A Crypto Optimist and a Crypto Skeptic Walk Into a Podcast Studio
I’ve been wanting to explore the world crypto and blockchain technologies could build on the show for a while. In certain ways, I’m an optimist: I think these technologies matter, and many of them will work. In other ways, I’m a skeptic: I’m unconvinced that their wide adoption will lead to the glittering, decentralized digital world that many crypto proponents imagine.
So this is a crypto conversation that goes way beyond Bitcoin. It’s about what will happen when we build the foundation for truly digital economies, with digital money, digital goods, and digital ownership. It’s about technologies that could unlock a renaissance of creativity or an orgy of commercialization. Or both. And it’s about whether we are mistaking problems of power for problems of technology, and what might happen if we fix the technologies without changing the power structures. As everyone in this debate agrees, we made a lot of mistakes with the internet we have. How do we avoid them on the internet we’re building?
My guest today is Katie Haun. Haun is a general partner at the venture firm A16Z, also known as Andreesen-Horowitz. She’s a former Supreme Court clerk and federal prosecutor who has focused on cybercrime and prosecuted corrupt agents involved in Silk Road, the first big darknet market. So she saw the dark side of crypto first, and now, at A16Z, she’s a leader of one of the biggest crypto venture funds there is. So this is a conversation about the world crypto might create, conducted with as little technical jargon as we could manage. Enjoy!
I also want to note that this will be the last episode I host until January. I’m going on paternity leave for the next few months, and we’re going to have an absolutely all-star lineup of guest hosts while I’m gone. That lineup will include Jamelle Bouie, Ross Douthat, Tressie McMillan Cottom, Nicole Hemmer, Heather McGhee, David Brooks, Julia Galef, and the one, the only, Rogé Karma. I’m excited to be a listener and trust me, you should be too.
One last bit of housekeeping: The Times’s Opinion section is looking for an editorial assistant to work with Michelle Goldberg and me on fact-checking our columns and doing some editorial research and clerical work. This is a great, entry-level role at The Times. It needs a year of journalism experience, and on my end, I’m particularly looking for candidates with a demonstrable obsession with policy analysis and social science research. You can find more information at http://nytco.com/careers.
“NFTs and a Thousand True Fans” by Chris Dixon
The Company by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge
My Life in Full by Indra Nooyi
Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz
You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of "The Ezra Klein Show" at nytimes.com/ezra-klein-podcast, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at https://www.nytimes.com/article/ezra-klein-show-book-recs.
Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld, audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.