Categories: Cryptocurrency

Women To Watch in DeFi: Interview With Lisa Loud

Computer science has largely been a male dominated field. That’s remained the case with the invention of cryptocurrencies and decentralized finance. At the North American Bitcoin Conference in 2018, only three of the 88 speakers were women. Since then, women in the space have come together to make the world of DeFi a more diverse environment, with several startups partially focusing on solving this diversity gap.

Having capable female leaders in the world of crypto is another way of making the space more inclusive. One such leader is Lisa Loud, the CEO of FLUIDEFI,  a company whose mission is to build the world’s most accurate and resilient decentralized finance (DeFi) investment management and execution system, especially designed for institutional investors and professional traders. What sets FLUIDEFI apart is the significant effort placed into infrastructure – data schema, storage, scalability, and speed. The accuracy and completeness of FLUIDEFI’s data exceeds any other source we have seen in DeFi.

Loud has a long and storied history of working in fintech and with blockchain technologies, finding success at such companies as BitMEX, Apple, PayPal, and others. In 2020 she was named one of the Top 100 Women in Crypto and has been nominated for numerous other leadership awards. I sat down with her to get her perspective on the world of decentralized finance.

  1. At least until quite recently, it’s seemed like the right time to be starting a company in the DeFi space. Can you talk a bit about how that process has been?

We started building at the same time as Uniswap V2 came out – around the summer of 2020. Over the past two years, it’s been exciting to see our product unfold as the industry grows. When we started, there wasn’t as much to build – we just had to provide enhancements to Uniswap V2. As the industry has grown, we now have many chains to support, many swaps to incorporate on those chains, and new yield products popping up all the time. Now we have a large number of ecosystems on our roadmap, and we receive support from them to set up the infrastructure for their AMMs and DEXes.

An example of how quickly priorities change in this industry is Terra. As recently as a few weeks ago, our customers wanted support for Anchor. We made the unpopular decision to pause on building for Terra until we saw greater stability in the system. Now, of course, our customers don’t want that anymore. It’s challenging to build to such a young industry and determine the best priorities to focus on.

  1. How has the pioneering world of cryptocurrency and blockchain projects changed since your time at BitMEX five years ago, or more recently at ShapeShift? As awareness grows, does the rate of change in the industry rise with it?

I can draw a parallel between 2017/18 and today – at BitMEX we were creating a product that no one had imagined before, and we were in an environment of uncertainty about regulations, best practices, and the future of markets.

The same is true today – DeFi is still new, and most people do not yet understand how it is different or what it will bring for the future. We’re building in the same climate as crypto in 17/18, and we’re seeing the same volatile ups and downs, too. It’s a very familiar feeling to be sitting on something powerful that the world hasn’t quite realized is there yet.

On the plus side, we are able to plan for scaling from the beginning, which was a big problem at BitMEX, where we never anticipated the hyper growth. We’re also able to navigate the regulatory landscape a little more skillfully since we have a model for how these things apply retroactively. Five years ago, the attitude was build freely, figure out the rules later. Today, our guiding principles are much less free and easy – we get legal guidance for every step along the way.

ShapeShift is another example of how regulatory issues can matter more than anything else – when ShapeShift implemented KYC in 2019, we lost the majority of our customers and it was difficult to recover from that. Again, in today’s climate we see a lot more caution from pioneers regarding maintaining compliance over anything else. It is certainly the guiding principle at FLUIDEFI, more than any other factor.

  1. You began in revolutionary tech companies like Apple, Oracle, and PayPal. It’s clear with the amount of experience you’ve recently had in DeFi related companies that you believe in cryptocurrency’s future. How do you see crypto and DeFi changing the world?

Decentralization has the potential to transform everything we do every day, just as we saw a shift between the pre-www world and today’s internet everywhere lifestyle. It starts with decentralized finance, because it’s such an obvious application of the technology. It doesn’t end there, though – imagine a world where there were no Walmarts building profit at the expense of manufacturers and quality, just as an example. Decentralization offers the potential to balance out power and opportunity. In a competitive marketplace where everyone has an equal chance to offer their product to the world, would the cheapest and most fragile products win? I don’t think so. Quality, provenance, and sustainability will become more practical aspects of a buying decision when the gigantic intermediaries are not controlling the markets.

  1. How can a company like FLUIDEFI stand out in a world of so many crypto start ups?

We see ourselves as the tortoise in some ways. We are building robust products and taking our time to make sure they are fully tested and accurate. It’s true that some of our competitors are going for broad support of many chains very quickly, and it’s also true that their accuracy and performance are not perfect. When you see your target market as institutional, it means that you are going to approach product development in a very different way – you have to provide top-notch security, compliance, and procedures in order to work with a bank. Most days I want to go faster, but I remind myself that we’re in this for the long term, not a short term splash.

  1. Do you have any examples (besides yourself) of female leadership making a big impact in the world of DeFi? What would you like to see moving forward in terms of diverse representation both at your company and the field as a whole?

Kimberly Adams is building the Bridge Network, and she’s an impressive leader who stands out. Her drive and vision are inspiring. Kimberly’s beliefs about accountability and ownership translate to her company’s success and momentum.

Thessy Mahrain, the founder of Liquality, has been a pioneer in building a diverse team over the past several years. She’s a role model for women who work in her company as well as those outside who aspire to do great things.

Sheila Warren, the CEO of Crypto Council for Innovation, is advancing global innovation in the crypto arena and spreading ideas that matter. Her work has an impact on changing the world for the better.

  1. Finance in general seems to be male dominated. What sort of new ideas do you have that might get more women informed and involved in DeFi investment, whether on an individual level or institutional?

One theory has been proposed as to why finance has more men than women. This theory says that men tend to be more comfortable with risk-taking, while women prefer to preserve and enhance what they already have. While I can think of many examples where this rule clearly doesn’t apply, if we take it as given, then I would say that while cryptocurrency trading is highly speculative and risk-oriented, DeFi trading is more about providing a service for steady and ongoing fees. DeFi is more like a fixed income product, while crypto trading or derivatives are more like stocks or options trading. If it is indeed the case that finance attracts a larger proportion of men than women because of its inherently risky nature, then DeFi can be said to appeal more to a diverse group, as it has both the element of risk and the element of steady returns.

What gets in the way of women (and everyone) trying DeFi is that it’s highly complex and difficult to figure out. If we can overcome the hurdle of comprehension, then I believe the DeFi space will have a more balanced community.

How do we overcome this learning curve? Well, the first thing is to make it simpler. Today, anyone can put together a website using visual tools and templates. We no longer have to understand HTML, Javascript, or TCP/IP to be able to create a beautiful online representation of an idea or business. The same should be true of DeFi – anyone should be able to participate, using their own creative ideas and strategies, without having to spend weeks getting up to speed.

This is the vision that keeps me going – a world where everyone can choose to share in the DeFi opportunities and use them to propel their ideas into reality. Today, we are building tools for institutions in order to make DeFi more mainstream. In the future, these tools will exist for everyone, and each person’s reach will depend only on their ambition, not on the luck of their circumstances.

This post was last modified on July 1, 2022 12:27 pm

Kurt Ivy

Kurt Ivy is a contributing writer to Grit Daily News. A prolific writer, he is a contributor to Entrepreneur, content writer for SHOPX and Gamerse, marketing advisor for Altar and Sapiens, head of content at Crypto PR Labs, and CEO of his own company Coffee Nova. Ivy is a philosopher, futurist, writer, and entrepreneur.

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