In this episode of The Acquirer’s Podcast Tobias chats with Tyrone Ross Jr. Tyrone is a financial consultant, early-stage start-up advisor, entrepreneur, and athlete. He was a 2004 Olympic Trials qualifier in track and field, and was recognized by Investment News 40 under 40 (2019), and WealthManagement.com as a top ten advisor set to change the industry in 2019. During the interview Tyrone provided some great insights into:
– From A 16-Year-Old Who Never Dared To Nearly Becoming An Olympian
– Athletes Will Always Kick Butt On Wall Street
– Startup Advising Provides Opportunities To Eat With Both Hands, As My Mother Would Say
– Why Crypto Is So Important To The Underclass Of People in This Country
– The Godfather Of Gratitude – The Importance Of Saying “I Appreciate You!”
– The Positives And Negatives Of Facebook’s Libra
– Crypto Is The Digital Version Of The Centuries Old Sou-Sou
– Just Who Is Satoshi Nakamoto?
The Acquirers Podcast
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Tyrone Ross: All right, let’s rock and roll.
Tobias Carlisle: Let’s do it.
Tyrone Ross: I’m fired up.
Tobias Carlisle: So am I, let’s go.
Tyrone Ross: I’m fired up, let’s go.
Tobias Carlisle: Hi, I’m Tobias Carlisle, this is the Acquirers Podcast. My special guest today was named by Investment News to the 40 under 40. They described him as having the soul of a teacher, and the drive of an olympian. He’s the godfather of gratitude, he’s got a brand new firm, we’re going to talk about it right after this.
Speaker 3: Tobias Carlisle is the founder and principle of Acquirers Funds. For regulatory reasons, he will not discuss any of the Acquirers Funds on this podcast. All opinions expressed by podcast participants are solely their own, and do not reflect the opinions of Acquirers Funds or affiliates. For more information, visit acquirersfunds.com.
Tobias Carlisle: Tyrone Ross, how are you?
Tyrone Ross: I’m well, sir. Thank you for having me so much, I appreciate you. Extremely grateful for this opportunity.
Tobias Carlisle: My absolute pleasure. So you’ve launched a new firm, tell us a little bit about it.
Tyrone Ross: Yeah. So what I’m going to do is I will be building a consulting firm, that is a registered RIA, that will be focused on what I believe financial services will look like in the future in terms of a very flexible business model, and in terms of a focus on crypto assets, early state startups. And then the very basics of financial planning and investment management. So I’m super, super excited. As people know that follow me on Twitter, I kind of like to push boundaries a little bit. And more importantly, what I want people the understand when they see 401, I’m so excited for people to see the rollout, they’re going to feel it. It’s going to go right to your gut, and it’s going to bounce to your heart, and then it’s going to go to your head, and then your head is going to send a response to your hands to act. So I’m super inspired man, I cannot wait. And I just can’t wait for the world to see it and join me on trying to push the boundaries and change what financial services looks like.
Tobias Carlisle: That sounds great. You’ve done a lot of interesting things in your career, both as an athlete and as a financial consultant. So let’s just start off, tell us a little bit about the Olympic trials. I always say you’re the fastest financial consultant over 400 meters.
Tyrone Ross: I will gladly accept that. Yeah, so I started running reluctantly at 13-years-old. I had a biology teacher who was like, “You’re going to run track, if not I’ll fail you. So I went out for track, I hated it for two years. Long story short, when I was about 16, fell in love, deep, deep, deep in love. And the ’96 Olympics were that year, and I watched Michael Johnson in the gold shoes and I’m like, “I want to do this.” And for the next 16 years I dedicated my life to it, and it’s provided more hurt than actual joy, but without that I’m not here talking to you, which is amazing. So 2004, I actually qualified for the Olympic trials. I ram 4593, which a the time was a top, I don’t know, 40 time in the country, top 30 in the country, and I don’t know where it ranked globally.
Tyrone Ross: So got accepted in, was on my way to the airport. Had a friend who was on the committee and he called and was like, “Where are you?” And I’m like, “I’m on my way to the airport.” And he’s like, “Don’t get on the plane man, they didn’t accept you.” And I’m like, “What?” He’s like, “You and the 28th guy had the same time so they left you both out, and they took 27.” The most painful thing about that was every single year they took over 30, they took 30 or more. So that was heartbreak, absolute heartbreak. But being the type of individual that I am, I got back on the horse for ’08. I’m working at a firm down on Wall Street, investor relations firm. I just started working on Wall Street in ’06.
Tyrone Ross: So now I’ve got a good job, and I’m doing well. And my job was fully supportive, they’re like, “Listen if you’re crazy enough to train for the Olympics and work on Wall Street, then so be it.” And they gave me I want to say two, three months off before the trials. Instead of me taking that time to rest, and train, and focus I was over training, going nuts. I was like, “It has to happen, it has to happen.” And I ended up a half a second off the qualifier. Again, devastating to have to walk into an office full of people and tell them you failed.
Tyrone Ross: But again, being who I am I get back on the horse for 2012 where 2012 I was going to be 32-years-old. So I was like this is it, as you know at least for runners it doesn’t really happen after your mid to late 30’s. So I’m like this is the last hoorah, it has to happen now. And I went all in, exhausted all resources, drew down my bank account, everything, put everything in. And two weeks before the Olympic trials I got a grade there tear of my groin. So it’s tough, man.
Tobias Carlisle: That’s tough.
Tyrone Ross: Yeah, just talking about it is tough. It sucks that my dream is never going to come true. But what’s interesting now is if I never dared as a 16-year-old to become an olympian, all of the awesome things that I have and experiencing now would have never happened. So talking to you, the 40 under 40, all this stuff, I always thought I would have had to be an olympian to have that stuff, right? But now it’s happening without it. But that journey is a tough one. And to be frank, I’m not healed form it. I still deal with the ins and outs of mental illness and the depression of it not happening.
Tyrone Ross: But I would just encourage anyone out there that’s experiencing something similar that if you persevere, if you endure, if you stay committed, and you’re dedicated, and you start to give your life away. And that is one of the things that I started to do, I’m like, “Well my dream isn’t going to come true. Now what? I’m going to have to find new purpose.” So I started to give my life away, and all of my experiences. And now I’m being restored by people who are pouring into me and giving me kind words. So for anybody out there going through something similar, just endure, start to be grateful, and take the focus off of yourself and amazing things will happen.
Tobias Carlisle: Do you feel that training for something like the Olympics has helped you in your professional life in the sense that you’re used to putting in a lot of hours without seeing any advancement, not being rewarded at all. And then you get one meet every few weeks, or months or something, where you get to see if you’ve made any advancement, or sometimes you go backwards?
Tyrone Ross: Yep, that’s exactly it. You nailed it, that’s exactly it. That’s why I say, “Athletes will always kick butt on Wall Street because we’re used to doing all of that work for a small timeframe.” I trained literally four years, your dream in track is separated by four years, so you have to put one day together for four years to fun for 45 seconds. You know what I’m saying, so 44 seconds. So what I’ve brought to it, and I’ve started working on Wall Street, you hear about hard work, and the long hours, and this and that. And I’m like, “This isn’t really hard, I can show you hard.”
Tyrone Ross: So I think that drive, that determination, being goal oriented, being able to push through adversity. And then also again, understanding planning, understanding sticking to a plan through in and out. A lot of what financial advisors do again, this will come out, this is what 401 is about. That’s what that story is, is a lot of what we do as advisors is track is exemplary of that. So that’s kind of what I’ve brought to it, and you hit the nail on the head it’s a lot of work for a small moment in time, and you have to be great when you get your shot.
Tobias Carlisle: And you’re still running now, I see you posting your sweat face … are you still running 400’s?
Tyrone Ross: I am still running 400’s. So unfortunately with my schedule and everything I can’t compete as much as I want to. But I can still get down to around a 48 second quarter, which is good for an old man, I’ll be 40 in two weeks, next week actually. So yeah, I’m in really good shape and I’ll still actively compete. The US has, well all countries have it, they have a masters division that starts at 30-years-old and goes all the way up until you drop dead. And I’ll have no problem going around the country beating up on the other 40-year-old’s who can’t break 60.
Tobias Carlisle: The thing that I think that you’re probably best known for on Twitter is the crypto. So why are you passionate about crypto?
Tyrone Ross: Passionate about crypto for what it means for the underclass of people in this country that has been ignored forever. And a lot of people really don’t understand where that comes from. One, I’m one of those people, I grew up in one of those households. We have an opportunity now to get these people the resources that they need to be financially included in a digital environment, that it’s moving at hyper speed. It’s less about the assets, and I don’t even want to get into that, Bitcoin. What I want to get into is the fact that this technology is going to pull people up and in. Now, what do I mean by that?
Tyrone Ross: I posted something yesterday where those that are considered unbanked are now around 7%. I think with crypto we can get that number to the low single digits, but now you’re dealing with people that go from unbanked to underbanked. So 50% of the people in the south Bronx are unbanked. 17% of the people in Mississippi. You have 40 million people in this country that are considered working poor. What crypto is allowing people to do, and you look at again I’ve changed my tune on it, but what Facebook is looking to do, this is all crypto is going to usher in. Our financial services industry hasn’t innovated in 50 years. Japan has had a real time payment system since 1973, we still don’t have one.
Tyrone Ross: So this is what crypto is doing, it’s giving our financial services industry and our financial payment rails competition. I don’t care about talking about any of the assets, that’s what this is about, because now you have people who are impoverished and poor in rural communities, in inner city communities that have access to a phone. Now they can access banking through a phone. You have people who are close to DMV’s and all these places with no identity. It’s going to give them the ability to have identity. Now we’re pulling more people up and it doesn’t require what is the tax rate going to be, or how we’re going to tax the rich.
Tyrone Ross: We don’t need that, we just need better technology, better resources for these people to be able to bank themselves, to be able to save, to be able to invest, and that’s the main thing. This is the first investment ever that you did not need a college degree, you didn’t need a minimum, there was nothing. If you had a phone, you had access to the internet you could invest. Good, bad, or indifferent, feel how you want to feel about that. I’m here to open minds not change them. But I think it was the first time where people in history could log right on and buy whatever asset it was.
Tyrone Ross: And here’s the thing about this, this is what I tell people, I have been going around talking around this country for years trying to get black and brown people in this country to put money in the stock market. Half to the country doesn’t own stock, there’s a greater percentage of those in color who don’t own stock, I believe upwards of 70% or so. There’s so many people who dabbled in crypto, and now want to hear about stock. Now want to hear about bonds, now want to talk about financial planning.
Tyrone Ross: So I think these are the things that are super duper powerful. That’s what crypto is about. It’s not about what Buffet thinks, it’s not about what the price target is or whether it’s going to be used for coffee, it’s not by the way. It’s not about that. What it’s about is how this is going to allow people to get included in a system that has been exclusive for hundreds of years.
Tobias Carlisle: So you gave me some homework before I talked to you today, and it was the Satoshi Nakamoto paper, the original paper on Bitcoin. I read it, I can’t say I understood all of it. But there was some ideas in it that I thought were very powerful, and one of them I think you were just touching on there is the disintermediation of the financial institutions like banks. How does that help the people who can’t access regular banking? Is it just because they can get access through the phone, or what does it achieve that banks haven’t done previously?
Tyrone Ross: Great question. So one of the things that, in the white paper it mentions peer to peer electronic cash system. Me to you without a bank. So now I don’t have to worry about the bank saying, again, “I need a certain amount of ID,” or, “There is a minimum,” or whatever the fees are. I don’t make it. So that’s one part. The other part is the people who are lacking financial services now don’t trust banks, and they also realize that I may not have enough money to use a larger bank anyway, so we’d rather just stay unbanked, or use payday loans, or use check cashing places, or the post office where people go to get money orders and cash money orders. Go to any inner city right now in this country on the weekends and you’ll see that, it’s a real thing.
Tyrone Ross: So that’s what crypto allows. Now to this point where people don’t realize, let’s go all the way back to the 16th century where slaves developed something called a sou-sou, which we called, I come from a Caribbean background, some Hispanics call it a Tanda, people call it different things. Where there was a trustless system where Toby puts in 100, I put in 100, we get 10 other people to put in $100, there’s a pot. We all take turns getting that pot, but it’s trustless because I have to believe that you know I have to pay my rent. And I know you have to pay your car note, so everybody has to put money in. Long story short, this has come down for centuries now.
Tyrone Ross: So if you go to any inner city community where there’s a large Caribbean population, they use this because they can’t use banks. So all Satoshi Nakamoto did, probably a group of people or whatever, was take that same idea and put cryptography, and economics, and finance, and all these things behind it and make it a digital ledge, and a digital blockchain that could be used for money. They created internet money, period, that’s just what it is. So that’s what this allows. So now what I’m trying to do when I get people to understand is listen, white, black, Hispanic, whatever, you guys have been doing this in your own communities for centuries. Irish, whatever, Jews, the whole deal.
Tyrone Ross: But now what this technology is allowing you to do is be able to do that same thing from your phone to transfer value. And there’s even startups now that are building that same infrastructure as a sou-sou, like I mentioned, on the blockchain right now. So that’s really what it’s about, to bypass the banking system and not have to worry about the fees, the overdrafts, and things like that.
Tobias Carlisle: Does your appreciation of that function of crypto as a type of digital sou-sou, is that the correct term?
Tyrone Ross: There you go, there you go, that’s tweetable.
Tobias Carlisle: Yeah, we need some of those. So you’re the first person in your family to graduate high school? Congratulations.
Tyrone Ross: Yep, thank you.
Tobias Carlisle: College as well, [inaudible 00:16:09].
Tyrone Ross: Yep, yep. I don’t know, again I don’t know if that’s something to be proud of or not. I mean I am, but it was a little … when I look back on it now, that is so destructive to a family being able to accumulate the ability to financially service themselves and be stable. But I am grateful that I’ve ended up where I am because I’ve been able to learn and also help my family as well. But again, you’ve got to understand I was 26-years-old, I literally walked onto Wall Street. True story, I walked right past the New York Stock Exchange, and didn’t know what the hell it was. So I knew nothing about stocks, I knew nothing about any of that.
Tyrone Ross: So yes, I’m super proud to be the first high school graduate, someone has to break the curse and I’m glad I was able to do that. My niece now is the second to go on and graduate college, so I’m extremely humbled and grateful for that. But me being the first to be exposed to this stuff has st our family back a long time of being able to accumulate the right amount of assets to make sure that we’re all stable. So yeah, that’s my story for sure.
Tobias Carlisle: And with the new firm, you’ve got three focuses in the firm, you said startup, startup advising, crypto, and financial consulting.
Tyrone Ross: Yep, financial consulting. Yeah, basic financial consulting, investment management, yep.
Tobias Carlisle: So what will your clients look like and how does it work?
Tyrone Ross: So a lot of my clients will follow me from my last firm, so they are young, they are really young. They’re high earners, they’re tech natives, they’re looking for a tech driven experience. They’re looking for someone to say, “Am I doing this right? Am I making the right decisions?” And then the next step is again, my mentor always says there comes a point in your life where you’ll start to use money to buy back your time. And when they start to get to that point and comprehensive planning gets more robust, they’ll be partnerships for that, and then you get into estate planning.
Tyrone Ross: Now the majority of them will be large crypto holders, so the conversation then is again, they come to me with their portfolios already set, and I look at it sometimes like oh my God, why do you own that? But they don’t care, they don’t care what I think, they’re going to do it. So they’re just basically saying … like I have a new prospect now that has a million dollar crypto portfolio, but he wants to look at cash reserves, he wants to look at how do I build wealth outside of crypto? Should I buy a home, pay down student loans?
Tyrone Ross: So crypto is just the hook, but it always gets back to traditional advice and traditional financial planning, and that’s kind of what it’s going to be. So there will be young, and again they’re looking for advice outside the traditional investors. I have to drag them to the stock market. So it’ll be that, and then there will be a B2B component as well where I’m going out educating firms and advisors on crypto and things like that. So that’s kind of what it will look like on both sides.
Tobias Carlisle: And what’s the startup advising, can you talk a little bit about that?
Tyrone Ross: Yeah. So one of the things that I started to do in 2015 when I was at Merrill, so there’s three things you don’t do at Merrill Lynch. One, don’t work with early stage startups. Two, you don’t work with younger clients. And three, you don’t be black. I was three for three. So I had to get off the plantation, so I’m off the plantation now. And then what I realized was I said, okay well this is where the business is going. So if I was to find a young founder that sold a company was working on a company, a couple things happen.
Tyrone Ross: One, no one wants to deal with a company at early stage, at all. What I realized was the most rudimentary advice you give them, they’re eyes get this big because nobody tells them this stuff. Whether it’s their personal finances or explaining to them, “Hey this is the difference between a debt raise and an equity raise. This is the difference between fundraising and financing,” right? Basic stuff to you and I, but to them they’re like, “Wait, wait, wait, I need this.” So I was like all right, I’m on to something here. And they started to meld a little bit because I started to realize they were into crypto as well.
Tyrone Ross: So with the early stage startup advice what I do is it’s really early companies that are looking for an advisor, so in the startup world they have advisors, but truly in the sense of being a registered advisor to give advice around what they’re actually doing with building the capital structure of their company. Term sheets, the cap table, the marketing, the branding, how to actually go out and raise capital. You come up in Wall Street like I did, starting out cold calling, having to build a book. And one of the things that people don’t realize is this, why such a seamless fit, there’s a strong correlation between a startup and what we do as financial advisors. Strong correlation. It fits, so I let them know, “Listen my clients are my LP’s.”
Tyrone Ross: I have to show performance, I have to go back to them, and there’s certain metrics that I have to hit, they have goals. Same thing like you, I have to raise capital. I need a pipeline, you need a pipeline, so it’s a good fit. So what I want to do is almost create like an accelerator or incubator where you’re not taking so much equity away from the company, but really helping them build and grow. And then as they scale the company, and then as they have more complex to nuance personal financial situations, you can help them. You can eat with both hands as my mother would say.
Tobias Carlisle: So run that past me again, you can eat with both hands?
Tyrone Ross: Yeah, you can eat with both hands, which is not advised in my mother’s house, but it just means you’re being greedy.
Tobias Carlisle: So I’ve heard you tweet about Mama Ross before, and I describe you as the godfather of gratitude because I think that more than anybody else you pump out the thanks. And I think it’s a great model, and I’ve tried to adopt it myself. And I think for selfish reasons I think I feel better as a result of doing it. So I just want to talk a little bit about that philosophy.
Tyrone Ross: Yeah, absolutely. So it comes from this, it’s two-fold, it came in two ways. So when I was coming up it was very difficult, we were constantly evicted. I always tell people I didn’t have a permanent address coming up. If we were classmates I couldn’t invite you over to my house because I didn’t even know where my house was. And not to get too into that, there’s conversations about that, but it was very difficult growing up. And through all those struggles and things that went wrong, my mother would always sing, and she would always pray, and she would always be happy.
Tyrone Ross: And I’m like this is so aggravating, what’s wrong with this woman? But she was trying to instill in us gratitude, and she would always say, “It could always be worse. Somebody has it worse.” And I was like wow, and even the little that we had she would make sure that we give to other people and we made sure other people had no matter how bad our condition was. So it was instilled in my very young that no matter what you’re going through you’re being grateful for your condition. Whatever your condition is be grateful for it because it could be worse, and be grateful because it doesn’t last, it will change. So you should always outwardly express that.
Tyrone Ross: Second fold is 2012 to date was the worst year of my life. I was driven to the point of depression, and ultimately wanted to commit suicide. And then I realized again, as I said, I started to give my life away and then I started to just use this term, “I appreciate you.” And I went on this, all 2013 I wrote thank you notes to anybody that had anything to do with my life. And I’m like this is what I need to push, this is what I need to lead with. And then when I started to do that, I realized I started to feel better, I started to heal, and things started to change. And that appreciate you, the story behind it is this is where it really started to stick, two actually.
Tyrone Ross: I was actually with someone from FinTwit and they knew I used it on Twitter, and they spent the day with me and they’re like, “Oh you really say this to everybody?” I’m like yeah, [inaudible 00:24:25] whatever. But it’s the reaction that you get from people when they say, “Oh man, thank you. No one’s ever said that to me.” So you can pour into somebody’s life by simply saying, “I appreciate you. Thank you for bagging my groceries, thank you for opening the door. Thank you for sharing your platform with me, I appreciate you.”
Tyrone Ross: And I was in New York City and I was walking from a meeting I was walking to Penn Station, there was a homeless man and he asked me for money. And I walked by him and I’m trying to feel, and I always make sure I have cash on me when in the city because I know people are going to ask. And I turned around, “Listen I don’t have much, all I have is $2.” And I grabbed his hand and I said, “I appreciate you.” And he just got quiet, and he stared at me and he started to cry. And he said, “People throw money at me all the time but no one has ever stopped me and said, “I appreciate you.” And at that moment I’m like the power in this is way beyond the words.
Tyrone Ross: So I push it, and the beautiful thing now is that so many people are starting to adopt it. They DM me, “Listen I opened this door for this lady and she said, “I appreciate you,” and we had this conversation or whatever.” So I’m blessed to be a blessing, man. And I’m so glad, because again I see some of your conversations on Twitter that you have. How often are we going to talk about buybacks, and PE ratios, and low val and factors. First of all, I ain’t that smart. Secondly, I think that if I can go this way, all of that is great, but all of those conversations you guys are having are allowing you to have a certain amount of privilege and access.
Tyrone Ross: So that if I say, “Hey guys over here,” here’s an opportunity to use a lot of that knowledge, and wealth, and resources to help somebody, that’s my job. Not to add more to that conversation in a 50 link thread, you’re a fly on the wall a that point. So I’m glad it’s having an effect on you and a lot of people, but that push will never stop. I think it needs to get greater. And I will say this, when I started to get on Twitter there was a lot of people, I read a lot of books. I don’t own a television, all I do is read, and I’ll read all types of stuff.
Tyrone Ross: And I will go on Twitter to make sure these people were on there and I would say, “I loved your book or I loved your pod,” and they wouldn’t say thank you. And I’m like well how do I combat that, I’m not the type to publicly, “Oh such-and-such didn’t” … here’s what I’ll do, I’m going to push gratitude to make sure people start to say, “All right if someone reads my blog post or someone reads my book, or the tweet a picture of me from a conference or whatever, “Thank you.” Because that is free marketing and it’s just the right thing to do.
Tyrone Ross: And my mother always says this, “You do it because it’s the right thing to do, not because you’re expecting something in return.” And I had to center myself, I’m like it’s just the right thing to do, I can’t expect people to be, “Oh you’re welcome,” or whatever. I just need to do it because it’s the right thing to do, and here we are.
Tobias Carlisle: I think you undersold yourself a little bit on the expertise because I have seen your conversations about Libra. So let’s just change gears a little bit and talk about what it is, what initially attracted you to it, and why now you’re stepping away from it a little bit.
Tyrone Ross: Right. So what Libra is, is Facebook’s attempt at what we discussed earlier was bringing more people into financial services. They have two point whatever the number is this week billion people on their platform that they feel like they can bring into the financial system by creating basically a virtual dollar. Which in the crypto circles is called a stable coin, essentially. It’s not a cryptocurrency, but it is going to be backed by reserves, different currency, short-term debt and things like that.
Tobias Carlisle: Just before you get too much further, explain a stable coin for us.
Tyrone Ross: Right. So a stable coin is essentially a digital dollar. They build a stable coin to simply be an on ramp onto the crypto system, the crypto economy as opposed to actual dollars. So-
Tobias Carlisle: Is the idea there’s not … so there’s a lot of volatility in Bitcoin and a lot of those crypto’s, so it has less volatility because it’s tied to the US dollar, it’s tied to something else. Is that how it works?
Tyrone Ross: Exactly. So the whole point is they’re saying, “Well we want to allow people to use this for remittence, allow them to use it for payments, allow them to use it for transferring value in any capacity, it needs to be stable.” It can’t be like Bitcoin like 10,000 today and then 7,000 next week, right? We don’t want that, we don’t want the whole Bitcoin pizza thing to happen again. So that’s basically what stable coins were about. And there’s a few others in the market right now that are larger, but that’s what Facebook was saying, “We’re going to create our own, which is going to be called a Libra.” So that’s basically what that is and you’ll be able to transact with it on all of their platforms.
Tyrone Ross: So that’s basically what it is. The next step was they said, “Okay well we’re going to have all of these partners, Uber, MercadoLibre, Visa, the whole thing. We’re going to have these people who are going to partner with us to allow us to get more people into that ecosystem.” Now I want to be very clear, here’s what people need to understand, there are wallets and digital money all over the place, Twitch, TikTok, actual Skype, we’re on Skype now, you can have wallets here, your Apple wallet, this is a real thing. But Facebook is just saying let’s integrate that, we want to lead.
Tyrone Ross: They then said, “Now let’s partner with non-profits, Keva being one, a few others, to get proximate to people who can use these services and learn a little bit more next time. So that’s when I got excited. I’m like oh, this is it. Now you get into the demographics, seven out of 10 teenagers on Facebook come from families that make 30,000 or less. As I referenced before, the United Ways said roughly 35 million families in this country is working poor. Three million people with no identity. They’re saying we want to give you identity, then we’re going to give you banking.
Tyrone Ross: Some of the stats that I said before about the different areas in the country that are underbanked, if you look at where Cash App, where Square and Cash App is having success it’s mainly in the south. I just got back from Charlotte, Cash App is a thing. What Cash App is doing is giving people banking accounts and then also allowing them to transfer value. So now just imagine Facebook, which is essentially a small country, or a medium sized country, with all of those people saying, “Now we’re going to allow you to do all of these things with us.” And whether it’s Uber, whether it’s Apple, whether it’s Amazon, everyone’s trying to keep you in their ecosystem now so you don’t have to go out for financial services. Uber cash, the Uber credit card, the Uber app, so on and so forth, everyone’s doing it.
Tyrone Ross: So this is what Facebook was looking to do. I was super excited about that again because here is a company that battered reputation and all was basically jumping out front and saying, “We’ll do it. We’re finally going to pay attention to the people who are an underclass in this country, and pull them into our financial system.” I was all in, I was fighting with people. I did not care, I was like this is it, shoot it I’m dying on this hill. Long story short, when the hearings were going on there was a bunch of us from Crypto Twitter who were in a group chat that was broadcast live, shout out to Nathaniel Whitmore, and he was broadcasting it live, and we were going back and forth on what was being said, watching it live, and giving our commentary.
Tyrone Ross: And they asked Dave Markets who I love, brilliant, super smart guy. They are killing him, they are killing Facebook, they are eviscerating him live. Here’s a chance for him in front of millions and millions of people, in front of our US women and congressmen to make a case in this country for the people that Facebook could help. And they asked him, “Give us some stats.” And that’s was it, he was like, “I don’t have them.” And at that moment I’m like oh my worst fear is being confirmed. And listen, I’m a glass half full kind of guy, I really thought that they were being altruistic and noble in this cause. But at that point I’m like this is not about those people, it’s about money.
Tyrone Ross: And I had to step away at that point because I am too dedicated and too committed and too purposeful for speaking to those people and being the voice for the voiceless, I can’t align myself with somebody that had that opportunity and then fell flat. Now with that said, not saying I won’t get back on the train, but for the time being I had to step away because a lot of people I feel like I have a strong voice with that community and people to know what I stand by. I couldn’t align myself with it until a lot of those wrongs are corrected. And maybe he comes back and he has the data, but I’m like … and I rattled off in the group chat, I went through like four threads of information.
Tyrone Ross: I’m like how do I know this? Little dummy old me, I know this, but this smart, intelligent, highly educated man is in front of our government and don’t know the stats of the people who are underclass in this country who need him, who you’re doing this for. And I’m sure, again, AOC asked him questions he could have brought up, “Well 50% of the people in your district.” A few of the democrats were beating him over the head. The party of the people, you’re the party of the people. How could you not support this? I get it. So that’s kind of where I’m at with that, so we’ll see what happens.
Tobias Carlisle: Does it matter if the tool achieves the ends that you seek? If their heart’s not in the right place?
Tyrone Ross: That’s a good question, and I look at it this way, there are plenty of people that we’ve trusted, we’ve done business with, we’ve broke bread with, and they went home and they beat their wife, or they kicked the dog, or they’re doing something that doesn’t align with our values, and we just don’t know. But they may have helped us in a time of need. So that’s the juxtaposition of life. So if it means that all of the partners are going to make a gazillion dollars, but there’s a family in the South Bronx, or Broward County, or Compton that doesn’t have to live how I lived, I’m all for it. But let’s just be aware of who the goons are.
Tyrone Ross: I don’t have any problem with that. You grow up in New Jersey, you always need to know where the goons are. They’re there, you just need to know they’re there. That doesn’t mean you don’t go to the mall and you don’t get ice cream cones with your girlfriend. The goons are over there, we’re staying here. But everyone’s allowed on the boardwalk. So I think so long as they see the purpose through I won’t be so mad. But now I think we need to be aware that the opportunity lies in understanding, which is why I need these people to understand what is going here with this technology and the people who want to take advantage of them, so long as they don’t know.
Tyrone Ross: On the flip side of that, you cannot tell me at some point there will be a lift from this, the Facebook stock gets or whatever, again going back to the original genesis of the conversation is a lot of these people don’t even own equities, right? So if we can pull more people in to get attention to this, and I’ve always said it, do whatever you do, whatever. If there’s a way for people to monetize it to make their lives better and they don’t align with your values but they can benefit from it to improve themselves, again that’s just a juxtaposition of life, wherever there’s bad there’s always good, and where evil there’s always prosperity. That’s the balance, that’s the juxtaposition of life, and that has to happen.
Tyrone Ross: So I honestly do hope it happens because there’s billions over seas, but I think we should start here within our own borders first. And if that means that a lot of people in these inner cities and rural communities and farmers and all these people can get better resources and help themselves they can wear the clown hats and pat each other on the back in the Hamptons for all I care. Let’s just make sure people can eat.
Tobias Carlisle: I can see two arguments for it. One is you don’t want to put that much power in the hands of Facebook, which even if they had been really well behaved in the past it’s still scary to have one group that powerful that really have no control over, particularly when there’s one guy who controls all of Facebook. But on the other hand, Buffet’s got this great line where he says, “The more the guy talks about how honest he is, the tighter I grip my wallet.” So whenever I hear a company like Facebook, or anybody saying we’re doing all of these altruistic things, I always think where’s the fish hook in this? What’s in it for you? So the fact that they were saying we’re just building this tool, we’re not necessarily singling out any group of people who are trying to help. But if the side effect of it even is that it does achieve an end that you’re in support of, then I can see cautiously, being cautiously supportive of something like that. I don’t understand enough about it to have an opinion, I’m just trying to think through it and talk it through.
Tyrone Ross: Right. And to your point about them having so much control, one of the congressmen asked, he pulled out a $20 bill. He said, “Anyone could use this, anybody, good, bad, ugly, tall, short, fat, skinny, anybody. Are you going to allow the Milo Yiannopoulos or whatever, all these different people who are banned on your platform now could they use Libra?” And he couldn’t answer. And I’m like, “Oh god.” So again, they could keep people off. So that part, and to be fair again I didn’t even think about that. I’m thinking about these people, I’m not even thinking about the fact that what if these people are people who they now say they want to exclude because they’re in Biloxi, or they’re in Newark, or they’re in Rochester, wherever. That part of it I didn’t think about, and when he said that I’m like, “All right there’s a censorship issue here.” So yeah, very powerful what you stated.
Tobias Carlisle: It does also seem to be against the philosophy of crypto in the sense that when I read that paper the very firs paragraph, the summary and then the very first paragraph of the whole paper, they talk about the fact that it’s decentralized.
Tyrone Ross: Right.
Tobias Carlisle: This is definitely a decentralized … so is there anything out there that is equivalent that is decentralized? Are we just talking crypto, then are we just talking Bitcoin, crypto, and Ethereum?
Tyrone Ross: Yeah, you’re talking Bitcoin. And now to be clear, they did say they want to move to a more decentralized type of platform. It is open source, meaning that anyone could work on it, like the internet it’s open source, so that part is good. So they did say they want to migrate to that, which is great. But there will always be the overseer, the evil overseer. But if you’re really talking about truly decentralized, no marketing team, no humans involved or whatever, the conversation ends and begins with Bitcoin, done. That’s just what it is.
Tobias Carlisle: So just I was reading, I did a bit of research around the paper after you sent it to me and I read it. So there’s the Wikipedia page is kind of interest because they talk about the potential people who could be Satoshi Nakamoto. Have you dug into that at all?
Tyrone Ross: I have, so I believe I follow a few of them on Twitter, and I think a lot of them are out there. There’s some that obviously will tell you, Nick Zabo, Adam Bag, a few of those guys who are highly involved with the beginning of Bitcoin and they call them crypto OG’s. What was disappoint was that Crypto Twitter didn’t know that OG stood for original gangster, but whatever. That’s a whole nother story.
Tobias Carlisle: They’re too young.
Tyrone Ross: Way too young, way too young. But yeah, there are some guys that are out there that you can look it up and see, especially Nick Zabo who was involved with the beginning of it, and eCash, and David Chong was another. So smart contracts, Nick Zabo was really big in that area. So a lot of that, they’re out there, Jameson Lop is another one, a few guys that I follow on Twitter, super smart, incredibly intelligent. I’m a firm believer that it was more than one person, I could be wrong. I just don’t think it was one dude, I think there was a bunch of people involved. Hal Finney is another, who is no longer with us. But there was a bunch of people involved.
Tyrone Ross: And again, when you look at … again, I probably have one-hundredth of the intelligence that you have, but when I really sat with that and I’m like, “This is kind of brilliant.” There’s a lot of things involved here to get this thing to work where you have this beautiful system of every 10 minutes a block is produced, and there will only be 21 million, and the difficulty, and the hash rates, and all these things. It’s like what in the world? It couldn’t have been one person, it couldn’t have been one person. And even at the time it was released in ’09, we know what was going on in ’09, this is when this was introduced and it was pushed out to the world.
Tyrone Ross: So I think from the timing of it, what its purpose was, and again to be very clear, and I plan on putting this on Twitter at some point that will upset the Apple card a little bit. But what people need to understand is Bitcoin has never experienced a recession. It has never experienced a true overall bear market global downturn. So no one’s talking about that. So again, it started in the last one and it’s had all of the upside from the [inaudible 00:43:23] and QE, and all this asset inflation. But what happens now when, which I think we’re getting ever closer to, boop. What does it do then because it’s absolutely a specular risk on asset.
Tobias Carlisle: I mean there’s a chance it rallies through something like that, right?
Tyrone Ross: Yeah, that’s a really good point. I mean a lot of people are looking at it as being a put against the current financial system. And then in that environment, yeah it could run. And that’s the thing, we don’t know. We don’t know how it would respond. Again, I think you and I is just knowing traditional finance would lead you to believe in a recession in a large down turn what are the first things that get sold? Highly risky assets that people need right away to generate liquidity and you sell your Bitcoin, it’s there. So we’ll see, but I do think in terms of what you see in a lot of the commentary that has been coming out, Ray Dalio just put out a really good piece and he ended with making a case for gold. You could easily take gold out and place Bitcoin in there and it makes just as much sense.
Tobias Carlisle: Easier to carry than gold, gold coins.
Tyrone Ross: Yep, absolutely. 100%. I did just show some guys were trying to smuggle gold in, they had some in their anus and all types of stuff.
Tobias Carlisle: Should have stuck it in Bitcoin.
Tyrone Ross: Yeah, it’s like you guys didn’t hear about Bitcoin? What are you doing?
Tobias Carlisle: One of the interesting things as I was digging through that Wikipedia entry on Satoshi, the conspiracy theories trying to figure out who he is are kind of interesting. They say he’s probably not Japanese because the times that he was working on it more closely align with UK Britain times. And a lot of the spelling that he uses is the British.
Tyrone Ross: UK, yep.
Tobias Carlisle: The British spelling and stuff. And then one of the guys who they identified, or one of the people they think is most likely has passed away in about 2014, something like that. Which is kind of interesting that despite the fact that the founder has passed away, it continues on and it continues to be useful and traded. Which is a pretty strong argument for it I would think.
Tyrone Ross: Yeah, I mean people talk about the Lindy Effect and things like that, but every day this thing survives it gets stronger. And I just posted something a little while ago that the hash power and the security of the chain is even the blockchain is even more secure than it’s ever been. Super, super secure. So again, there’s a lot that can happen here. And I think look no further than the security of the Bitcoin blockchain than Microsoft saying that they’re going to build their decentralized ID on it. Stop right there, I don’t care how you feel, stop right there. And then you have Satya Nadella taking pictures with Adam Beck. Stop right there, do not tell me this thing doesn’t have credibility, right? Because they publicly went forward with those pictures. And Microsoft made an announcement, “We’re doing this on the Bitcoin blockchain.” So it’s worth paying attention to.
Tobias Carlisle: You’re a great evangelist for crypto and for the impoverished, really appreciate spending time chatting to you Tyrone.
Tyrone Ross: Yep.
Tobias Carlisle: If folks want to get in contact with you, just tell them how they can find you and the name of your firm.
Tyrone Ross: Sure. So you can find me, so my website is tyroneross.io, T-Y-R-O-N-E, ross.io. I do a lot of my ranging, well all of my ranting on Twitter at TR401. And again, you put my name in LinkedIn you can find me there, I’m also on Instagram, Tyrun, T-Y-R-U-N, 401. The firm is 401. I’m actually working on getting a website up and everything for that, but once that’s up if you go to my website, again tyroneross.io, it will be there. And I cannot-
Tobias Carlisle: We’ll link it in the show notes.
Tyrone Ross: Yeah, link it in the show notes. But again, I want to make this very clear before we go, you have no idea what this means to me. I know the people that you have on here, people that I admire, people that I respect, people with really big brains. And you allowed my pea brain to come on here. But what this means to me, what this means to my mentees, what it means to people who look, walk, talk, and act like me to be aligned with you, and men of your stature and your privilege to position people like myself to a larger audience, it means the absolute world to me and you are to be commended for that. I absolutely appreciate you, and I’m humbled and grateful, thank you.
Tobias Carlisle: Oh, it’s my absolute pleasure. I’ve learned a lot from you, and I was very happy to learn a lot more today. Just before you go, what is the significance of 401?
Tyrone Ross: Great question. So 401 goes back to my sophomore year of high school, I’ll tell it really quickly. It was the state championship meet, it was my first shot at winning a state title, it was 400 meters. I go to my high school coaches office and I’m like, “You got to take me out of this race, I’m not going to win. Put me in the hurdles or something,” because I qualified in the 400 hurdles as well. And he’s like, “Get out of my office, you’re running the 400.” And I’m sick all day. So our state meet used to be on a Wednesday night, horrible timing, why would you do that to kids, a Wednesday night. So that ruined that whole day of school for you, you’re sick, nervous. So we go back to the … no he’s like, “The bus is at 3:00, make sure you’re on time.”
Tyrone Ross: So we get out there, I get my stuff, I’m walking back to the business and he pulls me to the back of the school. And I think I was ranked sixth or something and he goes, “You’re going to win this race today, and I’m going to tell you why.” And I’m like, “What the hell is he talking about?” In my head I’m like, “I have no shot. I know the guys that are in this race.” He said, “Everybody in the race is going to run 400, you’re going to run 401.” And I’ve been living my life by that ever since, one more rep, one more call, one more meeting, one more step. So that’s kind of where it comes from. And the cool thing is, I literally won the race right at the line by a dip because I ran 401. So it was extremely prophetic.
Tobias Carlisle: I love that, you got to hit the line hard.
Tyrone Ross: I got to do it. Got to do it, go the distance. Go the distance.
Tobias Carlisle: Tyrone Ross, thank you so much.
Tyrone Ross: Thank you so much my man, I appreciate you.
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