We talked to Karen Hsu of BlockchainIntel on how to help financial companies, organizations dealing with digital currency, and individuals trust and understand their blockchain related data and networks and this is what she had to say.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Karen Hsu: Most of us are healthy now. But we had several cases of COVID exacerbated illnesses, hospitalizations and even death.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded BlockchainIntel.
Karen Hsu: I’ve spent over 20 years in software development, marketing and sales. I started my career as an engineering undergraduate at Stanford, where I co-founded a student-run organization called BASES, or Business Associations for Stanford Entrepreneurial Students. I continue to be on the Board of Advisors for BASES, and we provide educational, networking and monetary support for student entrepreneurs.
After leaving Stanford, I went into software development and product management. I spent the bulk of my career working with data, whether moving, integrating or analyzing data. I worked with many industries, mostly in financial services. As part of that financial services focus, I worked with industry standards organizations like SWIFT, NACHA and ACORD. When I came upon blockchain technology in 2015, I was blown away by how transformative it could be for payments and other types of transactions. After working for the first blockchain web services company, BlockCypher, I founded BlockchainIntel.
How does BlockchainIntel innovate?
Karen Hsu: I founded BlockchainIntel after seeing a customer at BlockCypher get slapped with a lawsuit for money laundering that involved child pornography. As a big believer in blockchain and technology in general, the last thing I want to be associated with is enabling criminals, especially something as heinous as child pornography. At BlockCypher, we stopped working with the customer immediately. But the experience stuck with me. I resolved to make it easier for anyone to see what transactions or wallet addresses were harmful or illegal.
The way BlockchainIntel innovates is first to focus on the problem and the market need. Through my network, I found potential customers who then became paying customers for problems we solved for them, which were similar to or extensions of the issues I faced. We also innovate by leveraging our deep industry and academic research backgrounds. I have five software patents and have spent years doing coordinated market and product development. BlockchainIntel’s CTO has a PhD from Stanford in machine learning. He wrote the first book on Hadoop. Our experience in building platforms enabled us to create a platform that could easily undergo integration and extension.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Karen Hsu: The pandemic impacted us like many companies. But because the pandemic accelerated the transition to digital, we were not as affected as others.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Karen Hsu: Yes, we’ve had to make many difficult choices. What I’ve learned is to take a step back and think about the big picture. In the long run, I always ask myself what the best thing to do for everyone in this situation is?
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and BlockchainIntel in the future?
Karen Hsu: I talk to my team all the time about taking time out for themselves, spending time with family and loved ones. I also make sure I take time to find joy in what I’m doing. Many times things don’t go as planned or the way you want it. It’s essential to have a perspective so that you don’t grind out.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Karen Hsu: We plan to stay in the game by working with customers and partners to understand and build to address their current and future needs.