When it comes to influencers, Paris Hilton is queen—and when it comes to cryptocurrency, Lightning Labs Co-CEO and Founder Elizabeth Stark has been dubbed Bitcoin’s warrior queen.
At M13’s recent Future Perfect event, the duo teamed up to discuss cryptocurrency’s rising influence on the creator economy. Here are some highlights from their conversation moderated by M13 Partner Latif Peracha.
How did you get involved with cryptocurrency and NFTs?
Elizabeth: “I'd always wondered, ‘Why isn't there an easy way on the internet to pay a musician or a DJ you know anywhere around the world natively? Why are there all these intermediaries and middlemen who take massive cuts if you're international?’ So that was something that I had thought about kind of before the world of Bitcoin. Discovering Bitcoin was eye-opening … I thought, ‘We can finally have this native way to transact on the internet and enable creators to make money, to engage with fans, to have their community without intermediaries and middlemen who take these massive cuts.’”
Paris: “I've been involved in the crypto world since around 2016, when I had dinner with the founders of Ethereum. And I really saw it as the future. Back in March 2020, I was approached to do a charity initiative and my first NFT. I just saw this really new, exciting way to release art. I've always loved digital art. And I love that it gives the power back to the creators. Even in the traditional art world, it was all about being able to get into that exhibit that was happening at that art dealer; after selling something, you would never see anything in the secondary market. Now with this technology, artists will be receiving what they deserve for the rest of time … The creator deserves it because they're the ones creating.”
Has crypto reached its full potential?
Elizabeth: “It's still early. The idea of being able to have this monetary network where you can transact and natively embed value on the internet is so exciting. And that's really, to me, where the creator economy starts blowing up. So the creators of the worldwide web like Tim Berners-Lee in the early ‘90s actually envisioned that you would be able to transact on the internet natively, but the technology just wasn't there yet. So fast forward to today, we've seen the evolution. In 2009, the Bitcoin network launched. Then we move forward to what we're doing with the Lightning Network.”
How is Lightning Labs moving the crypto market forward?
Elizabeth: “Bitcoin at its base layer has 10-minute transactions, which can spike up. The technology we're working on enables instant transactions with very low fees. You can do many thousands of transactions per second. This is an ideal way to actually enable this new creator economy. So the goal with Lightning is to have a native transaction layer to make sending value over the internet as easy as sending a photo … We’re at the beginning of new and evolving models to connect creators with fan bases using Bitcoin and Lightning.”
How can we open access and accelerate adoption?
Elizabeth: “We need to get to a point where things are more usable. Usability is a key part here to make it easy, make it more accessible. And that's something that I'm incredibly passionate about—branching up access in terms of global emerging markets. Really getting people of all walks of life onboard is key and just evolving the technology to make it so that it's solving real problems and helping creators and the broader population.”
Is there going to be a Paris token?
Paris: “Yes, we've actually been discussing that for a while now, so you'll be seeing that very soon. I'm also curating an all-female art exhibit for Sevens Grant Foundation called Empowered by Paris: Empowered Women Empower Women. And it's just been incredible, just seeing all of these really incredible female artists submitting their work.”
To catch up on more of M13’s Future Perfect: Influence series on everything from compelling storytelling to effective boards, check out the full video replay on YouTube.