Coin Rivet: Tell us about yourself and how you came to work for Ultra. What drew you to the company?
JS: I have been at the intersection of content and technology my entire career. Whenever there is a new platform, I have found myself representing the interests of content creators to build new and sustainable business models.
Video games have become my professional focus over the past decade and my passion for the community is endless. With Ultra’s blockchain-powered gaming distribution platform, I finally encountered an approach where the entirety of the community — publishers, developers, and gamers — was the focus. Ultra is leveraging this new technology to curate an ecosystem where everyone can benefit from participation and be rewarded for supporting eachother.
For me, being able to evangelise a platform that puts the control into the creator’s hands, which incentivises and foster its fans, is dedicated to solving the discoverability of games issue, and optimises the blockchain to protect rights and maximise financial opportunities through its transparent transaction tracking, is an exciting position to be in.
Coin Rivet: You’re one of the few women senior executives in the gaming world. Why are there so few women in senior roles and what do you feel needs to be done to attract more women into this space?
JS: I am beyond fortunate to have been surrounded by some of the most inspiring people of both genders in the games industry, and with their mentorship I am grateful for where I now sit. I prefer not to look at the current ratio of male-to-female executives as a catalyst for change, as it just becomes a numbers game.
I can’t tell you how many managers I have had who rested on the laurel of having a certain amount of women on the team. Rather I have seen great momentum to bring more women into the field through a variety of efforts both in and outside of our industry, from embracing girls earlier into STEM-based curriculum, to organisations like Girls Who Code.
Specifically for me, it always comes back to content, and the more that women are reflected in the stories in positive ways and those female designers, programmers, shaders, project managers, marketers, and more behind these games are celebrated, there is a complete picture of the path and payoff of following your passion against any odds. Throw in the growth of female eSports teams, Twitch streamers and YouTube influencers, and there is a world of opportunity and growth potential to lead in many areas of gaming.
Coin Rivet: What is your take on Katie Haun’s appointment by Andreessen Horowitz for its new a16z crypto initiative and what are the implications for the advancement of diversity in the crypto space?
JS: The coverage of her appointment went in one of two directions: Half of the media outlets announced the fact that Andreessen Horowitz launched a crypto fund which she happens to be co-running. The other half led with either the story of her being the first female general partner or that Katie, a female, was co-head of the fund. I didn’t see too many articles clarifying Chris Dixon’s gender.
This is not to take away from just how impactful her GP appointment is, and how not only she, Sarah Smith of Bain, and Sarah Guo of Greylock, are making it the rule rather than the exception that women are taking up senior roles across industries.
Katie Haun’s long overdue appointment happens to come early in the crypto space. I personally am already invigorated that she will be a leading voice in this burgeoning space. Her acumen in crypto is unparalleled and I look forward to her influence on the firm’s investment strategy and her sacrifice, so that we someday stop talking so much about gender qualifiers in this space as we still do in gaming.
Coin Rivet: Would you say that blockchain is finally living up to the hype?
JS: The blockchain ecosystem is robust and healthy, with several viable blockchain networks available to support emerging business models that seek to disrupt and compete directly against established industry participants who are stifled by centralised monopolistic models.
At its core, blockchain is meant to provide value to a business and its customers in the form of a decentralised authoritative record of transactions that are immutable and autonomous. Banks and other financial institutions are considered by most as examples of legacy centralised, transactional, and monolithic entities which are now exploring blockchain to facilitate more expeditious and economical financial transactions, especially those that cross borders.
Blockchain has not only lived up to the hype, but the hype has well since passed. It’s time to get down to the business of blockchain.