Forbes Interview with Morgan Beller: From Diem Co-founder to NFX Partner


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Morgan Beller was the earliest blockchain researcher within Facebook and the co-founder of the Diem stablecoin project. She talked about the reasons for leaving Facebook and what she is doing now.

Original title: “Viewpoint丨Forbes Interview with DeFi Investor Morgan Beller”
Written by: Michael Del Castillo, working for Forbes Magazine Interviewee: Morgan Beller, general partner of venture capital firm NFX Translator: Mike

Long before Facebook planned to create a new global currency controlled by them (to frighten rule makers around the world), there was a young investor Morgan Beller who was like a beheaded chicken (with her own In other words) run around on social networks and try to figure out how to prevent this social media giant from being interfered.

Morgan Beller, General Partner of NFX, has accumulated experience in venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and Medium before conceiving one of the most revolutionary projects in the crypto field-Facebook’s Diem. Diem is a cryptocurrency backed by several traditional currencies and controlled by Facebook and several other giant companies. Photography: Christopher MICHEL

This Cornell graduate and senior member of the Forbes 30 under 30 list. While working for venture capital giants Andreessen Horowitz and Medium, he has a series of enlightenments on the future of cryptocurrency, making it the most active investment in the field One of them. After working with former PayPal president David Marcus, Beller used these experiences to conceive the Libra currency. The currency will be backed by many global assets stored in accounts jointly owned with Facebook.

Until now, the social media giant has been notorious for controlling employee interaction with the media, and has kept silent about how this happened. But in 2020, before the official release of Libra (now renamed Diem), she left Facebook and joined the venture capital firm NFX as a general partner. This was the first time she told this story. At least part of it.

In an exclusive interview with Forbes, she explained why she left, what she is doing now, and why she believes that her latest investment can not only change the future of Facebook, but even the entire technology circle.

The following is the content of the interview

Forbes : What is the most proud thing you have done at Andreessen Horowitz?

Morgan Beller : No one has ever asked me this question before. I am proud to help restart their founding work. When I first joined, Ronny Conway was leading the company’s seed program, and he was great. But after he left and founded his own company, these jobs were reduced due to various reasons. After more than half a year passed quickly, they realized that the relationship with these seed founders was actually valuable. So there is this prompt: “We don’t necessarily have to focus entirely on startups, but how do we ensure that the founders contact us first and not others for the next round of investment?”

Forbes : How does this prepare you for the next step?

Morgan Beller : This is related to the psychology of the founder. If I can go back to school, I might study philosophy or psychology. Because in the final analysis, this is our job now. When we restart this project informally, we don’t necessarily have to write a seed check. Instead, we asked: What value can we provide founders so that they can contact us when they raise more funds? We can provide a whole set of services for founders, but where do they need help most?

In fact, this is a very interesting story. I don’t know if he wants me to talk about it, but I can say it. Through that incident, my friend Eric Thornburg and I, who did not work in Andreessen, realized that the founder was a bit lonely. In Silicon Valley, when you go to a cocktail party, everyone will ask how things are going. You can only say, “It’s great, everything is great.” But it’s not the case. Because maybe your sales executive has resigned, or you have lost a customer, or your partner is angry with you because you haven’t had dinner with them for two weeks. So we started what we commonly call the Anonymous Founders Organization. It is basically a monthly drinking club. We will invite the founders to dinner. The rule is that you cannot talk about anything that goes well, you can only talk about things that are not going well.

So how does this prepare me for my next role? In Andreessen Horowitz and Medium, there are many bright moments, but there are also many difficult moments. I think those difficult moments made me see this before entering the startup.

Forbes : I’m sure you must have told this story many times. But I still want to ask how the Libra project started?

Morgan Beller : I never actually told this story. It all started when I joined Facebook in May 2017. I initially joined the corporate development team. Soon after joining, I realized that no one is committed to blockchain, encryption, or decentralization—no matter what they are called today. So I went to my boss, Amin Zoufonoun, who was in charge of the corporate development team. He said, “I think this will be a big event. Will it happen in 1, 5 or 10 years? I’m not sure. Is it 1%, 5% or 10% in the future? I’m not sure. We have a chance to play This game, because we are a huge centralized entity? Probably not. But we will be scared, we need a game plan.”

When I was in Andreesseen Horowitz, they ushered in the cryptocurrency moment: when Balaji [Srinivasan] joined, Marc Andreessen wrote this column on Bitcoin in the Wall Street Journal, and when they invested in Coinbase. Undeniably, I was too stupid to devote my life to it. But I pay enough attention, when I enter Facebook and see that no one is working full-time, this may be a mistake. Then I frantically consulted everywhere, like a hammer to find a nail, like a beheaded chicken, or any visual effect you want. I’m talking to anyone who responds to my email to discuss which groups blockchain can actually help promote faster development; does it make sense to tag groups; does it make sense to add cryptocurrency as a WhatsApp payment method; enter Bitcoin mining, etc.-does this bunch of things make sense? The continuation of all this depends on re-establishing contact with David [Marcus]. The two of us teamed up to build Libra, and more interesting things will happen soon.

Forbes : What about the resignation? We are very concerned about your course of change. You have now started to do the next thing. But what caused your departure and how did it happen?

Morgan Beller : I didn’t want to leave at the time. I was really happy back then. I love David and I love this team. I think I need to see this thing released and don’t want to leave. Now, I have known the guys from NFX for a while. I met Andreessen Horowitz while working with other seed investors, and this is how I met James [Currier] and Gigi [Levy-Weiss] in the first place. They have been extending an olive branch, hoping to add another person to the team. They kept calling, and I kept telling them, “Don’t waste your time.” Ji Ji was very insistent during the quarantine. One day, he called and said, “This is the deal. We are just giving you an offer. Use it to do what you want.” I had dinner with my husband that night. I thought, “This guy is crazy. They don’t know me well. This is a serious proposal. I will not leave Libra. They are wasting time.” This became a moment of reflection, and I realized that I love Libra (Diem) , I really don’t want to leave. However, this is a very unique opportunity. Besides, this is really old-fashioned (I don’t want to be one of those old-fashioned venture capitalists, but I have become one of them in the past three months), I think I really like the zero-to-one phase of the project . With Diem and Novi, we have gone beyond that. But I am still a consultant for both Diem and Novi projects, and we are still friends.

Forbes : How do you feel when you see the ups and downs they have experienced and their achievements today? Even if you are still a consultant, how do you feel as a bystander

Morgan Beller : Part of the feeling is a little frustration and fear of missing out because you are out of the picture. There is a part that I really miss in the room where it happened. I spoke to David on the phone recently and I am really nostalgic. They are just good people, and you support them. It’s also very interesting-outside in a different way. Libra is like a 24-hour job, just trying to make the train run as punctually as possible. It took all your time. I think many aspects of encryption are not necessarily related to Libra, at least in v1. For example, Decentralized Finance (DeFi). The irony is that I don’t have time to follow a lot of things happening in the cryptocurrency world because I have Libra on hand. Now I have time to see what is happening in the crypto world, which is very exciting, and I think that over time, Libra will enter these worlds. That is my hope.

Forbes : Recently I interviewed Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss and asked him: “If you can go back in time and do it again, do you still want to run Facebook?” They said, “We are subverting ourselves now because the social agreement is fast It will make things like Facebook a thing of the past.” You mentioned the concept of DeFi and this social protocol. Although obviously this concept is still a bit far away, you have a personal investment. Even if only emotionally, how do you see the future of social protocols and social networks? Talk about the key points.

Morgan Beller : I think the most important thing is the ownership economy. The second is pseudonym/anonymity-what is your Internet presence? Speaking of the ownership economy, if Facebook starts today-in crypto thinking, users are the owners, they will incentivize the platform to grow and take off, and be rewarded for their use of the platform-all these incentives can be used today and Potential users who are not really using it. This is the biggest pillar.

Forbes : The idea that these giants might one day subvert themselves is interesting. Coinbase purchased several decentralized exchanges, and Binance launched a decentralized exchange. There seems to be a trend that the big giants predict destruction and self-destruction to some extent, or at least take the first step in this direction. How do you see the intersection between the future of large technologies and these decentralized protocols that may make them unnecessary?

Morgan Beller : I think decentralized agreements are inevitable. Software is eating the world, and decentralized protocols are eating the world. So it is happening. Large technology companies need to figure out their gameplay. So, if Facebook’s gameplay is Libra/Diem, maybe they can make some other gameplay… everyone must make some gameplay to stay relevant. At some point, you need to switch to a mobile device to stay relevant, or you need to go online to stay relevant. Similarly, you need an encrypted game that not only maintains relevance, but also attracts and retains users. I think this is the model we want to pursue.

Forbes: As an investor, how do you take advantage of this?

Morgan Beller : If you think this is the direction of the world, you have to make many assumptions. As my partner James said, we pay attention to something and have to believe that, unlike other venture capital fields, encryption is more like a kind of gambling, gambling, gambling… You have to believe that Ethereum will work, and that expansion will work. , And will provide consumers with an entrance. Therefore, in order for this application to work properly, you must trust all other things. I think you must assume that all IF statements are correct.

When the Internet started, you owned because people were familiar with pet stores, and you just put pet stores online. No one can think of Amazon, Uber, Netflix, because we don’t have a corresponding mental model. I think, similarly, many of the DeFi protocols or encryption applications you see today are things that we have mental models. But those things that will eventually swallow the world will be things we can’t even think of now.

Forbes : Have you made any investments in the field of agreements?

Morgan Beller : I made two investments from NFX (and some have yet to be announced). But of the two announced, one is called Radicle.XYZ, just like Web 3’s GitHub. The irony is that the encryption code for Web 3 and all these projects not only exists in the centralized repository, but also exists in the centralized repository and is owned by Microsoft. This is the pitch of Kumbaya. But at the same time, you can’t directly incentivize open source developers to work on or contribute to your project, which is crazy to me. Therefore, you want positive feedback on pull requests or unresolved issues on GitHub, or people care about your project and get involved. But now there is no way to pay them directly, and there is no way to directly motivate them to let your project develop. Therefore, Radicle is addressing or addressing all these opportunities, and many more.

Then, there is a company called, which is the entrance and exit of cryptocurrency. I think this is really important. People have said many times before that “maybe this time is different”-maybe not, but we are crossing the gap in mainstream consciousness.

Forbes : Looking to the future, what do you think is the biggest area of ​​your investment in encryption?

Morgan Beller : Broadly speaking, it is DeFi. The financial market is huge, and if there is any way to recreate any proportion of it, that is a big deal. Then it is for people who do not use encryption products today to use their products and experiences, whether they realize it is encrypted or not. I just think that encryption will become an infrastructure of choice. There will be markets, fintech companies, and media companies built on the blockchain, and consumers may not even realize this in the end. So these are what I am looking for. The end consumer does not necessarily need to know what the infrastructure is. But user experience really needs to be as good as centralized products, because people like convenience.

Forbes: Thank you.

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