TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington on cryptocurrencies, ICOs, and tech in the MENA [Podcast]
Since 2005, TechCrunch, founded by Michael Arrington, has been a primary source for global tech and innovation news, trends, and updates.
By end of 2017, Arrington kicked-off a $100 million hedge fund, Arrington XRP Capital, entirely based on cryptocurrency, making a turning point in his career path, and making a steady statement in the world of startup funding.
Wamda Capital had the opportunity to meet with him in its Dubai offices, along with Natalia Karayaneva, the founder of Propy, a crypto-based real estate title registry startup, funded by Arrington XRP Capital.
Together, they discussed how Wamda’s been inspired by the TechCrunch model, and how Arrington decided to make a shift and embrace ICOs and cryptocurrency-related investments, the business he has in mind in the Middle East, and what Propy might bring to the table.
0:10 - Fares Ghandour introduces the two guests Michael Arrington and Natalia Karayaneva.
3:06 - Ghandour explains how Wamda has grown in influence and impact being the TechCrunch of the Middle East, and how media allowed Wamda to skyrocket in different areas such as events, and venture capitalism.
5:05 - Arrington says that when he launched TechCrunch, he was unemployed and wanted to start writing about startups, and that to monetize, they started doing events.
5:46 - Arrington says they never raised venture capital because they never raised headcount above what they could afford.
7:05 - Arrington comments that he would never invest in journalism because it seems as a hard way to make money, unlike events, which are a great to make money.
7:20 - Ghandour asks Arrington how did he transition from venturing in the fund to crypto, which seems like a natural transition.
8:00 - Arrington explains how he sold TechCrunch and convinced the CEO of AOL to launch a new venture fund, and allow him to run it, and how he realized that when he became a VC, he ended up fighting with his fellow VCs. He says that in crypto, it’s totally different: In VCs you place a bet and you see how in seven-10 years and you see how the bet goes, whereas with crypto, because of the instant liquidity of tokens, the hype factor makes as many people come to the table to increase the hype as much as possible.
10:36 - Arrington says it’s not necessarily healthy on the long term but it’s reality. There is a sense of camaraderie.
11:41 - Arrington says that he met Karayaneva last March and she told him about her startup in ICO.
18:40 - Ghandour tells Arrington that women outperform men and most of women founders within the Wamda Capital portfolio are tenacious and more resilient than men.
19:00 - Arrington adds that women try harder than men because they don’t want to be looked at badly if they fail.
19:17 - Ghandour asks Arrington about his new XRP Fund.
21:09 - Arrington says he knew someone who has a huge amount of XRP (tokens for Ripple) and that he needed to diversify.
23:00 - Ghandour asks Arrington about his expectations concerning the cryptocurrencies market.
23:29 - Arrington says nobody could really know what’s gonna happen.
25:40- Ghandour asks Arrington about his LPs and he replies that he’s happy with them and that he wants Dubai investors to participate in his hedge fund, because stuff are happening here and he needs to establish a connection. He says that it is a little opaque when Silicon Valley looks into what happening on the tech level in the Middle East.
28:38 - Ghandour asks Karayaneva to give a brief about Propy.
28:47 - Karayaneva says that Propy is a global real estate marketplace with decentralized title registry. We’re trying to be the Amazon of real estate, she says.
30:08 - Karayaneva says that the blockchain is ideal to build trust between brokers, notaries, and other stakeholders. She adds that it is safe to do a token sale and VCs are receptive of this idea.
30:46 - Karayaneva says they are suggesting to governments to implement Propy’s open source title registry running on blockchain free of charge, and that’s the main reason behind their visit to Dubai.
31:50 - Ghandour asks Karayaneva about what’s the best and the worst thing about token sale.
32:00 - Karayaneva replies that for the previous six months, they’ve been many changes. Laws were tradition and conservative, and the worst or maybe the best thing was working with lawyers.
34:00 - Ghandour asks Karayaneva about her next step in the Middle East.
34:19 - Karayaneva replies that they are in discussions with governments about the adoption of their line of registry and that their platform is designed to be adopted in Dubai’s real estate system so they help crypto billionaires buy properties in Dubai.
35:30 - Session ends with guests’ questions.