November 22, 2022

I love it when, at the end of a podcast conversation, I tell my guest that we’ve just recorded an instant audience favorite. That’s the case with today’s show, my conversation with Jai Ramaswamy, Chief Legal Officer at the legendary venture firm Andreessen Horowitz, or a16z.

Jai takes on the task of explaining Web 3.0.

I recently spoke at a Web3 event where I suggested that if we asked 10 people to define it, we would get 10 definitions. These are very early days, in a field that I think is literally changing by the hour. Even deep experts struggle to keep up, and even they have very disparate views on what’s happening, not to mention where we’re headed. We are very fortunate to have Jai helping to translate.

Our talk covers a lot of ground. He describes the evolution of the World Wide Web from versions 1.0 to 2.0 to 3.0. He explains the drawbacks of the earlier phases and how Web3 hopes to address them through technology like blockchain and tokenization and smart contracts. He explains decentralized finance, or DeFi, as the financial realm of Web3, including the power that can be unlocked by having programmable money. And he offers concrete use cases, to bring the picture down to earth, including in one of his own areas of professional specialization — combating financial crime.

One of our goals for Barefoot Innovation is to bridge the worlds of cutting-edge innovation and the traditional financial system, including regulators, to help the two understand each other. Today’s show is one of the best we’ve ever done.

More on Jai

Jai oversees the legal and compliance functions at Andreessen Horowitz as Chief Legal Officer. He was previously the Chief Risk & Compliance Officer at cLabs, working on Celo, a mobile-first platform that makes financial dApps and crypto payments accessible to anyone with a mobile phone. Jai also spent several years in the financial services industry as the Head of Enterprise Risk Management at Capital One and the Global Head of AML Compliance Risk Management at Bank of America/Merrill Lynch.

Before joining the private sector, Jai served for over a decade at the Justice Department as a white collar crime prosecutor in the Southern District of New York, at headquarters in the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, and later as Chief of the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section. In those roles he oversaw the prosecutions of BNP Paribas and HSBC for Bank Secrecy Act, Patriot Act and sanctions violations. Jai has an undergraduate degree in government and economics from Harvard University, a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and a doctorate in social and political science from Cambridge University, U.K.


More for Our Listeners

I’m just back from two weeks of travel that have filled the pipeline with great shows. In Las Vegas, at Money 2020, I had an absolutely remarkable conversation with Delicia Hand and Cleve Mesidor.  At the Singapore Fintech Festival, we recorded two amazing shows on site — one with Nikhil Rathi, CEO of the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority, and the other with Ravi Menon, Managing Director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Beyond those, we’re going to talk with NCUA Chairman Todd Harper. And we will talk all things crypto and DeFi with both Simon Taylor of Sardine and then Tomicah Tomilson of Haun Ventures. 

Again, I just returned from Money 20/20  and the Singapore Fintech Festival – I spoke in Singapore six times – and I’m still absorbing the intense learnings from both trips. I spoke recently at the Financial Technology Association’s inaugural Fintech Summit. And I hope you’ll join us for our upcoming convening on Minority Depository Institutions in support of our MDI ConnectTech Initiative

AIR continues to grow! We’re hiring for multiple roles to join our small but mighty, mission-driven team. We need a TechSprint program manager and two roles for our new program on Minority Depository Institutions, and a Chief Program Officer. Visit our careers page to learn more and apply.

Don’t forget to follow AIR on LinkedIn and Twitter. Be sure to leave us a five-star rating on your favorite podcast platform. And please follow me personally on Twitter @JoAnnBarefoot.

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