What does an emerging tech like crypto have to do with a former Green Beret? Alex Pruden, a former U.S. Army Infantry and Special Operations officer turned a16z crypto deal partner, was stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, and Turkey, where he saw first-hand that the basic building blocks of modern life — such as identity documents and bank accounts — could vanish overnight.
When he finished his service, he found himself digging into the bitcoin white paper and was captivated by some of the implications blockchain could have in the Middle East and beyond. In blockchain and crypto technologies, he saw a new way to tackle the lack of trusted institutions that underlie many aspects of global conflict. In this talk, Alex shares the story of his unlikely journey from the Middle East to Silicon Valley.
Why Alex joined the US Army [1:20]
Alex’s time in Afghanistan developing the local economy as part of a counterinsurgency [2:20]
Alex’s time in Iraq and what he learned about aid relief and why ISIS was able to take over [5:19]
Alex’s time in Southern Turkey training Syrian rebels [7:47]
The story of one Syrian refugee and what it reveals about the Syrian Refugee Crisis [8:45 ]
Unpacking the lack of trusted institutions as a root cause of global conflict [11:33]
Discovering the bitcoin whitepaper and why it matters [12:41]
The 3 features of blockchain that could help us address global conflicts [13:11]
Russia, Venezuela, and other global hotspots where blockchain could help [15:00]
Alex’s career pivot into blockchain & crypto technologies [16:01]
“I spent 10 years of my life in the U.S. Military. And some of my colleagues from that time sometimes ask me, “Alex, how did you go from fighting in the global war on terror to investing in blockchain and cryptocurrencies? How did you go from Baghdad to Bitcoin?”
“I learned over the course of my three deployments to the Middle East that this [blockchain] is a technological innovation that can help address some of the underlying economic issues that often lead to war and conflict.”