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Learnings From SF Blockchain Week

Back on the saddle again, blurbing..

Suffering from crypto-circuit fatigue, post one week in SFO for blockchain week (with a short detour into Vegas for Hoshocon), and then a quick stopover in Tokyo.

I believe SFO is still the best place to build your company, if you can make it happen. There are quite a few reasons not to choose SFO, but if given a choice, most people would choose SFO over other options including Austin, Boulder, NYC or Boston. Outside Europe, folks are more likely to choose Berlin over London in Europe. In Asia, it seems to be a toss-up between Singapore and HK, as is the case in traditional finance as well.

As we have noted earlier the conference format needs reworking. There are some quality speakers at all these event panels, but most of the conversations happen in the corridor, off-chain! The Tokyo event was interesting in its format, more close-knit etc but still had a paucity of really good conversations on-panel. Some great points made by Matt Roszak@Bloq & Nithin Eappen@Arcadia & Miko Matsumura among the ‘on-chain’ sessions I attended, while not flitting around Tokyo for meetings. Interesting to see that all of these gents are north of 40 age-wise, and seemed to make the most sense, with their balanced views on a range of topics related to crypto.

Tokyo is a great city; If you are a gearhead/gadget freak, you cannot miss out on Akibahara. Tokyu hands is also pretty cool.

One recurring theme – A number of the knowledgeable folks out there think there  is an oncoming crypto winter, in terms of funding for projects as well as in terms of cryptocurrency valuations. The easy projects are done, the walk-on-water ETH competitors are so 2017, now is the time to build some real businesses with real products, cash flows, and real traction instead of ‘air-dropped/growth-hacked, influencer-BS telegram shitcoinism’ ( That would have been one nice compound noun in German!). As my professor in B-School taught us – Topline is vanity, bottom line is sanity, cash flow is reality! Look at the number of folks are looking to hosting events, starting podcasts (Rohit has a nice term for this – the fat podcast hypothesis) and generally repositioning themselves as ‘crypto-influencers/luminaries’ while also angling for a variety of cash-flow focused businesses.

Shoutout to Dhruv Bansal of Unchained Capital and Hartej/Yo@Hosho, both building great companies, far from the maddening hype of crypto twitter!Another recurring theme – the lack of nuance, the highly entrenched positioning in the discourse in the crypto universe – one is either a crypto maximalist or a no-coiner, a DEXer or a centralized exchange guy, with crypto or against crypto, or with blockchain but against crypto. There is no gradations, shades of grey or middle ground, or no room for fact-based debate in these loudly articulated, strongly-held positions. Most of crypto twitter seems to be random shillers pushing their ‘shitcoins’ or projects or podcasts or whatever, with very little original content, or authenticity. The vast majority of the loudest of the crypto social media army are less than 35, and are either lucky/unlucky to have missed the last dotcom bubble. A lot of the articulation and the communications seem to be just for posturing. The sad part is that for every successful ‘influencer’ who makes a name for himself/herself in crypto with this approach, there are 10 other wannabes that want to emulate this strategy, further stirring the pot.

Meanwhile in Meanwhile in Crypto Wonderland….

“Crypto M&A Surge” Merger and acquisition activity for cryptocurrency companies has more than doubled in the past year amid a 54 percent slump in bitcoin prices, according to JMP Securities and data from PitchBook. Latest trends appear to show that the industry is in a “land grab” for innovative technology, access to new markets, intellectual property, and talented employees through M&A.

“Coffee Shops Get Crypto Gateways” A “technology enabler” startup known as Cyclebit aims to enable stores to serve as “cryptocurrency gateways” – enticing crypto enthusiasts to come and spend their coins with them. According to Spanish business newspaper Expansión, the crypto payment technology is being rolled out in Nostrum – a network of 130 coffee shops throughout Spain – which has just started accepting and selling Bitcoin.

“Agents Fail Malta’s Crypto Exam” Almost two-thirds of those taking Malta’s cryptocurrency agent certification have failed, despite examiners’ last-minute changes to ease the marking scheme according to the Times of Malta. Since the Virtual Financial Assets Act (VFA) came into effect last November, the exam, as well as a training course, has been mandatory for all those looking to work as “agents” in the crypto sector which includes practitioners such as lawyers, accountants, and auditors.

“Genesis Lending Tops $500 million” Interest from institutional investors to lend and borrow cryptocurrencies is on the rise, according to Genesis Global Capital. According to a third-quarter report, the company facilitated more than half a billion dollars in loans, of which over $300 million was lent out to investors as both a tool to hedge and leverage to increase their bets against digital currencies.

“GS Goes Deeper into the Rabbit Hole”Wall Street banking giant Goldman Sachs has put another stake in the ground of the burgeoning cryptocurrency industry, headlining a $58.5 million Series B funding round in digital asset custodian BitGo along with Mike Novogratz. The Series B round raises the Silicon Valley-based bitcoin startup’s total fundraising to approximately $70 million.

Crypto Twitter Pick

What We’re Reading
 / Listening To

Blockchain Governance: Programming Our Future by Fred Ehrsam

Conversations from Riga by Matt Corallo + Hasufly

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Satoshi&Co Daily Crypto Newsletter

By Ramani Ramachandran and Rohit Alluri

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