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Note to leadership team

Asaf Meir
Founder & CEO
May 31, 2023

Team, a few thoughts that have been running around my head for the past years - but, in a way, became crystallized in the past few months until the past few weeks leading to me writing this morning.

Do I believe in crypto - web3 - and what it means to our society?

Oftentimes as a team, we tend to think about the immediate ARR potential of a certain feature, which is necessary and commendable, pushing for revenue and aligning with the understanding that regardless of the future state of crypto, Solidus needs to get to a certain threshold to get to the next level - is important.

At the same time, have you asked yourself - do I believe in crypto?

Put Solidus aside for this thought experiment. Do you believe in crypto as an industry - and how it will fundamentally shift how our kids, and their kids, will think about, interact with, and engage with money?

I know, it’s quite the bombastic view of the future. But stay with me and shed your cynicism. Do you believe in the importance of a permissionless, borderless, stateless, user-owned, private monetary system? One that does not discriminate, one that cannot be corrupted by tyranny or greedy CEOs, one that, even if not in our lifetime, but in the future (and these revolutions take time), will alter how we perceive our financial markets?

What other industry has politicians, policymakers, regulators, and citizens - on a global scale - debate the ins and outs of money and its purpose? In what other industry are the basic notions behind commerce and the exchange of value being challenged to the core?

Recently I’ve been looking deeply into myself. Facing the doubts, the uncertainties, the fears - and everything that comes with building a company. The ‘how’ we scale, ‘how’ we sell, ‘how’ we code - isn’t troubling to me. These are technicalities - the WHO we are and, consequently, WHY we’re here - and the truth of our identity will solve the hows.

Admittedly, four years after founding Solidus - I ask myself the one question a CEO, in theory, shouldn’t be asking himself - is crypto for real? And not for real in a superficial way - i.e., an asset that will continue to trade and grow. No. Rather, is crypto here to change how our society views financial markets? Can I stand behind that mission? With all my heart?

To answer that, with a single anecdote so as not to make you sit through the multiple convoluted thoughts in my mind. I reflected on the time I was still at Goldman. Specifically in 2017, and 2018, when I was present for the ICO boom. I literally stood in Miami, in a conference hall, where multiple companies sought my advice on how to write their whitepapers so they could launch yet another void-of-substance ICO. I’ve seen these companies raise anywhere between 10m-100m on empty statements. That could have been Solidus.

Instead, Praveen, Chen, and I - never even considered something like that. It quite literally wasn’t part of our language and thought process. Our natural inclination was to build a strong, lasting company with a core value of substance. These ICOers seemed to me like tourists looking to make a quick buck.

While the above is a small anecdote - it represents a core belief we all share. We are not tourists, we are not here to make quick wins and cash out. We are here for the incredibly tough journey of building a company that will have a meaningful role in shaping the future of money.

It’s rare to be on the ground floor of a nascent industry that holds generational opportunities. It will undoubtedly create mega-companies. Companies that will influence how web3, and in particular, how our relationship with money, will materialize.

Looking deep within and facing all the fears, struggles, and doubts is what made me ultimately come back up stronger with a clear vision in sight.

We’re often told that good leadership is to have a defined playbook for engineering, sales, or marketing - but that’s not true. There isn’t a magic formula we can simply use to make things better. Each of us may or may not have been in these positions of leadership and may or may not have some cool tricks on how to deploy resources, sure. But at some point, you will all reach the line that you have not crossed before, a new professional challenge. And guess what - there isn’t a playbook for it.

These challenges are even more accentuated in an evolving industry like ours. As one example, product-market fit is a unique challenge that, even if hit, requires frequent reexamining and adjustments. There are no magic wands or growth hacks. Success requires deep reflection, pouring into the crucible our biases, our ‘who we are’ and ‘why we are’, cranking up the heat, letting it all simmer and come out solidified. This isn’t an easy problem to solve, and it shouldn’t be. As I’ve said before, doubt is proportional to discovery.

Ultimately, a humble and fearless leader will take a step back, look inside, peel the layers of - who they are -  what motivates them, what it is in their identity that guided them down the path they’re in,  and then - why they are - why they are doing what it is that they do, and more often than not - these tough questions, will help to guide you through the next iteration of growth.

To make it more concrete, if you don’t believe in crypto, web3 - and what it means, neither will your direct reports. To be ultra-successful, an account executive, a developer, or a product manager - has to be gung ho on the industry - they have to connect their everyday work to the vision that’s bigger than them and bigger than Solidus. Or, at the very least, be open to it. It will allow AEs to connect with prospects better, it will allow developers to write code better, and so on.

I ask this of you - look deep, face the mirror, and ask yourselves these tough questions. I’d be honored if you included me in that process, talking through who we are, why we are, and where we think we need to head. First as humans, then as professionals, and ultimately as a company. I’d be humbled to openly discuss your concerns and doubts, and think about how to make your teams committed to the vision - not only of Solidus but, much more importantly - of the industry.

Being crypto native isn’t just a product technicality; it’s also our shared belief in the destination. It’s how we speak internally and ultimately externally on the industry and vision.

There’s a clear and important reason one of our company values is crypto-native. It speaks to focus, dedication, faith, and evangelism. We do not want tourists in our ranks - we want committed individuals who understand the importance of Solidus in this society-changing industry. And it’s our role as leaders in this company to distinguish the “tourists” from those who want to become crypto-natives and help “naturalize” them. But it all starts with us.

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