John Karony, Josh Chilcutt, Hayden Wing and Jonas Harmer
Welcome to SafeMoon’s first Table 32 Podcast episode, Take Me to Your Leaders!
The podcast is a pilot project, so we welcome all input on the title, the format, and the guests we interview, so be sure to tune in!
In the pilot episode SafeMoon leaders John Karony, Josh Chilcutt, Hayden Wing and Jonas Harmer are open, enigmatic and a little irreverent as they pull back the curtain on life at the helm of a fast-paced company poised to impact the world and influence the DeFi ecosystem for blockchain technology. The group covers everything from product development to their favorite lunch as they welcome the world to the new SafeMoon Studio to answer candid questions and share their personal views.
[00:00:00 - 00:32:22]
To read Part 2, click here!
Part 1 - Table of contents Introductions | The New Studio by Sketch | New Hires | Consensus in Austin, TX | Adapting for the Crypto Curious Pt. 1 | Cultural Differences and Building a Work Culture | Adapting for the Crypto Curious Pt. 2 | Community Feedback | Patents Pending and Product Development
[Timestamp 00:00:15 - 00:01:49]
John: And we're live! We're live, Table 32. Welcome to the SafeMoon podcast, that we're dubbing Table 32. We might change the name later on. I don't know yet, but we've got Josh Chilcutt. We've got Cheese. We've got Hayden and we've got myself. So welcome to the podcast.
So, let's just do a quick introduction. First off, what are you having for lunch and what do you do here?
Josh: What don't I do?
John: Yeah, that's an excellent question. What don't you do?
Josh: And what's lunch? I don't have time for lunch.
John: So, what do you do here?
Josh: VP of operations. So, basically just.. John is the creator of the ideas and I'm the one that kind of, you know, whips everyone into motion.
John: Then we've got Cheese here. Cheese, just introduce yourself a little bit.
Jonas: I also don't have time for lunch, but I do sales and partnerships with Hayden.
John: I think your guns say otherwise, you know.
Jonas: ‘And well, I guess, yeah. You know, when we do lunch, R&R Barbecue's a staple. Right across the street.
John: Applewood is so much.. What is it?
Josh: Smoking apple.
Everyone: Smoking apple!
John: Smoking apple, oh man..
Jonas: Maybe just barbecue in general.
John: Yeah, barbecue's good. Utah's got some good barbecue. And then..
Hayden: I'm Hayden, the Director of Sales and Partnerships. And when it comes to lunch, I usually go around noon, and it's usually Los Aribertos. Where you get the Aribertos burrito.
John: Oh yeah.
Hayden: It's like a surf and turf burrito. It's, it's amazing. I've taken John there a couple times.
The New Studio by Sketch
[Timestamp 00:01:49 - 00:03:28]
John: But anyway, welcome to the SafeMoon Studio. First off, I wanna give a really special shout-out to Sketch. I mean, in the three months that he's been here, what we have accomplished when it comes to the studio is astronomical, and it's just always improving. One of my, my priorities was making sure we have a very, very flexible studio, that we can morph to the times or to the theme of whatever we're doing. I mean, Josh. Like, just down to the, the equipment that we.. that we have now.
Josh: Oh, it was- it's great. Sketch. Like one of the first things we, we asked him to do was to, to create a list of the the keep- sell– buy list.. And, and he knocked it out. I mean, the soundproofing, the roof. There's a lovely lady upstairs. Dunno who she is, but she loves her high heels. And we would hear it. Just click, clack, click, clack, click, clack.
So, you know, Sketch has done an amazing job in the rigging,
getting everything done and set up. I mean, this is the second studio setup that we've done.
Josh: Because of the flexibility that we have. So, you know, massive shout out to, you know, the people who.. There are people who can do and the people who have done and in Sketch, we've found both.
Josh: So, what was–
John: 20 years with John Madden and John Madden Studios. You know, he brings a lot of wealth and experience to what we're trying to do here at SafeMoon.
John: So, he's definitely value-added. I mean, when I saw that letter of recommendation from John Madden. I kind of ignored the resume. I'm like, I cannot argue from the man upon high, the man himself. So when I saw that letter of 'rec.' I'm like, yeah, he's, he's definitely– Bring him on board.
Josh: Well, the amazing thing is that the flexibility that we have built-in. You know, we can, we can open it up to all kinds of things. We're not fixed in some stodgy kind of pre-built set.
[Timestamp 00:03:28 - 00:08:32]
John: Yep. So we're able to, you know, morph in to our exact needs at the time, you know. Maybe space theme makes sense for one. Maybe a more formal setup makes sense for another. Like if we're talking to, I don't know, like a PhD person. Which we have, what, how many now? Like–
Josh: Three, but five in total?
John: No, we have, I think we have six..
Josh: Right, yes.
John: We have six PhDs, but one, one person has all, has three.
John: Ah, man. So, bringing Lynn Spraggs on. He is, he speaks at a different level when it comes to the stuff, but he got a degree, a Ph.D. in mathematics before calculators were a thing.
John: Which just, just, yeah, Abacus that's.. but he's an absolute genius. And like, I, I make the, the joke. I'm like, he knows the old magic, you know. He understands not just programming, but the way data flows, which is just mathematics. The way it flows at its, like, core competency level. I mean, that's why like, you know, bringing him on board has really helped our security vertical with it. You know, security, quality, and accessibility.
Hayden: It was just funny. We were in a meeting with him. To talk about a specific product. And the first thing he said was.. "You know, I'm gonna, I'm gonna speak and it's gonna sound like I'm a professor. If you have any questions.." Like, and the way he talked and the way he communicated to us was just like on another level, obviously with all these PhDs and things, he's been through school.. School, school, school, school. So the way he teaches and talks to you, it's just, it's amazing on a different level.
Josh: One thing that's great is the the staff that we're building out and the senior leadership, you know. Most of the senior leadership have 20 years experience in their given field. So..
John: I mean, our new compliance guy. A compliance officer, you know, comes from a GAO.
Josh: 20 years.
John: 20 years of the GAO. For those who don't know the GAO.. What's the best way to describe 'em? They regulate regulators?
Josh: So, they tell Congress what they can and can't do.
John: Yeah. They tell Congress what they can and can't do. Yeah.
Josh: And if, and if what Congress gets through is what passes muster there. Can you imagine what gets blocked?
John: Oh my gosh. So, and then we have our, our in-house chief legal council, you know.
Josh: And he clerked for..
John: Delaware Supreme Court.
John: And for those who don't know about like, like corporate law in the United States, like Delaware is the corporate law hub.
Josh: Well, it's the most tax-friendly for corporations.
John: Yeah. So it's a wealth of experience. And then Kate comes with 20 years and brings that to our.. Our people management, our HR.
Josh: Well, it was one of the very first things after we, we hired Kate is interviewing people who have been in the startup space for, you know, two to three to five years.
Josh: And they're like, wait, you've got a Global Director of HR? Like we've been in business for five years and we don't have HR. I'm like, well, how's that working out with your staffing problems?
Josh: And they're like, oh, like it's just chaos. So, you know, it's great to have the experience betted down to do the things that we're doing. The, the culture is amazing. The processes, the policies, and procedures.
Josh: Compliance, legal. I mean, we're doing everything right, to be an industry standard for what a good company looks like, especially in our field.
John: And sometimes you gotta put pause on certain things, you know. Just like put a pause because, you know, Tom comes out and he is like, "Hey man, we've got this
compliance thing that we need to work out before we push this product forward. You know, us on the sales and operations side and the execution side are like, ah, fun police."
But they, they keep everything compliant. They do their job and they're absolutely amazing.
And you know, fun police is kind of a negative term, but they're.. They're really good at their job. And I really enjoy working with them–
Josh: But bad decisions make good stories... but it's good that we have the right people in place to prevent us from tragic–
Hayden: Yeah, I agree.
Josh: – experiences despite having, losing the ability to have great stories.
John: We're creating a great story with what we're doing here. And right now the website..
I mean the website– So what people don't understand is the actual design has been done. It's the backend support to handle the scale. Cause how many hits are we getting in December and January? Like a hundred million?
Hayden: A hundred million hits.
John: A hundred million hits. Yeah. You know our, our head of infrastructure called up as like, like, I'm not sure if you're a Star Trek fan or not, but I consider him like Scotty. He's like "I've given it all she's got captain", and you know making–
Hayden: That's a great accent.
John: Yeah. Making it sweat–
Josh: –was it though?
John: No, no, no.
Josh: Sorry all Scottish people out there. We apologize.
John: He's, he's talking about like the infrastructure, the infrastructure, we need to make sure, like we, we have to scale and.. Oh, and then Jake. Jake Hammock, who we brought on.
He's our VP of R&D and he's taken a lot more, a lot more different hats on. In regards to some of the products and services that we offer, and some of the stuff. Like him and I talk all the time regarding some of the architecture around the products that we're building out and..
Well, we'll talk about those in, in the future.
Josh: Yeah. Yeah.
Hayden: The thing is Jake.. with the startup in general, there's gonna be people that take on many hats and Jake has taken on a bunch.
John: He's a–
Hayden: –which is awesome. He's pushing a lot of stuff forward. Especially for us in the sales department.
Hayden: When it comes to products and things. There's a lot that's coming and we love what we're seeing from him. So we really appreciate him coming on and being part of SafeMoon.
Consensus in Austin, TX
[Timestamp 00:08:32 - 00:11:01]
John: How was Consensus?
Jonas: Consensus was cool. It was awesome. Austin's a fun place. There's a lot of people there.
Josh: Stay weird, Austin.
Hayden: Stay weird.
Jonas: Now we understand that phrase. "Stay weird, Austin."
Hayden: Yeah. Yeah, it was hot. So the whole... like Consensus in general. The whole time it was– It didn't go below 90.
Jonas: We saw a literal dumpster fire–
Jonas: A literal–
Hayden: –a literal dumpster fire on our way back from one of our meetings. We saw a dumpster fire in the middle of the alleyway. Like there was, like, smoke and everything. We heard the sirens. We were like, just we're riding our scooters cause–
Jonas: We’re like racing the fire trucks–
Hayden: Austin... Austin knows. Austin knows scooters are their thing. Birds, chirps, whatever, you know, they're there. So we're riding our scooters back to the hotel after a meeting and then we just see this fire. Everyone's kind of walking around trying to figure out where it is. We look to our left down this alleyway and it's just a literal fire in, inside the dumpster. Just crazy going insane. And we sat there–
Josh: –but the good thing is. Everyone doesn't know, but Jonas is wearing pants, but they just look like shorts, cause he's so tall.
Jonas: That's exactly.. they're capris actually.
Hayden: They're– they're capris. But it was, it was fun. Consensus was awesome. There were so many people there. We originally went to Bitcoin Miami first, obviously, that was, that was fun. Bitcoin Miami was great, but going to Consensus, we saw a lot more projects. We saw a lot more activity in general when it came to NFTs. Actual, like the speakers there were amazing. And, there wasn't as many minors, which was amazing in terms of the booth. You wanna talk about the minors?
Jonas: Yeah. I mean, I think people know like one of our main goals is to have a bigger presence on these events. And so Hayden and I are scoping them out because next year, and, you know, in perpetuity, we're planning on having booths, you know, having big sponsorships for these. And so it's been good for us to kind of see.
What's the vibe here at this and this event. And it's just kind of interesting, like Bitcoin Miami was awesome, but it was definitely about Bitcoin.
Jonas: You know, Consensus was a lot more DeFi and innovation.
Hayden: One thing that I noticed a lot was people came up to us and said SafeMoon was their first crypto. And it just kind of put into perspective.. I was talking to Jonas about it afterwards, how we kind of set a standard and brought those crypto curious people into the crypto, DeFi, Web3 fold. And it's just amazing to hear those stories. Cause then I come back to John. I come back to Josh and I'm like... Like we are setting a standard and we have set a standard and we're continuing to set a standard. So, it's just cool to see those things.
Adapting for the Crypto Curious Pt. 1
[Timestamp 00:11:01 - 00:11:52]
John: Yeah. I'm, I'm really excited to see you guys at the event, scoping them out, figuring out what's our best use of our time. And yeah, SafeMoon is a lot of people's first cryptocurrencies.
You know, I talk about it a lot, regarding our community. A lot of questions I get from, like, the different people here. At least in the Silicon Va- or Silicon Slopes, as well as everywhere else. So that I have to go to like, oh, what's the dichotomy, what's the, the demographic of your community? Like it's everyone and in between. Which is both amazing, and also, it does come with some challenges when it comes to communicating messaging that resonates with everyone, you know.
John: You gotta be careful with how you use acronyms and jargon and, you know. Me and Josh were joking– or no, Sketch was joking with us about acronyms today. So, they were..
Him and Mitch were like, kind of talking about like camera stuff and Sketch is like "now you know how it feels."
Cultural Differences and Building a Work Culture
[Timestamp 00:11:52 - 00:19:23]
Josh: But that's one of the difficulties with having a global team. We've got people in Australia. I lived there for 21 years–
Hayden: Cheers mate.
Josh: Cheers mate.
Everyone: Cheers mate.
Josh: Um, but the difficulty is what's, what's socially acceptable in Australia or in the UK. Maybe not so PC in the US.
Josh: I'm finding that oftentimes I'll... I'll use a phrase. That's just a stock standard phrase in Australia. And I won't say what they are here.
Josh: Cause I don't want a call from HR.
Jonas: Basically anything goes in Australia–
Josh: –that's what you pick up from me?
John: Well, that's, that's the interpretation. No, I've, I've experienced the same thing being in, in the UK. Like I want to buy some, as they say, trousers. But I went up to the lady working at the store. I'm like "Hey, can, can I see your pants?" and I almost got my butt beat. Like somebody came up to me, like, grabbed me on the shoulders. Like "that's inappropriate to say." I'm like, I'm just trying to figure out where you guys have all your pants at. And then like.. And then another British person walked up. He's like "he's American. He means trousers". I'm like "yeah, yeah, yeah". "Like, like trousers". "Like, like pants" and I'm like, oh, oh, okay.
Josh: Pants, pants or jocks.
John: Yeah, or our underwear. And I had, unbeknownst to me, said something rather offensive and, you know, that's why you always kind of gotta learn the culture of whatever area you're in.
And I grew up overseas and I never lived in the UK, but I've lived in Austria. I've lived in Thailand. I've lived in Africa. So, I mean, I've learned each one of these cultures. I've spent about, you know, two to three years at each one of those spots. And each, each place has their, their different phrasings and everything, you know. While saying one thing is completely innocent in the United States, like, "Hey, where are your– can I see your pants?" What I mean is "in which section do you store trousers that would fit me?"
So you have to be a little bit more careful. So it's interesting working with the multicultural team that we have. Like from Canada, Australia, the UK–
John: Germany, Southeast Asia. Across the board. It's interesting. Like just how everyone comes together and we, we speak a common vernacular.
John: And honestly the DeFi language, as they say is kind of our common Rosetta Stone between everyone.
Josh: But I guess leaning into that too, is the.. Again, the pivot in the culture and how we're looking at how we communicate the timelines.
Josh: Things like that. I think when I first started here in September, it was just like, everything was go, go, go, go, go, go. "When John?"
John: Yeah. When, when, when, when?
Jonas: Call John.
Josh and John: Call John.
Josh: Yeah, but I mean, I think that the development and the iteration over time, and as we're getting the right culture of the right people, that aren't ego driven. That are actually here for the army. Here for the purpose. We're able to slow down and we talk about things at the right time. At the appropriate time. 'And we're not just like giving verbal diarrhea. Hopefully, that's not offensive to someone somewhere. To the world that we're actually, you know, communicating at the right time when we're developing and when we're releasing.
John: And it's been a learning experience for us, you know. One of our, our, our biggest difficulties is scaling. Like, even down to like, you know, Daniel with infrastructure, you know? He's like, "Hey man, we gotta scale up." We need this. We need that. I'm like, "Ah, no. We can go without!" He's like, "We can't push it any farther. The thing's basically on fire right now."
John: I'm in here with a, you know, a–
Hayden: A fire extinguisher.
John: A fire extinguisher trying to keep it, you know, keep it down. ’But scalability, you know? Whether it be from staffing, infrastructure, the way we even– Down to the way we build products.
Josh: Yeah, that's right.
John: You know, we just had our, our Q1- Q2 meeting. And process, you know– We're finding our process. Was, was a big one that came from all the... everyone on the leadership team.
Josh: But it's not growth for the, the sake of growth. I mean, when you look at other crypto projects where they've laid off, was it 11 or 18% of their staff?