62 - Governance and Capital | Joel Monegro
Joel Monegro is a partner at Placeholder, a venture capital firm where he invests in decentralized networks and companies that democratize access to data, wealth, and power. He started the firm in 2017 with his friend Chris Burniske and mentor Brad Burnham after three years at Union Square Ventures, developing the firm’s early blockchain thesis and portfolio.
In this episode, Joel explores the relationship between Governance and Capital, broadly used terms in desperate need of proper definition. Governance focuses on the decision making process in regards to capital. Capital is a broad term for economic resources – that which has utility. Governance can refer to autocratic individual decision making, but we dive into governance as a mechanism for collective decisions and achieving consensus. It is typically tied to a social and/or economic system and is made of structures that drive decision making among groups of people.
Capital represents influence, power, or control over economic resources. Capital and its utility are natural social phenomena and are relative in nature. Governance and Capital are deeply linked and arguably synonymous. The optimization of governance over capital and capital instruments are priorities of blockchains, which involve both financial and governance technology. The utility of capital can increase when pooled, especially when governance is scaled and effective.
A core argument of the crypto industry is that blockchains offer a more advanced instrumentation of capital, creating maximally efficient pathways for the exchange of value. They allow the transaction/contract settlement layer to migrate away from a state-backed system, which involves the use of courts and violence to achieve security. Replacing violence with cryptographic consensus is a powerful but challenging concept – one explored deeply in this episode with Joel Monegro.