Letters to a Young VC: Letter Sixteen
April 10th, 2022

A collection of letters encompassing simple insights and recognition of foundational shifts that any bright minds trapped within the old norms of a VC mindset can use to break free, whether they are just starting their journey or reflecting back on what they wish someone had told them in their early days.

For 3000 years, up until the 1970s, cryptography had been based on symmetric keys, meaning the same keys were used to both encrypt and decrypt messages.

In order to communicate securely the keys needed to be shared by both parties. But, how do you do that without it being intercepted somewhere along the way?

It might seem easier when everyone lived in very short distance, with just a few neighbors, but even then, if a nosey neighbour or sneaky intruder managed to find where you were hiding your key and make a copy of it, whatever encryption method you used lost its power all the same.

Furthermore, this approach also clearly didn’t scale.

Not only did it break down the moment you traveled even small distances, but each time that you wanted to secure something new for yourself or another party, you needed to set up another distinct lock and key. Managing all of the keys and sending potentially hundreds to thousands of messages to ensure reliable channels of trust becomes completely unmanageable very quickly. Any economic activity beyond the most primitive quickly becomes a game racing to discover weaknesses in the illusion of trust.

Now along comes asymmetric encryption and completely changes the game.

Called the greatest advancement in cryptography in 3000 years, it’s a simple but clever concept where no direct secret key handoff needs to take place at all.

Instead, a key and lock mechanism is recognised for what it really is.

A combination of two distinct actions— closing and opening.

By using different keys for each of these actions, containers and mechanisms for the storage and transmission of any kind of message –– from financial to physical access authorisation –– take on new properties. A significant portion of them can be shared publicly, completely unobscured, secure in the knowledge that only the right people can gain access to the secret parts of it hiding in plain sight.

Keys can be transmitted across conduits between far flung parts of the world without fear of being snatched by the wrong parties.

When you find yourself scratching your head a bit at the value of better locks and keys, it really isn’t all that complicated. When you think about securing your home, the need for security that can actually be relied on is so obvious that it gets taken for granted. And, if it’s really good it becomes basically invisible.

Where it gets more interesting is if you think about traveling with anything of value.

Imagine that you had a secret formula for creating gold bars or anything else that other people strongly want. If you just walked down the street announcing to everyone visibly how much value that you are carrying with you, you would become a target pretty quick. If instead you had a perfectly common—in fantasy RPG genres yet still just a fantastical idea IRL— dimensional pouch, you could simply store all of that gold or whatever it is of value that you are making in your pouch without having to be concerned about how much back breaking weight it added to your journey or who else would see what you had with you along the way.

Public-private key encryption is that dimensional pouch in an informational systems context— which means in any context relevant to modern life.

And it doesn’t stop there, as for the next letter, Zero Knowledge Proofs bring your cryptographic knowledge to the next level.

Any value brought in from sales of NFTs minted through this article will be used for building out the F₃M Realm treasury, which will eventually be governed and coordinated by the DAO, furthering to decentralise the web3 fashion capital stack.

F₃Manifesto (F₃M) is a rally flag for the entire web3 fashion movement. It’s a label and realm that is built for so much than just the digital and physical threads and collections that it will spin up and release.

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