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Centralization and Decentralization — blockchain and Kindleberger

We’ve seen a change in sentiment in the mainstream media around the centralization of power amongst the big tech firms. In response, a lot of the discussion in the hacker communities has been about the power of the blockchain and Bitcoin to shake up the current establishment and decentralize everything. In this week’s Notes by Ada note, I share my skepticism of the purist utopian vision for the blockchain. I think the technology is without doubt ground breaking. Here’s an example of why I’m bullish about the technology – Imagine you are a refugee in a new country. You have no official ID or financial history in the country — so, banks aren’t exactly queuing up to give you an account. But, as a refugee, the government would like to give you some aid to get you started. However, they’d also like to keep tabs on that money to make sure you are spending it responsibly. Without easy access to money, you could be stuck in bureaucratic hell for a long time. Enter Moni — a prepaid mastercard service that links your mastercard to the blockchain. Your prepaid card doesn’t need any bank. The government directly adds credit and knows they can track any issues in your spending via an incorruptible database on the blockchain. Assuming you have good intentions, you use this money to get your life started, get a job and are hopefully on your way to building a better life. This is not fiction. The Finnish government is already testing this with asylum seekers and the United Nations is exploring using this technology for one billion people worldwide who have no legal identification. Powerful stuff. But, we often confuse the technology breakthrough with its potential second order implications. Technology breakthrough: A blockchain is a decentralized network with information. The breakthrough in the blockchain is in the ability to have a decentralized database that is not owned by anyone. This was not possible before and means we can now have shared incorruptible databases. First order implication of the technology breakthrough: Databases controlled by middle people (e.g. banks) were sources of trust for various transactions in the economy. Now, you don’t need to have these middle people. Instead, you could, for example, execute a pre-agreed contract via the Ethereum blockchain. As long as certain conditions are met (e.g. money is transferred to account B), ownership can be transferred too. Example question about its second order socio-economic implication: Blockchains could render important pillars of our financial system obsolete. Maybe this will remove the need for banks, central banks and governments? In the many discussions about blockchains, I see people mixing the technology breakthrough and its potential second order implications. Here’s the deal — the breakthrough and its first order implications are here to stay. But, all of the implications being dreamed up right now are not necessarily going to pan out the way many of the purists imagine it. More on Medium or LinkedIn. Medium says it is a 13 minute read – so you have fair warning. :-) Share this: Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Like this: Like Loading... Related

The Global Token Awareness Initiative

Source: Following the Canadian version of Token Awareness, today I’m introducing Token Awareness, a global initiative to promote responsible token generation events and token-based models for entrepreneurs, startups, and industry practitioners. Token Awareness is mostly a curated collection of current and proposed best practices models and self-regulatory projects covering token generation events (TGE) and initial cryptocurrency offerings (ICOs). Throughout my interactions with the market, it was obvious that several groups around the world expressed the need for self-regulation and some jumped-in to propose projects to show how it would work. My belief is that, not one project, approach or self-regulatory project will dominate nor impose a process on the rest of the market, at least not at this point. Rather, the reality is a collection of such initiatives and projects that will intermingle with one another, and together, they will complete the picture, especially that the local vector is always omnipresent. The reality is that regulators will regulate, and the market needs to implement sound and responsible practices, which is the focus of this initiative. On the website you will find: Compliance status from the major regulatory bodies, including significant updates from them A list of best practices projects (current or in-progress), coupled with a reading list A directory of organizations in the following categories: Associations, Regulators, Lawyers,  ICO Service and Data Providers A comprehensive news feed, integrated via my other website OnCoins which aggregates news from 274 sites Over time, content will be updated via a careful and conservative curation of only the most essential and useful resources via the guidance of the Steering Group, and proposed addition that are submitted using this form. Anyone is encouraged to suggest content additions. We realize we have missed content, especially from Asia. The Lawyers list is also developing and needs beefing-up. To help steer the direction of this initiative, I’m joined by 4 unique individuals whose work I value tremendously. Each one of them is known for their extraordinary contributions: Selva Ozelli, Oliver Bussmann, Juan Llanos and Simon Taylor. Selva, who may not be as well known in the blockchain circles, has been researching the global regulatory environment for cryptocurrencies, with a focus on tax implications. Her latest paper, Regulations Fall on Bitcoin Around the World is excellent. We will add a few more people to this initial list in order to round-up and deepen the global coverage and expert oversight for this initiative.

Layoffs _#8212; CEO Shoptalk

Source: Layoffs are never fun. Here’s how to think about and do it. So, it is gorgeous in the ATX — high 0f 78F, currently sunny and 67F. On Earth as it is in Texas! A day to eat outside. So, we spoke earlier about firing folks for cause, remember? Firing People — CEO Shoptalk Today, we follow up on that by talking about layoffs. Layoffs are “not for cause” terminations, while firing people is “for cause.” Know the distinction. Either way, it is a hard day at Slippery Rock when you have to fire or layoff folks. Big Red Car, why are we having layoffs? Layoffs are tinkering with the organization chart for a number of reasons:  1. Cash-on-hand plus operating revenue is insufficient to meet payroll at current levels. Finances mandate the payroll be trimmed.  2. The company has finished a project and the current level of staffing is no longer required as the company morphs from a developmental posture to an operating posture.  3. The focus of the company has changed or the business model has changed in such a manner that the talent pool of the company has to be changed to meet the new market forces.  4. The same level of financial performance can be achieved with fewer people.  5. Some organizational change has occurred such as a more overseas orientation versus a more national orientation.  6. The same level of performance can be achieved by some element of automation, outsourcing, experience, or skill development.  7. You are right on the edge of achieving breakeven and you want to make cuts to accelerate the progress of to fatten up the profits. This is a partial list. You will know of other reasons, but the result is the same — too many people and some must go. How do you decide who goes, Big Red Car? I find a lot of CEOs making decisions as to who is to be laid off without sufficient thought as to the long term prospects for the company. The CEO has to consider skills, longevity, compensation, culture, and other things. Obviously, if the company is staring down a short financial runway, one of the biggest considerations will be financial. In the end, the question is — What will be the impact of laying off Ivan? Consider this carefully, dear CEO. How do you do it, layoffs, Big Red Car? Here are the steps. You will recognize them from our discussion on firing.  1. Make your list. Check it twice. Document, in a memo, exactly why you are taking this action. File the memo.  2. Marshal your logic and reasons. You will want to identify the reason without explaining nuclear physics. If it is purely a matter of the company’s financial situation, be straight about it. Apologize to the laid off persons. It is no their fault if you undercapitalized the company, is it? As opposed to how a CEO might communicate with “for cause” termination, you want to be more empathetic in dealing with layoffs. [Pro tip: You may layoff someone and hire them back at some future date. Do not make the process of laying them off an impediment to rehiring when the situation changes.]  3. I suggest you layoff people at 4:00 PM on a Thursday afternoon. This way the company hears the news, has Friday to chatter about it, and the weekend to heal.  4. Do it individually, in person, and quick. Have your HR person or CFO in the room with you. Use a checklist and hit every point. If you are going to layoff four people, do it back to back, not in a group.  5. Have a Mutual General Release drafted, sign it, and spell out the severance arrangement. The Mutual General Release should include confidentiality, non-hire, and non-disparagement provisions. Make it clear that the severance arrangement is the consideration for the Mutual General Release. Pay the severance out over the normal payroll cycle. This is a way to maintain a working relationship. [Real world problem: If the layoff is because of a shortage of money, it is hard as Hell to be as generous as you might be inclined to be because you are running out of money. Stay real.] Be as generous as you can on severance. You are buying peace and rewarding performance.  6. Have a Letter of Reference prepared, sign it, and give it to the former employee at the time of notification. This is not going to soften the blow, but it is a good sentiment.  7. Think carefully about what you are going to do with company laptops, credit cards, cell phones, cars. Make sure all confidential, proprietary, trade secret, and customer info is off the laptop if you decide to allow the laid off employee to keep a laptop.  8. Turn off access to everything. Do not allow this to become a problem. Do not allow employees to copy any company information.  9. Have an “all hands” meeting to announce it to the company as soon as possible. They have to hear it from you, not the laid off party. Take questions, but remember, this is a personnel issue. You can’t say much. [Pro tip: Make damn sure to tell them if this is the extent of the layoffs. They will want to know whether more layoffs are in the wings.]  10. If the individual laid off is a client-facing employee, make sure to inform the clients and to provide them with a new point-of-contact. Have the new POC call on the client the next day. Do not waste time on this because if your clients are portable, they may elect to go with the former employee. Work this angle hard.  11. Have three contacts with the laid off folks — notification, a few days later when the Mutual General Release is signed, and their last day. Don’t linger. Develop continuity and move on. Quick separations are the best way to go here.  12. Write each person laid off a personal, handwritten note offering your assistance in finding a new job. Keep it personal and individual. So, there you have it, dear reader. What else, Big Red Car? Let me real world it for you, dear reader.  1. This will happen. You should try to avoid it because it is a huge disruption to the company and the culture. But, you are not the first CEO to have to trim the sails a bit. Don’t feel sorry for yourself.  2. Your company productivity may actually improve as the remaining folks ratchet up their game or want to ensure they are not next. This is why you have to be so thoughtful when you decide who to cut. I saw a sales team blossom when they got rid of 15% of the sales force which represented only 7% of sales.  3. It is always personal and how you handle it will be very personal. Don’t rush it. Be a mensch.  4. Think about span of control and consolidating management as a means of streamlining an organization. Trim some body count, but also streamline the organization. Maybe cutting a manager and expanding the direct reports or an existing manager achieves the same impact as cutting four software engineers. Look critically at the org chart. The org chart is both body count and money. [Pro tip: This is why dollar-weighted org charts are so damn useful and important.]  5. Move on quickly after a layoff. More frequent all hands meetings to bridge the short term pain.  6. Make a checklist. Practice. Do it quick. But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car. Be good to your sweet selves and carve a pumpkin.       Source:

My new book came out today!15

My new book came out today! Source:

If pens worked like printers16

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