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Augur's Incredible 2015 Increases Optimism Of Our 2016

by Tony Sakich
Starting With Augur in January 2015
I joined Augur around the second week of January last year, as I'm nearing the one-year mark, I wanted to further expose my sentimental side here. A side where I discuss the incredible feeling that I had while doing this presentation to my hometown along with many other incredible things that happened in 2015.
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In 2014 I switched fields when I accepted a job at BitPay, in the beginning I loved it and loved working in this field as it's something I truly cared about. Toward the end it wasn't as rosy, although I will say it is likely my fault as I was very headstrong that certain actions were the wrong thing to do (even when they weren't my decision, as I only had control over digital marketing). Before I joined Augur I was very down on things and was unsure about how much longer I wanted to do work for Blockchain Tech companies. What is even more mind boggling is this was happening at the same time as my #BitcoinBowl social media campaign became (IMHO, by far) the most successful part of that whole thing (it cost us nothing, just some work and calling in favors from folks I took the time to build great relationships with).
Jeremy Gardner contacted me and told me about Augur. At first I was very skeptical as that should be the default position for anyone learning about a project like this in it's embryonic stage. After reading a ridiculous amount of content he gave me (of which I understood about 70%), I was fortunate to have a Skype chat with Joey Krug, that chat was what truly sold me on the project. The more I learned about it, the fact that this is directly related to Nate Silver's work as well as my newfound (but amateur) fascination with Bayesian Statistics. Joey blew me away and I was in.
Just after this all happened, the team thought it would be good to fly me out to San Francisco so I could meet everyone (including Jack Peterson who was flying in) and learn more about the project. We attended events, talked about life and of course talked about Augur. Getting to spend a week with Joey and Jack really blew me away, their focus, dedication and hard-work was something I respected and looked up to. What hit me most was how genuine and real they were, I tend to have a ton of respect for people who just don't bullshit (I get this is ironic as I am a marketer, but it's true).
Meeting Incredible Advisors
During the conference I also got to meet Robin Hanson who was kind, thoughtful and super damned smart. I wanted to make it a point to actually use him as an advisor and not just as someone who is of "status" to make our project more appealing. I had a few calls with him that basically had no discussion of technicalities, but rather an in-depth talk about the difficulties and challenges in marketing a prediction market like Augur.
Another advisor that was helpful was Ron Bernstein, founder of InTrade. Ron is a very busy person, but as of late my discussions with him have been fantastic and I can't say enough about his attitude and knowledge. InTrade was massively successful, there is a reason for that and being able to "sit under the learning tree" with someone like Ron, even if it was very shortly, is the kind of thing that opens your eyes. We want Augur to be as easy to use as InTrade, but with the features and benefits of being open source, decentralized and truly global. Having the ability to talk to someone who is an undisputed leader in this field has been incredible.
Vitalik Buterin doesn't need much of an introduction, but he is someone who has done incredible amounts to help the team. While my interactions with him have been minimal, he has been amazing as an advisor for the development team. He's also a great guy who is honest, ridiculously honest....which is why I have built so much trust in him. It's my hope that my marketing efforts with Augur will clue in other Ethereum dApps on some great strategies to market themselves. The only single issue I have with Ethereum is that I truly believe they could do a lot more with a lot less in communications and marketing, but that is clearly from an "outside" perspective and is probably not the best analysis as I don't have all the information. Either way, Ethereum is incredible and the growth of the ecosystem is just as incredible....we can definitely thank Vitalik for that!
Getting Recognized In The Space
2015 felt like a series of milestones for Augur, a series that made sense and helped to tell a perfect story about a cool idea. Some of my favorite moments were Coinbase selecting Augur as one of their most exciting projects of 2015. What really blew me away about this was the company we had, being listed in the same breath as a business with $120 million in VC investment, another which received a $21 million seed around as well as Streamium, one of my 2 or 3 favorite projects in this entire space. Hearing that from a company I respect like Coinbase completely blew me away.
Another incredible high was both for Augur as well as myself personally. Bitcoin Magazine's "Bitcoin is Growing Up" piece and infographic listed some of the leading projects in the space, along with quotes provided from what is described as "top bitcoin leaders". Augur was the project selected in the "Blockchain Tech" category and yours truly provided the quote! Being in the same category as Tyler Winklevoss of Gemini, Stephen Pair of BitPay, Adam White of Coinbase and Steven Leeds of TigerDirect is an honor that I can't even begin to fathom. I'm just thankful to be a part of a project that is so incredible and innovative.
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My First Blockchain Related Public Speaking Gigs
In April of 2015 I did a low-key speaking engagement at the Bitcoin Consumer Fair here in Atlanta. I talked about Augur as well as my experiences marketing in this industry. The event well and it was something of a "beta test" for what I hoped would be more specific and interesting speeches in the future.
No great opportunities came up until Vitalik asked me to speak at Devcon1 in London. As I mentioned in the last post, I wanted to speak badly but the cost and necessity made it something that just wasn't feasible. I do regret this and I hope that I can do a more refined talk at next year's event, as it was clearly the best Blockchain related conference by a wide, wide margin.
Since I didn't talk at devcon1, I did want to make sure that any developers/project managers were able to see my talk on Marketing dApps, so I accepted an offer to speak at my college, Oakland University. The school's chapter of the American Marketing Association wanted me to speak, but I wanted to also provide a basic technical overview of Ethereum/Augur/Smart Contracts/Decentralization so I was able to convince the planners to make it open to all students and even the general public. I even spent some time reaching out to the Computer Science department to try and drum interest there (which was somewhat successful). My talk had about 75 to 80 attendees and was the most successful monthly AMA talk in 2015, something I'm super proud of. Even more humbling was the great feedback I received from those who saw it online, the kind words mean a lot! I hope that 2016 brings more of these opportunities as I want to share some of the successes that I've had the luck to be a part of with everyone in this community! Finally, for those who haven't seen this talk, check it out here.
As it was a big day for me, I wanted to share a few pictures to show myself and the audience that was interested in Ethereum, the number blew me away:
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Podcasts! Podcasts! Podcasts!
Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a podcast addict. In the past I was a host of, a show with some incredible and diverse guests that gained quite a following in it's short lifespan. Add to this the interviews I have done about Augur and I have to say that it's been a blast talking about something I love so much with people who are doing such a good job of spreading the word.
- In June, Joey and myself were guests on the extremely popular (and influential) "Let's Talk Bitcoin" podcast. It was their 222nd episode and we chatted for 40+ minutes with Matthew Pipkin about Augur and Prediction Markets. Check out the show here
- In November, Joey and myself were guests on "The Ether Review" podcast, an Ethereum-focused show that is a part of the Let's Talk Bitcoin network. In this episode, Joey drops incredible amounts of knowledge as usual while I go into some of the difficulties and challenges in marketing a project as complicated as Augur. Check it out here
- Last week, my interview on "The Bitcoin Podcast" was the very first one that I did solo and it had a different tone, style and much different content from the others. I loved doing this show, I loved the hosts and the format they created for this incredible show. I was so impressed that afterwards I went out of my way to reach out to a few high profile friends of mine that they were trying to get on as guests, they agreed and I was very stoked to help them out! 
The host's introduction to my interview was incredible and very flattering:
"in a field full of unsolicited emails trying to sell you something with buzzwords and a lot of bullshit, I think he tries to do everything he can to be the opposite"
- Marcello Milteer, Host of
The interview itself focuses on my background in music and how I took what I learned in that experience to get into and be successful in the Blockchain Tech space. This was incredibly fun and was my favorite interview to date. Get it here and check out their fantastic show at (I recommend Augur supporter and awesome guy, Erik Voorhees who has a great interview here).
Interviews! Interviews! Interviews!
Interviews I participated in didn't stop with podcasts, they continued with Bitcoin/Blockchain media, mainstream media, tech media and financial media. Rather than bore readers, I will just say they range from:
- This piece promoting my OU talk from
- International Business Times talking about the REP Sale
- The universally respected zone of no spin of Fox News!
- Cointelegraph and I talked about Augur's fantastic performance at CNBC & Singularity U's Exponential Finance, being named a "breakthrough technology". 
We made an infographic highlighting our media coverage and I feel it would be best to just share that here.
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These were a few reasons why I loved 2015, why does this make me optimistic for 2016? I have no good answer, just a feeling and continued organic growth. Things keep going smoothly and there have been some amazing opportunities.
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Section 2: Current Happenings
Some Sweet Projects
I've spent the past month or two relaxing and taking on various gigs that have exposed me to different people while also helping to explain Blockchain Tech to brand new audiences that are incredibly influential. In my downtime I have found a couple fantastic projects that I dig quite a bit, so I wanted to share them here.
IPFS - This one is pretty well known in this space, but check it out as I keep getting blown away when I learn more about it. Additionally, some of the smartest people I know are extremely bullish on this project.
DATT - Ryan X Charles, formerly of Reddit is really building a fantastic community to build his "decentralized reddit" platform. This is a project I talk about a lot, I do this for two reasons. First is that Ryan is a friend of mine that has proven to be honest, trustworthy and incredibly talented. Second is the idea is awesome and solves multiple problems in a unique way that promotes freedom of speech. Here is the IPFS presentation from the 2015 Ethereum Devcon1 Conference in London.
MegaNet - This project will no doubt be controversial, but after a friend expressed his belief in it, I looked deeper and became interested. It's Kim Dotcom's Blockchain project and you can learn more here. He describes it as a: "decentralized, non-IP based network in which the blockchain used by Bitcoin will play an "important role"
Project Maelstrom - Project Maelstrom is a browser being developed by BitTorrent that retrieves web content from peer-to-peer-distributed torrents instead of traditional servers. BitTorrent has a monster of brand identity and this project could be something really special.
All four of these things are the type of projects I get insanely excited about, in the same way Augur and Ethereum excite me. 
Imogen Heap's Upcoming Blockchain Interview!
Everyone who knows me, knows my insane obsession with vinyl, music and everything to do with both. It's why I talked to guys like Steve Albini and Shooter Jennings about Decentralization
Earlier I mentioned my appearance on, in that episode the hosts announce that an upcoming guest will be incredibly popular artist and Blockchain supporter, Imogen Heap! The show will be on January 17th and there many reasons why it is a "can't miss", the biggest being the massive amount she has done to bring visibility to Ethereum and Blockchain Tech.
Imogen has been on a press tour where she discusses Blockchain Technology and Ethereum, specifically their roles in the future of music distribution. She has talked about Ethereum & Blockchain Tech on platforms like Billboard, The GuardianForbes, International Business TimesTechcrunchFortune, Hypebot and even Popular Science! In other words, she's spread the word and done a damn great job at it.
I have tried to get in contact with her but considering she is a Grammy Award winning artist with millions of fans, that has been no easy task (although she does follow me on Twitter). There are other people in this space who have similar ideas and I sincerely hope they can get connected, something I've tried to do in my spare time but have had minimal success.
Regardless of my attempts, I was thrilled when I heard Imogen Heap will be appearing on The Bitcoin Podcast on January 17th! Keep an eye on and follow Imogen Heap on Twitter @imogenheap.
Remember, Tidal with their "Legion of Doom" style meeting of super-famous popstars has been a major flop. Most of what the music industry attempts is duplicating something that is successful, rather than creating something brand new and making it better, more convenient and with a better user experience. Mycelia is something very unique, while it's future is far from written, it's something I think everyone in this space should pay attention to for a multitude of reasons.
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To end this post, here is a great example of Imogen's dedication and interest in Ethereum, it's a photo of her talk at Ethereum's Devcon1 conference. She clearly cares and understands the audience ,which is why those of us in this space should do everything we can to support her, listening to her interview on on January 17th is a great way to start :-)
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