Stack of bills with crypto

Crypto 101 Hosted by SoFi



Last night, we hosted 250 members and guests at The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco to get the inside scoop on what the heck crypto is, why people should pay attention to it, and if people should consider investing. Three industry insiders, Arianna Simpson, Jill Carlson, and Casey Caruso, helped us break down the basics in a conversation moderated by our very own Product Lead, Albert Cheng. You can catch the live stream here , or hear more about what our panelists had to say about this cryptic space by reading more below.

Jill Carlson is a cofounder of the Open Money Initiative, a non-profit that researches how money gets used in economically repressed societies. She has consulted for cryptocurrency projects like Zcash and large organizations like the IMF. Previously, Jill traded debt and derivatives at Goldman Sachs. She holds a Master of Science from Magdalen College, Oxford, where she researched financial market implications of bitcoin, and a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard, where she studied Classics.

Jill talked about why she thinks bitcoin could matter to the world at large, saying that, “Bitcoin, more than anything, is a tool of freedom that can be used in places where other money systems have failed. What VPNs, Tor browsers, and end to end encryption have done for communication, cryptocurrency is doing for money.”

Arianna Simpson is the founder and managing director of Autonomous Partners, an investment fund focused on cryptocurrencies and digital assets. She is also an active angel investor and venture partner at Crystal Towers Capital, an early-stage VC fund which Arianna and her partner launched in 2015. Prior to Crystal Towers, Arianna spent time working in sales and product roles at Facebook and BitGo, an enterprise security company for bitcoin and other digital currencies.

When asked about how she got her start in crypto, she said, “I first became interested in bitcoin in 2013, following a trip to southern Africa. I spent time in a few countries including Zimbabwe, which was just starting to recover from the extreme hyperinflation which had plagued it in the years prior. When I came back to the US, I was thinking a lot about how things might have unfolded differently for the citizens of Zimbabwe if they’d had access to an alternative financial system outside of their government’s control. I stumbled upon the bitcoin white paper a few weeks later, and everything clicked.”

Casey Caruso is an engineer at Google on a machine learning research team and is also a crypto advisor at Bessemer Venture Partners. She is the lead organizer of [email protected] in SF and originally got involved in the crypto space through mining. Prior to Google, Casey started her career as a research engineer at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics lab and went on to start her own company in the machine learning space. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering and Master of Science in Computer Science from Lehigh University.

When asked why crypto is an interesting investment area, Casey said, “Objectively speaking, we have strong signals that the space is maturing. Specifically, I’m excited by the increased adoption within younger generations, penetration within enterprises, growing developer interest and institutional demand.”

Check out the livestream from last night’s event with the full conversation here and leave us a comment if you want to see another event like this again soon!


Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies aren’t endorsed or guaranteed by any government, are volatile, involve a high degree of risk, and are unsuitable for most investors. For more information on digital asset risk see FINRA, SEC, and CFPB public advisories.

SoFi is not affiliated with Casey Caruso, Jill Carlson or Arianna Simpson. The content presented is for informational purposes only, and should not be viewed as an endorsement or recommendation to buy or hold any cryptocurrency.


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