Interview with Blue Whale Foundation CEO Will Lee: the Future of Freelancing is Blockchain

UTC by Polina Chernykh · 7 min read
Interview with Blue Whale Foundation CEO Will Lee: the Future of Freelancing is Blockchain
Photo: Blue Whale Foundation / Medium

Will Lee, the CEO of Blue Whale and Verlocal, talks about the state and prospects of today’s labor market, explaining the role blockchain plays in the sphere’s transformation.

Research about labor market trends suggests that by 2025, most of the US labor force will be comprised of professional freelancers. Despite the sphere experiences rapid growth, it still lacks comprehensive solutions that address the fundamental problems faced by the dissolution of traditional employment, social protections and employee benefits.

To find out if there is a way out and get to know what solutions exist (if any), Coinspeaker reached Will Lee, CEO and founder of the Blue Whale Foundation. Blue Whale is on a mission to empower the world’s freelance community by creating the largest decentralized ecosystem for independent workers.

Will Lee is the CEO of Blue Whale and Verlocal. His mission is to convert individuals to one-person business owners and fully maximize their full potential. Through his mission, he aspires to create a human-centered industry where humans can continue to develop and better themselves through self-discovery.

Coinspeaker: “What was your first encounter with blockchain technology?”

Will Lee: “As you might know over the last five years, I’d been building a platform for the creative class called Verlocal. In the process of building this marketplace where local creatives could turn their passion into their full-time profession, I realized that they needed more than just a marketplace.

So we experimented with developing a variety of different SaaS solutions to help drive traffic to their pages, manage their bookings, etc. In the midst of this process, I came across Arun Sundararajan’s brilliant book called “The Sharing Economy” discussing the end of traditional employment and the rise of crowd-based capitalism. It introduced how blockchain can open up new possibilities for reshaping the way we think about transparency, security, and ownership.”

Coinspeaker: “What aspects of the technology sparked your interest?”

Will Lee: “I was fascinated by the possibilities for blockchain to reshape the sharing and tracking of data about interactions, making it possible to build a cooperative sharing economy model by combining local businesses and marketplace platforms.”

Coinspeaker: Why and when have you decided to go for a blockchain-based solution for the sharing economy? What were the key problems with the traditional solutions you aimed to solve?”

Will Lee: “I think that a lot of these platforms like AirBnB, or Uber, that promote themselves as being part of the sharing economy are hijacking a feel-good term. What exactly is being shared? It’s nothing more than taxi companies and hotels “sharing” cars and rooms.

In reality, a lot of these companies have become the new rentiers. And they’ve come to monopolize data-based services that facilitate matching demand to supply on a large scale.

Instead of a genuine sharing economy, the freelancers who work for these platforms face 1) high commission, 2) excessive advertising costs for SMBs and freelancers, 3) no employment for SMBS and freelancers.

With a blockchain-based ecosystem, we hope to automate away the functions performed by middlemen and matching platforms. This makes it possible to shift the revenue model away from profiting off the backs of freelancers who’ve come to depend on such platforms to make a living.”

Coinspeaker: What can you tell us about the marketplace for blockchain-based freelance projects?”

Will Lee: “So the ultimate goal we’re trying to build is an entirely self-governing blockchain-based marketplace where freelancers can list their services, benefit from crowd-sourced reputation scoring, rewards for organic referrals, and community dispute resolution mechanisms.

Where all these functions today are supported by an army of staff in tech companies, we hope that the blockchain-based marketplace will run entirely by and for the community.”

Coinspeaker: “In your view, what’s your prediction of the Blockchain and Crypto industry for the next 3 years?”

Will Lee: “Firstly, I think at the most fundamental level, we are still going to see various projects try to improve on the trilemma many protocols face between security, throughput, and energy efficiency. That’s something that has a long way to go.

Secondly, I think that we will be able to see more reliable and stabilized decentralized applications built on top of existing protocols; think of it like the early days of the internet with dial-up modems – not perfect, but the budding of something revolutionary.

Lastly, I think we’re going to see some significant changes in the relationship between cryptocurrencies and institutional investors – both private equity and investment banking, but also the increasing role of public institutions in building regulatory standards that bring some much-needed standards of responsible behavior into the industry.”

Coinspeaker: Why does Blue Whale look promising to you? In what way does the company stand out?”

Will Lee: “The future of work is freelancing. Research about labor market trends suggests that by 2025, most of the US labor force will be comprised of professional freelancers. Currently, Blue Whale is the only comprehensive solution that addresses the fundamental problems faced by the dissolution of traditional employment – and also with it the social protections and employee benefits.”

Coinspeaker: Are there any initiatives in the space you would like to highlight? If so, why?”

Will Lee: “We’re partnering with a few great projects in this space, and three of them come to mind. Off the top of my head, LogisticsX is creating a decentralized last mile logistics ecosystem where neighbors can collect parcels for you while you’re away. Vanywhere is an Israeli company we’ve teamed up with that’s providing a new form of freelancing – paid-video based consultations for everything from tech support to legal advisory. Lastly, Unitalent – a Swiss high-skilled freelancer platform that’s disrupting its own business model using the blockchain.”

Coinspeaker: What are the current goals of the Blue Whale team? Can you give our readers some teasers about Blue Whale’s future plans?”

Will Lee: “So we’re working on a number of things on the product side, as well as upcoming events where we’re putting our products into the hands of small business owners.

Payroll. When we talked to our customers, we found that one of the major challenges that small business owners struggled with was human resource management. Hiring a bunch of friends to help out isn’t quite as easy as it seems. Taxes have to be filed, workdays have to be counted, employee records have to be tracked meticulously, itemized payslips have to be generated and sent to employees, and compulsory contributions to social security funds or other employee pension funds have to be made. These all differ according to state and national labor laws.

Splash takes care of all that.

When small businesses, and the self-employed use Splash, the system manages all of those functions automatically for them. Every quarter, they deposit a certain amount of money budgeted for salary payouts, and we take care of the rest. What’s more, after we pay out their employees, the Blue Whale Foundation also rewards these small businesses and self-employed individuals in Blue Points — which are convertible to BWX tokens.

To date, we haven’t had significant adoption of cryptocurrencies in the real economy. Part of the reason for that is the sheer hassle of setting up digital wallets, checking transaction statuses and account balances.

With Splash, small businesses and the self-employed now have a POS system that seamlessly integrates with secure wallets to accept and disburse payments in crypto, as well as fiat currencies. Not only that, Splash will enable them to run in-store promotions, and track daily revenue through the app.

We’re planning to test out the Alpha version of the payment system with vendors at various events we’ll be co-hosting with Design House — Korea’s leading design publication. Vendors and customers will be able to transact through Splash’s POS and Payment solutions.”

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