ConsenSys Founder Believes Blockchain Technology can Help Produce Ethical Journalism


Manoush Zomorodi, co-founder of Stable Genius and host of the podcast ZigZag interviewing Joseph Lubin, CEO of ConsenSys and co-founder of Ethereum

By LAURA LOREK, Publisher of Silicon Hills News

In 2011, Joseph Lubin, CEO of ConsenSys and co-founder of Ethereum, read Satoshi Nakamoto’s white paper on Bitcoin.

“And it clicked for me,” he said. “We can start to build something on a new trusted infrastructure and potentially build it on a better trust system.”

He believed the current monetary systems, laden with debt, needed reform. He wanted to move from wall gardened systems to building a trustworthy

collaborative system.

“Centralized banks were printing money too fast and we could build a system that didn’t have that vulnerability,” he said.

Lubin spoke at South by Southwest in a keynote talk with Manoush Zomorodi, co-founder of Stable Genius Productions and host of the podcast ZigZag.

Before founding ConsenSys, Lubin met Vitalk Buterin, the guy who invented Ethereum. He started ConsenSys to build developer tools that allow developers to build more easily in its ecosystem.

But Lubin also believes blockchain technology can help journalists and the news industry overall.

Civil, a blockchain platform for sustainable and ethical journalism, had the most successful failed token launch in history, Lubin said. Civil, based in New York, tried to raise $8 million last year in an Initial Coin Offering but only raised $1.4 million, according to CoinDesk, a publication that covers the Blockchain industry. ConsenSys invested $5 million in Civil, according to CoinDesk.

Civil’s token sale had about 10 times more participation than other token sales, Lubin said. But the gauntlet Civil put up that all these normal people had to brave including 43 legal steps made participating difficult, he said.

“We forced everyone to understand everything about the Civil project,” he said.

Civil engaged many more people than normal to look at these token launches, Lubin said.

“It wasn’t these crypto-nerds,” he said. “Many approached it, but few got over the bars.”

Civil is still running. Stable Genius Productions published to the Ethereum blockchain and it got its tokens, Zomorodi said.

So far, Civil has generated 1.5 million tokens or about $315,000 in revenue, Zomorodi said.

“It’s been a week. There is no big marketing hype,” she said. “The Civil platform is open for business.”

Journalists can put a newsroom together and pledge via a security bond to be ethical and adhere to the constitution and receive tokens. These tokens enable journalists to stake a newsroom on the platform.

This is out in the world. The ability to take an article and log it indelibly to the Ethereum platform. Stable Genius has done that, Zomorodi said.

Automatic, publisher of WordPress, which 60 percent to 70 percent of the newsrooms around the world use as a content system for publishing, will include Civil and it will be built into most of the world’s newsrooms, Lubin said.

Zomorodi asked Lubin if token sales were passé, based on the declaration of a recent Next Web article. She wanted to know if the article was being short-sighted.

“2017 was pretty extreme – out of control even – lots of bad projects – there was this notion you had to have a massive token launch – Ethereum was responsible for that too,” Lubin said. “There was a ton of greed.”

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and just disappointment have stopped the bad projects, the fraudulent projects from happening, Lubin said.

ConsenSys plans to do four or five token launches this year, Lubin said.

“It’s a crypto-economic project designed to get people to participate,” he said.

These are tokens that wouldn’t be securities, Lubin said.

ConsenSys has created Trueset – which is in a Beta right now – asking the world – sourcing the wisdom of the crowd – to gather information on different token projects – an Edgar like platform – people are getting paid in this token and to correct data entries, Lubin said. There aren’t a lot of normal people using these systems right now, he said.

“We think Civil has a shot because the news is so broken,” Lubin said.

If we don’t have good information and reasonable and subtle discourse, if we are getting our news from Facebook, the dopamine slot-machine, binary news source, lots of people feel like journalism is important, Lubin said.

Within a few months of the token fail at Civil, the price of crypto currency plummeted. There are many incredible rises in these tokens followed by very significant corrections, Lubin said. But Ether, the token behind Ethereum is 5000 times more valuable today than when Ether was initially launched, he said.

“In that context, it’s not so horrifying,” he said

“Every one of these brings attention to our ecosystem,” Lubin said. “There is way more activity in our ecosystem now than there was a year ago or 18 months ago.”

ConsenSys is focused on privacy and confidentiality systems and building Ethereum 2.0., Lubin said.

ConsenSys has six or seven projects for social right now including a project at a Levi’s plant in Mexico that allows workers to give honest and frank feedback on working conditions. The project uses blockchain technology to allow workers to speak honestly about their conditions and not have management have access to or manipulate the data, Lubin said.