Mar 24, 2021
Women in Crypto: Kathleen Breitman, Co-Founder of Tezos
Crypto has undergone unprecedented growth in the last few years — but when it comes to leadership roles in the industry, women are staggeringly underrepresented. In keeping with Gemini’s mission of empowering the individual through crypto, our new series Women in Crypto seeks to shed light on the amazing work that women are doing in crypto and blockchain, with the hope of inspiring more women around the world to invest in crypto and seek jobs in the industry.
We are kicking off this series by featuring Kathleen Breitman, currently a co-founder of Coase, a software company that aspires to lower transaction costs. She previously co-founded Tezos, a blockchain-based smart contract platform with an on-chain governance mechanism to coordinate and push upgrades to its network. She has also worked at Accenture, Bridgewater Associates, and the Wall Street Journal.
Tell us about your crypto "lightbulb" moment. How did you get into crypto?
I've heard about cryptocurrencies a lot since 2011. At some point around 2012 or 2013, I started looking into it for myself and liked the irreverence at the heart of it.
What was the inspiration behind Tezos, and what do you hope for its future?
Around 2013, most technologies that could theoretically improve Bitcoin were realized through the launches of new cryptocurrencies. Tezos was proposed in 2014 as a cryptocurrency that allows its owners to upgrade the codebase seamlessly while preserving network effects.
Since its launch in 2018, the Tezos blockchain has upgraded seamlessly more than any other public chain. I would like to see more provocative upgrades to the network in the coming years.
What's the one piece of professional advice that you would give to your younger self that would have helped you the most as you progressed in your career?
Ditch the losers, double-down on the winners. I have wasted time trying to fix broken things rather than improve upon what was going well.
How can we encourage and facilitate more women entering the crypto workforce?
The culture of the space has created a filter such that women who tend to stick around are either hard-nosed or smart enough not to look at comments sections.
Candidly, a great part about cryptocurrencies is that you don't have to work on them to enjoy their benefits. I would rather that more women own cryptocurrencies en masse than work in the industry.
Who are some women that you admire in the crypto space? In tech? In general?
In the cryptocurrency space, I admire the contributions of Dahlia Malkhi, Dawn Song, and Cathie Wood. In technology, I admire Judy Estrin, Fei-Fei Li, and Ruth Porat. More generally, I think Janelle Monae, Pat McGrath, Roz Brewer, Aileen Lee, and Taylor Swift are total badasses worth emulating.
Why do you believe in crypto?
It solves a problem that people have largely proposed hackish solutions around for centuries: moving value across the world without the use of an intermediary. I don't think it makes sense to bet against novel solutions to old problems.
What is something unique that you have learned from working in crypto?
People really don't like thinking about finance. It is astounding what passes for thought leadership.
How do you see blockchain evolving over the next five years?
I like the burgeoning NFT collectibles market, no matter how noisy it is, because it gets to the heart of what cryptocurrencies should do in other industries by creating a viable alternative to traditional intermediaries. Right now, creative types are realizing this as a new way to monetize their work. In the coming years, I hope everyone can use decentralized solutions that typically fall into categories like financial services.