Spotlight: Brady Forrest, MobileCoin Head of Business Development

10/14/2021

Brady Forrest (He/Him)

Hey Brady! Thank you for taking the time to be a spotlight feature. To start us off, can you tell me what your relationship is to MobileCoin?
I am the Head of Business Development here at MobileCoin. I do partnerships, sales, and work with the MobileCoin Foundation.

Awesome! How did you first find your way into the world of cryptocurrency?
I first heard about Blockchain and Bitcoin from a Foo Camp session in 2010 or 2011 from Andy Baio (@waxpancake). He talked a lot about decentralized finance and the power of the blockchain. My interest from there focused mainly on the blockchain and how that technology would be used. Honestly, I kind of ignored the money side to my bank account’s detriment. 

That’s interesting because most people I talk to about blockchain technology focus on cryptocurrency and its potential as a store of value. It sounds like you’re saying that that was more of a secondary interest to you. What was exciting for you about Blockchain technology back then, and how have you seen that change over the years?
So at the time, I was working at O’Reilly Media, and my job was to find new technologies and the people creating them. I was immediately more interested in what a technology could do than how much money a technology could make. For example, there’s a lot of data that is stored in disparate databases. You don’t know the provenance of that data. With a shared blockchain, you have a shared historical record that allows for trustless interactions. This has clear use in finance, but I think soon we’ll see more being done in shipping, medical record keeping, and even marketing.

Absolutely, I love that the blockchain has so many opportunities besides just DeFi. So, you started Ignite. Can you tell me what that is?
Sure! Ignite is a global talk series that I started in Seattle where people get five minutes on stage, 20 slides, and 15 seconds to a slide. The goal of Ignite is to give people a chance to try their hand at public speaking and share their ideas. The first event was with Bre Pettis, who founded MakerBot, and then we brought it to San Francisco. From there, people just went home and started doing their own Ignite events. It quickly spread to over 200 cities around the world. There’s a great Geekwire article about it.

Wow, that’s amazing. What do you think made Ignite so successful?
I think it’s the constraints. Five minutes isn’t a lot of time, so you have to get creative about the format and succinctly convey your ideas. This has led to some really amazing talks, and many Ignite presenters have gone on to speak at TED. 

Photo by Kris Krüg

Wow, what a gift! I love that you’ve got your hands in so many wonderful creative endeavors. I know that you were involved with MobileCoin at a pretty early stage. I was wondering if you might want to tell us how you found out about the project?
Yeah! So my Burning Man community has always been an important part of my life. It’s what precipitated the first Ignite event, it’s how I met Josh, and ultimately it’s how many of the amazing people who created MobileCoin found each other. Josh approached me pretty early on, so I joined as an investor and advisor, and around the two-year mark, accepted the BD role. 

Love it. What’s your favorite thing about working at Mobile Coin?
For me, it’s got to be the relationships. Every day I get to create win-win-wins for MobileCoin, our partners, and our users. It’s a joy to work with so many amazing people. I also love our product. Providing the world with a financial solution that people can transact with without building a data profile on themselves feels really important to me. I strongly believe that people should have a choice when it comes to what sort of information they share with financial institutions and whether or not that information gets sold to advertisers.

Yeah, we talk about this a bunch in the MobileCoin podcast, Privacy is the New Celebrity. Great work on the most recent episode, by the way. I loved your interview with Jillian York.
Thanks! Jillian is the Director For International Freedom Of Expression for our partner, the EFF. Her work is inspiring and I was glad to spotlight it.

What are your favorite things to do outside of work?
Outside of Ignite? Well, I’m on the board for a fantastic non-profit that buys buildings for arts organizations called CAST or Community Art Stabilization Trust. I’m also really excited to have just joined the board for Ideas Beyond Borders. I really enjoy organizing, so I’ll mention that I love planning for my Burning Man camp. I also love to cook and rock climb with my friends at Mission Cliffs.

Me too! I love rock climbing. Okay, one last question. Here at MobileCoin, we’re designing the future, and I like to ask a particular forward-thinking question. What kind of trans-human or cybernetic enhancement are you going to get first?
Well, I definitely can’t picture myself ever putting a neural link in my head… What would I do first? I mean, I think I would want an enhancement that allowed me to dial up my concentration, like, kind of control my mindset and emotions based on what I was trying to do. Do I want to focus? Do I want to relax? Do I want to go to sleep? Dial it in! I think that would be pretty powerful. 

Totally. As long as it’s not connected to the Internet, right?
Exactly. I would not trust an Internet connection, either. Hard to consider a company I’d trust with that level of security.

Yeah, that would be some hardcore cryptography necessary to do that. Well, thank you so much! It was an honor to chat with you.
Thank you!

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