Interview with David Zhang, CTO of Stably at Token Forum Blockchain 2018
Back in late 2018, the CTO of Stably, David Zhang gave a presentation for the Token Forum blockchain event. We present to you a short interview with him before the event, in which he shared a brief introduction about his background and Stably in the early days.
(Source: TF Labs)
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Transcript of video below, there may be some grammatical errors.
JONATHAN GAGLIARDONI: Hey it’s Jonathan from Token Forum. I’m here with David from Stably. How’s it going?
DAVID ZHANG: Hey good, glad to be here.
JONATHAN GAGLIARDONI: Good good, so we’re gonna spend some time. David is actually going to be speaking at our next Token Forum on November 9th. His company Stably actually sponsored the first one back in August and also will be sponsoring the one here coming up and thought it’d be a great for the community to get to know him a little bit better. So David, if you could, please introduce yourself to… to the Token Forum family.
DAVID ZHANG: Yeah awesome, thank you so much for having me, so I’m David CTO and Co-founder of Stably. At Stably we’re trying to basically help bring cash into the digital era by leveraging blockchain to create what are called stablecoins in the space. Stably’s mission is to basically bridge that gap between the traditional financial world and the new emerging blockchain economy.
JONATHAN GAGLIARDONI: So there’s obviously been a lot of news lately about just stablecoins in general. Can you explain to people what is a stablecoin?
DAVID ZHANG: Yeah good question, so stablecoins generally just refer to any sort of price-stable asset, generally pegged against an existing benchmark. So for example you could have a stablecoin that’s pegged against the US dollar, you could have a stablecoin that’s pegged against gold, or you could even make a stablecoin that’s pegged against the basket of other types of currencies, commodities etc.
JONATHAN GAGLIARDONI: Interesting, interesting and… you know, what… what got you, your co-founders thinking in that direction?
DAVID ZHANG: Yeah so actually my background a little bit… so originally, I was a cryptocurrency trader, and I discovered this product called Tether. So Tether was the one of the original stablecoin products. And no one actually liked to use the product, ourselves included, so we decided to go out and actually just build a better product, because we couldn’t find anything better to use.
JONATHAN GAGLIARDONI: Excellent, excellent, so I guess that leads me to the question I love to ask everybody. So… you know, what is your cryptocurrency or your blockchain origin story?
DAVID ZHANG: Yeah, so funny enough, back in school, I learned computer science applied mathematics and economics so it was sort of like a blockchain degree before it even exists. My emphasis in Econ was also game theory so things sort of just lined up well there. I was working as a software engineer at Amazon at the time and I discovered you know Ethereum and then I read into what blockchain was and it seemed like a once in a decade kind of opportunity, so the decision for me to sort of… you know, jump ship and jump dive headfirst into this world was a no-brainer.
JONATHAN GAGLIARDONI: That’s awesome, that’s awesome and… you know, it seems like your background is all about the value exchanges, right, and that’s exactly what…
DAVID ZHANG: Yeah, I mean, I also have quite a bit of background trading financial markets, which is where my interests were before blockchain and blockchain combines my passion for technology and my passion for financial markets into one nice cohesive package.
JONATHAN GAGLIARDONI: Nice nice, so what’s on the horizon for Stably?
DAVID ZHANG: So our product launch is scheduled for about two months from now, basically our first use cases, we’re trying to help cryptocurrency traders find stability in an otherwise volatile market. And then we also want to help promote the adoption of decentralized applications by providing people with a way of spending the money that they’re use… that they’re used to and the money that they know so like US Dollars, for example. And we’re also trying to help bring cryptocurrency into the mainstream by targeting more mainstream applications of money transfer… you know, like peer-to-peer money transfer use cases like Venmo or… you know, even payment applications and remittance and things like that.
JONATHAN GAGLIARDONI: Excellent excellent, so when did you all start Stably? How long ago is that?
DAVID ZHANG: So the company was incorporated in February of 2018 give or take, that’s also about when we close our funding and we’ve just been going heads down ever since.
JONATHAN GAGLIARDONI: Very cool, very cool, so… you know, you’ve been to the first Token Forum. You’re going to this next one… you know, tell us a little bit about your experience at the last Token Forum and what you’re looking forward to for this next one?
DAVID ZHANG: Yeah, so I’ve been to a few blockchain conferences in Seattle and most of them were just the same general… you know talk what is cryptocurrency, how does blockchain work but a Token Forum, there were actually people talking about things that actually mattered to people in this space, which is what I really loved about it. And it’s why I’m back for round two.
JONATHAN GAGLIARDONI: Nice awesome, awesome, and you grew up in the Seattle area?
DAVID ZHANG: Correct, so I actually I’ve only been in Seattle for two years. I grew up on the… well, that’s a long story but before Seattle, I was on the East Coast for a few years so… you know, it’s been real nice.
JONATHAN GAGLIARDONI: Nice nice, so… you know, with that, what are your kind of thoughts about Seattle as a blockchain community and what do you see on the horizon in that regard?
DAVID ZHANG: Yeah, so I mean second only to San Francisco in New York City, I mean Seattle seems to be the up-and-coming hub for blockchain and even start-up in general. There’s a lot of good tech talent here. There’s a lot of people moving in trying to support that tech talent, so I’m pretty optimistic.
JONATHAN GAGLIARDONI: Awesome awesome, what what do you plan to share with the community overall at Token Forum? What kind of things are you gonna be talking about?
DAVID ZHANG: Yeah, so I think one of my strong areas of expertise that is really missing right now is how blockchain actually integrates with traditional software and technology so a lot of people go like, oh you can use blockchain for this or you can use blockchain for that, but a lot of use cases don’t really make sense, and other use cases it’s impractical to actually use blockchain as a technological solution, so I think that’s really somewhere where I can provide a lot of insight.
JONATHAN GAGLIARDONI: Excellent excellent, and so… you know, being that you’re attending, who are you looking forward to seeing at Token Forum?
DAVID ZHANG: So we’re really looking forward to seeing anyone who can provide insight into everything from… you know, the regulatory issues dealing with cryptocurrency all the way to new ways that people are using blockchain on the tech side, so we’re really looking to expand our horizons here and the amount of knowledge depth that an event like Token Forum provides is really what we go for.
JONATHAN GAGLIARDONI: Yeah, awesome awesome, and… you know, being that you’re in the space, I’m sure there’s projects that you find interesting. What projects do you… do you… outside of Stably, you… do you find interesting?
DAVID ZHANG: So great use cases that I personally am looking forward to in this space include… so outside of money transfer and cryptocurrency since that’s our focus, include things like identity, peer-to-peer protocols for things that are more natively digital such as… you know time sharing on computers, crowdsourcing, machine learning is actually a cool use case for blockchain. Basically, any use case where it doesn’t make sense to have an incentive scheme where a centralized provider is providing the service and rather the incentives are better if you spread them across all the participants, all those use cases are super exciting for me.
JONATHAN GAGLIARDONI: Awesome awesome, well David, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today. Now really excited to have you on our next Token Forum. And we love to see you there Token Forum on November 9th. You can get tickets at the tokenforum.com. We’ll see you then.
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