Anthony Di Iorio: A Maker Of Movements
After finding notable success as the co-founder of cryptocurrency platform Ethereum, you might think Anthony Di Iorio is thinking of slowing down. In reality, he’s just getting started.
You don’t have to sit with Anthony Di Iorio long to understand that he sees the world differently. His favourite movie is The Best of Me, his favourite book is Ryan Holiday’s The Daily Stoic and his favourite food to cook is thin-crust pizza, taking care to make everything from the dough to the sauce from scratch. But beyond all that, he has a mind that’s constantly on the move, looking at how the world and its systems can be revolutionized for the better.
“I’ve spent the years since 2018 trying to figure out the what, why and how,” Di Iorio says. “What I’m going to do, why I’m going to do it and how. To me it all comes down to wanting to be happy. I’ve figured out that comes in being of service to others. To improve the world and other people’s lives.”
Di Iorio calls himself a problem solver and believes his visionary traits started at an early age. He grew up in the north of Toronto, playing hockey and soccer, and is the youngest of three. His mother was a supply teacher, and he describes his father, who owned a sliding-door manufacturing company, as an inventor and handyman. “I learned from him to ask why about everything,” he says. “That’s a big thing for me. Why is that like that, and is there a better way to do things? That’s really the genesis of creativity, inventing and thinking beyond what exists today.”
Alongside that, he also had a keen interest in computing and programming. When the Internet was first introduced to people, he was young but already had a sense of how it was going to change things. “I couldn’t connect to just one computer; I could connect to websites and this network that allowed for the democratization of information all around the world,” he says. “I saw it was going to be a radical change, but I was too young to utilize it at the time.”
Over the next few years, Di Iorio worked in the family’s sliding-door business and completed a degree in marketing, before realizing that, too, is an area that’s in need of radical change. “Some of the biggest issues I’ve seen in the world are advertising models,” he explains. “These models tech companies use to collect money by giving ad space and then getting their users to do things. Unsuspecting people are being taken down paths that lead to divisive tribes that have been forming, and it’s because of business models that use AI [artificial intelligence] and take advantage of people to achieve a goal the advertiser wants to happen.”
In 2012, after a few years studying economics and what happened with the period’s housing and financial crisis, he heard about Bitcoin. “Right away I understood, because of my technology and computer background, and knowledge of decentralized systems, here’s the technology that can match my economical thinking, computer and entrepreneurial background. It was the perfect storm for me, where I felt ready to do what I couldn’t do with the Internet when that came along, which was to empower people.”
After looking for a Bitcoin community to join and discovering there wasn’t one, he created his own, starting the Toronto Bitcoin Meetup group, where people who were passionate about the technology could come together. It was there he met Russian-Canadian fellow crypto enthusiast Vitalik Buterin, whom he would go on to found Ethereum with. “The system of money should be transparent, trustworthy and open to everybody. What about the millions of people around the world who are unbanked?” Di Iorio continues. “I saw Bitcoin as a very freedom-oriented, empowering technology that would make a greater change and have more impact than the Internet did.”
Alongside exploring the potential for digital currency, it was during this time that Di Iorio saw the impact of building community and bringing people together. He grew the meetup group to thousands of members, hosted numerous events and eventually founded the Bitcoin Alliance of Canada to help bring Bitcoin to the media and appeal to governments to use it as a new technology. The rest is, as they say, history, with Di Iorio co-founding and funding Ethereum in late 2013 and blockchain company Decentral soon after. As well as being appointed the first chief digital officer of the Toronto Stock Exchange by TMX Group, he was named on Toronto Life’s list of the 50 Most Influential people in 2018.
“With Everybody On Board, You’re Not Fighting. Everyone’s On Your Side, Because You’re Helping Them. That’s How Movements, I Believe, Are Created”
That’s not to say these achievements have been reached without struggle. Alongside his successes, Di Iorio has been learning the art of balance. “I come up with ideas I want to do, but I’ve found over the years that can lead to a sense of overwhelmingness where I need to reset,” he explains. “I’ll go through dark periods where I need to get my mind rested, because I will overwhelm it and go into peaks and valleys, which is no good for anybody.”
For Di Iorio, that balance comes through the establishment of an interesting routine. “I’ve learned I need to have a good three or four hours to myself in the morning,” he shares. “My ideal situation is waking up at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. and going to bed at 8 p.m. I love to cook. That’s my meditation. Taking care of my space. That’s the time I can do that.”
Today, Di Iorio is dedicated to using all of this experience and applying his methodology of problem solving to change the world for the better. “I want to sell what I’ve built and enable that to carry on in someone else’s hands, because my mind is into solving bigger problems, being in service to the world and being in the philanthropic realm, rather than the money-making realm,” he says. “The more I’m able to obtain from the sale of my company, the more I’ll be able to give back.”
He intends to do this through a problem-solving process he calls the perfect formula. “It’s getting as close to 100 per cent as you can with anything or any problem you’re trying to solve, so you’ve checked it all, thought of everything and created amazing experiences for people,” he explains. “If we can think along those lines and problem solve to Di Iorio is passionate about bringing people together, and founded the Toronto Bitcoin Meetup group get up to 100 per cent of a formula, all stakeholders are being thought of, everybody’s being served and you’re creating a situation that brings joy, happiness and great things to the world.”
It’s a process Di Iorio coined and has perfected over the last few years, and feels it offers an opportunity to do things better in any sector, so everyone is aligned and heading toward the same goals. In short, he sees a future of thinking differently with the result of helping as many people as possible and starting positive revolutions.
“With everybody on board, you’re not fighting,” he says. “Everyone’s on your side, because you’re helping them. That’s how movements, I believe, are created. That’s going to be a lot of my goals in future. To create sustainable movements of people all aligned to do good for others. That’s how we’re going to change the world.”
Interview by Estelle Zentil