Sam Williams is co-founder and CEO of Arweave, a blockchain protocol allowing us to remember and preserve valuable information, apps, and history indefinitely. Pete Townsend interviewed Sam last month on the Techstars GiveFirst podcast, so thanks to David Cohen and Techstars for letting us share the interview for this episode of MoneyNeverSleeps.
In this episode, Sam shares the inspirational story of how Arweave got started, their life-changing experience with Techstars Berlin in 2018, and how their long-term vision, hope, and resilience have been the foundation of their successes to date.
Sam Williams on solving problems:
“There are all these global problems, and you are never gonna solve them if you just go like, okay, I’m gonna solve the whole thing. That’s not gonna happen for any human on earth right now. But what might happen is if you look at the problem and say, okay, well that’s a small chunk that, actually, I happen to be skilled to solve. Well, maybe I could do that. And so I did.”
Sam Williams on his inspiration for Arweave:
“I was walking up this mountain and came up with this idea of, okay, well one of the problems with authoritarian regimes is that they always try to bend the perception of the past. George Orwell had a good explanation for this. He said, ‘the person that controls the present controls the past.
“The person that controls the past controls the future.’ What he really means is by controlling the way that people think about the world around them – and that a lot of it comes from the context that we think about the world that is the past – we can control the way that they act in the future.
“I said ‘ha!’, well, I see a nugget of a solution to that. What if we take blockchains, which are essentially hyper-resilient, decentralized databases of information, and we fill them with records of the past. So you replicate the records of the past in so many countries across the world that they just can’t possibly be lost.”
Sam Williams on what he shares with new founders on the foundation of Arweave’s successes to date:
“The message I try and give new founders if they’re thinking about going through this is, well, just be resilient. Just keep doing your thing. No matter whether it’s raining or shining outside, it really shouldn’t matter to you. To be honest, the market is gonna have crazy, crazy things happen. It’s not a sane thing to be around, in my experience, particularly in crypto, it’s so, so volatile, and my hope is that over time it becomes less volatile.
“But for what it is right now, you’ve gotta be realistic. The market’s gonna be overly excited sometimes, and super under-excited other times. And so the best kind of wisdom I’ve picked up along the way is ‘just be robustly resilient’. Just focus on the things that you actually think will matter in five years, not the things that people are shouting about, like pumping the token price or whatever.
“Just focus on the long term, and it does pay off. At the beginning of 2020, we must have been pushing about 500 to a thousand transactions to Arweave a day. By the end of 2021, that was up to about 5 million. And our approach has not changed one iota from day one.”
Episode title inspired by ‘Memory Lane (Sittin’ in da Park)’ by Nas
Episode artwork courtesy of DALL-E 2