SCSA Member Spotlight: Blockgeeks

SCSA Member Spotlight: Blockgeeks

Blockgeeks is an online education platform and community focused on teaching people to develop on and use blockchain. It was founded in 2016 and is now a leading source of leading blockchain education across the world.

We recently sat down with founder Ameer Rosic to chat about the history of Blockgeeks, how the industry has evolved, and where the industry is headed.

Tell us a little bit about Blockgeeks

I started Blockgeeks about 3 years ago with my business partners Dmitry Buterin (Father of Vitalik Buterin) and Vlad Martynov. 

We saw that there was a lack of education for developers. Over those three years, our focus hasn’t changed much. We are still focused 100% on education. So we educate developers, we educate Enterprises. We educate business executives. Our major focus is educating everybody in the Web3 space.

Can you share a bit about your background. What drew you to  blockchain and how did you get involved?

I'm a Serial entrepreneur. I've been building businesses since I was 15. 

I fell in love with Bitcoin and the crypto space about 7 years ago. It has strong libertarian values which I like. The idea of money independent of governments made a lot of sense. Ever since then, I’ve been hooked on crypto, and here I am.

What was Blockgeeks’ early history like?

Originally it wasn’t this full-fledged learning management system that we have today. Just like any company, you evolve, you pivot, you grow. 

It started out as just a blog talking about education. It was very developer-focused. Then it evolved over time.

We realized there are companies who need education, there are regulators who need education, there are executives who need education. So we built our own learning management system where people earn their own token. An internal token that they could redeem for crypto.  They could earn Bitcoin or Ethereum as they learned on our platform. We teamed up with a bunch of companies like Ledger and Trezor and we incentivized learning on Blockgeeks. 

We soon had all these developers and executives on our platform. Hundreds of thousands of users earning “blocks” that they can change into crypto.

Since then how has your company involved as the blockchain space matured?

Originally we started with just devs, then obviously, as any industry grows more and more people get involved. 

Our topline focus is still education but now its across a very broad horizontal. We deal with government agencies, Fortune 500 companies, we work with everybody. We’re also platform agnostic. Whether its Cosmos, Aeon, Quantstamp, Bitcoin, RSK, it doesn't really matter.  The name of the company doesn't really matter for us. As long as there's demand from people to learn about it, we will create education for it.

What are some of the biggest challenges right now in blockchain security you see? 

Blockchain security is a pretty broad topic. We need to define what that means. Smart contract security is different than root chain blockchain security, and that’s different than wallet security. 

I think we're still very early in the space, I think we're going to see many bugs and issues within many code sets both from the root level down layer 1, layer 2. But it's part of the process right the only way to solve these bugs is time under pressure.

What in your view has been Blockgeek’s greatest success?

I  think our biggest success story is the fact that we're global. We've made 90% of our education free, and we've translated it into more than 12 languages and on audio too. For us the biggest win is just seeing all our happy customers globally. 

We have people from Hong Kong, India, China, Russia, Africa, Europe. We have customers in almost every single country in the world. That puts a big smile on my face seeing the satisfaction of people learning globally. It doesn't matter where they are, they can learn as long as they have internet connection.

We also have a lot of B2B customers. One of our partners is Steve Wozniak. we teamed up with them for Woz U. We also work with Tech Mahindra, Amazon, Walmart, and then all the Web3 platforms. Layer one and layer 2, we work with everybody.

How do you view the role of standards in blockchain right now?

I think standards are really important, but for standards to exist, people have to agree on the standard. Standards also vary from platform to platform, as we were talking earlier a standard on Ethereum is different from one on Cosmos, EOS, or Hyperledger.

So coming up with standards is hard, but is it worth it? Definitely. If I, as an Enterprise company or as a new crypto company, need smart contracts or some type of codeset, we now have a proven standard that's been duplicated, replicated and proven to be safe. I can just plug and play it from a library.

What is Blockgeeks planning for 2020?

We are paying close attention to the space. 2020 is going to be interesting. There will be many new regulatory changes, a lot of new platforms will go online. Staking is going to be a big talking point in 2020.

Our plan at Blockgeeks is to double down and focus on education. Providing more and more education and streamlining it as well. 

Blockchain adoption is a chicken and egg problem. You have all these great projects coming out but the real question is, is there natural organic demand for people to build on them and utilize them?  As we’ve seen, it's hard to artificially create demand. We think providing educational resources will help drive organic growth and demand. 

What do you think about new initiatives from Facebook Libra or  the Chinese government which are more of a centralized approach to a blockchain. How do you think that fits it in terms of the overall landscape?

That’s a deep question. I think Libra is fantastic. I'm a firm believer in optionality. The more options the better. 

I think Libra will expose billions of people to crypto. You know we’re sitting here in North America in a beautiful coworking space. We have pretty good banking systems. We don't have inflation of our dollar like Argentina, brazil, iraq and turkey. So we don't have that necessity for crypto. But when you have places like Argentina, Brazil, Iraq, that are experiencing that kind of inflation, they have that necessity for crypto, for DAI, Bitcoin. It's a necessity for them.

I think Libra is going to bring a lot of eyeballs to space, to introduce them to these other options.

As for the Chinese digital currency, I predicted this 2 years ago. The RMB be will be on the blockchain. And i think many nations around the world will do that, but I have a negative outlook on this. A cashless society which can track every financial transaction made by individuals is a dangerous thing.

Maybe these centralized digital currencies will push people to decentralized alternatives.

I agree. I think privacy coins are really important. I think being anonymous is very important. Like I said people in the United States and G20 countries, we’re the minority of the world.

We live in a semi-stable Democratic society. We're not in fear of War, we are not in fear of the government just throwing us into jail for no reason. But the majority of the world doesn't live in those conditions. The majority of the world lives in some semi-dictatorship authoritarian state. And they need technology and tools to remain private and stay safe. For example, there are countries out there where they’ll kill you for your sexual orientation. There are countries out there where if you're talking about the opposition parties, you will disappear. That’s something that technology can help protect people from.

What do you think of the future of the blockchain ecosystem? Do you think there's going to be different technical stacks, or do you think protocols will converge? 

I think we're going to see the power law in play, Zipf’s law, 80/20. Eventually we probably have maybe like three dominating types of languages or frameworks that people use. Even now Ethereum is talking about Wasm, EOS is Wasm, I think you can do Wasm on cosmos. I know polkadots’ multi-language, so you can pick whatever you want to code in. 

I think it's going to end up where there’s  two, maybe three major frameworks that the majority of people use. And they’re going to be interoperable. You can use any of these frameworks on any of these platforms.

We are still really early in the technology adoption cycle. If you look at any technological cycle, it’s usually about 15 year. And blockchain is much more complicated than just technology. It is dealing with money, privacy and identity. Every aspect of the society is changing with this technology. 

I think it's going to take a little bit longer and I think we're still very very early. 

Do you see any challenges in the Blockchain industry currently? 

I think there is still a lot of trying to ram a square peg into the round hole. Creating a problem where a problem doesn't exist. I think we just need time to evolve and figure out where does this technology fit.

One example is that many financial Dapps target North America. For instance DAI is a popular project. You can get paid in DAI and not worry about fluctuations and even earn some interest on your balance. This hasn't existed before and it can be pretty cool. 

Is it a necessity? It's a massive opportunity but  a necessity? For those of us in the West it’s an opportunity but it can also be a headache. You have to deal with taxes, fiat on and off-ramps, etc. 

But I bet that Latin America is the perfect use case for DeFi, or forms of open finance products. Latin America, the Middle East, China Africa. I think that is underexplored, while the use case for North America may be over-explored. So there’s a challenge and an opportunity there.