By Joe Rainey
Sitting behind a desk laden with computers, keyboards, and scattered notes is Sam Kazemian – the President and co-founder of Everipedia, also known as PerzianZuck. “There is no better time to [start a company] than in college or right after college.” Kazemian is one of the few that took his own advice.
Everipedia is the first and largest decentralized encyclopedia. It uses blockchain technology via its own “IQ token” to incentivize the creation and editing of encyclopedia articles on the platform. Along with Everipedia’s other decentralized web applications, such as a stable coin and prediction market, the decentralized encyclopedia remains at the forefront of pragmatic and consumer-focused use cases for blockchain technology.
Most of Kazemian’s time is spent on the stable coin project, Decentral Bank. In fact, Kazemian has designed almost all the protocols for the application. Decentral Bank takes aim at a few weak points in current cryptocurrencies: “Crypto is unstable, volatile, and speculative, which is fine, but it’s almost like they are commodities you invest in – you don’t use them as currencies. When your assets aren’t stable, it is like trying to use a national currency like Venezuela’s or Zimbabwe’s,” says Kazemian.
The stable coin works similar to how the Federal Reserve responds to changes in the money supply in the U.S. In response to deflation, the Federal Reserve often participates in quantitative easing, or creating money to purchase bonds, to lessen the blow. During inflationary periods, the Federal Reserve can issue bonds to combat dramatic surges. Kazemian makes the same case Milton Friedman made in the 1970’s – stability of currency can be controlled by an algorithm, mitigating both human error and the potential for despotism.
Kazemian’s personal involvement in the stable coin project, and blockchain in general, comes from a deeper place. Kazemian claims crypto is, “a very political movement, even though it seems more tech.” He believes capital allocation is of upmost importance.
“The fact that we have a capitalist system, the fact that we have been fairly decently working out…basically there were some mistakes in how we regulate stuff like the housing bubble and tech boom and bust, but generally we got it right. This system that actually works for organizing large societies allows us to have such good lives so we can debate these also important social issues, but they come posterior to the fact that we have our very basic needs met, and we have these in novations and a competitive market that continually improves our lives.”
Kazemian’s founding of Everipedia came from an economic sentiment. “Social issues are important and stuff, but I stay rather agnostic of that. The most important thing is in a capitalist world: how is capital allocated? If there was a bread line at Ralphs here in Westwood, no one would be talking about whether the bathrooms should be LGBT or whatever, they would just be hungry as fuck, right? That was a very real thing.” Kazemian argues the “socialist experiments and governments of the 20th century” show that proper capital allocation, rather than government intervention, brings about the greatest progress.
Regardless of Kazemian’s focus on innovation, he still finds social issues to be “very important,” and something worth discussing. Much like happiness in a productive life, Kazemian chooses to pursue social justice as a beneficial symptom of the productive capitalist system, rather than the main focus of attention. Although he aligns as libertarian, Kazemian thinks, “there is obviously a role for the state which is to regulate moral, social goods.” Nevertheless, he stands by his freemarket principles: “If you look at different types of government, the ones that are freer are usually the ones that are more free-market oriented.”
Kazemian embodies a virtue rarely found on college campuses today: actionable, stoic conviction. Unlike the visceral angst of many students, Kazemian’s motivation stems from a reasoned approach to progress. Just like the rest of us, Kazemian wants the best for each of his neighbors, near and far. Kazemian chose to take action using all the resources within his grasp. As a result, he and his team have brought more free information to the masses than ever before.
Everipedia began just as you might imagine. Sam Kazemian and one of his friends, Theodor Forselius, started Everipedia as a side project in Kazemian’s UCLA dorm room in 2014. Soon enough, Travis Moore and Mahbod Moghadom had joined the founding team. At first, things were “really hectic and exciting.” Challenges such as raising money and recruiting talent were ever-present. To-date, Everipedia has raised over $30 million in venture funding.
Kazemian has always encouraged entrepreneurship. Although he is thankful for the personal edification and discovery UCLA facilitated, he also advocates for those who teach themselves to code, skip college to learn a trade, or go into a field completely unrelated to their field of study. Kazemian was a Neuroscience and Philosophy double major, yet ended up in technology due to extracurricular erudition.
With respect to starting a company, Kazemian says the sooner the better: “The longer you leave it and work your way up the career ladder, the more you have to lose; it becomes reasonable to not do it.” He acknowledges that many can be dubious about the validity of their idea; regardless, he says to go for it. “You might not think it’s really good enough, but once you get going, there is actual substance.”
UCLA is filled with students who maintain the pursuit of job-security – a mindset Kazemian was all too familiar with as a pre-med student. His story is an inspiration to those who want to break through such a mindset and take on risks others find too daunting. After all, there is only one way to find out if your idea really is worth something.