Kathleen Breitman: Why Crypto is Shifting to Hacker Culture

By Marco De Novellis // 7 February 2023

Kathleen Breitman is the Founder of Tezos.
Kathleen Breitman is the Founder of the open-source blockchain, Tezos.

Tezos Founder, Kathleen Breitman, says FTX’s collapse is sparking huge change in the crypto market. For more tech trends to watch this year, download our free CEO Forecast 2023.

When Kathleen Breitman started the open-source blockchain, Tezos, her budget was $600k. Now, the network’s patron, Tezos Foundation, has $1b. 

Kathleen’s still got an early founder mindset; ditch the losers, double down on the winners, and if something’s not working, get rid of it and find something that does. Today’s crypto market, she says, is returning to that hacker culture. 

Since the cryptocurrency exchange, FTX, went bust, billions of dollars have evaporated from the crypto ecosystem – the crypto market as a whole fell below a $1t valuation following the collapse.

“What’s bad is that’s killed a lot of momentum,” Kathleen explains. “FTX attracted well-funded projects to it, but when it turned out to be a house of cards, they had their treasuries exposed and that made VCs look bad.

“What’s good is now we have to actually build something useful to get venture funding. We’re going to get more hacker culture and sustainable business models that aren’t predicated on trying to get that 10x return on venture dollars.”

Crazy NFT Speculation is Over

Forget the crypto winter, Kathleen says. For now, it’s a K-T extinction. In the NFT space, the days of crazy speculation are over. Justin Bieber paid $1.3m for a Bored Ape NFT in January 2022. By the end of the year, it was worth $70k. Meanwhile, trading volume on the NFT marketplace, OpenSea, fell by 94% in 2022. 

Kathleen says companies that made a lot of cash in the 2021 cycle will have to pivot and make good on value for VCs. “They’re not going to be able to make small tweaks; they’ll need to rethink everything from the ground-up, and that will create new opportunities.

“We’re now converging on what actually offers value and organic communities are emerging on different platforms,” she continues.

“For the first time, artists can issue tokens that represent ownership of the art they create, force scarcity by using blockchain, and create the asset on the chain. After art, gaming is the next big industry that’s going to be disrupted.”

Unlocking Web3’s Potential 

Today’s web3 projects are good prototyping for more impactful applications. But to unlock the use cases that people fantasise about – gaming, social media, and building a new Twitter – Kathleen says the blockchain tech that underpins web3 needs to scale. 

“Bitcoin processes seven transactions per second; we need to get to one million.”

Tezos, she says, is one year away from achieving it.

Download our CEO Forecast 2023 for more insider insights from the world’s top founders.