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John Paller – Cointelegraph Magazine



John Paller is coaching a brand new era of blockchain employees and giving them the instruments to dwell free from the chains of full-time employment.

After an opportunity dialog with a “Russian dude” carrying a bizarre T-shirt at a 2014 convention — Vitalik Buterin’s father, Dmitry — John Paller’s life was reworked by having a front-row seat for the beginning of Ethereum. He went on to create the biggest Ethereum hackathon and based an initiative to assist at-risk youth discover job alternatives within the burgeoning crypto trade.

In response to Paller, nearly all of employees in the US will likely be impartial and never tied to a specific employer inside just some years from now. However with so most of the requirements of life supplied by employers fairly than the federal government, he has arrange a brand new token-based employment co-op to offer impartial contractors with advantages, equivalent to medical insurance coverage and retirement plans.

Purple state Ethereum

Rising up within the predominantly Mormon state of Utah, which he describes as “a rather dogmatic society,” Paller remembers that as a toddler, he “always asked too many questions.” Not feeling like he slot in, he moved east — over the Rocky Mountains — to Denver, Colorado a number of years after graduating from Southern Utah College with a enterprise administration diploma in accounting and finance in 1997.





Denver, in response to Paller, is “more pragmatic politically — we don’t get caught up in political dogma as much as other states seem to do.” This, he surmises, is because of a combination of geographical and cultural influences, with a libertarian wild west tradition from Wyoming within the north merging with a extra “liberal, progressive” strategy from the south in New Mexico and west from California.

“I think that Ethereum as a concept really relates well to this sort of egalitarian approach — building next-generation public infrastructure using smart contracts. We have a good tech scene here in Colorado.”

He serves as the chief steward of ETHDenver, which began with month-to-month meetups of “a couple dozen people” earlier than rising into the a whole bunch instantly in 2017. This speedy development impressed him to prepare a hackathon in February 2018, a undertaking for which he known as up numerous trade gamers, equivalent to Ethereum co-founder Joe Lubin, cryptocurrency entrepreneur Erik Voorhees, and dozens of different high tasks and luminaries.

“We were hoping for 401 people, and the reason for that was because ETH Waterloo in the fall of 2017 had 400 people, and we wanted to be the biggest one ever,” he says.

The primary occasion, which Paller describes as “part Burning Man, part SXSW, part DevCon, and part Hack the North,” was an enormous success with 1,500 members. With 4 years operating to date, the occasion has turn into a house turf of the Ethereum motion. “This year, we did a fully virtual event, and we hosted over 31,000 people from 94 countries,” Paller explains proudly, including that ETHDenver is transitioning into a real community-owned ecosystem known as SporkDAO with a digital launch celebration and NFT public sale on June 26.

Employee woes

Paller’s background is in human sources and finance, and in 2002, he co-founded a staffing firm known as PeoplePartners to concentrate on recruiting within the monetary sector. After some success, the corporate managed to purchase and merge with one other, Lakeshore, the place Paller continued to function CEO, whereas the brand new agency centered on HR applied sciences in what he refers to because the “Uber-for economy” — the place the agency was making an attempt to create an app that might assist corporations discover expertise as shortly as Uber finds rides.

A lot of Paller’s imaginative and prescient for his HR agency revolved round a obscure need to assist “democratize employment,” referring to what he noticed as a lopsided social contract the place employers have an enormous quantity of energy over workers inside U.S. society. Questions began to gnaw at him — Why is employment so disproportionate in energy and worth distribution? Why is healthcare in the US tied to employment?

It was whereas studying extra broadly into economics and sport principle, in hopes of answering these questions, that Paller got here throughout Bitcoin from a good friend working at a know-how startup who informed him it was the way forward for cash. “I read the white paper, and I kind of didn’t get it, but I bought some,” he remembers.

My title is Buterin, Dmitry Buterin

Shopping for some Bitcoin on a whim was, nevertheless, not Paller’s solely harbinger of blockchain future. Whereas attending a small entrepreneurship convention in California in early 2014, he met Dmitry Buterin. “There was only probably like 30 people there, so it was a very intimate affair, and he was the interesting, you know, Russian dude with the weird T-shirts,” he says. As fathers, they linked over their households and since “politically speaking, we’re both libertarians.”

Resulting from this opportunity connection, Paller had a direct line to Vitalik’s father, who made “social media posts on the Ethereum white paper and the ICO.” This meant that he had publicity to the undertaking from an early stage and, in early 2016, requested Dmitry to attach him along with his son, Vitalik, who “was kind enough to spend several hours with me talking about my ideas for use cases. In hindsight, he was very gracious because my use case ideas were terrible — I didn’t understand decentralization at all,” he recounts, including that his thoughts was nonetheless caught within the outdated world of centralized company constructions.

He ultimately did have “the lights go on,” at which level he determined to do a full pivot in life. “It was almost kind of like my version of a midlife crisis,” he explains relating to his sudden choice to promote his enterprise, successfully turning his again on a profitable profession.





Apprentio and the subsequent era

In 2018, Paller co-created Apprentio in collaboration with an area girls and boys membership in hopes of offering at-risk youth with alternatives within the rising blockchain ecosystem. Paller believes that the generally prescribed path of highschool/faculty/diploma/job just isn’t for everybody, particularly contemplating {that a} four-year faculty diploma within the U.S. can simply lead to $100,000 of debt, and the “graduation rate for at-risk youth kids that go to college is like 5% — most of them drop out,” he explains.

“We assist these kids — 15–17 years old — get involved in the blockchain technology space by participation in hackathons, building projects, mentoring, tutorials and free resources, and then ultimately hooking them up with projects that are looking for interns.”

In Paller’s view, Apprentio is investing in a brand new era of specialised employees to suit the wants of the long run — not solely the wants of corporations however of the employees themselves. With the flexibility to work remotely and for a number of tasks on the identical time, Paller envisions a future with employees who’re empowered by alternative — as a substitute of being successfully held for ransom by employers who demand they work full time in a single location to be able to entry the sources wanted for survival.


Thanks @DenverKidsInc and @DenverScho for supporting @apprent_io pupil workshop! Shout out to cofounder @NMRCrypto and mentor @nickw_13 for a fantastic @EthereumDenver expertise! #ETHDenver #ETHDenver2019

— L’Teisha Ryan (@LTeishaRyan) February 18, 2019


The outdated mannequin is just not working for employees, as evidenced by the truth that “70% of people in the U.S. labor force are sitting in jobs they hate” as a result of they don’t have any higher choices. In fact, that’s a part of the issue — the explanation People enable themselves to be “subjugated by a corporation” is that impartial employees lack the safety and advantages, equivalent to retirement, medical health insurance and incapacity safety afforded to most full-time workers. This whole dependence on the employer is a peculiarly American expertise, seeing as healthcare, specifically, is seen as a common proper in a lot of the world, together with Canada, Europe and Australia, to call a number of.

Self-employment — The brand new regular

In response to Paller, the U.S. workforce presently has about 35 million self-employed employees out of a complete of 160 million. The motion started in earnest, with many employees not returning to their conventional jobs after the 2008 monetary disaster, and following a yr of on and off shutdowns and dealing from dwelling, the pattern is barely growing.

“The rate of self-employment is accelerating even faster now due to the pandemic. The estimates are 90 million people by 2028 in the U.S. workforce alone.”

Although the share of impartial employees is rising, Paller sees an untapped area of interest available in the market for human useful resource techniques. From knowledge administration to identification verification and credentialing, “all of it is designed with the corporation as the customer — they are farmers of talent and the talent is the product,” Paller explains.

On the blockchain aspect, the phenomenon of decentralized autonomous organizations, or DAOs, is ready to profit from, and supply alternatives to, this rising crop of impartial employees. Play-to-earn video games, the more and more common framework of blockchain video games that enable gamers to earn money inside the economies of video video games, are additionally set to burgeon.

All of this poses challenges for governments, which may profit from the association the place most individuals have an ongoing, full-time job “because employment is a great way to make sure that taxes are paid,” whereas managing the reporting of impartial contractors is way more tough.

“Imagine a world where you work in 20 countries simultaneously with people that share your values, share your worldview, and you don’t have to worry about any of the jurisdictional compliance.”

Opolis co-op

Paller’s brainchild, Opolis, payments itself as “a member-owned digital employment cooperative” offering “benefits, payroll and shared services for the independent worker.” It’s his try to be a part of the reply to the challenges of future work. By forming an “employment cooperative,” the imaginative and prescient is that employees can take again their company from employers who beforehand outlined their place in society.

The thought got here to being in 2017, culminating in a white paper in 2019, adopted by a yr spent designing a micro-economy inside the ecosystem. It’s legally arrange as a cooperative as a substitute of an organization or basis, the latter of which Paller believes creates “no incentives to build anything of economic value.” As a Colorado cooperative, the entity’s members are in a position to maintain patronage tokens. The token itself, whereas probably profit-bearing, just isn’t a safety, in response to Paller.


The Opolis Trustee publicizes the completion of a $5M Collection Seed II fairness and grants funding spherical. We’re grateful to companion with aligned DeFi tasks, DAOs, Strategic Traders and Angel Traders to construct the way forward for $WORK

Learn extra under 👇

— OPOLIS (@opolis) Might 13, 2021


Opolis — being arrange on this approach appears to be greater than a mere authorized loophole as a co-operative or co-op — is outlined as “an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned enterprise.” Paller quotes Dr. Nathan Schneider, an area professor who has commented on the intersection of DAO’s and co-ops, which maintain many inherent similarities. He additionally notes that “there are European cooperatives that are worth billions, so I think we’re gonna see a whole new wave of cooperatives.”





On the bottom degree, Opolis is already operational and affords impartial worker-members within the U.S. a number of providers. The fundamentals embrace well being, dental and imaginative and prescient insurance coverage out there in numerous tiers to offer safety for the employee, their spouses or total households. For instance, the mixed well being, dental and imaginative and prescient insurance coverage premiums vary from $313 to $557 monthly for the employee alone, or from $1,125 to $1,845 for the entire household.

Along with insurance coverage, Opolis affords the chance to elect numerous retirement financial savings plans, strategies to maintain wage constant even when taking break day, and instruments to handle tax deductions for issues equivalent to wellness bills.

On the providers aspect, there may be the chance to create an built-in payroll from numerous earnings sources, which streamlines taxation and accounting and opens up the chance to take a wage in cryptocurrency.

The cooperative is presently operational in solely the U.S., however Paller envisions that it might turn into a “global public utility” in a approach much like web infrastructure or cryptocurrency networks.

“The goal is to become a global public utility infrastructure for employment — at that scale, it doesn’t even need a name — it would operate similarly to how people think about TCP IP or even Ethereum layer one. It’ll just be a thing that is and does.”



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