Week in Review: Of cryptocurrencies, leadership styles and HotShotz

  • Digital currency ecosystem hard to understand, even for seasoned tech execs
  • Fun moderating Tony Fernandes and to have fun, come for HotShotz July 22-23

IF there is one thing in the digital world that I do not understand, it is blockchain and cryptocurrency. But then in April, when I was in Sarawak of a digital economy conference there, I heard the keynote speaker, Don Tapscott, admit that it took him three years to understand what blockchain was all about. And Tapscott has even written a book on it! I am quite confident that he wrote his book after his moment of clarity.

But there are many seasoned tech executives who don’t understand it as well. I was with three seasoned executives this week at a discussion and in the small talk later, cryptocurrencies, bitcoins and acronyms such as ICO (Initial Coin Exchange) came up and two of the executives admitted they could not understand the workings of bitcoins where you can “mine” for the currency. The third person, from the financial industry tried to explain it to us. He didn’t succeed very well.

While I am not familiar with cryptocurrencies, I do find the run-up in their prices to be something of a bubble and not based on any economic fundamentals I understand. Firstly, to be a currency, you must be able to exchange it with physical goods in the real world. I have not seen that happening yet.

In fact, a recent article I read on Bloomberg revealed that only three out of the top 500 online merchants accept bitoins.  And even bitcoin owners prefer to trade speculatively than use the cryptocurrency to purchase goods.

I agree with an observation in the article about bitcoins behaving more like an asset than a digital currency.

And there are also active Malaysian and Malaysian-based players in this cryptocurrency space with one of them being Mark Smalley of Neuroware.io who is building an OS for blockchain, which apparently will be the world’s first. Smalley was a speaker at the Sarawak Digital Economy conference as well.

Anyway, it looks like I have digressed far from my intentions of highlighting yet the latest Malaysian entrepreneurs to get into the cryptocurrency space but using a crowdfunding method. Do check out Sharmila Ganapathy’s interview with them and let me know your thoughts. Do the founders of FundYourSelf know what they are doing or have they got pulled in by the great hype bubble around cryptocurrencies?

While the young men behind FundYourSelf now try their best to disrupt the crowdfunding space, the ‘old style’ crowd funding companies such as pitchIN are not doing too badly with the company just nothing up another first in the Malaysian crowdfunding market with online organic grocer, Signature Market, attracting 161 investors in its short 2-week campaign, making this the largest number of investors in a single crowd funded campaign. The amount raised was US$351,000 (RM1,507,080).

Moving away from the virtual to the real world, I wrote a commentary that was to have been on Albern Murty, Digi’s CEO whom I interviewed two weeks ago. But then the turbaned (more on this later) Tony Fernandes intruded into my thoughts as I realized that both Fernandes and Murty actually share quite a few commonalities in terms of their leadership styles. Both are disruptors and lead innovative companies. You can read more about that in my article.

And if you are wondering why I described Fernandes as being in a turban, that is because he was speaking at an Asean Sikh Economic & Entrepreneurship Summit (ASEES) last weekend where I had the role of moderating him and someone made a red turban for him.

And speaking of fun, don’t forget to get tickets for yourself and your family for next weekend’s grand HotShotz eGames festival where you will get to try seven game titles at the free-to-play area, experience virtual reality, meet 10 exciting up and coming indie game publishers and play their games, catch a cosplayers performance, watch a PC Modding competition and of course see the finals of our eSports competition where 300 players will be battling it out across the seven games organized.

HotShotz is supported by Main Sponsor Predator, which is Acer’s gaming brand, co-sponsors Digi, Malaysia’s leading telco, Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) and Sony Interactive Entertainment Hong Kong Limited Singapore Branch (SIES). KDU University College is the Venue Host, VR Lab is the VR Partner, TP-Link is the Networking Partner and Lazada Malaysia is the e-Commerce Partner. The media partner is Astro’s eGames channel, EGG and Indonesian media site, vivo.co.id.

Editor’s Picks:

The battle for OTT supremacy rages on for Vuclip

Indonesian fintech startup Cashlez secures US$2mil in funding

Honor launches updated Honor 8 Pro

Mulah pivots to establish foothold in Malaysia

The similarities between Tony Fernandes and Digi’s Albern Murty

Making the future a reality

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