‘It’s all about the people’ – On The Record With Molly Jane Zuckerman, Blockworks

Welcome to another ‘On The Record’ with YAP Global. A series where we speak to the journalists behind the stories that keep you up-to-date with the crypto, blockchain and digital asset space. This time we spoke with Molly Jane Zuckerman.

Molly Jane Zuckerman is the opinion editor at Blockworks. She previously led educational content at CoinMarketCap and ran the news desk at Cointelegraph. Molly is now based in New York after almost a decade in Russia and is interested in exploring the intersection between blockchain and real life. Notably, how crypto can be made to work to improve our daily lives with easy accessibility.

Q: What sparked your interest in crypto and what has kept you engaged throughout your career?

I was pursuing a master’s degree in Russian literature when my university was abruptly shut down by the Russian government for its liberal stance. Left without a complete degree and financial stability, a friend who had recently become an editor at Cointelegraph reached out to me. Recognizing my writing abilities and my previous experience as the Editor in Chief of my high school newspaper, she suggested I consider cryptocurrency journalism. That’s how my journey began.

Q: Did you have any prior knowledge or interest in crypto before 2017?

I actually have a screenshot of a message from one of my best friends in college on Facebook Messenger around 2015/16. He told me to buy Ethereum, warning that I would regret it if I didn’t. Initially, I was willing to give it a try and searched for the ETH ticker on my Charles Schwab account. However, when I couldn’t find it, I realized I didn’t have a clear understanding that Ethereum couldn’t be purchased through a bank account or the stock market. Missing out on that opportunity made me realize the limitations of my knowledge at the time.

Q: What’s been the coolest development you’ve covered?

Although I wasn’t officially working in journalism at the time, I was at CoinMarketCap writing educational articles during the Bitcoin halving a few years ago. I vividly recall the immense traffic our website received as people flocked to read my explanation of what a Bitcoin halving is. I’m certain that the number of visitors reached in the hundreds of millions. It was truly incredible to witness the anticipation surrounding the countdown. And when the event finally occurred, it seamlessly unfolded as an automated process ingrained in the code. The experience was undeniably fascinating. It made me appreciate how something conceived years ago was now happening, set to repeat itself, and had successfully taken place numerous times before, all without a hitch.

What’s your favorite thing about crypto, or thing you dislike the most?

Personally, what keeps me engaged in crypto is observing the individuals shaping the industry. It’s the human interest aspect that fascinates me. I often mention this in podcasts and conversations, emphasizing that I’m a skeptic. I’m not here for the future of money or building the next financial empire. Instead, I enjoy being a spectator, witnessing the endeavors of others, hoping for their success, sometimes witnessing their failures. I find great enjoyment in watching this peculiar world unfold before me.

What’s been one trend you’ve seen throughout your time as a journalist?

One consistent trend I’ve noticed throughout my career as a journalist is the belief that everyone is building the next big thing. However, from what I’ve observed, very few of these ambitious projects actually become the revolutionary breakthroughs they promise to be. Personally, I haven’t witnessed the realization of the next big thing that truly endures beyond a couple of market cycles.

What are some of the best pitches you’ve seen?

Some of the most compelling pitches I’ve come across are those that offer practical improvements in our daily lives. For example, the concept of bridging loyalty point systems across industries, like enabling Starbucks coffee points to be used at Dunkin Donuts, would greatly enhance convenience. I’ve encountered a few pitches that aim to create interconnected point systems across different sectors.

On the flip side, one of the worst pitches I ever heard was during a presentation at Bitcoin Miami in 2022. The speaker attempted to recreate the moment by saying, “This is the light bulb moment…” and proceeded to describe an interaction with a taxi driver in El Salvador. The pitch fell flat and failed to capture the essence of a true breakthrough. It highlighted the misconception and unique perspective some individuals have when thinking about these ideas.

How do you feel about crypto journalism at the moment, and how do you see this changing over the next six months to a year?

In my opinion, crypto journalism is currently at a crossroads. When I mention my work in crypto journalism to people at parties or acquaintances, their reactions are often enthusiastic, sometimes in an exaggerated manner. However, what many fail to realize is that every industry has its own trade journalism. The stigma surrounding crypto journalism is gradually diminishing. Unfortunately, this positive shift is hindered by several factors, including publications reducing their workforce due to external factors like FTX, Google’s algorithm changes, and journalists moving between outlets for various reasons. I hope that people familiar with the work done by crypto journalists, including those I know, understand that we are regular trade publications striving to educate without being excessively positive all the time.

What is the best part of your day?

Since joining Blockworks, the best part of my day has been encountering unique and unconventional opinions. It brings me joy to discover takes that I’ve never heard before. For instance, during Consensus, I met someone who passionately expressed their views on how using AI to create personal profile pictures is akin to piracy. This inspired them to embark on a “Renaissance” by using old-fashioned analog cameras that require a wet plate development process, complete with wearing a shroud while capturing the image. Such perspectives are truly fascinating and inspire me to explore uncharted territory.

What part of crypto are you personally watching the most this year?

For me, it’s all about the people. I’m closely observing the actions of notable builders in the industry. After the significant failure of certain individuals, like SBF, I’m particularly interested in those who are making substantial progress and striving to avoid similar pitfalls. I’m curious to see what unfolds and if someone will present something truly remarkable

Molly Jane Zuckerman’s insightful coverage for Blockworks can be found here.

Stay connected with Molly Jane Zuckerman by following her on Twitter for the latest updates and engaging discussions.

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