GM. This is the Milk Road, the crypto newsletter that hits you with more flavor than the one chip in a bag of Doritos that is absolutely covered with seasoning.
Here's what we got cooking today:
- EXCLUSIVE: Martin Shkreli Interview
- Coming soon: Solana Spaces
- Meme of the Day
EXCLUSIVE: MARTIN SHKRELI INTERVIEW
You might not like this.
You might get mad.
You might think we’re crazy for doing this.
But that's okay, we don’t care.
We hung out with Martin Shkreli and got the scoop on his new crypto project that launches today.
Yep, this guy:
The guy who:
- Shows up when you google “most hated man in America”
- Spent $2M to buy the only copy of Wu Tang’s album (before NFTs existed)
- The “Pharma Bro” who bought a drug and raised the price by 5,000%+
- Went to jail for 4 years for securities fraud
- Started a crypto study group called “Crypto Thugz” while in prison
This doesn’t even include other stunts like getting permanently banned from Twitter because he offered $5,000 to anyone that could give him a strand of Hillary Clinton’s hair (Twitter saw this as a physical threat and booted him).
So - why would we do this? Why interview Martin?
I’ll give you 3 reasons.
1/ I was genuinely curious about what he’s doing in crypto
2/ I have a history with Martin (He was one of the biggest users for my previous company’s product, Blab)
3/ He’s brilliant. Even if you think he’s a jerk. It’s hard to deny the guy is very very smart
So I interviewed him. We talked for an hour. I pulled the best questions & answers here.
Note - I’ve shortened some of my questions and his answers for brevity. The full thing is available right now on our YouTube channel.
Let’s jump in:
Martin… before we get started, people are going to be mad we’re interviewing you. They’ll say “f*ck that guy, don’t give him the platform”. What do you say to them?
I’ll give you three reasons to listen:
1/ Humanitarian - people make mistakes, but they can change and forgiveness is important. A society without forgiveness is not a good one.
2/ It’s gonna happen anyways - I’m smart. I have connections. I have good ideas. I’m going to be a player in this space. This is sort of the cocky answer, but it’s true.
3/ Everyone is allowed in crypto - The whole point of web3 is that no one can be canceled. The ethos of crypto is about permissionless innovation. Not censoring people you disagree with or don’t like. So anyone who thinks I should not be allowed in crypto is actually going against the very core ethos of crypto.
So, how’d you get into crypto?
- Started looking at Bitcoin back in 2011
- I had a hedge fund, and one of my researchers wanted to short it - he was saying it was fake money
- Didn’t really get into it until 2014-2015, when the volume started spiking
- First use case for me was gambling. I used it for sports betting
So how was jail? Is it like the movies?
It isn’t so bad. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not great. You don’t want to be there. But it’s nothing like movies at all. Like the whole ‘don’t drop the soap’ thing isn’t real.
I got to read hundreds of books while I was there. And I got on the Internet even though it was not allowed.
Wait, what? How'd you get a cell phone with Internet?
Well..there's a whole economy in there. So there are contraband cell phones. I would buy them. They are expensive - I even bought one for $15k once.
Most guys just kinda use it for YouTube or porn. I was using it to access Github, Khan Academy, etc. And porn, that too...
Like, I'd quietly listen to videos about cryptography and advanced math under my covers.
I heard you made a group in prison called Crypto Thugz, tell me more about that..
A group of 4-5 other prisoners that were into crypto/web3. There were other “members” but it’s tricky who can join what group in prison.
There was even a guy there who had like a million dollars worth of Bitcoin from a payment he took back in the day. It was cool.
Anyways, some knew about crypto. Some were hackers. But most had outdated info.
That's where my staff and family would come in - they'd email me new info so I could keep up to date.
What’s your overall take on crypto?
Bitcoin is great. I feel like you go deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole. Very few people understand Bitcoin though. I’d almost say unless you can code your own Bitcoin client, you don’t understand Bitcoin.
Can you do that?
What about other crypto projects?
The key to web3 will be unlocking utilities that can’t otherwise be unlocked without web3.
What are those things? We don’t know. Someone needs to go out and invent them. I have a few in mind, one of which I’m launching today.
So what’s the new project you’re launching now?
The goal is to make it easier for anyone to design & model chemical compounds.
Today - there is software to do this. If you’re a chemist at some big drug company, and you’re trying to design a new cancer drug, you’re using this software. (eg. Shrodinger).
It’s really expensive. Like companies pay $50k, $100k+ just to use this thing.
So inside their company, only a computational chemist gets to use it. Because not only is the software license expensive…but then you have to pay for the compute. Running these models takes a lot of server power, so it’s expensive to run (like mining bitcoin).
Our goal is to change that so that:
1/ we take the expensive software, and we release a free version
2/ instead of using centralized servers for compute, we create a network of computers that you can pay to use via a crypto token
What’s it called?
It’s called Druglike. It’s a piece of software that lets anyone design a drug on their computer. Whether you’re at a company, or a college student, or just a kid who wants to try it at home.
The goal is to make it so eventually, drugs are cheaper to buy for everyone + every rare disease can be treated.
So like… the way wall street traders pay $25k to use Bloomberg Terminal. You’re taking the expensive tech and making a free version?
And then the compute part.
It takes a ton of computer power to run these models to build out the drug (not the actual drug, but the code and molecules behind it), the goal is to incentivize people to share their compute via web3 models like tokenomics, etc.
The main competitor in this space does ~$100M+ per year, and is valued at $2-3B. Do you think this is gonna be huge?
Look, not everybody cares about chemistry. In fact, most people hate chemistry. They just remember getting a D+ in chemistry at school.
So I know this isn’t mass market.
But it could have a mass impact.
Like if this lets more scientists design chemical compounds, then we have a better shot at curing diseases and illnesses.
The 12-year-old version of me would think this is the coolest thing ever because now I get to play around with this myself at home.
Does this need to be web3? I remember early on in crypto, people tried to do this “shared compute” with projects like Golem. Or “shared storage” with Filecoin. They haven’t taken off - why?
Well, sometimes crypto projects just focus on the blockchain part. That’s a mistake.
Like back in the day, Jeff Bezos used to reject it when people called Amazon an “Internet company.”
He always thought that was wrong. Amazon was a retailer. They sold products to customers. They offered a wide selection, low prices, and fast delivery. They were a “whatever makes customers happy” company.
The Internet was an important way they did that. But that wasn't the point of the company.
In web3, you see a lot of “web3 for web3 sake”.
I think the actual software needs to be good. It needs to be useful. Like the chemical modeling software, we’re releasing is good whether it’s web3 or not. But we think having a token makes the compute side cheaper or easier to do.
Like imagine this scenario:
Some scientist is working on a cancer drug. And instead of donating money, you could just donate ‘free compute’ to them. It’s a cool way to contribute to the project.
Or if you can’t afford the compute, there’s a world where the smart contract could divide up the royalties or proceeds from the patent to all the people who gave compute to the discovery.
What is this movement, using crypto in science?
It's called DeSci. You know, like DeFi for finance, this is DeSci for decentralized science.
So we’re tackling the drug design/modeling part. Then you have DAOs like:
It’s really cool, seeing this whole DeSci stack coming together.
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MEME OF THE DAY
Who ya got???
That's a wrap for today, ladies & gents. See ya tomorrow!
VITALIK PIC OF THE DAY
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DISCLAIMER: None of this is financial advice. This newsletter is strictly educational and is not investment advice or a solicitation to buy or sell any assets or to make any financial decisions. Please be careful and do your own research.