Pascal Gauthier is the CEO of Ledger. In this interview, we discuss how to build and grow a business in a bear market, making the business part of the mission, how nation-states are trying to steal Bitcoins, the vulnerability of software wallets to hacks at scale, and why freedom is not something that we should bargain for.
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Ledger is a French hardware wallet manufacturer. Founded in 2014, it is now a market leader, providing 2 of the leading hardware wallets on the market, with sales in over 165 countries. It’s valuation is at least $1.5 billion. In July it was seeking to raise $100 million to fund further expansion at the exact time as other digital currency companies were struggling to stay afloat. How has this company continued to grow throughout the recent bear market?
The company is clear-eyed about the criticality of the Bitcoin mission: the opportunity to regain personal financial freedoms that have been eroded over time. And freedom has always required security: they are interdependent. It’s just that the weapons have changed over time. Today, a state can hold a person captive by denying them access to uncensorable private money. So, today, freedom is nothing without digital security for money.
Ledger has made their mission to provide the market with personal security for its digital assets. What differentiates Ledger from other companies is that they see business as the means to achieve the mission: a ruthless pragmatism that acknowledges that without money we will never achieve or retain freedom. This is because security is an arms race.
Hacking is now a state-level enterprise: Russia, North Korea, and China are just some of the nations that have invested heavily in developing cyber warfare skills. This has contributed to: 300,000 new pieces of malware being created every day; a hacker attack occurring every 39 seconds; yet, the chance a cybercrime is detected and prosecuted in the US is 0.05%.
This means security in the nascent yet highly valuable digital assets industry is an asymmetric balance of power, so those seeking to provide security solutions need to invest and focus. Ledger does both. It invests heavily in R&D. And, it only provides air-gapped hardware that performs a singular security function. That is why they are successful. And that is good for Bitcoin.