Exclusive Interview: Augur Co-Founder Joey Krug Awarded Thiel Fellowship
Augur Co-Founder and Core Developer, Joey Krug has just been awarded as one of the newest members in the 2016 Thiel Fellowship. This great news spread quickly and we were lucky enough to receive an interview with Joey Krug and Tony Sakich, Director of Marketing.
Augur, a decentralized prediction market platform that rewards users for correctly predicting future real-world events, has been dominating the blockchain and decentralized scene for the past year. Augur, which is built on the Ethereum platform, is one of the more successful technologies to emerge out of the Ethereum ecosystem- and certainly with due course.
The Thiel Fellowship is awarded to only the most driven and entrepreneurial spirited individuals who are under 22 years of age. Vitalik Buterin is one of those individuals in the Ethereum field who has received this fellowship, and now 20 (almost 21) year old Joey Krug, is amongst that elite group. This ambitious and astute Star Wars and Halo 3 fan has certainly broken the barriers and is creating a platform that rides on the most cutting-edge of technologies.
Tony and Joey graciously answered my questions about this exciting achievement as well as plans for the rest of their endeavor. Within the next six months they plan to begin with thorough security audits beginning in July, working out bugs, and smoothing out front-end work in preparation for Augur’s full launch.
Q: What first spawned the idea for Augur?
Joey: I first became interested in prediction markets a few years ago, after reading an article by Friedrich Hayek called The Use of Knowledge in Society that talked about how markets and prices are essentially equivalent to information and information exchange. I became interested in prediction markets for two reasons: to more accurately predict the future and to have global financial markets on anything (as opposed to being stuck with predefined markets by large institutions).
Q: What are your thoughts on Ethereum and do you think it’s the final frontier of the internet space?
Joey: I think we’re just at the beginning! In space terms, with version 1.0 of Ethereum we’ve just landed on Mars, we’ve still got to flesh out a good system of operating there, and the rest of the galaxy to explore. (Future updates to Ethereum like PoS and sharding!) I love the idea of being able to exchange value with more programmatic specifications than you can do with something like bitcoin. If I wanted to build a prediction market platform with bitcoin as it exists today, it simply wouldn’t be doable without copious amounts of centralization.
Q: How did you feel after finding out that you are now a Thiel Fellow… ship of the Ring. I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist, but truly, what was your reaction?
Joey: My precious! Haha, kidding. But I was super excited and happy because the Fellowship community is a great resource. I think their connections will help and it’s nice to have them as a resource if I need any advice, whether it be on the business or technical side.
Q: What made you decide to leave school in order to pursue working on Augur?
Joey: I thought the time was ripe and while at school I found myself increasingly working on other side projects anyway so I was ready to dive in! I think a decentralized prediction market platform could be one of the best applications of blockchain technology once live so I’ve been working on it ever since!
Q: When you first started, did you ever expect Augur to be what it is today?
Joey: I didn’t expect that we’d have such a nice and supportive community. I mean, someone made a bunch of Augur shirts and hoodies and gave them away! I’m really proud of our community.
Q: Do you think that since Augur’s prediction market is decentralized, it gives more of an advantage over centralized prediction markets?
Tony: Absolutely. The biggest advantage, in my opinion, is the fact that users from around the world will have access to markets and market data. Previous prediction markets were limited to regional market participation, whereas Augur's use of cryptocurrency enables true global access. This global access will allow experts from anywhere in the world to participate in markets, thereby sharing their expertise, which will be identifiable in the market.
Another advantage will be the fact that all market participant funds are stored in a smart contract on the Ethereum Network, which means no human will have control of funds or the market payouts. This helps to eliminate cheating and corruption that have plagued some prediction markets in the past.
Q: Lastly, do you think Augur will spread to the mainstream?
Joey: It’ll spread I think, but it’ll take a few years as it scales and gets stablecoins as opposed to trading in current crypto, which is mostly volatile. We want it to be an easy to use trading interface, and the first audience would be crypto people since they’re most comfortable with the tech and initial quirks we’ll run into.
While Augur is still in its Beta phase, Tony, Joey, and the rest of the team have been careful with not giving an exact date of their launch. As is the case with most new technologies, bugs happen and security can be difficult (as demonstrated by The DAO), therefore they want to do multiple audits and run a bug bounty, then release Augur gradually as opposed to opening those proverbial floodgates. To stay “in-the-know” with news about their launch, Joey updates their “Beta and Beyond” sticky post on Augur’s subreddit page. In the meantime, users are free to check out the Augur Beta.
We also would like to give a huge congratulations to Joey Krug for his achievement and the Augur team.
To learn more about how Augur works, check out their video.