting cut in half, and see how big that is compared to the existing stock of Bitcoin. as we go forward, that that reduction in, in new supply is, is very small compared to the overall supply of  bitcoin that already exists. whereas like in the first Halving, , there wasn't very much Bitcoin in [00:04:00] existence and, a huge amount of the supply was what was getting mined every day. It was a much larger percentage of like, the existing stock of Bitcoin. And so when that, first having happened, that's when the price went from like  seven or $10 up to $200 shot up. working on Bitcoin at the time  that was what made me,  focused on Bitcoin full time cause it was happening a lot faster than I was expecting. I thought, Oh, this is something that's going to happen over the next 50 years.

And then. When you know, the price went up 20 X in like a period of a month, I was like, Oh, it's happening right now, I want to be a part of this. I better drop everything and focus on.

David Bailey: Totally.

So, you know, I, I find it, it's interesting, like the price is such a magnet for people's attention and, and curiosity and interest. I mean, it's like the best marketing that that money can buy, so to speak.

And it's interesting every Halving when it, when it drives a new all time high, it seems like it introduces a new wave of users that are unique and distinct from the [00:05:00] last wave  somehow, and so, you know, when I first got in, I, you know, I got involved in late 2012.

it was, you know, the first technologist kind of coming, developers coming, people who wanted to build things, libertarians, you know, the subsequent Havling , it changed. It's had a level of credibility and professionals , it's institutions. It's funds. It's Banks. It's, it's really kind of the smartest people in the room, in the legacy financial system.

 what do you expect for this next Halving? What does the next wave of users look like?  what are you seeing at BRD that, is telling you about what's coming


Aaron Voisine: We're a consumer app, so we're seeing a lot of consumer adoption and things are growing and it seems like they're accelerating.

and, you know, our particular customer base is mostly people who, trade I think, actively. and that's why like we tend to see, big jumps in, new users when there's volatility in the price. And so that's kind of what we're seeing, for our product. Right. I think that, you know, for [00:06:00] Bitcoin generally, what we're seeing is, is just, more investors.

First it was like the, you know, investors who were interested in extremely volatile, extremely risky, high risk, high return types of, investments, who are getting involved in cryptocurrency.

David Bailey: I think the technical term is gamblers.

Aaron Voisine: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And maybe, maybe one step below gamblers cause it's, it's what

I like to call an asymmetric bet. You've heard of this term. It's an asymmetric bet is something where, you know, if you're gambling, but you know, the house has an edge, the gamble long enough, you're gonna lose being, you know, but an asymmetric bet is a bet where, yeah, you might have a 90% chance of losing all your money, but you have a 10% chance of making a hundred times, money back.

It's very risky and you're most likely gonna lose everything. But  that one time in 10, you're not gonna make 10 times your money, you make back a hundred times your money. And that's, I think, the way that, at [00:07:00] least right now, I think. Certainly in the early days, and maybe less so now but, I think it's still the case that, that, that's the way, you know, if you're investing in Bitcoin should view it. it is risky, but, the potential payoff is,  much higher than the risk. So like, yeah, it has maybe a. It'd be a 50% chance of failing, but, you know, a 50% chance of going up 10 times, that's increasing in value by 10 X.

And, you know, you'll take that bet every day if you could, you know, if you could place that bet over and over, that's how you, that's how you know, investors get rich is by taking a risky but asymmetric bets. So, you know, Silicon Valley investors make a lot of money.

David Bailey: Well, you know, kind of, to your point earlier,  I think when you include a, a value system that's not just financial, but also, a moral value system of, the legacy system is broken and it hurts a lot of people.

it makes the bet even worth it so much more.  It's something worth failing for it. Maybe that's the best way to say it. , Bitcoin is something [00:08:00] worth failing for.

Aaron Voisine: Well, I could continue on on that topic.

I think it's kind of an interesting one. , if the legacy system does fail, then what will people switch to? Right. And I think, you know, the competitors for the existing system are maybe going back to the gold standard or  something like Bitcoin.

 I think the current system can't last indefinitely. It will collapse eventually. although they do seem to find ways to keep it limping along every time  that starts to fall apart. But I don't think that that can continue indefinitely and when it does fall apart, you know, people are, are going to go to the next best alternative.

So that might be Bitcoin or it might be gold or, or something else.


just the mere existence of an alternative can also help accelerate the collapse of the old system. People start to get fearful and they have an exit path and they have a place to pull their wealth out of the old system and put it into something new that, relief valve can [00:09:00] precipitate  the bubble collapsing.

David Bailey: Yeah. In fact, , it's almost like the bubble can't collapse without it  .

it's an interesting time to be having this conversation because the financial crisis and the depression that's really gripping the world right now, even though it doesn't quite feel the same as the '08 depression did, you know the world is a dollar world and there's no escape from the dollar system. I mean, it's like, where do you go? Like  at the end of the day, as you know, as long as the American military is out on the streets, and as long as there's nowhere else for you to go, people are stuck into the monetary policy regime of Washington, D C which I can't even imagine, a more dysfunctional place in the world than Washington, D C and, you look at what are the other options out there?

You mentioned gold. You know, there's Bitcoin, but I mean, let's be honest, Bitcoin's got a long ways to go if it's going to be the global currency of the world.  you have maybe the Chinese RMB, but like, there's not a lot of options out there. and the need has never really been [00:10:00] more urgent.

Aaron Voisine: Sure.

RMB is, modeled after, the same kind of fiat, banking system, , central banking, currency system that the us dollar is,  it's a different currency and it's run by different people, but it's the same model.

David Bailey: Yeah. different mobsters, same scam.

Aaron Voisine: Exactly.

David Bailey: so,  I wanted it to kind of return back. I guess that's kinda maybe the last topic we touch on to how you got started in Bitcoin and trying to get to the roots of, where the '08 crisis came from. and honestly, that's the exact same intellectual journey I went on that brought me here.

It's how I found dr. Ron Paul, my hero, and I was exposed to a whole world of ideology that I didn't know about.

That is happening right now around the world. I mean in the United States, and I don't know what it's like for everyone who's listening to this live stream, we have 35 million people that have lost their jobs in the last six weeks.

there's going to be a lot of reflection from people trying to understand how do we have a system that's so [00:11:00] fragile,


what would be your words of encouragement or if you could take a lesson that you've learned over this journey so far and pass it on to a new generation of future Bitcoiners, how would you advise them to get started and positioned for themselves  to be part of this movement? And what would you caution them against?  if you could take the number one mistake that you've learned from, that you wish you had known at the beginning, rather than now, what would you pass on?

Aaron Voisine: Yeah. I would just say that, it might be difficult with the way that the system is now where everybody is up to their eyeballs in debt and student loans and, living paycheck to paycheck.

But,  do whatever you can  to start building assets a little bit at a time, and consume less than  what you're earning and start putting it away and preparing for, a situation where the system isn't stable and you need to have assets socked away to, to protect yourself and your family.

David Bailey: How'd you decide when you were [00:12:00] getting started that, building a wallet was where you wanted to plant your flag. what was the sign to you that you,had found the business you wanted to commit to.

Aaron Voisine: Well. that's an interesting story. I was using an early, web wallet, and I had bought $1,000 worth of Bitcoin, at the time, in 2012, which was about, 80 Bitcoins I think. And, I was on a bad wifi connection and it didn't occur to me  that, it might not sync the private key with the web server. And it popped up with a Bitcoin address and I sent 80 Bitcoins to it and I closed the web window and I was on a bad wifi connection and so it didn't sync the private key to the server. And as soon as I closed the web window, those 80 bitcoins were gone forever. And, that, made me pretty irritable. I was pretty upset about that. And, I thought, if Bitcoin is going to be successful, I know it has this potential to be the most important thing that happens in my life, and it's not going to get there with crappy software like this, that makes [00:13:00] elementary mistakes that lose people money.

so I thought, , I had an idea of how to build one better.  it was out of a personal need for, software that I could use for myself and for my own needs. that's really what it came from.

David Bailey: I feel like the lesson to extract from that is, envision the world in which Bitcoin is the currency that we need, and,  what are the things that are keeping it from being there and tackle those relentlessly.

Aaron Voisine: Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, , it's early in the space and to get where we need to go. if you're in a position where, you know, or have familiarity with the needs of, , people who should be adopting Bitcoin but aren't because the tools aren't there, or the institutions aren't there.

then yeah, that's definitely the right place to go.

David Bailey: Well, Aaron, thank you for being on this journey. Thank you for, building a great product and thank you for, three Halvings. I look forward to hanging out with you again on the fourth one.

Aaron Voisine: Okay, great.