“I Started Using Uniswap in Prison”: Martin Shkreli

Fresh from a stint in prison for securities fraud, “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli has shared some of his thoughts on Bitcoin, DeFi, and Web3 with the crypto community.

“I Started Using Uniswap in Prison”: Martin Shkreli
Photo: Amr Alfiky/Reuters

Key Takeaways

  • Days after leaving prison on fraud charges, Martin Shkreli said that he was optimistic about the future of crypto during a Twitter Spaces session.
  • Shkreli was particularly enthusiastic about DeFi and said that he had used Uniswap in prison.
  • He also namechecked Algorand and Solana as promising projects and said that he thinks Ethereum could overtake Bitcoin in the future.

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Shkreli was released from prison Wednesday. 

Martin Shkreli Talks DeFi 

Martin Shkreli, the so-called “Pharma Bro” who became notorious for hiking the price of the life-saving drug Daraprim by over 5,000%, is bullish on DeFi. 

On an early Saturday Twitter Spaces call, the controversial entrepreneur discussed his thoughts on the future of Bitcoin and DeFi to an audience of crypto enthusiasts. Shkreli said he was optimistic about where DeFi is headed and revealed that he has used the technology in the past. “Uniswap is really cool. I started using Uniswap in prison,” he said of Ethereum’s top decentralized exchange. He also discussed how DeFi could usurp the traditional finance system in the future. “I don’t think it’s at the limit of where it can go,” he said. “I think we’ll see more and more financial products that end up in DeFi… eventually we’ll see some crypto entity be bigger than the banking behemoths.” 

Shkreli also commented on how traditional stocks could be tokenized using the blockchain. “There are so many ways we can do things with DeFi. There should clearly be an Apple coin and a Tesla coin,” he said. DeFi already makes Apple and Tesla trading possible with synthetic assets, though they’re yet to see mainstream adoption. Shkreli decried the process of buying stocks in the U.S., suggesting that DeFi could improve the experience. “The idea that I can’t buy a Tesla share without going through this SEC apparatus and all these other steps is kinda nuts… there are people breaking the silo and trying to destroy it forever, I hope.” 

Shkreli, who built his career as a hedge fund manager prior to founding Turing Pharmaceuticals, added that DeFi could afford people “real freedom” by giving them the ability to trade any asset anywhere in the world. 

Shkreli Bullish Solana, the Flippening 

Shkreli mentioned several other crypto projects during the discussion, some of them relatively niche ventures that are unknown outside of crypto circles. He compared Ethereum Name Service domain names to AOL screen names and mentioned the NFT projects Milady Maker and Not Okay Bears (Shkreli was also “wearing” a Milady NFT as his Twitter avatar at press time). Before joining the call, Shkreli had tweeted that “it’d be nice to have the MartinShkreli ENS.” 

He also namechecked Algorand and Solana as two Layer 1 projects that could reduce Bitcoin’s dominance over the market, remarking that he thinks the top crypto’s reign could get “eaten away” over time. He said that he thinks Ethereum could overtake Bitcoin’s market cap, a hypothetical event Ethereum enthusiasts refer to as “the Flippening.” “The so-called ‘Flippening’ where Ether is worth more than Bitcoin… it’s hard for that not to happen given the use cases of Ether,” he said. 

The Australian singer-songwriter Sia joined the discussion with Shkreli, commenting on how Web3 had “changed [her] life over the last couple of years” and that she thinks it could end world poverty in the future. Following a lengthy interlude from Sia, Shkreli drew a comparison between her and Bitcoin’s pseudonymous creator Satoshi Nakamoto. “It takes a real genius to think outside the box,” he said of the pair. He also encouraged her to look into Proof of Humanity, the Ethereum project behind the Universal Basic Income token. “If you’re not on it you could really help push the project forward,” he said, explaining that Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin had been involved in it. 

Interestingly, Buterin posted a tweet during the five-hour call that could be interpreted as a dig at Shkreli. “How do we create a culture where it’s harder to set (or become) the topic of public conversation by doing something terrible and easier to do so by doing something great?” he wrote. 

In 2018, Shkreli was found guilty of two counts of securities fraud and one count of securities fraud conspiracy. Outside of the Daraprim scandal, he also became known for acquiring Wu Tang Clan’s Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, a one-of-a-kind album later acquired by PleasrDAO. 

Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author of this piece owned ETH and several other cryptocurrencies. They also had exposure to UNI in a cryptocurrency index. 

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