Umami Labs CEO Alex O’Donnell grew up on the outskirts of Philadelphia before attending Temple University to study literature and economics. That path led him to devote seven years of his life as a financial journalist at Reuters, where he specialized in M&As IPOs.
He said his academic focus created a “pretty natural synthesis” when it came ot financial journalism. However, he said he became “disenchanted” with his industry while he was cooped up at home during the Covid-19 pandemic. “There really was a three-way alliance between journalists, government officials and technology companies trying to control the flow of information,” O’Donnell said in an interview with Cointelegraph.
He began tinkering with cryptocurrency, which led to his introduction with Umami DAO — and ultimately his creation of Umami Labs.
O’Donnell and his wife, Sanjana, are preparing for a “third, smaller person” to join their family next year. In the meantime, he said he’s also gearing up for another crypto-related venture. The details aren’t fully public yet, but he said he plans to release more information the months ahead.
1) How’d you make the transition from journalism to crypto?
I’d been a journalist for the better part of a decade primarily covering mergers and acquisitions. I always had an interest in finance and tech. But I started becoming a bit disenchanted with the mainstream media around the time of the pandemic. That was the first time I started becoming a bit more cynical about my own industry’s role in the information economy. So I started paying more attention to issues like privacy, censorship and other things I had not taken as much interest in before.
In 2020 I spent most of my time covering the Covid-19 pandemic. There really was a three-way alliance between journalists, government officials and technology companies trying to control the flow of information. It wasn’t even that the official line was wrong. It was that dissent was being stifled in the first place. That really peaked my interest in decentralized platforms.
At that point, I started to become meaningfully interested in crypto. Given that I came from financial journalism, decentralized finance (DeFi) in particular caught my interest. I really started actively investing in different crypto protocols as a retail investor in 2021. I was getting more involved in DeFi communities, and one of them was the predecessor…