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Disruption by Blockchain Part 30: Chris Tse – Cardstack

  • 22 February 2018
  • Expert Insights

Our new Disruption by Blockchain series aims to highlight companies that are leveraging the incredible potential of blockchain technology to disrupt and revolutionize their industry. Through one on one interviews, we'll speak directly with industry leaders to cut beyond the hype and get directly to the heart of practical use cases and examples of how it will change the world, one industry at a time.

The following is an interview we recently had with Chris Tse, Founding Director of Cardstack.

1. What’s the history of your Cardstack? How and where did you begin?

CT: Cardstack began in 2014 to help transform the way people interact with the digital are three questions Cardstack is seeking to solve. Firstly, how can we create a user experience that will give people more power over their digital lives? Second, how can we create a sustainable economic model for open source software? And third, how can we use the power of emerging decentralized internet to make it all possible?

2. Who are the founders and key team members?

Chris Tse is the Founding Director of Cardstack. He is a lifelong designer and technologist, having worked on UX design, data systems, and open source software for nearly two decades. He spent more than half of his career leading R&D and innovation teams for Fortune 500 companies before recently co-founding two blockchain startups, Dot Blockchain and Monegraph. He then went on to develop Cardstack in 2014.

Chris Tse, Founding Director

  • Head of Product, Cardstack Project
  • Co-Founder of Monegraph & dotBlockchain Media
  • Formerly: Head of R&D, McGraw-Hill E-Labs; Sr. Director of Innovation, Businessweek
  • B.S. in Computer Science, Columbia University

Ed Faulkner, Lead Developer

  • Ember Core Team
  • Creator of LiquidFire
  • Formerly: MIT Media Labs, Akamai
  • Master in Computer Science, MIT

Hassan Abdel-Rahman, Sr. Blockchain Developer

  • Sr. Blockchain Developer, Monegraph, Cardstack Project
  • Formerly: McGraw-Hill Education, Sun Microsystems
  • B.S. in Mathematics and Computer Science, Colorado School of Mines

Ken Rossi, UX Lead

  • Formerly: Creative Director, USTA / US Open
  • Bachelors of Arts John Jay College, City University of New York


Chris Gardella, Lead Designer

  • Lead Designer, Monegraph, dotBlockchain Music
  • Formerly: Huge, R/GA, Area 17, Apple
  • B.A. in Graphic Design, University of Michigan


Jacqueline Thong, Head of Operations

  • Head of Operations, Cardstack Project
  • Formerly: Vestadia International, Advisory
  • B.A. in Sustainable Development & Economics, Columbia University

3. What problem are you solving? Who are you solving it for?

CT: Cardstack is building the experience layer for the decentralized Internet. We see an opportunity right now to challenge the way today’s digital superpowers put users into silos, mine their data, and extract the value they create. We want to reorient the Internet around users and put it back into their control. Blockchain and other decentralized technologies are laying the technical foundation to achieve this, but there’s a lot of work left to make the technology usable for the mass market – which is where Cardstack comes in.

4. What is your solution to this problem?

CT: Cardstack begins with an intuitive card-based user interface that lets users orchestrate their digital lives, whether it takes place on the cloud, on the blockchain, or on their own machine. From one hub, users will be able to manage all of their software, and visualize all the information coming in and out. We open-source it, so that the system is not under any one party’s control.

We back it up with a token that’s designed for the fair exchange of value, and operates according to rules that are governed by the community. We power this with a new consensus protocol called Tally, which harnesses existing GPU mining power to perform the complex calculations needed to scale up dApps to coordinate large communities of users. Built into this is a function to reward miners with a share of this new ecosystem, which makes everything economically sustainable.

5. Why is your industry ripe for disruption?

CT: Distributed databases and consensus protocols that cannot be erased or controlled by a single party are opening up new theoretical possibilities for people to take back control in their digital lives. This is not about disrupting just one industry, but rethinking people’s relationship with the Internet itself. However, the current approaches in creating a decentralized Internet have yet to overcome a lot of challenges, such as usability, sustainability, and scalability. We’re creating the technology and the design principles that can tackle these challenges, unlock the promises of the decentralized Internet for the mass market, and make it last for many years to come.


6. What’s the future of your industry?

Prediction #1: Much like 20 years ago with the World Wide Web, we will see an influx of talent from all fields working to create the design patterns and standards to bring the decentralized Internet to the mass market.

Prediction #2: Blockchain will just be one of many key technologies that make up this new decentralized world.

Prediction #3: We are optimistic about the transformative potential of the decentralized Internet. At the same time, we should be very cautious of centralized powers who are already trying to take over this new space or the various government powers already claiming they are launching blockchain initiatives.  This space is definitely going to grow, but the question is, in which direction? Ultimately, that’s up to us.

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