The State of Women in Crypto and Blockchain: Arianna Simpson
Arianna Simpson has spent her career in tech; as a product manager, investor, and in marketing and sales. So the San Francisco Bay Area-based cryptocurrency enthusiast knows what it's like to work in both technology and finance. In our ongoing series getting to know women in cryptocurrency and blockchain Simpson discusses her career, what first got her into Bitcoin, and what she anticipates as she looks ahead to what blockchain technology and crypto might offer in the years to come.
How did you first become involved with cryptocurrency and blockchain technology?
I first became interested in Bitcoin in 2013, following a trip to southern Africa. I spent time in a few countries including Zimbabwe, which was just starting to recover from the extreme hyperinflation that had plagued it in the years prior. When I came back to the US, I was thinking a lot about how things might have unfolded differently for the citizens of Zimbabwe if they'd had access to an alternative financial system outside of their government's control. When I stumbled upon the Bitcoin white paper a few weeks later, everything clicked. I started spending a lot of time researching the technology and writing and speaking about it, and eventually joined BitGo—the first company to commercialize multi-signature wallets—in mid-2014.
What is your background, and what do you do now in the crypto world?
I studied international politics, Spanish, and history in college, but my career has been largely focused on the tech sector—first as an operator, and now as an investor. I currently run a fund I founded in 2017 called Autonomous Partners, which focuses on cryptocurrencies, digital assets, and blockchain-based companies.
Payment transactions are only one of the more obvious applications of blockchain technology. As an investor as well as someone who has focused on digital assets and privacy, what do you see as some new developments to look for in crypto and blockchain, and do they present possibilities for women to enter and thrive in the crypto world?
We are still in the phase in which it’s hard to even imagine how we’ll be using blockchain technology in a few years. Most major technologies are eventually used in ways their creators could never have imagined, and I think this will be the same. We are currently in a period of infrastructure building, which has to precede widespread consumer adoption, but women can thrive here or in any environment they choose.
Since this field lies at the intersection of two areas in which women are still often underrepresented—finance and technology—it can often still be an environment dominated by men. What are some good ways to support women in this space?
I personally make a point of recommending women when asked to suggest other speakers or experts in the field. This isn't meant to exclude men in any way—merely to give additional visibility to the many highly accomplished women who are doing great work in the industry.
What are you working on right now that you're most excited about?
I’m excited about finding great entrepreneurs who will help solve some of the biggest challenges facing the industry right now—security, scalability, and so on. This is hard work but necessary, because without those foundations the industry cannot flourish.
What else would you love women to know about this growing field? How can women best make their mark in this industry?
I would encourage women to get started before they feel ready. A big part of the process is learning as you go, and getting involved as soon as possible is the best way to go about it.