Today we are talking with Alexander Zaidelson who is the CEO of Beam.
- Beam is a confidential and scalable privacy-coin based on the Mimblewimble protocol, a coin which had no pre-mine or ICO, and is backed by a Treasury and designated a non-profit foundation to govern the protocol.
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?
I was interested in stories and in technology. I really liked Sci-Fi and fantasy books, like Ray Breadbury, Alfred Bester, Tolkien and whatever else I could lay my hands on. I also liked programming - my first tool was a programmable calculator with a stack-based language (same as Bitcoin script), then it was Basic on a Commodore-like computer, then Pascal, C, and so on. Making a program work brought me a lot of joy (and it still does).
2) Who were your biggest influences growing up, and why did they have such a profound effect on you?
I can’t point at a single specific influence. I think I learned a lot from my parents, my childhood friends, the books I read and also my teachers at school. I always tried to be critical and not take things at face value, so any influences went through a kind of internal sieve and each left something.
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?
I believe time is the best healer. My teenage years fell on the breakup of the Soviet Union and mass emigration from the country, and I remember it was a very tough feeling when lots of my friends and their families started leaving the country. I felt scared and alone for quite some time. It was hard to overcome that feeling, but I guess the fact that I had a lot of other things to learn and play with helped me go through that tough period.
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?
I would say: spend more time learning new skills, be very curious, try many things and make sure not to waste too much time on junk. If you do something, even if it is something pleasurable like computer games, try to learn and improve yourself all the time. Whatever you do, try to see how you become a better individual while doing it. Set goals and work to achieve them.
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)?
* Ability to quickly grasp complex concepts and to explain them in simple words
* Ability to organize and lead projects
* Broad experience in various industries and ability to apply lessons
6) What would you say is your most controversial opinion as regards to blockchain or the crypto space?
Non-confidential cryptocurrencies and non-confidential blockchains do not have a chance to realize the original dream of being a robust store of value or means of exchange. Money cannot live without privacy. So as long as the wider crypto community continues to downplay the value of privacy and offer partial solutions, there is no chance for the true crypto revolution to happen.
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?
For me, the way to cope with stress is to switch between different tasks to stay in the flow.
8) Outside of crypto/blockchain, what is your favorite thing to do?
* Playing with data
* Programming (I don’t do much now, but I really enjoy it every time I need to write a script or a program here and there)
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?
To me, one of the most humorous things is the Comments feature on Etherscan. I am imagining how Alice sends money to Bob, learns Bob’s address, studies his transactions and then anonymously writes a comment to his wallet like “Hey, you always say you don’t have enough money, but you are spending so much on stupid crypto kitties”.
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.
My question would be this:
Bitcoin is a truly amazing invention. Looking back though, do you think privacy was fatally overlooked in the original design? If you were to start over, would you put more emphasis on it?
11) Can you give three policies you'd enact if you became the president of a country tomorrow?
* Embrace crypto in full. Enact measures that would make crypto welcome in the country, make banks work with crypto and stop considering it a risky asset.
* Reduce taxation, make it transparent. Make it harder for the super rich to avoid taxation
* Make education and healthcare free for all
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) What do you feel makes the Beam community unique compared to others?
I think our community is quite unique is several respects. First, it is 100% organic - we never did (and never will) incentivize anyone to join. So everyone is with us just because they believe in what we do. Second, I believe it is very tech-savvy and active, there is a lot of high-quality conversation about tech and features of Beam and comparing it to other projects. And thirdly, there is a prevailing feeling of respect - our community keeps the conversation polite and friendly.
13) Project aside, what are some other crypto/blockchain communities that you admire and why (this is not an endorsement)?
I think Grin has attracted a strong and active community of people who are interested in tech and privacy.
14) 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 the best for me. Simple but very rich, convenient and always-on. I would improve search and sorting of chats though - sometimes you miss messages just because there are too many chats and the new messages are buried somewhere deep down. And some sort of an advanced search would be super helpful too.
15) 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?
They definitely will. Ideally, crypto projects should be decentralized and governed by the community. Only this way they can be truly free and not susceptible to any attempts to subvert or censor them, so the role of the community will only grow. Of course, percentage-wise, with mass adoption only a tiny percentage of users will be actively involved in the governance (most people don’t care). It is our common task to make our communities as inclusive as possible and grow them as much as we can - the more people are involved, the more resilient the crypto industry is.
In our penultimate section we are going to ask you a question regarding Beam.
16) What do you feel sets Beam apart from your competitors (that is if you have any)?
I don’t like the term “competitor” in our space. I can of course talk about other privacy coins, but I don’t feel we are necessarily competing here - it is our common goal to promote privacy and grow the ecosystem. The main projects are Monero, Zcash, Zcoin, Grin and Beam.
Our main difference from all the projects beside Grin is the technology - we are using the Mimblewimble protocol that is the first protocol to combine great privacy and compact blockchain. Other privacy coins have much larger blockchains, hurting usability and decentralization - as the blockchain grows in size, it is harder and harder to run a full node without specialized equipment.
In Mimblewimble space, there are two main projects: Grin and Beam. What sets Beam apart from Grin is as follows:
* Monetary policy: Beam is deflational, Grin inflational
* Governance: Beam has a centralized governing body and will gradually decentralize with time, Grin does not have any centralized body from the get go
* Funding: Beam raised venture funding and has a full-time team working on the project. Grin relies on community donations and most of the developers are volunteers
* Tech: Beam has better privacy implementation by using decoy outputs in Dandelion. Beam is also working on implementing Lelantus-mw, and adaptation of Lenantus privacy protocol to Mimblewimble for even stronger privacy than original Mimblewimble. Lelantus was invented by Aram Jivanyan at Zcoin.
* Usability: Beam wallets are superior to Grin wallets in terms of usability. Mimblewimble has an inherent limitation - the sender and receiver wallets have to “talk” in order to create a transaction. In Grin, users have to establish direct connection between wallets or send each other files in order to create a transaction. Beam implements SBBS - a secure messaging system to allow seamless communication between wallets, hiding all the complexity away from the user.
Also, Beam has an ambitious roadmap that extends beyond building a privacy coin. Based on what we have achieved so far, we are working to build a whole DeFi ecosystem that will allow confidential exchange of any kinds of value, ability to bridge assets from other blockchains, complete with smart contract functionality.
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.
17) 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 goal of crypto is to replace gold and then money. The technology is there, so it is a matter of adoption. Crypto market cap today is ~$240B. Gold is $7,000B, money is $90,000B or more. The potential is huge.
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