At the end of February, Tech in Motion Orange County had the great pleasure of co-hosting an excellent Fireside Chat with Tech Coast Venture Network (TCVN) featuring uber entrepreneur, Brock Pierce. Before the discussion began, the event kicked off with around 45 minutes of networking with light appetizers and drinks from sponsors Total-Apps, Jobspring Partners and Workbridge Associates.
As soon as Brock walked into the room, however, all eyes were on him. He immediately had quite the crowd circled around him, actively listening to everything he had to say. As our tech enthusiasts gathered around tables and snacked on food, lively conversations about Bitcoin started up and attendees shared their opinions on what new knowledge they wanted to walk away with after the night was over.
Once everyone was seated, Tech in Motion organizers began an exciting “Superman 30 Second Elevator Pitch” contest that featured 100 dollars in bitcoins as the grand prize. TCVN is one of Southern California’s premier technology business networks and their pitch contests give young startups and entrepreneurs the chance to get experience explaining their ideas in front of a crowd of potential investors. The winner for the evening, Amerika Bernal, is a business student at Cal State Fullerton and one of the first college students to win through TCVN!
After the pitch contest was over, Ash Kumra, our moderator, and Brock Pierce took their seats up at the front of the room and the Fireside Chat kicked off. One of the first discussion topics was how one goes from a child actor to major entrepreneur. Brock explained that he began acting by age three and grew up in the business, so child acting was just a part of his day to day life; however, he had a very business savvy mind even while growing up in that environment.
When the conversation moved from career path to the digital currency, Ash asked Brock exactly what Bitcoin is.
“Let me start by giving you an analogy,” said Brock, prefacing his explanation. “What e-mail did for communication, Bitcoin could do for money.”
According to Brock, bitcoins are peer to peer money, internet money and basically, a desensitized currency that isn’t regulated by any governing body, board of directors, bank or foundation. It uses an Open-Source software that runs on Mining Machines. In order to change said software, over 51% of the worlds miners would have to agree on the modification, and the likelihood of that happening is “very slim.”
The American population has had many misconceptions about Bitcoin, but as Brock sees it, it’s not really necessary here.
“In America we’ve got pretty good banking infrastructure … out of the 200 currencies in the world, arguably one of the very best,” Brock explained. “We don’t really need it [Bitcoin] here. It’s not something that is going to change your life tomorrow, at least not for most of us.”
A former CFO of Brock’s company was one of the first politicians in the U.S. to start accepting political campaign contributions in Bitcoin. He is running for the seat as mayor in Oakland, which is an area in the U.S. that is largely unbanked, the type of place that stands to benefit the most from Bitcoin.
Brock was then asked to address the Silk Road scandal and how Bitcoin has been associated with criminal activity. He stated, “Silk Road was a hard scandal to argue with people about, because all of the press was sensationalizing Bitcoin and Silk Road. They were like hand-in-hand; you couldn’t talk about one, without mentioning the other. The argument could be made that if someone has Bitcoin and they do bad things with it, you don’t think that bad things aren’t done with U.S. dollars?”
After Silk Road was shut down, Brock explained, the market dipped and Bitcoin prices reached a low they haven’t seen again. When the market rebounded and saw record highs, the press began to disassociate Bitcoin from “bad” and then saw that this cryptocurrency was legitimate.
Brock also brought up another issue that arises, which is that Bitcoin is the digital equivalent of cash and all sales are final. Once you give someone your money, you can’t get it back.
“So then you have a lot of hackers around saying ‘Hey, I want to get on your computer and steal your email like I would steal cash.’ The early ecosystem [for bitcoin] hadn’t built the technology and the security and the things necessary to protect against these things,” said Brock. “In the early days, theft was prevalent and hackers took advantage of the early infrastructure weaknesses.”
The chat wrapped up with a great Q & A session and after it ended, Brock was surrounded yet again by the time he left his chair. He stayed an extra hour talking with everyone in more detail about his life and all things Bitcoin.
All in all, this event was not only informative and entertaining, but it really gave attendees a great understanding of the history of Bitcoin, what it’s doing today, and where it’s going in the future.
We want to offer a big thank you to Brock and Ash for their participation and to our sponsors for the night TCVN, Total-Apps, Jobspring Partners and Workbridge Associates. Please join Tech in Motion: OC for details on our next event!