Coinbase now supports buying and selling Ethereum Classic

Coinbase has added a new buying option for its customers after the crypto exchange introduced Ethereum Classic to its collection.

The addition was first announced in July but Coinbase took its time to implement its newest addition following criticism over the way it added Bitcoin Cash last year. Allegations of insider trading led the company to investigate the incident which saw service outages and wild price fluctuations for Bitcoin Cash right after its addition to the exchange. It later introduced a framework for adding new tokens.

Nonetheless, Ethereum Classic’s value spiked 20 percent on last month’s news. Today, though, it is down two percent over the last 24 hours, according to Coinmarketcap.com.

Coinbase has taken a conservative approach to adding more crypto. Today’s addition takes it to five tokens — Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash are the others — but that’s likely to change this year. Last month, it announced it is “exploring” the addition of another five tokens while CTO Balaji Srinivasan hinted that the selection would grow further when I interviewed him at the recent TechCrunch blockchain event in Zug.

“We hear your requests, and are working hard to make more assets available to more customers around the world,” Dan Romero, who heads Coinbase’s consumer business, said in a blog post published today.

A note on Ethereum Classic — it was created in June 2016 following a major hack on The DAO, a fundraising vehicle for the project. In short: the Ethereum Foundation created a new version of Ethereum — known today as Ethereum — that rescued the lost funds, while those who opposed continued on with the original chain which was known as Ethereum Classic.

Note: The author owns a small amount of cryptocurrency. Enough to gain an understanding, not enough to change a life.

Coinbase acquires Distributed Systems to build ‘Login with Coinbase’

Coinbase wants to be Facebook Connect for crypto. The blockchain giant plans to develop “Login with Coinbase” or a similar identity platform for decentralized app developers to make it much easier for users to sign up and connect their crypto wallets. To fuel that platform, today Coinbase announced it has acquired Distributed Systems, a startup founded in 2015 that was building an identity standard for dApps called the Clear Protocol.

The five-person Distributed Systems team and its technology will join Coinbase. Three of the team members will work with Coinbase’s Toshi decentralized mobile browser team, while CEO Nikhil Srinivasan and his co-founder Alex Kern are forming the new decentralized identity team that will work on the Login with Coinbase product. They’ll be building it atop the “know your customer” anti-money laundering data Coinbase has on its 20 million customers. Srinivasan tells me the goal is to figure out “How can we allow that really rich identity data to enable a new class of applications?”

Distributed Systems had raised a $1.7 million seed round last year led by Floodgate and was considering raising a $4 million to $8 million round this summer. But Srinivasan says, “No one really understood what we’re building,” and it wanted a partner with KYC data. It began talking to Coinbase Ventures about an investment, but after they saw Distributed Systems’ progress and vision, “they quickly tried to move to find a way to acquire us.”

Distributed Systems began to hold acquisition talks with multiple major players in the blockchain space, and the CEO tells me it was deciding between going to “Facebook, or Robinhood, or Binance, or Coinbase,” having been in formal talks with at least one of the first three. Of Coinbase the CEO said, they “were able to convince us they were making big bets, weaving identity across their products.” The financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

Coinbase’s plan to roll out the Login with Coinbase-style platform is an SDK that others apps could integrate, though that won’t necessarily be the feature’s name. That mimics the way Facebook colonized the web with its SDK and login buttons that splashed its brand in front of tons of new and existing users. This turned Facebook into a fundamental identity utility beyond its social network.

Developers eager to improve conversions on their signup flow could turn to Coinbase instead of requiring users to set up whole new accounts and deal with crypto-specific headaches of complicated keys and procedures for connecting their wallet to make payments. One prominent dApp developer told me yesterday that forcing users to set up the MetaMask browser extension for identity was the part of their signup flow where they’re losing the most people.

This morning Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong confirmed these plans to work on an identity SDK. When Coinbase investor Garry Tan of Initialized Capital wrote that “The main issue preventing dApp adoption is lack of native SDK so you can just download a mobile app and a clean fiat to crypto in one clean UX. Still have to download a browser plugin and transfer Eth to Metamask for now Too much friction,” Armstrong replied “On it :)”

In effect, Coinbase and Distributed Systems could build a safer version of identity than we get offline. As soon as you give your Social Security number to someone or it gets stolen, it can be used anywhere without your consent, and that leads to identity theft. Coinbase wants to build a vision of identity where you can connect to decentralized apps while retaining control. “Decentralized identity will let you prove that you own an identity, or that you have a relationship with the Social Security Administration, without making a copy of that identity,” writes Coinbase’s PM for identity B. Byrne, who’ll oversee Srinivasan’s new decentralized identity team. “If you stretch your imagination a little further, you can imagine this applying to your photos, social media posts, and maybe one day your passport too.”

Considering Distributed Systems and Coinbase are following the Facebook playbook, they may soon have competition from the social network. It’s spun up its own blockchain team and an identity and single sign-on platform for dApps is one of the products I think Facebook is most likely to build. But given Coinbase’s strong reputation in the blockchain industry and its massive head start in terms of registered crypto users, today’s acquisition well position it to be how we connect our offline identity with the rising decentralized economy.

Coinbase adds instant trading and increases daily limits

Coinbase just announced two new perks that should please regular cryptocurrency traders. Starting on Tuesday, new Coinbase users will no longer have to wait out for five days to trade after signing up for the exchange.

As the company explained in a blog post:

… When someone makes the decision to sign up, they don’t want to wait days before they can start buying cryptocurrency. While we do support instant transfers via wire transfer and debit cards, purchases via direct debits from your bank account can take days to appear.

With this update, customers will receive an immediate credit for the funds being sent from their bank account. They can then buy and sell crypto to and from their USD wallet right away, but cannot send their funds off the Coinbase platform until the funds coming from their bank have settled.

With the new trading restriction lifted, Coinbase is also raising the daily purchase limit for its tier of verified users to $25,000, up from the previous $25,000 weekly limit.

New users chomping at the bit to start swapping for digital currencies or current high-rollers looking to push the daily limits should note that completing Coinbase’s identity verification, which requires uploading a driver’s license for U.S. users, is a pre-requisite for either new perk.

“Customers who have not yet completed this process will be required to do so before having access to instant purchases, new trading limits and the ability to withdraw or send coins off-platform,” Coinbase explains in the blog post.

Both changes will be available first for U.S. customers who have completed Coinbase’s ID verification requirements. Coinbase users around the globe should expect to wait a little longer for the features to become available.

0x lets any app be the Craigslist of cryptocurrency

Centralized crypto exchanges like Coinbase are easy but expensive because they introduce a middleman. Not-for-profit project 0x allows any developer to quickly build their own decentralized cryptocurrency exchange and decide their own fees. It acts like Craigslist, connecting traders without ever holding the tokens itself. And instead of having to bootstrap their way to enough users trading tokens on their app alone so that there’s liquidity, 0x offers cross-platform liquidity between users on the different projects it powers.

The problem is the user experience of decentralized apps is often crappy compared to the consumer apps we’re used to across the rest of tech. From sign-in to recovering accounts to conducting transactions, it’s a lot more complicated than Facebook Login, PayPal, or Shopify. Bitcoin and Ethereum prices remain well below half their peaks because it’s difficult to do much with cryptocurrency right now. Until the decentralized infrastructure improves, the dreams of how blockchains can improve the world remain distant.

0x is trying to fix that by ensuring developers all don’t have to reinvent the exchange wheel.

It began as a for-profit exchange before the team recognized the massive usability gap. So instead it became a decentralized exchange protocol, and raised $24 million in an ICO for its ZRX token. That’s how relayers — the apps who use it to build exchanges for ERC20 tokens atop the Ethereum blockchain — can charge fees. It also gives those who collect the most a say in the governance of the protocol.

Some of the top projects on 0x like Augur and Dydx are going strong. Last week Coinbase announced it was exploring whether it might list ZRX and several other currencies for trade on its exchange, helping perk up the price after declines since the new year.

 

0x’s ZRX token price, via CoinMarketCap

Now 0x is putting some of its $24 million to work. It just hired former Facebook designer Chris Kalani to help it improve the usability of its APIs and the products built on top of them. His skills helped Facebook embrace mobile around its 2012 IPO. He then built Wake, raising $3.8 million for the design prototype sharing tool that let teams get instant feedback on their works-in-progress. Kalani sold Wake to design platform InVision in April, and after a few months assisting the transition, he’s joined 0x.

“There are very few designers involved in the [blockchain] space” Kalani tells me. “There’s not a lot of people who had worked on anything at a large-scale or from the consumer perspective. We’re focused on making crypto more approachable.”

Sustaining a crypto not-for-profit

After talking to four leaders in different parts of the blockchain industry, the consensus was that 0x was an elegant protocol for spawning decentralized exchanges. But the question kept coming up about whether the project will be sustainable. The company doesn’t have to earn enormous amounts of revenue, but concerns about its longevity could scare away developers. One, who asked to remain anonymous, described 0x saying, “the best analogy is trying to monetize Linux.”

0x is open source, so it could be forked so developers can sidestep ZRX. 0x hopes that the shared liquidity feature will keep developers in line. It only works with the unforked version, and is now being used by 0x-powered projects, including Radar Relay, ERC dEX, Shark Relay, Bamboo Relay and LedgerDex.

While some centralized exchanges have suffered security troubles and hacks, those with stronger records like Coinbase continue to thrive while banking off high fees. That in turn lets them offer better liquidity and invest more in the user experience, widening the gap versus decentralized apps. “People trust Coinbase with large amounts of capital but they wouldn’t trust themselves,” Kalani admits. But he thinks it’s early in the game, and as users become more knowledgeable and comfortable with holding their own tokens for use on decentralized exchanges, 0x and ZRX will thrive.

There’s also competition within the decentralized exchange space from Kyber’s liquidity network, and AirSwap’s peer-to-peer exchange marketplace. But for any of these to thrive, the mainstream crypto owner will have to get better educated. That could fall to 0x.

One alternative path for the not-for-profit would be selling developer services and consulting to those building on top of it. Or it could always do another ICO. But for now, there are a lot of projects out there that don’t want to foot the upfront cost to build their own secure and compliant exchange from scratch. Kalani concludes, “The way Stripe allowed developers and businesses to build on top of it, and not have to worry about regulatory issues and all the infrastructure necessary to take payments, I think 0x is going to do something similar with exchanges for crypto.”

Coinbase opens its crypto index fund to accredited U.S. investors

Fresh from revealing plans to add Ethereum Classic to its exchange, crypto giant Coinbase today announced that its cryptocurrency index fund — first revealed in Marchis open to investors in the U.S..

The company said in a blog post that it has see “overwhelming” interest from investors, and now it is reaching out to those who want to invest between $250,000 and $20 million. For now, the company said, participation is limited to the U.S. and those who are accredited investors.

That’s a pretty big caveat since crypto, by default, is open to anyone — although many ICOs tread carefully in markets like the U.S. — but Coinbase is very specifically target institutional capital, having recently added services for Wall Street-like professional investors.

The pitch is that it knows the market, its service covers the most stable assets and it won’t charge the kind of rates that existing funds do, as Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong explained on Twitter.

Here’s more:

Coinbase Index Fund gives investors exposure to all assets listed on our exchange, weighted by market capitalization. As we announced yesterday, the fund will be rebalanced to include Ethereum Classic, and more assets when they are listed by Coinbase in the future.

Coinbase did say that it is working to launch other funds that are “accessible to all investors and cover a broader range of digital assets” so, if you’re not an accredited U.S. investor, there might yet be opportunities for you depending on what comes next. However, given that Coinbase is striving to be SEC-compliant — and the SEC is in the middle of a major crypto investigation — it might take some time to reach the longer tail of retail investors.

Stay tuned, though, we’ll be asking questions to two key people at Coinbase over the coming months and this topic is sure to be on the menu. CTO Balaji Srinivasan will appear at our blockchain event in Zug next month, while CEO Amstrong is among the guests who will take to the stage at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco in September.

Scaling startups are setting up secondary hubs in these cities

America’s mayors have spent the past nine months tripping over each other to curry favor with Amazon.com in its high-profile search for a second headquarters.

More quietly, however, a similar story has been playing out in startup-land. Many of the most valuable venture-backed companies are venturing outside their high-cost headquarters and setting up secondary hubs in smaller cities.

Where are they going? Nashville is pretty popular. So is Phoenix. Portland and Raleigh also are seeing some jobs. A number of companies also have a high number of remote offerings, seeking candidates with coveted skills who don’t want to relocate.

Those are some of the findings from a Crunchbase News analysis of the geographic hiring practices of U.S. unicorns. Since most of these companies are based in high-cost locations, like the San Francisco Bay Area, Boston and New York, we were looking to see if there is a pattern of setting up offices in smaller, cheaper cities. (For more on survey technique, see Methodology section below.)

Here is a look at some of the hotspots.

Nashville

One surprise finding was the prominence of Nashville among secondary locations for startup offices.

We found at least four unicorns scaling up Nashville offices, plus another three with growing operations in or around other Tennessee cities. Here are some of the Tennessee-loving startups:

When we referred to Nashville’s popularity with unicorns as surprising, that was largely because the city isn’t known as a major hub for tech startups or venture funding. That said, it has a lot of attributes that make for a practical and desirable location for a secondary office.

Nashville’s attractions include high quality of life ratings, a growing population and economy, mild climate and lots of live music. Home prices and overall cost of living are also still far below Silicon Valley and New York, even though the Nashville real estate market has been on a tear for the past several years. An added perk for workers: Tennessee has no income tax on wages.

Phoenix

Phoenix is another popular pick for startup offices, particularly West Coast companies seeking a lower-cost hub for customer service and other operations that require a large staff.

In the chart below, we look at five unicorns with significant staffing in the desert city:

 

Affordability, ease of expansion and a large employable population look like big factors in Phoenix’s appeal. Homes and overall cost of living are a lot cheaper than the big coastal cities. And there’s plenty of room to sprawl.

One article about a new office opening also cited low job turnover rates as an attractive Phoenix-area attribute, which is an interesting notion. Startup hubs like San Francisco and New York see a lot of job-hopping, particularly for people with in-demand skill sets. Scaling companies may be looking for people who measure their job tenure in years rather than months.

Those aren’t the only places

Nashville and Phoenix aren’t the only hotspots for unicorns setting up secondary offices. Many other cities are also seeing some scaling startup activity.

Let’s start with North Carolina. The Research Triangle region is known for having a lot of STEM grads, so it makes sense that deep tech companies headquartered elsewhere might still want a local base. One such company is cybersecurity unicorn Tanium, which has a lot of technical job openings in the area. Another is Docker, developer of software containerization technology, which has open positions in Raleigh.

The Orlando metro area stood out mostly due to Robinhood, the zero-fee stock and crypto trading platform that recently hit the $5 billion valuation mark. The Silicon Valley-based company has a significant number of open positions in Lake Mary, an Orlando suburb, including HR and compliance jobs.

Portland, meanwhile, just drew another crypto-loving unicorn, digital currency transaction platform Coinbase. The San Francisco-based company recently opened an office in the Oregon city and is currently in hiring mode.

Anywhere with a screen

But you don’t have to be anywhere in particular to score jobs at many fast-growing startups. A lot of unicorns have a high number of remote positions, including specialized technical roles that may be hard to fill locally.

GitHub, which makes tools developers can use to collaborate remotely on projects, does a particularly good job of practicing what it codes. A notable number of engineering jobs open at the San Francisco-based company are available to remote workers, and other departments also have some openings for telecommuters.

Others with a smattering of remote openings include Silicon Valley-based cybersecurity provider CrowdStrike, enterprise software developer Apttus and also Docker.

Not everyone is doing it

Of course, not every unicorn is opening large secondary offices. Many prefer to keep staff closer to home base, seeking to lure employees with chic workplaces and lavish perks. Other companies find that when they do expand, it makes strategic sense to go to another high-cost location.

Still, the secondary hub phenomenon may offer a partial antidote to complaints that a few regions are hogging too much of the venture capital pie. While unicorns still overwhelmingly headquarter in a handful of cities, at least they’re spreading their wings and providing more jobs in other places, too.

Methodology

For this analysis, we were looking at U.S. unicorns with secondary offices in other North American cities. We began with a list of 125 U.S.-based companies and looked at open positions advertised on their websites, focusing on job location.

We excluded job offerings related to representing a local market. For instance, a San Francisco company seeking a sales rep in Chicago to sell to Chicago customers doesn’t count. Instead, we looked for openings for team members handling core operations, including engineering, finances and company-wide customer support. We also excluded secondary offices outside of North America.

Additionally, we were looking principally for companies expanding into lower-cost areas. In many cases, we did see companies strategically adding staff in other high-cost locations, such as New York and Silicon Valley.

A final note pertains to Austin, Texas. We did see several unicorns based elsewhere with job openings in Austin. However, we did not include the city in the sections above because Austin, although a lower-cost location than Silicon Valley, may also be characterized as a large, mature technology and startup hub in its own right.

With at least $1.3 billion invested globally in 2018, VC funding for blockchain blows past 2017 totals

Although bitcoin and blockchain technology may not take up quite as much mental bandwidth for the general public as it did just a few months ago, companies in the space continue to rake in capital from investors.

One of the latest to do so is Circle, which recently announced a $110 million Series E round led by bitcoin mining hardware manufacturer Bitmain. Other participating investors include Tusk VenturesPantera CapitalIDG Capital PartnersGeneral CatalystAccel PartnersDigital Currency GroupBlockchain Capital and Breyer Capital.

This round vaults Circle into an exclusive club of crypto companies that are valued, in U.S. dollars, at $1 billion or more in their most recent venture capital round. According to Crunchbase data, Circle was valued at $2.9 billion pre-money, up from a $420 million pre-money valuation in its Series D round, which closed in May 2016. According to Crunchbase data, only Coinbase and Robinhood — a mobile-first stock-trading platform which recently made a big push into cryptocurrency trading — were in the crypto-unicorn club, which Circle has now joined.

But that’s not the only milestone for the world of venture-backed cryptocurrency and blockchain startups.

Back in February, Crunchbase News predicted that the amount of money raised in old-school venture capital rounds by blockchain and blockchain-adjacent startups in 2018 would surpass the amount raised in 2017. Well, it’s only May, and it looks like the prediction panned out.

In the chart below, you’ll find worldwide venture deal and dollar volume for blockchain and blockchain-adjacent companies. We purposely excluded ICOs, including those that had traditional VCs participate, and instead focused on venture deals: angel, seed, convertible notes, Series A, Series B and so on. The data displayed below is based on reported data in Crunchbase, which may be subject to reporting delays, and is, in some cases, incomplete.

A little more than five months into 2018, reported dollar volume invested in VC rounds raised by blockchain companies surpassed 2017’s totals. Not just that, the nearly $1.3 billion in global dollar volume is greater than the reported funding totals for the 18 months between July 1, 2016 and New Year’s Eve in 2017.

And although Circle’s Series E round certainly helped to bump up funding totals year-to-date, there were many other large funding rounds throughout 2018:

There were, of course, many other large rounds over the past five months. After all, we had to get to $1.3 billion somehow.

All of this is to say that investor interest in the blockchain space shows no immediate signs of slowing down, even as the price of bitcoin, ethereum and other cryptocurrencies hover at less than half of their all-time highs. Considering that regulators are still figuring out how to treat most crypto assets, massive price volatility and dubious real-world utility of the technology, it may surprise some that investors at the riskiest end of the risk capital pool invest as much as they do in blockchain.

Notes on methodology

Like in our February analysis, we first created a list of companies in Crunchbase’s bitcoin, ethereum, blockchaincryptocurrency and virtual currency categories. We added to this list any companies that use those keywords, as well as “digital currency,” “utility token” and “security token” that weren’t previously included in the above categories. After de-duplicating this list, we merged this set of companies with funding rounds data in Crunchbase.

Please note that for some entries in Crunchbase’s round data, the amount of capital raised isn’t known. And, as previously noted, Crunchbase’s data is subject to reporting delays, especially for seed-stage companies. Accordingly, actual funding totals are likely higher than reported here.

Announcing the TechCrunch Session on Blockchain Agenda

TechCrunch is coming to Zug, Switzerland, to discuss all things Blockchain. This is going to be one of the most important events we’ve ever held in Europe and one of the most important ever. You’re not going to want to miss this.

TechCrunch Sessions: Blockchain 2018 features an impressive lineup of fireside chats and panels with icons of the global blockchain and crypto tech scene.

We’re thrilled to bring accomplished founders and chief executives to the stage. Among others, this includes, Ethereum’s creator, Vitalik Buterin, ConsenSys founder Joe Lubin, IBM/Hyperledger’s Brian Behlendorf, as well as Changpeng Zhao of Binance and Galia Benartzi of Bancor.

Tickets are still available for purchase. We’re thrilled to make it to Zug for this show and hope you can make it.

AGENDA

9:00 AM – 9:05 AM
Opening Remarks

9:05 AM – 9:10 AM
Welcome Remarks: Dolfi Müller (Mayor of Zug)

9:10 AM – 9:30 AM
Coming soon!

9:30 AM – 9:50 AM
Fireside Chat with Brian Behlendorf (Hyperledger)
The Executive Director gives an inside look at the technology powering The Hyperledger Project.

9:50 AM – 10:15 AM
In Conversation with Nicolas Brand (Lakestar) and Colin Hanna (Balderton)
Tokenising VC – the Venture Capitalist’s perspective on Blockchain.

10:15 AM – 10:40 AM
Coming soon!

10:40 AM – 11:10 AM
BREAK

11:10 AM – 11:50 AM
Fireside Chat with Vitalik Buterin (Ethereum Foundation)
A conversation with Ethereum’s creator, Vitalik Buterin.

11:50 AM – 12:15 PM
In Conversation with Galia Benartzi (Bancor) and Jun Hasegawa (OmiseGO)
Benartzi and Hasegawa discuss successful ICOs – are they made or born?   

12:15 PM – 12:35 PM
Fireside Chat with Jim Fruchterman (Benetech)
Release the chains! Can Blockchain be a force for social good?

12:35 PM – 1:00 PM
In Conversation with with Patrick Berarducci (The Brooklyn Project), Mona El Isa (Melonport) and Pierre-Edouard Wahl (PwC Switzerland)
The Wild West of regulating crypto.

1:00 PM – 1:15 PM
INNOVATION BREAK

1:15 PM – 2:15 PM
LUNCH

2:15 PM – 2:35 PM
Fireside Chat with Roham Gharegozlou (Axiom Zen)
The CEO of CryptoKitties discusses the story behind its smash success.

2:35 PM – 3:00 PM
In Conversation with Hope Liu (Eximchain) and Gert Sylvest (Tradeshift)
The Co-founders of Eximchain and Tradeshift explore the push from blockchain to the supply chain.

3:00 PM – 3:25 PM
In Conversation with Kris Marszalek (Monaco), Joshua Stein (Harbor) and Hanna Zubko (IntellectEU)
Banking on Blockchain: Can established banks keep up with the new world order?

3:25 PM – 3:45 PM
Fireside Chat with Balaji Srinivasan (Coinbase)
The new CTO of Coinbase and Board Partner of a16z discusses keeping pace with new players.

3:45 PM – 4:25 PM
BREAK

4:25 PM – 4:45 PM
Fireside Chat with Joe Lubin (ConsenSys)
The Founder of ConsenSys shares his story and whether his company can become the Alphabet of Blockchain.

4:45 PM – 5:10 PM
In Conversation with Sam Cassat (ConsenSys), Phil Windley (Sovrin Foundation) and Guy Zyskind (Enigma)
Cassat, Windley and Zyskind explore the emergence of self-sovereign identities.

5:10 PM – 5:30 PM
Fireside Chat with Changpeng Zhao (Binance)
Can exchanges…change?

5:30 PM – 5:50 PM
Fireside Chat with Leanne Kemp (Everledger)
On the blockchain once, on the blockchain forever. Kemp discusses the opportunities and challenges in building Everledger.

5:50 PM – 6:00 PM
WRAP

Catch Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao at TechCrunch’s blockchain event on July 6

Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance — the world’s largest crypto exchange — is the newest addition who will join us for TC Sessions: Blockchain, TechCrunch’s first event dedicated to blockchain technology, which takes place July 6 in Zug, Switzerland.

The event will bring together the startup/business world and blockchain community to explore the potential of the blockchain, where it is now, and much more. The location is Zug — the Swiss city know as “Crypto Valley” for its plethora of startups and forward-thinking governance — and our speak list already includes standout names such as Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin, Coinbase CTO Balaji Srinivasan, and Hyperledger’s Brian Behlendorf.

Tickets are available now priced at 495 Swiss Francs, or around $500 — just head here. Don’t miss it!

Zhao, known as CZ, started Binance in July 2017 and it has enjoyed a meteoric rise. The exchange processes over $3 billion in crypto trades per day, which makes it the world’s largest by some margin, according to CoinMarketCap.com. Binance’s own token (BNB) is currently trading at over $14 — that’s up from an initial ICO price of around $0.10 and it gives it a total market cap of $1.6 billion.

Even in real-world financial times, Binance is huge. The company recorded a profit of around $150 million during its most recent quarter of business despite being less than a year ago.

Zhao himself started out in the world of financial trading, creating a company called Fusion Systems which enabled high-frequency trades for brokers. He got into crypto when he joined wallet app Blockchain.info, before moving on to Chinese exchange OkCoin for a stint as CTO. Spotting an opportunity for a new exchange, he exited to start Binance last year, raising $15 million in July to kick the project off.

There’s been controversy — including rumors of high listing fees and a legal spat with VC firm Sequoia — but Binance is the top dog and it remains the exchange that every crypto firm aspires to list on.

It is also pushing out overseas beyond Hong Kong. Binance has explored the global potential of crypto by moving its exchange to Malta, a country keen to woo blockchain giants, and inking deals to hire large numbers of staff in Uganda, Togo and Bermuda. It looks like that is just scratching the service for what Binance has planned.

“I could retire now and I’d be ok for a few lifetimes, but we are doing something I think is very meaningful,” Zhao, who ranks third on Forbes’ crypto rich list with an estimated worth of $1.1-$2 billion, told TechCrunch in an interview earlier this year.

Blockchain is the most disruptive new development in the technology space today, and we’re excited to host our first show that is solely dedicated to the blockchain. The event takes place in the Swiss city of Zug — widely known as “Crypto Valley” due to its sizable number of crypto companies and a progressive approach to regulation — and it will bring together top figures from the blockchain space, developer community and business and startup worlds.

Prominent speakers confirmed for the July 6 event include:

  • Vitalik Buterin, creator of Ethereum
  • Balaji Srinivasan, Coinbase CTO
  • Roham Gharegozlou, the founder of smash-hit blockchain game CryptoKitties
  • Brian Behlendorf, executive director of the Hyperledger Project
  • Leanne Kemp, founder and CEO of Everledger
  • Jun Hasegawa, CEO and founder of Omise and OmiseGo
  • Mona El Isa, CEO and co-founder of Melonport
  • Colin Hanna, associate at Balderton Capital
  • Galia Benartzi, co-founder and head of Business Development at Bancor
  • Gert Sylvest, co-founder of Tradeshift and GM of Tradeshift Frontiers

You can get your hands on tickets now — they’re priced at 495 Swiss Francs, or around $500 — from the event website here.


If you’re interested in sponsoring the event, please contact us via this link.

Note: The author owns a small amount of cryptocurrency. Enough to gain an understanding, not enough to change a life.