As I move on with the next chapter of my involvement in the DeFi space, I wanted to take the time to write a rare personal statement to share my story and what’s coming next.
About 36 months ago, I finally read the Ethereum whitepaper after hovering around the crypto space for a while and was instantly hooked. Back then, my concerns were far remote from decentralized finance: I saw in Ethereum the first credible solution to coordinate a scale aka the first sword finally able to slay the beast Moloch.
I was still working in a non-crypto related tech startup back then but quickly I found myself spending 6 to 10 hours a day reading on the space, meeting and chatting with many people that shared my interest. Shortly after, I started contributing to various projects.
Back in July 2018, I realized it was time to grab the bull by the horns and break my way into the space - I was not going to work for yet another tech startup. I started what I wished could be a collaborative media back then: EcoCrypto. It was a bit of the precursor to this blog, and you can find the articles re-published here.
The approach on EcoCrypto was quite particular: every article was reviewed by people completely outside the space, such as my parents. They were rewritten until the result was self-sufficient and understandable. After that, I also translated them into French. This writing process was intense and time consuming. Back then, naively, I thought that trying to go above and beyond in terms of research and quality would be enough to attract the crowds.
Despite the moderate audience, EcoCrypto taught me a lot about the space. To beef up and learn at an accelerated pace, I’ve also spent a few months writing “content bounty” and secured my first batch of ICO-shitcoins.
Feeling more confident about my understanding of the space and my capabilities to handle marketing-related tasks for a crypto project, I started applying to selected companies, and went through the interview processes.
I exchanged with a few prominent actors of the space, but I was quickly turned off by their internal culture & inertia: all my life, I’ve worked in startups so I’ve got little patience for corporate-induced BS. Around the same time, I found Monolith (TokenCard back then) and started discussing with the team about the community manager role.
I was excited by the product and its ambitions, especially its user-focused aspect. Until then, I’ve worked with products quite remote from everyday people. On the other hand with Monolith I could see a long-term vision where even my parents were using the product I was contributing to (and it happened)!
Despite my slim professional experience in the crypto space (it wasn’t exactly commonplace in 2018), Monolith took a bet on me and I started in April 2018 as Community Manager.
I’ve learned so much in that role! What I loved the most about it is that I was a frontliner always in contact with exciting people. Back then, there was no covid either so I also had the chance to actually meet these people, in Paris, in London, and even attend the DevCon V in Osaka!
I know it’s silly, but Osaka blew my mind. Before it, I felt the energy and ambition of the space. Going there, I saw it personally, and it was something else. It bolstered my confidence in the impact Ethereum could have on the world.
It’s also around this time that I’ve met Mounir and Arthur, and together we created DeFi France: the attendance at our first event blew our mind, with 90 people in the room for an event organised in a few days!
I think it’s precisely then that I’ve been stuck by a critical thought I needed months to digest, it goes as follows:
So far, I’ve spent my whole professional life building artificial communities to support the growth of brands. How about I finally use this hard-earned expertise for a better end? How about we drop the brand & build a community… for the community?
It took me a while, but now is the time to finally follow through with the thought. As I transition out of my role with Monolith, I’d like to use this extra time to do more community-driven work.
Luckily for me, time was all I needed and there is plenty of work to do! Indeed, within a year, DeFi France grew tremendously to become the most active DeFi grassroots group in Europe with now close to 2 000 FR-speaking members on Telegram.
So here’s what I will be focusing on now:
I write a lot of content about DeFi for different companies but sometimes I want to express myself in a lighter tone, with less constraints. I started this blog to have a space that fit my ideals to do so.
My ideals? Quite simple: I think that delivering an honest media is extremely difficult if profits must be made, so how about we get them out of the equation?
So on this blog, I refuse all sponsored posts or promotional activities. All articles are written because I want to do so. I’ve also taken extra care to make this blog as privacy-preserving as possible: the cool news with a free blog without ads is that I would have no use of your data anyway, so let’s not collect any (but your anonymised IP for article stats).
Finally, I use an infrastructure where the content lives in a public GitHub repository: for the non-geek it means that every single change made on tokenbrice.xyz is documented publicly. There is no flip-flopping here. Don’t trust, verify.
There are still costs incurred with the blog, mostly the time spent writing and researching as well the occasional illustrations when I feel like my PPT cover graphics are not enough to do the article justice. Yet, I’m not counting the hours with this blog, I enjoy updating it.
If you appreciate my work, you can contribute to the Gitcoin grant to support it.
You can read more about the approach with this blog in this article detailling the infrastructure.
Quickly after the creation of DeFi France, we realized something powerful was happening. With minimal effort, the group was growing fast and the energy in there was amazing (and still is!). Finally, I think we’ve got a sense of what the growth of an “organic community” felt like.
Several things helped this work, one of the main one being the language: DeFi is so confusing already, so why not discuss it in our native language to make it easier? In the early discussion we could tell the excitement of chatting about the topic in French! As it turned out, there were plenty of Frenchmen in the DeFi space already, all we needed was one place to gather and meet.
On top of the language component, the other key to the success of DeFi France lies in its community. The Telegram group and the monthly meetups are incredibly successful at one critical thing: to ensure that the amazing French builders of the DeFi space were accessible to anyone, even to someone with no presence in the space. Every month, there is a hangout where you can come, learn from people committed in the space, and meet people (now remote: fucking covid).
So let’s take a minute here to thanks some of the people who make this community amazing:
🙏 Pascal Tallarida, Marc Zeller, Alexandre Lourimi, Mosche Malawach, Mat C., Zhytop, McNulty, Jonathan, Dydymoon, Antoine, Fabrice, Florian, Romain & so many others!
Next to the existing Telegram group and monthly meetup, we’re now growing a YouTube channel to offer high-quality content video content about DeFi, still in French. Although I’m heavily involved in the shows presenting most of them for now, the vision is to grow the channel and make it accessible to any relevant and passionate producer.
Indeed in France, the leading crypto media and YouTubers are running ruthless businesses. They do not care about what they are pushing as long as it’s profitable. Worse, a fair share don’t even care about the factual inaccuracies of their content as long as they produce views.
So I figured: can’t we establish a community alternative that one day, maybe, will find it way to the crowds too? So here’s the hack: we grow a channel, and we make it accessible to other content producers based on expertise, goodwill and knowledge.
The project started a few months ago and is going well on its way! We crossed the 500 subscribers mark and now have 2 recurring emission formats on top of the rediffusion of the DeFi france meetups.
I put BanklessFR right before the last, because I don’t want to steal the show here. Credits where they are due: BanklessFR only exists because of the sustained hard work of Jon who is the editorial director and the main translator.
Back to BanklessFR’s story: I’ve reached out to Ryan one day to tell him about my bankless-first life (I’ve barely touched a non-DeFi financial product in my whole life) and surprise! he was keen - it translated into an article: How DeFi Can Pay For Your Lunches?
Around the same time (lucky timing is everything), Jon was emerging in the DeFi France community as one of the most motivated new joins. He started translating several pieces of content into French on his own initiative, including one of mine which led us to talk more about translations. We discussed potential next steps for these efforts, and BanklessFR quickly seemed like an evidence.
So I’ve reached back to Ryan and was delighted to find out that it was actually already part of his plans for Bankless to go global! So with the support of Ryan and an initial funding collected thanks to contribution to the Bankless International grant, BanklessFR started on May 27 with the publication of the translation of the Skill Cube.
BanklessFR has now been growing since: we’re expanding the content offering & exploring different ways to turn this into a sustainable project. After the first Gitcoin grant in September, we just released the first BanklessFR NFT series to illustrate an article it’s tied to.
While I’m recentering on my community-engagement, I’m also incredibly excited to announce that I’ll be taking on a new role. I have a hard time calling it a job considering I’d be working with a friend on the amazing product he created: ParaSwap.
I’ll be helping with the topics pertaining to my expertise such as navigating the density of DeFi space, producing content and documentation, and interacting with the DeFi community.
I’m immensely excited about this new opportunity - as token swaps are one of those topics that keep getting deeper the more you learn about it. Indeed, ParaSwap is a product working magic behind the scenes, sometimes interacting with several smart contracts and routing trades through several tokens to optimize them.
Beyond the product itself, the story of ParaSwap is also worth telling. After carrying out his project as a one-man-army for months, Mounir assembled an amazing team to take it to the next step. I’ve been following attentively since the first day so I’m thrilled to get the chance to join and contribute.
One of my focus will be to shine a light on the complexity ParaSwap abstracts for dApp developers and end-users. There are so many products and services in the space that it can get very hard to navigate. So I’ll be harnessing my expertise and network to identify win-win situations: projects which can harness ParaSwap’s infrastructure to improve the quality and operability of their service.
There you go for some tidbits of my crypto story! Since you’ve made it this far, allow to share one last thing - a simple illustration demonstrating some features that make ParaSwap more than a mere aggregator - it’s the DeFi middleware:
Intrigued? Check this resource to better understand ParaSwap’s unique edge and how you can harness it to make DeFi work for you.
Thanks for reading it and I’ll see you in the Ether!
Moloch is the Canaanite god of human coordination failure: Ethereum, Slayer of Moloch - Bankless