In conversation with Ian Simpson
After our first People of Bitcoin Suisse profile of Afina Inina, our 100th employee, we introduce Jiří Herzán, Product Owner for Crypto Payments, who joined Bitcoin Suisse in August 2017.
1. How did you first discover Bitcoin?
I first heard about Bitcoin when I was still a high school student back in 2011. It got my attention, but I did not really understand it back then. Then again in 2015, it came up when I was choosing a subject for my bachelor’s thesis. I wanted to write about anonymity on the internet, but my supervisor told me, that he had already supervised a thesis on a similar topic. Then I asked if he could recommend another subject. He said: “What about Bitcoin?” I told him that I didn’t know anything about it. And he said, “Yeah, me neither.”
Since that moment I’ve been obsessed.
2. Did your classmates and professors approve of your thesis on Bitcoin?
So here is the story – when I was defending my bachelor’s thesis about Bitcoin in Czechia, the chairwomen of the committee asked me if Bitcoin is that thing that used to be quite popular but ‘’now is dead’’. Without going into the details, I failed that exam. Because of that I would have had to wait 6 months to be able to re-take the exam in February 2016.
As it was not possible to enroll in the master’s program at the university in the summer semester of 2016 and I would have to wait another 6 months, I applied to the University of Liechtenstein and moved to Liechtenstein so as to not waste more time.
I continued researching Bitcoin. In the summer of 2017, I landed a job at Bitcoin Suisse thanks to my friend. Later in 2018 I defended my master’s thesis – again on the subject of Bitcoin. This time I passed without any problems and with little bit more understanding.
D*** am I happy I failed that first exam!
3. Why do you believe in cryptocurrencies and digital assets?
I value freedom. Although I live an amazing life now, I come from a post-soviet country (Czechia). I have heard many times from my parents and grandparents, what it’s like to not be entirely free. I have also some great friends from sanctioned countries like Iran or Venezuela. And there are a good number of countries with very high inflation rates and deep economic problems…and I could go on and on.
When I think about that, I love to think that Bitcoin and other crypto assets can give the power of money to people. But with this power also comes responsibility which I am not entirely sure if everyone is willing to accept. But at least people have a choice. That’s the most important thing – to have a choice.
4. What have you been able to learn since joining Bitcoin Suisse?
I’ve learned that time is the only variable that is limited – which means, I better not waste too much of it.
I’ve also come to realize that family is very important to me. In other words, I’ve had to learn ‘’to prioritize’’.
Some of the Bitcoin Suisse crypto developer team at Devcon V in Osaka, Japan. (l-r) Jiří Herzán, Felix Laufenberg, Jeppe Sanggaard, Mikael Bondum, Svante Jørgensen and Bitcoin Suisse Founder and Chairman Niklas Nikolajsen.
5. What inspires you to come to work each day?
Oh, many things. Maybe most of all, it’s the extraordinary people I work with which have become great friends over the years. I’m probably one of the top 10 longest employed Bitcoin Suissers – and now we are over 200. So that exponential growth, I have witnessed since I started is also really inspiring. And of course, I get inspiration from the products I have been able to help build, which I know are out there being used every day.
6. You are the Product Owner of the Bitcoin Suisse Crypto Payments solution. How do you feel about crypto payments?
Of course, I’m super excited about them – and about what we’re building to support crypto payments.
I believe that the biggest issue for crypto payments right now is the scalability of distributed ledgers. There are numerous teams around the globe working on solving those issues. The Crypto Payments team at Bitcoin Suisse is also working every day to build products which allow merchants to accept crypto payments in a very easy way. And no matter which blockchain wins the scalability race in the end, our product with be ready to simply plug it in.
7. Here’s a tough question for you…or maybe not. How do you make great products?
It’s never just me. We have to work as a team to make great products. And the Product Ownership role that I do is just natural to me. I cannot really imagine myself working in any another area.
8. What has been the greatest learning experience of your life?
Bitcoin and Bitcoin Suisse. These two things definitely changed my life completely. I guess raising a child will be the next one.
9. The one thing that most friends and colleagues don’t know about you?
If I told you I would have to kill you…! (laughs)
10. What’s the most intriguing book you’ve ever read?
Recently I read ‘’Lifespan: Why We Age―and Why We Don’t Have To’’ by David Sinclair. I realized that there is a good chance I will be around for much longer than I ever expected! (laughs).
11. Now that Bitcoin Suisse has over 200 employees – and you are one of the “dinosaurs” so to speak – do you have any advice to new joiners at the company?
Every month take a part of your salary and put it into Bitcoin. ?
(*Not financial advice though…)
All opinions expressed in this text are the personal opinions of the subject alone and do not constitute financial advice in any way.