Today’s interview is special for our team and, we believe, for all the community: we talked with the man behind privacy-centered Verge Currency, known as Justin Vendetta in the interwebs. He told us how the project started, how it felt to see it take off the ground and what future he thinks is possible for Verge and crypto in general. Without further ado, enjoy the talk!
ChangeHero: From DogecoinDark to Verge. What caused this rebranding? Could you tell us the reason behind choosing these two names?
Justin: Well, I was mining dogecoin at the time, and was always around the message boards and chats. I loved the concept of it. When I launched the blockchain, I thought a very high supply was a good idea, long term. People (including myself) love having a bunch of coins, even if they are a low value. It was fun to tip people and such. After I released a ton of software for DOGED, community members suggested it would be a good idea to rebrand to something more serious, since everyone was starting to take the coin more seriously. We came up with a list of 5 names i think, and set up a week long poll. Verge was the winner!
ChangeHero: What triggered you to begin working on Verge?
Justin: I was operating a mining pool, and so many altcoin projects with premines kept launching, making big promises but never coming through. I was literally adding 2-3 new coins a day, just to have to take them down a week later when the team disappeared. By this time I had become very familiar with Bitcoin and Bitcoin-based blockchains, and decided I should start my own, for fun, and actually try to see what I could accomplish. I never expected it to become this big, but I am very proud of it, and that so many people appreciate my community based, non-ICO/no premine approach.
ChangeHero: Verge is all about privacy. What made you decide that it should be around this?
Justin: I think harvesting peoples data is a breach of their basic rights. The Internet was created to exchange information quickly, across wide areas. Companies that data mine are not the ones paying for operating the Internet infrastructure. Why should they be allowed to take people’s information and sell it? It just doesn’t sit well with me.
ChangeHero: What was your favourite privacy-oriented cryptocurrency before the existence of Verge?
Justin: Xcoin, which soon became Darkcoin was probably the only coin taking privacy seriously at the time. Bytecoin was another, but it was Cryptonight based, and had a difficult entry level for inexperienced crypto users because of the lack of a GUI. Monero had launched at that time as well, but it was just a copy of Bytecoin.
Community and Team
ChangeHero: What were your initial thoughts while working on the Verge? How did the community react to your proposal at the beginning?
Justin: Well, since I knew nothing about marketing, I just got friends involved that I had met in various crypto chat rooms. They liked the idea, and some of my initial pieces of software for Verge were from their suggestions. I really thought it would just be something I did as a hobby between jobs for other coins.
ChangeHero: Verge has one of the biggest communities in crypto. Did you expect such a humongous response? Could you share with us a situation where you felt that you have the support from people?
Justin: On New Years Eve, 2017, I was rushing to release an update. Someone contacted me shortly after midnight. They mentioned they had been watching my github repository, and realized I was at the computer for midnight, working. They had sent me 1BTC as a tip and sign of appreciation. At that time, BTC was valued at something like 16,000.00USD. I actually cried when I saw that, and I still get emotional thinking about it. They even refused to tell me who they were, and deleted their account shortly after. Ok, now I’m getting emotional. There are some really wonderful people in crypto.
ChangeHero: Verge is completely open-source and supported by volunteers. What makes the volunteers stick with the project and contribute?
Justin: Exactly that! Open source developers love to contribute to open source software because they don’t feel exploited, there is no boss telling them to hurry up and work, and they get to see a very large community be pleased with their work! Anytime Verge is mentioned anywhere, I hope everyone who has contributed feels proud to know they are a piece of it.
Business, Partnerships and Adoption
ChangeHero: There are other privacy-oriented cryptocurrencies like Monero and Zcash. What sets Verge Currency apart from the rest?
Justin: We have no founder’s rewards, and no premine. Also we did not fork from a privacy-based coin to begin with. We focus more on protecting the users IP address for privacy, than we do on hiding transactions.
ChangeHero: Do you think XVG is undervalued?
Justin: That’s a difficult question. I’ve seen what marketing alone can do to a coin that has no features at all, and I’ve seen excellent projects fall to the bottom. For instance, I think Peercoin is a very undervalued project. It is the original Proof-of-Stake coin, yet it’s ranked something like #500. However, the code is up to date, it’s still maintained, and it’s listed on many exchanges. In my opinion, if substance really matters, it should be much higher valued than 75% of the projects between it and #1.
ChangeHero: We believe that Verge Currency is one of the few cryptocurrencies driving adoption. Partnership with PornHub can be considered as a milestone. How did this collaboration begin?
Justin: They actually approached us. They loved our sense of community. Pornhub is very community-oriented as well, and they understand that large communities are necessary to make big strides. Also I believe our lack of an ICO or pre-mine, makes us very attractive from a legal perspective.
ChangeHero: Could you give us some stats on PornHub transactions?
Justin: It used to be relatively easy to tell from the invoice on the PornHub site, but since the payment processing software had updates, it’s a bit different now. The last time it was displayed on the invoice, it was in the tens of thousands. We’ve also given tech support via Twitter to many of the PornHub Models who prefer to be paid in Verge.
ChangeHero: Any other exciting partnerships ahead?
Justin: Yes, but you’d have to sign an NDA ;p
ChangeHero: What do you think is stopping the people from using crypto?
Justin: Probably the talking heads on television, who fear crypto wrecking the inflationary fiat markets. People like Peter Schiff can’t stop talking about how bad bitcoin is, yet it continues to go up and prove him wrong.
ChangeHero: Bitcoin or Ethereum?
Justin: TRICK QUESTION! BOTH! I have a lot of respect for vitalik and the incredible platform he has created. He literally re-invented the blockchain. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it is better, but it is unique and has grown massively! I find it interesting to see it suffer from the same issues Bitcoin did as it grew, like network congestion, high transaction fees, and exploits/vulnerabilities. Things like that occur naturally with growth. I hope Vitalik is very proud of what he’s done.
ChangeHero: Trade or Code?
Justin: For me, code. I SUCK at trading lol
ChangeHero: TOR or I2P?
Justin: Tough one. TOR because of the size of the network. I2p has a great future though, and is very different from the TOR tech.
In to the Future
ChangeHero: Did you face any challenges? What was the most important lesson that you’ve learnt after coming into crypto?
Justin: I’d be lying if I said no. I think any project would. The most important lesson is probably that all software eventually has an exploit. Always stay on guard, and always do research.
ChangeHero: Do you think Verge or any other crypto can replace fiat?
Justin: That depends on government regulations, I think. As long as countries get the right leaders that understand it, I think it will replace fiat. Paper fiat is already being replaced by digital fiat. Once more people learn about inflation, vs crypto which deflates, it’s a no brainer, and people get hooked. I know I did.
ChangeHero: Would you just live off crypto?
Justin: Absolutely. I commend people like Didi Taihuttu (@diditaihuttu), who gave up most of his possessions and fiat years ago, to travel around with his family and live off of crypto. He’s a very energetic and fun guy, and definitely “practices what he preaches” so to speak.
ChangeHero: How do you see the future of Verge and crypto industry?
Justin: Slow growth, explosive growth, slow growth, explosive growth, repeat, until everyone is in!
And that concludes the interview! Thanks to Justin for taking the time for this conversation. Hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!