On Jan 19, 2022 SafeMoon CEO John Karony joined Dan Young and Scott Paul at The Leonardo in Salt Lake City, Utah for a panel discussion covering a wide range of topics in the crypto space.
Scott Paul: This first panel is basically about crypto and we don't have a lot of doxxed founders of crypto right here in Utah outside of John.
I met him three or four months ago and I could not believe it. So I went to his office and thought, "What? SafeMoon's in town?'' I go to the office in Linden, I take a photo and I put it on LinkedIn, and for some reason this photo started just going crazy.
On LinkedIn, of all places, there is no real virality but everyone starts liking and sharing this photo - "I'm like who is this John kid?" And sure enough, there is a 3 million people-strong army behind SafeMoon and what they're all about and it blew my mind and I haven't been able to stay away from it since.
I've been sucked into this community and we have it [based] right here in Utah! *crowd whistling* Yes, yes! So I have since gotten to know John really well and what he believes in and what he's trying to do with his token, with his coin, with SafeMoon, we're going to talk about it, it's a lot more than just a coin. I mean it's a company, it's a tech company.
So I'm gonna let this just kind of flow here for the next little bit and we're going to talk about crypto in general, I want to know how Dan got into it, why it sucked him in, and then let's make some predictions, let's make some sanity checks. A lot of people here are probably thinking that this is insane, maybe it's a meme coin. What's Utah? How's Utah really going to rise up and be in the epicenter when we've got Miami and San Francisco and Switzerland and Malta? Let's talk about all that today, and let it go back and forth, so I'm just going to let it free flow a little bit.
Dan Young: All right, let me give you a little premise here to give you guys a kind of overview. Not a lot of you guys/girls are advanced and some of you are brand new to it, so I just want to give a little thesis on where I think things are going.
Crypto is like the stock market opportunity in the '40s after the major crash. Imagine being able to buy a Ford stock back in 1940. Back then it was really hard to get into but crypto opens this big opportunity. So now is your chance to really claim. As you've seen, tech stocks like Apple, Nvidia and Microsoft were really volatile. John and I were talking about this and in the early years, there was a lot of doubt, as in are they able to make it happen? We're in that time period right now. Some big news though is that big Institution money is going to be pouring into crypto. You're going to be able to go to your Wells Fargo Account and Bank of America and seamlessly transfer and your Wealth Advisor will be able to move your money into crypto as well.
So, Fidelity, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley and major banks are at the brink of major adoption and the biggest news that John and I were talking about yesterday, Jerome Powell, Chair of the Federal Reserve, mentioned that a well-regulated, privately-issued stable coin could coexist with a central bank's digital dollar.
Jonn Karony: Well I mean, it was a little bit shorter than that. Somebody asked him that question and he just said, "Yes". It was just a very simple yes.
Dan Young: Wait, the Governor said yes?
John Karony: Yeah, the Senator asked the question and then the individual just responded with "Yes it can".
Scott Paul: Wow.
John Karony: Nothing to expand on, it's just "yes". It's a very simple answer because crypto can live alongside normal fiat.
Scott Paul: I mean China's doing it right now. Aren't they very much trying to make a central bank coin?
Dan Young: They have theirs now, yeah, and so we're going to have ours. But do you guys need to take some notes on this because we're going really fast because we all suffer from crazy ADD.
There are three stages I just want to tell you about: first, there's resistance, then there are lawsuits and then there are regulations. So we're right in that stage to go into regulations.
John Karony: Yeah.
Dan Young: So that's a huge thing. And this has been happening kind of behind the scenes for some of the ecosystems such as Disney, Adidas, major companies such as Marvel. If you look at the VIVE ecosystem, you're allowed to actually buy a lot of these NFTs in an App Store ecosystem. That's becoming huge so it's a slow steady indoctrination.
So, those of you that are old like me and Scott here, do you guys remember when people were scared to put their credit card into America Online?
Scott Paul: Or online banking. My mom doesn't do online banking - still!
Dan Young: So, this is where it's going to go. It's a big thing and then John's innovating some cool stuff to solve these problems.
John Karony: Yeah. One of the first things we noticed is we understood regulations were coming down and it's better to play nice and so we're about to finish up the filing of our EU e-money license. So that gives us a lot of opportunities and a lot of growth areas to go into and do it within compliance. That's something that we've focused heavily on at SafeMoon. So, rather than just release an exchange and hope for the best, we're actually going through the compliance steps here in the united states and in the 167 different jurisdictions that we work in.
Scott Paul: John, before we go into all the cool stuff that you're doing, tell the crowd how long SafeMoon's been around and what's happened in the last year or less than a year. Look at the crowd, pick the mic up and just tell them what just happened in eight, nine, ten months.
John Karony: Yeah, so we kicked off in March 2021 and quickly grew to around 3 million holders. We created our own wallet, we have our own decentralized exchange. We just keep building products - we're a tech company.
Scott Paul: So, what were you doing a year ago today?
John Karony: I got out of the military and then got into business and started a government contracting company but realized I didn't like that at all - too much paperwork. Then I did import-export and then I started a video game company because I wanted to tell stories and narratives, stuff like that.
But March hit and an opportunity presented itself to really go deep into cryptocurrency and I've kind of always been around it but not from the trading side of it, more from the technology side and what it can do.
So, we kicked off SafeMoon and rolled from there. But the biggest thing that we learned was - it's about the community and it's about communicating with your community, involving them in the dev process. And because we've been able to involve them in our development process - we've seen astronomical success. Even down to the wallet that we launched in September, minus that rocky start of that launch but, we launched in September and we're almost at a million users in under four months.
So, I credit a lot of that to having a really good team and what you've seen in the nine months is our team and company evolving to be able to handle it. Ryan Arriaga, our Global Head of Products, has been a key instrumental player in that realm. So, it's building the right team around it.
Scott Paul: I want to say something. For 10 years, I have been on a search for what company will come out of Utah and be the first household name globally. And that means that you could go to the streets of Italy or France or Mongolia and say the name and maybe 10% or 20% of the people in those cities would be like "Yeah I know..."
For the last several years Utah does not have a household name that you could do that with. People try to argue with me online, that we have: Qualtrics. No sorry guys, outside of people that work for Qualtrics or live outside of Utah, nobody knows what it is!
So, let's be honest, a household name, that's like Nike, or Netflix, or Facebook. [I've been on] the streets of Malta, France, Finland, Ecuador, all in the last three months and without fail, I can bring up SafeMoon whether I'm in an airport line or I'm out hiking on a mountain [or] a volcano, I can bring up the word SafeMoon and somebody has heard of it.
I think we might have a household name, globally right here in Utah that's emerging and that is a telltale sign. And I can go anywhere in the world and that's happening.
So, give it up for SafeMoon.
John Karony: Quiet, quiet, quiet. It's 8 thousand until 1 million. I don't have to eat it just yet.
Scott Paul: So I just had to tell that little anecdote. Dan is organized with the notes here so back to you.
Dan Young: Let's talk about Utah a little bit here. Clark Stacy, he'll be speaking later in the NFT thing, we're collaborating on a project called Cinder.io which is pretty rad here.
Raise your hand if you have played World of Warcraft. So, who here owns virtual land or NFTs...okay. So, the interesting thing is that most of your NFT ecosystem and virtual land ecosystem is pretty garbage. It looks terrible right? I mean even though the valuations are going up. So you got to really look at what Clark's doing. I think it's pretty amazing with Cinder.io because it integrates Triple A game quality with an ecosystem.
So, in World of Warcraft, if you guys have played it, you could have PVP, player versus player zones. Imagine being able to use your entities to actually have huge guilds, huge empires, that are worth millions and millions of dollars, having an epic opt-in battle, where if you win you split the loot.
Like you guys have done raids, so imagine that for like 20-30 million dollar bags. I think it's pretty cool. I think it's integral as far as the key to getting the younger people into the ecosystem. It's going to get them interested because you can actually win real money. And if you don't want to be combative, you can go into the player versus environment zone and just have a good time and build like the Sims.
So, I think that's just an amazing new thing that's coming out of Utah. You've got John's thing and of course, a lot of other people here are going to be speaking today, so some pretty cool stuff.
Scott Paul: I see some congestion in the back, there are seats up here come forward, this is the time to do it, don't be afraid. Whatever you're wearing, it doesn't matter. Look at me! Walk in the front, people...
John Karony: Just so you know, Scott showed up at the SafeMoon HQ in a full chainmail. That was when we first met.
Scott Paul: What did you think?
John Karony: I'm like, "Oh that's cool"
Scott Paul: There was no judgment.
John Karony: No, no judgment there. I mean if I could walk around in chainmail I would.
Dan Young: I think some of you guys came here [to find out.] "How do I buy tokens, how do I stake tokens, how can I make money passively?" So let me just give you the 120 second consolidation of that.
Are you going to disclose that this isn't financial advice? Because I don't care, I say "This is financial advice, sue me!"
John Karony: No no, I will not give financial advice [and] I don't get price predictions.
Dan Young: Talk to a financial professional advisor.
Scott Paul: Talk to me.
Dan Young: This is just experiential. Okay, quickly take notes on this because I'm gonna go really fast and I don't know if they'll replay this.
Inflation I believe is at 15% plus right now. Coca-Cola 10 years ago, was like a dollar, then 7 and then 11, it's like 249 now. Divide that by 10, boom 15%. So, obviously, there's gonna be a flood into crypto assets now. There's a rule called the 40-40-20 rule, write this down. The 40-40-20 rule is that 40% [of my assets go] in boring conservative stuff - real estate, some big cap stocks etc. 40% [is] in mid-level risk and 20% in moon shots.
And this has served me well. I do a thing called the 'principal double'. When my principal doubles, I take out my principal and then I'm playing with house money. When I do doubles, I peel off 20% and I shift them to conservative assets. This way you keep dry powder for re-deployment. So, for beginners, a lot of you guys have started on Coinbase, Crypto.com, Gemini to make easy buys, which is great. You also need to look at staking because, for example, a lot of stable coins pay a certain amount. Crypto.com, some people like them, some people hate them, but their CEO reaches out to me and so I like them now.
Some of their stable coin products pay up to 14% which outpaces the S&P, which is kind of interesting. Now, it doesn't mean that it's totally safe. It could get blown up, regulated or something and killed, but according to Jerome that likelihood is low.
Now your second level is going to be MetaMask. Do not use Trust Wallet, I don't like that as far as safety goes.
John Karony: Yep. And that's what I'll say about it.
Scott Paul: In about a month, you're going to use another wallet that you'll meet here today on the next panel.
John Karony: The SafeMoon Wallet?
Scott Paul: Oh, wait wait wait. No no, the SafeMoon Wallet is great, guys. That one's already out, but I'm pretty giddy about the one that's coming out though.
Scott Paul: Battle of the Wallets.
John Karony: Yeah. So, MetaMask is a good option, SafeMoon Wallet is also a good option. We have Wallet Connect and other features coming in. But I would not recommend using Trust Wallet. This was one of the reasons why we built our own wallet because we saw some issues there, in both the security, quality and accessibility side of things. So, we set out to change that and Ryan was integral in coordinating the team and getting it built out. Our dev cycles are ridiculous. The wallet was built in six weeks.
Scott Paul: Are there regulations on wallets issued in the app stores? You're issuing this gateway to owning digital currency, NFTs -
John Karony: I can't comment on the regulatory side of things....
Scott Paul: What do Apple and Android think about these wallets coming onto their platforms that are essentially safe ways to store value digitally? I'm just curious...
John Karony: It's a process to go through their approval but once you get through it the first time, it's a lot easier to iterate after that.
Scott Paul: It's also so new to them that they probably don't actually know actually what's happening.
John Karony: Yeah, it also depends on the approval person that you get as well. So it's kind of a luck of the draw. We did run into some delays when it came to getting our first wallet approved but through the brilliant use of the community by Ryan and his constant follow-up and explaining, "We did it, we resolved the issue, here you go... yeah, we will do that..."
Scott Paul: A lot of people in here are trying to build stuff, submit things, so, they'll love to talk to you about that. I'll go back to Dan...
John Karony: The one aspect is don't collect user data and your life will be so much easier.
Scott Paul: Okay, it's good to know.
Dan Young: All right guys, more hardcore notes. I'm a Vulcan so, I like to give the logical thing here, so, let's just talk about security. This is critical, supercritical. If I add up all my buddies who've texted me in the last 12 months, about 300 million dollars has been stolen.
This is from my friend's group and these are people that are very advanced and have been into crypto since 2013 and earlier. So, there's a thing called 'approvals'. So if you've used MetaMask and you connect to a DeFi project or anything, it's going to have you sign for that approval. That's giving your wallet permission to take money out or deploy tokens or whatever it is.
Now, a lot of you guys use Ledgers and different devices for secondary validation and that's always a good thing. I always recommend a separate laptop that you have with really good security that you do all your crypto stuff on and don't carry it around with you - that's kind of stupid. Make sure you have that and obviously a secondary device.
But a lot of people think that Ledger is a total safety net but it's not!
Out of those guys who had 300 million dollars stolen - I had 260 thousand dollars stolen and I thought I was really good at it.
I'll teach you guys how to avoid this 99.9% of the time. There's a website called www.debank.com. Scott and Kurt helped me through some of this. We found this website called www.debank.com and you can connect your wallet and there's a place that says approvals. It shows you a list of all the approvals that you've given, I had 193 open approvals and MetaMask defaults give infinite approvals. So what that means in English is when you, by default, connect to a site and you give it approval, you've given them access to that crypto token infinitely!
So, even if you have a Ledger, it can bypass the Ledger and steal your money, period end of the story. So, what I do is called 'the scrub'. Every day I go through and disconnect any suspecting, unknown projects I don't want to be connected to.
The major exchanges like UniSwap and Pancake Swap, you can leave them open but how it works for me and how I got hacked back in the day, is that I did an approval on this token that got rugged, which was fine. I didn't even worry about it but this approval was left open and as soon as I put USDC in there, 200 grand was gone in five seconds. I wasn't that stressed, it was a good week, I think in four days I had made about 1.7 million dollars on these weird tokens, so it was cool. That's basically someone stealing a couple of chips when you go to pee at Vegas on your poker table. It happens.
Use www.debank.com guys, get very familiar with it. You can also use it to scan other people's wallets. By the way, nothing is private, so if you send someone an NFT or some tokens, they can see what you got. Every transaction.
John Karony: Yeah, this is a common misnomer, especially when I was in The Gambia talking with government officials, there was a question "How transparent is the blockchain?"
It's the worst place to hide money. Blockchain is immutable and it's transparent, so, you can see everything that happens across the blockchain and it's there forever.
It's a phenomenal, beautiful system of transparency and efficiency but if you are sending an NFT or you're sending tokens to a friend, you can see their entire wallet.
Scott Paul: John, put it right up here - the mic and then tell me, what are you doing over there in The Gambia?
John Karony: So, yeah, we're right now working on implementing some of our technologies and it's not just specifically there. One of the big things that we have...
Scott Paul: Hold on...you're talking more than blockchain technologies.
John Karony: Yeah, I'm talking about: macro IoT that evolves into what I call meta IoT, which is the Internet of Things. It's connecting large infrastructure together, whether it be telecommunications, whether it be energy, whether it be a supply chain when it comes to farming. Each one of those can be integrated with each other to create an efficient ecosystem.
Where, for example, you're now being able to pay your bills using cryptocurrency instantaneously and that feeds back to the farmer who just sold some beans to the market and then that feeds back into the energy produced from the wind turbines.
Scott Paul: So, SafeMoon is moving beyond just a protocol and a wallet?
John Karony: So we have. Right now we have wind turbines that we've been developing. So we take a commercial off-the-shelf wind turbine and then we apply advanced nanotechnology on top of it, to essentially be able to extract more kinetic energy from the wind. What does that mean? Basically, it runs more efficiently than an untreated wind turbine. So that's something we've been working on for quite a bit now and we're about ready to launch that and get that to market.
Scott Paul: Do you see this becoming a trend, where a company that is mostly digital, asks itself "How do I have real-world implications as well as physical?"
I see Helium and they're boxes, I know a company here, Gala Games, that do some physical stuff - I tried to get them here today but they're too busy printing money.
Is that going to be a kind of be a differentiator in the future? We're not just this on-chain, no one really sees it but you're bringing stuff to life and you're also like bringing it to the third world.
John Karony: So one of the things I recognize is that matter can never be created or destroyed and that even applies to the digital realm. So if you have wealth, for example, and go into video games or into NFTs, this has a ripple effect on the real world.
Now, what if you're able to actually tie that effect into the real world and anchor it to real assets. For example wind turbines - you buy a wind turbine NFT, you receive what I call 'reality reflections' from the real world into the game.
So now in this game, it could be a resource generator. And in this game you're receiving more cryptocurrency whether it be SafeMoon, Bitcoin, it doesn't matter.
You're receiving more crypto in the game which allows you to participate more and do more things. Well, if someone comes along and there's this massive opt-in battle that takes place, there's a lot of money that's being moved. That then gets reflected back to the real world and so nobody's left behind. Everyone is actually participating in this metaverse and this meta Internet of Things.
Scott Paul: So, back to your game, when you say battle - you're talking of an online...
John Karony: I'm talking of an online kind of situation, it doesn't have to be that specific example but it's tying and anchoring what's happening in the metaverse into the real world. So there's a positive effect on both sides.
Scott Paul: Wow, and I remember when we were in Malta, we even met a garbage disposal tokenization... this is crazy!
John Karony: Yeah, take your garbage, turn into oil and tokenize it.
Scott Paul: So, we're gonna see this stuff. This isn't fantasyland this is coming to pass, we're going to see turbines.
John Karony: Yes, we have a megawatt on the way and many more after that.
Scott Paul: Okay perfect! I've distracted you once again Dan, keep giving us the notes to take and I will come in and just grab the mic. We're gonna go for about 10 more minutes and then I want to do Q&A from the crowd because I know there's a lot of burning questions for someone in particular on the stage here, not me.
Dan Young: All right. A smattering of data to keep you safe in this new digital world. Phishing links, John and I were talking about that. Make sure if you're at pancake swap or you're at the real site.
John Karony: pancakeswap.finance, swap.safemoon.net. Make sure don't click on janky links, do your own research and make sure that when you connect your wallet to something it's what you're actually intending to connect to.
Dan Young: Very critical. Taxes - I've been audited four times for cryptocurrency every time I've been fined, the first one was the subpoena from Coinbase, I was one of the original guys there.
Scott Paul: High five, it happens.
Dan Young: So they sent seven agents out to scan my wallets, so make sure your CPA is well versed in crypto taxation and exporting your wallet transactions and that you're paying your taxes. You can't hide it.
Scott Paul: This is a shout out, today is the launching of a new company that Derek, my partner [started,] www.moontax.com. You guys haven't heard that [before,] but you're hearing it right now. Moontax.com is going to be taxes for you, Dan. We're going to make taxes fun again.
John Karony: Yeah and then there are a lot of tax providers out there already. SafeMoon has partnered with TaxBit to provide free taxes to our users of the SafeMoon Wallet. There are a lot of great innovations, a lot of companies like MoonTax and TaxBit that understand that this is going to be a thing.
Scott Paul: Wait, TaxBit is a local company. Biggest in Utah. We'll hear from them later today, too.
John Karony: The funny thing, if they were just looking at the blockchain, they don't need to send seven agents to you, they could have just done that from their home.