Hi, my name's Kenny Lienhard, I’m the co-founder and CEO of The Writer Company, the company behind the Cryptowriter publication you are currently reading, the Cryptowriter podcast network, and related Finney NFT products. Before Cryptowriter I founded EOSwriter, an online publication you may be familiar with if you’re from the EOSIO community. I wanted to share with you a little about myself and my journey over the years.
I was born in England to a Swiss mother and moved to Australia at the age of 4. My childhood was great. A middle-class family living the Aussie dream, BBQ’s every weekend with friends and family. Dad’s small painting and decorating business covered our living expenses with enough left over to go on family holidays multiple times a year, while Mum looked after me and kept the house in order. I was afforded the freedom to explore my passions and was always supported in whatever interests I had. These included basketball, skateboarding, bodyboarding, music, guitar, art, and smoking weed (in high school).
I’ve always been creative and interested in technology, so the only subjects I paid any attention to during my school years were IT and arts. I struggled a little at school and was even put into a “special class” at one stage, diagnosed with dyslexia. I seemed to grow out of this a little during high school and actually ended up with decent grades in my senior years, but I’ve always struggled with English and still to this day rely heavily on google to correct my spelling. The fact I’m now the CEO of The “Writer” Company is a trip, to say the least.
My first exposure to computer technology was in the early ’90s. Memories of floppy disks (which were actually floppy), school teachers yelling at me for pressing the wrong keys, upgrading hard drives to allow enough space to burn my favorite Deftones CDs, and who could forget playing Super Mario Bros on Nintendo! It's crazy to think back and realize how far technology has progressed in such a relatively short period of time.
Coming out of high school I decided to take a year off to surf, party, and just generally become a menace to society. It wasn’t long till my parents pushed me to “do something with my life” so I followed my interests and began studying IT, graphic design, and video production. This then led me to begin building my own video production business at the age of 24. Things were progressing well, I was filming weddings, editing videos for professional surfers, and building a nice portfolio of work.
But then my fairytale life was turned upside down overnight when my mum was diagnosed with cancer. My new business venture was pushed to the side as I spent the next 18 months looking after her until she passed away. Looking back, it was a lot to deal with at the age of 24, but luckily she instilled in me such a positive attitude that I dealt with her passing incredibly well, and still to this day count myself lucky to have had her for the time I did.
So now it was just me and my Dad, Mum’s medical bills had left a reasonable dent in our finances and we needed to make money fast to keep our family home. I decided to forget about the video production business and focus on helping my Dad with the painting business as I knew it would produce the income we needed straight away. I’d been helping my Dad paint houses on weekends since I was 14 for extra pocket money so it was familiar and I knew what I was doing. It wasn’t long before I realized that I had definitely not inherited my organizational skills from my Dad, and so with his approval, I took control of the business. I went on to run it for the next decade.
Utilizing my design and IT skills we became one of the first painting businesses in our local area to have an online presence and it wasn’t long before I discovered Google Adwords which gave us a complete monopoly of our local search results. It would be 4 years until other painting businesses slowly began to catch on. Running the painting business taught me a great deal, most importantly how to judge a person's character and how to manage people and personalities.
While painting may seem mundane to most, I can honestly say those 10 years were the most valuable and educational of my life. The thing about painting is, it allows you to listen to Podcasts and YouTube videos while also earning a living. I spent 10 years, approximately 6 hrs/day, 5-6 days a week listening to Joe Rogan, Sam Harris, Alan Watts, Jordan Peterson, and everyone else in between. Covering subjects like permaculture, diet, spirituality, philosophy, psychology, technology, and many more. Even while driving around quoting jobs I was listening to podcasts. I guess it was inevitable that I’d stumble across blockchain and crypto at some point.
My first introduction to blockchain was in September of 2016, listening to a Joe Rogan Podcast with Andreas Antonopoulos. I remember they were discussing this Bitcoin thing which I’d heard of before but never paid much attention to. My perception at the time was that it was some kind of internet Ponzi scheme or scam. By the end of the podcast, my interest was spiked and I had a newfound respect for Bitcoin, but it wasn’t enough for me to look into it any further.
A year or so passed before I ran into a friend who had just bought some Bitcoin with his partner. We chatted about it briefly, he seemed excited and described how blockchain could be used to distribute solar energy throughout a community in a trustless way. This got my attention. I spent the next 3 days YouTubing topics like “what is blockchain” and “how does blockchain work”. I was hooked! When I become interested in a subject, I become absolutely obsessed. My attention diverts completely to the new interest and I spend every available moment searching far and wide for quality information on the topic.
Once I had a basic understanding of blockchain I quickly realized the potential investment opportunity that laid ahead of me. I had recognized the potential of companies like Apple and Facebook early on in the past and watched their shares skyrocket and thought this time maybe I should invest. Somewhere along the way, I fell into the narrative that the Bitcoin run was over and a new generation of “alt” coins would become the next big investment opportunity. Clearly, I did not grasp the true value proposition of Bitcoin or blockchain at this point. I took a good look at the top 20 coins and it wasn’t long before a coin by the name of EOS caught my attention. There was so much hype about it back then it was hard to miss. The ICO Alert Podcast with Zack Gall and Rob Finch became a huge part of my blockchain and EOS education.
As I began to learn more about EOS, and understand blockchain on a deeper level I really started to grasp the enormity of what blockchain could do for not just my bank account, but for the world at large. Convinced this new technology had the potential to completely revolutionize the world, creating a more equitable economy for all, I began writing a personal blog on Medium.
Now, this was completely out of character for me, as I stated earlier I’m dyslexic and up until that point, the thought of putting pen to paper or finger to keyboard was not something I could have ever imagined I would want to do. But this blockchain and crypto world had inspired me so much that my passion to communicate it to others seemed to override my distaste for the written word. The blog was also a way for me to explain to friends and family that I hadn’t completely lost my marbles from the many years of inhaling paint fumes. I wanted to communicate to them that this technology was not just a get-rich-quick scheme.
After publishing a couple of articles I decided to share them with the EOS community and to my surprise, they were extremely well received. One community member even decided to send me a 20 EOS tip! It’s amazing how far a small gesture like that can go. It had nothing to do with the amount sent, but the fact someone had actually found enough value in something I had written that they felt compelled to go to the effort of sending me a donation blew my mind! and spurred me on to continue writing. In fact, it filled me with so much confidence I began calling myself theEOSwriter. I had found a new appreciation and passion for writing.
The EOS community was something else back then, huge amounts of content were being produced that it was impossible to keep track of it all. I quickly saw the need for a curated source of EOS content and began asking block producers and content creators if they would mind me reposting their content on my website. My personal blog soon turned into a community website. theEOSwriter became EOSwriter.
While all this was happening, there was a dapp that had caught my attention, one of the first on EOS called Pixel Master. The game consisted of a canvas on which anyone with an EOS account could purchase and paint pixels. Once all the bare areas on the canvas had been bought up you had to purchase the pixel from the owner, returning a 1.35x to the previous owner of the pixel.
The game went absolutely nuts for a few weeks, the center pixel reaching an insane amount of 4.4K EOS, which at the time was worth over $25,000 USD, my commiserations to the poor soul who ended up holding that hot potato! The game theory was amazing though, people would write things like “EOS is a scam” knowing that an EOS supporter would pay to have it covered up.
But it wasn’t just about the money, there was something exciting about a global community coming together to create a work of art that captured my attention, and at the time I was convinced that it would be the gateway to the mass adoption of crypto.
Unfortunately, as the game progressed, a problem began to appear. It really only made sense to continue to reinvest your earnings if you were sure someone would paint over your pixel. Eventually, people started to freak out and the game crawled to a slow drip. Looking back, from a psychological perspective it was a really interesting experience to be a part of and it makes sense to me now why Dan Larimer was so intrigued and active in the Telegram conversations. He was drawing influence for a future social media platform that would become Voice.
During the next 18 months, EOSwriter would go on to become one of the leading sources of EOSIO content on the web. By monetizing the attention with banner ads and sponsored posts from EOSIO projects, the publication became profitable. We became the first publication to time-stamp an article on the EOS Blockchain, and Brendan Blumer pinned our coverage of the B1June event to his Twitter profile. Who would have thought a modest personal blog would have turned into this?
Having now seen first hand the value of a community-based publication, naturally the idea to expand outside of EOS began to develop. I remember the day and moment clearly… painting a high-end house on a canal, up a ladder cutting in a ceiling and thinking... imagine a bunch of communities EOSwriter, BTCwriter, ETHwriter, etc, and the best content from each community could aggregate to the top Cryptowriter layer! It would be like EOSwriter but on steroids and it would also help to expose EOS content to those outside of its bubble.
As with any new exciting idea, the first thing I wanted to do was share it with someone. I’d recently made contact with a great new writer from the EOS space named Sean Ballent, and decided to run the idea past him. To our surprise, he’d been thinking about an almost identical idea, inspired by the community-driven sports website SBNation. Cryptowriter was born.
We spent the next 6 to 9 months brainstorming ideas, building a team, designing new innovative features, working on business plans and investor pitch decks for our own custom publication platform. It was then that we were introduced to Salah Zalatimo, the newly appointed CEO of Voice.
Voice was slow to get off the ground, it took us 3 months just to get our own publication page to allow us to begin building a community. Once we had it though we grew our community fast, far outpacing established influencers and even the Voice team.
The idea of a token that rewards content creation and engagement was an exciting one, and one which I still believe has a lot of potential today if done correctly. Unfortunately, regulators got in the way of the token ever becoming a reality and after just 8 months Salah decided to pivot the entire platform to an NFT based version, removing us, our community, and our content before we knew what hit us.
It wasn’t all bad though, while Cryptowriter was on Voice we gained invaluable knowledge and experience. We recruited and managed approximately 40+ crypto writers many of which still write for us today, producing on average 200 posts/month. We developed our own workflow systems, and most importantly recognized the NFT revolution ahead of time, developing the concepts and ideas you see before you today. Our android mascot Finney was actually named in the Voice comments section.
And so here we are smack bang right in the middle of an NFT and blockchain revolution, the same one I was trying to educate my friends and family on 4 years ago. I could not be more excited and confident in what we are building here and where we are heading. We have gained the knowledge, experience, and talent to execute on our ambitious plans and our community has the solid foundations necessary to grow Cryptowriter and Finney into what I believe will become household names… Let’s go!!!!
PS. I saw Sean trying to share a small clip of myself playing guitar on Edge of Obscurity so here’s a clip I recorded of myself covering Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb. This was 12 years ago and the past couple of years sitting behind a computer minting NFTs hasn’t been great for my waistline, so if I ever do jump on a podcast stream don’t expect me to look like this lol.