Gone Crypto: Ex-Microsoft, Google Product Lead Sees Crypto Journey Through Math, Money and Freedom

Vanessa Harris was appointed chief product officer at Permission.io after being a lead product manager for about nine years at Microsoft and 11 years at Google.

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Vanessa Harris

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key takeaways

  • The speed of innovation to launch new products in the crypto space is astonishing compared to the time frame at the previous tech-giants she worked for, Harris said
  • Bitcoin and Ethereum have grown and proven their value over time and are some of the main players that will exist long-term, she said

For over 20 years, Vanessa Harris was focused on technology companies. But now she’s venturing into a new field: crypto. 

Although she is embarking on a new journey, her deep-dive into the crypto world was perhaps a lot longer than most folks, she told Blockworks in an interview. 

“I first started becoming aware of crypto when I was doing my final year college thesis and I was doing it on anonymous, digital cash and back at the time, this was before blockchain and before Satoshi (Nakamoto) and all of those things,” Harris said. 

For a while she forgot about digital assets, but when Bitcoin was founded she began to raise her eyes to the topic again but still found it to be too “shady” at the time, she said. 

But in 2019, Harris started to become more aware of some of the innovations and developments in crypto that were transpiring and a lightbulb went off in her brain, she said. “Finally, there was a clearer use case for crypto,” she said. 

Earlier this month, Harris was appointed chief product officer at Permission.io after being a lead product manager for about 9 years at Microsoft and 11 years at Google

In her previous roles, she launched more than a dozen products for billions of users like Google Domains, the first version of Office Web Apps and Google’s DoubleClick Search, to name a few. 

Harris said she feels like her journey into crypto has been centered by math, money and freedom. 

“The math for me was back in the day learning cryptographic algorithms and how we can do all of that. Then money is kind of the DeFi aspect of it and bringing utility and realizing there’s something around here changing the financial system,” she said. 

“As I spent more time in crypto, I’ve met more people who really anchor on the freedom aspect of it. I think for most, at the most basic level of financial freedom, crypto has offered opportunities for people,” she added. 

Now, she’ll be working with Permission.io, a provider of “permission-based advertising” that allows individuals to “own their data” and earn crypto and rewards through its ASK Coin. 

In her new role, she’ll lead the development of its core products and drive the use cases for ASK within the crypto community as it becomes more available for individuals to acquire. 

The speed of innovation to launch new products in the crypto space is astonishing compared to the time frame at the previous tech-giants she worked for, Harris said. “You’re talking 6, 12, 18 months to launch products,” she said. 

The crypto space has grown substantially over the past couple of years, down to the past few months, Harris noted. But while the crypto industry saw expansion through numbers of projects and funding, she expects the industry to enter a consolidation phase over the next few years. 

“I don’t think it’s sustainable necessarily to have a dozen, two dozen smart contract platforms, as an example,” she said. “I think there will be some consolidation in the space…and the main players will become kind of durable and resistant,” she added. 

With that said, Bitcoin and Ethereum have grown and proven their value over time and are some of the main players that will exist long-term, Harris thinks.

“At some point, you realize that culture is the most important (aspect) of all,” she said. “If you don’t have a culture that supports your strategy, then no matter how great your strategy is, you’re not going to be able to effectively execute on it. And so that’s something where, you know, I’ve seen that shift in the last few years,” she said. 

In the coming months and years, Harris said she plans to build out the product suite for Permission so the company can help users control their data more and make the ASK coin more accessible for more people.


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