Meet The Disruptors: Eitan Katz Of Diversifi On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry
As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Eitan Katz.
Eitan Katz, co-founder and CEO of Diversifi, has over 30 years of experience in various roles in the software Industry.
Prior to his current role as CEO, he served as the global incubator for HP, a consultant for several startups and multinational companies, and a product and development executive.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
The first time I heard about bitcoin was around 2012, but I only started reading and learning about it in 2013. Even though I was still working at HP (where I created the corporate global incubator), I decided to jump into the rabbit hole and experiment with it. Back then, the easiest way to participate was to buy or sell bitcoin. Evidently, it wasn’t that easy: the wallets were convoluted phone apps with very poor security and safety measures. Together with two friends, we decided to make the most user-friendly and secure wallet. Our UI is amazingly clean, and we designed a unique feature: backing up keys on an external device. Back then, we didn’t realize that we had invented (what later became known as) the cold wallet. We took an entirely open source approach without having any commercial intentions. The app was published on Google Play and received a decent amount of downloads.
As time went on, I changed my focus and became a full-time crypto entrepreneur.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
Crypto is seeing a flood of institutional investments. ETFs have been approved in the US, corporations are including crypto on their balance sheets, hedge funds are using crypto as a hedge to upcoming macroeconomic trends (such as inflation), and legendary asset managers keep stating how crypto is an asset class that should be included in every portfolio.
But, when we examine the tools available for these entities, we see that they are very straightforward and simple (ETFs, spot and some vanilla options and futures). In the meantime, DeFi is exploding with innovation — inaccessible to institutions due to regulatory constraints. This means that asset managers must manage the risks associated with those volatile assets on a daily basis.
Diversifi bridges these gaps through our knowledge and experience in crypto, finance, and technology. With our help, large institutions can invest in crypto.
We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
In the early days of the internet, my employer (and mentor), a very successful serial entrepreneur, ran a tech company. Initially, it was designed for ecommerce sites. He called me at some point and asked me to repurpose his product into a fintech solution. “Why?”, I asked him. “We are in a growing niche with eager clients and great technology” — I wondered. “I want banks as customers because they keep everyone’s money”, he replied. Throughout my career, I kept that in mind, and it wasn’t until I switched full-time to fintech in 2017 that I finally understood his point.
In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?
Yes, that is correct. I consider the term “disruption” to be an abbreviation, actually. It’d be more accurate to call it “disruption for good cause”. Disruption isn’t always a good thing. Just look at the war industry. The industry is getting disrupted at an accelerated pace. There was a clear disruption with the introduction of gunpowder as well as other technological advancements (such as dynamite, tanks, and chemical/nuclear weapons). One can argue that those disruptions escalated wars and caused the deaths of many millions of people. Occasionally, disruptions are caused by nature, as was the case with Covid (and previous pandemics). We were disrupted in all aspects of our lives: the way we move, communicate, conduct business, and study.
Disruption is a feature of change. Change can be positive. It should be positive. In fact, it is our moral duty to strive for positive change.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
• Work effectively. Not hard.
There are many management books that discuss this concept. An example is the “7 habits of highly effective people”. I have learned that it is important to do the RIGHT things, and not to do things RIGHT. My biggest problem was working for corporations that in many cases preferred procedures and the “safe way” because they were more rewarding politically.
• Customers don’t know what products they need. But they know their needs.
It is not the customers’ job to design the solution. But that doesn’t mean that a solution shouldn’t perfectly resonate and fit a customer need. In many of my presentations, when I talk about that, I’m frequently being asked about Steve Jobs. What need did the iPhone solve? Had he asked his customers, no one would have told him to build an iPhone. While correct, that doesn’t mean that the iPhone wasn’t a solution for a need. People strived for a web-enabled computer in their pocket. With an intuitive user interface (aka the touch screen and not a physical keyboard).
• Think exponentially, not sequentially.
When setting your company vision, think about how the world would look with your product. It won’t be the same world so no need to apply existing products to this new world. Think about how yellow pages couldn’t succeed with a scanned version of their paper books displayed in a browser when the internet became popular. Or how creating mobile versions of web pages couldn’t succeed in a mobile first world. A mobile world requires location-based, timely instant-gratification services. That applies to every revolution that we see. Porting the existing things into a new tech — doesn’t cut it.
We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?
We see the void that exists in the ways investors are managing their crypto investors. Like many other examples in the history were new asset classes were introduced, initially trading was driven by speculators. It happened with gold, commodities, real estate — and we can see it now with crypto. Speculators — who take the risks (and rewards) — are followed by retail and professional investors. The latter are sophisticated risk takers: they’re experts in managing and mitigating the risks. We’re exactly at this stage in the evolution of crypto investment. Diversifi is positioned to provide the tools to manage those risks that stem from volatility, regulation, environmental impact and the amount of data and pace of changes in the industry.
Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?
There are too many to count here, and in fact, too many to consume considering the limited resource called time, and over time, they keep changing. Nevertheless, I owe Tim Ferris a great deal — particularly for making me think about the three main pillars of wellbeing — being healthy, wealthy, and smart. My bag of wisdom includes a few nuggets from Seth Godin — thoughts that help me better understand business, marketing, and human behavior.
In addition, I spend as much time listening to Sam Haris’ Waking Up podcast and app as possible to inject some much-needed mindfulness into the hectic day-to-day of my life. I can’t have a list without referring to WBW’s (Wait But Why) blog.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
The concept of time is subjective. As we age, our (subjective) pace tends to accelerate. The earlier one understands it, the more fulfilling life will be.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire 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.
There should be a movement to reduce media consumption significantly. Unless you’re an activist — in which case, by all means, know everything you can about your subject — relentless passive consumption is against your interests. It is a huge time sink, designed to bring polarization to society. While there’s nothing wrong with manufactured, alternative realities, the ones created by mass media (both electronic and social) are usually synthetic and dictated by commercial interests that contradict our own.
Since years I have practiced a media diet — and I have never been happier. I carefully curate my own content. Like food, it’s important to know and be cautious about what you’re letting in.
How can our readers follow you online?
Source: Authority Magazine