Security breaches are a major concern in many industries today, especially now that most work is done from a home-based setting. NFTs aren’t exempt from the concerns, and blockchain security is often under the microscope as well. In today’s episode, our hosts Eathan Janney, Jeff Kelley, and Josh Kriger are joined by Anthem Hayek Blanchard, the CEO of Hera Software Development and Anthem Gold, and Austin Davis, the Chief Revenue Officer of Hera Software Development. They discuss personal and network security and why it is very important in today’s fast-paced digital world. They also give us a look at HeraSoft’s Enterprise security solutions and how they work. Plus, we’re treated to a discussion on the present and future of NFTs and how they will impact our life and commerce well into the future.
Listen to the podcast here:
Anthem Hayek Blanchard And Austin Davis Of HeraSoft On Security In NFT And Blockchain, Plus: WazirX NFT Marketplace, Chicago Physical NFT Gallery, Paragon NFT Fragmentation +
This episode features guests Anthem Hayek Blanchard and Austin Davis of Hera Software Development Incorporated. The zero-failure, ransomware-proof, enterprise software solutions company. It helps to solve the world’s toughest enterprise and cybersecurity finance, gamification, and logistical challenges. Anthem is Cofounder of HeraSoft serving in-house public blockchain software stack, Hercules, gold-blacked cryptocurrency company AnthemGold Inc., and Cofounder of precious metals dealer Anthem Vault Incorporated. He was raised by legendary goldbug and precious metals pioneer James U. Blanchard III, who helped restore American’s right to own gold and also founded Blanchard and Company. One of the world’s largest rare coin and bullion companies.
His passion is empowering people to manage their crypto portfolios and understand the joys and pitfalls involved in the space. Austin is Chief Revenue Officer at HeraSoft. He is also Cofounder of CommunityElectricity.io and other tech ventures. He also began dabbling in the NFT space many years ago. Building prototypes and hosting community and educational events in LA related to new token standards, such as NFTs. He holds Advanced Degrees in Engineering, and Austin is also a strategic advisor to tech companies, such as CasperLabs, HeraSoft, and MeWe.com. He’s an avid entrepreneur with proven experience and passion for efficiency, driven tech, and renewable energy solutions to benefit all humanity.
Great bios, guys. There’s much more that we had to trim, so the readers shall know that you have a lot of cool stuff going on and we’re happy to dive right into it.
Good to see you guys. Austin, it’s been a minute since we both have seen each other in LA. Where in the world do you live these days? Are you in LA when you’re not traveling to the Middle East?
I’m over the place. I’m bicoastal. I’m on the East Coast a lot these days with my family. I’ve got a little one. I’ll be in LA, so maybe we can see each other. I was in Dubai with Anthem. He’s over there still right now. I don’t know he’s been going on a world tour, but we both travel quite a bit.
Hello to our Dubai audience. You guys might get a kick out of the fact that at one point, we were number 38 in show and technology and Dubai. We hit the radar at some point. Maybe our audience will get excited about this episode as well.
NFT And Blockchain Security: As Bitcoin and cryptocurrency get more valuable, one repercussion is that the bounties you can extract from ransomware gets exponentially greater.
Within the first few weeks of our launch at that, so very exciting.We’ve talked about your friend’s background already, and there’s such an interesting story behind the evolution of HeraSoft and the work you’ve done. We understand it spun out of AnthemGold, which is the cryptocurrency that allows you to buy gold with blockchain technology. How did that transition happen? What was the inspiration?
I appreciate it again. Thank you very much, guys, for having me on the show. It’s a pleasure. It was a lot of luck. I was adopted into an amazing family that became pretty legendary in the gold business. My parents, one of their claims to fame was helping to push for the relegalization of gold ownership in the United States, which was illegal for 40 years and became relegalized again in 1975. My parents were responsible for founding and building the world’s largest gold coin and bar retailer named after my dad, James U. Blanchard III, and company. They sold it to GE Capital many years ago. That was my basis. My dad passed away in 1999. When I graduated college at Emory in Atlanta in ‘02, I looked at our estate’s portfolio and took a liking to a digital gold currency company called GoldMoney.com. It was a fledgling startup under $500,000 metal.I got to spend six years there and it was an awesome board secretary, director of marketing strategy, product, help with audits, accounting, and client service. It’s an awesome experience like a utility. That gave me some good experience as it turned out into cryptocurrency “public protocol.” My wife and I founded our precious metal company, Anthem Vault, years ago. We started developing in this public protocol technology that the Bitcoin founders created years ago. It’s been quite a long run playing in these tools. From there, we started building gold, stable coins, prototypes like Reuters credited us with building the world’s first gold token a few years ago as a marketing tool.
In 2017, we built an inventory log anchored into Bitcoin. That is 100% public protocol. We created our own public protocol layer called Hercules that serves like an index, a library, or a very basic operating system. We serve the solution to governments and companies. What it does is it provides them with 100% uptime ransomware proof and guaranteed data integrity to the level of Bitcoin. Obviously, with the news, JBS meatpacking, the world’s largest meat processor getting cyber hack colonial pipeline. It’s getting cyber hacked that our reserve is going. Now, the publicity is out there. The world knows about it. It’s impossible to hide these attacks anymore. It had been happening exponential rates for a couple of years and every day gets more so. As Bitcoin and cryptocurrency get more valuable, one of the repercussions is that the bounties that you can extract from ransomware and denial of servicing systems for example, gets exponentially greater. It’s something to understand.
Security is quite an issue these days, especially with their ICS double ends of the spectrum. There’s a theme in our culture, especially since the early 2000s of being open and sharing. We’re all creating profiles and all these sites, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and all these different places. At the same time, not only is there more of a need for security but there’s also a different set of culture that is all about being more secure with things. It’s almost even more difficult these days. In general, outside of the specific rounds that you deal in, any thoughts on how an individual or their business as they’re growing their business, how they might manage their security?
I’ve got some basic tips for that I still correct people all the time even people that have been in this industry for many years. Never use your real cell phone number, especially not on your email signature. A lot of people still have their actual cell phone number and email signature. You might have multiple cell phones in that one. You don’t have any attachments to any real email accounts or bank accounts or anything like that, but most people do. The easiest way to your wallet, whether it’s a bank account or a crypto wallet, is through your phone number. SIM swap is a huge problem. A mutual friend of ours, Michael Turpin has a notorious case with AT&T for, I believe, $200 million. He’s selling them. I’m not sure if that closed or not yet, but at any rate, it’s a big problem in the industry.
Don’t broadcast where you live. Your address is sacred. You never want people to know where you live and if you can avoid it. Some people live in the same place they work and they have meetings there. That’s unavoidable. Basic things like that. Use different email accounts for everything. Don’t use the same password for anything. I know that’s hard, but there are ways to manage it. There are platforms that help you manage your passwords if you trust them but some of those have even been breached. The best way would be to come up with your own password system and have different passwords for everything and save storage of those passwords offline.
Austin, that’s great advice and putting that in the context of NFTs. We want you to have in the show because security is not a sexy topic when it comes to NFTs. Everyone wants to talk about the cool stuff that NFTs can do, but the reality is there are real security issues here that both consumers need to address and enterprises that are building this cool stuff with NFTs. Any addendum you would add to the basic set of advice? You’ve got NFTs that are in closed systems like NBA Top Shot, where what you shared is very relevant. What about NFTs that live in the open space that someone has in their MetaMask wallet? Any extra precautions that you guys think of when you think of NFTs?
NFT And Blockchain Security: The best way to manage your passwords would be to come up with your own system and have different passwords for everything and save those passwords offline.
Specifically, the MetaMask. How safe is your computer like basic way if someone can get into your computer? Potentially, they can get into your MetaMask wallet and transfer that in NFT out. MetaMask and webtrees systems have been breached as well in the past. They’re not foolproof. They’re a lot more secure than other things, but they’re not 100% foolproof, especially in this industry where you have people reviewing code all day long looking for these loopholes and tanking projects or accounts and draining things. Luckily, there are funds to replenish the coffers sometimes like with finance. They’re notorious for replenishing when a project gets hacked and drained if it’s in their ecosystem.
I would say be as cautious as possible with your computer, your phone, and anything that you’re clicking through with those devices because you are the weakest link, even if there are no code flaws that people can hack or anything like that. People can certainly easily be hacked. It’s always you, that weakest link. Be cautious of what you click on and where you store these things. Don’t store them all in one place either. Traditional is very simple. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Don’t put all your NFTs in one MetaMask wallet. You can create 1,000 MetaMask wallets on different devices if you want.
This issue gets more complicated now that we look at the intersection of NFTs and defy. Every day, there’s a new project coming out and we’re pretty excited. We’ll have some guests on the show talking about collateralized loans against NFTs, both physical, digital assets, and fractional NFTs. The idea of loaning in NFT adds more fuel to the fire at the end of the day.
Loaning within NFT makes a lot of sense because NFTs can represent physical, tangible things, or digital things that have value. You could NFT your car to some degree. If you’re in titling, that is the one representation of your car then you want to protect that and make sure that no one is able to transfer the title of that asset to their name and take it from you. Even if they could prove that they own the title, they could potentially take you to court by, “They have my car. I have the title here. It was signed over to me,” once that becomes legal.
What about NFTs themselves as some security key? Something that we’ve talked about in a few of our episodes so far is the possibility of NFTs being a pass. A ticket to a show, into a club, or a small group that nobody else has access to or something like this. Is this something that security companies are taking a serious look at that NFTs are attached to like your password, credentials, or is that not even necessary?
Some of what you’ve mentioned to do like ID management with NFT is interesting. To do like clubs or VIP passes, you go to a sporting event, and if you do certain auctions, then you get an NFT for participating. It’s in the stadium organizers’ best interest because now you’re going to be interacting with more of their commercial ventures on the premises. Now you’re marketing the premises to other people off-premise. You’re creating a continuous reminder of yourself of the premise for you to return. There are some use cases there that we’re looking at for sporting events and things of that nature to realize that.That makes a lot of sense. Think about going to a traditional sporting event, they rip your ticket stub in half, make you keep your piece that says your seat number and everything else, and its memorabilia. Maybe it has a QR code. You scan it or it has an NFT embedded in it. That could all be done from your phone instead. Whatever they scan, they’re taking a piece of that and keeping it to show that it’s been redeemed and it can’t be redeemed again. Whether it’s one of the standards that has multiple tokens attached or it’s an NFT, you’re transferring it, and then it can’t be transferred again. You have the transaction history of it, which still has all your data, you still know where you’re sitting, and you still have to or the idea of the collector’s item. It can be embedded and will be and it’s a good way to move forward without wasting all the paper trail and everything else from the past.
In 2020 with the pandemic, we have a lot of new entrants into the space via NFTs. We have a lot of people at home working from their personal computers in some cases or on their personal networks. We have this opportunity it seems for security protocols to break down even as limited as they are right now. Have you guys seen this elevation of security issues in your experience in 2020?
Without a doubt, the world has the world’s largest meatpacker. JBS is being held publicly under ransom. The largest US Eastern pipeline for oil was held under ransom. The Federal reserve is down for hours. Some of the most protected and most critical infrastructures to commerce on the planet have been publicly compromised. Imagine how much has been compromised that we don’t hear about it unless we’re directly impacted by the incident. I look at it like hardware is losing the battle against software in terms of offense and defense because the attackers are compromising other people’s hardware. Whereas the defenders are having to use their hardware to defend in tandem with the software.
When you look at it from a game theory standpoint, it’s an impossible equation. Eventually, to cat and mouse game that there are so many IP traces you can do in physical form and people that can conduct it or outsmart some robot or something detective. It’s folly when you look at the cost analysis. We look at distributed networking and public protocols that provide distributed networks as being inevitable in terms of taking over all commerce, all markets, and all types of exchanges between goods and services. I don’t think it’s going to happen in 2021. I don’t think it’ll happen in the next five years. I hope it will happen in the next ten years, although I’m still skeptical.
The sooner that we can transition to public protocol commerce from Forex marketplaces of governments, and we have to do things out of fear because we can’t trust our records. Bitcoin’s invention gave us another option because now we have trusted record keeping. By linking commerce on a trusted record, keeping our decision tree changes from fear of the unknown of corruptible information to trustworthy information where good actors win. It’s super exciting to be alive and all of us get to be good actors in this massive chain, which is privileged.
You guys work across a number of different use cases, enterprise security, logistics, finance, and gaming. What makes it possible for you to help these different channels with IT security? What is it about your solution that applies to all these different channels? Secondarily, as these channels incorporate NFTs, how are you thinking about things similarly or differently than you’ve done in the past?
With us, it’s two-fold. One is that we take a stack approach. That’s something that I’ve starting to see a little bit, which I’m super excited about. We have been four years into this concept of stocking public protocols together and anchoring them into Bitcoin. Using that approach, you create 100% uptime, ransomware-proof, perfect data integrity to the strength of the Bitcoin solution. By having these software keys enveloping the cloud, it disincentivizes a denial of service attack economically. It distributes where you’re trying to attack the application. It separates out all the data with the application. All of these points are critical shortcomings, ultimately of centralized network architecture in a world where our access to terminals to access the internet is free.
Break it down in layman’s terms. What do stacking protocols mean to somebody that’s not in the IT security world?
Think of it like a cake or a recipe. We can think of a cake visual. We slice that cake open. We see the icing right around the cake. We maybe have 2, 5, or 3 layers. We have icing in between the layers like bricks in a house. The icing is like mortar right to the brick. That’s a layer. Think of each one of these layers as one of these public protocols like a Bitcoin, Ethereum for example, or our Hercules. Think of it like ingredients to a cake as long as Bitcoin is there and this index library protocol that we created Hercules is there, all the other public protocols or components that can be swapped. All of our software that we run, all the time in business commerce and what have you runs in different types of stacks like Assembly, Cobalt, Fortran, LAMP, Linux, Mingo, MEAN, whatever. There are all kinds. Tons of them.
All of them operate in a locked format because if you start plugging in playing any component of any of these central software stacks, you can lose all the information. You can have a mismatch of information. That’s why you have banks, for example, run software that’s 50 years old plus because they’re so afraid, all they’re going to do if they switch software is go to the latest and greatest corruptible software. What is their advantage to change over to simpler written code? It’s a disadvantage in the sense that it’s easier to hack. The simpler the code is, the more obscure the language of the code is, the harder it is and you have to understand it. You can see though this is a very poor way to do security of what we’re talking about here. It’s a very reactive approach and you’re constantly chasing everybody else. Anything in life, if you’re chasing, you’re burning energy without being a purpose, planning, and being methodical. You’re letting others take over the tempo rather than taking control of the tempo.
It seems that one of the things with NFTs that’s come to the surface for me a lot in a lot of our recent conversations is that a lot of that data that’s stored is stored in a central way. It’s not on the blockchain. It feels like that presents some serious risk for those companies leading the way like NBA Top Shot or others that are storing a massive amount of data. If you have video or audio, it’s hard to store that significant amount of data on chain for a reasonable price. How does that play into this? What do you guys think of this unique aspect of NFTs relative to some other crypto?
I’ll take that because we have a partner of HeraSoft called Veeam. It’s Veeam.com who’s focusing on specifically that taking video memes and finding unique ways to distribute those via NFTs. There are ways to do it but I can’t go super deep into right now related to Veeam but keep an eye on that. They’ve got one-click copyright going on. They’re able to distribute video meme type NFTs, opera content that you’ve created that you can get the value for and distribute and have the traceability and everything. There’s a lot of other groups working on very similar things. It’s not about jamming the whole file in there. It’s about finding unique ways to represent that file that can’t be replicated and storing that first.
Whoever puts that first on-chain even if it’s not patented, there is a record. It’s a public record. It’s not a collective commons, so this is the new collective commons. That’s the way that we see that. Casper is a new layer one, so they’re ramping up all the efforts and NFTs are something they’re focused on. Ethereum has been notoriously one of the first big layer one projects that distributed in NFTs starting with 7-21 and then going on to other standards from there like 1155, which HeraSoft is using and 1337, which is a little bit newer. Going back to the stacking for HeraSoft’s purposes. In NFTs, summing up to Ethereum was still useful, then someone from Casper and other chains that are building. WAX obviously has a lot going on but then NTS they were earlier than a lot. We know Quigley. From metal as well.Josh and Anthem here. There are a lot going on, so many different changes. That’s very productive. That’s why it’s so important to stack and not relying on one chain for any specific use case because all of them have great things going on and benefits from using them, whether it’s cost, efficiency, network distribution, or reached audience. Some things on the security might not be using it and it’s not an option. There’s always a different use case. There are always reasons to stack and use different chains. That’s why it’s going to be agnostic. The reason peg into Bitcoin because it’s the oldest and most secure of all. It probably always will be ongoing because it has the most hash power network security. It makes sense to peg into it as a security layer.
I wanted to dive into something with you, Anthem. I don’t know how far we dive in, but your family has this legacy of dealing with precious metals. That’s one type of investment vehicle that people have been dealing with and overlapping with NFTs is like fine art or investments in artifacts and one-of-a-kind items. What I wanted to ask, and the answer may be no or yes, is your family and you had experience in this type of investment within fine art, collectibles, or anything like that? If so, let’s talk about how that goes into NFTs.
NFT And Blockchain Security: You can create 1,000 MetaMask wallets on different devices if you want.
My dad had a very extensive collection of antiques, manuscripts, coins, and all sorts of things. When he passed away, there was a lot of stuff to go through. A lot of stuff are liquidated. We did hold some. If you’re ever in New Orleans, there’s a James U. Blanchard Foundation Museum that my brother and her husband run and upkeep. They take care of everything. They’re great about it. You can go check that out. It’s going to cool. We do have some pretty neat pieces. It’d be interesting to think if we could, in the end, achieve them. The challenge is you have to reach a consensus. I’ve got to do a better job educating my siblings on NFTs. That way, we might have a good idea there. Thank you. I appreciate that.
It sounds like Anthem is the digital pioneer among his siblings from this conversation.
My sister is a veterinarian and my brother is an entrepreneur. They have a lot of real estate that they do in New Orleans. They’re very good business people. I took the more radical route because I don’t consider it a public protocol. It’s turning into business for me, in my opinion. After being in this space for nine years commercially, there’s enough built and pain in the commercial world where people are starting to be like, “We don’t care what you call it, crypto, blockchain, whatever. Keep my system running. Have my stuff work.” That’s the biggest thing. Keep me from getting hacked. Especially in 2020. it’s amazing. When February of 2020 hit, all of a sudden, people had a different reaction, we were talking with them about ransomware and cybersecurity. It went very mainstream at that point. It’s got mega mainstream where it’s going like global headlines. What is our world without software?
It’s interesting you say that because, with the transition to home 2020, one of the biggest weak points was the office because nobody was there to maintain the servers, make sure all the computers were turned off, and not sitting there open running for people to find and jump into. What was happening a lot is that random employees left their devices on and open. The network was pretty wide open. There were a lot of loopholes. People were jumping in and taking advantage of that.There was a big shift with that and then the whole network, as you mentioned, needing to be more secure. Home devices being used for work, as well as entertainment and clicking on random things from email, which is never a good thing. Less DevOps, if you will, because you’re merging the home and the professional life into one. You don’t have that overarching security. It’s an interesting time. Going back quickly to what you were talking about with the private collection. It’s interesting you say that because we did have several conversations with some private collectors over in Dubai. Anthem, some of the largest private collections over there, people are interested in NFT. There is a big interest in that people are still trying to understand and figure out how they can get value doing that.
We were at an event and there was an artist that created the world’s largest piece of art, supposedly. It’s officially on the internet, so it must be true. It was an NFT for $60+ million. He is a super nice artist. He was so humble.
Leaving on a happier note this segment, we talked about this chase and some of the challenges in the security world. Let’s pivot to something hopeful. What are some of the coolest stuff that you guys are doing or discussing with companies where you think we can get ahead of the game and at least take the lead in the IT security world? What are some of the cool stuff you guys have cooking up for NFTs that you might be able to share with our readers?
NFT specific is we’re getting a lot of fielding from what you would expect like paintings, movies, and music. We’re also getting some interesting things like animal registry NFT. That’s an interesting one. You can see a crossover from art, gaming, supply chain, or health records. We’ve got excitement broader potential applications for that. Some other interesting NFTs, I would say, affiliate marketing potentials using geotagging for example as we were talking about before with the ticketing. What better real-time consensus can you get than going to a live event with all these people at the same time and you’re digitally confirming them while you’re there with them.
How are you pushing the limits of security layers with these projects? Is there anything that you’re thinking about now that you weren’t thinking about in 2020?
One I’ll share really quickly is we secured all of the data and the contest for the world’s most luxurious mall sweepstakes. It was built in Doha, Qatar. It’s in their celebration mall. They did about 25,000 entries from March to April 2020. Twenty-two winners were selected for our all kinds of NZ, mega cars, and all this cash and things. We entered each one of those entrance into Bitcoin. We save the information there so after the fact if anyone can review the information, has ever accused of say colluding with people that worked at the mall, for example, to put themselves and/or their family, friends, associates, business partners or whomever in. Now, there’s an impossible to corrupt record keeping of that. They get referenced into Salesforce API, which is what they currently use.
The point being is that we work with the government here. We worked through the world’s largest WhatsApp chatbot via phone that’s based here in Dubai. There was an existing client that Qatar was a via phone. That’s an exciting case we did like what they call a checksum on a random number generator to show that this was random and it was done at this date, this time, and there’s a timestamp that’s anchored into Bitcoin. That was a realistic example. It took us two weeks to build that use case. We found out about that build about one month or so earlier not even and in less than half a month, our team got it out, which is awesome. It’s bringing in this concept of incorruptibility in a real-world case. This luxury mall where integrity and is critical. If one store in there was found out to be doing something like counterfeiting goods or mall sweepstakes was found out to be colluded, all of a sudden, there are hundreds of other malls that we can choose from in these cities. You have a lot of substitution potential there.
You’ve mentioned a couple of times connecting to the blockchain of Bitcoin or you said anchoring into Bitcoin. Is there a base cost associated with that? Is it larger depending on the type of anchoring that you’re trying to do? Is it like a Satoshi and you’re anchoring to Bitcoin or it’s all Bitcoin and your anchor to Bitcoin? How does the cost of those types of things pan out?
We use an aggregate layer to anchor into Bitcoins. In our first version, we use a layer called Factom. Now we use a layer called Origin and we’ll use whatever the least cost to nominating layer is effectively to anchor into Bitcoin. That’s the beauty of being able to swap in and out of the stack and we can do it even with an existing implementation. We’re never anchoring directly into Bitcoin ourselves because it’s expensive. We always have references through other third parties that aggregate all this information into one. That’s how an aggregate protocol runs in collecting all those little tiny fees and then absorbing the one fee into Bitcoin. That’s how we do it.
We’re co-hosting a conference called Defy Summit coming up on the 14th of June 2021. The NFT day. We’re going to be moderating a bunch of panels, then we’re going to have a show on the future of NFTs and you guys have given us a lot to think about. Thanks for creating our show notes for our upcoming conference.
You ready to shift gears a little bit and hit some Edge Quick Hitters. As a reminder, Edge Quick Hitters are a fun, quick way to get to know you a little better. There are ten questions and we’re looking for single short word or a few-word answers, but feel free to expand if you get the urge. Are you guys ready to jump in? Sure.We’ll hit you both and I’ll lead the way on that. Anthem, let’s start with you. What is the first thing you remember ever purchasing in your life?
The first thing I ever remember purchasing in my life is a CD.
Do you remember which one?
A cassette tape is a sad updating. It was a Def Leppard tape.
You’re sure it wasn’t Boys II Men.
It was probably something like a Disney movie or something as far as I know. I was a little younger. I must have bought some.
How about you, Austin?
I was trying to think about that. It wasn’t an extra specific thing. It was more entertainment. That’s what we spend money on. I would save my weekly allowance. I remember I was so meticulous with it. I would iron the bills and hide them in books and everything. I was super flat and then I would take them to the local state fair and blow it all on games. Spin it all. For a kid, it was a lot of money. I want to blow it on games, which is funny because I’m not a gambler. I go to Vegas and I don’t gamble that much. I’ll do it for a minute and be like, “I’m up. I’m done.” That’s the first thing I remember.
You rather gamble with the industry you’re in, which is crypto and blockchain. Some would say you’re gambling every day.
I don’t like to sell a lot of crypto, but you’re right. It is a big gamble. The whole thing could come crashing down one day for unknown reasons, but we don’t think that it will.
Austin, number two for you. What is the first thing you remember ever selling in your life?
The first thing I remember selling was a Super Nintendo. I remember selling that to a schoolmate because I wanted to buy the latest one. We had two of them, so I was like, “I’m going to sell mine.”Anthem, how about you?In sixth grade, I got into some of my appearance adult magazine stash. I used that as the beginnings of my startup to sell. What I would do is I would cut parts of the page. I could multiply how much money I can get out of the magazine. I went to school for thirteen years. We’re like the Manning Brothers, Michael Lewis, and Walter Isaacson, all these crazy people. They all had money to blow, not those people I didn’t go to school like Eli and Peyton. I never sold to them for the record.
I didn’t see that in your bio.
I have another show that run with a show that we bring successful entrepreneurs to share new business ideas. We had one around education trying to develop an alternative form of education to replace or augment what we already have. We especially focused on entrepreneurs. We came up with this clever idea that to get students for this school, to recruit entrepreneurs, you would go to all the teachers in an area and say, “Send me your kids that are selling stuff.” The ones that are probably getting into trouble for selling stuff anybody was like, “Those are the entrepreneurs,” then we’ll enroll them in the special entrepreneurial program. It would have been a very special case that would have had to been handled very delicately.
Even better because he didn’t have to pay for the original. He found it. It was a treasure that he found and then split up into more treasure.
Anthem, what’s the most recent thing you purchased?
The most recent thing that I purchased was a dress shirt. I’m in Dubai. I got 3 for 2 at Devin Haas, which by the way, is awesome. I’ll give them a plug. They need to come to the United States. They’re good. They’re now my favorite clothing chain after Uniqlo is now a second. You got to step it up.
Austin, how about you?
I have to be transparent because this is crypto. The last thing I bought was a glass shower door for my shower. Not that interesting, but that’s the last thing that I purchased with cryptocurrency.
Austin, what’s the most recent thing you sold?
I’m trying to think about marketplace. I sold my soul to crypto a long time ago. I honestly cannot think of anything that I’ve ever sold in recent history because I don’t sell things.
Have you sold some business for HeraSoft that counts?
I sold something recently to the Dutch Government that Anthem can tell you about.
It was our lead enterprise client that allowed us to cross the chasm to enterprise. We had it for a number of years with an excellent entrepreneur. That was a former investment banker and a massive foreign currency trader at companies like Cargill. I had a concept of a gold token and he convinced the European Union’s Assayer and the Netherlands out there, which is a fancy word meaning a mint. The government likes how they make coins and things out of gold and silver and things. It was a licensing deal that we get off of. It’s a partnership, ultimately. It’s almost like a franchise relationship because I have so much random experience in digital gold currency professionally, which is a pretty unique niche. It worked out nicely and we’d already built a lot of the software for ourselves. We stopped marketing retail gold a couple of years ago. We out-innovated ourselves from gold retail into enterprise cloud software. We did a great job.I sold ourselves to the Dutch Government. That’s what I sold, us.
Anthem, how about you?
I’ve been trying to sell things. I don’t know how successful it is, but I’ve selling my personality over here. We closed our series around with a lot of help from everybody, so that was something that I hoped to sell, but I’m mostly sold our lead investor.
You sold part of your company to your some investors.
There you go. That was a reasonable sell.
Anthem, what is your most prized possession?
Probably the Satoshis, truth be told. I’d have to say my hair and stack with everything that we’ve got wrapped into the company, honestly. Even more than the situation, which is hard to admit, but I think that because to me, it’s about something more than money. Cryptocurrency represents a new and peaceful way of commerce. I’ve used software access keys. That’s exciting be able to be involved in affecting real, epic, global things in a positive way for people that have a better quality of life, including myself. It’s something I enjoy.
How about you, Austin?
My most prized creation is my son. My most prized possession, aside from things like Bitcoin, is the most unique. Have you heard of Naica’s Crystal Cave in Mexico? They’ve got giant tree-sized crystals, literally hundreds of feet long and bigger than you can’t put your arms around. I convinced that laboratory before they sealed it off. They were pumping out water for years because it’s under the ocean and a giant cave somewhere in Mexico in the Naica area. I have a piece of the Naica crystal in a vault somewhere. That’s my most prized unique possession. I was able to negotiate that when I was in grad school. I didn’t even have to pay for it.
I love that subtle distinction you made when you talked about your family. We don’t own our family. We can’t make them do anything, whatever. We don’t possess them. We love them. A lot of people say their prize possession is their family, but you don’t necessarily possess them.
That’s why I did make that distinction. He’s a free soul.
Austin, if you could buy anything in the world, digital, physical, or service that’s currently for sale, what would it be?
You’re saying unlimited capital if I could buy anything. I would buy the world food bank and I would make it a never-ending food bank and no one goes hungry. I guess food and water. It’s not really an answer, but that’s my answer.
That’s a great one. I would pretty much perpetual health and world peace. I don’t know that’s stretching it, but I guess that is an extension. A better quality of life.
Let’s switch gears a little bit then. Anthem, if you could pass on one personality trait of yours to the next generation, what would it be?
How about you, Austin?Empathy.
If you could eliminate one personality trait of yours from the next generation, what would it be, Austin?
Workaholism. It’s not a bad thing but it also is a bad thing when your family has to pry you away from work because it’s what we do. It’s a gift and a curse.
It is indeed. Anthem, how about you?
I would say, for me, arrogance. It’s something that I struggle with constantly and I like to say humbled and grateful for myself as a reminder because it’s easy to forget it, for me, personally. It’d be arrogance and I try to cognizant of that. I don’t think I’m always arrogant, but I can become arrogant at times. That’s something that I’ve got to constantly check. Ego and arrogance are the two biggest killers of things in general. I got to remember that always.He reminds himself in us all the time because he’s always humbled and grateful. I don’t think he’s arrogant anymore.
Anthem, what did you do before joining us on the show?
We were having a nice time here with the founder and CEO of Veeam. We name-drop. We’re all staying here at the same hotel. He’s got to go back to LA and we’re here for a few more days. That was what we were doing. My wife, Cynthia and Cofounder president, we were hanging out. Veeam, for full disclosure, is one of a small seed investment of ours. We like to Hera make small seed investments at times. We look at things as potential strategic partnerships and relationships for us. We’re excited about that one and appropriate given that the topic of your show that we’re guests on is everything.
Brittany Kaiser is also an advisor. A lot of people we collectively all know here in Baltimore. We may know another stack that’s a good one. We’re a team.
Austin, what did you do before joining us?
NFT And Blockchain Security: Hardware is losing the battle against software in terms of offense and defense because the attackers compromise other people’s hardware, whereas the defenders have to use their own hardware to defend in tandem with the software.
I got back from Dubai with Anthem. I did Memorial Day with family, so it’s been a whirlwind. I haven’t stopped. What did I do to be honest, I did a big workout and I had a big breakfast. Now, I’m here with you.
Last question, Austin. What are you going to do next after the show?
I’m going to be glued to my computer and phone for the next ten hours straight then I’m flying to Los Angeles.
Glad we could give you a little reprieve. Anthem, what is it?
I’m going out to dinner with my wife and then we’re going to be meeting up with a few friends and associates here in Dubai. It’s hard to get a bad meal in Dubai, by the way. It’s more of America than America. It’s wild. The thing that impressed me the most about Dubai is there is no crime. You see a big city and you expect some level of crime. I got to figure out where my wallet is and stuff like that. In Dubai, you don’t think about it because there’s zero crime. That impressed me a lot. Zero crime and zero dirtiness. It’s a great city.
That’s such as quick hitters. Thanks so much for indulging us. It’s time to switch over to hot topics and talk a little bit about what’s popping in the world of NFTs?Let’s hit it first headline in the list here is WazirX to launch NFT marketplace for India, South Asia. Interestingly enough that India has been a place that’s been controversial around cryptocurrencies. They’ve been vacillating on how they want to handle those or make them available to their citizens or not. Do you got any other thoughts about this one, Jeff?
The bigger story here for me is big exchanges getting into the world of NFTs. We talked about Binance doing the same thing and it’s coming. These are the power players with massive user bases already in place with people that know how to use the platforms, that trust the platform to the topic of conversation around security and safety or making things right like with Binance. If things do go sideways, there’s a real opportunity for these guys to make quick work of some of the smaller platforms out there or at least gain a strong foothold at the forefront of what’s happening. For these big companies, there is not a ton of innovation happening from the ground up but when they see an opportunity, they can act very quickly and execute against it. That’s what comes to mind for me.
It is interesting to see the currency trading platforms get into the NFT space, but some part of it feels a little bit unnatural that it should be something separately managed, but at the same time, there is a connection there. It’s interesting to see these trading platforms get into the NFT space, but also you don’t necessarily see the reverse happening. Some NFT platforms that are hosting NFTs are trying to get into that space. It feels like something that needs that should be ultimately kept separately. If there is some investment relationship between one or the other or a conglomerate relationship that should be independently managed. It feels like intuition to me.
I always have this underlying thought that NFTs, not that it’s necessarily going to become a dirty word, but we evolve pretty quickly in this industry. What are we going to call it 1 or 2 years from now? It’s always going to be an NFTs. Right now, every fighter in the world has an NFT. Jake Paul, Mayweather, artist, entertainer, fighter, or whatever, everybody wants an NFT. I’m wondering where it’s going to evolve into becoming. Josh and Anthem over at WAX got quickly a long time ago called it VIRL, Virtual Internet Routing Lab. That’ll catch it on one day. Who knows what these things are going to be called but at the end of the day, how do they work and what does the end-users benefit from doing it? That’s what matters but NFTs catchy because it’s a short acronym. We were in Dubai with the CEO of NFT.com. NFTs are here to stay, but they’re also going to evolve pretty quickly too. That’s going to be fun to watch.
Should we jump onto the next headline? We have an article authored by someone at the BBC talking about their experience buying an NFT title, Buying a pink NFT cat was a crypto nightmare so delving into the details and the difficulties of acquiring NFT here.
2017 was a lot more difficult to buy crypto or buy anything in the blockchain. It’s not like it’s super easy now either presents its own security risks like the advancements that have been made. People using MetaMask are making it simpler to use or even NBA Top Shot. You don’t even know you’re doing anything on the blockchain when you go to that website, but there’s still real complexity here and we’re still very early. It’s tough for a layman to come into the space, a newbie to come in and buy something and understand what to expect and to take the right steps. In this article, the person was talking about setting the right limits on gas fees and so on, which if you’re not transacting a lot, you probably don’t think about much it locked her up and she ended up choosing like a low gas fee. It took like three days to transact or something like that, but she was lucky it even went through it.
The good news is this gas pain point is being addressed by a number of protocols and ventures. Right now, we heard from Enjin about what they’re doing about it. We talked about Casper is doing something. Wax is a very low-cost transaction. Proton marketplace, there’s a very low cost and there’s more of those coming out every day. I’m optimistic that these stories won’t take up as much headline space. Within a quarter or two, I would imagine.
You got to remember that back in 2017, when CryptoKitties came out, they pushed the NFT space forward a lot quicker. That’s when the 721 standard was defined and created. It was after that. It certainly like spawned it. 2020 spawned a lot of this heightened momentum that we’re in right now. It’s a good thing that it’s hard at first because it makes people that are builders go in and say, “How can I make this better for the end-user because that’s the only way we get adopt.” It’s to make it easy top shots or even easier than that. We’re getting there slowly but surely, but it’s exciting.
There’s a quote in the article here from someone she’s consulting that said, “NFTs are a new form of magic bean that crypto fanatics can sell for money, but all you’re buying is a receipt. The market is completely fake.” One of the things that’s interesting here about this is it also reminds me of getting into anything new. My PhD advisor told the story of when he learned to ride a bike, he figured he tried to get the balance part of it down before he got out there and started going down the sidewalk. He spent days in his garage sitting on the bike trying to balance. He fell over a bunch of times, He got hurt and he didn’t want to keep going.
Like any new space, there is this natural human fear of what’s going on and it’s healthy. It’s part straight into our biology to be a little bit suspicious, be cautious, and worry about being taken advantage of. We were talking about security and here. Those are totally relevant concerns. At the same time, it is getting, as you said Josh, maybe a little bit of extra attention at the moment that may not be warranted down the line or is at least the attention that leads to the more ease of use down the line.
That’s a very philosophical question or statement. It’s fake, what does that mean? That means all Fiat currency is fake. All governments are fake. We don’t meet any of that. We don’t need anything. All high-end retail is fake, but there’s a market demand for it and people want it for some reason. All you need is to eat and drink. You don’t even need to do that. You can choose to wither away and die if you want to, but you choose what is fake and what’s not. People are choosing that this is real so it is real. It’s a very philosophical statement to say that something is fake.
One of you have all Harare’s books, I forget which one it was. It goes into this multipage discussion of, I know it’s a corporation. What’s Apple? Apple is nothing. It’s a common belief that there’s this corporation called Apple that if I walk into this office, I work for it, and they give me money. It’s an imaginary relationship that helps create something productive within our society so we all maintain the idea that there’s this actual thing called Apple.
It gives us an interesting, conundrum because one of the problems that’s of ascribing something digital with something physical and ownership is the enforceability of it because everything that we have in our physical world runs on the concept of force, enforceability, and court systems. All of these human-dictated decision-makers, arbitrators, judges, juries, CEOs, executives, board members, and trustees. Do you think that’s going to be a challenge? It’s like one of the issues with NFT and a real estate investment trust. You could use it for a timeshare for example. It’s understanding how are the government laws applying themselves and then understanding if you’re a creator of an NFT system or protocol or whatever, how is this digital marker of database record being aligned with whatever it is that it’s representational? If it’s representational of anything or if it stands alone, that’s even something separate.
That’s where it’s a little bit what is being promised if anything. What access the NFT can get you into? If it’s not mathematical, then there could be a mismatch of expectations. You buy a Mayweather NFT and when you bought it, you’re told that as long as Floyd Mayweather is alive, you’ll get to meet him once in person. Floyd Mayweather decides in 2021, he doesn’t want to meet them in person or in 2022 or something. He’s alive, what do you do? Can you go to court over that? Probably. Maybe civil court. Again, now we were talking about the legacy system that the whole point and everything, Bitcoin, public protocol, NFT, Defy, WAX, and Veeam and everything. It’s trying to get out of the old world into this new world. It’s important. How do we deal with this? You get questions.
Speaking of getting out of the old world, I found this article really interesting. MLB to Auction NFT Featuring Lou Gehrig’s ‘Luckiest Man’ Speech. We know about Topps on WAX, but now the MLB is taking another step towards innovating here. It’s a pretty famous speech. Jeff, what are your thoughts on that?
We’re at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to innovation around capturing and creating value from classic moments in all kinds of contexts. That’s one of them. The way that it’s put out by the MLB, when you think of ownership provenance, it has some weight to it and it’s cool. It’s fun. When we’re talking about NFTs and how the mass population thinks about it right now, a lot of it is through this lens of like fun collectible things, whether it’s a cool scene from Pulp Fiction or Lou Gehrig’s Luckiest Man. There’s some rad stuff that people are passionate about. That’s what collectors have been passionate about forever. I liked that they’re doing that. They also have the relationship with Topps. I liked their going beyond and doing some other fun things with it. I did get it. I’d be into trying to own some cool stuff like that.
Did they say how they’re going to do it, Josh? I know that they’ve traditionally work with WAX for some of their stuff. Did they say how, what chain, or how they’re going to offer it?
It doesn’t say in the article how they’re planning to do it.
It a group, Candy Digital. It’s the crew they’re working with. I’m not too familiar with those guys, but they’re taking a different approach to it, which I dig. I don’t know that they’ve announced yet how they are going to offer it. I haven’t seen it yet.
One of the interesting aspects that this calls to mind and a lot of what we’re talking about, as you’re starting to get like a little bit more concrete understanding of all that is owned out there. You may or may not know who owns it or what things they do with it because this is all in the common conversation, you go, “MLB owns that speech. This didn’t come up in the news, but I have a dream speech. Who owns that? There’s a family foundation that owns that and they decide what is and isn’t done with that.” It’s very interesting to bring these into the common conversation and get the public perception around ownership. We’re due for this, especially through this era of social media, where we’ve given up ownership of all of these things. We don’t know where it went. It would be interesting when and if some of these social media companies start pulling out their ownership rights to our content and NFT without their consent.
To close the loop, Austin, Candy has a joint venture with fanatics and they’re going to run this on the Ethereum blockchain.
I saw the Candy is a Toronto-based company and backed by galaxy digital and others. I bet you, we know some people at Candy.
It sounds like a big deal. I know Kurt, we both know, is doing some consulting with Topps on this. We can probably get more juice from him on what’s going on there. Analysis of Paragon: NFT Fragmentation is the Best Choice of Promoting Liquidity. What’s this all about?
Any situation where you’re trying to find price. You’re trying to ascertain price. You probably need more access to transactions than the number of NFTs that are out there. Even Top Shots, if you have 30,000 of one particular moment, that’s not a lot when you think about finding price relative to the amount of stock that’s available of a particular company in the marketplace. With some NFTs being X of 100 limits or whatever, it’s a little, it’s very small so you don’t know real price, but if you fragment it and there’s demand for it then you can ascertain what the actual price is based on the demand. Fragmentation is important and I don’t think anybody has nailed it yet, so there are a number of people working on it. I think it’s going to help bring at least pricing for the world of NFTs, as well as access to a different level.
We brought in, I forget the name of it, a company that was fractionalizing physical art, and they weren’t doing it with NFTs or anything blockchain-based at the time. Along those lines, it did provide what we’re saying. You could see a value much more easily than one person selling at one day and the next one selling it a few years later. That is a beautiful piece of it.
I don’t know if you guys have looked at again the elements of security that comes up with this, but when you start getting into the fragmentation process and how that ownership is controlled, is it central? Is it on the chain or not? There are some interesting things that will come from that as well. Fragmentation isn’t something that has been central in the realm of crypto. It’s been something that’s happened with collectibles outside of the space like Hardy and others that allow you to own fractional ownership of collectibles, but it seems like it’s going to present some different challenges.
My question is, what are the art heist films of the future going to look like? It’s digital art heists something that’s not achievable because of the provability of ownership and the blockchain record of title on these things or is it a whole new era of subculture theft and espionage?
Probably a new subculture of theft and espionage.
From somebody insecurity, it never ends.
Before we wrap, we’d love to know where readers can go to learn more about you and the projects you’re working on?
I would say HeraSoft.com for HeraSoft related stuff. For me personally, Twitter is the easiest. For Crypto, @AEDavis is my handle. Veeam.com, we talked about them. Another one that is a HeraSoft partner is Crwnbits.com. It’s the up and coming Bitcoin rewards company in Canada, India, and Africa. Anthem you want to give a shout-out? Your Twitter handle or any other company handles?
@AnthemHayek is my Twitter. My middle name is Hayek after the economist. You can Google my dad, Jim Blanchard and Hayek, Hayek Brick, Bitcoin, and cool YouTube video from 37 years ago with them conceptualizing a digital currency. Ultimately, in my view and other people’s view apparently. Before I even realized that. That’s a cool thing. Obviously HeraSoft.com. That’s HERC.one for any geeks out there that like academic papers and such. That’s our protocol for Hercules’ website. Partner’s GoldFlorin.com. It’s the Warburg Holland gold site. Veeam and Crownbits. Khodo Wallet is one of our partner companies in South Africa and Grey Jabesi does a great job educating the university with that as well. Several others I’m excited about but those are the ones of notes. Thank you all very much. It’s been an honor and a lot of fun. I appreciate it.
Thank you guys so much and it’s great to get your perspective on this industry. Security is so important and not talked about enough. Anthem, you were thinking of offering our readers a little something as a giveaway for the show if I’m not mistaken.
NFT And Blockchain Security: Bitcoin’s invention gave us another option because now we have trusted record keeping.
We deal with governments and big companies. We’re willing to take an introductory call with our tech team. I’m willing to spend the time and prioritize you as one of your readers. We’re part of the middle group with Austin. Thank you, Austin, for the introduction to metal. We want to be a value to everyone, big and small, most that happens where things are the biggest. With that said, we all are affected by theft, bad actors, ransomware, and cybersecurity attacks. If you’re interested in 100% uptime rents and perfect data integrity solutions for your organization, I will make you in our priority. I’m humbled and grateful. I’ll do what Austin said not to do because I do some stuff separated out. I’m doing what you’ve said to do. It’s (702) 569431 is my cell. You’re welcome to reach out to me, text me, Twitter me, Instagram me, whatever you want to meet. I’m there and if I’m not there, I shouldn’t be there. Please let me know if you don’t mind. Thank you.
Thank you, guys. A quick closing comment on the NFT Candy digital thing we talked about. It looks like it’s Gary Vee and a sports merchandiser fanatic. It’s like a powerhouse group behind the scene that formed a catchy name like a Google name, Candy Digital. It’s not some small startup.
They were behind the Vee for us thing.
We’ve reached the outer limit at the edge of NFTs. Thanks for exploring with us. We’ve got space for more adventures on this starship, so invite your friends and recruit some cool strangers that will make this journey also much better. How? Go to iTunes right now, rate us, and say something cool. Go to EdgeOfNTF.com to dive further down the rabbit hole.
Thank you, guys. See you in the outer world beyond the outer limit.
- Hera Software Development Incorporated
- AnthemGold Inc.
- Anthem Vault Incorporated
- NBA Top Shot
- WazirX to launch NFT marketplace for India, South Asia
- Buying a pink NFT cat was a crypto nightmare
- MLB to Auction NFT Featuring Lou Gehrig’s ‘Luckiest Man’ Speech
- Analysis of Paragon: NFT Fragmentation is the Best Choice of Promoting Liquidity
- @AEDavis – Twitter
- @AnthemHayek – Twitter
- iTunes – Edge of NFT Podcast
About Anthem Hayek Blanchard
Co-Founder and CEO
Entrepreneur and pioneer in utilizing public blockchain protocols to solve business problems.
- Board member of Pernix Therapeutics
- Director of strategy and marketing, GoldMoney; increasing total value held from $1M to $400M
- Rare coin and bullion in his family, Blanchard & Company was once the world’s largest
About Austin Davis
Chief Revenue Officer
Expertise in building technology companies; engineering, consulting and education in digital media and blockchain technologies, energy and decarbonization; Bitcoin pioneer.
- Founder of CommunityElectricity.io, Plouton Group Renewable Datacenter and Blockchain Beach and other technology ventures
- Strategic advisor to top companies such as MeWe.com and CasperLabs