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Miko is a General Partner with Gumi Ventures, a US $30M investment fund focused on early-stage blockchain startups, and a cofounder of crypto exchange Evercoin.
Miko ignited his passion for open-source software 25 years ago as chief Evangelist for the Java Language and Platform at Sun Microsystems.
Since then he has been building open source software startups in Silicon Valley including raising over $50 million in venture capital for developer platform companies such as Gradle and financial infrastructure companies like Hazelcast and has participated in multiple exits including INFRAVIO, webMethods, and Db4O. He is an advisor in successful startups like Celsius (CeFi Lending), Idle Finance (DeFi Yield Aggregator), Pundi X (Payments), and KEYLESS (ID infrastructure). He has been an investor with Focus Ventures, a firm with over $800M under management, 9 IPOs, and 44 exits, and blockchain firm Pantera Capital. He holds a Master’s degree in Neuroscience from Yale University where he worked on abstract computational neural networks. Miko’s mission is to promote increased transparency, equality, inclusion, innovation, and lower-cost financial infrastructure through open source.
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Intro: (00:00:00) Hey guys, welcome to Asian Hustle Network Podcast, My name is Bryan.
And my name is Maggie
And we interview Asian entrepreneurs around the world to amplify their voices and empower Asians to pursue their dreams and goals.
We believe that each person has a message and a unique story from their entrepreneurial journey that they can share with all of us.
Maggie: (00:00:23) Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Asian hustle network podcast. Today, we have a very special guest with us. His name is MICU Matsumura and Mikko is a general partner at gimme ventures, a $30 million investment fund focused on early stage blockchain startups and a co-founder of crypto exchange. Every coin. Nico ignited his passion for open source software 25 years ago, as a chief evangelist for the Java language and platform at sun Microsystems. Since then he has been building open source software startups in Silicon Valley, including raising over $50 million in venture capital for developer platform companies, such as Gretel and financial infrastructure companies. Like Hazelcast. He holds a master's degree in neuroscience from Yale university where he worked on abstract computational neural networks. Mico's mission is to promote increased transparency, equality, inclusion, innovation, and lower costs, financial infrastructure through open source. Miko, welcome to the show.
Miko: (00:01:18) Okay, thanks for having me.
Bryan: (00:01:20) Yeah. Mikko is super excited to have you on. So we want to dive deep into who you are, you know, where'd you grow up. How'd you become the person you are today.Sorry. Very long winded question, but very curious about who you are.
Miko: (00:01:31) No, absolutely. So one of the things that doesn't meet the eye is that I'm actually a mid-west Western boy. So it's people see me and they're like, Oh, you're a techie. You're like Silicon Valley. Like you must be from California. You know, you're a natural California, but it turns out that I was born in Wisconsin and. It's quite amazing because if you go to Wisconsin and you grow up, like I did there, like it's pretty much me and my brother and then like, Nope, Asian it's like, I mean, you know, there was this kid, uh, bill yang, who, uh, everyone was like, Oh my God, you look exactly like bill yang. It's like, we're both Asian like that.That was about it. So I think that was kind of the, uh, that was, that was the scene for me.
Bryan: (00:02:21) Yeah. Wow. That's really awesome. But I had no idea you were a Midwest boy.
Maggie: (00:02:25) Yeah. And while you were growing up in Wisconsin, you know, seeing, you know, the population there and seeing that there were very little Asians, how did that kind of shape your Asian identity growing up?
Miko: (00:02:34) Oh my God. So much. I mean, it's really tough, right? Like, uh, obviously there's a bunch of issues that you get when you kind of grow up in that. Kind of model because in a way it's much the Asian American experience, less than the Asian experience. Right. In the sense that there's this concept of like a minority and in a way, like, I've kind of took on the, I guess the view of the majority. Right? Like, and what I mean by the view of the majority, there's kind of a banana effect, right. Which is the sort of yellow on the outside white on the inside, you know? So I kind of have that banana effect problem, you know? Cause for example, like if you put me on a bus. That's like, I'm the only Asian person I'm basically like, okay. And then if I put, if you put me on a bus where I'm like, it's all Asians except me or not, it's all Asians. Right. Including me. And then I look around, I'm like, Oh, wow, look, it's buses full of Asian people, you know? So like, and I guess that's a weird thing, but I would say that, like the thing that. Helped me, is that in a way I was always kind of singled out and it's not a pleasant and it's tough. Right. It's kind of a tough experience, you know, and in a way, like there's two things I learned. One of the things is I learned kind of the art of invisibility. Right. Which is kind of like a, you know, it's like a Ninja Ninja stuff, which is, uh, in a way. And I, I make a joke about it, but it's actually kind of like, it's kind of bad actually, right? When you're a little kid, like basically like here's an example is like we would play Dodge ball and I would always win in the, in the game of Dodge ball. If it was like everyone against everyone, or at least I would be in the top three. And the way I would do it is I would stand inside the ring. And I would basically like stand as if I were a spectator, I would just stand and I would face the inside of the ring right inside, but like at the edge and I would just stand, like I was a spectator, no one would ever throw the ball at me and I would just be like, I just don't exist. I'm not even here. You know? And that's just an example of kind of being invisible. Yeah. At the same time as being visible. Right. And so the thing that I think I gained as a superpower though, was which I really deployed when I came to Silicon Valley is that I don't feel uncomfortable being singled out. And I don't feel uncomfortable when everybody's kind of staring at me being like, Oh, that guy's different. You know? And so that helped me, like, cause you know, I eventually kind of got to be like a speaker, you know, in front of audiences. You know, and I, I, you know, I gave this talks in front of like the, at the Moscone center or like 18,000 Java developers standing there, you know, and I just felt like pretty at home. Cause I was like, you know, some people just feel really when they feel separated from the pack and they feel singled out and they feel it, they get very scared and it's kind of like welcome to my world. Like that's, uh, you know, um, yeah, I mean, I'm the, I'm the odd one, always immediates.
Bryan: (00:05:34) We heard your story a couple of times before on the podcast as well, and very similar how people were like, they very similar experience with yours where it's like, they feel like they're single out or they're invisible. And that seems to be a common theme, amazing. Um, with Asian Americans who did not grow up in, in California or New York or Seattle or Texas, you know, and it's really unique to hear you use your disadvantage, your advantage, you know, this mindset difference to how you're. Talking to you right now. You're absolutely very positive about the situation. Whereas most people can easily take that in a very negative connotation and really like, hi, hi from the world. But you took that as your advantage. So thank you so much for doing that.
Miko: (00:06:17) Well, I would split it this way. Right. Which is that? Okay. It it's sort of like the phrase of that, which does not kill you, makes you stronger. Right. So the, the thing about it is, is that like, you know, I'm, I'm like 52 years old now. So like in a way, like, uh, the process of being traumatized by all that, and kind of trying to get over it and figuring this stuff out, like in a way, like all of those challenges. Brings up these kinds of profound capabilities. Right? So like in a way, when you think about people, you know, if someone doesn't have good eyesight, then maybe their hearing gets better. Right. Cause the, basically the bottom line on stuff like that is, or, or else you die. I mean maybe, you know, maybe not, but like, you know, in ancient days, maybe if you didn't have good eyesight, maybe you would die, like maybe a tiger would eat or something. But what if your hearing was like, Super powered. Right. And so like in a way, like the stuff that doesn't kill you, like you can, you can kind of work with it. You can be like, okay, well, why don't I get out of that? Like, you know, cause you kinda got savaged, but you know, ultimately like, you know, You have to spend a period of time kind of maybe being traumatized and you know, and then you kind of have to like find a way to come out somehow.
Bryan: (00:07:34) Yeah. So one cluster, your machine days, you see that you majored in psychology and Michigan. Yeah. Neural science at Yale. And then you went to a long, awesome career of a tech executive investor. How did that all happen? What does it do your mind?
Miko: (00:07:50) Yeah. So, so I'll tell you a couple of facets, right? So I would say that like, one of the common themes in the experience of Asian America is probably like the kind of strict parents. And so my parents were very much kind of like, Oh, you got to study hard and all this stuff, you know? And so like, you know, like I went to Yale, my brother went to MIT and like, we were all just kind of us in our hops. Because like, that's how we go. Right. So, you know, my dad was like, uh, you know, he, he's a tough guy. Right. And, you know, in a way he was kind of a tough guy in the template of Japan. Right. Which is, you know, the man of few words and just kind of very tough and yeah. Tough on himself and tough on his kids. And they, you know, but in a way, like that was his way of being protective. Right. So in a way, like that was kind of what motivated me and I, a lot of the things that we ended up focusing on were kind of the sciences, cause my dad was a scientist. So like in a way I was always kind of interested in humans and behavior of humans and what makes humans do things. But I think I always kind of was pushed towards science. So like guess the scientific explanation. Right? So psychology. For me, it was kind of like exciting because it was sort of why do people do things, you know? Cause it's, it's sort of the most mysterious thing in the world, right? Like you can look at the behavior of objects like physics and you can look at the behavior of a lot of different things. But when you start looking at the behavior of people, you're constantly coming up with situations where you're like, why did they do that? Like, you know, increasingly I'm getting excited about history because every time someone writes down a piece of history, it's because they're doing something weird. Yeah, right. Like that's how it becomes history. Like, if it's just another, the same as every other day, then it's not history. Right. So then you look at history and you're like, well, why did they do that? Like one guy, I went to Romania and I went to this place Transylvania and I went to Dracula's castle and I heard all these legends about Dracula and like all the crazy stuff that he did. Like, you know, he impaled a bunch of people. Like the guy was like a psycho. Right. And the thing that's so interesting is you kind of look at stuff like that. You're like, What makes someone act like that? Right? Cause obviously if the person's a, at some level that person's a human being, right. So at that, at some level, that person has to be making a set of decisions that make them behave like this total crazy bones. Right. So I guess I would say that, uh, I've always been fascinated by that. And the thing that happened that kind of came. Through kind of psychology. And the neuroscience is kind of that really, I was constrained by my expression because I had pretty strong parents that were like focused on like science. So like, you know, because of that, my dad was like, well, you kind of have to do science. And that was kind of how I ended up at Yale doing neuroscience stuff. I was also naturally super interested in computer stuff. So like, you know, that's why it became kind of like computers. And so the computers and the psychology were really me. And I think the science was my dad. And I think I just that's how those things all came together.
Bryan: (00:10:49) Yeah, I can listen to you talk forever because I feel the same way. Like, I, I love I'm fascinated with psychology. It's one being where I, well, my sister did her PhD in psychology, so I read all her books, but I did computer science. So the way you think, the way he broke things down, I love it. I love it. I feel the same way. And it's not that many people like that out there that talks this way or thinks this way, you know, they kind of really breaks down everything. And just to bridge that knowledge analogy into blockchain, like essentially with blockchain, you're owning a piece of history. Hmm.
Miko: (00:11:28) Oh yeah. I love yard framing. That it's a hundred percent. That is a hundred P, which is that, uh, the block, all the blockchain is, is it is a novel history recording device. That's all it is. Right. And, and the question is, what does it mean novel? Right. So I think the two properties that make it pretty novel are, and one property that makes it very limited, right? The properties that make it novel are, is that it's really a consensus history. Right. Which is just a shock. It's a shock because history has always been written by the winners. Right. So whoever it won the battle, like writes the history and says, you know, who really sucked with our guys that lost, right.It's like the losers, they were just horrible, like horrible. Like they were horrible people. They were doing horrible things and then defeated them. And that's, that's awesome. Like, it's so great that we did that. And aren't we great. Right. So that's history is written by the winner, but in the case of blockchains, it's, it's actually written by. Some random node somewhere, you know? And so in a way it's a consensus history. So that's the first property. The second property that's exciting is, is that it is kind of, it's a history that has a property of immutability. Right. And so, yeah. Right. Because the thing that's problematic is, is, so the first thing that becomes super important is to really accurately record what happened and the idea of consensus of what happened is about collective witnessing. And that's so important. Like for example, here's the idea of it is not blockchain at all, but, but if you remember, like, George Floyd, right? Like George Floyd suffered a horrible experience, you know, and, and he was killed and, and, um, but what, what made that into a transformative event for our culture? Is collective witnessing, right? Is that, is that lot of people witnessed this and how did they do that? Which is there a group of kids there and they took a camera and they pointed it at this and they were like, this is terrible. You have to stop. Like, and I'm going to film this and I'm going to show everyone once you did. Right. And, and so the idea of this power of. Collective or community history created by witnessing is what we're seeing in, in blockchain. That's what the blockchain is. And then the property of immutability is, is once that stuff gets written down, right? Like we're done. Like you can't erase it. It's I can't be erased. Right. And why can't you erase? It is because there's thousands of copies everywhere. Right. And if you just kind of try to come up with a false copy, all the other nodes will be like, I reject you're like, that's not what happened. Like, I didn't see that none of these guys saw that that's not what happened. You're you're full of BS, you know, I'm so like, that's beautiful. So I, I, I liked that you kind of brought it in that way. Like, that's a great way of thinking about, uh, of, of this in a way, one of the reasons why Bitcoin is so interesting as that, if you're owning any fraction of a Bitcoin, you actually are owning a piece of history, the history of the internet, right? It's like, okay, well the internet evolved its own monetary system. Like, like how could that be? And it's like, okay, well, you can own a piece of that. It's like, okay, now I own a piece of the bank of the internet, uh, owned by the people. So that's, that's fine.
Bryan: (00:15:04) I looked up the founder of big point and it turns out without it. He's from my hometown. I live, I grew up in temple city in California. I'm like, wait a minute. He's in my hometown. Woozy.
Miko: (00:15:19) You mean, you mean like Dorian Sitoshi?
Bryan: (00:15:23) Yeah. Yeah. I looked up this history and it was like total city, but yeah, I do want to take it back and bit before we dive deeper into blockchain. So when you see that, you know, you were at sun system, I believe some Microsystems chiefs jealous, um, even jealous. Um, how did that, what was that transition like over to becoming a focus venture investor in limited partner, we see that you're at sun Microsystems for five years, right? You were working for five years and you decided to become a. Uh, intervention. How did that transition happen?
Miko: (00:15:57) And, yeah, I'll, I'll, I'll describe it. So one of the things that was so fascinating is I came out of Yale university and I was all kind of a developer and I had been programming, so I just started programming stuff. And I actually did a brief stint at wired digital, which is the digital arm of the magazine before they sold it to. Conde Nast. And so basically it was this kind of really crazy group of people in South San Francisco, right at third and Bryant in this kind of big warehouse. And we basically were just building this kind of future internet. We invented stuff like the banner ad and like there's a bunch of crazy things we do, they did there. But eventually what happened was, was that I kind of ended up getting really excited about this. Programming language called Java and mostly in graduate school, I had been programming in C plus plus, and it turns out that Java solves a lot of what is horrible about C plus plus, like it's just the C plus class is kind of a nightmare to program in, and Java is kind of a dream to me at the time. And so like, I quit. The wired and I joined sun, which is the creators of the Java language and platform. And the thing that had happened to me that was so fascinating is, is that like, um, one of the people in history that always fascinated me and who I always held up as a hero, uh, it was guy Kawasaki, right. And guy Kawasaki was the evangelist for the Macintosh. Right. And so with Apple, Right. So in a way, I just got inspired to sort of take a similar role for Java because you know, the idea of a developer evangelist is someone who helps a platform. With developers, right. To, to build applications and to make the platform useful. So that's kind of how I got into the role of evangelism. Right. Because it turns out that like, uh, I was only so good at programming and when I got to sun, I was hanging out with like James Gosling, the creator of Java. And, you know, I was hanging out with like people that were just like multiple orders of magnitude, smarter and better at programming than me. So it was like, I was just like, Oh my God, these are like giants. Like these are just like APIC people and they're just. Talented people just hanging out all around at sun, right? Like for example, like Whitfield, Diffie like he's, he's he created a defi Hellman, which is like one of the primary cryptography algorithms, you know? So they're just these random people hanging out that were just like these genius level. Computer scientists and things. So basically what it meant is it meant that I made a hard left turn into marketing. All right. Because basically as a developer evangelists, like you become essentially a marketer. And the thing that happened, that was so amazing to me is that, uh, it became. A culmination of my kind of lifelong interest in human behavior. Right. So all of a sudden I was kind of like, why do people do things? And it's like, well, marketers and marketing are all about figuring out why people do things. So what's the tunnel. Into investing. So the tunnel is, is that we actually had a venture fund at sun called the Java fund. And the Java fund was basically done in partnership with Kleiner Perkins, who at the time was kind of like a preeminent venture capitalist, and also the VC that originally funded sun Microsystems. Uh, it turns out that like, Uh, the node coastline, who was part of coastal ventures was actually at the time at Kleiner Perkins, you know, and he actually was part of the founding team at sun Microsystems. And he actually moved from sun to Kleiner Perkins. So like, there's just this revolving door. And so, but the point being that sun and Kleiner Perkins were tied together at the hip and they created the Java fund. And so I actually got super interested in all of that. Because, you know, so I started like getting excited about startups and I got excited about open source and I got excited about venture capital and I got excited about marketing and like, all those things was kind of like became sort of my, uh, you know, my, my, the next. Couple decades of my life.
Bryan: (00:20:25) And what I really liked about this story is how multi-faceted you are, you're not pigeonholed into one category. Um, you know, you, you've tried different things and obviously you're very successful at it. And I really liked that too, because I think that was the biggest challenge for myself at least was when I wanted to change my major and do this and that.I got a lot of Christmas. My parents lack prisons, all my jobs.
Miko: (00:20:49) So some from the parents, when I left graduate school, like that was a hell hole. Like that was a bad scene. Right. Because in a way, my, in my dad's worldview, like he basically escaped kind of like a bombed out Japan after world war II. Like he was a kid when the bombing started and, you know, by the time he was sort of a young. Kind of a undergraduate, you know, after graduated from, uh, Tokyo university, uh, he ended up getting a scholarship to go, uh, leave the country. So he came to, he came to Canada on a UN scholarship because the United nations basically felt sorry for Japan, because they were like, uh, yeah, like your country got like bombed to shit. And like, there's nothing there. So like, you know, we're gonna, we're going to give you guys grants and you guys can like become, you know, scientists in a global setting. So my dad jumped at the chance, but like for him, science was like a lifeline. So basically he was basically like, if you're going to leave science, like, um, Yeah, it was almost like you're walking off the path into it, like a minefield. Like he was basically like, you know, so, so that was, that was extremely difficult. That was probably the most challenging time in my relationship with my dad, because basically he was like, he was convinced that I was just like committing like seppuku, like he was convinced and I was like killing myself science. And so like, Think about the pressure, like, think about, think about how a parent acts, if they think their kid is like, you know, it's to, you know, basically killing themselves, you know, that, that was the emotional energy. I mean, he didn't think I was going to die, but like he, but he acted like it.
Maggie: (00:22:29) Yeah. Well that's because the science was his lifeline, you know, he had so much passion for it. Was there anything that you did in response to, you know, how your dad responded to your actions? What, what did you try to do to make them. Feel, you know, at least confident that you were going to be successful.
Miko: (00:22:44) Oh, man. Uh, in a way it just became kind of intolerable. I mean, we, we ended up, uh, we ended up actually, uh, you know, like just working it out over the course of years. So it, there was a while there where it was just really, the relationship was not that good because in a way, the thing that's really bad is when you're not fully grown up yourself, like. If your dad is like, you're really screwing things up. Like the next thing you're doing is you're telling yourself the same damn thing, you know? So you're like, you know, you're just sitting by yourself. Right. And all of a sudden you're like driving in your car and then what do you say to yourself? And you're like, dude, you're really screwing things up, you know? And it's like, where's that voice coming from? You know? And it's kind of like, uh, you know, like use the forest Luke, right? Like it's, it's a scandal, like voice that's coming out of thin air, you know? And it's kind of like, yeah, that's my dad. But like, It gets so deep, like to me, like this is such a deep part of what I consider to be kind of an Asian experience. Right. Which is that, you know, the Asian, Asian culture has these kind of strong roots in Confucianism, across many parts of Asia, not South Asia as much, but like in Northern Asia, Confucius rains. And he is so recent. Factful elders, right? Like, like the respect for your parents and your elders. You know, I do think that that, um, I know a little bit about like Indian culture and they have this concept of the Yaffee complex, where the sun it's opposite of the Oedipus complex, where the sun actually sacrifices himself for the benefit of the father. Right. And it's not up has complex. The sun kills the father, right. Which is more Western. Right. So, you know, in a way, this, this relationship between the elders and the young people are, it's an Asian culture. Like it is heavy. It is. Definitely having the feeling of total obligation and fealty, like it's, it's, it's so painful to kind of like try to come out from that.
Bryan: (00:24:43) Yeah. Yeah. I feel like your, your stories and examples are so strong, you know, like it, it's very refreshing because we haven't had such good analogies here. So I really, really appreciate that too. And I, I do want to now dive deeper into your. Your experience as a founder, especially with whatever coin you started every coin in January, 2017. So congratulations on your four-year anniversary. Thank you. That's amazing. That's wow. Thank you for noticing you're transitioning over into this founder position. How did you identify a niche in the market at the time to pursue this?
Miko: (00:25:20) Well, I mean, it's a work in progress, right. Uh, so, you know, obviously in a way, like things aren't the complete until they're complete, you know, so I would say that like, you know, the, the biggest thing. Uh, it was related to my co-founder, you know, so my co-founder just became obsessed with things like Bitcoin and, and, you know, he just kind of like pulled me in. So, you know, a lot of the kind of credit goes to, you know, my co-founder and kind of his foresight into kind of understanding the depth of this emerging technology, you know, and for me, like, um, I had worked previously with him on a company called Hazelcast and Hazelcast is kind of this very deep, high performance financial infrastructure that's used at like visa and MasterCard. And it's used at Apple and it's used at all these banks, you know, JP Morgan, it seems that a ton of banks. And so like, um, basically, uh, my co-founder was able to identify, uh, Bitcoin as basically being another open source. Financial infrastructure, you know, a very novel open-source financial infrastructure. So that, that became my battle cry and my pieces, which is the way I understand blockchain is as an open source financial infrastructure, you know? And so because of that, I just feel like, uh, you know, it's, it's an it's, it's so interesting to see how it's twisted and turned over the years, but like, you know, for me, the imperative became to kind of, um, you know, push into that and to. To make an effort around it
Maggie: (00:26:56) and for our listeners, um, some of them may not know what open source means. Can you explain in your words what that means?
Miko: (00:27:02) Yeah. So, um, the thing that happened in the software industry through my career is that, uh, there there's two kinds of software when it's open source, the other one's closed source and it's pretty much governed by a license. And what the licenses are, are basically what you're allowed to do. And what is it that you're obligated to do with the software? Right? And so there became a set of licenses called open source software licenses, and basically the central thesis around open-source software licenses are kind of two general properties. One of them is, is most more often than not. It's free software. Right. So more often than not, there are open source licenses that you actually have to pay, uh, which is kind of a twist, but 99% of the time, when someone says source software, they're talking about free as in free beer, like it's, doesn't cost a penny, right? So the second property though, that's even more core to open source software is this idea of it's open. And what does that mean? What it means is that the code. That it's used to run. The program is published on the internet and anyone can just read it. Right. And so that a lot of that actually drives the freeness, right? Because if you just allow people to read everything that, that the developers wrote, you know, it's pretty hard to like charge money for that at that point, because, you know, everyone can just copy it, which is what they do.
Bryan: (00:28:28) That's awesome. That's awesome. Explanation. Yeah. Uh, so we didn't, we just scrolled through your Twitter this morning and we saw you and we're not holding as an elephant in the room type of question. What do you think of Bitcoin right now?
Miko: (00:28:41) Yeah, absolutely. So, uh, here's the thing is if you look, one of the things that's good to do is go, go to a place like coin gecko or coin market cap, and just go find a chart. A Bitcoin price chart. Right. And what I want you to do in the Bitcoin price chart is I want you to zoom all the way back, Zuma back as far as he can. Right. And look at, look at what it is. Right. And I think the thing that is really important to understand that people are starting to understand is that like people in the first. Big sort of all time high people used to say that it was like tulip mania. Right. Which is this phenomenon that happened in the Netherlands where the price of tulips went to like thousands of dollars. Right. And so people were like, Oh, Bitcoin is this craze and it's going to go away. And then they're like, it's going to go to zero. Right. So the thing that. It's true about tulip. Mania is you see a chart that goes off to the moon and then it crashes to zero, or it crashes to the nominal value, right? Like a tulip has a nominal value, which is it's pretty, so, right. So like how much did you pay? And it's like, $3, right? It's like, that's the nominal value. Right. So crashes to the nominal value and it stays there. Right. But the thing that you can see from the chart is you can see it. It's like, Oh, all time high, then it kind of crashes down. And there's some time period where people are like, Oh, well now it's going to go to zero. And it's like, ah, but maybe not today, today it's pushing kind of 34,000. Right? So I have, I have a saying and my saying, this is a, I think I've never heard anyone else say this is, imagine that imagine a man standing in a high place. Right. And they're standing on a metal beam. But the metal beam that they're standing on is known to collapse. It's going to collapse. Right. And they're in a high place. So what does that mean? If it collapses, they're going to fall like a long way and then die. Right? So, so imagine this person, right. What kind of imagination is this? Well, I'm imagining the. Economy, which is, if you look at the Dow Jones, industrial average, it's North of 30,000, we are all collectively the economy is standing at a very high place. Now, when I say it's known to collapse, we know that from 2008, so in 2008, it collapsed. So the question that arises is what if. A clever person puts a beam of an unknown substance next to you. What do you do? So what you do is it's obvious what you do, what you do is do you just jump on the new beam? No, cause you don't know what it is. You're like, what is this beam? Like? I don't know what it is. Right. So what you do is you put a little weight on there, but then what do you do? You take the weight off, right? Cause you're like, I want to know if I can put the weight on and I want to know if I can take it off, like in Bitcoin terms, what does it mean? It means that they're testing it as a store of value. So what are the two functions necessary for store value? The two functions are put the money in. And that takes the money out, right? So you have to tests both. You have to test putting the money in, you have to test, put out, pulling it out. Right? So, so what you're gonna expect is you're gonna expect someone to shift their weight 1%. And then pull it off and then you're going to shift, maybe put 5% and then they're going to pull the weight off. And then he put, you know, so the idea becomes like, that's the, what you're seeing. If you, if the, if this were a scale of the person's weight, you would actually see exactly what the Bitcoin chart is doing. Right. Which is that it's going higher. And each time it goes higher, it's passing a test, right? It's it's passing a test. It's like, look kid at handle this. Handled it just fine. No problem. Okay. Fine kid. You handle this. Okay. Handle it just fine. So it's kind of like each time it does that. People are like, Whoa. That's amazing that it handled this one. I wonder if it can handle it even bigger one. Right. So I think that's so, so now if you reason about it that way, then you can actually easily understand what's happening. Right. Which is that people are like, Oh, well the beam that we're standing on is known to collapse. So like, what do we have to lose? We should check out this new beam. Like, what is this about?
Bryan: (00:33:07) Yeah. I really like how you broke down the human psychology of it.
Maggie: (00:33:11) Yeah. Yeah. I'm envisioning it right now. So it's really easy to kind of put that in my vision.
Bryan: (00:33:16) We were building trust is we don't know anything about, or most we don't know anything about.
Miko: (00:33:21) Yeah, exactly. So wait, wait, we have to kind of try it and we have to end the thing is, is that there's nothing like trying it there's a phrase in decentralized finance or defy called test. In production. It's a scary concept. It's a scary concept. Why is it valid? And the reason why it's valid is, is that you kind of have to know if it's real, right? Like how do you know if it's real and the way, you know, it's real is, is you actually really do it, right? So it's kinda like, how do we know that Bitcoin can carry 500 billion us dollars inside of it? Let's put $500 billion inside of it and see what happens. And it's like, did it break? No, it didn't break. It's like, okay, great. They worked. But now we know now we know, we know, we know, we know it can safely hold 500 billion. Right. So then it's that it's like, do we think it could maybe hold more? Let's find out. We don't know. We don't know. Maybe it can, maybe you can't maybe, maybe at 501 billion. It falls apart. Actually we know it that it does it because it's already higher than that, but like, you know, but who knows. Right. So that's, that's what we're saying is we're saying we don't know, let's check it out.
Bryan: (00:34:38) I do want to ask a very off topic, tangent question. Sure. That when you were younger, did you ever imagine you to be where you are today? Doing what you're doing?
Miko: (00:34:48) Oh, man. Uh, absolutely not. Like, uh, when I was very young, I think my aspiration was, uh, I wanted to be a Marine biologist. Uh, you know, so that was kind of, uh, my, my dream. And I think the thing about it was, was I knew I kinda liked. Uh, the ocean. And I knew like I liked riding around on a boat and I liked, uh, you know, I, and obviously like whatever it was that I wanted to be, had to be in science somehow. So, you know, so that, that ended up being sort of the aspiration, you know, so I know the world is incredibly mysterious, so like for me, um, You know, I'm kind of surprised to be doing what I'm doing, but, you know, I think as I get older, I'm much more interested in kind of like figuring out what it is I'm meant to do and what it is I'm supposed to do. And that combination is really the, uh, The thing that drives me.
Bryan: (00:35:43) I think that's a really powerful thought too, because a lot of clinically in myself, I feel like at any stage of your life, you're always wondering, what is your purpose or what are you meant to do? What do you get?
Miko: (00:35:52) I throw some Asian philosophy.Absolutely. So, so I was for my whole life and I continued to identify as a non-theistic Buddhist. Right. So I think of myself as a Buddhist, as a, it basically Zen. Buddhism. And I, you know, I practice meditation in this kind of stuff, but like one of the things that happened, so my dad passed away like maybe about eight, nine years ago. And when it happened and like my, it froze up my practice and I wasn't able to kind of figure out what to do. I appreciate that. I mean, it was kind of a blow. And obviously like, from my perspective, it's just such a central figure in my life and life story. And the thing that happened was was. It's it's so amazing because my reasons for doing things kind of dried up. Cause I, I, in a way, the question that was a puzzle for my whole life is kind of like, like who is my boss? Right? Like that was the question of my life. Right. And in a way, like, You know, like my boss was always my dad at some level. And then, uh, whatever other kind of like short tempered foreign guy, like I could find. Right. So that was kind of my pattern. Right. And the thing that happened when it all fell apart for me was I actually started looking even further East. And one of the things that I came across that was so interesting is I started learning more about Buddhism as a renunciate. A type of spiritual tradition. Right? So in a way, uh, it's not about kind of lay people and it's not about householders. It's about kind of monks, right? So it's very much about like, Oh, how do you escape this condition? You know? And how do you become like a go in a cave and, you know, uh, get enlightenment. Right. And, and in a way, like that felt difficult for me because I was kind of really in a worldly situation, you know, I was kind of in a, you know, living in, in the world as opposed to trying to escape the world. And so what I ended up discovering is I ended up discovering, um, Sort of the, um, I guess I would call the Indian Buddha. Right. And it turns out the Indian Buddha was like, it was the proper Buddha, by the way, you know, it was India and he, the original Buddha was basically a scholar of the Vedas. And so I started studying yoga and I started studying kind of more of the tradition of, of, uh, what people call Hinduism or the S the knots on the Dharma. And, and the thing that I came across as this amazing, wonderful book that Barbara Mikita. And so, you know, I don't want to like overstate because I feel like it's a, I want people to understand that this is a non-theistic kind of secularist view, but like it's, it was very philosophically and spiritually transformative for me because the lesson that I got is that. Your boss is a combination of your own personal nature, right. And. Universal nature. Right. And that that's the combination, right? The combination is, is that if you obey your personal nature and you connect it to the universal nature, then you will have an unerring. Experience on earth. Right? And so that, that philosophy and that spiritual philosophy just clicked for me at that time in my life, because, so in a way, it, it made me transform from having this kind of idea of an earthly boss and the idea of being beholden to another human, to being beholden to my own essential, personal nature, and also beholden to. Yeah, kind of the universal nature. Right. Which, you know, and so it's kind of like, well, what is, what is that doing? And, you know, and what am I doing and why am I doing that? You know? And so in a way, it then became more about that expression and to be kind of perfectly transparent, like Um, I feel like some of the things happening with Bitcoin is almost like this emergent property of what's happening, you know, in nature it's, it's feels like a, almost like an emergent, natural phenomenon, you know, and obviously there's humans behind it and driving it and things like that. But like, in a sense, it's kind of like doing itself. Like it's quite, it's just kind of functioning as a function of itself. Mm.
Maggie: (00:40:26) Yeah. That's amazing. It's really enlightening to hear.
Bryan: (00:40:29) Yeah. I really digest information that I just heard. It's so it's so empowering, you know, those. We don't get a lot of guests like you on the podcast.
Miko: (00:40:42) I relate it because I want to relate it to the, the nature. Cause this is the Asian hustle network. Right. So if you look at the word Asian, right, like I want to embrace the whole brotherhood and the sisterhood. Right. And so for me, when I talk about Asia and I've talked about Asian philosophies, Right. And what's common across kind of Asia is really, and obviously like there's a greater Asia, like central Asia, which includes a bunch of like Islamic brothers and sisters and whatnot, but like, I'm mostly kind of focused on Eastern and Western philosophy. Right. And if you go to Eastern philosophy, like, you know, you just have to expand the scope into like looking at the karmic traditions, you know, and you look at these kinds of cultural roots that we have, and you just go back to the oldest roots of these. Karmic traditions. And you end up with, you know, it's, it's, it's the Vedas, it's like Indian philosophy. It's just the old, old Sanskrit. Like it's just this ancient stuff that's been going. And the thing that I think is important is connecting that to hustle. Right. So if it's an Asian hustle network, then the question is what does it mean to be Asian? Right. And what does it mean to hustle? Right. And, you know, I think those are really important. Concepts and constructs, right? Because the thing about hustle is not only what does it mean, but why, like, why are we hustling? You know? And it's kind of, and there's so many different themes and layers, right. Because in a sense, like I spent a huge chunk of my life hustling because I didn't know what else to do. Right. Ain't no way I was kind of scared because like, you know, I didn't want my dad to disapprove or be angry or whatever. And like that. I, you know, I think fear is a powerful motivator to hustle another, a motivator. That's really interesting and incredibly powerful is like anger. Mm. It's like sometimes, like, you know, I had really productive periods in my life. I've had super productive periods of my life, where I was fearful. I've had super productive periods of time in my life where I was angry. And like, you know, because basically what happens now that I'm older, I'm reflecting on these. And I'm just thinking that what fear is is it's free energy for action. Mm, that's provided by nature in terms of like, uh, uh, defense, right? It's basically provide, it's like, Oh, you need to provide defense. Here's some energy. And if you look at anger, it's free energy provided by nature for the purpose of defense. It's the exact same thing. It's just that it's a different approach, which is that if someone has transgressed a boundary, right, you get an angry when you want them to confront. And you want to smash that person. And in a way, it's an attempt to assert a position that's an alpha, right. Which is basically like, I, you know, you went over the boundary. I gotta, I gotta bring it to you. Like I gotta, I gotta hammer you for that. Right. Uh, that's anger. And then fear is basically in the beta. Fear is basically like, Oh man, they're coming through the boundary. And like, I, I can't like, like, I'm definitely going to be overpowered here. Like I got a deal, I got a deal, but does that drive a person unquestionably? Right. Like, so to me, like, but the question becomes, how do you experience these emotions and harness those emotions without. Traumatizing yourself or, you know, without retraumatizing yourself. Right. Because there's a lot of the concept of the, you know, when I look at across the stories that come out in the Asian American experience, like, you know, you look at people who immigrated to the United States and a lot of the people that immigrated, you know, they, they definitely have incredible energy and they have incredible. Power, but in a lot of ways, they come out pretty traumatized too. Cause they're leaving situations that are not hot. Right. It's like, well, why'd you, why'd you split from where you were, you know? And it's kinda like things weren't cool there, you know, in so many cases, obviously there's other examples too. Right. Like, there's certain people who are like, well, yeah, I am a graded cause like, uh, I had to go to Harvard and, you know, and stuff like that, you know? So it's whatever, you know, it's not every story, but I got to say like that that's, that's in, it's in the template.
Maggie: (00:45:09) Yeah, I love how you put that. I think for a lot of people, they even have fear of feeling fear, so it makes them traumatize and it makes them paralyzed. But you know, like you said, like fear is good and it means that you're entering into an unknown territory. Right. And anger. It just means that you're passionate about. Something. And so use it to your advantage and you know, about the Asian hustle network. I love how you broke that down because that's what we were focusing on before. Like what does Asian mean to you? What does hustle mean to you? It could mean a lot of different things to different people based on your experiences. And for you, you know, is based on your experiences of Buddhism based on your experiences with your father. So you have a specific meaning and a special meaning of what hustle means to you. I really liked that. Yeah.
Miko: (00:45:57) I appreciate that. I appreciate that. And you know, to me, the thing that I think is sort of really essential for me is like, when you talk about fear and channeling the anger channeling, the fear channeling, these powerful emotions, the thing that's so interesting is like, I talked about like yoga, right? So like, you know, when you go back to the roots of yoga, it comes back to the Sanskrit word, huge, which basically means a yoke. Right. So if you think about what a yoke is, a yoke, a Y O K E is, is a harness and it's a harness, it's a mechanical harness that, that taps the energy of, of like, uh, of like, uh, of like a bull. Right. So the bull is like charging and the yoke is the interface between the bull and the plow. Right. And so what does that mean? What it needs is that the bull represents the animal spirit and animal energy. So in a sense, all of the fears and the angers and all of this stuff is our birthright. It's our heritage. It's stuff that we get from nature. Nature is like, Hey, guess what? You get to feel scared. It's like, Thanks. Guess what you get to feel angry. Okay. Thanks for that too. You know, like, Oh, you get to feel sad. Okay. That's thanks. That's all, you know, it's all, it's all given to you, right? But the question becomes what is happening. What is, what is that yoking? And the yoking is, is what is the plow? The plow is cultivation. Right. And if you go back to the root of this concept of culture and this concept, and even the word cult, it sounds like a bad thing, but it just means to care for, to care. Right. So it's like, what is happening agriculture, right. Which is it's, it's, you're plowing the soil. Right. You're you're preparing the soil for harvest. Right. So, so what I'm trying to say is I'm trying to say that that's. The kind of heart of, of the, uh, of the yoga philosophy, right. Which is the yoga philosophy is about how do you live in a non. like, how do you live in a way that's not about escaping this world, but about living in this world. And the philosophy of yoga basically gives you this idea of like, you have to harness this energy. Right? It's like the animal energy is our birthright. Right. So, so it isn't that it shouldn't rule over us. Like we can't, you know, and just all of this is very harmonious with this new year. Uh, I'm not astrologer or anything else, but like in, I don't believe in any of that stuff, but like, um, it's the year of the cow. Right. And you know, to me, like when I think about a cow, you know, it's like, well, the female. Cow is like the cash cow, you know, produces milk. And the male cow is like the pole, you know, we just got to like the bull market for Bitcoins. So, you know, I, I think, um, so the question becomes like, how do you harness that energy? Like, how do you cut it? You really kind of. Tap into, you know, cause that's where it gets organic and that's where it becomes a servant rather than a master. Right. Because you know, if the fear is living you, or if the anger is living you, then you're not in charge and you're, you're, you're not living your life. You're you're, you're being lived by these extremely powerful th you know, by the ego, by, by like, you know, you're, you're being driven by, uh, nature itself and it's, it's, you're no longer the boss.
Maggie: (00:49:15) Yeah, that's amazing. So, you know, we have one last question for you. What advice would you have for someone who's trying to get into cryptocurrency?
Miko: (00:49:23) Yeah, I would say read books, uh, if there's so much BS on, on the internet and people will tell you all kinds of creepy things and the thing that's great about books is that, uh, books take a long time to write. And, you know, and the thing that happens is, is that crypto things come and go. Right. So in a sense, like if you're going to, like, let's say you're going to write a book about like some shitcoin. Right. Like, by the time you're done writing the book, the thing's already TA it's already gone, you know? So like it, you know, it read books and I would recommend certain books. Uh, one of them is mastering Bitcoin by Andreas Antonopoulos. That's a great book. Uh, another one is called the book of Satoshi and it's basically a book that collects the writings of the Bitcoin founder. There's another one that's more entertaining called Bitcoin billionaires, which is about the Winkle boss, brothers and Charlie Shrem and Roger veer and all the kind of. Original, uh, Eric Vorhees, like all the kind of original Bitcoiners, the OJI Bitcoiners, uh, and then there's one called the Bitcoin standard. So, uh, all four of those books, uh, highly recommended, um, because really those will allow you to kind of sink into the first principles. Obviously you can read the Bitcoin white paper, um, you know, at the, at a minimum, just read the abstract, just read the kind of. Paragraph that sits on top of the first page of the Bitcoin white paper. It's, it's the abstract simple enough. The paper itself gets a little deep, but, uh, you know, but I, I bet, you know, those are all the things that I would do cause I just, and, and, you know, I, this is kind of like a shameless plug, but like, you know, I have a show, uh, mico.com/bits, and it's a YouTube show. And like, you know, I talked to a lot of people who are advancing the cause of. Bitcoin and blockchain. So, you know, feel free to stop by, you know, uh, click subscribe if you like it. You know? Cause I think that's a great, um, resource, you know, and my goal is to try to educate people and, you know, help people understand this emerging phenomenon through the lens of what I call opensource financial infrastructure.
Maggie: (00:51:25) Awesome. Thanks for those recommendations. And where can our listeners find out more about you online?
Miko: (00:51:30) Yeah, the easiest is nico.com, M I K o.com. And you can just head there. Uh, my, uh, Twitter handle is weirdly, still Mikko Java, M I K O J V a. So it's kinda hearkens all the way back to my roots in the industry.
Maggie: (00:51:47) Awesome. That was amazing. Hearing your story today. Mikko, thank you for being on the show.
Bryan: (00:51:51) Thank you so much.
Miko: (00:51:53) I appreciate what you guys are doing and you know, it's, it's great that Asian hustle has its own network, so fantastic. Yup. Have a great day.
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