Tomo is one of the fixtures in Vietnam’s Tech & Startup scene since his arrival a decade ago. He’s been regularly involved in the organization of Barcamp Saigon, been one of the founding members of Vietnam’s Startup Hub organization SHIELD and also been a founding member of Vietnam’s first Bitcoin Meetup group Bitcoin Saigon. Otherwise Tomo is a serial tech entrepreneur and full stack developer with a background in security, e-commerce, digital payments, and algorithmic trading.
Q1: Dear Tomo – you have been one of the core organizers of the local Bitcoin Saigon Community for a considerable amount of time. When did you first time hear about Bitcoin and why did you get interested into it in the first place?
One of my early memories of Bitcoin was when some of my friends were talking about it on IRC (which gives a hint of how long ago this was). My friends were mining it on their PCs and it was already being sold on markets, although the price was still in the dollar range.
I was skeptical at first, because as a software developer myself as well as having a background in software security, I knew how difficult it was to write code that worked properly and that didn’t have security flaws. Such things might be nuisances in a game but could have permanently damaged the faith that the community of normal people would have in using something like bitcoin.
As it turned out, there were bugs, but they were fixed before the network had sufficiently scaled so as to be fatal bugs. And the price of bitcoin went up by 20x and 100x and then lost most of its value again and again yet never killed off the project. It was like a cockroach that just couldn’t be killed.
Q2: Looking back over the past 5 years – what surprised you most positively, what most negatively in the past half decade of Bitcoin history?
In the past 5 years, bitcoin went through some market cycles, which I view positively although it should come as no surprise. There will be more cycles in the next 5 years. But 5 years ago, I would have expected more adoption for bitcoin as a payment method by now (something I was working on during that time) and instead we got a fork of the project, which I didn’t expect. And I wouldn’t have expected both sides of the fork to survive, much less thrive, like we see today.
But that speaks to the cockroach nature of this thing. But it can be seen negatively too, because the fork could have been prevented, and many of the issues necessitating the fork have still not been resolved, and the way that the protocol or software or project is governed has shown its flaws.
Q3: What do you expect the attendees to learn from the 5 Year anniversary event of Bitcoin Saigon?
What makes this event or conference different is that it’s really a bitcoin-focused event. It’s not about ICOs or the potential of blockchain. But it is still about the potential of some unproven uses of bitcoin, like second layer solutions on top of bitcoin.
This should be interesting to anyone who has only thought of Ethereum as the interesting platform on which to build decentralized financial applications. It should be interesting to be able to talk to some of the Blockstream people.
Q4: Where do you see Bitcoin, the communities and its general impact on society going within the next 5 years?
I think it’s generally too difficult to make 5 year predictions. But as for bitcoin, it is the digital cockroach, so while many other coins may come and go, bitcoin will still be around in 5 years. Communities themselves change over time.
Many people who have come through the Bitcoin Saigon community over the years have moved on. The size of the community ebbs and flows with high correlation to the recent volatility of bitcoin price. So I can’t predict the size of the bitcoin community in the future, but while there’s a bitcoin, there will be a bitcoin community, and as I have said, bitcoin will never die.
Tomo will be attending the Bitcoin Saigon anniversary event on the 29th of November – you can grab your tickets here!