Welcome to our comprehensive interview series – Humans of Blockchain™ where we get the best in the business to answer a diverse set of questions.
This series will clear the air of doubt in the blockchain space today by focusing on bringing more transparency to the readers.
Our guest, today, Morgan Pierce – CMO of SEBA Crypto AG, Serial Entrepreneur, Global Speaker and an influential personality in the Blockchain space.
Not wasting much time, let’s hear it out from Morgan herself.
1. We would love to know about you Morgan and more about your journey which led you into the Blockchain space.
When I first heard about Blockchain, I knew immediately that I had found a passion that my whole career seems to have been inching towards. I graduated from Columbia University having studied Computer Science and Economics in the late 80s, where I wrote my thesis on the effects of interest rates on the money supply, what in today’s terminology is known as Quantitative Easing. The first company I co-founded in the late eighties became one of the largest cybersecurity consulting companies in the US. The second company I started was an early FinTech application. In the late 90s, I went to work for Oracle, where I frequently commented that the world needed database technology where data stored could not be manipulated or changed. Because until Blockchain, any data stored could always be overwritten.
In 2006, I read an article about a man who had become a millionaire by selling virtual property to Second Lifers for Lincoln Dollars in the virtual game Second Life. I knew then that humanity was close to evolving money into a digital asset.
In 2014, I bought some Bitcoin, some say they don’t know why I waited so long because I had been talking about it for a few years by then… my mistake. In 2017, I finally made the decision to jump in feet first and I signed up for a MOOC digital currency course under the tutelage of Andreas Antonopoulous. Then I was hooked. I quit my job at a Silicon Valley software company, retooled myself, developed educational materials to teach the world about Bitcoin, Blockchain and the promise it holds for global economic reform. I set about educating as many people as possible on my own dime and time. And then SEBA Crypto AG found me.
So here we are today at the convergence of economics, computer science, cybersecurity and a much-needed evolution in data storage which enables data permanence. I’m right at home.
2. Your profile indicates a successful stint in advising/ spearheading multiple startups. Can we get some pointers on building a strategy for a Startup?
My area of expertise is in Go To Market strategy and how to build and launch, and in today’s market, brands are global and that is what I’m known for. At SEBA, our brand launch was so successful that we secured over 1,100 pieces of media coverage in less than 96 days, and even four months after the brand launch, journalists still mention SEBA every time there is any news about crypto banking. In developing our brand, I did so in a way that has made SEBA integral to the crypto banking landscape. Even articles about our competition mention us, I imagine it must irritate them to no end, them trying to earn exclusive media coverage, and they are helping us stay in the limelight at the same time!
Some people don’t fully appreciate the impact of earned media. For me, it’s simple. “What do you think delivers better results? A salesperson who makes a call where the prospect says ‘oh yes, I’ve heard of you’ or a prospect who says ‘what company did you say you are from?”
In the start-up world, the most important milestone is generating revenue, proving that you have a viable product and business model. Earned media paves the way for your business development resources, significantly shortening the sales cycle and increasing sales velocity.
Last week I sat in a meeting with a $4bn Japanese conglomerate who reached out to us to learn more about our plans for the Asian market. I felt an immense sense of pride when they told me that everyone in the financial world in Japan is talking about SEBA.
So get your product and business model worked out and then engage a branding and PR expert, and make it easy for your salespeople to open doors. It will cut your time to revenue in half, maybe even more.
3. We also noticed your involvement in the Blockchain/ Crypto segment through ICO Advisory. Could you explain more on the ‘Startup ICO Advisory’ aspect?
When I got involved with ICO Advisory, it was all the rage but I was weary about some advisors having hundreds of companies they were advising. I knew something was wrong because someone truly performing an Advisory role and having an impact couldn’t possibly advise even a dozen companies.
I’ve only advised one company on their ICO, and they are still in the process of sourcing funds through a warrant sale. Other than that, I’ve stayed away from being an ICO Advisor because I only take on roles where I can fulfill my obligations and at SEBA, our aspirations are so lofty that I can’t possibly add real value anywhere else.
4. There was a recent market crash. Does that affect your business projects? If so How?
I believe passionately in Bitcoin and the distributed ledger technology that underpins it. I understand how it works and what it can enable. I was also a venture capitalist at the dawn of this century when the dotcom bubble burst. I remember a TV commentator saying that no one would ever buy a book online! I’ve made plenty of money on Amazon stock over the last 15 years, with its 28000% appreciation since the market’s lowest point in early 2002.
As the crypto correction continued throughout 2018, I developed even more conviction in the technological evolution that humanity is currently going through. It’s impossible to predict what’s coming in the next decade, in the same way, we didn’t ever expect to rent out rooms in our homes, or share our automobiles with strangers and make money doing so. I’m so excited for the future and I’m going to do my part in helping the world understand the potential that lies ahead.
5. Can you tell us more about SEBA Crypto AG? Their vision/ mission as stated by the website – “Finance Redefined for the New Economy”
SEBA is such an exciting company, I’m privileged to be there and I thank my lucky stars every day that I’m part of such a prestigious and deeply experienced team. Our mission is to bridge the gap between the traditional financial markets and the new crypto economy. Some in the crypto economy think a crypto bank is crypto blasphemy, but actually, without regulatory oversight, institutional money can never enter the market.
Institutional money is where the big money is, and if we want the world’s wealth to move fluidly in and out of the crypto asset class, we must give the institutional players the confidence they need to enter the digital asset market. There is no other way than to build banks that specialize in making this happen because the incumbent banks have legacy infrastructures that can’t handle 8, less alone 18 decimal points.
Something else to consider are the changes abound in the asset tokenization space. Securities, real estate, valuable items such as jewelry and artwork, even data can be tokenized. Your personal data will be a source of income for you in the future. Tokenization is at the beginning of its evolution, and the traditional financial market infrastructures aren’t built to handle tokenization either. We’re built from the ground up to eat, drink and sleep digital.
So if we truly want the digital asset economy to flourish, we need to fundamentally redefine finance. That’s what we’re doing at SEBA, redefining finance for the new economy.
6. What would be the shortcomings in the Blockchain segment according to your views?
Obviously, the lack of regulated players in the market is a shortcoming which needs addressing, and at SEBA we are busy building this bridge. Another significant shortcoming is the lack of institutional grade custody storage.
The irony in the crypto economy is that private keys that grant access to digital assets need to be physically protected if they are to be stored as securely as possible. And that’s not the case with fiat money. Fiat money is primarily digital, a very small portion of the money floating around the world is actually physical. The safest way to protect digital asset private keys is if they never ever touch the Internet. They need to be generated offline and remain offline until such time as they are needed to sign a transaction.
So having secure physical storage capabilities is paramount to building institutional confidence in the crypto markets. At SEBA, we are addressing this shortcoming with our deep cold storage solution. You’ll be able to read more about our offering as we approach launching the bank a little later this year.
7. What do you see the year 2019 holding for Blockchain projects?
2017 and the beginning of 2018 saw a lot of fraudulent activity in the ICO space, and retail investors who wanted to get into crypto without truly understanding the underlying technology got burnt because they couldn’t discern between good and bad projects.
I believe those days are gone. Venture capital money is moving into backing Blockchain projects and VCs bring depth and expertise much needed in the nascent crypto market.
I believe 2019 will be a year where the market continues to mature, we will see quite a few Blockchain projects prove their value, just like these projects my sister emailed me about a few days ago. In 2019 or early 2020, we will clear Gartner’s technological ‘Trough of Disillusionment’ and that’s when the real opportunities will emerge. Patience.
Any last motivational words from you Mrs. Pierce?
Don’t lose faith. Blockchain is an incredibly useful technology, time will prove that. And peer to peer transfer of value will fundamentally change the economics of our planet in ways that today are unimaginable. The cat is out of the bag and it will never be put back in because humanity won’t stand for it. Great things are coming, get yourself up to speed on what this movement is about and tell everyone in the world who will listen. It’s an exciting time, this is your chance to be a part of real and lasting change on a global scale.