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Women Leading The Blockchain Revolution: “Be more confident and vocal about sharing other women’s work and opinions” With Katherine Wu

I meet so many accomplished and intelligent women in the tech and crypto space on the daily — and one thing that I try to encourage everyone to do is to be more confident and vocal about sharing their work and opinions. So much good and original analysis and research get buried in drafts and never get […]


I meet so many accomplished and intelligent women in the tech and crypto space on the daily — and one thing that I try to encourage everyone to do is to be more confident and vocal about sharing their work and opinions. So much good and original analysis and research get buried in drafts and never get published, which is such a pity. I also think it’s really important for us to all use our platforms to raise each other up, and that can be as easy as suggesting another’s name when I cannot attend a conference/ media appearance or recommending a name to my contacts — or even simply, to give a retweet and an endorsement of their work. I don’t necessarily think that it’s that there are ‘no women’ or ‘not that many women’, because I meet a ton of really impressive female founders/ operators/ investors in the crypto industry. But I do think that discovery may be a hurdle- especially if these folks aren’t necessarily the type to self-market (which is totally normal, not everyone is good at self-promotion) . So if someone has a large platform and influence, I think it’s incumbent upon those figures to give underrepresented folks a larger platform.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Katherine Wu, an investor at Notation Capital, a New York-based venture capital fund that focuses on investing in early-stage startups. Notation Capital invests in technology companies that combine software and data in novel ways in order to create fundamentally better experience for customers. Katherine is passionate about the crypto industry and its developments worldwide, particularly from a public policy and legal perspective.


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?

The funny thing about career paths is that they always seem linear from the rearview mirror, but never straightforward while you’re on the path itself. I can tell you that I never thought about working in the crypto industry and now as a VC, but someone who is removed from my personal situation may take a look at my resume and tell you that it’s been obvious from day 1. I think the most important thing is 1) to lean into your own ‘superpower’ and 2) to optimize for the specific areas that you find fulfillment in. For example, some of my most creative and extraverted friends work in very siloed roles at large corporations. They’re really great at their jobs, but would likely excel (and find more enjoyment) in a more creative and social role at a company that is less regimented. As for optimization, think around criteria that are most important to you personally: Is it money? Is it predictability? Is it autonomy? Is it mission? and optimize purely for that. Ultimately, when it comes to finding the career path that is perfect for you, know this: it will take some time and it will take a high level of self-awareness, but it’s worth it.

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

I think there is some mystique around the day to day of a venture capitalist — and that’s mostly because everyday looks so different. I spent my days meeting with founders (either founders that I currently work with in our portfolio, or founders who are looking to start something themselves), researching my various areas of interests, and thinking around ways to make things run smoother. Notation has a very much ‘founders-lead’ way of doing things, so our areas of interests are very much dictated by the founders and talented people within our network.

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?

Honestly, I feel like I’d be nowhere without both my mentors and my sponsors — who have, through both emotional support and direct action, lifted me up in so many ways (both career-wise and in my self-confidence).

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

There’s too much to say here without launching into an essay, but to keep it simple: 1. Optionality (i.e. having choices outside of state-backed monetary policies and currencies, and having that power to be able to move and control your own assets), 2. Power structure shift, in both data and privacy — more towards the consumer/ user and away from a select few big tech companies — and I think this is the core thesis of Blockstack as well. I gave a talk on it earlier this year; 3. Autonomy (this could be physical freedom, financial freedom, etc); 4. More collaboration across industries and geographies (Speaking to the global nature of crypto); and 5. to more thoughtful discussions around the future.

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

Some of my worries around blockchain and crypto evolve the nagging feeling that we may be reinventing the wheel where everything went wrong with traditional markets.

My biggest concern is that we don’t lose sight of the ethos of the crypto industry. We want to build a system that can’t be evil, period, not a system that’s only slightly evil or one that’s not evil, provided good people run it.

There are lots of financial and regulatory pressures on the blockchain industry, and we need to make sure these pressures don’t bend it out of shape. We need to build a new world — a world where the financial system cannot repeat the 2008 financial crisis or the like. All of my worries come from this central fear of repeating the past when we should be forging the future.

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

I’m not sure what can qualify as ‘success’ and ‘goodness’ here, but I always try my best to be authentic and to provide sincere thoughts — whether it’s to the pubic via my legal analysis around crypto issues, or to my own network around issues that I feel strongly about: job fulfillment, salary negotiation, finding confidence in your work and life.

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?

I meet so many accomplished and intelligent women in the tech and crypto space on the daily — and one thing that I try to encourage everyone to do is to be more confident and vocal about sharing their work and opinions. So much good and original analysis and research get buried in drafts and never get published, which is such a pity. I also think it’s really important for us to all use our platforms to raise each other up, and that can be as easy as suggesting another’s name when I cannot attend a conference/ media appearance or recommending a name to my contacts — or even simply, to give a retweet and an endorsement of their work. I don’t necessarily think that it’s that there are ‘no women’ or ‘not that many women’, because I meet a ton of really impressive female founders/ operators/ investors in the crypto industry. But I do think that discovery may be a hurdle- especially if these folks aren’t necessarily the type to self-market (which is totally normal, not everyone is good at self-promotion) . So if someone has a large platform and influence, I think it’s incumbent upon those figures to give underrepresented folks a larger platform.

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

I think this question somewhat relates to my previous answer about lifting each other up by taking direct action (ie recommending my journalist source to talk to them/ asking a big podcast to host them instead/ asking a conference organizer to replace me) or indirect action (retweet, recommend follow, etc). I do think that on the whole, the crypto community has been incredibly open-minded and welcoming, and I hope that we continue to extend this type of friendliness to newcomers.

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

To be honest, I don’t really follow too many quotes or mottos, but my guiding principle in life and in everything that I do is simple: “Don’t be an asshole’. Sorry for the language. I know that a common ‘growth hack’ that is popular is to gain followers and exposure by picking fights or talking in extremes, but I never subscribed to that, nor do I believe that is the way that I want to act around people.

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. 🙂

Hah, this is a tough one to answer. And there are so many people who are working on actual solutions to make the world a better place (and if you are, you should contact me!) so I will start from a very simple place: I would love to encourage more people to sit down and find their own ‘superpower’. In other words, what is something about you that frequently gets praise from other people (it could be family, friends, acquaintances, professional network)? I think the first reaction a for a lot of people is to want to push that compliment away or try to negate it, but I would encourage people to think more into it. Are you the person who all your friends rely on to plan vacations and trips? Or are you the person who always knows where all the cool concerts are playing? Or maybe you are that person who can walk into a room full of strangers and make friends immediately? Those might not sound like much, but there’s an underlying skill there that may allude to that ‘superpower’!

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I blog at my own website, www.katherinewu.me, but otherwise am an avid tweeter @katherineykwu on Twitter 🙂

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

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