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EricLarch
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I'm Eric Larchevêque, Co-Founder and CEO of Ledger, makers of hardware wallets, Ask Me Anything!

Mon Nov 23, 2015 12:11 pm

Hello everyone,

My name is Eric Larchevêque (murzika on Reddit) and I'm Co-Founder & CEO of Ledger, a Bitcoin hardware company. We are also running La Maison du Bitcoin, a Bitcoin center in Paris.

Here is a quick background on Ledger and what we are doing in the Bitcoin space:

Ledger is the reunion of three startups (La Maison du Bitcoin, BT Chip and Chronocoin) and has been officially launched in December of 2014. We are a team of 16, mostly engineers and hardware engineers, and we have raised a seed round of 3 million USD in February 2015. We have offices in Paris (at La Maison du Bitcoin), Vierzon (center of France, where we have our assembly lines) and San Francisco (mainly for bizdev).

We design and build trusted hardware, architectured around secure elements (smartcards). Our best seller is the Ledger Nano, a Bitcoin hardware wallet, and our latest product is the Ledger Blue (available right now only as a developper edition, shipping January 2016).

I'll be honored to answer your questions!

EricLarch
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Re: I'm Eric Larchevêque, Co-Founder and CEO of Ledger, makers of hardware wallets, Ask Me Anything!

Mon Nov 23, 2015 12:21 pm

For clarity, questions & answers are reported here
Would you ever consider doing a giveaway of some of your products?
We have done that from time to time, for instance like this giveaway on Reddit a few month ago. We do not have immediate plans for a giveaway; but we'll participate to Bitcoin Black Friday on November 27th.
Would you consider having your products support other emerging cryptocurrencies in the future, especially Bitshares and Ethereum?
As we are building secure signature devices, our low level APIs are in theory compatible with any kind of altcoin of blockchain. We just need to make sure that the curves are supported or that they follow already existing standards. However, a client application (the software wallet) is needed to communicate with the chip, and this is usually the biggest challenge.
If one day another cryptocurrency or dapp would have an important usage market, we'd for sure consider developping solutions for it.
Have is you relation with the Mycelium Wallet team, I know there is support between the Ledger Wallet and Mycelium, how do you collaborate about such stuff?
Mycelium is open source and has always shown interest for new features. This is why we have almost always worked on showcasing our new products on this wallet. Usually, we implement the changes and features on our side, and request a merge. We then coordinate all PR stuff to announce the news.
Do you consider taking venture capital? Or maybe you already have?
We are already VC funded, with a seed round in February 2015. We are most probably planning a Serie A (a new venture round) in 6 to 18 months in order to accelerate our growth.
Given French reputation about being quite anti business friendly, extremely beaucratic etc. have you ever considered moving abroad to for instance the UK, or US/Silicon Valley?
We have already opened an office in San Francisco (through a 100% owned subsidiairy), but this decision was mainly related to business development (as most of the Bitcoin related projects are in the Silicon Valley). Being in France has actually a lot of advantages: the stance of the government on startup has evolved and we have access to a lot of grants and public funds which is helping us a lot. Also, France being the land of the smartcards, hardware and security engineers are much more qualified here than in the USA (with respect of our very specific engineering scope).
How do you think hardware wallets will evolve in the future? What kind of products do you expect to sell in 5 years?
If we require hardware wallets, it's because generale purpose computers and smartphones are currenctly insecure. With the development of Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) technology, we may not need dedicated secure devices anymore in a few years. The TEE is basically a virtualization of a secure element running in isolation from the main OS, and is right now available in high end Samsung phone (such as the S6). For more information, you can refer to the Ledger Trustlet.
Regarding new usages, independently of the product form factor, we are evolving from pure hardware wallet (like the Ledger Nano) to personal security/privacy devices (like the Ledger Blue). These products will not only secure your digital assets, but also manage your digital identities (FIDO) and help build secure communications (for instance having encrypted Slack channels, managed in real time by the Blue, so you can protect your trade secret whilst benefiting the coolness of Slack).
I want to hold a considerable amount of bitcoins, and I'm looking for a very resilient and attack-proof solution. The problem with the current solutions in the Bitcoin space is that [...]
Having a single address based device with no communication except a camera is not something that we intend to develop, because we do not believe it will add any security compared to our existing solutions. It may not be suited to what you are looking, but in term of security it matches your requirement.
USB/NFC/BLE communications can be deactived from the settings, and parsing a QRcode is also subject to attack (you can add an overflow and arbitrary blob on a QRcode). So ultimately it comes back to good security practice and clean code. Using a Chrome app is not an issue; it's just an UI. It's not made to be trusted. You need to always verify the signature on a trusted display (second factor).
Finally, I wouldn't recommend to use a hardware wallet (whatever it is) to hold a considerable amount of bitcoins. If you had one ton of gold, would you keep it home? Even if you had the best safe of the world, you would still have the risk of someone coming home and putting a gun on your children. My recommendation would be to use multisignature with different hardware wallets.
Can you tell me more about the bitcoin scene in France? How many people do you think have a bitcoin wallet?
What do you think about the Bitcoin VAT ruling and the recent EU controls proposal
At La Maison du Bitcoin, we are operating an exchange counter where people buy and sell bitcoins against euros (cash or payment cards). The VAT question is something we have solved a few months ago by sending a letter to the fiscal authorities (they have to answer). The EU VAT ruling was then not a surprise, and we of course rejoice that it has been made official at the European level.
Michel Sapin (Minister of Finance) announced today the financial counter terrorism measures which will be taken in the coming weeks. None are related to cryptocurrencies (which are not at all mentionned), the takedown is targetted on anonymous VISA and Mastercard payment cards, as well as cash.
The Bitcoin scene is not extremely active in France; we have a lot of engineers and enthousiasts, but the usage in shops (both online and physical) is quite poor. We have everyday a few dozen of people entering our Bitcoin space, buying bitcoins or asking for informations. Most of them are using the currency to play online (poker, betting, ...) and a few to invest/HODL.
Have you thought about collaborating with NFC payment Bitcoin startups such as Onepay and Plutus , or even entering that space yourself?
Yes, we could easily offer an external device that would help on implementing those features where they can't be (typically on an iPhone with Ledger Blue). We have no plan to enter that space directly for the time being.
Can you provide a link to how secure elements work. I'm yet to find a good (simple, yet informative) guide.
It's hard to find some good references, so I'd suggest to have a look at different hacker conference presentations. For example that one describes the specific hardware security features you'll find in a typical secure element.
Do you mind to tell us which percentage of your net worth and/or liquid assets you hold in Bitcoins ?
I hold in bitcoins about 5% of my net worth and about 25% of my liquid assets.
This one just for you can you tell us about the state of Bitcoin in France (VCs, government, banks, entrepreneurs) ?
State of Bitcoin in France is clearly not at its best. There have been only two VC investment related to Bitcoin in France (us and Paymium), banks refuse to open accounts for Bitcoin related businesses (we have been kicked out of two banks already), regulator has a strong negative stance over cryptocurrency (but it's far from being banned or anything, the law is quite positive in the sense that Bitcoin is not regulated at all) and entrepreneurs are not legion. The number of French Bitcoin related startups is quite low, and didn't evolve much in the last year.

It is like it is, and we certainly don't complain. As I stated in another answer France is quite a nice place for startups and one can always move its bizdev operations in the Silicon Valley.
What gets you excited in your future product line. Also what worries you the most about Bitcoin's sustainability?
Hardware wallets are going to evolve to personal security devices. Not only they'll be used to secure your bitcoins or other digital assets, but they'll manage your digital identities (FIDO) and secure your communications. The Ledger Blue is the first step in this direction, and we are very excited to see what the developer community is going to do with it.

Regarding Bitcoin's sustainability, this is a tough question. There are so much parameters at play that I quite see it like a chaotic system where equilibriums are scarce. In any case, Bitcoin is going through difficult times: the adoption is poor, startups are pivoting, and communities are pitchforking each other. As many VCs have told me, winter has come. But I'm still very confident about the resilience of Bitcoin; we thought it would take a few month to scale, but most probably we'll need a decade. It's a game of patience.
For users comfortable with btc what is the benefit of a "usb" disk like hardware wallet. I have read your site and reviews but this makes little sense to me. How does your product improve on an encrypted usb thumb drive, I mean, that's what you're selling right?
The Ledger Nano is not a USB drive but a secure computer on a microchip. It will safeguard your Bitcoin private keys and sign transaction within the secure element. Thus, secrets are never revealed to the host computer (contrary to a USB thumb drive which would indeed offer absolutely no benefit).

To mitigate malwares and man in the middle attacks, the Nano has a second factor verification of the transactions using a physical security card or a smartphone securely paired to it.
Why does La Maison du Bitcoin in Paris require showing personal ID for using the Lamassu ATM? Is this a government requirement or some kind of pre-emptive compliance?
As Bitcoin is not an official currency, we are not required by law to do any KYC/AML. This is therefore a pre-emptive compliance, following our own set of processes and amount limits. It's a personal choice, guided by the wish to build a long lasting business.
Last edited by EricLarch on Tue Nov 24, 2015 6:23 pm, edited 9 times in total.

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Re: I'm Eric Larchevêque, Co-Founder and CEO of Ledger, makers of hardware wallets, Ask Me Anything!

Mon Nov 23, 2015 12:24 pm

Hi Eric.

Thanks for doing a AMA, it's great.

Would you ever consider doing a giveaway of some of your products?

Would you consider having your products support other emerging cryptocurrencies in the future, especially Bitshares and Ethereum?

Have is you relation with the Mycelium Wallet team, I know there is support between the Ledger Wallet and Mycelium, how do you collaborate about such stuff?

Do you consider taking venture capital? Or maybe you already have?

Given French reputation about being quite anti business friendly, extremely beaucratic etc. have you ever considered moving abroad to for instance the UK, or US/Silicon Valley?

Thanks, and cheers :)

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Re: I'm Eric Larchevêque, Co-Founder and CEO of Ledger, makers of hardware wallets, Ask Me Anything!

Mon Nov 23, 2015 1:27 pm

How do you think hardware wallets will evolve in the future? What kind of products do you expect to sell in 5 years?

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Re: I'm Eric Larchevêque, Co-Founder and CEO of Ledger, makers of hardware wallets, Ask Me Anything!

Mon Nov 23, 2015 1:53 pm

This is not really a question, but it relates to your business model.

I want to hold a considerable amount of bitcoins, and I'm looking for a very resilient and attack-proof solution. The problem with the current solutions in the Bitcoin space is that these small devices:

1. Connect to my computer through USB. Sure, you can promise that it is 100% malware proof but history has proven otherwise.

2. Their desktop app is a Chrome extension. I really never get this. I'd never trust such a system.

So here is what I'm dreaming of (currently doing it the hard-way)

1. A device similar to this https://www.ledger.co/blue with a camera and no WIFI/NFC or USB.

2. The device use the camera (with Qrcode or similar) to transfer information between it and a smartphone app.

So basically here is the setup, I get my device and do the following

1. Generate my private key and address in the device.

2. Scan my address with my phone (qrcode) and send BTC to the address.

3. Generate a transaction on the device, scan the transaction with my phone and broadcast it to the network.

That's it. Think of it as a cold-storage solution. It'll be used rarely (once per month maybe).

I'll pay $300-$500 for such a device. Maybe there aren't that many paranoid users like me?

Source: post6096.html#p6096 I have such a system using an air-gapped machine. But it's a bit painful.

If this is something of interest, here are more technical details.

1- Be able to generate the private key from a brainwallet using SHA-256. Be able to specify the number of double hash to use. For example, 253.566 SHA-256 to make it harder to crack. Leave the device running SHA-256 on my brainwallet.

2- Simple bitcoin address. No multisig and no BIP32 (extended). These are nice to have for other users but it bother me that almost all solutions provide "only" these.

Basically, I'm looking to hold a single address with a large holding of BTC. I won't be using it to transact daily or even weekly.

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Re: I'm Eric Larchevêque, Co-Founder and CEO of Ledger, makers of hardware wallets, Ask Me Anything!

Mon Nov 23, 2015 4:30 pm

Hello Eric,

I was re-reading Antifragile by iconoclast thinker Nassim Taleb recently. He writes
"Never ask anyone for their opinion [...] Just ask them what they have -or don't have- in their portfolio"
Having met or read about a few people in the bitcoin community, I have come to think it's a very relevant question and you can better weight their opinions having an idea of how many Bitcoins they hold (or do not hold.)

I'm now asking every participants the same question:

- Do you mind to tell us which percentage of your net worth and/or liquid assets you hold in Bitcoins ?

- This one just for you can you tell us about the state of Bitcoin in France (VCs, government, banks, entrepreneurs) ?

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Re: I'm Eric Larchevêque, Co-Founder and CEO of Ledger, makers of hardware wallets, Ask Me Anything!

Tue Nov 24, 2015 9:50 am

Hi Eric,

Why does La Maison du Bitcoin in Paris require showing personal ID for using the Lamassu ATM? Is this a government requirement or some kind of pre-emptive compliance?

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Re: I'm Eric Larchevêque, Co-Founder and CEO of Ledger, makers of hardware wallets, Ask Me Anything!

Tue Nov 29, 2016 2:30 am

Hi Eric,

Why does La Maison du Bitcoin in Paris require showing personal ID for using the Lamassu ATM? Is this a government requirement or some kind of pre-emptive compliance?
I think it per-requisite by law and enforcement agencies to make it safe and secure!

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Re: I'm Eric Larchevêque, Co-Founder and CEO of Ledger, makers of hardware wallets, Ask Me Anything!

Tue Nov 29, 2016 4:46 am

As a top five cryptocurrency Monero really could use a hardware wallet. Are there any plans at Ledger to add a Monero Chrome app for the Nano S?

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Re: I'm Eric Larchevêque, Co-Founder and CEO of Ledger, makers of hardware wallets, Ask Me Anything!

Tue Nov 29, 2016 11:24 pm

Thanks for taking the time out to participate in our ongoing AMA event,

Q. What sort of durability testing are the ledger products put through ie, what sort of heat/cold can they stand up to, waterproof/resistant, being fired out of a potato gun or baked into a pie those sort of things?
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Re: I'm Eric Larchevêque, Co-Founder and CEO of Ledger, makers of hardware wallets, Ask Me Anything!

Wed Dec 21, 2016 11:34 pm

1. What makes you superior than Trezor?
2. Are there any plans to implement alternative currencies support into future Ledger wallets?
3. What are the chances of your coins getting lost in a Ledger wallet fully protected?

Thank you!
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Re: I'm Eric Larchevêque, Co-Founder and CEO of Ledger, makers of hardware wallets, Ask Me Anything!

Mon Feb 13, 2017 12:11 pm

Hi, would you be interested to participate in Kuala Lumpur Blockchain Conference 2017 on 7th to 9th April 2017? Please email me at shahrul at bloktex dot com for more info

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Re: I'm Eric Larchevêque, Co-Founder and CEO of Ledger, makers of hardware wallets, Ask Me Anything!

Tue Feb 21, 2017 8:55 pm

If you are still willing to answer questions, I would like to know if you are interested in Trusted Execution Environment Channels (hardware payment channels), and integrating your hardware wallets with remote attestation capable hardware to enable such enterprise applications as TEEchan?

http://hackingdistributed.com/2016/12/2 ... -hardware/

https://www.cs.cornell.edu/People/egs/p ... eechan.pdf

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Re: I'm Eric Larchevêque, Co-Founder and CEO of Ledger, makers of hardware wallets, Ask Me Anything!

Sat Feb 25, 2017 9:56 pm

I'm also wondering, when are you planning on supporting Monero with one of your hardware wallets?
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Re: I'm Eric Larchevêque, Co-Founder and CEO of Ledger, makers of hardware wallets, Ask Me Anything!

Sun Feb 26, 2017 5:20 am

Eric, i am new at this, i really do not understand it, my job wants to have Bitcoin and I have read all the info and still can grasp the idea.
I need to buy some bitcoins, then my job will pay me thru here , i also will do some transfers and other transactions, as a newbie what should i get?

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Re: I'm Eric Larchevêque, Co-Founder and CEO of Ledger, makers of hardware wallets, Ask Me Anything!

Fri Mar 10, 2017 4:55 pm

Hi ... I set up an account with bitcoin many years ago ... I had another email address at that time ... I changed emails about a year ago, without thinking bitcoins ... How can I access my account ? ... It's small, but to me it's big ... Thank You ... John Armstrong

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Re: I'm Eric Larchevêque, Co-Founder and CEO of Ledger, makers of hardware wallets, Ask Me Anything!

Sun Mar 12, 2017 7:55 am

Hi Eric.

Thanks for doing an AMA.

I want to use the ledger starter iso to initialize my HW.1 on an air-gapped computer.
On your web page you have the iso for download: How to securely initialize my Ledger Nano
Because it is a live-cd/usb the state it starts with is always the same. This could be a problem in regards of randomness as described by tails here: randomness seeding

How is this problem handled on the ledger starter iso that you have as a download on your homepage?

Thanks

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Re: I'm Eric Larchevêque, Co-Founder and CEO of Ledger, makers of hardware wallets, Ask Me Anything!

Sun Mar 12, 2017 7:19 pm

Hi Eric, how are you. We met at the North American Bitcoin Conference. I am a founding member of a bitcoin club.
Eric, I am planning an event in Tokyo, Japan with over 1000 attendees at the end of April and I will like to invite you as a vendor for our venue. Our members need to store their bitcoins and I feel that you have a valuable product to offer.
Please let me know if this will be something that you will be interested in.

Looking forward to hear from you.

Claudia Caballero

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Re: I'm Eric Larchevêque, Co-Founder and CEO of Ledger, makers of hardware wallets, Ask Me Anything!

Sat Mar 18, 2017 4:28 pm

how can we assure that it may help us in the near future??

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Re: I'm Eric Larchevêque, Co-Founder and CEO of Ledger, makers of hardware wallets, Ask Me Anything!

Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:57 pm

Your project saved my crypto life
Last edited by CryptoBeans on Mon Feb 26, 2018 11:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: I'm Eric Larchevêque, Co-Founder and CEO of Ledger, makers of hardware wallets, Ask Me Anything!

Sun Feb 18, 2018 6:33 pm

Your project saved my crypto life


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