Wow. Wyoming just did something very big.
Its legislature just gave the blockchain industry a welcoming home in Wyoming. I am overjoyed!
A US version of Switzerland’s “Crypto Valley” will hopefully soon spring up in Wyoming, if early indications of interest pan out. Dozens of small software companies have already formed Wyoming entities and some of these have already leased office space – 20,000 square feet and counting – even though four of our five bills haven’t even become law yet, awaiting Governor Mead’s signature.
Kudos to so many people who made it happen (a list is below), but most especially to Rep. Tyler Lindholm (pictured) for sponsoring the effort in the legislature and to the co-founders of the Wyoming Blockchain Coalition, Rob Jennings and David Pope. If our effort has seemed ragtag and disjointed at times, it was. David, Rob and I are volunteers.
I haven’t worked this hard or done something so meaningful in years.
OK, I confess to not being alone in shedding tears of joy as we watched votes conclude along the way from the viewers’ gallery!
Our group, the Wyoming Blockchain Coalition, did not ask the State for anything. But we have delivered serious interest from serious software companies looking to move to Wyoming.
For me, this effort is very personal. Wyoming has always been home and I’ve stayed close despite living away.
And it’s also special because, 29 years ago, I was lucky to be an intern in the Wyoming Senate. What fun it was to be back! And it was a pleasure to finally meet Senator Charlie Scott, who was also in the Senate back when I was an intern in 1989 as a UW student. At the time, I was applying to Harvard for graduate school and knew that he held two Harvard degrees—but was too shy to speak to him. I confess to envy him because he was able to come back to Wyoming to ranch after graduating from Harvard. I wasn’t so lucky, because my Harvard loans amounted to more than my parents’ house in Laramie was worth, so I stayed in the big city to pay them off—but remained an active volunteer on UW boards for more than 20 years.
Speaking of Mom and Dad, do I ever wish they were alive to see this! Dad was an electrical engineering professor at UW for 40 years, and his worthy successors and their UW colleagues have been tremendous supporters of our blockchain effort. They are already teaching a blockchain class this semester. Last week we put UW blockchain students together with blockchain entrepreneurs who visited Laramie, and one job offer already materialized…many more will clearly come! UW has a huge opportunity to become a blockchain academic hub, and the industry will help it achieve this stature. A couple of big things are cooking up in this regard…stay tuned. Mom and Dad would have really loved all of this!
Hopefully the entrepreneurs who move here will grow to love Wyoming as much as I do.
Wyoming is a very exclusive club.
Will these new businesses bring in problems? Will there be culture clash? Yes, of course.
Will many of the start-ups fail? Will fraudsters come here? Yes, of course.
These are the types of problems we should expect. Silicon Valley faced the same problems during the dot com boom of the late 1990s, but things turned out pretty well for Silicon Valley. A lot more upside than downside. Yes, I expect Wyoming’s regulators to be busy prosecuting bad actors. Our State regulators will work with the Feds in Washington and with “white hat” industry participants who will assist them. We blockchainers will help. We want things to go well for Wyoming.
How will blockchain benefit Wyoming citizens? In short, it’s about revenues to the State’s coffers, more jobs, the elevation of UW’s prestige, more Wyoming kids finding jobs in-state, more revenues to Wyoming’s service providers (attorneys, accountants, etc.) and even the revitalization of downtowns that have struggled since “big box” stores moved in. Software developers love working in old buildings with big, open spaces and lots of sunlight—and Wyoming’s historic downtowns have a lot of those to offer. Entrepreneurs already snapped up one of them.
Every single new company that forms in Wyoming contributes money into the State’s general fund, reducing the tax burden on Wyomingites. We haven’t promised how many new companies will form here, or how many new jobs they will bring, because we honestly don’t know. It could be only a few, or it could be a lot. But we do know that the fiscal impact of our five blockchain bills is ZERO. No cost to taxpayers.
And perhaps Wyoming citizens will someday use a token made possible by our laws, such as a StarbucksCoin, without even realizing our State enabled it.
I’m also thrilled that a self-regulatory organization for the blockchain industry, the Digital Asset Trade Association (DATA), formed in Wyoming last Friday. It aims to be the FINRA of the token industry (FINRA self-regulates the securities industry). That’s a great demonstration of the industry’s desire to police itself. May it succeed.
And, let’s not forget that Wyoming actually made lemonade out of lemons. Wyoming had been one of the three worst states for blockchain, due to a problem with Wyoming’s money transmission law that caused wallet providers (such as Coinbase and Circle) to pull out of the State in 2015.
I ran smack dab into that problem last summer, when trying to donate appreciated bitcoin to endow a scholarship for female engineers at UW. The UW Foundation couldn’t accept the bitcoin because of that problematic law, which meant UW couldn’t liquidate the bitcoin. That problem was actually the spark for our movement.
We set out to fix that problem, then decided to aim higher…then achieved so much more!
Wyoming catapulted from the back of the pack to become the clear leader in blockchain.
I’m elated for Wyoming!
Many people deserve credit for passing the blockchain bills, including but not limited to:
…and so many others…sincere apologies for missing you!
Bitcoin/blockchain, ex-Wyoming Blockchain Task Force, 22-year Wall Street veteran.
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