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This week on Human’s of Bitcoin, we sat down with the one and only Patrick Byrne, cryptocurrency enthusiast and CEO of Overstock.com.

Patrick is an incredible human being. In addition to running a public company, he also has a PhD in philosophy, speaks multiple languages, has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and has a near photographic memory.

A true renaissance man, we review his past, bitcoin and the current regulatory environment, as well as the projects his team at Medici ventures are working on.

Here are some highlights of the discussion:

 

The “Dutch Uncle”

 

Patrick’s love for business can be traced back to two hour meetings he had with a special mentor when he was just 13.

 

That mentor was none other than famous investor Warren Buffett, who was a close family friend and someone who Patrick always thought was just some rich farmer from Omaha. He called him his “Dutch Uncle” because he wasn’t exactly family, but still had a major influence on his life.

One of the lessons Buffett taught him was that you need the temperament to be patient enough to wait for the perfect opportunity. You may only need to make 10-20 big decisions in life, and when the timing is right you need to have the courage to swing for the fences.

Buffett wanted Patrick to spend a year on Wall St., so he set him up with a friend of his at First Manhattan to learn how the game was played. This experience was Patrick’s first look at the inner workings of the financial system.

 

First Bitcoin Moment:

After becoming CEO of Overstock.com, Patrick realized there was a crack in our financial infrastructure, and that a group of smart people had figured out a way to scheme the system for their own profits at the expense of the average citizen.

He waged his own personal Occupy Wall St. movement, and was ostracized for speaking out against the nation’s power brokers. It was only after the 2008 crash that he felt vindicated for his remarks.

Following the crash, Patrick randomly came across a Wired.com article about Bitcoin and realized someone had used cryptography to develop a new form of money that solved the “Byzantine General’s Problem” he had learned about in college.

While others saw it as a means for speculation, he knew this new form of money could fix the issues he had witnessed first-hand during his time on Wall St. both as an analyst and as a CEO.

 

Regulation:

 

Wall St. was aware of the potential of Bitcoin as well, and the first few years of its existence were marred by smear campaigns which stigmatized cryptocurrencies as a tool for drug dealers and terrorists.

However, Patrick believes that regulators are now seeing the bigger picture, and realizing the benefits of a blockchain based economy. He was able to meet with organizations like FINRA to show them how this technology could make their lives easier.

 

These meetings have shown him the government wants to adapt so they can be involved in the creation of regulation that allows blockchain innovation to flourish. He does not think they will try to stop the movement, and even if they wanted to, it’s already too late.

 

“Bigger than the Gutenberg Press”

⅔ of the world population doesn’t have access to records that allow them to prove ownership of their land. Patrick’s current project, Medici Ventures, is going into developing countries and helping local officials put land titles on the blockchain.

In Zambia for example, they titled 50K homes in a pilot program and now they’re working with the government to put every home in the country on the blockchain as well.

He thinks this project can change the lives of billions of people and will be more effective than simply handing out cash to those in need. Officials in Africa have taken notice, and countries like Bermuda are looking to implement his solution as well.

1000 years from now, he predicts the impact of the blockchain movement will be bigger than the Gutenberg Press and Internet because corrupt third parties will be replaced by governance systems based upon mathematics.

Conclusion

We are very grateful that Patrick took time out of his busy schedule to fill us in on all of these exciting things that he’s been working on. If you have any questions or comments about the topics we covered, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Bitcoin.com/podcast.

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