“My name is David Siegel, I am a regulatory refugee from the United States.” This is how David Siegel, founder of crypto projects Pillar and 20|30, starts his presentations.
What challenges have you faced building projects within the blockchain industry?
Siegel understands the need for innovation and disruption within economies, and he can get more done in the UK and Europe than he can in the US. His frustration is that institutional legacy mindsets are holding society back at the precise point when we have the ability to leap forward. I can hear the frustration in his voice as we talk.
“Building projects in crypto and blockchain is a lot like building projects in the regular business world. One of the biggest challenges we have is finding top coders. Cryptographers are easy to come by these days, but top-tier coders remain scarce.”
How has the “Crypto Winter” has impacted project funding?
The Crypto Winter has pushed the global crypto market cap into the toilet. When questioned about the implications of this prolonged bear market, Siegel paused for a moment before sighing and responding flatly:
“This Crypto Winter is the death of an era. For about 18 months between January 2017 and August 2018, open-source projects—smart people with no other fundraising opportunities—could build infrastructure for a new century of progress, and now that window is closed, probably forever.
Siegel continued, laying the blame at the feet of the US Securities and Exchange Commission:
“The SEC is largely responsible for what has happened, and should be doing more to foster innovation, not starve it. They created a self-fulfilling prophecy: by expressing their concerns that this would be bad for investors, they made it very bad for investors. Unless the US can enact new legislation to promote blockchain and decentralization, the US will be left behind. Other countries are more than happy to accept digital nomads and refugees who want to bring the world into the 21st century.”
How is Pillar navigating this hostile regulatory environment?
Siegel explained that his team made the decision not to list on exchanges—a risky move with token holders. This same move, however, has helped keep regulators on their side. If the system doesn’t yet accept tokens, then 100 percent of exchange activity is speculation. Investors cannot speculate on something if there is no primary means of exchange.
The crypto economy seems weakened by the prolonged bear market, but with advice coming from all sides, the ecosystem may become stronger with time. ICOs as a source of fundraising are gone, but they may still be viable for helping launch systems that have already been developed and are operational.
All-in-all, Siegel’s outlook seems positive but retains the temper of experience. The ICO market may be gone, but some projects are moving forward. Only time will tell if the SEC flexes their regulatory might on infrastructure and open-source projects within the five-year statute of limitations.
“We’re finally hitting our stride. We’ve launched several new features in the past few weeks, we are getting strong attention from the Ethereum and open-source blockchain communities, and we are collaborating with more industry players. We’re starting to realize the dream of our ICO, so it’s very exciting. I think we’ll be one of the few ICO projects that becomes part of the blockchain ecosystem.”