CoinDesk's Most Influential 2023 recognizes 50 people who defined the year in the digital assets space, which includes Messari CEO Ryan Selkis.
Joining us now is Maari Ceo Ryan SKs Ryan. Welcome to the show. Thanks for having me. Congratulations on making our list. I've won a huge award. What's that line from a Christmas story? A major award? I can't believe I got that line. Right. That, that's how, you know, it's early December instead of late, I've won a major award. They like me. You really, I didn't get anything in the mail from you guys though. So we'll just ask for, we'll, we'll talk after the show. Make sure that the thing that's coming to you gets there. Where's, where's that envelope with the cash that we expected? Ee Exactly. We'll, we'll, we'll change that uh over, over coffee at Black Rail, Lawrence. Happy birthday. By the way. I miss that place. Thank you. I haven't been there in a while. Say hi to everyone. Little Jersey stuff there for everyone else. Hey, Bob Menendez, by the way, he's a, he's Bob Menendez might be out of a job. You're gonna run for a senate seat. Yeah, I, I, we, we'll get into that but, uh, I, I think that ship has sailed. I'm not, I'm not running in 2024. And I'm very happy where I am right now. So good. All right, Ryan, let's, let's get into this. Let's talk um, a little bit about your impact uh in the industry. From a political perspective. You laid the groundwork for the Political Action Committee Fair Shake, which Brian Armstrong as we know, gave a million dollars to talk to us about what you hope Fair Shake uh achieves as we head into next year. Well, I, I'd encourage people to, uh look into fair shake and, um, uh I certainly don't wanna take too much credit for it. I think the team that's running, uh, that operation is, is one that I worked with, uh, and, and supported in the 2022 midterms, their uh career operatives that have, have run a lot of races and, and have been in this world for a long time. I think they're, you know, the, the creme de la creme and, and they've been, um really, really solid so far, um having, having, you know, gone through one cycle and, and, and a really important set of outcomes in, in the 2022 elections where, uh they ended up supporting 19 candidates that were, were pro crypto or, or, you know, at least solidly neutral. Uh If you, if you think about some of the progressive and open minded and younger, um which, um, which will have a compounding effect um, as we go from, from race to race from cycle to cycle. So, uh, really good outcomes, really good team, uh, there. But, um, the, uh, you know, I, I think the, uh, to the extent that I've had an impact on, on that organization and, and some of the political conversation, it's really, I think sounding the alarm on the need to, uh, activate, um, financially in this particular cycle, I think. Um, you know, I, in 2021 was a bull on the single issue voter thesis, right? If you remember that, I, I think I helped mean that concept uh into existence for crypto single issue voters may exist when there is a wealth effect and when people feel like they're doing well and they feel like there's tremendous opportunity, you know, in a, in a given industry that doesn't exist so much on the way down, right? So we are in a long period of apathy right now. Uh just as many folks that have invested in, in crypto and in some of those boom days may be under water or they may be awaiting, you know, resolutions to different bankruptcies. So they're not necessarily fans uh of the industry even much less single issue voters. Um And then, you know, kind of add on to that. Uh the fact that I think there, there are a number of folks that um have done well in crypto, but it is not necessarily the end all be all for them to support politically and, and, and yeah, they, I would argue have some luxury political beliefs um because they've had a certain financial status and, and, and don't feel the need just to focus on this issue when, when it comes to the elections. Um I've been, as you can imagine, pretty careful about which, even though I've been outspoken, I think I have been pretty careful about which, which battles to pick when it comes to supporting candidates in different elections. Um, because people lose their minds, uh when, when you talk about politics, number one, but number two, we want to think about where the real impact is going to be and not just oscillate from one extreme to the other or from, you know, one party that does, doesn't necessarily, uh like the industry or, or, or play fair to another that, you know, is maybe just in bad as bad, but in other ways and the area that I think we can have the most impact politically in the cycle, uh knowing that we don't necessarily have as many boots on the ground as many voters, um, that are, are really activated as maybe you would have seen in 2021 during the, the bull period. Um That's gonna take uh really selective investments and key races particularly in the Senate. Um I think the, um, ongoing democratic control of the Senate, the US um will basically set the crypto industry back to 2030 most people would be better off moving offshore than continue to operate in the US. Um, and that's because of the outsized influence that, that Senator Warren has on the Senate banking committee, um, which basically controls the agenda in the Senate and, and, and you know, the status quo is to essentially crack down through all of the major financial regulators, whether you're talking about the FDIC and choke 0.2 0.0 obviously all of Gary Gss shenanigans, the fed the Treasury, you name it that um control in that chamber. Um really is the most important thing who wins the presidency, who wins the house is almost secondary in this election. But it, but the House nonetheless, it has a better chance. Uh The decision in the House is down now with Santos, out of it is down to four people that that's what's keeping uh Mike Johnson in power right now as, as the speaker therefore, won't your dollars be more influential on those borderline. There are very few because of gerrymandering, but they wouldn't it be more influential on those border uh situations and getting things done? Iii I think that we should um support open-minded, reasonable, even fair critics, right? But just open minded and reasonable, good faith um uh politicians and their staff that, that have gotten educated on the issues and, and I want to come to some reasonable um regulatory outcomes and, and, and legislate accordingly um in the house, there's a number of, I think, thoughtful progressives including Richie Torres or Ocona. Uh There were 6 to 8 you know, congressmen from the House Financial Services Committee that crossed the aisle on, on some of the bills over the summer that got out of committee and um and were, were advanced um by Patrick Mahn and the Republicans. So um that chamber is, is relatively cordial where things go to die though, is uh in Senate banking. And to the extent that um Elizabeth Warren in particular is uh empowered by remaining in the majority party. She is going to have an outsized impact, not just on the Senate deliberations, but on the White House where she has a tremendous amount of influence when it comes to financial staffers. Um Many of whom she has placed uh GS is an ally of hers. Um Barra Ramadi, who who is not a household name, uh was deputy uh director of the nec. He was our number one opponents in the White House. He left, he was a former uh Elizabeth Warren staffer, you know who they replaced him with another Elizabeth Warren, chief of staff um John uh Dunne Burch. So uh her, her influence is not just on the Senate side, it is also at the White House. And when there has been opposition in the House, even with someone like uh ranking member, Waters and house Financial Services, that opposition has mostly come after phone calls from the White House from these Warren staffers um and, and uh allies that have put pressure on her and on the Democrats in the House to slow down uh some of the house l uh legislation that's been proposed. So, um uh you know, I, I think if you, if, if, when you say it out loud, it does almost feel a little bit conspiratorial, but sometimes conspiracies are true. And the, the fact of the matter is, um Senator Warren does not pass legislation, but she is extremely, extremely influential when it comes to placing personnel in important positions throughout the administrative state, especially in financial services. And, um and she's done that, um she was in a position of, of, you know, even greater influence, arguably in 2020. Um when her support for now President Biden uh during the primaries, um you know, came with some strings attached and, and I think, you know, as, as a result, um you know, uh uh then Senator Joe and former vice President Joe Biden had a lot of foreign policy staffers, but he did not really have a large financial uh policy staff to speak of and, and, and Senator Warren kind of filled some of those gaps. So, um as long as she is in uh this Catbird seat in the majority and in um one of the most senior positions and most important positions on the Senate Banking Committee which essentially oversees all the really important pieces um of the government that we need to interface with. Um we're just, we're, we're not gonna get any good outcomes. Um And um and the courts are very slow. So the alternative is ultimately playing this long waiting game and, and kind of, you know, grinding out progress through the courts, but the government has unlimited resources and, uh and crypto start ups don't have, you know, those types of financial resources or time and, and ultimately, things will move offshore if that's the outcome, we only need to swing two senate seats though. That's the good news actually, one because Joe Manchin is not running again in, in West Virginia. So to, to get to that majority number, there's a number of, of vulnerable uh democrat senators um and two that are vocal opponents of uh of crypto and Jon Tester and, and, and Senate banking chairman Sherrod Brown. Um And if we can take uh one or two of those uh men out of the equation, we're in a very different landscape in, in January 2025. Not to get everything that we want as an industry, but to have a reasonable good faith discussion about what policy should look like for this industry going forward.