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“Knowing what you don’t know is more important than being brilliant”, With Mark Radcliffe of DLA Piper

Knowing what you don’t know is more important than being brilliant (Charlie Munger). It reminds me that you need to constantly keep…


Knowing what you don’t know is more important than being brilliant (Charlie Munger). It reminds me that you need to constantly keep learning and that the world is changing an increasingly rapid pace and you should be humble about how much you know.


I had the pleasure to interview Mark Radcliffe of DLA Piper. Mark’s practice is split evenly between corporate securities (particularly venture capital transactions) and intellectual property licensing and strategy. Mark has been working in Silicon Valley for over 30 years and has worked on over 1,000 venture capital transactions. He has significant experience in applying the law to the issues raised by new technologies, such as open source software, blockchain, IoT and domain names. For example, in 1994, he assisted Network Solutions, Inc. in developing the first domain dispute resolution system which is still the basis for the system in use today. His clients range from Fortune 500 such as Oracle Corporation and Sony Corporation to unknown startups. Currently, he and his team work with over 50 startups. He has worked across a wide variety of industries, including software (in particular open source software), blockchain, IoT, semiconductor, consumer electronics, content licensing (from music to characters), and medical devices.

Thank you so much for joining us Mark. Can you tell us the story of how you got involved with the Regtech or Crypto markets?

I was working along with my partner, Louis Lehot, on a client doc.ai that wanted to do a token offering last summer. The company is run by a serial entrepreneur, Walter de Brouwer.

Can you tell us some of the things that you do on daily basis regardless of how busy you are?

I always exercise (generally 2,000 meters on a Concept 2 rowing machine), journal using the Five Minute Journal and drink plenty of water.


Can you share 5 ways that Regulation and Regtech might help to stabilize the Crypto Economy?

  1. Reduce uncertainty about whether tokens are “securities” so companies can properly structure their offerings and open up the tokenization of otherwise illiquid assets such as real estate and patents
  2. Help individuals/companies understand the tax consequences of their activities
  3. Assist companies in determining liability for their software, see CFTC remarks about “prediction markets”
  4. Give institutional investors’ confidence that they understand the rules so that they can invest in crypto
  5. Provide clarity about the liability of programmers for code that they write, Professor Walch has suggested that public blockchain developers should be “fiduciaries” and the CFTC recently suggested that developers could have personal liability for failure to meet regulatory requirements

In your opinion, what are the top concerns that crypto firms should be considering in order to have a competitive edge?

  1. They need to be aware of the legal rules and risks and make appropriate decisions (for example, raising money through SAFTs overseas rather than in the US)
  2. They should participate in the regulatory process to help craft the new rules needed to make the industry successful (particularly through the industry associations that are forming)
  3. Pay attention to intellectual property, particularly patents which can give a competitive edge
  4. Work with sophisticated investors who can assist them in developing the business and legal strategy

Can you share how advising startups on blockchain and crypto currencies differs from how you work with large Fortune 500 corporations

  1. Blockchain/cryptocurrencies have many more gray areas than most topics discussed with Fortune 500 corporations
  2. You need to be able to describe the risk and the options to mitigate cost effectively (unlike corporations, startups don’t have an unlimited legal budget)
  3. Startups also need to understand that if they are seeking adoption by enterprise they need to avoid “risky” legal behavior even though it would be acceptable in the crypto community
  4. Remind startups that 2017 was a “party” with no rules, we are now experiencing the hangover with lots of consequences (SEC investigations, class action litigation); unlike the views of many thought leaders in the space, blockchain will be subject to existing laws

Can you share an example of a time when you had to overcome a personal or professional obstacle? How did you manage this situation and learn from it?

We lost our “vacation” home in the wine country to the Sonoma fires 60 days after we bought it (October 11, 2017). My wife and I had to make the decision to rebuild or look for another house. It caused very deep discussions about what we were seeking with the house and the location. We ultimately decided to rebuild and have a much clearer understanding of how that house will be integrated into our life.

What are the top 3 upcoming conferences you are attending and are excited about?

  • Consensus 2019
  • Blockchain Connect 2019
  • Hyperledger Global Forum

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how this has been relevant to you in your life?

Knowing what you don’t know is more important than being brilliant (Charlie Munger). It reminds me that you need to constantly keep learning and that the world is changing an increasingly rapid pace and you should be humble about how much you know.

Thank you so much for these fantastic insights.

Originally published at medium.com

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