I was born under Soviet rule in modern-day Ukraine. We moved to America when I was 11. Even at that age, I was very aware of the differences between the place I grew up–where access to assets and information was controlled with an iron fist–and my new home–where opportunity was unbound.
I wanted to become an engineer and build big, ambitious projects. So, I studied computer science and spent over a decade building global networks at Qualcomm. A few years ago, I took the plunge as an entrepreneur myself and helped launch a project called Solana, a blockchain built for global accessibility. I want everyone in the world to have equal access to an open, interoperable global network, one that no single person or entity can shut down.
Today, a new generation of thousands of blockchain developers are diving into their own entrepreneurial journeys. Many of them are taking on ambitious projects, competing against today’s corporate giants. They’re building user-owned wireless networks, ridesharing networks, food delivery services, and social platforms to someday compete with Comcast, Google, Uber, and Facebook. Many are in the United States. Increasingly, many are not.
I meet promising entrepreneurs every day who want to build the next great technological innovation in America but don’t know how to build a blockchain company in a compliant way. For typical startups, the first step is incorporating your company for less than $500 on LegalZoom. For blockchain companies, it means pouring precious amounts of time, energy, and often tens of thousands of dollars into legal fees trying to structure their businesses to operate in a compliant manner. It’s well-documented that there’s no viable path to reasonable regulatory certainty in the space. For young entrepreneurs, the absence of clear rules is terrifying. They see public, multi-billion dollar companies struggle to navigate the legal landscape, and wonder how their tiny project will survive.
Faced with the choice of staying in America or building their dream, more founders are choosing to leave. In 2018, the U.S. was home to 42% of the world’s open-source blockchain developers, according to Electric Capital. By 2022, that figure dropped to 29%.
As with any new technology, there have been scams in the digital asset space, and we should do everything possible to eliminate them. But a well-functioning economy shouldn’t punish an entire industry for the actions of its worst…