Susie Batt, Crypto Ecosystem Lead at Opera, on Privacy, Security and Web3 Browsing
In an exclusive interview with cryptonews.com, Susie Batt, Crypto Ecosystem Lead at Opera, talks about landing your dream job and why security & privacy are paramount to exploring Web3.
About Susie Batt
Susie Batt is the Crypto Ecosystem Lead at Opera, a web browser with a built-in and free VPN, ad blocker and crypto wallet. Susie has been spearheading Opera’s Web3 strategy since joining the global company back in 2020, joining from her previous role at ConsenSys.
Susie Batt gave a wide-ranging exclusive interview which you can see below, and we are happy for you to use it for publication provided there is a credit to www.cryptonews.com.
Highlights Of The Interview
Susie’s journey into crypto/web3 and her background at ConsenSysLanding your dream job – doing things that don’t scaleSwitching browsers from Chrome to OperaOpera’s recent announcement with Alteon – instant NFT mintingWhy privacy and security are paramount to exploring Web3
Full Transcript Of The Interview
Matt Zahab Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to the Cryptonews Podcast. We’re buzzing as always, and I’m super pumped to have today’s guest on the show coming in hot from New York. Today we have Susie Batt, the Crypto Ecosystem Lead at Opera, the web browser that we all love and know with a built in and free VPN, Ad Blocker and Crypto Wallet. Susie has been spearheading Opera’s Web3 strategies since joining the global company back in 2020. Joining from her previous role at Consensus, Susie it’s been a hot minute finally got this locked and loaded pumped to have you on, how you doing?
Susie Batt Thanks, Matt. Really excited. I’m excited really to have this year to be over. Actually.
Matt Zahab I don’t blame you. I feel like a little fresh start couldn’t hurt anyone. Right? It’s been pretty bananas for all of us.
Susie Batt It’s like emotionally, financially. It’s like such a roller coaster.
Matt Zahab Are you a New Year’s resolution person?
Susie Batt I am but I haven’t thought through I’m still trying to close out 2020 before and do a little internal Retro and then you know, read some other Crypto Retros before I kind of figure out my New Year’s resolution.
Matt Zahab What about like personal habits? What about any you know health, wealth, happiness, anything, anything around there, hit the gym, go early, eat healthy, clean, long walks any that kind of?
Susie Batt Well, I really I picked up Pilates which is actually really hard. It’s a bit of a like, contortionist sort of cardio. But that I picked that up recently so I can kind of push that into the New Year. But I wake up early anyways because I’m on European time from New York.
Matt Zahab Funny Pilates story. When I was talking, I was playing hockey, I want to say I was like 16 years old, probably the best shape my life like, you know, just a little monster, right? That just long distance, strength, speed, agility, you name it. Me and a couple of the boys from my team. We did a Pilates session because one of the moms on the team was begging to Pilates and she was like, Oh, you guys think you’re so tough. You guys, you know, wake up and eat nuts and bolts and nails for breakfast. Y’all think you nailed it. And she’s like, come to Pilates with me. So the four of us went to Pilates with her. And we got the absolute shit kicked out of us. And I was in the best shape of my life. And just like you said, the body, sort of just moving and grooving of the body and the flexibility and then the endurance involved in that. And then being on that like Pilates table. I don’t even know what you call that thing a little.
Susie Batt Yeah, it’s a contraction, right? It’s scary.
Matt Zahab It’s a battle.
Susie Batt But you know what, I’m a figure skater. I was a competitive figure skater. And I coached figure skating for, you know, probably, but 20 years afterwards. And I recently was asked to coach some hockey teams and power stroke powers, just to max. We call it power stroking, but just to like maximize each push, and edging and balance transfer. So there’s a lot of overlap with agility and just power and everything from the core.
Matt Zahab I can funny you bring that up when I was some like eight, probably 10 to 13. My team did power skating, and it was at 6:30 in the morning. So you’re 11 years old, you’re a hockey player, you’re the favorite thing is just having the puck on your stick dangling. Going for a little rip. It’s just as blissful. It’s Zen to us. We’d have to wake up at you know, 5:30 to be at the rink for 6:30 to do an hour and a half of power skating, knowing that we won’t even touch a puck until the last 30 minutes. And again, we had a lady power skater she was a woman. So if you saw Chuck, I think she used to power skate for the Toronto Maple Leafs. She had us going down the ice on one friggin leg doing our inside and outside edges and all. But that again, that turns you into an incredible skater and then you get to you know, dominate hockey games. So it’s all worth in the long run.
Susie Batt It’s cross training.
Matt Zahab Crazy.
Susie Batt I’m tired just thinking about it.
Matt Zahab I know what a workout though. What a day to start the day. But hey, I guess this isn’t a hockey pod. I guess maybe if this was spit and Chiclets or something but this is the Cryptonews Podcast. We’ve probably got to get into it. I want to hear your story. How’d you get into crypto? How’d you get into Web3? And obviously you were at Consensus before which is one of the behemoths in the space probably the most well-known ETH-related company sort of on the actual foundation side not on the you know, consumer side like a MetaMask or a OpenSea or something of the like, but Yeah, how’d you get into crypto? How’d you get into Opera?
Susie Batt Well, you like many people who are in Blockchain, Crypto, Web3, circuitous path. But that’s the beauty of it, because you can start almost anywhere. I have a background in international policy, and I was a contractor with a World Bank and USAID, which is a Arm of the State Department in the US. And I focus mostly on work in the Middle East. And I read about this use case of Blockchain technology in the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Jordanian Kansas. And this was 2016. So the World Food Program was implementing a program to distribute entitlements to refugees. And instead of distributing vouchers, like a lot of humanitarian organizations do, they were doing retinal scans in the camps and then storing that data and whatever provisions they purchased, and settling it all on up their private Blockchain, which was built with the help of Consensus. So I read about this, and I had some friends who were in the humanitarian circles, and they were like, Oh, I don’t know what this stuff is. But it’s super dope. And well, they didn’t say that. But they were like, it’s super cool. And I don’t know. But it’s working. It’s eliminating fraud. It’s eliminating bank fees, like millions of dollars, it’s settling within three seconds instead of 30 days. And so I was like, what is this eliminating fraud? Bureaucracy? I want to research so I dive deep, saw that Consensus was managing this, reshot some contacts who knew an MD there and I was like, I need to work here. Like, what the heck is this, I want to learn. And so I started, I got a job. I got a job there and just worked on the expansion of Dev Education in the academy and just learned everything about Solidity. And, you know, spun up my own node and homebrew and worked, right. Where to go work right behind the MetaMask guys, and Infura. And like, we were in the Bushwick office, and it was just like, so much innovation and so much uncertainty and so much like, not sure what’s gonna stick but like great solid people, who are still my closest friends and brain trust in the community.
Matt Zahab Such a cool story, I got asked, What did you do in particular, to end up getting the gig, because like, you hear the stories all the time, I want to work for company X, Y, or Z, but no one actually calls us and does the things that don’t scale and sends the cold emails, the cold calls, talk through the network, so on so forth, can you like walk me through the actual steps, sort of the roadmap of, you know, once you decided I’m going to work for this freaking company, and then going to work for Consensus? How’d you get there?
Susie Batt Um, so first, it’s like research, you got to know more than they know about their own company. You gotta be present, right? Like I just showed up, and was in Bushwick and was like, Hey, I happened to be next door at you know, the cafe, why don’t you just, you know, meet me here. Meanwhile, I was like, I planned the whole thing. And then I think, thirdly, you have to talk about what you can do for them, not what you did, but what you can do and think about what your how your skills are transferable, and solving what they need to be solved. And you know, they never asked me specifics on my CV. It was more about what can you do for us in our product? And that’s how you kind of have to shape the narrative.
Matt Zahab It’s classic and I love how you did that showing up in person with the whole nonchalant Yeah, you know, I was at a cafe just doing my morning emails saw your sign thought I’d pop in that’s like you hear those all the time. It’s so true. Susie, it seems like candidly It drives me crazy when I hear stories of all you know, I’m looking for a job right now. It’s like if I ever needed a job I would be knocking on doors, I would be hauling so much ass, there’s zero chance that I would not have a job if I wanted to. And it’s just like, you know, difficult it is going on LinkedIn, applying for jobs on Navigator, going to Kijiji, doesn’t work. You got it. You got to do different.
Susie Batt You got to feel it right. You gotta like it’s the energetic sync with someone. You know, just having an active Twitter, I mean, the first thing I do when I’m interviewing is just like check Twitter, check Discord, check GitHub, check you know, everything that person has done, so that you know, you can find, like sweet spot or where their passion is or what their sticky points are, and, and elaborate on that, but like you should know everything about the person or the company.
Matt Zahab There’s nothing worse than it’s like, you know, so what do you want to work for us? The money, it’s like, no, you gotta have a little more than that, you know, talk with the mission, the founding team, what makes it special, their market segments, so on so forth. Very interesting. Let’s get into Opera a little more. Why Opera of all places. Right now, you were just that you were at Consensus and give us the elevator pitch on what exactly Opera is and does as well. And I’m an Opera user myself, except for again, I sort of switch between Opera, Brave and Chrome. Chrome for when I’m recording podcast for the obvious reasons for Riverside, and Riverside if you’re listening to this, hit up, Susie, you guys work together, get a Riverside X Opera. But anyways, the floor is yours. Tell us about Opera and what you do there.
Susie Batt Yeah. So I left Consensus, wanting to work on product. And felt that onboarding to Blockchain was just so cumbersome and difficult. And it wasn’t intuitive, like Web1 or Web2, you know, there’s still so much growth that needs to happen. But I really wanted to work on product. Opera has been around for 25 years. It’s Scandinavian based in Oslo, they were actually the first native browser in a mobile phone. Nokia and Ericsson had an Opera browser way before anybody else did. And they are constantly pushing innovation in various ways. I really love this approach to why don’t we try this? Why don’t we innovate the product and the flagship browser, which everybody knows is the red “O”, that gave birth to Opera GX browser, which is the number one gaming browser. Also Opera Mini, which is the number one browser on mobile in Africa. It has a special technology that allows for really fast data throughput in areas with low or little infrastructure for web browsing, and Wi-Fi or cellular network. And then beginning of 2022, we launched the Opera Crypto Browser, because we found an opportunity to lead the way. And Web3, you know, we’ve gone through this iteration of Blockchain, Crypto, but we needed something more broad. We are a browser company. So we know UI UX, we know 25 years of browsing and partnerships. And so with that in mind, we invited and integrated multi chains and multi wallets, and search bar integration for IPFS. And really have built this power machine to be a portal for all things, Web3. So whether you’re into DeFi or NFTs, or Decentralized Filing. This browser can be your entry point. However, wherever you are on this on the spectrum, you know, of those verticals. And Opera is just really good at UI UX and partnerships. So that’s sort of the macro picture of our products.
Matt Zahab It is so clean, like and I love using it I love the bar on the left too. It makes me feel like I’m in a feel like when you’re using a browser, you sort of forget it’s a piece of software. I don’t know if that makes sense. But like, because it’s just they’re all sorted the exact same, that having the left bar, or the bar on the left hand side of your screen is such a treat. I absolutely love it and the personalization with that as well.
Susie Batt Thank you.
Matt Zahab On the crypto side of things. Was this a no brainer to sort of create and launch the Web3 browser? Like obviously you get in the gaming makes sense. There’s what I think 4.5 billion gamers in the world total no brainer. Makes complete sense. You guys already have what 530 million users I think I read but the Web3 it’s such a niche part, what was the rationale behind this?
Susie Batt Well, you know, we have the distribution, we know, on the ground, different regions, different countries, different regulatory issues. We have partners on the ground as well as employees all over. So we had a better sense of idiosyncrasies in different regions and how people browse and how people use payments and browsers. And so was it a no brainer, I mean, it was a huge opportunity. And we still find it to be, you know, it’s still challenging, because the UI UX for a lot of these protocols and DAPS are still really fraught with friction. So you know, there are some bigger pieces that we’re trying to chip at. And that’s continuously you know, web security, chain integrations, and integrating different wallets, because not every you know, every chain is different and might have and does have different tech stack behind it. So I don’t know, do you want to drill down into any of these topics with. What do you mean?
Matt Zahab I love them all. It’s just it’s a matter of I’m a curious cat, curious George. I guess that was the monkey right? Curious George. Yeah, I’m a bit Curious George kind of guy. I love as someone who helps build companies, I love knowing the process and the whole sort of roadmap from Step A to Z on actually shipping that product. And you guys have a bunch of different unique product sets built into the Web3 browser. And I’d love to know, like, which one was the hardest to ship? Sort of two-part question what which one was to ship and which one did people ask for the most? Because that’s one thing that I love when I like I’ve written Riversides so many times, hey, add this add that this UX sucks. This UI sucks, blah, blah, blah. I’m always I just, you know what I mean? Because if my feet were in their shoes, I would want someone doing the same. So. The floor is yours.
Susie Batt Absolutely. So 2018 a really terrific guy named Charles Hamill. Can convinced you know, execs at Opera to build a native crypto wallet. And because he found that there, you know, there at the time, it was mostly Meta, it was only MetaMask or maybe Trust Wallet, my wallet, my Crypto Wallet, so they built the Crypto Wallet in 2018. But then it was like dropping CryptoKitties, NFTs, it wasn’t a whole lot of there’s nothing to purchase, you were just to kind of trading or swapping. There was a lot of Ico that was Ico boom. But with, you know, he has since left but left a huge legacy at Opera moved over to Ledger to be head of product over there. But he left us legacy of you know, we’ve got nearly 400 million users around the world on all of our products. And we’ve got this Web3 piece that’s evolving, you know, we could be the end go between the interlocutor and onboard normies into the space that seems so mysterious and very cryptic, right? And scary and given a year, like this year, like, how do you convince anybody to get into crypto unless it’s through something that isn’t such a behavioral change are such a leap of faith, and what better mechanism or platform than a browser everybody knows how to browse.
Matt Zahab It’s very true. We got a couple of hot ones coming up. But Susie, we got to take a quick break and give a huge shout out to our sponsor of the show and that is PrimeXBT. I’ve been using PrimeXBT for a hot minute and absolutely loved them as they offer a robust trading system for both beginners and professional traders. Doesn’t matter if you’re a rookie or a vet, you can use their layouts and widgets to best fit your trading style. PrimeXBT is also offering a sweet promo for listeners of the pod. Use the promo code CRYPTONEWS50 all one word to receive 50% of your deposit credited to your trading account. Again, that is CRYPTONEWS50 to receive 50% of your deposit credited to your trading account. We’ll keep us in Opera but there’s one question that makes me so curious. And this one I feel like is a no brainer. I’m sure you’ve been asked this. How do you get people to switch browsers? Like I know so many people Chrome Maxis, and I still have friends who are Safari Maxis. Like, I think Safari is the opposite woke. I think Safari sucks.
Susie Batt That’s unfortunate.
Matt Zahab Oh, you mean for them?
Susie Batt So I think what you do? Yeah, I think what you do is, you know, in the spirit of Blockchain, nothing is mutually exclusive. Nothing should be completely tied up to one product or one platform or one protocol. So I think you can start with making it simple and easy, such as our new product called Launchpad, which will be exclusive to the Opera Crypto Browser. But it’s like a couple clicks to mince your NFT. Imagine, you don’t need to do anything but have an Opera browser, we partner with LTM, which is a company that provides cloud-based workflow for creatives. They partner with Apple and Adobe. But anyone who wants to mint an NFT in real time, they can do it in a couple of clicks, they can upload a file mint on NFT, deployed a chain, drop into the upper crypto wallet, and then own their asset. So it’s like removing all these extensions and hurdles and understanding which wallet to use. And just keep the rails up for the first experience. And then opening up to for example, multi chains or multi wallets like we have available in the browser where you can toggle between wallets and explore other networks, MetaMask, Trust Wallet in addition to hundreds of other EVM compatible wallets, but like you have to be able to offer a lot of choices, or guardrails, you know in the beginning, and then as users become more comfortable, more trusting the product then kind of like reveals itself in different ways. But I don’t think anyone new to Blockchain or Web3 needs to be confounded with all these different chains and uses and you know, where’s my NFT? If I mint it on Polygon, and it’s not on my you know, Metaverse wallet like it’s very confusing.
Matt Zahab It’s so much easier on Opera. It is, it truly is. And I’m obviously not a paid spokesperson. And every guest that comes in the pod is 100% free. This is not, this is no boost. This is just coming from someone who also uses it. It doesn’t make a lot of sense. The other thing I love about you guys is the privacy. You guys are privacy Maxis, which is a good thing to be Maxis though.
Matt Zahab Crazy. That’s the whole VPN thing is I remember learning about this early last year in early 2021, that VPNs are actually finite. I thought there was like, you know, you could just string together a bunch of letters and numbers and create a VPN, there’s actually a finite number of vegans in the world. They are an asset similar to you know, a Bitcoin per se. And I found that so interesting. And the amount of people I know that just go to the airport, or a local Starbucks. I only have one friend who knows how to do this. And he can literally, if you’re on public Wi-Fi, he can like turn your camera on. It’s bananas.
Susie Batt That’s creepy.
Matt Zahab That’s crazy to me. So it’s crazy. It scares the shit out of me.
Susie Batt Two things that I totally do, as you know, a private citizen, is I always have my VPN on, at home, even though that’s a private network, and especially on my mobile, and for all my financial interactions. I have a totally separate email that’s like ProtonMail for everything. I don’t use any Gmail. I don’t use any of that, you know, I have a dedicated email for just like financial transactions that separate.
Matt Zahab Those Protons. Yeah, I love Proton because it’s you know, it’s the safest and crypto native email, but the you the UI and UX is, yeah, but it’s like you go into email, everything’s so clean, and you know.
Susie Batt You can do that for your other personal style.
Matt Zahab I know.
Susie Batt No, not, you know, just keep it.
Matt Zahab You truly cannot win them all. Any again, I know you’re being in the privacy thing, any other sort of privacy tips or anything related to that there’s, I feel like there’s just so many things that the average human being you know, and I’m a huge component of this, I probably have so many holes that you know, could easily be penetrated and I’d love to patch those up.
Susie Batt Look, I think using the Opera I know it sounds very silly, but using the Opera browser is the first step.
Matt ZahabNo, it’s true. And I’m just thinking in my head of all the have you ever had any scares? Have you ever had any close calls privacy wise?
Susie Batt Touchwood. I’m pretty suspect so and plus, I don’t have a lot of money. I have a lot of freedom, but I don’t have a lot of money. So I keep that on the down low. Yeah.
Matt Zahab Nice. Yeah, I need to I’m gonna put that on the to do list for 2022 2023 Wow, time flies. Last Opera thing I want to get into is the deep NFT analytics tool. And that is called DegenKnows that is hilarious. And I believe that there’s some near Elrond, Phantom, bunch of different chains on there. Is that a like? Did you guys acquire that? Or did you guys actually name it DegenKnows?
Susie Batt No, we built it in house, it was started off as being sort of like a basement project. And whenever we played with it, we were like, Hey, should do this. This is super cool. Like, let’s expand it or we need to like aggregate the data this way. Or what does that actually mean? Or let’s use the same semantics as you know, Copy Trader, or you know, like, where you’re not using Copy Traders, since that’s trademarked, but like, the idea of being able to recreate somebody’s really good trades or portfolio was enticing. So DegenKnows is an analytics tool that scrapes on and off chain data and aggregates these insights. So off chain data would be like Twitter followers, active members, number of active members total mentions and 24 hours on top of the on-chain data that scraped and we monitor on sale upcoming NFT projects, and there’s a recommendation page. But what I really think is cool is like these smart money functions that allow you to follow filtered and trustworthy wallets and select them for high profile performance like who’s got these Bored Apes and what else are they buying and then there’s smart traders like people who wallets that excel at gaining profit by trading on secondary markets. There’s like Smart Minter that shows wallets that are best at profiting off minting and selling and then Smart Holder that specializes in holding on to NFTs longer to generate value like you see those wallets. So there’s it’s just like a Bloomberg for NFTs like a your Bloomberg terminal for NFT so you can like click through, drill down and see linkages between projects, but you can also hover over and read their white paper so you understand more about the size of their collection. Who is you know the artist? Yeah, like so you don’t have to open up all these different pages you can like hover over and that’s like a widget as well.
Matt Zahab Love that.
Susie Batt But exclusively on the crypto browser. We’re exploring B2B partnerships to embed it in other products but right now you can find it in the browser and it’s like on the sidebar, where you’ll see Launchpad also in January.
Matt Zahab The left hand side yeah, love that sidebar. Susie this has been an absolute treat. I know we are getting a little hold tight for time here, let’s get into some non-crypto, non-Opera stuff. I know we talked about a little bit about what you know, any plans for the New Year what you’re most excited about? Do you have any events that are on the docket on the calendar that you’re super pumped to go to can be crypto, non-crypto related, any conferences or just anything? What gonna get you going for 2023?
Susie Batt So two things that I’m really psyched about that I just started playing with. Recently, of course, ChatGPT.
Matt Zahab So much fun.
Susie Batt Right. Like I like you, like just even writing poems are super fun. It’ll totally disrupt the search box and search engine with static imagery, audio, visual, datasets, communication, I think, play around with it. I urge you and your audience to, I think, for Q1, I’m super excited for ETHDenver, which is always the first event of the year, a lot of product releases. It’s BUIDL first. So really well known for hackathon, you know, BUIDL week, and it’s free. So submissions are out for speakers right now, as well as tickets if you’re a dev, you got to be there. And they moved the conference out of downtown, so it won’t be like last year, which was pretty crazy. It will still be crazy, but it’ll be Yeah, it was like I think, planned for like 4000 and like 10,000 people showed up. So it’s at the Western this year, March 2nd through the 5th so go on to ethdenver.com and get your tickets for that. I’m on SporkDAO for full disclosure. I’m a steward for SporkDAO so we’re well underway with planning but highly recommend that one as the first conference for next year.
Matt Zahab We’re you there last year?
Matt Zahab Nice. I had John Paller on the show earlier this year.
Susie Batt Oh, yeah. So I’m excited about that. I’m excited about NFTs and music, ticketing, community gating. I’m excited about social graphs, where you can own your own Tweet equivalent. Yeah, 2023 hopefully will be more about innovation than fraud and drama.
Matt Zahab It would be lovely change to the current narrative. Any Susie hot takes I know it’s a bit of a cliche question but we always jump in the hot take factory put her you know, shit kickin’ boots on pull them up all the way up past the knees and get down and dirty. Any hot takes that Susie believes in that most people do not doesn’t have to be crypto can be food, politics.
Susie Batt You know what I really do? That’s it. I would say I’m an energetic person. You know, feeling someone’s energy and knowing boundaries, knowing what’s yours and what other people’s is that discernment is really important. And just remember, layer zero is people, right? We talked about layer one, layer two, layer three being ZK-Rollups. Layer zero is people and a friend of mine, that Consensus always talks about this. And he reminds me all the time, like you’re gonna do you can’t do a bad deal with good people. Right? You can’t make that’s like a Warren Buffet-ism. But like it’s really true. It’s all about people no matter what industry you’re in, and you get an energetic connection or you don’t or maybe it’s like math, but like we got to go with our gut and maybe if we had done that more with some characters this year, things would have been different but like I’m owning it, you know, I’m owning the energy that I put out, and whatever I allow in and receive.
Matt Zahab Love the layer zero that’s going in the notes layer zero the people layer.
Susie BattPeople layer.
Matt Zahab Love that. Susie, this was a blast. I really appreciate you coming on. Definitely will have you on for round two, especially at the speed in which Opera is moving and grooving. You guys are shipping new stuff all the time. Until next time, can you please let our listeners know where they can find you and Opera online and on socials?
Susie Batt Sure. @opera.com on Discord, Twitter, @operacryptobrowser also on Twitter. I’m on Twitter @susiebattgirl. And yeah, like it’s not hard to hunt anybody down right now.
Matt Zahab A couple, yeah.
Susie Batt Just be nice and I’ll respond.
Matt Zahab Yeah, that’s true. Sliding Susie’s DMs she gave you the green light there you go, Susie thank you so much really appreciate it truly a blast.
Susie Batt Thanks, Matt. Merry Christmas.
Matt Zahab You as well. Folks what an episode with Susie Batt head of Crypto Ecosystem Lead at Opera. What an epi, the dropping knowledge bombs left right and center I absolutely love the part where she also talks about getting the dream job that she wanted to so much to learn. If you enjoyed this one I hope you did please do subscribe guys. That would mean the world to my team and I, speaking of the team of you guys. Special shout out to our amazing sound editor Justas your the man appreciate you and to the listeners love you guys. Keep on growing those bags and keep on staying healthy, wealthy and top bye for now. We’ll talk soon.