My Crypto Journey
Oct 11, 2022

From Ad Tech to Tactic

How Tactic's VP of Ops pivoted out of ad tech and into crypto while living abroad

John Dempsey

I spent the winter of 2017 living in Buenos Aires. The startup I had been working at got acquired by Oracle, affording me the opportunity to take some time off and explore the world. My husband was burnt out after nearly a decade at Goldman Sachs and I was trying to figure out my career pivot after ad tech.

We purposely gave ourselves a lot of unstructured time to explore topics that were of interest to us. 

I tried to read on as many varied topics as possible to broaden my perspective on different domains.

Getting "Red Pilled"

It was then that a friend sent me a Bitcoin whitepaper with the note: “Check this out – I think you’ll find this fascinating ;) ”
In another context I think I would have skimmed the paper and moved on, dismissing it as something for geeks and hobbyists. But here I was, living in Argentina, a country that had a deep distrust for the banking system and the national dollar. The idea of a decentralized payment network made more sense here.

Starting in the mid-70s, the Argentine government started printing money to ease a debt crisis, driving inflation rates to over 300% annually. Families found that their entire life savings sitting in the bank was  suddenly worthless. Stores didn’t bother to list prices for their goods because the rates were changing so rapidly.
I started questioning basic concepts I took for granted: What is money, really? Why does this piece of paper have value? Why is it so expensive to move money across borders? Why do we have a global, connected internet but not global, interoperable money?

This is what crypto people refer to as being “Red-Pilled.”

Follow the Money at Chainalysis

A few months later I was introduced to the founders of Chainalysis and joined them as VP Product when they were just 40 people. Suddenly I was deep within this world: where unregulated crypto exchanges would allow you to trade various kinds of digital money without registration requirements. Where darknet market vendors would move their proceeds through a series of intermediary wallets like a digital shell game.

Bitcoin had a reputation as being an “untraceable currency” only used by digital criminals, but Chainalysis was able to follow the money and show that illicit activity was less than 1% of the total. Instead, millions of people around the world were experimenting with a new kind of money – yes, hoping the price would go up in the future – but also moving money across borders more quickly and raising money for humanitarian causes.

I worked at Chainalysis for 3 years, helping build it into the clear market leader for blockchain analytics and investigation software.

First Person Account(ing) at Tactic

I’m now at Tactic building crypto accounting software. When thinking about my next move, I wanted to work on something that would lower the barrier for crypto adoption. It had to be a “real” problem where I could see results every day. That’s why I chose Tactic: our customers are highly engaged because they’re hungry for software that makes it possible for them to conduct the full suite of financial operations for web3 assets.

It’s fun because we get to work with a wide range of companies working on all aspects of blockchain tech: from new protocols, to data companies, to NFT projects. 

While here in the US we tend to put more faith in the stability of our national dollar (for now, at least), it seems that cryptocurrency is poised to transform all parts of the financial system. I have no idea where this is all headed, but I’m pretty confident that web3 financial operations will be a lot easier now that Tactic exists.