This Website Just Got Sold For $400M, And I Want You To Think Why

The world feels like movies right now. It feels like an apocalypse is just around the corner. With pandemic eroding business valuations and purchasing power, it seems like we are going to lose everything. As many as 6 million+ unemployments claims have been made in US alone thus far.

The crypto markets have been bearish long before that. For years, we’re seeing our portfolio post losses after losses. Most alts have lost over 90% valuation from all time high. During all this mess, a strange development happens. An unlikely business gets sold for $400 million. Let’s talk about it.

A website called CoinMarketCap was acquired by Binance for $400 million dollars. For those who have read this blog before, you may be aware that I’m mega bullish on Binance. But even I didn’t see this coming.

How can CoinMarketCap be worth this much? It’s probably because a crypto project can not exist without being on CMC. Even though the market as a whole is down as much as 80%, it is still worth over $200 billion dollars. CMC is the front-page of this $200 billion dollar market. A price tag of 0.2% of the market-size for the front-page of the market doesn’t sound too absurd.

It can also be seen as what we call “top of the funnel” in marketing. It is the first point of entry into a crypto project for a retail investor.

While this may be seen as a negative news as far as fairness of market is concerned as this may put off other exchanges from continuing sharing accurate data with CMC now that the website is owned by a competitor exchange, overall I continue to see this as a very bullish news for the overall crypto markets.

Currency? Store of Value? Uncorrelated? What is Crypto?

During the market meltdown that started about 10 days ago, crypto-assets crashed the most. With Bitcoin going as low as $3500 from the high of $8000 in a single day posting the largest value drop since inception, everyone wondered what is Bitcoin?

People didn’t expect this drop to happen. Here’s Brian, CEO of Coinbase, tweet about this

People wondered if Bitcoin isn’t currency (volatile), or store of value (posting massive losses in value), and it’s also not uncorrelated with stock markets or other assets, then what is it?

Personally, it made me wonder that too. If it can’t even act as an hedge against the other markets, what is it? This drop affected my confidence in this asset-class. However, only a week later, my confidence picked up, at least by a bit.

During the first 3-4 days of the meltdown, I started to see that gold is losing value too. What is often seen as the safe haven during financial turmoil, was losing value too. The oil markets crashed as well, although that likely happened for a different reason, but it did. There was pretty much nothing that didn’t lose value.

What I concluded in the end is that during a financial crisis like that, people sell everything to move to cash. It doesn’t matter what asset class. It doesn’t matter what safe haven. All assets are sold so people can sit on cash and take their time to understand what’s happening before figuring out what to do next.

In the next week, I saw crypto-assets and Bitcoin rebound by a lot. It is trading above $6500 at the time of this writing. It is still below where it dropped from, but has recovered by a lot. Meanwhile, the stock market hasn’t recovered at all. The S&P 500 index for example is still down by 30%. What I’ve concluded from that is while all assets are correlated at the time of turmoil, only 10 days later, I can see crypto-assets moving in a different direction. I feel that in the coming weeks and months this uncorrelation will be very well established.

And that would be the first real world test that this asset-class would pass.

Are Stocks Manipulated?

I wasn’t old enough in 2008 to see, feel or understand what happened to the world, economically. It was only later that I learnt about the financial crisis and recession from the documentaries and movies.

When I started investing a few years ago, I invested in crypto before I invested in stocks. Once I tried to invest in stocks, I was turned off by how far behind the tech was. But I liked stocks for being the real thing. Representing real companies, with real earnings. More substance, and less speculation. Today, however, I’m confused between the two asset classes, and I thought to compare them a bit.

One of my first disappointments with stocks was that the trading hours were restricted to 9-5 / Mon-Fri as opposed to crypto-assets which are traded 24/7.

Another disappointment with stocks was the inability to own and store them the way I can own and store crypto. I had to leave the stocks with the broker account. I couldn’t move my stocks around between brokers and I couldn’t store my stocks in an hardware wallet. This is unthinkable in crypto. Only newbies leave their assets on an exchange or with a broker. Not your keys, not your money.

As for crypto, I hated the fact that markets were manipulated so much. USDT (Tether) faced allegations year after year that they are just printing USDT out of thin air and using them to manipulate crypto and specifically Bitcoin prices. That they don’t have the actual USD in their bank account in the same amounts as the USDT in circulation. Eventually, they were able to prove it time and again that they have the equivalent funds available with them.

What I’m seeing today happen to stocks makes me think that stocks are perhaps manipulated even more than the crypto-assets. For example, how the Fed is cutting interests to put market on steroids. The fact that Fed has injected trillions of dollars created out of thin air to solve what they term as “liquidity crisis”. But the most mind boggling is how these dollars are created, let’s hear that out from the ex-Chairman of Federal Reserve

I want to finish this off with circuit-breakers. What are these circuit breakers? Whenever markets dip more than 7% in a single day, trading is halted for 15 minutes. When markets dip 13%, trading is halted for another 15 minutes and at a 20% dip, trading is halted for the rest of the day.

This is unthinkable in crypto where we’re used to seeing 70% dips in a single day but no circuit-breakers are introduced to manipulate the prices. The amount of effort Fed puts in in keeping the stock prices afloat is nothing short of manipulation as these practices are unthinkable in crypto trading which we see as the free markets.

One Crypto Project That Everyone Should Watch Out For

In the last 2 years, much of which has been a bear market for crypto-assets, there’s one crypto project that has been invincible. Compared to market peak value in 2017, it has lost only about 15% value through the bear market in USD terms while it has gained 30% value in BTC terms. I can say with certainty, that it is one of the few, if not only, crypto-assets to gain value in BTC terms during the bear cycle.

In the last 10 quarters, the parent company behind the project has posted nearly a billion dollar in profits. While the founder of the company is worth over $2 billion. I’m talking about Binance, and the crypto token is $BNB.

The thing about Binance is that it is a market leader crypto exchange with more trading volume than any other exchange. $BNB, which is Binance’s native token has a maximum supply of 200 million tokens. Of this, 100 million tokens are meant to be burnt or destroyed every quarter based on the revenue generated by Binance. This causes the supply to constantly decrease therefore increasing the price per token. In my opinion, this is the dividend equivalent of stocks in crypto-sphere.

So far Binance has burnt ~17 million tokens in 10 quarters. As mentioned earlier, they plan to continue burning tokens until 100 million tokens are destroyed. At this pace, it would take 58 quarters or 14.5 years before Binance is able to burn all 100 million tokens. And as more and more tokens are burnt, the price per token will constantly be rising.

Moreover, crypto trading has continued to happen as usual despite the bearish sentiment. As the time keeps passing by, trade volume flows between different coins and different pairs, but the trading goes on as usual. This is evident and can be seen in Binance’s case where trade volume and coin burn continued happening and Binance kept posting profits month over month despite the bear market.

While there’s uncertainly surrounding every other crypto project regarding price, speed, reliability, tech, SEC, FinCEN, FATF etc, the fate of most crypto projects is unclear. But as investors continue to bet on and trade one of these projects, Binance wins. And regardless of whichever project(s) come out to be the winners, Binance still wins.

Disclaimer: The information provided is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal or financial advice. To the maximum extent permitted by law, I disclaim any and all liability in the event any information, commentary, analysis, opinions, advice and/or recommendations prove to be inaccurate, incomplete or unreliable, or result in any investment or other losses.

Bitcoin Halving & It’s Affect On The Price of Bitcoin

Bitcoin halving is approaching fast. It’s scheduled for May 2020. That is just under 110 days. Halving is when block reward for mining a block reduces to half. This happens every 4 years and it has a mega affect on the over-all economics of Bitcoin. Let me explain.

Roughly every 10 minutes, a Bitcoin block is mined. The miner or the pool of miners that mine the Block, a process needed to protect the Bitcoin network and confirm pending transactions, get rewarded for mining the block. At inception, this reward was set to 50 Bitcoins per block. 50 Bitcoins were given away as a reward to miner every 10 minutes. This reward reduces to half every 4 years. Right now it’s 12.5 Bitcoins per block. This reward will reduce to 6.25 Bitcoins per block in about 100 days.

How does halving affect Bitcoin? What is it’s significance? At the time of writing, an average miner spends approximately $5,000 in hardware and utilities to mine 1 single Bitcoin. The miner is then able to sell this Bitcoin at a premium in open market at about $8,300 which is what the Bitcoin is worth right now.

Almost always the open market rate is higher than the miner’s cost. If the open market rate gets lower at some point, the miners will not be able to protect the Bitcoin network and confirm transactions profitably. Which means some of the miners will discontinue their operations at that point. But the miners are also likely to stop selling Bitcoins below the cost hence miners in a way set the floor pricing for Bitcoin as well.

As the block reward halving happens in the coming weeks, the cost to mine 1 bitcoin will instantly jump from $5,000 to $10,000. As that happens, the open market rate is likely to float above the cost of mining. Add premium to that and we could see Bitcoin trading consistently above $10,000 may be even $15,000.

However, if the open market price is unable to catch up, some of the miners will withdraw operations to cut losses reducing mining difficulty, and pulling the price further down.

The Invisible Indexes Everyone Should Be Paying Attention To

A few weeks ago, I spoke of the benefits of building lazy portfolios that you can do so by buying certain indexes. That seems to be a good strategy at least while the over-all market is growing and not going through the bearish sentiment.

There are other types of indexes that we often can’t see. They are hidden in plain-sight and I think we all should be paying attention to them.

Yesterday, Saad RT’d this. And I couldn’t agree more. Both with the original tweet and Saad’s comments.

Stripe is a really great company and despite being a fintech company, it’s really open and inclusive. Fintech companies are driven by mega regulations and can struggle with innovation. And considering that, Stripe’s openness is a surprise for me.

Off to the original tweet, Stripe is not just innovative and inclusive, it’s also an index. It’s an index of all internet commerce companies collectively powered by Stripe. Have a look at how Stripe has grown over time

Shopify could also be an index like that. And as investors we should be paying attention to these indexes.

In the crypto sphere, Coinbase could be an index. However, since only private investors could participate in Coinbase’s growth and the IPO hasn’t happened yet, the retail investors can not buy that index yet. But there’s 1 crypto index, that you could still be buying, at your own risk of course. A few years ago I tweeted about it

$BNB is a native token of Binance which is one of the largest crypto exchanges in the world. And despite what direction crypto markets move in, Binance always makes a profit. And as $BNB holder, you can be party to that.

At the time of my tweet, the total market capitalization of all crypto assets collectively valued at $381 billion dollars. Today the collective market cap is $216 billion dollars which is almost 45% lower.

Combined market-cap of all crypto-assets on 13th March 2018.

BNB’s market cap at the time of my tweet was $814 million dollars. Today the market-cap stands at $2.2 billion dollars. BNB has posted growth of 2.7x despite the over-all performance of the crypto-market.

$BNB’s market-cap on 13th March 2018.

So watching out for these proxy indexes can be a relatively safer way to grow your investments.

Disclaimer: The information provided is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal or financial advice. To the maximum extent permitted by law, I disclaim any and all liability in the event any information, commentary, analysis, opinions, advice and/or recommendations prove to be inaccurate, incomplete or unreliable, or result in any investment or other losses.

How Crypto-Assets Will Play Out In The Long Term

Idea of the internet and the TCP/IP protocol was formally adopted in the 80s. In the 90s we started to see some of the companies reflecting some of the things that can be done on the internet. Amazon was founded in 1994 and Google was founded in 1998. But the internet bubble called the “dot com bubble” burst in 2000. It is when we saw the stock market crash, and most internet companies from the era simply failed and disappeared.

The bubble was real. A lot of companies with bad business models raised wild amount of money and created no value. A few companies survived. At the peak of bubble, Amazon’s stock was worth nearly a $100. At the bottom of the crash, it was nearly $5. Today, it stands at a whooping $1870. So in hindsight, Amazon and companies like Amazon weren’t the problem. Internet wasn’t the problem either. The internet created real value as we all can see today. The problem was excessive speculation and get-rich quick sentiments and since it wasn’t sustainable the market crashed.

I feel crypto-assets are a lot like that. The idea of decentralized crypto assets was first properly proposed in the 90s by Nick Szabo. By 2009, Bitcoin, the first crypto asset of it’s kind was released. By 2013, we had many more crypto-assets including Namecoin, Litecoin & Ethereum. But I’d say the crypto bubble burst in 2017.

I think the crypto-winter might last as late as 2027. During the crypto-winter, most crypto-assets that exist today will have disappeared forever. But there will be Amazons and eBays of crypto-assets, the ones that will survive. By 2037, they will value collectively in trillions of dollars.

2037 will be a great time for crypto-assets, just like 2019 is a great time for tech industry in general.

All of this is speculation, of course. I don’t have the crystal ball. But it is what I believe in. What I also believe in is that the history never repeats itself, but it often rhymes.

Disclaimer: The information provided is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal or financial advice. To the maximum extent permitted by law, I disclaim any and all liability in the event any information, commentary, analysis, opinions, advice and/or recommendations prove to be inaccurate, incomplete or unreliable, or result in any investment or other losses.

The Open Internet That I Envision

Just yesterday, my Twitter account was suspended. It was suspended because Twitter thought I was involved in “artificial account interactions and engagements”. On appeal, my account was reinstated with a warning that “any future violations could lead to a permanent suspension”. But I didn’t engage in the above-mentioned behavior.

Despite no policy violation, my account now has what we marketers call a “strike”. Future strikes mean, I’ll lose my account permanently. And I’ve a serious problem with this kind of policing.

Twitter and other social media gained popularity because they provided a place to speak independently providing censorship-resistant platforms. But that has slowly been taken away in the name of keeping community safe from abuse and misleading information.

My Breadcrumbs

Because of the obvious problems with the internet today, I no longer feel safe hosting my thoughts on other platforms including Facebook & Twitter as I do not see them as a permanent place of storage for my thoughts and information which will eventually be governed by them, can be deleted as per their will, and removed permanently from the internet. Such web-applications pretend to provide a free and impartial place but are no longer censorship-resistant.

I’ve written 22,500 tweets so far over the period of 10 years, all of which can be deleted by the “propriety” centralized automated system removing my breadcrumbs completely.

Internet Is Broken Today

Just last week, founder of twitter Jack acknowledged these problems himself by doing a round of Tweetstorm

As mentioned by Jack, social media today no longer serves as a place to simply host content, instead it has become recommendation engine of sorts where content competes for attention also incentivizing content creators to create attention-grabbing content which can often be controversial, gruesome or simply negative.

This sort of recommendation engine is not just limited to social media. It has also taken over emails. Gmail now powers over 50% emails in existence, and controls/prohibits 97% of emails from reaching users’ primary inbox using similar recommendation engine approach.

The problem with these propriety recommendation engines is that you can’t view the hosted content in a different manner using alternatives yet as mentioned by Jack, but it could be possible if social media was a protocol, and Twitter one of the clients with one of the available recommendations engine. The consumer of content could pick and choose any recommendation engine he preferred.

The Open Internet

I read a very interesting post published by Albert Wenger, explaining why finally the time is now for open protocols. The traditional caveat with open protocols (like HTTP, SMTP etc) has been that there wasn’t a big enough financial incentive associated with creating, contributing to or maintaining an open protocol.

This can finally be solved with token-economics as mentioned by Jack as well in his tweet.

An excerpt from Albert’s blog explains how cryptographic tokens can rescue the internet

Now, however, we have a new way of providing incentives for the creation of protocols and for governing their evolution. I am talking about cryptographic tokens. You can think of these like the tokens you might buy at a fair to get on a ride: different operators can have their own rides and set their own price in terms of tokens. You only need to buy tokens once (in exchange for fiat currency) and then can use them throughout the fair. With blockchains we now have a way of issuing and redeeming these tokens digitally (the underlying blockchain can be Bitcoin or Ethereum or possibly its own as in the case of Steemit).

A for profit company can now create a new protocol and create value for itself (and its investors) by retaining some of the tokens. If the protocol becomes widely used, the value of the tokens will increase. For instance, think of a decentralized storage service (a la Amazon’s S3). Anyone can implement the storage protocol in whatever language they want to as long as they meet the protocol spec. They can then get paid in the relevant storage tokens. The original creator of the protocol will make money to the extent that it is adopted and to the degree they have retained some of the tokens (so they can sell them at a higher price later on). This is not hypothetical as there are a variety of such protocols out there, including Storj, SIA and Filecoin.

I can’t emphasize enough how radical a change this is to the past. Historically the only way to make money from a protocol was to create software that implemented it and then try to sell this software (or more recently to host it). Since the creation of this software (e.g. web server/browser) is a separate act many of the researchers who have created some of the most successful protocols in use today have had little direct financial gain. With tokens, however, the creators of a protocol can β€œmonetize” it directly and will in fact benefit more as others build businesses on top of that protocol.

With newfound financial incentives now available to create open protocols, the stage is finally set to make pave for the open and decentralized internet.

Crypto Revolution Will Happen

Often I hear from people about the “bad innovation” that’s happening around us. Not everything seems like a good idea to everyone. But I think innovation has never stopped, and never will, even if some people believe that it’s ruining lives.

The first industry that I watched very closely in my career was the music industry. Artists made their living by selling albums on cassettes and eventually CDs. But someone decided that music needs to be more portable and digital and so Mp3 was invented.

MP3 contributed big time towards music piracy and killed the revenues for musicians. Eventually Steve Jobs saved the day for musicians and record labels by offering “a la carte” music at 99C a piece to customers as a legal alternate to piracy. The digital music had to happen even if it happened at the cost of suffering of musicians and record labels.

In a similar way, I think crypto revolution will also happen, even if it happens at the cost of many other things. The money will be digital, decentralized and deflationary whether someone likes it or not. It’s likely that just like Mp3, Bitcoin or other crypto assets may need to be acquired from the iTunes of crypto-assets. But the crypto revolution will happen.

Value Proposition of Bitcoin

Where does Bitcoin get its value from? It is an ever confusing question with no single correct answer because Bitcoin means different things to different people. Some say the scarce fixed supply which makes it rather rare to own is what gives it value. Some say the value comes from the event of halving of mining reward every 4 years making it even harder to obtain. And then there is bitcoin mining cost incurred due to computational power and electricity bills to keep the bitcoin network secure, which sets the floor selling price for the trading market. The average cost to mine 1 bitcoin at the time of this writing is $5,200. I think the value comes from all of above, and more.

In 2013, we had a large scale influencer marketing business running. We worked with 300 influencers and used their social media’s influence to drive traffic to content websites and e-commerce stores. The problem was it was difficult to run this business from Pakistan. Influencers were spread in different parts of the world. We had to make weekly payments (300 x 4 = 1200 transactions a month) to stay competitive in business and the banking infrastructure in Pakistan wasn’t just easy to run this kind of business at least in an automated manner.

While speaking of these issues at a conference in Mountain View, CA , I got advised by someone who had come from Germany to attend the conference. He asked me why do I not use Bitcoin to solve this payment crisis. That was the first time I heard of Bitcoin and had no clue what it meant. After looking it up on Google, I was blown away by the value this new invention offered.

Although we never used Bitcoin to solve that payment crisis, it made me believe that the value of Bitcoin also comes from utility like the one mentioned above. It solves a problem and that’s also Bitcoin’s value proposition.

Will Bitcoin trade above $100,000? I think so. Can I be wrong about this? Absolutely. I think there is a higher chance of me being wrong than right. Despite that, it still makes it an interesting risk/reward play.

Update: Here’s an analysis on Bitcoin price action by the very friend who first introduced me to it

Disclaimer: This is not an investment advice and should not be taken as one. I accept no responsibility for any loss, damage, cost or expense incurred by you as a result of any error, omission or misrepresentation on this site.