I have not been able to post on this blog for a while. I took time to work on a few projects one of which is CoinWeez . It is a platform for sharing information, news, reviews and all things blockchain. Together with a few friends, we thought of starting the site after we realized there was not much being discussed about blockchain especially from Kenyan/African perspective. The site will also try and focus more on the broader blockchain ecosystem to analyze the opportunities as well existing challenges in this technology. It is still a work in progress but it is something we think is exciting to watch.
Everyone has a different angle, opinion about the blockchain. It is okay to appreciate individual biases in any article/opinion expressed about blockchain. Notwithstanding, in the last couple of years, we have observed many industries coming up with the intention of disrupting the middlemen in various industries. Airbnb, Uber, Alibaba, Amazon etc all have one agenda: to eliminate the costly middleman and use a centralized software to aggregate the marketplace and connect buyer and seller in a more efficient way. That has been the model of many consumer facing startups in e Commerce, travel and marketplaces. Marc Anderson even penned the now famous article ‘software is eating the world‘ as a pointer to how internet-based businesses have been thriving and even co-founded a venture capital firm a16z with the same mission statement.
Now there seems to be a new aspect: blockchain could further change this dynamic by introducing decentralized ledger system instead of centralized software. The decentralized system adopts the concept of peer-to-peer networks and therefore running the system through nodes within a network. To make it work, the community is incentivized to run the network through the process of mining which is basically verifying transactions. Blockchain achieves two inherent goals: ability to build trust and data sharing without the need of a centralized system or meeting the other party. Another interesting facet is smart contracts. They could represent the final puzzle in order to enable two parties to enter into a binding agreement without need to meet and is all enforced on the blockchain as a well a variety of other digital assets. Smart contracts especially, are promising because of the ability to build decentralized applications on top of Ethereum blockchain and this could bring forth new applications/industries. Check out more articles on coinweez exploring different dynamics of blockchain.
The biggest focus has of course been on Bitcoin, the decentralized cryptocurrency introduced in 2009. The prices have been skyrocketing like crazy and there are two completely different camps on this. Some believe that Bitcoin is going to be adopted world over while others believe it is a scam/hype that is going to die down and it is a bubble. This is a long discussion and that could probably be a subject for another post. However, I am intrigued by the concept that is blockchain and what it could mean for various industries. In terms of investing in cryptocurrencies (they are in thousands now), that is based on personal research just like any other investment. In every technology, there are innovators, early adopter, early majority, late majority. The biggest challenge of any technology is crossing the chasm which is the stage between early adopters and the early majority. For the vast majority to use a new technology or just about anything, people need assurance, stability and such like things. I think Bitcoin and blockchain in general will appeal to more with continued improvements in aspects such as application, stability, ease of use. In the meantime, there is lot of volatility. We will see what happens. Back to investing, i think Barbel strategy is a good strategy to use when investing in anything. I came across it from Nassim Taleb. Taleb advocates that 85% of your earning should be put in ‘safer investments’ such as money markets, Saccos, fixed deposits, bonds etc.
Then 10-15% into ‘risky investments’ such as venture capital, equity investments and probably now cryptocurrencies. With time, one can then raise their portfolios based on experience in the industry and other improvements. When one side starts winning, then you double down.
It’s like playing both attack and defensive football. The way Jose Mourinho approaches footballing-extreme on both fronts but nothing in the middle. You can score goals but not likely to lose and if you win, it is a win that many are not expecting. Like Ferguson says, ‘Attack wins you matches but defence wins you titles’.Being conservative but when you have a chance, even slight, you go for the kill.
Moving on, Mark Cuban advice to Vanity fair employees is to diversify and if you are a true adventurer, things like Bitcoins, limit it to lower percentages, it’s like being an art collector- if you are more intrigued by it, then you will not mind the price point placed on it. I think this is a reasonable way to approach investing. Actually that is how venture capital works. A venture capital portfolio consists of a group of companies. Most likely not all of them will succeed but ones that do have greater upside thus offsetting the not so good returns. In startup investing, for example Y Combinator invests in early stage startups in batches. Each year YC invests in more than 200 startups a year. Of Course most do not go on to become great but the breakthroughs have such a large upside that it offsets the losses. Take for example, the market cap of all YC companies so far is about $80 billion. Airbnb, Stripe, DropBox all which came out Y Combinator make more than half of that market cap. I think it’s a good strategy to try in smaller scale but nothing is bulletproof of course.
But overall, blockchain is an interesting space to explore and that is what we’ll be doing at CoinWeez. I will resume posting articles on this site on all things, startups, ideas, innovation, the world, Africa rising etc. I have many drafts that i have not really edited but will try to post- generally curating based on what i am gathering on all these aspects.
2018 up next