I’m looking for an assistant again

You may remember how I looked for an assistant a few months ago. Well, my current assistant has moved on to her full time position (good luck H!), and I’m on the market again.

This time she made me prepare a list of job requirements and not just fire a general plea into the void … so if you think you got what it takes, please email me at ron.gross+assistant@gmail.com

(Note I’ll be away for a few weeks on a conference, H will be aggregating the results in the meantime)

Leading Snowflakes – Inspiration codified in a book

Oren Ellenbogen taught me so much along the years. He was my manager/team lead for a year, and I’ve learned from and worked with him on several other occaisions. I would love to co-found a startup with him one day.

Engineering management has been his passion and dedication for years. Finally – he achieved his dream and codified his passion into an eBook & package: Leading Snowflakes, The Engineering Manager Handbook. I highly recommend it for anyone wishing to increase their leadership abilities.

If you don’t want to commit or don’t have the time right now, you can start by subscribing to his weekly newsletter – Software Lead Weekly – it’s one of the most known newsletter that investigates and teaches engineering management.

We are looking for an experienced Web Team Lead

… to join the Mastercoin Foundation and head the Omniwallet project. For more details, please see here. We also have a few other positions open (a “jobs” page TBD)

Mt. Gox is probably insolvent

To all my friends and loved ones who lost money at Mt. Gox (they are probablly insolvent) – my heart goes out to you.

I am sorry you are paying the price. This is a natural part of the evolution of this revolutionary industry, and there are many people in the chain of blame. I hope you recover and hang in there.

The lesson we should take from this is: We and we alone are responsible for ourselves, our fates, and our finances. Still – we should not gloat at those who lost money in the Gox incident or any other – many of my close friends are in this group, and I myself had money at Bitstamp up until recently (FYI – Bitstamp are perfectly fine, however they did temporarily shutdown withdrawals one day after I withdrew my funds).

Bitcoin is still hard to properly secure. This is why there is a big potential for upside, precisely because it is so hard. But it means investors really need to understand the different security parameters of their chosen solution. We knew 2014 was going to be an interesting year … “interesting” in this context is both good times and bad times.

I’m hoping that the rest of the year will be better for everyone.

Test post

Sorry for the noise, just testing a problem I have with comments on this blog.

The new kid on the block – Ethereum Introduced (IPO Feb 1)

All the buzz in the last few weeks in the crypto-currency space is about Ethereum, a “Turing complete crypto-currency”. Let me TL;DR wtf that is (and I’m by no means an Ethereum expert, so don’t quote me on this):

Ethereum is a “Minecraft for money”. It’s a new raw protocol that allows people to build arbitrarily complicated financial scripts and treat these scripts as first class citizens. In Bitcoin, you can send money to an address, that’s easy. A less-known fact about Bitcoin is that you can send money to a script, e.g. a 3-out-of-5 “multisig” script, that requires a signature from at least three people in order to spend.

Bitcoin scripts are deliberately not Turing complete – you want scripts to be very easy to compute and verify – the last thing you want would be someone spamming the network with high fee transactions to a script that is a hidden infinite loop, causing miners and users to overwork their CPU.

I’m not going to go into the details (see the spec, I’ve asked them to prepare a TL;DR and an FAQ). After the last year, in which we saw interesting launches of “Second generation crypto-currencies” such as Mastercoin, ProtoShares, Nxt and others”, everybody’s looking for “the next best thing”. Ethereum is an innovative project with very high ambitions – think of it as a commercial attempt to develop javascript 20 years ago. If it works, the ecosystem this will create can be huge. However, they do face tremendous risk as far as execution and complexity of the project. Add to it an extreme hype that’s generated right now, and it adds to a very risky investment (they are IPO-ing on Feb 1st).

So my TL;DR – I don’t know. When Mastercoin came out August 1st 2013, it was the first second generation crypto-currency, and this is why I posted a buy recommendation that turned out to give a more than X10 profit. Ethereum’s timing is different, for good and bad – they’re getting a lot of attention which is great for them, but it might also mean an over-priced IPO.

Go do your own homework! Follow these links, engage the community, and make up your own mind. I wish them a successful IPO.

How I learned to let go of Inbox Zero

I discovered Inbox Zero a few years ago, and have been a devote believer ever since. The rule is simple: just make sure your inbox is empty. Handle, delegate, or postpone incoming messages (using Followupthen, Sanebox, Boomerang, or whatever works for you).
The goal is to go to sleep every day with ZERO emails in your inbox. Succeeding in doing this is very relaxing, and the “I win!” feeling you get when you reach that empty inbox is very satisfying. The relaxation comes from knowing there is nothing you missed … you successfully handled all your tasks/emails for the day.

Then, Bitoin happened.

My inbox started getting more and more full in the recent years (I receive more than 100 daily emails). Add a conference abroad to the mix, or a few days of complete vacation from my inbox … and suddenly there are hundreds of emails in my inbox waiting reply.

For a while, I was really upset. Here I was, a practitioner of Inbox Zero, unable to follow through on my religion. There are even occasional entire weeks where I’m so occupied with something, be it work related or personal, that I didn’t want to open my inbox at all (God fobbid!). Sometimes, there were so many emails in my inbox, that the very thought of even opening my inbox seemed daunting. I mean … I would never be able to clean up all that mess, right?! Why even both trying…

Well, I learned to let go. I realized that sometimes, you don’t have to really get to a completely empty inbox to be productive. I still follow the basic principles of Inbox Zero – don’t keep unread emails in your inbox but rather process, delegate or postopne them. But I’m also letting people know that I am simply much less available via emails these days, and sometimes I’ll only get to process an email days or weeks after I receive it (especially if it gets into my @SaneLater inbox). There are other ways to contact me for more urgent matters (skype/SMS/phone call to list a few). And sometimes, the best solution is just not to reach me at all, but manage on your own or find someone else in the organization to help you. This doesn’t mean that Inbox Zero is wrong – it has successfully worked for me for several years. But as for me personally – just like I learned to accept the fact I won’t be able to read over 99.999% of the books or Wikipedia articles out there, I accept that the state of “clean inbox” has become a rare phenomenon for me, and not being there doesn’t mean I’m not being productive or need to stress over it.

Bitcoin predictions for 2014

So, I have this nasty habit of predicting Bitcoin price increases (and Litecoin, and Mastercoin).

As 2013 draws to a close and 2014 soon begins, I’ll make another prediction – I think that Bitcoin will appreciate by at least another X10 factor in 2014. So to make it concrete, I’ll predict that the closing price at end of 2014 by bitcoinaverage.com will be at least $10,000.

A more caution prediction would predict an increase in “digital decentralized currencies” AKA crypto-currencies because it’s possible another coin will overtake Bitcoin as the lead … but I don’t see this happening in 2014, I think Bitcoin’s network effect is still working wonders for it. Some coins like Mastercoin, Ripple and others might have a better chance to literally overthrow Bitcoin long term, but I think 2014 is still too early for that to happen.

So for simplicity, I will ignore any other coins and predict a X10 increase in pure Bitcoin price.

Why do I make this prediction now? My logic is this: Bitcoin has had an intrinsic advantage over Fiat currencies ever since its inception, and so my prediction was always “there’s a good chance that ‘one day’ Bitcoin will win”. I was always a bit hesitant to put a specific timeline on this, but rather preferred to talk about “some time in the far future when Bitcoin kills Fiat”. Well, my personal experience in the last three years, and including the prior two years of data, has shown that Bitcoin outperforms these conservative estimates, and actually continues year after year on its exponential growth path.

Bitcoin is viral, and its virality isn’t showing any signs whatsoever of slowing down. Sure, a price increase from $1,000 to $10,000 has more real world impact than a mere increase from $1 to $10 a few years ago … but the impact makes sense due to all the real world attention Bitcoin is getting (The first Round B in a Bitcoin company was just announced today … we’ll see more of these in 2014). All the indicators I’m seeing are positive. 2014 will be a rocky year, for sure, and we’ll see the usual price flucuations … but my money remains betting on the UP direction.

Disclaimer – obviously, I’m super biased as I have a large Bitcoin position. I’m also not advising anyone to invest – you’re grown ups, do you own investment analysis … I am just sharing my personal opinions and crossing my personal fingers.

Bitcoin price 12-2013