What makes you confident that the future lies with Bitcoin rather than some other crypto-currency?
I don’t know whether it’s Bitcoin. I don’t know if Bitcoin is the new Friendster, Myspace, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat… I don’t know who the ultimate winner is. I mean, Bitcoin is that today but in the future it might very well be someone else. I don’t have a crystal ball and I certainly cannot see into the future, but I do believe that there is a role for a sovereign, non-government currency in the world, which is based on transparency, cryptography and mathematics, but I don’t know who the ultimate winner will be.
What are the best ways to overcome the widespread ignorance and mistrust in Bitcoin?
Like all emerging technologies, Bitcoin is being mistrusted. Newseek published an article in 1995 how the Internet was mostly filled with criminals and had no future. It’s human nature when there’s something to generally dismiss it or be fearful of it, because it’s something you don’t know. That’s typically the first reaction. The media have reported generally the most sensationalist aspects of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. The mishaps in blockchain technology have been emphasised. This is what media typically likes to do, they focus on the things that people are going to click on. These tend to be negative stories and they do not focus enough positive things. So, how does one fix that? By educating people. Unfortunately, with something this different and this innovative, this requires time. With every day, more people around the world understand the unique value proposition of Bitcoin. The underlying adoption metrics show that the interest is very high. Equally high as the interest in Internet between 1990 and 1994. I believe in the underlying feature of this technology, I believe in the democratizing effects that it is going to have on the world, but these are going to take time.
Do you see blockchain technology applied in businesses other than fintech?
It is going to affect everything. Blockchain technology is going to have a larger impact on the world than the internet has. Think of the Internet today as the Internet of information. Bitcoin is not only the Internet of value, it is the Internet of trust. This is going to affect every business on the planet, as well as every single one of us.
What are the characteristics of a blockchain startup for Blockchain Capital to consider investing in?
The main thing we are looking for are great entrepreneurs. We invest in people first. Then we want to find people who are pursuing novel ideas, but when the timing is right. We want to invest in things that are going to have an impact in the near term. You know, stuff that is going to happen now, not twenty years from now. I see lots of great ideas, but I don’t think they are ready. I think these ideas will happen in ten or more years and I try to invest in things that are new and ready to work now. But looking for people first and foremost. I am looking to invest in great entrepreneurs.
Do you believe Initial Coin Offering (ICO) will be next dominant model for startup financing?
Yes, I believe that all startups in the future will be financed through ICOs. Notably, this is going to take years before it occurs, but I believe it is the future and it will start soon.
Do you see potential for bitcoin-based businesses to emerge from Bulgaria and the region?
There is one interesting real-estate company that I am looking into that has a Bulgarian presence. It is called Propy. I think that Bulgaria stands to be a hub and a big player within this ecosystem. Bulgaria has a lot of great engineers, a lot of great software developers. This is the biggest attribute in determining the success of a region – having developers that understand these stuff and are working on them. Bulgaria and other Eastern countries have large populations of software developers. Bulgaria is very well poised to be a major player in the real world. Traditionally, startups have been financed by elite and prestigious investment funds, typically based in Silicon Valley. Things like the ICO technology are democratizing the way early-seed ventures are being financed. It is going to make it so that entrepreneurs in places like Bulgaria can be financed. This could not have happened otherwise. Blockchain is a game-changer for Bulgarian entrepreneurs.
Would you partner with a Bulgarian investment fund to grow the regional blockchain ecosystem?
Well, partnering formally would require conversations with the right parties. I am interested in the region and the right deals. Yeah, if I am going to invest in an area like Bulgaria, I would want to do that with other smart investors, who know the region. I am not an expert in Bulgaria and I really wouldn’t want to make the mistake of pretending to be. I would need the right syndicate of co-investors that would bring me the expertise, which I do not possess at present. These can only be local investors, who know the local customs, the local people, etc.
Why did you decide to speak at DigitalK?
I like to visit new places! I have not spent time in Sofia. I am excited to visit. My choice of venues are often based on personal interests. I want to see and visit the entire world. I am very much looking forward to visiting.