Discovering my core values
I was born and raised in an upper-middle income family in Mexico City under catholic values but turned agnostic as I grew older. I kept the values that made sense, such as the importance of charity and giving back, and threw away the ones that were outdated, such as the focus on guilt as a motivator of change.
As a kid, I remember how conflicting it was to see other kids working in the streets, starving, drugged, and abused. I couldn’t understand why they couldn’t focus on their education the way I did. That planted a seed in my spirit that still grows.
Seeing in economics hope
As a teenager, I entered the rabbit hole of economics with hope. Economics seemed to be this mystical force capable of solving the world’s biggest problems: poverty, corruption, global warming, and many more. I knew that the way we were doing economics was wrong and I wanted to change that.
Just think about the horrible things that have been done under the name of communism, such as the Cambodian genocide, or how the United States, the crown jewel of capitalism, makes of fundamental rights, such as healthcare and education, profitable businesses instead of granting everyone equal access to them.
While studying my undergrad, I quickly fell out of love with the idealistic idea of economics as an almighty force that can conquer all evils. I saw how economics was often used as an excuse to force simplistic representations of culture and society into complex problems. I never understood how that approach of thinking about problems in a vacuum could be useful.
Understanding the power of financial services
Later in my life, while working as a consultant for McKinsey, I finally understood the importance of financial institutions. They decide who should do business and have access to goods and services and who shouldn’t. And financial institutions don’t grant everyone that right. It was clear to me that that was a problem that needed fixing. That’s why I devoted so much time studying this industry back then.
I came to Berkeley to Business School more out of inertia than out of will. I was sponsored by McKinsey and had an offer to go back. I didn’t know exactly what to do with the experience, but I knew I wanted to keep exploring financial services. During my MBA, I heard about Bitcoin in a serious academic environment for the first time and it immediately caught my interest.
Via Berkeley-SkyDeck, a startup school, I heard about lastbit (lasbit.io) for the first time. I read everything I could about the project and about the founder, this cool, heavy-metal lover, who wanted to change the world with the disruptive power of Bitcoin. I could see myself in him. I had to meet him. After failing to meet him in person at an event, I just cold emailed him praying for him to answer. He did.
That’s how I came in contact with Prashanth for the first time, this impressive 25-year-old genius who managed to get Charlie Lee on board of his project with little more than a prototype. There’s a reason why he managed to do this. Today Bitcoin is almost impossible to spend. With Prashanth’s his solution, anyone will be able to swipe a card or tap their phone and pay with Bitcoin instantly anywhere where they are able to pay with their credit card today. Something not so long ago possible only in bitcoiners’ dreams. Through Prashanth I finally understood what Bitcoin really is. It blew my mind.
Unveiling the real meaning of Bitcoin
Bitcoin is not an investment asset, it’s the possibility of a new social contract. Bitcoin is a decentralized, transparent, and auditable network to store and transmit value to which everyone in the world can have access to. This presents a real opportunity to redefine money, which today is inherently centralized, first by central banks, and then by financial institutions. The centralization of money has at least three critical problems that Bitcoin solves.
First, there is a macroeconomic problem that has to do with monetary policy and that today with the COVID-19 economic crisis is more relevant than ever. Money is supposed to be a reflection of real economic value, but some central banks print money arbitrarily. Bitcoin’s monetary supply is limited by design. Second, centralized financial services are discriminatory and don’t allow free access to everyone. Bitcoin is universal and free. This means that for the first time in human history, everyone will be able to participate in the global economy. And participation is the pillar of democracy. Third, central authorities control private information. The recent attacks to high profile account on Twitter illustrate how vulnerable private information is when stored in centralized networks. Bitcoin allows people to have full ownership and control of their personal and financial information, protecting both their identity and their wealth.
As such, Bitcoin emerged in front of my eyes as a way to instrument basic democratic principles in a way in which everyone can have equal representation. Money as we know it will soon be a thing of the past because money as we know it not fair nor egalitarian and now people can choose.
I had to quit McKinsey. I had to leave Mexico. I had to stay with lastbit. I had to give this project my all.