Being involved in Bitcoin since 2011, Erik Voorhees, CEO of ShapeShift, has built several companies over the years including SatoshiDice and Coinapult. He was also involved in BitInstant with Charlie Shrem, an American entrepreneur, and Bitcoin advocate. Erik sees Bitcoin and the innovation that has grown out of it as a tool that could fundamentally change the world and give money the freedom it has long deserved.
There was a time when Erik had Bitcoin and wanted to exchange it for Litecoin. He was surprised by the cumbersome process of exchanging, as it seemed to him like something that should have been quick, easy and safe. It was at that moment the idea for ShapeShift was born, and today the company is grown into a 100+ person company, with over a million customers around the world. ShapeShift is a digital marketplace that allows users to seamlessly convert between over 50 different digital assets.
A Revolutionary Part of the Cryptocurrency Ecosystem
The ShapeShift team has put a lot of thought into the simplified process that can best serve the crypto community with its products and services. Where need arises, the company works to meet it, and thus has built several products, utilizing various technologies emerging in the crypto industry.
ShapeShift allows users to seamlessly trade one digital asset for another. It has introduced three of its distinctive platforms which includes, Prism, which offers a simplified, trustless method for diversifying one’s crypto holdings, KeepKey, which provides safety and security as a hardware wallet for long term storage of digital assets, and CoinCap, which keeps users up-to-date on price and market information in these ever-changing markets. The betterment of the community is always at the forefront of ShapeShifts’ mind. It builds products that help people recognize the incredible potential of this technology.
ShapeShift is growing and continuing to work towards becoming the most influential crypto company in the world.
Gaining Wealth of Knowledge and Experience
When Erik was first introduced to Bitcoin, everything changed. He believed that Satoshi created a technology that could operate objectively, providing a system that operated outside of the realm of standard law, yet following knowable rules, enforced by the protocol. Erik was of belief that man-made laws can be easily corrupted in the hands of those who define them, yet protocol-based rules operate exactly as they are programmed, and this operation is predictable, leading to a far more stable and resilient system. However, Bitcoin became his life as he saw it as the most realistic hope for removing the connection between money and state.
Additionally, BitInstant was a good learning experience for Erik. Through his work with investors and Charlie Shrem, he gained a wealth of knowledge and experience.
A Decision that Resulted in Impudence
Erik faced challenges for his decision of supporting the growth of altcoins along with Bitcoin. For many people in the community, he was a Bitcoin maximalist, a hard-liner. When he began to do his research, he realized that although he is an advocate of Bitcoin, true decentralization takes place when there are more than one blockchains operating across a wider ecosystem. The system becomes truer to itself and thus, companies foster innovation, rather than letting it pass them by. To this day, many in the Bitcoin community no longer like or respect him since he abandoned the tribalism of blockchains.
Addressing the Role of Technologists
According to Erik, the role of technologists has always been to keep moving forward and push new technologies to their limits. After pushing and finding the limits, they innovate to push past the perceived boundaries and seek out the new lines, drawn somewhere distant in the sand. Entrepreneurs always follow this cycle, but the pace in crypto is perhaps unprecedented.
Erik doesn’t think that the role of the technologist has changed. To this, he asserts that, “We’re in a new setting, interacting with new technologies, but we still have to ask ourselves the same questions as before. We have to apply moral and ethical lenses to the objective technologies being built. We have to ask ourselves, “How can man corrupt this?” and we have to try to the best of our abilities to create systems that pass that test.”
A Direction to the Emerging Tech Enthusiasts
Erik believes that the ability to adapt is the key. An entrepreneur can’t survive in the blockchain space without being challenged, and growing through those challenges. In his opinion, technologists in the space should keep their eyes and ears open, while holding a healthy skepticism. Further, an ability to actually build an organization of people unrelated to any technology is very important, and an aspect of tech entrepreneurship that I did not appreciate in the beginning. At the end of the day, business has to do with people, not technology.
To address the upcoming entrepreneurs he says, “You’re arriving at a time unlike any point in history. Recognize that we’re in the middle of something absolutely unique, and absolutely revolutionary. It may be hard to wrap your head around the fact that blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies will impact every aspect of our lives, but they will. Be bold when creating. Be respectful of the community, and work to understand the ideas that permeate this technology.”