Dhruv Bansal On Societal Organization Systems And Bitcoin

This interview with Dhruv Bansal was conducted by myself in an effort to obtain valuable insight into a rather visionary Bitcoiners mind, and I believe my mission was accomplished. Bansal’s answers are profound and thought-provoking, giving us a glimpse into his thoughts on Bitcoin at large. Be sure to check out his talk at Bitcoin 2021 here after reading the edited transcript of our interview below.

Casey Carrillo: Hi everyone, I have here Dhruv Bansal, co-founder and CSO at Unchained Capital.

I was lucky enough to have an email Q and A with Mr. Bansal, and we agreed to sit down here at Bitcoin 2021, where I’ve had the pleasure to finally meet him in person. First of all, welcome to Bitcoin 2021, and I hope you are enjoying your time here.

Dhruv Bansal: Thanks Casey, it looks like I’m going to be a little overwhelmed, it looks like a huge conference.

Carrillo: Absolutely. So, jumping right in: in your previous article you mentioned that you’re excited to see the Bitcoin-inspired discoveries other scientists make within their respective fields. What, in your opinion, gives Bitcoin this capacity to inspire different ways of thinking about things?

Bansal: I think anytime humanity discovers a new principle of organization, governance, construction or material science, it affects everything. I think that’s true for ideas of evolution and for ideas of computation. I think we’re seeing that with Bitcoin. Bitcoin is interdisciplinary. One of the things it does is that it distributes decision-making, order matching, reality and truth in a way that we’ve never seen happen before, which gives Bitcoin a lot of its strength and resilience and is what makes it unique. I would love to see scientists and researchers of all stripes apply those kinds of thoughts and methods to other kinds of systems. My talk with Ryan is attempting to apply some of this thinking to things like the internet, other networks and civilization. But I think Bitcoin can go beyond that: it can teach us how to deal with systems that don’t have any definite state in a given moment in time but that eventually become consistent. We know this from databases quite intimately, but to see it not only affect a database in an esoteric programming context but to see normal people talking about notions of forks and eventual consistency is really powerful. I love to see that learning wash over humanity as a whole and allow us to be more informed of the trade-offs and rules of distributed systems.

Carrillo: I find your business, Unchained Capital, extremely interesting. What is your personal interpretation of the macroeconomic conditions surrounding the surge in bitcoins price, and do you believe the conditions we’re in currently are set to continue?

Bansal: That’s an interesting question—and I’m certainly not an economist or anybody you should look to for macroeconomic commentary—but what I’ll mention is that like a lot of Bitcoiners I expected the price to increase in 2021 tremendously. Why? History, stock-to-flow, four-year cycles. It feels a little bit silly to say that just because it happened four years ago it’s going to happen again, but I have admitted to myself that that’s kind of what I believe. And here we are: it’s happening again and it’s been happening. Now, truthfully, it’s not happening merely because it’s four years from the last time. It’s happening for real reasons. Most people who are buying bitcoin probably don’t care that four years ago was the halvening or that last year we had a halvening. It’s so curious to me, believing that the price would increase, to watch things like the COVID pandemic happen, to watch things like money printing go crazy over the last year, and to watch people pay attention to that and connect it to bitcoin. And lo and behold, the price started to increase. And as much as I expected it would, I was still shocked to understand why it did. Obviously nobody expected the COVID pandemic. There are probably other reasons too, which if I was more of a macroeconomic thinker I would be able to draw out. To me that’s been the most interesting part of this whole process, knowing that it would happen but not really knowing why and then seeing the why and understanding thesense behind why it happened.

Carrillo: Going off that, I suppose it may be believed that these conditions drive the price in the short term. Are you of the personal belief that in the long term these things are irrelevant to bitcoin and we’re experiencing a sort of water flowing down a mountain, a sort of inevitability?

Bansal: I think that’s a nice way to put it. I mean yes, this is something Ryan and I were talking about: Bitcoin has already won. And I’m not saying there’s no risk or no concern and we should all just be chill and not try to work hard to make this asset class better, richer, stronger and more robust. We should be doing those things. But essentially I believe it’s already won. That, in your words, it’s kind of like we’re just going to be going downhill in the next fifty years as Bitcoin takes over every aspect of society and affects it in some meaningful way. Nevertheless, even water going downhill has to contend with things in its way like obstacles, boulders, whatever you like. And there are a lot of those. So I think when we see the price retrace by 50%, that affects my business very strongly, it affects so many people here [Bitcoin 2021], and so when I see that happen I kinda think “well, we’re still just rolling down hill, aren’t we?” Like, we’ll be right back at $60,000 in a couple months, we’ll maybe cross $100,000 after that. I still tend to be extremely optimistic. Of course I could be wrong and it won’t work out this way, but hopefully it continues to do, on the largest scale, the thing I think it’s going to do, which is increase in price tremendously over the next few decades.

Carrillo: Having conducted this interview at Bitcoin 2021, I want to ask you what you’re most looking forward to at the conference.

Bansal: Oh that’s an easy answer. There are so many people here that part of me is worried that, while walking through the conference and all the events, there’s gonna be so much noise and chaos. But the excitement is that there are so many people here, so many of my friends and colleagues, people I’ve been reading the last few years and admiring from a distance. And I’m getting to meet them, have drinks, go on walks with them. You know, the chance to really dig in and have that kind of conversation you can only have in person is what’s so great about conferences in general, and in particular that’s what’s going to be so great about this one for me.

I really appreciate Mr. Bansal taking the time to answer my questions at Bitcoin 2021. Thanks for reading, and be sure to check out his talk at the conference on YouTube.


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NYDIG Leads $25 Million Investment Round In Bitcoin Services Platform Unchained Capital

Bitcoin and financial services platform Unchained Capital raised $25 million in a series A fundraising round by NYDIG.

Unchained Capital, a financial services platform geared for long-term bitcoin holders, has announced today the initial closing of a $25 million series A capital raise led by institutional bitcoin investment solutions firm NYDIG. In addition, NYDIG has increased its minority stake and added $100 million to its initial lending commitment of $50 million made in February.

“Our initial investment in Unchained began a partnership that has quickly gone from strength to strength,” commented founder and executive chairman of NYDIG, Ross Stevens, in the announcement. “Most importantly, our firms share a united vision around helping to propel an alternative, sound-money financial system, built on bitcoin, open to all, ultimately empowering billions.”

NYDIG’s initial minority equity stake investment made in February allowed Unchained Capital to accelerate its technological development and contributed to a steep increase in Unchained’s bitcoin-collateralized lending business. With the newest round, the two firms plan to offer “collaborative custody arrangements … with the goal to attract more financial institutions to do the same,” per the announcement.

Existing Unchained Capital investors Ecliptic Capital, Starting Line, Stronghold Resource Partners, TVP Bitcoin Venture Fund, Ten31 and Platform Ventures are also participating in the equity round.

Unchained Capital provides a suite of financial services that leverages the Bitcoin network and incentivizes clients to hold their private keys and store long-term wealth in bitcoin, including a multi-signature setup.

NYDIG, on the other hand, provides bitcoin investment and technology solutions to banks, corporations, institutions and high-net-worth individuals. The company has been active in the bitcoin ecosystem, reportedly attracting traditional banks to enter the Bitcoin space in early May.


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Dhruv Bansal Combines Bitcoin And Science

We got to catch up with the CSO and Co-Founder of Unchained Capital in this pre-conference interview!

At Bitcoin 2021, you’ll be able to experience a variety of speakers with many different backgrounds. One amazing guest we will be privileged to host is Dhruv Bansal, Co-Founder and CSO at Unchained Capital, and author of the “Bitcoin Astronomy” series discussing the implications of bitcoin and blockchain technology being used in space. He will be presenting “The Bitcoin Stack,” alongside Ryan Gentry June 4, 11:15 am EST on the Stacking Sats stage.

Set a reminder for Bitcoin 2021 Day 1 YouTube Live Stream →

Being a personal fan of Mr. Bansal and his work, I was elated to get the opportunity to interview him via email, along with planning for an in-person interview at the conference. Below is our interview discussing his own Bitcoin journey, what he’s looking forward to in the industry, and some questions particular to his work in science.

How would you describe your bitcoin journey in terms of how it changed your life?

My background is statistical physics and distributed systems engineering. It was the connections between bitcoin and these areas which first drew me into the bitcoin “rabbit hole”. But understanding bitcoin requires understanding so much more than physics and engineering. I’ve really enjoyed learning more about money, economics, finance, and politics on my bitcoin journey, as well as meeting the people who taught me these things. Bitcoin is a passion and a career for me now, a focal point of so many old and new interests.

What are you most excited about for the rest of the year in bitcoin?

I’m excited for all the growth we’re experiencing, both at my company, Unchained Capital, and in bitcoin as a whole. As the value of their bitcoin increases, hodlers’ minds turn to better custody. I believe that key ownership is a vital part of bitcoin ownership so I’m excited for the increased interest in multisig collaborative custody.

Your essays on the ramifications of space exploration on bitcoin and hash rate are phenomenal – what’s your experience been in terms of reaction from the traditional academic community?

Not much! What I most enjoyed about writing my “Bitcoin Astronomy” series was its highly speculative nature. I’m no longer an academic and I have no scientific reputation to defend so I’m free to look foolish making such speculations. I think the traditional academic community is rightly more conservative about speculation. My sense is that many academics — certainly most physicists, astronomers, astrobiologists, and SETI researchers — are still somewhat suspicious of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Do you expect an increasing amount of connections to be drawn between hard sciences and the application of bitcoin?

Following on the last question, as the general public becomes more familiar with and accepting of bitcoin I believe the attention paid by the scientific community to bitcoin will also increase. Computer scientists, cryptographers, physicists, as well as practitioners from many other fields are already producing some research on bitcoin’s virtual machine, architecture, network, etc. As bitcoin grows I expect an acceleration in science’s learnings about bitcoin. But I’m especially excited to see what learnings scientists make about their own fields inspired by bitcoin!

What are your goals for 2021, and how are you working towards them?

My biggest 2021 goal is to ensure my company, Unchained Capital, continues to scale with the demand we’re seeing in this bull market. We’re hiring engineers, upgrading systems, automating workflows, all while building new products and services. It’s a wonderful problem to have. I would also like to ship some essays and other content on scaling bitcoin through layers — the topic of the talk I’m giving at Bitcoin2021 with Ryan Gentry from Lightning Labs — as well as my own thoughts on connections between bitcoin and the hard sciences.

To hear more about the conference, follow both #Bitcoin2021 and Bitcoin Magazine on Twitter and Instagram, plus join our conversation on Telegram. And be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to keep up with all the happenings at Bitcoin 2021.


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Securing Your Bitcoin With Parker Lewis

Listen To This Episode:

This week for the “Bitcoin Magazine Podcast,” host Christian Keroles sat down with Parker Lewis of Unchained Capital to discuss several key topics in Bitcoin. They opened the discussion with Parker’s “Gradually, Then Suddenly” blog series and how impactful it has been in educating institutions and Bitcoiners alike.

They went into depth on what Lewis thinks of when it comes to Bitcoin education and how Bitcoin goes from being counterintuitive to hyper-intuitive. They also discussed how to store bitcoin and how Unchained is making multisig more approachable for bitcoin holders. Please enjoy this wide-ranging conversation with Lewis of Unchained Capital and the “Gradually, Then Suddenly” series.

Follow Lewis on Twitter.

Follow Unchained Capital on Twitter.

Follow Keroles on Twitter.

Today, Unchained Capital announced a partnership with NYDIG, a key player in institutional services for Bitcoin. This interview was recorded prior to this announcement.


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Unchained Capital Closes $5.5 Million Round Led By NYDIG

Today, Unchained Capital announced that it has closed a $5.5 million equity seed round led by New York Digital Investments Group (NYDIG).

Also participating in the equity round were existing investors Ecliptic Capital, Starting Line, Platform Ventures, Stronghold Resource Partners, Trammell Venture Partners’ Bitcoin Venture Fund and Capital Factory.

NYDIG is a leading institutional bitcoin technology and financial services firm that recently filed for a U.S.-based bitcoin ETF product. 

“The teams at NYDIG and Unchained Capital share a mission built on the foundation of a bitcoin standard,” Joseph Kelly, CEO and cofounder of Unchained Capital, said in an announcement shared with Bitcoin Magazine. “We believe there are significant opportunities to create synergies across our respective custodial and non-custodial platforms.” 

As an institutional business, NYDIG is focused on Bitcoin as a service provider to large investment managers and high-net-worth clients, but also as an investor to fund and support cutting-edge, Bitcoin-native startups. In addition to leading the equity round, NYDIG has made an initial lending commitment of $50 million, and will continue to be the principal funding partner to Unchained in support of its bitcoin-backed multisig lending platform.

“NYDIG sees an investment in Unchained Capital as both an investment in a complementary technology and financial services platform but also as an investment in the open-source Bitcoin ecosystem itself,” Parker Lewis, head of business development at Unchained Capital, told Bitcoin Magazine.

In a world where many venture capital firms and Silicon Valley startups are more focused on launching tokens and monetizing the latest fad, Unchained Capital and NYDIG have signalled a very serious intention to build and leverage the Bitcoin-native infrastructure needed to make Bitcoin more accessible to real people and businesses. 

Through investments in its proprietary services platform and open-source applications like Caravan, Unchained Capital has advanced the development of Bitcoin multisig and the security of the Bitcoin network for all. 

“It takes bitcoin-minded entrepreneurs and investors to build products and platforms that bitcoiners actually value and the investments that both Unchained and NYDIG are making reinforce the strength of the bitcoin ecosystem as a whole,” Lewis said.

Through many of its initiatives, the team at Unchained Capital is dedicated to advancing both bitcoin the asset and Bitcoin the movement. But it may be less publicly well-known that NYDIG holds similar ideals.

See Also

“As the founder of one of the largest Bitcoin-focused firms in the world, I don’t mind if you come to Bitcoin for the price,” NYDIG Founder Ross Stevens wrote in his 2020 letter to shareholders of NYDIG’s parent company, Stone Ridge. “I just hope you stay for the principles.”

Unchained emphasized that this investment from NYIG is an alignment of first principles and an opportunity to finance Bitcoin infrastructure — something the world needs. It’s something that the groups hope will be the beginning of a larger trend.

“Combining forces, NYDIG and Unchained together can now act with a unified urgency to accelerate fairer and freer access to the Bitcoin monetary system, in support of NYDIG’s mission of delivering financial security for all,” Stevens said, per the announcement. “As fiat’s accelerating evaporation of value in bitcoin terms — 90 percent USD deprecation since just the beginning of 2019 — continues to wreck U.S. savers’ title to their own human time, Unchained, with NYDIG’s increasing support, is doing important and critically necessary work. On a personal level, Parker was, and is, quite influential to me at various inflection points of my own Bitcoin journey, so I could not be more pleased with this union and look forward to digging in with … the whole Unchained team.”

The partnership and new funding came on the heels of Unchained reaching over $1 billion of bitcoin secured and over $80 million of loans originated, the company said. Proceeds will be used to grow the team, further the integration with NYDIG and expand its growing suite of services to include bitcoin lending and bitcoin payments infrastructure.


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