It’s not often that I’m left speechless by an interviewee’s answer. But when Crystal Rose Pierce, the prominent technologist, entrepreneur and investor, told me she had began coding at the age of 11, I have to admit I was temporarily stunned into silence. Eleven!
Then she adds that she started her first business “as a teenager at the age of 16 on websites that evolved through digital products”.
A one-woman powerhouse she is also the CEO and co-founder of Sensay, a communications company building SENSE private messaging and decentralised applications on the blockchain, having raised $21m in capital with institutional VCs and completing the successful ICO for the SENSE digital token.
With the AI-based SENSE, it allows users to “take back privacy over their data” following concerns that arose from other companies using their customers’ data.
She co-founded shEOS, a female-run block producer on the EOS network and the shEOS Foundation, which provides computer science scholarships to young women.
She says she’s “passionate about uplifting humans through innovation and empowering entrepreneurs.” As a top ICO influencer named by LimeICO, she’s on the board of ICO Governance Foundation and founded Restart Week, to carry out her philanthropic work.
A very early adopter she became first involved in Bitcoin early in 2011 when developers were first mining it and she says: “I found my financial instrument.”
Recently, she told an audience at their CryptoMondays meetup: “If we wrap up this year and Bitcoin hasn’t changed or is marginally changing, that means we’ve gone one entire year at the same price. That’s a really huge nod to stability. I think the market is stable and that’s a positive.”
To encourage women into blockchain, she says younger people are “more open to it at a younger age”.
As a coder, she soon “learned to fail,” she says, “As in coding you fail far more often than you succeed. You soon learn about resilience and failure which is a big quality for anyone in business as if you can withstand it in crypto you can withstand great success.”
As part of her work, she has set aside funds to correct the gender imbalance in the classroom with the aim to increase the low numbers of women involved in engineering classes with an ambition for it to be more like 50/50.
“The philanthropic part of me really respects the blockchain philosophy of open source and decentralisation,” she says. “And as for what the anarchists term as going against the government and institutions, the goal is more about having equal access and more fairly distributed.
“It is a bigger goal about creating equality in humans and the transparency, access to truth, that you can’t hide anything with the authenticity which takes away the perverse power and profit.”
On being described as an influencer, she says: “It’s one of those words that you might never call yourself – it is about being a thought leader and I am really flattered to be described this way.
“It is a recognition of the work I am doing in the space to inspire and encourage more women and professional and entrepreneurs to venture into the new technology. I am really happy to hear it.”
She believes blockchain is “the new internet and it will continue to be part of the fundamental layers of protocol and will continue to be used and be synonymous with databases and this is a better ledger system and is a check and balance.”
She cites the Nasdaq adopting the technology with Bitcoin Futures and the big players such as American Express getting involved for evidence of the growing adoption and significance of blockchain.
In 2019, she says it will be interesting to “watch the speculative market change” and she describes it as “a good time for building real products and investing in them.”
“We are still intrinsically linking cryptocurrency and blockchain,” she adds. “Blockchain can be used to improve identification and it can be used in the law and notary in areas which require evidence – such as the title deeds to a house.”
It’s also being used as a fairer way to pay actors and musicians who only received a small percentage in fees, but with blockchain this could be avoided as they cut out the intermediaries and get a fairer share.
“I am super optimistic about its use in the broader consumer market,” she adds. She admits “a lot of different things” have happened on the journey to where she is now. “In the early days, I have lost and lots of different things happened with the technology.”
She is an advocate of the global network of collaboration that is being created “breaking down the barriers of geography in the global economy through blockchain which can create tighter bonds globally.”