We ask the buidlers in the blockchain and cryptocurrency sector for their thoughts on the industry… and throw in a few random zingers to keep them on their toes!
This week, our 6 Questions go to Ming Duan, the co-founder and chief operating officer of Umee, a cross-chain DeFi hub that allows decentralized interactions between different blockchains.
Ming Duan’s knowledge of the crypto and blockchain world goes back to 2014 when she initially learned about the emerging industry through the first-ever blockchain course taught at a business school. Since then, she has developed extensive crypto investment knowledge through hands-on practice. Duan brings unique insight to Umee, having experience as both a crypto investor and builder in the ecosystem. Her goal for Umee is to build a platform where individuals can interact with different tokens and chains all in one place. While propelling Umee forward, Duan leads crypto investments at Argonautic Ventures and Fenbushi Capital. She graduated from Duke University and received her Master of Business Administration degree in 2016.
1 — What is the main hurdle to mass adoption of blockchain technology?
Simply put, blockchain technology is too hard to use.
When it comes to mass adoption, it’s really about comparing what blockchain technology can bring to users through existing solutions. The challenge is that, most of the time, our existing solutions work. When wearing my investor’s hat on a new project, I always like to ask about whether blockchain is really necessary to achieve the goal for the product. From a user’s perspective, if the target audience is not already in Web3, blockchain is oftentimes not needed because a centralized solution is already faster, cheaper and easier to use.
So, why are we here? Well, it’s because of the potential that blockchain-based applications can be as fast, cheap and easy to use as existing solutions while creating new solutions: new ways of looking at economic coordination, new ways of looking at finance, from both an open-source as well as open-access perspective. There is also that little extra element of being decentralized. We’re getting there.
2 — From smart contracts to DApps to NFTs to DeFi, we have seen so many of the next “killer apps” for crypto, but none have really taken off just yet. What will stick?
The idea of a decentralized digital world will stick. It’s too early to say what will, or what has already, taken off when it comes to crypto experiments. Crypto follows market cycles, and it takes time for people to understand this new industry. We will be seeing new ideas and new experiments, and a lot of them will fail, but some of them will leave an impression on people that will push it to evolve into something new. This process is completely expected and healthy. Crypto is both a technological and social paradigm shift. We can’t get it right in one attempt and we have the luxury of a promising future to make trial and error. The promise of such an uncoordinated and distributed mechanism to run a digital world will stick in individuals’ heads. It will spur questions designed to challenge the status quo, and attract more talent to join the space and build out this decentralized digital future.
3 — What are the top five Crypto Twitter feeds you can’t do without, and why?
Umee_CrossChain needs no explanation — it’s our bread and butter! I find such joy and excitement when seeing Umee’s latest updates via our Twitter feed. Plus, just seeing Adora the octopus’s smiley face every now and then makes everyone feel happy, right?
Zhu Su is your cheatsheet to being a crypto insider. He helps you zoom out and understand how crypto fits into the broader social and economic picture while paying attention to the macro trends. Oftentimes in the crypto space, we get too deep into the weeds and forget about the bigger picture, but grasping the bigger picture is what sets the foundation for solid long-term success.
Samczsun is the reason why everyone should hold a healthy sense of paranoia when it comes to software security in crypto. His habit of generously sharing security vulnerability and hack reviews is extremely beneficial even to non-technical readers.
If you are looking for an alpha or trying to land on the right side of the bell curve of the crypto crowd, I would recommend following ASvanevik. He is a founder as well as a talented data scientist who has shed much-needed light on the dark forest of blockchain data. Alex has Ieft me with a lasting impression since the very first time we spoke.
Bond_dog_51 is my partner in crypto, so his Twitter feed is an important follow for me. As the chief executive office of Umee, we work side by side to make this platform all it can be. I enjoy following his unique insight on the industry through his feed, and I love reading his retweets.
And a sixth one, just for fun! Weird_AnimaIs is one of the few Twitter accounts I follow that have nothing to do with crypto. It makes me smile and take a moment to appreciate the power of mother nature and how things are all interconnected. I’m a big fan of how nature follows the same patterns in an interesting and transcendent way.
4 — Which two superpowers would you most want to have, and how would you combine them for good… or evil?
I would love to have the power to freeze time, like Hermione in Harry Potter! We crypto people always joke about how it already feels like one month is equivalent to years in crypto time with exciting, new things happening every day and so much information to ingest. I’m a very slow reader and like to spend time understanding the ins and outs of a topic before moving on to the next. Having 200 tabs open on my browser is inevitable because I don’t have enough time to process everything! How about a little one-hour time freeze everyday? I’ll be able to save my Chrome from burning down too quickly.
Alternatively, I would also love to have the superpower to clone myself — not once, but twice! One of me would attend all the crypto conferences and meetups, while the other keeps track of the latest news and trends in the space. The third Ming would focus solely on shipping and building!
5 — ??What’s the thing on your bucket list that is most unlikely to happen?
I’m afraid it’ll be the one where I complete a part-time program at a culinary school. I’m a big foodie. I started attempting to cook on the stove when I was six years old and I almost applied to a culinary school for college, but I gave in to my mom and studied finance instead. Reading and practicing different recipes has been one of the most relaxing activities when taking a break from living in the limitless crypto world. Remember Monica from Friends? I imagine myself to be quite like her if I actually accomplished my dream of becoming a chef. Although crypto never disappoints — in 2020, I happily indulged in all the food coins out there. Food was actually a large inspiration for Umee, as the word in Japanese means “Delicious!” Team Umee can’t get enough of the food coin degen culture.
6 — Where do you stand on alien intelligence and the existence of life elsewhere in the universe?
Aliens absolutely exist! What we currently know about the universe is very limited, almost similar to how early we are in crypto adoption. The idea that life, or whatever form of intelligence, exists somewhere out there is really exciting. Though I’m a fan of The Three-Body Problem, I’d like to think that we should be cautious when reaching out and looking for aliens.
A wish for the young, ambitious blockchain community:
I wish and hope to see more women in the crypto world use their voices. There is a diversity problem, but it is important to highlight that women are already in the space and are using their intelligence to propel the crypto industry forward. Let’s see them shine!