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The exclusive Blockcast.cc interview segment speaks to selected blockchain leaders, experts and practitioners weekly. This round, Anndy Lian interviews Alexander Shulgin, a visionary venture capitalist and Advisor to Gaimin.io, about his views on gaming, blockchain technology and more.
Blockcast.cc: My name is Jenny Zheng, co-founder of Blockcast.cc. This week, we have the honour to invite Alexander Shulgin for our interview. He is a true visionary and have a good track record in venture capital. In order to facilitate this interview better, we have invited Anndy Lian, a futurist and book author of Blockchain Revolution 2030 to be here.
Anndy: Hi Alexander, let me say that it is a privilege for me to talk with you.
AS: It is a privilege for me also.
Anndy Lian: Thank you. Well, to begin with, many people say you are a visionary, and it is often stated that you have more than 15 years of investment and venture capital experience.
You are also often referred to as “a unique Russian composer who successfully combines creative work with business”. I believe that you currently manage GRUPPA KOMPANIY FAMILIA, which specializes in investment and venture capital in blockchain, media, publishing, and entertainment sectors. You are a founder of a worldwide consulting group, The 5 Continent Consulting Group specializing in the IT-sector, biotechnologies, digital healthcare and financial management and amongst other ventures you also founded Rasia Capital – an investment boutique focusing on Asia. I hear that you also personally invest in Blockchain infrastructure, esports and Mixed Reality.
Would you say that is a good summary of what keeps you busy at the moment?
AS: It is a very good summary Anndy, but it is not really enough, I have a lot of other activities that keep me busy. I still have more funds and of course you are right that I personally invest a lot in blockchain, in blockchain infrastructure, because I see this technology and it has a very strong and optimistic future.
Anndy: I agree with you that blockchain technology has a very bright future. That is the reason why I started advising governments on this technology. It has been fun and fruitful for me. Well since we are connected through the company Gaimin.io and Gaimin are focused on the Blockchain and the gaming industry, they must have sounded like a good fit when you first met them?
AS: Yes, very good. A perfect fit. My background is entertainment, and gaming has the largest growth in this sector. Gaming will be one of the main markets in the entertainment sector. They are like a bird’s wings, each complementing the other: Entertainment and the Blockchain. There is interdependence between them. When I met Gaimin, I thought that what we are doing is perfect synergy. And that is the reason why I have agreed to be Gaimin’s advisor.
Anndy: I did hear that the Gaimin team met you for the first time by flying out to Hong Kong in May last year and that your meeting continued on to the famous Employees Only club. What was your first impression of the guys?
AS: Time flies! It seems like I met the team not so long time ago but it is almost 18 months ago. It was a big pleasure to meet the guys, to see their young sparkling eyes, very passionate and passionate over the ideas. I felt like I had a rock and roll time.
Anndy: And so, you’ve known them for well over a year now. You’ve been watching them obviously and how they have developed, what has made you continue working with them compared to many projects that have, I am sure, been introduced to you?
AS: It’s a very good question, because when we met it was a very good time for decentralized based projects and then after the May saw a kind of crypto-winter and many of the projects, many of the teams were very disappointed, they were in despair, depressed and they were lost. Whereas this team were like a British soccer club start going faster, start going harder, they are moving through this crypto-winter, going through this, moving forward and they are brave, they are brave to go ahead, I like it, I like it. It doesn’t matter the age of the founders, 15 years old or 50 years old or 25. They must have the courage to see things through: a good finish is based on a good start. I feel that they have the ‘cojones’ for the fight.
Anndy: So how do you see this attitude will have an impact on the gaming world?
AS: It’s good because the gaming world, the gaming community is huge. Both professional gaming, and amateur gaming, the people who just have a passion for gaming, the gaming industry is growing. In the near future, I believe that everyone will somehow be involved in gaming and gamification of everything, so you can play a game and become part of the decentralized net and your computer and your gadget will become a part of this mesh, of this network. What is blockchain for me? For me it is the one and only infrastructure in the world that was built by us, by you by me by Gaimin, by everyone who is somehow involved, it’s built by us all. The infrastructure of blockchain is many times larger than Google, than Amazon, so this infrastructure is not built by governments, not by big transnational companies, it is built by us, simple humans and to be a part of the infrastructure built by humans and to be a part of this, gamers will be a big part of this of course.
Anndy: You are quoted in a recent interview as saying “Decentralized flow of data will be the next fuel to push lifestyle and industry to the next level.” What does that mean for the demands on processing power?
AS: The demand on processing power will be huge. I was just a keynote speaker in Riyadh, in Saudi at an investment forum with key global speakers, and the chairman of Samsung gave a slide presentation on how big the need for computing power would be over the next 15 years, it will be dramatic, simply dramatic. Few people in the world understand the future demand for computing power and electricity. A few months ago, I was speaking with Claudia Nemat, a member of the Deutsche Telekom Executive Board in Europe. We spoke about the European Union and our discussion centred around the fact that they have to understand how much requirement there will be for computing power and the demand there will be throughout Europe from the digital market. It’s a huge (level of) demand, let’s say 100 times more than now. I asked her where the EU will find the energy for this and she didn’t answer …… probably she was confused because it is a difficult question for the European Union. Because the demand for energy is huge, especially for green energy and there needs to be a solution. One of the solutions which Gaimin can offer to society is using passive gaming machines. Of course it’s not a total solution. Maybe it’s not enough for the whole industry but every single 1,000 of 1% will still matter. Every single penny is a part of the pound.
Anndy: How will the security of this data impact the requirements of companies in compliance and regulatory and will that be the same all over the world or be easier in some jurisdictions?
AS: Security of data is a big thing that is hype that people talk about but if people stop with ‘the talk’ and look at the blockchain more professionally they will see the millions of gadgets, the internet of things, it is unhackable, the blockchain infrastructure is unhackable, so all the data will be safe. You can also set your data settings. For me, I’m fine with my data, I have nothing to hide, I have nothing to keep a secret, ok maybe the passwords to my wallet as yet, but all my personal data, I’m fine with it. I’m open. Marshall McLuhan, a well-known Canadian philosopher said that with the global internet, we are like one global village. So it’s like ancient time in the village where we are all part of one big family, nothing to hide, no need to keep a secret. The big noise about data, well let’s look to the young generation who are the digital generation and even more so the generation after that, They can’t understand what data is private. They are open, they don’t have anything to hide. This is the open society.
Anndy: Because they know, the young people know that all the information is out there, so there is no need to hide it?
AS: Yes, and this is a healthy society. An open society, nothing to hide, a trusting society and technology with the blockchain helps make this more stable, this mood of the new generation. This decentralized generation where it will be possible to keep all this data private as much as anyone reasonable wants.
Anndy: Focusing back on energy, how does the need for clean, green energy impact on the all-embracing blockchain technology and can blockchain be de-leveraged from ecological issues?
AS: Of course. Of course! Blockchain will help a lot. Currently, there is some “noise” where a few people blame the blockchain miners. Yes, for example there are still some Chinese miners, or miners from Mongolia, even for example Kazakhstan using energy from coal, especially poor quality coal which makes a lot of pollution while burning. However, search out Google or Apple and look at how they are addressing this. Apple only a couple of months ago turned completely to green energy. Before it was using many different sources of energy. Google as I read try to be 100% green. Many technology companies do not use green energy but with the blockchain we are introducing more and more green energy, in fact all my companies, especially those that are mining are using hydra energy and the blockchain technology companies are moving towards renewable energy so that no extra energy is used and no energy is wasted and even all the heat generated or energy created is reused.
Anndy: Gaming and games has been a world very separated from the mainstream for the most part, to date, what changes can you foresee in your crystal ball?
AS: Ah yes, you are talking about gamification, correct? Yes, gamification will be everywhere. If you turn to the New Testament, Jesus told us that we have to “become like a child” ie be the child, to be like a child, what is the child, look for the child. Until they are 7 years old, they just play the game. It is so beautiful to be a child, to play the game. This perfect gift which is your life. My life is a gift, of course and I understand this and I value this gift of life. To be like a child to play the game. With the gamification of everything. To make education like a game because that is how children learn, they learn through games. Learning from stories and tales since tales are part of the game. Using your imagination is a game. To begin to imagine begins the game. In the first 6 days, when the creator created our universe, it was all part of the game. To be a creator, you have to have and use imagination and imagination is a part of gamification. Gamification is very important. We need to focus on education, health and entertainment especially with this next industrial revolution occurring. This next stage of evolution will give to us a more free life. We don’t need to survive to work 24/7, like they did 100 years ago, 200 years ago. 300 years ago people worked 7 days a week from sunrise to sunset, they had to work to survive. They had to find food, to source heat to survive and the last industrial revolution gave the people 5 working days in a week and 8 hours per day. This latest industrial revolution will introduce to 80% of the population, the concept that they don’t have to work, they can have a universal income, or any other passive income. Perhaps they play a game and by playing a game they produce data, providing them with bonuses, providing them with perhaps assets that they can exchange for other assets which they don’t need money. This typology will allow us to return to the barter style of life like an old, ancient village, which is perfect. You don’t need a 3rd party like money.
Anndy: It’s amazing what you are saying. The world becomes a global village and returns to bartering in a way made possible through gamification.
AS: Yes, people will be playing the game because playing the game will be the perfect time to produce the new oil, which will be data. The data, 85% of all global data which will enable smart cities, smart technology, decentralized energy, everything ….. 85% or more will come from entertainment. Because entertainment and games produce emotion. Emotion, this is the richest of all data, the most valuable data because all other data is unemotional data. We don’t need unemotional data. Data from the drones we don’t need, drones that fly from A to B, from B to C, we already know it, it’s pre-programmed. Any unemotional data such as from bank payments, we don’t need. It’s simply a payment. I pay for my electricity, I pay my taxes, it’s not emotional. Where do the largest emotions come from? Films, music, games! When you play games you experience many emotions; you win, you lose, lots of emotions. This is the most valuable data, the new oil!
Anndy: Fascinating. We would love to know more but time is short, so perhaps more on another occasion. To conclude with a couple of final questions, can you tell us a little bit about your involvement in the Bitcoin Association?
AS: I’m a founding partner of Bitcoin Association. It was built to propose to enterprise and to business the solutions which they need and I’m happy to be a part of the Bitcoin Association to look after entertainment and media, sport, these sectors.
Anndy: If you were making investments for your kids, or loved ones in the tech’ sector what kind of businesses and niches would you be focusing on?
AS: HappyTech. HappyTech, HappyTech, HappyTech. Any technology that makes you happy.
Anndy: I’ve never heard of that, technology that makes you happy.
AS: Well then your media will be the first to tell the news about this sector. Not only gaming and entertainment. I gave a TED talk on HappyTech 2 years ago in Hong Kong.
Anndy: Are you doing this for the love of it, or for the money?
AS: So I told you a little bit earlier, that I don’t believe in money. Soon, it will be the barter system, a better way to have a happy life. What does every parent want for their children? They want them to be happy. Not to be an economist, not to be vice chairman of the bank. When the baby is born, the parents say I wish for them to be happy. It doesn’t matter where you are, with whom you are, just to be happy. So happiness is the main thing in life. To live your life happy to reach the end of your life and to say I lived a happy life. That’s what I am doing it for.
Blockcast.cc: Hi, Alexander, with all the things that you are doing, do you have any spare time available and if so, do you have a favourite pastime or any hobbies?
AS: Jenny, I am happy that all my life what I am doing is my work. My work is my hobby, I don’t work, I live my life 24/7. I’ve been very lucky that all my life has not felt like work. It has never been that ‘I must do’, or ‘I have to do’. All my life, every single minute my work has been my life, my life has been my work and I’m very happy about that.
Blockcast.cc: To round up this interview, would you like to share a quote with our audience that has inspired you?
AS: I live with one quote that I love:
“IT WASN’T RAINING WHEN NOAH BUILT THE ARK.”
It inspires me, it motivates me to think what will happen next when there is no rain, maybe there will be rain. You need to see your future one step ahead, or ten steps ahead or 100 steps ahead.
Blockcast: Thank you for your time Alexander! It has been fascinating and much appreciated. We hope to be able to get together again in the near future, thank you once again! Thank you Anndy for facilitating too.