Today we are talking to David Jevans who is the Founder and CEO of CipherTrace.
- CipherTrace develops cryptocurrency Anti-Money Laundering, cryptocurrency forensics, and blockchain threat intelligence solutions, and is used by leading exchanges, banks, investigators, regulators and digital asset businesses to trace transaction flows and comply with regulatory anti-money laundering requirements.
We’d like to kick things off by asking you a couple of questions regarding your formative years.
1) Firstly, can you tell us the things which interested you the most throughout your childhood and teenage years, and what brought you the most happiness?
Growing up in Calgary, Alberta, Canada I loved motorcycles, skiing, and punk rock music. I bought my first snowboard in 1985, and it took me a whole season to be any good at riding it, because there were no magazines or videos about snowboarding back then, and I was one of the only people in Alberta riding at that time.
2) Who were your biggest influences growing up, and why did they have such a profound effect on you?
Ian Curtis from Joy Division and Johnny Rotten from the Sex Pistols influenced me to start a cyberpunk rock band, inspired by William Gibson’s first novel, Neuromancer. We eventually got to the point where we had a record label, an album, and the opportunity to go on tour across the US. Around this time is when I met a guy on a ski lift who offered me a job at Apple's advanced technology group. By the time we got to the top of the mountain, I knew the band wasn't going on tour, because I was California-bound.
3) Teenage years are often a turbulent time for many, so on this note, can you name a time which was tough for you, and how you managed to overcome it?
Being a teenager is always difficult, especially with family, but music helped me get through the hard times. As soon as I was able to drive, at age 16, I would go skiing with friends every weekend.
4) If there was some advice you could give young aspiring individuals, advice which you would really have liked to have heard yourself as a young person, what would it be?
Find your "thing." In my case it was multiple "things"—skiing, motorcycles, music, and computer hacking.
Also, how to manage money—they don't teach you how to manage debt, savings, and investments in school, and parents all too often don't pass this knowledge down either.
Finally, learn to work hard. It matters to be really good at stuff. If you're an expert, you will always be in-demand.
We are now going to ask you some questions which will hopefully give our readers something to go on regarding you as a person.
5) Firstly, what are the particular strengths that you feel have made you successful in your field (don’t hold back)?
Innovation, technical expertise, curiosity, and hard work.
I combined many of these strengths, at an early age, when I got my first taste of entrepreneurship. For a high-school project, we had to come up with something to sell. Our team tried selling homemade cutting boards. It was the holiday season, but people still didn't want to buy them for themselves or as gifts. This made me think about what people really needed in the dead of winter in Calgary, and so I created emergency kits in case of a car break-down. I went to the hardware store and bought yellow boxes that I spray-painted with "Emergency Kit" and added candles, flares, a space blanket, glycerin tablets, and a reflective vest. When I went to sell those kits, every single person bought one.
6) What would you say is your most controversial opinion as regards to blockchain or the crypto space?
Every government will issue a central bank digital currency within ten years.
7) In the course of your day you can become under the most ridiculous pressures and stresses, what is your particular way of dealing with this?
Exercise: skiing in the winter and sailing in the summer. Biking and lifting weights are all good ways to relieve stress too. And it’s nice to spend time in the kitchen perfecting a new recipe.
8) Outside of crypto/blockchain, what is your favorite thing to do?
Like everyone else in crypto, I don't really have much free time, but I work hard and play hard. Every year I'll take a week or two off to go sailing in places like Greece, Tahiti, and Croatia.
We are now going to ask you some creative and humorous questions, and we are sure people will love to see you what you can come up with.
9) What is the most humorous thing you have seen or experienced during your time in the crypto/blockchain space?
I got into Bitcoin in 2011 and would ride my motorcycle up to San Francisco for our monthly meetups at a bar, wearing my Bitcoin t-shirt. Back at work, Kevin, my head of product management, would scoff at me and my t-shirt and told me I was a lunatic. One day in early 2012, we were driving back to the office from lunch, and in the middle of the only orchard left in Sunnyvale, Silicon Valley, was a huge billboard for Bitcoin. I pulled the car over, took a picture, and laughed my head off. For years afterward, once a year, I would text Kevin the price of Bitcoin. I stopped once it hit $2,000.
10) If you somehow managed to meet Satoshi Nakamoto (that is he is a male person in this scenario) on his deathbed, but only had time to ask him one question, what would it be? Bear in mind that you don’t have much time at all, so make it a good one.
Remember that time when we used to work together?
11) Can you give three policies you'd enact if you became the president of a country tomorrow?
1. Universal healthcare (especially obvious in light of the current COVID-19 health crisis).
2. Take care of homeless people.
3. Cut the weapons budget by 60-70% to spend more on healthcare and education.
Communities are often an important backbone for many crypto/blockchain projects, so we’d now like to get some personal thoughts on the community side of things.
12) Personal project aside, what are some ‘communities’ in the space that you admire and why (this is not an endorsement)?
Ethereum has a solid community. In terms of some communities CipherTrace is involved with, I would add Global Digital Finance (GDF), which focuses on bringing technology to finance, as well as TRISA (Travel Rule Information Sharing Architecture) and InterVASP communities for developing Travel Rule compliance standards for cryptocurrencies.
13) What social-media platform do you like most and why, and are there any improvements which you feel can be made to these platforms for an even better community user-experience?
Telegram is my favorite, because it has the best encryption, and we have a group that works on cryptocurrency fraud and theft. As far as improvements go, it could certainly be more organized beyond its current free-form chat framework.
14) With the endgame being mainstream adoption, do you think crypto/blockchain communities will still have an important role to play in a post-adoption environment?
For sure, because there are always going to be new use cases and questions to answer. How are smart contracts really going to work? How is distributed finance actually going to play out? Feedback from users is paramount, regardless of what stage of development a project is in.
In our penultimate section we are going to ask you a question regarding CipherTrace.
15) What do you feel sets CipherTrace apart from your competitors (that is if you have any)?
CipherTrace prioritizes respect for user privacy. We've taken on a leadership role when it comes to representing the interests of the crypto community to regulators. At least three days a week, I'm on early morning calls with regulators to ensure that crypto companies can comply with global regulations without losing the core characteristics that make cryptocurrencies distinct—value for privacy chief among them. We also have the best team and data based on our employees' experience as investigators, entrepreneurs, and security and privacy experts as well as in banking.
Well that just about does it, but before we end this interview we’d like to ask you for something which we believe will say a lot about your belief in the industry, and which may inspire those who are reading.
16) Can you come up with a short argument for our readers on why you feel cryptocurrency and blockchain (or just one) has a bright future?
The democratization of money is a wave that no institution or government can stop. Cryptocurrencies empower people to be able to send value anywhere in the world relatively quickly and at low cost. As I mentioned previously, I firmly believe that every country will have its own CBDC within ten years because of the inevitability of digitization. Especially in light of the global coronavirus pandemic, it does not make sense to be exchanging value with paper bills and metal coins.
When it comes to blockchain technology, voting is the perfect application. Real-ID driver’s licenses and passports reduce voter fraud. If votes were tracked on a blockchain, it would be incredibly easy to audit for fraud and ensure no "double-voting." Anyone would be able to check the blockchain to see that their vote was counted, a capability that would bolster public faith in elections.
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