Please tell us more about your background, how you got interested in blockchain & DeFi and what you are currently working on?
I am 32 years old and have been working as a journalist for 7 years. I started working at Reuters for 2 years where I covered financial markets topics. I worked at Reuters because I have a financial background. I have a Master's degree in Law and diplomas respectively from a business school and a journalism school. I then joined Les Echos for 4 years where I covered topics related to crypto, blockchain but also everything related to Fintech and the payment world. I have joined L'Express 18 months ago. I now report on financial topics in a wider perspective: payments, Fintech, banks and markets. My goal is to write news but also and above all to make analyses or investigations.
It was in 2015/2016 that I first saw publications related to crypto-currencies and blockchain. As I was dealing with financial markets, I was intrigued by the decentralization dimension, the peer to peer technology and also the political and philosophical approach of crypto-currencies and blockchain. When I joined Les Echos at the end of 2016, Bitcoin was just starting to take off and to become a phenomenon going beyond the mere confidentiality of engineers and financiers. The Genie was let out of his bottle!
It became a subject that had to be dealt with for two main reasons. On one hand, the subject had to be covered for educational reasons, in order to explain what it is and how it works. On the other hand, its potential impact had to be exposed, in order to show what it would change from an industrial and commercial perspective.
Was there a moment in your life that changed everything for you? If yes, which one?
What considerably changed things was the Bull Run in 2017, which was the case for many journalists on this subject. I had been interested by this theme for some time. When the price of the first crypto progressed, it became a broader topic which allowed me to cover it further for Les Echos. Readers’ interest increased as the price of Bitcoin was risen, which made this topic more legitimate to cover.
What have been your most important failures and what did you learn from them?
To be honest, luckily, I have not yet had to face a major failure. The reason for this is probably that I don't yet have a 30-year career behind me. I've always been lucky, whether it was at Reuters, Les Echos or today at L'Express. What may be perceived as painful, but that I have really enjoyed, is being strongly challenged by my Chief Editors. Many journalists do not appreciate that.
If you could change anything from the past, what would you do differently?
Assuming strong career choices at an early stage of my life. My academic and professional background has opened up a lot of horizons, even if I already had a strong feeling at the age of 18 that I would become a journalist. I didn't follow my instincts early enough. In 2021, you have to know how to take risks, even it can potentially lead to failure.
What soft & hard skills have been most helpful in helping you succeed to become a writer in these topics?
The most precious thing for a journalist is his network. You have to build a relationship of trust, find a form of reliability and loyalty with people who bring you a lot of things (knowledge, relations, sources). I am also very curious and open-minded. You should never consider that you know everything, you have to doubt a lot in this job.
My knowledge of finance before entering journalism helped me to find my way because few people are interested in economics in this field. Otherwise I would also say that I am a hard worker.
How DeFi and blockchain have changed your life?
By giving me a wonderful career path. There's a whole generation of journalists who had a blast in the 90s with the rise of the internet. The first big steps in crypto and blockchain development corresponds precisely with my arrival on the job market. Quite naturally I found a playground on which I was having fun and professionally I was able to capitalize on it.
What is a typical day for you? What are your work habits?
I don't have a typical day. I don't sleep much. Every morning, I get up early enough to look at the news that came out during the night. Asia has already woken up and the USA has gone to bed. I like to get all the updates first thing in the morning at work while having my coffee. I also often write in the morning because I have a clear mind.
I have a lot of meetings, breakfasts, drinks, etc. I build up my week ensuring to network, strengthen my sources and staying aware of what's going on, as it is fundamental. I spend more time chatting or seeing people than writing articles. My goal is to be the person who knows everything that's going on in the financial ecosystem, whether it's about the players or the markets... It is essential to have a wide enough overview to grasp my topics the most efficiently.
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What are the best resources (media, blog, influencer, podcast, nl…) you follow to be always up to date on the DeFi and blockchain?
I'm a big user of social media. No matter how controversial social media can be, it represents the biggest gold mine in the world in terms of information. If you use it well, it's very valuable. Thanks to social media, I've been able to exchange with people from across the world about crypto or DeFi. I use Twitter a lot to follow investors, traders, bankers, etc. It also allows me to publish my content or analysis and that's how people contact me or identify me as a journalist in the sector.
I really like media such as The Block or Decrypt, and also some members of the blockchain community who share good content and Reddit. It is in the English-speaking press, especially in the US, that there is the most to learn with many contributors (blogs or substacks). In France there are also good journalists like Gregory Raymond (21 Millions), on the scale of the French-speaking market which is much smaller.
What is your favorite DeFi Project?
Aave is the flagship project of DeFi in Europe with a lot of French people working on it. It's DeFi in its purest form, this principle of decentralized finance with a system that allows you to stack some cryptos and lend money to others. With Aave I have a small idea of what a decentralized bank could look like, its function of collecting savings and redistributing them, without having an actor called BNP Paribas in the midst.
Otherwise, there is a pretty cool DeFi project that is French: Ternoa (which is led by Clément Téqui). The project was launched less than a year ago and the traction is interesting, with a vision on data encryption and using the cloud.
Among the people you have interacted with in DeFi, who do you admire the most and why?
I would say the CEO of Ledger, Pascal Gauthier. He's still a young guy, who very quickly understood everything about the crypto industry and he has a real outlook for his company and for the sector.
What is your vision for your niche? What do you expect to come in the next few years? Does it involve the blockchain? What developments in the field do you find to be the most exciting?
There was the internet revolution that turned the media business model upside down, because it is a global platform where anyone can publish and distribute their content freely. The internet has only gone part of the way by making it easier for readers to access content, but what was still missing was how to ensure the transfer of value. Crypto and blockchain can contribute to keep the link between the readers through the internet but at the same time facilitate the payments with more efficient and transparent methods.
We can see tomorrow readers with a crypto wallet, and a billing that is done instantly as soon as they read an article. This could solve the problem of valuing media on the Internet. It's going to take time because the media took 20 years to adapt to the digital and internet wave, but revolutions tend to accelerate.
There has never been so much content in circulation, people really want journalists to bring them reliable, cross-checked and verified information. Blockchain can enable media to deliver information in a verified and secure form through the work conducted by serious journalists who ensure to verify their sources. Fake news still circulate considerably. This technology could potentially create safe spots where readers would trust the provided information.
What part should writers and journalists play in DeFi and blockchain?
This is one of the big issues that journalists are currently facing. Thirty years ago, they wrote their articles and the information fell to the reader in the paper press or through television and radio. Today, readers can go and find this information themselves, and even reach out to journalists. I am directly approached on social networks and there are many ways to exchange directly with the readers, which makes us get out of our bubble and become a kind of actor of the information.
Our mission is to know what to think about this world by providing relevant information, analyses, investigations and reports, but we are now also actors of this world. We are obviously subjective in our choices of topics and in our coverage of events. For everything that is crypto-related, I tell what is happening in the ecosystem, but I also decide to talk about one or another specific project. What I do have a more or less important impact on the sector. You have to find the right balance.
My vision of journalism is not to spread the word or to try to convince people about blockchain. My role is to explain what's going on, to give the most reliable and complete information about the sector. I write about things that I think are important and that I think our readers should know about.
What's the most important or impactful piece of content about DeFi you writed? What made it so important or impactful?
I have not done many articles specifically on DeFi because I have worked on publications that are nationwide. Despite the economic touch, DeFi remains rather confidential and technical. However, I did a series at Les Echos with two friends and colleagues where we revealed quite a bit about Libra (Facebook) in 2019.
We made a huge coverage of the subject, with a lot of information and in particular by revealing that the telecommunication operator Free was part of the project.
What is different working as a writer/journalist for DeFi & blockchain topics?
It's obviously different because you have a material that takes shape in front of your eyes. We can take the example of sports to realize that: there was recently the Euro final between Italy and England, you don't explain the rules of soccer to your readers before the match.
The DeFi and the whole crypto universe is very young and is evolving very fast. It's not easy to keep up with it all. You have to explain what's going on while being aware that what you wrote three months ago may has changed.
Any tips for the beginners who aspire to become a writer or a journalist on DeFi but feel completely overwhelmed to even start competing?
The absolute motivation is to do what you like. Except for a few jobs, there are always a lot of opportunities. Being a journalist may not be the most attractive job that exists but it definitely always remains interesting, especially while working in a sector that is constantly evolving drastically. Leaving aside the status quo between paper and web, there are opportunities everywhere. Either through historical redacting means but also through other new ways: by creating your own blog, your own newsletter via substack, using social networks which are becoming a new way to relay information.
You have to try and be willing to fail.