Meet The Women of The Blockchain: “We need some new female role models to engage more women into the blockchain industry” With Charlie Sheng, CMO of Measurable Data Token and Tyler Gallagher

We need some new female role models to engage more women into the blockchain industry. In most newly emerging industries, people are unsure of the future and would be more cautious. However, when some successful examples are shown and more proven ideas are built, more talents from all walks of life would join this venture […]

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We need some new female role models to engage more women into the blockchain industry. In most newly emerging industries, people are unsure of the future and would be more cautious. However, when some successful examples are shown and more proven ideas are built, more talents from all walks of life would join this venture as well.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Charlie Sheng, the CMO of a San Francisco-based blockchain startup Measurable Data Token. She is also a bilingual storyteller, a committed serial entrepreneur, and a dedicated communicator for technology.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with us the story of how you decided to pursue this career path? What lessons can others learn from your story?

I was trained as a storyteller, and then I found myself passionate about turning innovative ideas into reality and telling the stories of what I believe in. So I become a tech entrepreneur myself. I feel so blessed that my job today is to bring great technology to more people.

My story started about seven years ago when I was still in college. The era of mobile internet was still in its infancy at the time, and I felt excited to be part of it. I joined Technode (now also known as TechCrunch China) , one of the first tech blogs ever in China and started to write about China’s emerging tech innovations to English readers. After that, I started a local tech organization called StartupsHK, where I helped build up the early startup community in Hong Kong.

A year later, I left Hong Kong and started another project called MailTime in Silicon Valley with two experienced entrepreneurs. MailTime is an email messenger app that makes email as easy as messaging. We soon got into the prestigious TechCrunch Startup Battlefield and got admitted into Y Combinator, the best incubator from Silicon Valley.

This innovative app hits over 10 million downloads now and was also awarded as “Best of 2015 ”by Apple’s App Store. While we were developing MailTime, we found out the enormous value of anonymous email data and thus created a big data think tank called Measurable AI. It analyzes up to 20 billion anonymous email data and provides real-time consumer insights for investors and enterprises.

However, two things have always been bothering us. We can’t really have the users’ trust in sharing their anonymous data securely, nor can we persuade the data buyers that our data is reliable and valid from real users. Even though this is how the traditional data market works all long, these are the problems that haven’t been really solved.

That’s why last year, our team decided to adopt a novel technology to work out the concerns that we had. The solution is Measurable Data Token ( ), a decentralized data exchange economy based on blockchain.

Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on now?

MDT is a decentralized data exchange platform that rewards users for the data they contribute. What we want to achieve, by building this platform, is to help users regain control of their own data, and get what they deserve.

Once a user opts-in, his data will be anonymized, aggregated, and exchanged as big data. And our platform creates smart contracts through the blockchain to make sure he gets his share of the profits — which he can later trade in for exclusive services in the MDT ecosystem. The same data points can be deployed multiple times by different data buyers. Every time a given data point is used, the user who owns it can earn rewarded for it.

And, since each data point is traceable on the blockchain, data buyers can ensure the data is valid and reliable. MDT aims to be the Nielsen ( world’s top market research company) in the blockchain industry. Instead of raw data, only sophisticated data reports, which are more valuable and insightful for data buyers from all kinds of industries, are traded in MDT ecosystem.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

The startup life is full of challenges and setbacks, and most of the time they are not easily understood by people outside this world. I am so fortunate to have a friend, an ally and a mentor who is also an entrepreneur herself. Lizzy Li, the CEO of Orbeus Inc (acquired by Amazon) has been a great friend of mine and an important woman along my entrepreneur journey.

I met her on the first day I arrived in Silicon Valley four years ago, “I love your views on marketing a tech product. You should come to our product meeting!” That’s how I joined her company’s weekly team meeting and since then we shared our views on products, and company strategies with no reservation. Her commitment to technology and the passion towards work always inspire me.

What are the 5 things that most excite you about blockchain and crypto? Why?

I am most excited about blockchain being used in the data industry. Data business today is already integrated into all aspects of the societies. It’s used for developing artificial intelligence, stored as database for public services, and even fraud detections for banks. Data is everywhere and indispensable.

I am thrilled that blockchain is the best solution today to make big data work its magic in the right way. It can change this industry on business model, relationship in the value chain, security performance and the mechanism of trust.

First, blockchain helps to put the control over data back to individuals’ hands. Data exchange is inevitable. However, in most data exchange cases, users’ data privacy and security is compromised. The problem confronting average users is, while they continuously create data just by clicking on a page or liking a photo, they don’t possess the data once it is out there online. Neither do they know how exactly their data is used and monetized. Blockchain can change that by giving users private keys, which work as the only password for accessing data, to control and manage their encrypted data without any third-party intermediaries. They get to decide under which scenario they are willing to share data and whom they want to share data with. No one can exploit the data without the consent from data contributors. That’s also what MDT is trying to do, to let your data work for you.

Secondly, blockchain creates a new way to maintain a database. More and more data breaches are happening these years because of the way data is traded and handled. When data is stored on a distributed blockchain network, data usage will become transparent and incorruptible. For a long time, users’ data is all stored on a centralized database of tech companies. It’s completely their call to decide where and how the data will be deployed and traded. Compared to a centralized database, blockchain distributes data on a group of computers in a public network. And since every transaction needs to be verified and approved by consensus among participants, it’s difficult, if not nearly impossible, to tamper or cheat in the system. That means a single party can no longer arbitrarily manipulate users’ data anymore. Every node in the network makes decisions together and supervises how the data is used.

Next, blockchain enables traceability and anonymization at the same time. Since all transactions would be recorded chronologically with a timestamp, we can see if and how many times the data has been used before, and have a better picture of where the data goes without actually exposing the privacy of the actual data owners. Blockchain solves the contradictory that traceability and anonymization were never to coexist.

Lastly, I am excited about how blockchain creates a new way for humans to gain trust.

Blockchain relies on consensus algorithms to reach agreement among nodes. In general word, blockchain is trustless by its nature. Trust is not easy to obtain in life. In fact, trust is expensive. Research shows that general matters of trust like verifying authenticity, auditing, and licensing accounted for as much as 35% of all jobs in the United States in 2010.

With blockchain’s being immutable, much of the identifying and authentication work can be replaced with a more reliable system. I am excited that today some governments and public services are starting to work on blockchain-based projects to improve the way organizations identify, and verify information in the database.

This aspect of change can literally impact everyone and everywhere. I can’t wait to register my license on the blockchain myself one day.

What are the 5 things worry you about blockchain and crypto? Why?

On the one hand, speculators are taking advantage of blockchain and its incentive system. They don’t really want to leverage the technology to solve any existing real-life problems. Instead, they are just trying to create a hype and make lot of money out of it. That’s why thousands of blockchain projects were launched last year but 90% of them died within a few months. The chaos makes it harder for investors to identify which project is really solid and which team is really competent.

On the other hand, for average people, some of them don’t really understand this emerging technology and they can easily fall into crypto snares. We have heard those stories that someone lose a great deal of money for investing in unreliable blockchain projects. These scandals smear this emerging technology, which causes fears and disdain of blockchain among the public and somewhat hinders the development of this new industry.

Blockchain still needs to be improved as a new technology. Now the biggest problem is efficiency. Since all transactions have to be approved by multiple nodes, it might takes more time than a centralized node to process an online transaction. But I am sure this issue will be resolved soon as the technology has been evolving.

A new form of centralization might appear amid iterations of blockchain. While mining highly relies on computing power, more computing power means bigger chances to get more cryptocurrencies. Another situation is about the idea of super representatives proposed by some major cryptocurrencies. Representatives of communities are also endowed with much more power than average community members. Both of these cases might lead to unfairness in a field that was created to promote equity and democracy.

Lastly, due to the anonymization of the pubic ledger, it is inevitable that it will be used for some illegal and shady affairs such as money laundry or tax evasion. In the meantime, the anonymization of cryptocurrency makes the regulation even harder. This is hazardous to the society and also harmful to the blockchain industry as well. If this continues to be one of the most use cases for cryptocurrency, regulators would definitely spare no effort to ban it. Without the support of the regulators and the government, innovations on the blockchain technology can not move further.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?

I am far from success, but still am trying my best to help other women in the tech industry to survive and thrive at what they are doing. I recently just started my own blog, trying to record every single step I made throughout my startup years. I would have to share some of my most embarrassing moments of life and some of the stories I’ve never told. I hope my perspective from a female founder can help other women who are curious in starting up their own business. Just like how Lizzy had helped me grow along my career path, I think it’s meaningful to pay back what I’ve got from others.

As you know there are not that many women in your industry. Can you share 3 things that you would you advise to other women in the blockchain space to thrive?

It is true that there are more male than female blockchain enthusiasts in total. However, I would like to share an interesting fact that unlike in the US, there are quite a few women working in the blockchain industry in China. They are marketers, journalists, developers or designers. For example, two co-founders of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges are women and they are also very influential.

Blockchain technology is still young and not as ubiquitous as other technologies that are already known to most people. As a marketer and communicator for blockchain, I found that women are better at educating a more complicated and sophisticated concept, which makes us great evangelists for blockchain. To achieve that, we need to be more patient, knowledgeable and persuasive. I’ve seen many female entrepreneurs with blockchain projects who are also blogging about this industry, and I’m very impressive of what they are doing.

Can you advise what is needed to engage more women into the blockchain industry?

We need some new female role models to engage more women into the blockchain industry. In most newly emerging industries, people are unsure of the future and would be more cautious. However, when some successful examples are shown and more proven ideas are built, more talents from all walks of life would join this venture as well.

What is your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that had relevance to your own life?

My all time favorite life quote is “Fake it till you make it”. No one is born to be confident, and by realizing that you would feel much braver and less struggled when you have to make hard decisions or take challenges. I love this quote because it helps me go through the hard times in life and build up the real confidence in me. I love it also because I hate serious life quotes.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Blockchain applications can definitely go beyond commercial use cases. I would love to help social innovation organizations to set up a new governance system that is tamper-proof, reliable and sustainable. For instance, I would love to help some particular charities in China to build a new transparent donation system on an immutable public ledger.

Due to some former scandals, some of the charity organizations in China are not trustworthy among the citizens today. People don’t trust them, thus the donation and fundraising activities are getting less and less popular. Even if people are eager to help, they can’t find the best and secure way to do so. It’s become a vicious circle now. However, if these organizations are to embrace the blockchain technology, I believe they can prove to the world that they are still passionate about doing social good and can actually make it happen.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Twitter: @brownkuns

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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