Real Vision Interview - Adam and Shingo
Adam Lavine and Shingo Lavine, father-son duo and Co-CEOs of Ethos, appeared on the prestigious RealVision podcast on January 25th, 2023. Here are the main topics covered:
|Turning your phone into a hardware wallet (Whitepaper)||Meet The World’s Most Secure Custody Device : Your Mobile Phone|
|Coindesk Opinion Piece (Editorial)||The End of the 'Centralization Era' in Crypto (coindesk.com)|
|Ethos Explainer Vid (2 min)||What is Ethos|
|Ethos Manifesto Vid (90 sec)||The Return of Ethos : Defy with Defi|
- What is the backstory for Ethos?
- We started in 2016/17 with the vision of making crypto open, safe and fair for everyone. Crypto at the time was inaccessible and difficult to use for most people
- We found a lot of success building a decentralized solution and scaled it to over 100k users and created one of the first easy and accessible solutions for mass market
- We merged our tech with another company to form Voyager and helped them scale and bring crypto to the masses
- We had a difference in how we saw decentralization as the future of crypto and thought that sacrificing security for the ease of centralization was antithetical and not in the “ethos of crypto”
- left the Voyager Board two years ago as we disagreed with the company’s ethical and strategic decision-making, especially in that they wanted to centralize and co-mingle all customer funds.
- We believe we’ve hit “peak centralization” and we need companies to get back to the roots of crypto. We also saw how the difficulty of decentralized products drove people to use centralized alternatives which ended up collapsing taking down billions of everyday customer money with it
- Ethos was needed to create a open, safe and decentralized alternative to this status quo
- We are building upon our collective experience and working to making self-custody accessible to anyone who wants it and trying to remove the friction and apprehension that comes from decentralized products
- Shingo and I are a father son team who have always believed in the power of crypto to build an open and fair ecosystem. Adam is a lifelong entrepreneur who has teamed with major brands and telcos for his career. Shingo started Ethos out of his dorm room at Brown, and eventually decided to “stop out” from Brown to work on Ethos full-time with his father.
- Built a self-custody wallet called the Universal Wallet that supported over 200 coins with a very easy to use interface.
- We merged that to create Voyager and created their crypto payment and automated deposit/withdrawal engine which processed over $5B in transactions.
- So what is Ethos?
- Ethos is a software company focused on getting people back to the roots of crypto. We have what we believe is a breakthrough technology to create what we call “Magic Keys” that are super easy to use and backup yet highly secure with next-generation MPC technology. Users can use these keys to secure assets on the secure enclave of their mobile device as a hardware Vault.
- We’ve then built a Defi trading and best execution engine that searches dozens of Defi exchanges for the best prices and liquidity. So you can trade but funds are always under your own control.
- On top of all that we have a fun gamified reward token that encourages self-custody and self-sovereignty. In fact anybody listening today can get some free Ethos tokens just for joining our app waitlist.
- What major problems do you see in the crypto industry and how does Ethos address them?
- Crypto is somewhat broken in our opinion. Users have to either trust a centralized exchange where they give full control and custody of their wealth to someone they don’t even know. These people may be completely unworthy of their trust, like a Bankman-Fried, Steve Ehreleich or Mashinsky. They get exposed to risks they don’t understand or even know about. That is just fundamentally wrong.
- Their other choice is to take on the risks and burden of self-custody themselves. Creating their own keys, keeping those keys locked away, making sure they don’t get hacked – it’s quite difficult and stressful and frankly not something most people are every going to do.
- We think there’s a better way. We’ve invented what we think is a breakthrough technology that we call “Magic Keys” We call them Magic Keys because they have certain magical properties: they are incredibly easy to use, but highly secure. They can be sharded, backed up and securely restored through Google Drive or Apple iCloud. And they integrate with a next-generation MPC technology to lock your own Vault where you can safekeep your own crypto.
- How do people know these magic keys are really secure?
- We’ve been using the secure enclave technology on iPhones and the TEE on Android devices for many years now and its some of the most secure hardware on the planet. Even the FBI couldn’t crack Apple’s secure enclave, and the definitely tried. We wrote a whitepaper comparing the security of a mobile device to a hardware wallet like a LEdger or Trezor, and it stands up incredible well – if the software layer and kernel is properly written. We have an amazing technology team that we’ve worked with many times before that are using the mobile device to let every person on the planet turn their mobile phone into a free, enterprise grade hardware wallet, and we’re incredibly excited at the potential of that.
- What can you do with your Magic Keys and Vault?
- We’re creating a live Defi Markets trading app. People can trade or find yield opportunities using our easy mobile app that has built-in Blockchain analytics and best execution capabilities.
- One thing Voyager actually did do quite well was having a fast, easy trading app and users loved it. We want to learn from the positives with Voyager, and we think we’ve created an app that is similarly fast, easy and fun to use.
- Basically its a trading app except you don’t have put your assets on a centralized exchange, and we’re tapping into all the liquidity and speed of the decentralized exchanges like UniSwap, SushiSwap and dozens more.
- You mentioned Yield?
- Yield was what got people into Voyager and Celcius. Unfortunately it wasn’t really yield in the traditional sense, it was more risky unsecured loans you had no idea that excited.
- People have the right to take risks, but they have the right to know what those risks are. The best way of doing that is letting users create their own yield strategy. You know exactly where your coins are going, the potential return, and the risk which can include full asset loss. But it’s all your decision – not some CEO you’ve never met and can’t trust.
- Users should be able to create and share yield strategies at launch.
- How are you approaching the confusing regulatory environment?
- The first principle is that we never take possession of user’s keys or coins – period. We will never act as a custodian, or act on behalf of a user. This we have found has greatly cleared up a lot of concerns when we speak to legal and regulatory experts.
- With that said we support a common sense regulatory structure, especially when it comes to centralized risk. Almost every single massive hit consumers have taken in this space has boiled down to centralized risk. I understand the arguments around some tokens being considered securities, but honestly that risk pales in comparison to the risks of centralized, unsecured co-mingled funds. Look no further then the tens of billions of dollars collectively lost through FTX, Celsius and Voyager to see this is a much more pressing issue.
- How should regulators approach crypto?
First of all regulators need to understand the risks of centralized and decentralized ecosystems. They are almost like different animals altogether. With centralization it boils down to reserved, as CZ from Binance has been pushing, and are you basically an unsecured creditor to a company that can’t afford to pay you back if it goes under. What kind of controls and protections does the company have? Are the assets insured? Stuff like that.
With decentralized entities, there are different kinds of risks. Is the key technology secure? If there are key backups, are they sharded and hashed? Is a real-text version of the key stored anywhere? If so do you have to use a password to access is? What are the attack surfaces? I think down the road you could come up with a set of common sense best practices that would do a lot to protect consumers in this new DEfi landscape.
- When are you launching?
We are planning to launch in April or May. We have 120,000 people signed up on our waitlist, so thank you to everyone who has signed up. We also have 300 people on a Product Council that will be testing our alpha and betas, and also 300 Ambassadors who are going to spread the gospel of self-custody around the world.
We’re also sponsoring a recovery airdrop for people affected by the Voyager or Celsius bankruptcies. You can learn more about that by visiting our website www.ethos.io
Join our waitlist to be the first to know when our app releases!