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Malta Business Review

Malta Business Review LETTER FROM SILICON VALLEY CRYPTOCURRENCY: THE HAIL MARY PASS FOR PEOPLE WHO MISSED THE TECH BOOM By Anna Wiener Between mid-December and early February, bitcoin lost more than half its value, dropping from a high of nearly twenty thousand dollars to just below seven thousand. Depending on whom you asked, it was either a catastrophe—a portent of things to come—or a rare opportunity. Anthony Pompliano, a venture capitalist who is prone to posting bullish, cryptocurrency-related aphorisms on Twitter (“Bitcoin is the ultimate test of someone’s imagination”), reassured his eighty-three thousand followers that it was almost certainly the latter. “This may be the first real ‘crypto recession,’ ” he wrote. “Those that stick around will be rewarded immensely.” Earlier this month, I attended a primer on cryptocurrency for women, “Decrypting Crypto,” hosted by the life-style company Brit + Co and sponsored by SoFi, a personal-finance site. At the front of the cavernous, glass-walled lobby of the LinkedIn building, in San Francisco’s South of Market neighbourhood, a stage-like area had been decorated with Bertoia-style wire bar stools, colorful patterned rugs, and a smattering of artfully arranged houseplants in pink and silver pots. A staff member wearing a “Britcoin” T-shirt took iPhone photographs of Brit Morin, Brit + Co’s founder and C.E.O., posing beside a pastel welcome sign: smiling; looking serious; making a silly face; rubbing her thumb against her index and middle fingers. Attendees milled about the bar area, stacking 16 small plates with charcuterie and crudité as Snoop Dogg’s “Young, Wild & Free” pounded through the room. “Literally every guy in crypto right now is having the worst day,” one woman remarked to another. By many counts, “literally every guy in crypto” is pretty much everyone in crypto, at least for the time being. A handful of surveys and studies estimate that women make up somewhere between four and sixteen per cent of cryptocurrency investors. Morin, during her introductory remarks, explained that she had heard the four-per-cent figure over the recent winter holidays, when bitcoin was valued at nearly twenty thousand dollars. Part of the problem, she determined, was a paucity of educational resources for women about the fundamentals, and risks, of investing This technology is so profound, on so many levels, that it feels really important to educate everyone about it. in cryptocurrencies. “We have an opportunity to rebuild the financial system,” Morin said, quoting Galia Benartzi, the co-founder of Bancor, a cryptocurrency protocol; protocols, like Bitcoin or Ethereum, enable decentralized networks of computers to collaborate in maintaining a shared history of immutable transactions, known as the blockchain. “Are we going to do it with all guys again?” The first speaker to join Morin onstage was her husband, Dave, a venture capitalist, entrepreneur, and former early employee of Facebook. “It just can’t happen that we have another wave of technical innovation happen, and that all of society is not participating,” he said. “I think that means both men and women; I think that means, you know, people in cities and people in rural areas. This technology is so profound, on so many levels, that it feels really important to educate everyone about it.” By his account, it wasn’t just about the money: the blockchain—that ledger of permanently documented exchanges, which is distributed by participants in a given protocol’s network— has far greater implications. He suggested that other transactions could move to the blockchain, eliminating flurries of paperwork, and intermediaries, as well as increasing the digital security and privacy of all parties; he gave the examples of buying real estate and negotiating venture-capital contracts. (In 2017, women-founded companies accounted for just over four per cent of venture capital deals, and received about two per cent of that year’s venture funding, according to Fortune magazine.) And yet speculation about the possibilities of the blockchain have a tendency to turn cypherpunk. “We all use things like social capital, and love, and empathy,” Dave Morin said. “Most of those ways that we interact have not been turned into money, or haven’t been turned into a currency of any kind. It’s the first time in history that we’re Continued on pg 36

The A2E Scheme has been designed to make it easier to benefit from Employment Aid. Employers who engage disadvantaged persons can receive a subsidy of up to €85 per week for each new recruit for 26 to 104 weeks. When engaging registered disabled persons, this subsidy can increase to €125 per week to a maximum of 156 weeks. For more information contact Jobsplus on 2220 1399 or a2e.jobsplus@gov.mt or visit our website www.jobsplus.gov.mt Operational Programme II - European Structural and Investment Funds 2014-2020 “Investing in human capital to create more opportunities and promote the well-being of society” Aid Scheme part-financed by the European Social Fund Co-financing rate: 80% European Union; 20% National Funds

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