Enjoying the holidays

This year was the first year in a while we were not celebrating Christmas in London. It felt a little strange, but as my friend rightfully put it: “It’s time to create your own Christmas traditions for your family now”.

It’s true. I opted to take the good bits from many Christmas celebrations growing up such as great people, good food, great wine and playing some fun board games in the evening. But instead of cooking, we opted to head to a nice hotel and have pro staff cook/take care of us. It was amazing – zero stress, and the food was a lot better than any other xmas dinner I’ve had before (sorry, mum!).

If you’re up for an adventure next year, I can highly recommend Christmas lunch at the Park Hyatt Hotel in Bangkok. The staff was great, and the free-flowing wines even better.

Happy holidays!

2018 Year in Review

This year has been pretty special. My family and I traveled extensively. We finally sorted out homes in Barcelona and Bangkok after traveling for 14+ years non-stop. Our boy started school, and we found out we are having another kiddo early next year.

I also sold FoundersGrid and went all in on crypto projects (as I said I would in my 2017 review) – which has been an interesting, educational, and sometimes scary, ride.

Here’s a look at what I acomplished with work, my travels, my fave restaurants and goals for 2019:

Work

  • I sent out 74 CryptoWeekly newsletters
  • Published 26 in-depth guides here on my blog
  • Built and launched Crypto100 with Crypto.com (the 2019 edition has been built – currently looking for a partner)
  • Traded crypto (which I’ll share details on another day)
  • Invested in 1 startup that will be launching in January
  • Built, launched and sold hundreds of copies of CryptoList
  • Built and launched CryptoDomains with BrandBucket
  • Sold FoundersGrid
  • Hosted 3 Newsletter Workshops (I’m hosting another one in Jan)
  • Built and launched AsiaTechNews and AsiaTechList
  • Consulted with 15+ crypto clients on their marketing strategies
  • Built and launched CryptoTracker with some awesome partners including ADconity, LocalEthereum, Heat Wallet, CXO and Gem
  • Built and launched CryptoFirst with Crypto.com
  • Built BitcoinPredictions that I’ve yet to launch
  • Built and launched LamboIndex
  • Built FlyContinents which allows you to search for the cheapest flights when flying from one contitent to another (it’s a bit buggy – need to find a better API)
  • Started building a SaaS platform in the crypto space which I’ve since paused pending better market conditions
  • Rebranded GrowthList which will be my sole focus for 2019

Travel

  • Spain – Barcelona, Mulaga, Zaragoza, San Sebastian, Bilbao
  • Italy – Florence, Siena, San Gimignano, Chianti, Cinque Terre, Pisa, Genoa, Rome
  • Thailand – Bangkok, Ubon Ratchathani
  • Malta
  • Monaco
  • Istanbul
  • Budapest
  • Lisbon
  • Vienna
  • Hong Kong
  • London
  • Dubai

Best Restaurants

The very best restaurants I visited this year:

Best hotels

Goals

2018 goals were:

  • Get a family home, school and a small office set up in Barcelona
  • Solely focus on crypto (both trading and CryptoWeekly)
  • Find really smart people to work with and learn from

I’m pretty stocked I completed all 3 goals I set for myself.

My goals for 2019 are:

  • Rein back work – I haven’t stopped this year and I’m seriously feeling burned out. Would be nice to take a whole month off when our new kiddo arrives.
  • I want to do more for those in need – not just financially, but with a hands-on approuch
  • Start a podcast interviewing people from all walks of life (not just business). Would be cool to set up a low-cost studio anyone could come in and use

How was 2018 for you?

What’s happening at Ethereum?

Like the rest of the crypto markets, Ethereum has had a wild year. As the price of one ether has whipsawed between highs of $1,389 and lows of just $87 over the course of 2018, the platform’s developer community has continued to quietly build out more Dapps and use cases for the network. But even so, there are storm clouds on the horizon in the near term, as development teams continue to face scalability challenges and some of the biggest Ethereum projects encounter serious operational headwinds.

One of the most prolific contributors to the Ethereum ecosystem to date is ConsenSys, best described as a kind of app studio for crypto – and Ethereum in particular. But a recent report from Forbes has revealed that the business, despite being well-funded, is burning through nearly $100M per year, with no profitability in sight.

Yesterday, ConsenSys confirmed that it would be laying off 13% of its staff across all of its startups, contributing to a broader concern that mass layoffs could begin hitting other businesses in crypto during an extended bear market.

Ethereum’s development ecosystem is facing challenges, too. Development on plasma (once heralded as a short-term fix for Ethereum’s scaling woes) has slowed in favor of zk-snarks, a form of cryptography also used by Zcash that can aggregate transactions into batches, rather than processing them one at a time. The platform’s relative centralization remains a concern as well – and this has led to projects like slow.trade launching, which aim to make Ethereum’s original vision of decentralization a reality.

Despite these headwinds, it isn’t all doom and gloom in the Ethereum community these days. Many developers are already working on building the next generation of the platform – one such example is the Turbo Geth project, which is aiming to transform the way Ethereum clients handle storage. Efforts like these are continuing to gain traction, and the continued focus on scalability issues means that a solution could be coming as early as next year.

Istanbul

I recently spent a week in Istanbul, my 2nd visit this year.

Istanbul is a vibrant city which I really enjoy hanging out in to eat and work. The coffee shop culture is growing fast. The local cuisine is varied and delicious. The locals are very friendly. And due to the Turkish Lira weakening this year, it’s never been a better time to visit.

Here are my travel notes:

  • I like to stay near Taksim Square – the vibrant shopping area surrounded by restaurants, coffee shops, and bars. The InterContinental in the area is a great choice to base yourself.
  • Dinner at Zübeyir Ocakbaşı is a must (bookings needed) – it’s one of my top 5 restaurants and I always try to dine here twice on each trip (yes, it’s that good)
  • Talking of food, other good spots I enjoy include Ciya (good home-cooking, very inexpensive), Mikla (rated one of the best 50 restaurants in the world) and brunch at the Four Seasons for a blow out at the weekend
  • Get lost exploring the Grand Bazaar – one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world
  • Take a ferry ride. Each trip will set you back less than $1 and you’ll be guaranteed great views no matter what direction you head in
  • Enjoy a sundowner overlooking the Bosphorus. The bar at the top of the Conrad hotel offer’s excellent views
  • Uber is the easiest way to get around town – including to/from the airport. Not only are they always big vans with nice spacious seats, but they are crazy cheap too!

I’m now back in Bangkok for the winter. Hit me up if you pass through!

Is the ICO party over?

After a record-breaking year of more than $5.5B in funding last year, many saw a bright future for ICOs. And when looking at the raw numbers, it’s tempting to think that’s still the case. This year’s ICO funding has already surpassed $10B, in a significant increase over last year’s total, and new token projects continue to launch every day.

But storm clouds are on the horizon for ICOs – securities regulators have been cracking down in recent months (four more ICOs were shut down in the US just yesterday), and regulatory pressure has forced many token projects to look elsewhere for funding.

In the third quarter of this year, ICOs raised just $1.8B – a dramatic decline from Q2 of this year, which saw more than $8B in funding raised. This regulatory pressure, combined with an overall downturn in the crypto markets, has left investors reluctant to invest in ICOs with poor prospects of a healthy return.

But is the ICO party really over for good, or will other funding methods take its place in the blockchain industry? It seems likely that for the time being, venture capital and private equity firms will pick up the slack where ICOs left off.

As ICO funding for crypto projects has continued to decrease in recent months, VC funding for those projects has only been increasing. In fact, a recent report from Outer Ventures found that VC investments in the crypto sector rose from $900 million in 2017, to more than $2.85 billion this year. This influx of VC funding is helping blockchain projects continue to build even as ICO funding slows, which should be encouraging for crypto founders.

Still, the Securities and Exchange Commission remains focused on regulating ICOs, and the regulatory body maintains that the funding mechanism won’t be going away anytime soon. This week, the regulatory body created an ICO guide for investors that outlines how ICOs are presently regulated, and how to handle risk and unregistered offerings when assessing investment opportunities.

After much uncertainty, the SEC has finally confirmed that ICOs are indeed securities, and this is also reflected in its latest update. The site also provides updates on the latest regulatory activity around ICOs, which should prove useful for token projects considering launching an ICO of their own.

Recent events have made it clear that the ICO party isn’t dead yet – it’s just moved locations. While the verdict is still out on how ICO fundraising will evolve in the future, for now at least, venture capital seems set to become more prevalent than token sales for at least the next few quarters.

Understanding the Bitcoin Cash hash war

Bitcoin Cash has undergone a hard fork this week after unresolved deliberations on a number of key upgrades, and tensions are running high.

Two of the largest Bitcoin Cash implementations (Bitcoin ABC and Bitcoin SV) are at odds over which features to include, and as a result, a “hash war” has broken out.

Bitcoin SV is led by Craig Wright (of nChain fame), while Bitcoin ABC is supported by the controversial crypto influencer Roger Ver. Both implementations are incompatible with each other, which means that in theory, only one can continue to be the “real” Bitcoin Cash.

A hash war consists of two competing sides that are boosting their computing power in a bid to gain increased influence (and show support for) a preferred implementation, with mining power being used as a weapon to potentially kill off another blockchain.

This is done using a pooling of hash power resources, which are the total computing resources assembled by a group of miners in the interest of keeping a blockchain secure.

If either side has more than 51% of the hashing power in Bitcoin Cash, the dominating side would in theory be able to launch debilitating attacks on the smaller chain. This represents a troubling turn of events for a community that’s been equal parts competitive and collaborative in recent years.

Perhaps most important here is that neither side has implemented replay protection in the lead-up to the hash war. Replay protection is what allows traders to safely spend their funds when a fork takes place, and without it, any hard fork can quickly become a dangerous proposition.

A lack of replay protection means that both chains intent to keep boosting their hash rate until the other loses, with the victor becoming the “one true chain” for Bitcoin Cash traders. Crypto investors on the losing side stand to lose a lot of money, and that’s part of what makes this war amidst a hard fork so risky.

On the exchanges front, most are already listing both Bitcoin Cash hard forks as trading pairs. Some (such as Poloniex) have suspended Bitcoin Cash trading altogether until the outcome is confirmed.

With a number of attacks that can be launched, both sides seem willing to fight to the death for the right to control Bitcoin Cash’s future. While it seems likely ABC will emerge as the victor in this hash war, SV could still execute an attack to destroy ABC.

Both blockchains are being pushed to their limits, and it’s a great way for the crypto community to see the pros and cons of each. To follow the hash war live, check out Hashware Live or read this primer on the battle.

Introducing CryptoTracker

During a late night in Bangkok a few months ago drinking wine with friends, we were discussing how news could impact the prices of cryptocurrencies.

We all agreed it would be cool if there was a site that listed live coin price data alongside live news. After searching Google and not being able to find what we wanted, myself and one of the guys set out to build a site that did just this – provide live coin data with live news associated with each coin.

After many weeks of working on the design, setting up a back-end system, testing and integrating different API’s, and securing a great domain name for the project, I’m pleased to introduce the first version of the product at CryptoTracker.io

It was a super fun project to work on and I’m thankful we had some amazing partners who supported the product pre-launch, including:

  • LocalEthereum – The smartest way to buy and sell ether
  • Heat Wallet – A 3rd generation cryptocurrency with high-frequency trading
  • CXO.ai – The all-in-one crypto learning platform
  • Gem – The friendliest way to manage your crypto portfolio

If you’re after live coin data with live news, check CryptoTracker out. We have a great roadmap laid out which will make the site even better to use over the coming months, which we are working on now. With that said, I’m really excited to see the progress we make over the coming months and years.

Crypto Dinners

I’m not a huge fan of large crypto/blockchain conferences, but do I have a lot of fun when I network and learn with interesting people in the blockchain/crypto space.

With this in mind, I’m considering hosting a couple of “crypto dinners” later this year while passing through Barcelona, Dubai, Tokyo and Bangkok. Nothing fancy – just a group of crypto fans connecting, geeking and learning about crypto together over a nice meal. If there’s keen interest, we could probably invite an expert or two to give some talks.

The aim will be to keep these dinners small and intimate (10-30pax or so) so everyone gets a chance to network and learn. If you could be interested in attending one of these dinners, please send me an email letting me know what one you’re interested in. If there’s enough interest, I’ll get the dinners organized.

Naval on trading money for time

I think Naval, tech investor and founder of AngelList, is one of the sharpest minds in tech. So it was a pleasure waking up this morning to see he did another Periscope chat answering random questions from his audience.

The quote that really resonated with me, especially since I’m no spring chicken anymore, was:

Anytime you can trade money for time, you should. You’ll run out of time first.

Give the Periscope a watch here.