Named in November to Rise Global’s list of The 100 Most Influential Blockchain People, Michael Terpin comes in in spot 59. We had a chance to catch up with Terpin at Blockchain Seattle and again at World Crypto Con to get some of the better details that back up, rather clearly and forcefully, why Terpin is likely among the few to watch in the cryptocurrency space.
BlockTelegraph: For those who don’t know your background, Michael, what are the highlights?
Michael Terpin: I have worked on more than 100 ICOs as either an advisor and/or running their public relations through my firm, Transform Group, which was the first blockchain PR firm and has continued to be the leader since launching the first ICO, MasterCoin, in 2013. Other notable ICOs I’ve worked on include Aeternity, Aion, Augur, Bancor, Ethereum, Factom, Golem, Gnosis, Lisk, Maidsafe, NEO, Polymath, Qtum, SALT Lending, VideoCoin and WAX.
I started BitAngels, the first angel group for Bitcoin and blockchain investors in May 2013 with David Johnston, which then spun off both the BitAngels Dapps Fund (the first digital currency fund) in March, 2014, investing $6 million into the ICOs of Ethereum, Maidsafe, Factom and Storj. Most recently, I’ve been a general partner at Alphabit Fund, a digital currency fund with $400 million under management.
BT: You made the “list” among “most respected” ICO advisors but you’re not the most prolific. What distinguishes the two?
I’d say 100 ICOs and campaigns for 19 of the current top 100 coins on CoinMarketCap counts as reasonably prolific.
BT: As a fundraising tool is the “ICO” dead? Why or why not?
MT: The ICO is not dead, but it can no longer market safely inside of the US because of the refusal of the SEC, FINCEN and other regulatory agencies to make clear rules (or to inform states that they can make their own rules). That still leaves the rest of the world – and the “mere” $145 million raised in ICOs — according to ICOData.io — in October only sounds small compared to the $1.5 billion in January. It’s still larger for that one month than the entire years of 2014-2016 combined, which nonetheless were responsible for the launch of numerous tokens now in the top 50, including Ethereum. Finally, since most token generation events now are private sales, the word ICO isn’t even appropriate.
That said, there are now numerous options for funding a company with a token component – and each depends greatly on the business model and nationality of the team. There’s nothing wrong with taking venture money and then airdropping tokens as a form of dividend or warrant to those investors; one can also still structure their token sale from any of several offshore jurisdictions, including Malta, Singapore and most of the Caribbean, then block Americans and sanctioned OFAC countries. Each option must be weighed carefully, as they each have different implications for legal, regulatory, taxes and viability for success. The age of experimentation without repercussions is over, but that does not mean the death of truly useful utility, payment or infrastructure tokens coming to market.
BT: Where is the funding market headed as we approach 2019?
MT: It can’t get any worse than what happened in 2018, but it could be a slow crawl back uphill. It’s good to get the opportunistic projects out of the way. This is similar to how the dot-com crash eliminated the flaky companies getting funded in the hopes of a quick IPO, but it hardly spelled the death of Internet companies, as Google, Facebook, Amazon, eBay, Priceline, Netflix and others pointed out in quick succession.
We are also at an interesting time in terms of the dawn of both security token offerings (STOs) and tokenized securities (e.g., real estate holdings). Here the rules are very clear in terms of the US and SEC, but the market hasn’t launched sufficient regulated exchanges that allow for liquidity and free trading of these investments.
BT; What are one or two of the most promising projects that you advise and can highlight here?
MT: So as to not have to pick favorites among the current dozen projects I’m advising that have not completed their token generation events, I’m going to name ones that are already trading:
WAX (#65 on CoinMarketCap) has been spectacularly successful in executing its business plan and is the most used payment token in any blockchain, as it allows for buying and selling of some $2 billion a year of digital collectibles (mainly gaming skins at this point) without the use of credit cards. It’s trading at less than two percent of its all-time high in December, so it’s been rallying as this disconnect becomes more apparent.
DENT (#128 on CoinMarketCap) is also down some 98 percent since its all-time high, yet it’s now available to 4.5 million mobile data users for sharing of unused minutes tracked on its blockchain.