Erik Voorhees has been involved in the Bitcoin space for almost a decade. Which means that, depending on the moment when you first got interested in the topic, you might know him as the Marketing Director of BitInstant, the co-founder of Coinapult, the founder of Satoshi Dice, the creator of ShapeShift (under the Beorn Gonthier pseudonym), one of the proponents of SegWit2X, or an investor in Bitcoin projects such as Start9 Labs.
If you have a good memory, you might also remember him for his involvement in FeedZeBirds, Paysius, and KryptoKit. But this interview only focuses on two of Erik Voorhees’ roles: the CEO of the company which owns and manufactures the KeepKey hardware wallets, and a long-time bitcoiner who has seen most of the developments that happened in the space and knows a little something about sovereignty and self-custody. And while we do drop a few fleeting mentions of Start9 Labs’ ambitions and the fact that ShapeShift has eliminated mandatory KYC, the discussion mostly revolves around securing your own bitcoins in an environment which may seem a little bit confusing to newcomers.
Throughout this hour-long interview, I got to learn more about the KeepKey hardware wallet and have also acquired a fresh perspective on how early bitcoiners secured their scarce bits of digital gold. And when I found myself in doubt in regards to the financialization of Bitcoin and how “traditional” fiat institutions may compromise the price and the value proposition, Erik Voorhees provided a dose of optimism which suggested that the phase through which we’re going is a sign that we’re on the road to victory.
This interview is somewhat of a sequel to S4 E1, in which I interviewed ShapeShift’s Jon (who at the time was the COO and now became a Chief Product Officer) about the KeepKey. And if you would like to know more about the most inexpensive premium hardware wallet on the market and its use cases, you definitely need to listen to this chat with Erik Voorhees. Even if you don’t care much about hardware wallets, there’s still a lot to learn about the open source philosophy and the importance of self-custody.
Listen to Erik Voorhees on Apple Podcasts and Spotify!
For the privacy-focused users, I also have a direct link to my RSS feed. This way, you won’t need to sign up to any third party service and you can listen directly from your browser without sharing your data with any kind of corporation. I strongly recommend that you use the Tor browser, so not even my hosting service can determine your identity.
And if you’re into downloading the episode to add it to another device (like an mp3 player with flash memory or a phone which allows you to add your own audio files), then you have a dedicated button for this exact feature. Your privacy is a lot more important to me than my stats on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.
But if you do use Spotify and/or Apple Podcasts, I’d love to read your review of the show!
This episode is sponsored by Vaultoro and Wasabi Wallet
If you would like to support the show and you’re into trading hard money like bitcoin, gold, and silver, then sign up to Vaultoro using my referral link. Vaultoro will help you forget about shitcoins and focus on sound money. They also allow you to pick up your gold bars or have them shipped to your address, so you don’t have to trust any custodian with your money. Keep in mind that you are responsible for your own decisions and I am not providing you financial advice.
And if you would like to increase your network and transaction privacy, you should download Wasabi Wallet on your computer. It routes your connection through the Tor network to hide your IP, it downloads block filters so you validate your own transactions locally without appealing to a trusted third party, and it also connects to your own full node to boost your financial sovereignty. Wasabi is best known for its link-breaking CoinJoins, which are giving a hard time even to the EuroPol. Use the wallet to increase your financial sovereignty, but don’t do any illegal stuff – use your financial sovereignty with responsibility (also read the Wasabi terms of service).
Time Stamps of my Interview with Erik Voorhees:
00:00 – 03:05 – Introduction
03:06 – When did Erik Voorhees use the first hardware wallet?
06:49 – KeepKey’s design
07:38 – What were the most popular wallets that OGs were using in the early 2010s?
10:28 – Start9 Labs
13:53 – Mt. Gox, exchange hacks, and the importance of self-custody
17:05 – Do exchanges really insure your bitcoins?
23:18 – Michael Saylor, Elon Musk, Stock to Flow (S2F) & Lending Services Like BlockFi & Celsius
28:07 – The financialization of Bitcoin (ETFs, derivatives)
32:29 – Why verification matters
35:20 – Mt. Gox YubiKeys influenced the creation of hardware wallets?
36:07 – Using your hardware wallet for U2F/2FA
36:30 – Resetting a KeepKey
37:30 – Dealing with fake KeepKey apps
41:55 – Why Shapeshift acquired the KeepKey
43:07 – What does Erik Voorhees think about the Trezor One and the Trezor Model T?
45:06 – What hardware wallets should do
46:20 – Ledger and why open source matters
47:20 – Is open source socialist?
49:30 – Ballet Real vs Pro
50:40 – Mike Caldwell’s extra security steps with the Casascius coins
52:38 – Multisig setups
54:30 – Shamir Secret Sharing
56:40 – Why open source helps software outlive the company that created it
57:30 – What kind of Bitcoin custody advice would Erik Voorhees give his younger self?
1:00:25 – Why should anyone buy a KeepKey hardware wallet instead of something else?