TraderCobb Interviews Donna Redel NY Angel & Woman in BlockChain @ Consensus Blockchain Week – NY
Donna is Ex-Chairman New York Commodity Exchange & MD & Board Member – World Economic Forum as well as CEO Strategic 50 & MD New York Angels
TraderCobb Crypto podcast. G’Day guys. Welcome to TraderCobb crypto show. Got another amazing guests with us, in Donna Redel. Donna comes from a background of all sorts. I just had a very brief chat with her.
She’s doing some amazing things within this space, sort of the past that she’s done things brought her into this person I’m really interested in. So thanks so much for being here. You’re welcome. It’s pleasure.
Would you like to give a little bit of an introduction on yourself where you been, where you’re at and where I’ve come to? Sure. So I was the chairman of the Commodity Exchange in New York, we merged in with the NYMEX to create the largest physical Commodity Exchange.
And anybody who studies Exchanges knows that they have they have merged and validated. Thereafter I was the managing director of the World Economic Forum most known for its meeting in Davos. We helped to create strategy relating to the membership there and create a nexus between business trends, social issues and and so far.
And I’ve been since 2007, an angel VC investor working in that space analyzing companies, which is an actual segway into get into Blockchain cryptocurrency tokens. Okay? So you’re in we’re here in Blockchain World now. We’re looking at the businesses in the same sort of way but it’s a different type of industry.
And it’s evolving very, very quickly. And there’s a lot of similarities being drawn towards the internet. There is a lot of debate around that. What’s your thoughts in that space? I mean, people that compare the internet, it’s like the second internet.
Do you see that as being a fair analysis? Or are we still a long way apart? Well, I think that the benefit that blockchain of course has is that is being built in conjunction or over the internet. It couldn’t exist to a large extent of the internet hadn’t been laid before.
We’re not saying the internet is is a perfect architecture or landscape. I think what people say it’s, it’s like the internet, they mean that there’s a lot of expectations. There’s a lot of talk, there’s a lot of energy. And that’s fine. Some of the blockchain energy is some of its going faster than the technology is going.
But that’ll catch up. Absolutely. Well, it’s catching up at a very, very, very fast rate. I mean just being at this consensus this week, seeing the amount of people and having amazing guests on the show. It’s just taking so many angles.
Now for you, you you’ve been in the angel investing side of things obvioulsy you invested in projects, what are the sorts of things you’re looking for? Because on this show, we cover a lot about how many people are looking at the token, more than the underlying business itself.
We just had a brief chat on that. Would you share with anybody listening? I think wherever you’re investing in a company, especially a startup, which all of these are, yeah, you look, I approached the same way we look at investing in a startup from the angel VC world.
You really need a great team. That’s the first thing you have to look at. How great is the entrepreneur, how great is the team he’s building, how flexible are they? Because things are going to happen. They’re going to have to pivot and turn.
And so you want to make sure that they have a really solid group together. The other thing, obviously is you want to look at the business. What do you think about it? What’s the what’s the competition? Does it really sound practical.
In in the blockchain space, you need to ask does it really need a blockchain? Well, that’s a big one. Yeah. What does it really need a blockchain? And then if you’re looking and it happens to have a token as well, you have to ask, does it really need a token?
So am you want to look and analyze what are the use of proceeds? What are the what are they going to do with the money? How much money are they getting? Are they going to be able to layer it in a in a focused and and an organized fashion to achieve their objectives and their benchmarks?
So I think that’s very, very important. And is there any particular area that blockchain is going into is in at the moment you see as particularly? I mean, it’s all very innovative, right? It’s all very innovative. But is there any area that excites you the most at the moment that is drawing the most attention from your eyes as far as an investor point of view.
I really like the infrastructure. Yeah. And some of the companies that are looking to solve problems within the infrastructure. Or specific problems that exist in society, that the utilization of a blockchain or token for payments could could work on.
The very many, many, many exciting companies. And so it’s hard to parse through, because every entrepreneur is incredibly enthusiastic. Very passionate people in this space. Absolutely. That’s one of the things that we have in in this blockchain community that I found am.
I think it’s because new there’s a lot of enthusiasm as you said. There’s a lot of wanting to work together. People have known each other’s shoulders and and not telling them to go away. We it’s a very inclusive environment for the most part that I’m seeing out there.
I think it’s allowing the technology to grow at a greater rate. Do we have issues here about the scalability of how we grow this? Because we’ve seen the prices going nuts. We’ve we’ve looked at the speculation side of it, and it’s gone absolutely crazy.
The space is growing really quickly. What are the hurdles that you see for this space before we can see I don’t know mainstream adoption or more use cases? What what are the major hurdles?
What one is infrastructure. I mean, how fast can a transaction go? You can’t have everybody paying with crypto currencies now, because the scalability isn’t there at this particular time. The other thing, and I don’t know whether your audiences is mostly from the US or overseas, we have a very big distinction now, between the United States and overseas.
Yeah, yeah. Particularly, particularly in the capital raise. And I think that that’s something to really be aware of, because though it’s not stopping innovation here. It is changing the dynamics is who can invest in those companies.
Yeah, that sort of stuff a little bit. They haven’t. It’s, um, it’s a sort of a half take on regulation in a certain way. Are you seeing potentially this country, the US, I mean, we do have a lot more listeners here in the US is do you think they’re going to sort of pave the way?
Because it’s all this conversation about what country is going to have the best either me so open to I spoke to a gentleman yesterday who was a big miner. And he had he was out of Canada because of very, very open to it in Canada. Do you see the US joined in the same path?
Well, it’s good to point out Canada. Because Canada has been very open in mining. It was very open in cannabis. And of course, yes, it has been very open in in Bitcoin and it particularly because it allows banking of those monies. Which is very difficult still in the United States.
The United States right now there is for some people, they think a lack of clarity relating to the regulation for the people that are taking a more cautious view. They think that the SEC and the CFTC have given basic broad direction, and they’re complying within that. Which basically means that you are issuing securities.
Yes. So the the criteria in which to invest in those securities is very different than it was a year ago, not to say the criteria is different, but the way in which it’s being handled is different, to be more compliant. So there’s a conversation about the utility.
And you know whether it’s going to be a security, a lot of a lot of the talk right now is some people saying that I have not read a white paper that is not a security. What’s your weigh in on that for us? Because I know that there is utility token that does need to be required to be used and you can have Proof of Stake and has all sorts of things in there.
But they’re trying to stop it from becoming a security. Are you looking at this and going well, if whenever they were looking for a value increase, and an investor comes in for that, it’s going to be security, right? I think the way right now, you would proceed in the US.
If you and especially if you’re checking in the US, investors, even if you were foreign, would be that you would proceed as if it was a security. Yeah. The thing that you were taking money for makes it the way in which you do it makes it a security.
And it’s possible that some of the tokens may be utilities. But you don’t want to necessarily if I’m not a practicing lawyer, you don’t want to advise your clients to go down that route, and perhaps run afoul of what the government may say later on. So I think everybody is trying to be incredibly, incredibly cautious in in this space.
I do think I mean, I have everybody knows I have pretty strong regulatory background. And I think that having clarity and regulation is a positive aspect. Yes. It will bring more institutional money and more family office money.
It will bring many many different other kinds of variations on the theme, whether it’s ETFs ecetera. I would assume that in in a year from now, you would see many of the regulated commodity exchanges and SEC regulated exchanges offering products – Yeah – in and around the cryptocurrency Bitcoin space.
Yeah. Exactly what they’re going to look like, I don’t know. But these are businesses that trade. And so if these instruments look like a security, they probably will be traded on a securities regulated exchange and then they’ll be many, many opportunities.
And if you’re looking at someone’s pitching you, for example, as you’re an investor, you’re looking at are you looking for somebody who is sort of following a SEC compliant securitized model? Just to keep yourself away from all that issue?
Is that if it does will not so I don’t think it’s so so much if or when the regulation comes, you’re looking to sort of at least have built around that framework of something that can serve the slot into that peg hole?
The issue, the issue in the US is the manner in which you raised the money? Yeah. So the money is now being raised under various regs. So one of them is Reg D. There’s some I think the first Reg A’s are being offered or doing that.
But for the most part now, it’s gone up to that you have to be an accredited investor. Yes. Which is why you’re seeing many more VCs enter the picture. And they can take larger amounts of any kind of offering, as well as you have many companies that are doing not only KYC and AML but then they’re also screening to make sure that the person is an accredited investor.
So it is slightly more complicated than it was a year ago. It’s as many crypto people would think it’s less democratic. Yeah. In that you know, it is not open to everybody. Yeah. At this time. Okay. Well, I will definitely see them, you will, I’m in Australia, right.
So I see what’s being rolled out and all these different groups and they’re always asking the question how we get in these like US clients looking to try and get in. And if they’re not accredited, they’re finding it very difficult. There are ways around it, apparently I don’t really know. But you know, it’s the internet.
Australia has, you know, a cup to women. That I was talking with and I’ve met several times, both of which are using blockchain. One is one is Ever ledger, then she does diamonds and precious stones on the blockchain. She has an issue getting cryptocurrency.
And from our conversation she doesn’t plan to. The other woman fantastic is she does intimate. And she is has as a token for a very specific payment reason for her model of a project and business and who her users are. So they you can have a company and entrepreneurs they both happen to be Australian.
Yes. Where they are using blockchain and or token for very specific reasons in their business plan. And when I look at any business, I want to see how they’re using not only blockchain or token, but I want to see how they think it really scales over time.
So you spoke let’s touch on this quickly because, look for for me, I’ve got two daughters. I speak with some people in Australia who are very passionate getting more women into this space. I literally on my show yesterday put a war cry out.
After I’d been walking through the Consensus. I was like, we need more women in this space. This is molding the future. We’re creating a whole new ecosystem, not only we’re not just doing business, but interacting as well.
How do we how do we make this more attractive? And I know that a lot of there’s a lot of immaturity on the internet side of things. But when it comes to that they can you know, we all try to ignore all the rubbish that’s out there. How do we get more women into the space? And it seems to be lacking.
I think this is I think this is a misconception. I was that – I hope you are right. – I was at a woman blockchain meeting last night. And there are lots of women in blockchain. There are numerous lawyers that are women in blockchain. They just don’t get invited to the panels.
So you’ll have five men lawyers, and one woman moderator. You need a number of those lawyers to be women. Yeah. And you need a male or female moderator. But it is the it is the integration of the women into the core infrastructure of the conferences that gives them the visibility.
Yes. And so every single, I think since not only that every single conference should double check and triple check its panels to make sure it is diverse not only in terms of male female, but across across the geography and across the racial zones. I also think that we have a list and we’re growing it we’re going to put it in post it.
Over 200 women and every single area in which they’re great at and what we will also want to see is not the same women each time being at a conference, you want to use many of the women not just the same 10 or 20 of them all over again.
Last weekend, there was a big women in blockchain conference and that conference should be smack in the center of consensus, not – a seperate one yeah – not off on the side. But I think encouraging those women to be in the conferences and the conferences, putting them and building them also the companies.
Every company, I don’t care whether it is a blockchain company or another company should have women advisors, they should have women employees. And I feel that given my long history of being a woman, who was sometimes the first, I call that out, I think that everybody should try and do that and start to correct it.
Well, I can tell you one thing, I was at the Ethereum summit, God it’s been a long nine days. I’ll tell you what – They were great – there was a lot of women of very diverse cultural and sex wise, there’s a lot of males, lots of lots of females, amazing women on the show.
But that seemed like one that had sort of hit the nail on the head that they the mix was really really good. Well, that part of the reason is is that the consensus from almost its onset has tried very hard to make sure that there’s women in blockchain and my friend Tessie Marin started women blockchain.
And they are a very inclusive group of people supportive group of people trying to constantly get women not only involved but promoted to visibility. Bbecause it’s interesting is that when we talked about crypto being inclusive as the whole point. Taking power back we were being inclusive.
Everyone’s involved we can connect everybody through the use of the blockchain and trust the society. But then we’re going to see six men on stage and no woman panelist. It’s like the message and the the execution in those sorts of manners. It just seems strange.
When I was walking around in the event overwhelmingly the people that were attending were men. I don’t know what that is. I’m not sure if it’s because there’s there’s less female investors or if I just feel that I want to come to an event like that because it does feel so male dominated.
Well, I can say and of course you for me, I didn’t go to Consensus because I knew it was going to be it was going to be a little too crazy. Yeah it was. I had a great time at Fluidity and I had a great time at the Ethereal conference and went to a lot of really high quality events in around New York on tokens on social on social enterprise.
There were many, many highly respectable people speaking all over New York and I thought me personally, I would get more out of that. Yeah. And be in what was a little too much confusion. Perhaps.
We we went yesterday and I didn’t go day one, day two, and yesterday was gonna be my day off. But we hadn’t been after I got to go and check this place out. And wow it was, it was, as you say, it was overwhelming. It was so full on. I don’t know how people do that for three days, it would have just been so intense to have gone through everything.
Because everyone’s trying to sell you something. I mean, look, it’s a great event. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying it’s not a good event. But I the the Ethereal summit. That felt it felt more comfortable. It was more of an agenda about education as opposed to everyone trying to sell you something.
And there’s a lot more balanced like we said with the audience, there was a very different audience to the consensus audience. It was a very, very different field Ethereal summit to what the consensus was. Obviously, I can’t compare because I wasn’t at the other one.
I do want to bring up a point that you and I talked about just prior to your podcast, that education. So I told you that I was now going to be professor. Yes, congratulations. For them, which is a University in New York both, at the course, the blockchain, cryptocurrencies and tokens will be offered both at the Graduate School of Business and the law school.
And you’re increasingly seeing courses offered at the best schools throughout New York and, and, and, and the tristate area. I do believe that they’re also mushrooming in in mushrooming in the West Coast and other places. I know that Oxford has two day sessions and workshops etc.
So I think that one of the ways in which to include people is to have more and more education to be having younger persons think this is a profession that getting into blockchain and building companies on the blockchain is a future. And when you see legacy companies such as IBM, IBM Merce.
Merce created a joint venture with IBM for their shipping logistics. You also have the food companies that are doing their blockchains so that you’ll be able to know more about some of the critical issues in the world which are food safety is what is a big one. Just want to see what we can do about climate.
Well, that’s we can go down a rabbit hole for that. We could talk about that all day. It’s something I’m very, very passionate about is that whole space. In Australia we have this wonderful desire to wreck the Great Barrier Reef at the moment by putting a dirty great big coal mine right smack bang in front of it and putting ships through it.
I’m a surfer I’m a fisherman I must be efficient. I love the ocean. I love the water. And it just does my head in that our government can be so backward in that space. I’m glad I enjoyed myself twice and seeing the barrier reef years ago.
Yes, not gonna be around for too much longer. Well, unfortunately, I just hope my kids get to see it and maybe their kids kids as well. It’s got a lot of work to do. But Donna It’s been an absolute pleasure having you on the show.
Thank you very much. I always asked my last my guess one last question before they go. I hope it’s not a trick question. No, it’s not a trick question. It’s just a bit of fun. Obviously, we did touch on it before about how the internet’s being compared to blockchain is just because of the growth.
I think it’s trying to help people to understand that this is something that is new, you might not know too much about it, but the internet was the same now. We sort of saw the rise of the Internet 1993 to about 2000, which was the birth of the whole thing when sort of boomed and bust basically.
We talked about blockchain. Where do you think we are at the moment 1993 or 2000, or somewhere in the middle? We’re in the very beginning. I think one of the reasons that Blockchain got so much notoriety so quickly, was because of the money raises. Yes.
And that is a good thing and a bad thing. So some of that outpaced the infrastructure development. So I do think there will be great strides made in in the next 18 months and hopefully Fantastic companies will come out of that. So I would look cautiously. Yep.
Get educated. And think about where you see the opportunities. I agree. So in ’93 or ’94. Where doi you think? We’re about ’95. ’95. Yeah. Okay. Donna it’s been an absolute pleasure having you on the show. Would you like to tell anyone where they can find more information about you, your education what you’re doing at the moment?
Oh, sure. You can just look me up on LinkedIn if you want Donna Redel, and good luck, and I hope to hear all good news about things you’re doing in the future. It’s been absolute pleasure. Thank you so much for your time. Thank you. Thanks guys.