Galia Benartzi is a serial technology entrepreneur and co-founder of the Bancor Protocol, a standard for the creation of Smart Tokens™, cryptocurrencies with built-in convertibility directly through their smart contracts. Smart Tokens™ interconnect to form automated token liquidity networks, allowing user-generated currencies to thrive.
Galia has a BA in Comparative Literature from Dartmouth College and an MA in International Economics from SAIS Johns Hopkins. In 2005, Galia co-founded Mytopia, the first social gaming company for smartphones (acquired by 888), and in 2010, Particle Code, a cross-platform development technology for mobile applications (acquired by Appcelerator). In 2013, Galia moved from Silicon Valley to Tel Aviv to support and invest in Israeli technology as a Venture Partner at Founders Fund, where she also launched numerous local currency pilots to model, build and test software for community currencies. Galia is a founding member of Powder Mountain, permanent home of the Summit community in Eden, Utah, and creator of the Eden2Zion Reality trips by the Schusterman Foundation. She is passionate about decentralized technologies, women’s empowerment, consciousness, natural wellness and plants.
Network Capital staff interviewed her. Take a look.
1. What do you do?
I am the co-founder of the Bancor Protocol, a standard for the creation of cryptocurrencies with built-in convertibility directly through their smart contracts. I’ve been a technology entrepreneur for over a decade, and along with my team have previously founded and sold two companies, one in mobile gaming and the other in cross-platform mobile development. At Bancor, I lead the team’s business development, driving strategic partnerships, growth and communications for the adoption of the Bancor Protocol.
2. Why do you do what you do?
In 2013, I moved from Silicon Valley to Tel Aviv to support and invest in Israeli technology as a Venture Partner at Founders Fund. Around this time, my team and I began experimenting with local currency pilots to model, build and test software for community currencies.
Each community currency was successful at first, but usage eventually tapered off, because the currencies were not usable outside the communities that launched them. This liquidity barrier is exactly what we’re aiming to solve with the Bancor Protocol. New currencies uniformly suffer from a barrier to liquidity, leaving holders stuck and discouraging adoption and creation of new currencies that might otherwise enable a tremendous amount of value transfer – collaboration – between people. Today, in the world of blockchain, cryptocurrencies must battle to be listed on exchanges and achieve significant trade volumes in order to match buyers and sellers through a classic bid/ask order book.
With Bancor Protocol’s automated market makers, anyone can create a liquid token. This will enable the long-tail of user-generated currencies to emerge by lowering the liquidity barrier for new tokens similar to what Blogs did for content publishing or YouTube for video publishing. With an automated conversion protocol, non-liquid assets such as real estate can be better tokenized, community currencies can combat global poverty and many more use cases we are yet to see will emerge to form a truly innovative value economy.
3. What is the one thing you believe to be true but others rarely agree with you?
I believe we can fundamentally change the entire operating system of the global economy within a few decades – by creating free and open access to the creation and transfer of value between people. Money was meant as a tool to help us collaborate – live and thrive together on this planet – and it’s due for a major upgrade.
4. Which failure or apparent failure set you up for success?
The failure of our largest community currency pilot, the Hearts community, taught me a lot. We built Hearts as part of our work at my team’s startup before Bancor, called AppCoin. We identified a Facebook group of local mothers and provided them with their own digital currency to use in an online marketplace, which AppCoin set up for them. The currency, called Hearts, was meant to represent value for goods and services like recycled toys or singing lessons that until then had not been exchanged for money. The “Hearts” tokens was hugely successful at first, generating more than 1000 transactions a day within the community. But the liquidity barrier dried local currencies up on the vine and made us realize we needed an infrastructure solution before any individual currency could flourish, let alone millions.
This experience formed the basis for Bancor’s thesis: that when technical barriers are lowered and the liquidity problem is solved, user-generated-currencies can truly thrive in an enduring way. We believe this kind of access to capital has the capacity to usher in a more even distribution curve of wealth in society. And we will measure that wealth not only in Dollars or Euros or even Bitcoins, but in the transfer of goods and services within each network and community, unconstrained by structural monetary inefficiencies.
5. What is the best investment you have made in yourself?
My two years in graduate school studying economic systems from the world’s experts made me deeply aware of the systemic change needed if we truly wanted to see different outcomes in society. Learning about how things work is a great platform for then imagining how to improve them.
6. Has your career been planned or a function of serendipity?
Entrepreneurship seems to be an interplay of directed and relentless intention, contrasted by opportunistic and instinctive adaptation. The key as with most things is balance. My career has lead me on a steady but often unexpected path towards systemic solution creation for the problems I see in the world. In hindsight, every step has lead me towards the next, whether I knew it at the time or not. I am so grateful for all my learnings, experiences and colleagues along the path.
7. What is the role of mentors in your life?
Conversations with people I admire, who are rooting for my success, and accepting of my failures, renew my spirit and drive when I am feeling like the mission is too big or I am too small. Many of my mentors have actually walked very different paths than me and my team, and so provide wisdom and experience that is universal.
8. What advice would you give to your 18 year old self?
Take it easy…it’s a marathon, not a sprint 🙂
9. What next?
The latest version of Bancor’s roadmap (released Feb 2018) can be found here.
In general, Bancor is aiming to make cryptocurrencies accessible to a far wider array of people, including those who are brand new to crypto.
This experience extends beyond Bancor, as any developer can now integrate Bancor’s open-source protocol into their wallet or exchange to offer frictionless, on-demand conversion between tokens. Ultimately, this will allow regular people to access their cryptocurrencies instantly and seamlessly, without having to deal with common issues that plague exchanges.
We expect that removing friction from the token purchase and conversion process — both within the Bancor Wallet and within any wallet or exchange that integrates Bancor’s open-source protocol — will dramatically increase adoption of cryptocurrencies and ultimately open the emerging world of dApps and user-generated currencies to average consumers.