Tag Archives: bitcoin

Bye for Now, ICO 41

For six months, I managed to produce a weekly podcast  (ICO 41)  that analyzed crypto-currency and blockchain projects from the perspective of techology and business.  Then I took a break for a few months to build some software for the space, (KryptoTrak)  and then I returned to the podcast for an episode or two ... and I think I'm done for now.

The thing is, I still really believe in the underlying technology.  It can and will undoubtedly help to mitigate and maybe even solve a lot of problems, like the "unbanked," destitute countries that can barely support a banking system, outrageous transaction fees by financial institutions, as well as obscure and unfortunate phenomena like the Incels vs. Sex Workers war, where women (mostly) are being forced off payment platforms like PayPal and others, thereby preventing their ability to scrape by in this new economic Age that practically makes the Gilded look like a commune:

However, I originally started the podcast because I was fascinated by the phenomenon of the Initial Coin Offering, where idealistic engineers sidestepped the traditional fundraising method of prostrating themselves at the court of Silicon Valley Venture Capital and begging for the favor of an audience ... and a few million as well to get started with their idea. Instead, they appealed directly to potential investors using the issuance of a crypto currency, more often than not based on Ethereum, and collected billions of dollars without a drop of VC money - at least in the beginning. Now, of course, the majority of investment in successful ICO's is from "whales," thereby turning on its head the idea of an egalitarian and decentralized investment profile.

And it was indeed fascinating, especially in 2017. Some projects, like Lamden and a few others seemed laudable and sincere, but most turned out to not be that way at all.  Many turned out to be outright scams, and even those that were probably not outright scams seemed to be just skating the edge of sincerity. And as I attended conferences, where I got to meet at least some of the representatives of some of these ICO's, it became slowly obvious to me that there was a deep current of fraud and cynicism running through the whole space.  

It's not like I had a LOT of exposure (for instance, I wasn't unfortunate enough to be trapped on a boat with them for four days), but I had enough to sense it. 

Presently, with the crash of Bitcoin, as well as various SEC enforcement actions against some of the more egregious ICO's, the ICO market has dramatically slowed.  This is probably a good thing.  There is no reason I can think of for what amounts to a software project to be funded in the tens of millions ( or hundreds ... or even billions ..) of dollars.  Hopefully, now that saner times may prevail, sincere and hard-working people will be able to raise adequate funds, instead of amounts that are so high that greed is the inevitable result. Maybe we will start to see grass-roots projects appear to solve real problems, instead of a gold-rush mentality rife with ridiculous projects designed to do nothing more than part stupid people with their money.

This is all leading up to the point that I'm pretty much done with ICO 41.  I plan to do one more episode to say goodbye and thank the listeners.  Am I done with Crypto and Blockhain?  No. First, there are projects that are NOT ICO's, like Raven, which are awesome. And I'm still fascinated by it on a technical level, and honestly if an application comes up where it would make sense, and which I can create some software that actually solves a real problem, then I may even launch a project of some kind myself, if only to prove that it can be done without millions of dollars. But as to "studying" the phenomenon, I don't see the point of giving it any more attention than it already has, through the huge network of "ICO Review" sites, YouTube promoters, and the bizarre fringe.  

One great thing that I found out about myself, though, was that I LIKE the broadcast medium.  I understand how much fun my father must have had, and what must have attracted him to radio in the 1960's.  

Bitcoin, Ethereum, the Blockchain and Initial Coin Offerings

Over the last year I have become completely and utterly entranced by all of the things listed in the topic of this post.  I first began to think about it about a year ago when I watched a documentary on Decado about Bitcoin, coupled with the (even then) sky-high valuation of the currency, and finally in conjunction with a remorseful memory back in 2011 when a tech friend asked me if I had explored Bitcoin and when I answered that I had not, he looked surprised and asked "Why not?"  Which is a question that continues to haunt me today.

But I've never been any good with money anyway, so I shouldn't be too surprised. I have, however, been pretty good with technology, and that's what I currently find so fascinating with this set of topics. Bitcoin, the blockchain that it is developed on, then the innovation of the Ethereum platform and finally the recent spate of initial coin offerings where companies with little more than a 25-page whitepaper are sometimes raising tens of millions of dollars in literally a few hours. All fascinating stuff.

For the first few months I read and read, and then began to talk about it.  After awhile of that, it became apparent that I was annoying people a little bit, so I decided to explore the possibility of an outlet and settled upon the Podcast.  Mainly, because I like to talk and tell stories.  I decided to focus on a single Initial Coin Offering each week, and I figured I would have about 40 minutes of material to talk about each week - and so "ICO 41" was born.

It turns out to take a LOT more than 41 minutes to produce a 41 minute podcast, but I have to say I have enjoyed just about every minute of it.  I believe I may be conducting my first interview next week. When I first conceived of and chose the podcast avenue, I had ideas for an interview-based podcast, but my current situation doesn't permit the logistics of conducting scheduled interviews, so I opted for the weekly monologue.  I'll start to work in interviews as I find the time.  Meanwhile, no matter what happens with it, it will be a fascinating journey. I'm glad that I settled on the podcast concept because I can share what I'm learning with more than just the people I run into on a daily basis - now I can leave them alone.  The best thing about a podcast is that you can press a button and pause the host. Not so easy to do that at a dinner party.