We spent some quality time recently at Starfish Mission, and got to speak to cofounder Matt Quinn and core team member Jon Connors about their work. Starfish originally opened as a coworking space to serve the blockchain community, but it has quickly evolved into an innovation hub for blockchain projects of all kinds. Listen here.
This was one of the more colorful conversations we’ve had with the juxtaposition of Jon Connors, a proud and self-proclaimed Anarchist (he even has a tattoo!) with the more diplomatic and soft spoken Matt Quinn. Starfish’s other cofounder Alicia could not join us, but we look forward to bringing her on at a future date.
As many of these conversations go, things got heady pretty fast… we went from talking about disintermediation of the nation state to what it means to have an empowered currency. Both Matt and Jon agree that a new system is needed and are working to create a new world that doesn’t have the same social structures. One of the key benefits a move blockchain can provide are transparency and accountability, which they both see as lacking in our current bureaucratic agencies.
Matt got into bitcoin in 2013, previously he had been helping to manage New York city’s public budget, where he had seen how bad humans are at keeping track of large organizations and he saw bitcoin as an automated system to solve for human fallibility. He started learning all he could and organizing Ethereum meetups and building communities around crypto.
Jon found the crypto world in search of systems that would transform society. He started organizing content around empowered action and currency, ie crypto and saw that it could potentially change social systems. He points to Ben Bartlett’s vision around programmable currency and the power to incentivize positive actions through these programmable markets.
The excitement we see around blockchain is the promise to do things differently, it’s easy to rail against the establishment, but with blockchain there is no human pulling the strings, we’re creating structures that can operate as intended without human influence. ~ Matt Quinn
We chatted about some of the member companies within Starfish such as a Swap, who just accepted to YCombinator that is building a chat app with a payment application. Also Lumeos (who will also be making an appearance on the podcast), a company that is building a decentralized platform on which to control and monetize our own data.
One of the things both Matt and Jon highlight however is the robust events programming they’ve brought to SF, the real magic is they believe is in bringing people from the community together for collaboration and peer to peer learning. They are setting the space for innovation to occur, like a petri dish. Starfish holds events almost every night of the week, on topics such as Sacred Blockchain to Distributed Saturdays, which host a protocol-agnostic day long fest where you can learn everything you wanted to know about smart contracts, Ethereum or even join an EOS hackathon.
Speaking with Matt and Jon, it’s easy to get swept up in their excitement, passion and vision for a better world. This one was a particularly entertaining and fun conversation, thank you Starfish for hosting us, we look forward to watching you develop and grow!